Posts Tagged 'Basketball'

October 29, 2011

Coworkers and Divisional Rivals: Football at SoftLayer

Cheering for the hometown team has always been interesting at SoftLayer. With U.S. data centers in Dallas, Houston, Washington DC, Seattle and San Jose, the "home team" varies throughout the organization. It's always fun to talk about games with fans when I'm not invested in the outcome of a game outside my favorite team's division ... And when it comes to the NBA (which no longer has a team in Seattle), it's easy to cheer for the teams that other SLayers are cheering for. When the Dallas Mavericks won the NBA Championships, our Dallas techs were going crazy, and their enthusiasm was pretty contagious.

When it comes to NFL football, things are a little different. Prior to the launch of our San Jose facility, supporting each data center's home NFL team with some playful banter was normal. When San Jose came into the mix, that meant we'd have a lot of new employees (Yay!) who are probably going to be fans of my Seahawks' divisional rivals, the San Francisco 49ers (Booo! :-)). Now cheering for games gets a little trickier since we don't want a football-related civil war between offices.

In reality, I'm sure it'll never be an issue, since SLayers are like a big, diverse family ... That being said, I'm glad I wasn't in the office on the Monday after the Seahawks' opening game loss against the 49ers. My California peers would have probably been quick to chat about the game, and I probably wouldn't have wanted to talk about it. It's different for me to have coworkers who are die-hard fans of a rival team due to their geography (and not just because they are a bandwagon fan), and as we keep growing, I'm sure the football support between offices is going to keep getting more and more diverse ... My vote is that we avoid adding a data center in another NFC West rival's market, though.

The interoffice atmosphere is just another reason why I love working for SoftLayer. Our team is so different, but we're united by the common goal of making SoftLayer the best company in the world (for our customers and for our employees). For right now, I'm glad that there aren't as many soccer fans in our halls ... You don't want to see me in my soccer hooligan mode.

-Robert

May 5, 2011

Giving Customers More Than They Expect

Giving a customer the ability to do something that they didn't know they could (or even know was possible) can make for an exceptional customer experience.

I've had a season mini-pack of Dallas Mavericks tickets for a handful of years now and have always gotten the exact experience that I expected: The same seats every time, consistent food and drink, great entertainment, and a quality team on the court that wins considerably more often than not.

However, this year it's been a little different. This year, they have thrown in several perks that cost them nothing or next to nothing but have made a huge difference in the overall experience.

One game in particular sticks out in my mind. A couple of weeks before a game against the Wizards, I got an email about a no-cost chance for me and one other person to stand in a high five line to give fives to the players as they came out for warmups. I had no idea fans actually got to do this, so I gladly signed up and took my 5 year-old son to the game. I had also received an invite from the sales rep to choose a date to spend the first half of a game in one of the suites, so I made it the same night.

That night, we joined a small group of people down by the tunnel before the game, and we got to give all the players, Mark Cuban, the Mavs Maniacs and even a few security guards high fives. My son was over-the-moon to "meet" his favorite players - Dirk, Kidd, and Jet - could hardly contain himself.

This game also happened to be the week before the Super Bowl. I only mention it because on the way to our suite, I was blinded by the biggest ring I had ever seen. It turned out to be a Super Bowl ring and the guy wearing it was James Harrison (the linebacker for Steelers that lost a bunch of money to fines for helmet to helmet hits last season), so I got to meet him and wish him luck for the big game.

Oh, and and I can't forget to mention the free hats, shirts, and Roddy B. bobblehead.

Long story short, I probably couldn't tell you who won the other ten games I went to this year, but I don't think I'll forget anything about this particular game.

The thing I took away from this experience is when you give a customer something above and beyond what is expected, however seemingly insignificant, you can monumentally improve their customer experience.

To bring it back around to SoftLayer, we give customers a great API - a REST API at that. We give them VPN, a private network, IPv6, and a fully provisioned server in a couple of hours. Each of these differentiators enables us to provide products and services that our competitors can only hope to imitate.

The first time the customer uses the API to automatically create a new Cloud Instance from their own program, it'll be a Maverick-game experience. When they transfer data from Washington, D.C., to San Jose, CA, on our private network with zero bandwidth charge, they'll feel like they're high-fiving Dirk Nowitski. When they access their server over the free KVM over IP, they're walking up to the suite and meeting a Super Bowl champion. And all of that is on top of a stable, speedy server environment!

What can we do to improve your customer experience?

-Brad

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