The Experience Matters

Posted 9.12.13 by

I was flying the other day on Southwest Airlines.  It was early in the morning and everyone was doing the typical Southwest shuffle, navigating their way through the cattle line.  In typical Southwest fashion, the flight attendant came on the intercom and started going over the same routine those of us who have traveled too often have come to know all too well.

What caught my attention was the attendants change from the normal freestyle routine of his or her own spin on the boarding process and instead, asking everyone at the gate to wave down to one of the baggage attendants on the tarmac who was in the process of loading the passenger luggage for the flight.

The flight attendant radioed down to the baggage attendant (I think his name was Fred) and asked him to look up at the gate.  Everyone waved in unison, which made for a great start to the day for me, 90% of the passengers on the flight that actually did wave and of course…Fred.

If you have had the pleasure of reading “Nuts,” the story of how Herb Kelleher changed the way people looked at and experienced airline travel, you’ll appreciate the notion that the Client Experience Matters.  It’s simple little experiences like this that make flying Southwest a real joy.  Not to mention they are on time almost all the time and you actually can get a real human being on the phone within two rings (I counted them) when calling their customer service line.

It’s all the little things that add up to make for a large differentiator between Southwest and …….pick an airline operator.  This is also why Southwest maintains the highest NPS (Net Promoter Score) in the Airline Industry ….36.3 as of June of this year, compared to Virgin Airlines 5.5 (at least it was above zero).

So why am I talking about the airline industry when the only thing data centers and airlines share in common these days is our proximity to the “Cloud(s)?” The Experience Matters.  Once I get a feel for how a data center is designed from a mechanical and electrical standpoint and, more importantly, how it is operated and maintained…the focus shifts to the experience.

“What is the security like?”

“How clean are the common areas, mechanical and electrical rooms?”

“Do they use raised floor, or is it slab on grade?”

“How well informed are the actually individuals that are responsible for operating and maintaining the data center?”

“Would I be proud to bring my Board of Directors and Executive Leadership here?”

Inside Online Tech's Ann Arbor Data Center

Inside Online Tech’s Ann Arbor Data Center

It’s no different than flying.  I don’t fly Southwest because the only plane I will fly on is a 737.  I fly Southwest because they are dependable, predictable and have a corporate culture that believes the Client Experience Matters.  The same concept can be said for the data center industry.

Data center operators and cloud service providers that put the Client Experience first, will retain more clients in the long term. If the Client Experience Matters, you’ll be more engaged with what their needs are…currently and over the long term….which will allow you to better foresee changes on the horizon that might impact how you support them and the solutions that you should be able to offer them.

I don’t think we’ll see data center operators start encouraging their electrical techs to make funny quips with prospective clients about PUE and uptime SLAs, but those that build a culture across all departments that focus on The Client Experience will have more full data centers….just like Southwest has more full flights…

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