Interview with RackNerd CEO Dustin Cisneros: The Importance of Human Interaction in Customer Service

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“900 tickets a day with a 10-minute average response time? How is that possible? Is community provider RackNerd using some kind of advanced AI to handle requests? In this in-depth interview, RackNerd CEO, Dustin Cisneros, talks extensively about how important human interaction is when servicing clients. It’s an eye-opening look at how passionately a market leader believes that empathy and understanding are truly fundamental to quality service. That sounds good in principle, but how does a company do that at scale with such a torrent of tickets? You’ll enjoy this read as Dustin opens the curtain and lets you have a look at how RackNerd operates and how it takes care of its customers.”
Interview by: @raindog308 (Andrew), LowEndBox

In an era of artificial intelligence and automation, the importance of human interaction in customer service can often be overlooked. In our interview with RackNerd Owner, and RackNerd’s CEO Dustin Cisneros, we explore the reasons behind RackNerd’s unique approach, how they’ve maintained such high levels of customer satisfaction, and their vision for the future. We also managed to get a pretty interesting statistic out of Dustin (how many support tickets RackNerd processes per day). It’s a pretty interesting read, so without further ado – here’s the full interview:

🟩 LEB: Dustin, thanks for your time today. Can you tell us a bit more about RackNerd’s commitment and approach to customer support?

Absolutely, and thank you for another opportunity to be interviewed by LowEndBox. At RackNerd, we see our customers as more than just clients. Fundamental to our support approach is the understanding and recognition of talent within our team. We work together internally as a team to tackle tasks, troubleshoot problems, and provide our customers with the support they need. The ability to collaborate effectively and deliver solutions as a collective unit is crucial. We believe that the strength of our team, coupled with our individual talents, enables us to provide the high level of service our customers have come to expect.

Over the years, many of our team members have developed a personal rapport with our customers, often knowing them on a first-name basis. This level of interaction shows our unwavering commitment to customer support, which we ensure is truly available 24×7. We are well aware that our customers might require our assistance at any moment. It’s our mission to create an environment where customers feel like we’ve got their back at all times, where they can be rest assured that we’re always on standby to help, no matter the hour.

🟩 LEB: We’re living in an AI-driven era. What drove RackNerd to maintain human interaction in its customer support?

Great question! Our choice to maintain human interaction in our customer support boils down to our belief in the importance of understanding and emotional connection. We have customers with a variety of unique needs and circumstances, and we believe that a human touch can provide a more personalized service. As a business, we understand what we excel at – the products and solutions we offer are ones we’re fully capable of supporting with expertise and confidence. This is a pitfall where many companies stumble (whereby they venture into territories beyond their core competencies and end up compromising the quality of support).

At RackNerd, we’ve chosen a different path. We deal in areas we know inside out, which allows us to provide support that is not only personable and memorable but also profoundly knowledgeable and efficient. This understanding of our capabilities, coupled with our diverse customer base with their unique requirements and situations, solidifies our belief that a human touch can deliver a more personalized and impactful service. No AI can currently match the empathetic and tailored approach that our human support team can provide.

🟩 LEB: How do you feel human support benefits your relationship with your customers?

Human support introduces a layer of personal connection that AI simply cannot mimic, no matter how advanced it becomes. This personal touch is especially pronounced when our customers reach out to us via support ticket, live chat, or phone. They interact directly with us, without having to navigate through bots that could cause delays or misunderstandings during critical times. To ensure this, we’ve made a deliberate choice to refrain from using any chatbots in our customer communication channels (which is something I’ve noticed that many other companies unfortunately use).

Our team members have formed close-knit relationships with many of our customers, even knowing them on a first-name basis after years of collaboration. Similarly, many of our clients have become familiar with our staff on a name basis over time, building a strong rapport. It’s these subtle aspects, these small but meaningful exchanges, that solidify customer relationships.

🟩 LEB: Despite the focus on human interaction, does RackNerd use any AI or automation in its operations?

Indeed, while our emphasis is on human interaction when it comes to customer service – as a company, we aren’t against automation. We understand and appreciate its value, especially in improving efficiency and responsiveness in certain areas of our operations. At RackNerd, we strive to strike a balance, knowing where automation can be leveraged to enhance our customer experience and satisfaction. For instance, to name a couple – we offer instant setup VPS, and VPS with ability to change IPv4. However, we strongly believe there are aspects that should be, and shouldn’t be automated. No business should ever be completely reliant on automation. We’re firm believers in balancing the benefits of automation with the irreplaceable value of the human touch.

🟩 LEB: How has this commitment to the “human touch” been received by your customers?

The response has been significantly positive. Customers have come to highly value the human connection they establish with our support team, especially in an increasingly digital world. This personal interaction not only builds trust but also contributes greatly to our excellent NPS score (Net Promoter Score), which is well above the industry average.

Our unwavering commitment to providing rapid, personalized support has been instrumental in the outstanding reputation RackNerd has built. We’ve had countless customers express their satisfaction, and in many cases, their amazement at the level of efficiency and expertise our team demonstrates during each interaction.

To illustrate, here’s a success story: We had a client who began with just a single service, contributing less than $10/Month to our revenue at the time. In less than two years, he expanded to over 150 bare metal dedicated servers with us, relying solely on our platform for his infrastructure. He chose to align with RackNerd because of our reliable 24×7 human support, which allowed him to focus on his business growth, knowing that the technical aspects were in safe hands. Today, he spends $40k monthly revenue with us and continues to grow every month.

I bring up this example success story because I want to emphasize that no customer of ours should ever have to waste precious time seeking support. Our support process at RackNerd is seamless, always available, and so dependable that it’s something our customers don’t need to think about. When you’re not worrying about receiving support from your provider, it’s more time you can invest in growing your business or project. And for any business owners out there reading, when your customers recognize this, their comfort level in terms of expanding their business/footprint with you increases.

Ultimately, our dedication conveys a powerful message to our customers. They never need to question whether a real person is on the other end of the line, ready to assist, no matter the hour. This level of assurance often sets us apart from many providers in the industry, and it’s something we are very proud of.

🟩 LEB: Okay. But surely humans aren’t perfect? How do you manage instances where mistakes or misunderstandings might happen, given you rely heavily on the “human touch”?

It’s true that humans aren’t perfect, and we firmly believe that this reality is actually a strength. No individual can possibly know everything, and this is a truth we embrace here at RackNerd. This awareness helps us leverage upon the unique skills of our team members, versus expecting for them to be a “jack of all trades.” We work closely together internally, have extensive training documentation, and closely focus on leveraging each other’s talents.

At the management level, we put considerable effort into recognizing the strengths and weaknesses of each team member. By doing so, we can better assign tasks within our smart routing system, ensuring that requests are directed to the team member on shift most capable of handling them.

When mistakes do happen (which are quite rare, but can happen because we’re all human), we encourage an environment where it is seen as an opportunity for growth rather than a failure. We firmly believe that every error presents a learning opportunity that we can build on as a team. Our team is also well trained in communicating technical complexities in simple, easy-to-understand terms.

🟩 LEB: When weighing out the two, I take it you believe human support would generate a lower error rate compared to AI?

Despite the potential for human error, we remain convinced that our approach is superior to leaning heavily on AI for customer support. While AI is capable at handling certain tasks efficiently, it can struggle with comprehensive understanding, leading to its own distinct errors. A critical limitation of AI is that it often requires prompts from customers to be worded in a very specific way to produce a relevant response. This specificity can become a source of frustration for customers, who may not always know the exact terms or phrases to use.

Additionally, AI lacks the capability to empathize and interpret the nuances of human communication, which is a fundamental element of providing exceptional customer service. It is essential to understand the intent behind an inquiry, not just the words themselves. We’ve also found that AI can sometimes provide responses that sound convincingly correct but lack full accuracy. This can be misleading and result in further confusion for the customer.

In contrast, our human-led support model offers the flexibility and comprehension necessary to truly understand and efficiently solve our customers’ unique issues. We believe that the human touch, coupled with continual learning and adaptation, ensures consistent quality.

🟩 LEB: It’s impressive how RackNerd maintains a high level of customer satisfaction. Can you share some insight into how you’ve achieved this?

As you now know, our customer support interactions do not rely on any form of AI or automation. Apart from our self-service client tools (like our recently released IP change tool, VPS control panel functions, automatic service provisioning, and the like), we refrain from using AI or automation in our support department. Every one of our ticket responses comes from an actual human, not a machine. This approach not only prevents errors or misunderstandings that can occur with AI (and I’m not saying humans are perfect either), but it also offers that “good old human touch” that I talked about earlier.

Furthermore, many companies tend to cut corners when it comes to staffing or support. My stance is quite different: I prefer to find myself in a situation where we’re overstaffed rather than understaffed. We operate three shifts each day to ensure true 24×7 coverage, with multiple staff members at all times during each shift. For example, there will never be a single shift at our company where there is only one staff member on duty. We’re big believers in team work as well as leveraging each other’s talents, especially in an ever-evolving field.

In addition to this, we put substantial resources into continuous training for our team members (in hindsight, I wish we had started this sooner). This ensures they’re always equipped with the latest knowledge and skills to better serve our customers.

🟩 LEB: Could you share more on your earlier remark about wishing you had put more resources into training sooner?

Absolutely. In our early stages, we were quite loosely structured. What I mean by this is that there was an absence of formal protocols for our employees, and operational policies were not clearly defined. This resulted in staff members applying strategies and practices from their past work experiences, which may not have been optimal or consistent.

If I may offer advice to growing companies, it would be this: before you expand your team, invest time and resources in developing standardized procedures and establishing clear escalation chains. With any successful business, you need to create unique company culture and operational protocols. Ensuring that your team is aligned and moving forward in the same direction is very important.

In response to these early challenges, we’ve made substantial investments in creating robust internal processes and a defined operational structure. We now have well articulated policies for everything. Even when we onboard new talent with previous experience in the hosting industry, we take the time to “un-train” certain aspects of what they’ve been taught before in their past work experiences. This is because the way we operate here at RackNerd might differ significantly from their previous employers.

🟩 LEB: If I may just ask a blunt question… how many support tickets do you guys process per day anyway?

On a typical day, we handle between 700 to 900 tickets per day across all departments. This number can easily double or even triple during busy periods, such as Black Friday.

🟩 LEB: Wait, what? 700 to 900 tickets per day?! How the heck do you guys maintain a 10 minute average response time? And what are these tickets even about?

Yes, it is a challenging feat, but one we’re equipped to handle. Interesting story about this, we actually recently came to a point where our support system (WHMCS ticketing system) was showing a critical warning indicating that we were nearing the exhaustion of our ticket ID pool, as our ticket ID structure was previously a randomized 6 numbers. Previously, our ticket ID structure relied on randomizing six-digit numbers, which offered a total of 1,000,000 possible combinations. Consequently, reaching the one million ticket milestone prompted us to implement a solution. We introduced letters into our ticket ID schema, expanding the potential combinations to 67,600,000. So it’s safe to say that our ticket ID schema will not be a concern for quite some time now. In case some of our customers here were wondering why our ticket ID’s now contain letters as well – this is the interesting backstory behind it 🙂

Maintaining an average response time of 10 minutes isn’t just about having a large workforce. It’s also about optimizing our processes and providing our team with the right tools and information that is easily accessible. To ensure swift and accurate responses, our team members have access to all necessary portals and tools right from the start of their workday. This approach minimizes time wastage caused by switching between platforms and promotes smooth operations.

Another essential element is our comprehensive onboarding and training programs. Our meticulous standardization of processes and extensive documentation contribute significantly to maintaining our prompt response time.

As for the nature of the tickets we handle, it’s a broad spectrum. They range from simple inquiries like “how do I start using my service” to troubleshooting WordPress issues and managing complex load balancing for managed bare metal cluster customers. We generally see a higher volume of tickets from our shared hosting and managed services product lines, due to the more involved nature of these services and their appeal to a less technically proficient audience.

Lastly, another contributing factor that comes to mind is that we utilize a smart ticket routing system that directs tickets to the most suitable department or individual that is on shift. This way, issues are addressed by those most equipped to solve them quickly and effectively, contributing to our swift response times. Internally, we foster a culture of continuous learning and knowledge sharing amongst our team, which helps improve our collective efficiency over time.

🟩 LEB: What role has the focus on human-based support played in shaping RackNerd’s reputation in the industry?

Our commitment to human support has been a driving factor in shaping our positive reputation in the industry. It sets us apart from other service providers who rely heavily on automated support. Customers appreciate that we value their business and make efforts to understand their specific needs. This has helped us establish long-term relationships, build trust, and establish long-term customer loyalty.

🟩 LEB: Looking forward, how do you plan to continue enhancing customer service as technology advances?

While we’re definitely very pro on human interaction, we also understand the role of automation in enhancing efficiency and service delivery. With that being said, there are some things that should be automated, and some things that shouldn’t be. Our goal is to find the perfect balance – leveraging technology and automation to streamline processes, while maintaining the human touch that our customers value. For example, we recently released a new self-serve client tool that allows clients to change their VPS’s primary IPv4 address by themselves automatically, without having to create a support ticket. More on that here:

As another example, while it may not be immediately visible on the customer-facing side, we leverage quite a bit of custom developed tools during our daily workflows, and some degree of automation is always being used behind the scenes. For instance, we’ve developed customized Grafana dashboards and functions. These statistics can predict unusual behavior within any given physical server across our fleet, prompting a human (a RackNerd systems administrator) to check further – pointing them towards the right direction in order to eliminate time wastage in identifying the source of the issue at hand. One more example that comes to mind, and this is a more recent effort – our development team developed an internal tool that allows our staff to quickly identify which service/customer an IP address (within a CIDR block range) belongs to. As many of you may know, dedicated server services are deployed with CIDR IP blocks (such as a full /29 or /28 IPv4 range, etc), and traditionally, it’s been a challenge to search for additional IPs (other than the main IP) assigned within these blocks using WHMCS. Previously, our staff would spend unnecessary time searching for the parent CIDR block from support requests and identifying the correct, corresponding service. This tool now saves our team time and enhances our service efficiency.

Essentially, these tools don’t replace the role of a human – instead, they act as valuable aids, enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of our systems administrators in their daily roles. The end result? An overall faster, competent, and consistent support experience for the customer.

🟩 LEB: Any final comments, or anything else you’d like to say?

I appreciate everyone’s time in reading this interview, and I sincerely hope it provides you with valuable insights, inspires you, or adds some value to your business. I’m all for sharing what works and what doesn’t work, and always open to new suggestions and implementations as well. I strongly believe it’s important to remember that us business owners need to strike a balance between human touch, while leveraging automation strategically in order to enhance our operations.

I welcome the opportunity to connect with other like-minded individuals, entrepreneurs, or business owners. Don’t hesitate to reach out to me on LinkedIn at – or email me at directly (I review and respond to every email personally). As always, I’m all for sharing and learning, so feel free to comment below if you have any thoughts to share, or strategies that you’ve found effective as a business owner or manager.

P.S. For those looking to deploy new VPS services, you can view RackNerd’s latest promotions here:

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