WEBHOSTING – CUSTOMERS ARE IN THE KNOW
The market of webhosting is one with fierce competition and a growing number of entrants each day. If you are a webhosting company, you might be facing the need to re-invent your business model. Regardless whether your servers are owned or leased; if you are paying for colocation in a top notch datacenter facility or using a VPS cloud solution, there’s one factor that’ll set you apart from the rest of webhosting providers out there – your clients’ satisfaction.
So, what do web hosting customers want? Statistics says:
- Customers want reliable service.
- They look out for reasonable price.
- They want some special add on features.
Note the only thing keeping your customers with you might not be the good pricing or the reliable service on its own. Rather, it’s the level of happiness they experience when using your service and interacting with you. When it comes down to keeping clients, everyone thinks they have the ones with impossibly high standards to please. But there are things you can improve to guarantee your customer satisfaction.
THE BIGGEST ROOM IN THE WORLD
…is the room for improvement.
Here are five areas you need to excel in so your customers stay by your side:
- Have reliable service. This looks like a no brainer, but when starting a hosting business, cheaper VPS scalable cloud solutions may seem more attractive than a dedicated server solutions, as this cost might take up significant part of your initial revenues and eat up on your budget. But a word to the wise, “Uptime can make or break your business and that 100% uptime SLA really counts,” said James, owner of ServerMiner, UK. “Having a dedicated server may cost an extra bit, but it’s what will keep your business alive.”
ServerMiner is a customer of ours who has built its hosting business from scratch, having to learn the hard way. When starting the business in 2012, ServerMiner had an unexpected twelve hour downtime caused by their web hosting provider. With no support intervening, they were left helpless. “It was a huge wake-up call,” said James. “I had to make a decision. I knew my customers deserve better, and there’s no excuse for downtime. Ultimately, we are the one choosing where our servers will be, and there’s plenty (of IaaS providers) to choose from.” [More on ServerMiner’s expansion in webhosting].
Experience tells us that in the IT industry hardware malfunctions are a harsh reality that will happen at times, however high-tech the equipment may be. What is important is to have a great support net from dedicated server provider’s end, so the web hosting provider can keep their clients well informed.
Uptime can make or break your business and that 100% uptime SLA really counts.
James Dixon, ServerMiner
- Offer fast and reliable support. You not only need to have reliable servers. A reliable support might be of even more value to you. It’s because this area causes the most frustration to the client, and there is a great deal of urgency and responsibility involved. Any critical support requests should be answered in just a matter of an hour or two; and all other requests should be responded to within 24 hours.
Maintenance and security are big considerations also, requiring an expert staff. Don’t make your staff hard to reach, hiding behind an email client or an automated service. Hosts should be offering around the clock support, and if your market is global, even more so.
Basic complaint here is that the webhost has either not fixed their problem properly or the client has no idea what the support team is talking about (too technical). If this means training your staff in communication skills, or polishing your own people skills if you are just starting up in webhosting and wearing many hats in your company - better start off by doing so. In resolving the tickets in a professional and timely manner, you’ll get less complaints coming in. And don’t forget that happy clients mean referrals!
- Discover what else your customers need, and then deliver it! Think about your customer, ask them questions. Once you discover what it is that they need, think about expanding your current product offering to satisfy that specific need. Our client that offers game servers provided an additional Back-up service for its young Minecraft gamers, where “saving” one world they’ve built for days might mean saving their world in reality. Talk about making customers happy and retaining them, and then some! A secondary service with your client’s needs in mind will boost your business, as it shows you do care and think about their businesses, too.
- Keep your customers well informed. Send notifications, give fast feedback, and have a section on your website that is dedicated to your customers. You need to react to change quickly, and information sent out to your customers needs to be honest and timely. A web host who doesn't recognize the importance of responding to and giving good feedback to their customers will fade out very quickly. Customers need to feel as though they can trust their web hosts, and if the trust is established they will bear with you through the difficult times or occasional hardware mishap.
- Keep lines of communication open. Acknowledge your customers' feedback and then do something about it; make sure there is a place on your web site or in your control panel for customers to make remarks or offer suggestions about your services or products. Use these suggestions to improve your company. In case you receive negative feedback, take it in the stride and use this feedback to grow. If your customers have a concern about your business, don’t worry how it may seem to others, but rather get busy fixing the customer concerns as soon as possible to benefit your company's success in the long run. If it is a solution you are working on, let them know.
A HUMAN TOUCH
If you’re just starting out in the webhosting industry, a trick up your sleeve might just be finding a datacenter with their own 24/7 expert staff that can and want to support your hosting business and have the same values as you. This might go a long way in assisting you with your own customer care. You can learn a lot from the expert support staff on how to make your own support team excel.
In today’s highly automated world there should always be a human touch while providing services. To better address clients it is always beneficial to get to know them personally. Expert knowledge can’t come short, but bottom line is - people like to work with people.
The more genuine and accommodating you, your business and your support staff are, the happier your customers will be. They’ll also be more prone to stick around even through potential hurdles your business may go through.