Hosting is becoming more and more gloomy for those who fail at one very important yet simple task – providing a great customer experience consistently. Every quarter we see more and more challenges for the independent hosting providers of the world.
There is money to be made for independent hosts. The independent hosts have a great advantage in that they can control each and every touch between the customer and the company. Training is easier, and ultimately maintaining the brand promise is easier. The soft skills are the most important. Be responsive, reliable, make it easy on clients and give a damn consistently. When speaking about customer experience, I define giving a damn as going above and beyond and expecting nothing in return.
In this first part of a three part series I’ll talk about what it means to give a damn and why it’s important to provide a consistent customer experience. The second part of this series will discuss what customers are looking for when they decide they need to put a website online. Finally, I’ll cover examples of the various touch points that are often overlooked in the relationship between a customer and their hosting company.
Challenge yourself to know every step your customer experiences with your company.
2013 is certainly aimed at big business success. Recently, GoDaddy hired former Microsoft and Yahoo! exec Blake Irving as their CEO. Blake’s a product guy and he simply gets it. The days of considering GoDaddy behind in products and innovation are over. The days that GoDaddy’s risqué commercials are a weak spot are over – and I don’t expect to see any PR nightmares the size of elephants in 2013 for GoDaddy.
In 2012, GoDaddy upped its partnership with cPanel. With Parallels and cPanel leading the way consumers interact with most hosting companies – and GoDaddy continually growing closer to cPanel, you’ll have to differentiate your hosting company in another way – having Rvskin, Fantastico or a nice WHMCS theme simply won’t do the job now.
EIG’s acquisition of HostGator and pairing with BlueHost also makes them a cPanel giant. The big guys are now also the biggest cPanel host. They have a competitive infrastructure, and now they are using the same control panel as you, with the uptime clients expect — what are you going to do? Give a damn.
Take advantage of your size. I promise you, they will.
I don’t mean to suggest that they don’t give a damn. They do. But they have a lot more opportunities to drop the ball than you. GoDaddy hired 1400 people in 2012, they can’t achieve excellence out of every one of those new hires (don’t be mistaken – they will try).
GoDaddy’s customer experience is largely dependent upon its ability to deliver on the promise of low prices and the industry’s largest portfolio of services. The independent host will rarely be able to compete on price with the big guys, instead aiming to compete on service. This is just fine.
The key is that your brand promise and profitability strategy shape decisions about what makes a great experience for your customers. Your delivery can not be hit or miss. If you’re trying to compete in the big leagues, you have to get it right every time you interact with a customer. You have to be spot on every time, whether through commercials, monthly invoices, welcome emails or support tickets.
“Customer Service is not a department, it’s everyone’s job.”
Let me clarify. When I said give a damn, I mean reach out to the client and just ask them how things are going. Have some swag? Pick a few clients and send it to them, do things for your clients without expecting anything in return. Anticipate what will cause your client headache. Often this will is a revenue opportunity in disguise.
6sync shows a good example of what giving a damn means when they sent out Christmas cards to their clients. Management, employees, friends and family of PEER1, Sqarespace and Fog Creek software carried 5 gallon buckets of diesel up 17 floors to keep their clients online during Superstorm Sandy.
I’ve discussed two keys here: Giving a damn and consistency. You must do both of these. Sending Christmas cards, taking part in a community charity or going above and beyond will not matter if you turn around and fail elsewhere. If a tweet to your CEO goes unanswered, or a customer service rep drops the ball – remember that Christmas card? It won’t buy that loyalty back.
Tell us in comments when one of your partner, vendors or even your own company has gone above and beyond and truly gave a damn. Check back next week for the second part of this series, where we’ll discuss what customers are truly looking for when they come to you.