Adventures With Web Hosting – A Customer Service Tale

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Over at least the past six months, the performance of my websites has ranged from abysmal to flat out not being able to even access them. On-line chats with the support staff of my web hosting company have always been a nightmare. They read to me from a script and they always lay the blame on my sites and particularly whatever plugins I am using. A couple of months ago I was forced to beg and threaten until they finally agreed to escalate my service request to a higher tier. As it turned out, the server that hosted my sites was under a denial of service attack which they were attempting to fend off. During the battle, my sites were moved temporarily before being brought back on line. Even then, it took 48 hours before they were accessible again from any computer. I was not a happy camper. Problems I get. Poor customer service … I don’t.

A couple of days ago I needed to update a few of the plugins on the sites and this is a regular occurrence and a very simple process except that, on this day, the system would not allow me to do so on either site. After spending several hours with live chat support, and being consistently told that it was my issue and not theirs, and after having my requests to escalate this to a higher support channel flat refused, I gave up. I was done and I was done with them! That night, I contacted my web designer, Scott Prock, and informed him that we were moving. “Find me another host, I don’t care who, and get me and my sites the hell out of here and yesterday is already too late!”

Scott took it upon himself to contact the web hosting company, and this is a 1:00 AM, and managed to get them to create a ticket for escalated support. There was a response in my inbox when I got up the next morning which included a lot of technical jargon and suggested that it was fixed. It wasn’t. The next message I received indicated that it was now fixed, my server had been getting “flooded” and they cut off access to my WordPress updates to help stem the flood but, they had now made an exception to allow those to occur. Once again, I’d been hosed. The server that I was on was constantly getting hammered by traffic, authorized or not, from other sources and I was the one who was always paying the price. It might have been fixed but, we were still done with this company. Scott then suggested that we both write emails to their main support line and share with them our experiences. We did so and we let them have it with both barrels.

To my amazement, the messages started pouring in from several different departments and most appeared to be from upper management. One by one they fell on their swords (smart move) and they then told me that they were willing to move my sites to a new super server which had stats that I even I could appreciate. A conversation of healing continued. They did not attempt to throw money at me by way of free months of service which was also smart as money is not what I wanted and I would have been offended and disappointed by that offer. What they did do was they made it right. They moved my sites, followed up, and continued to ask me more questions about my experience and for any details that I could provide to help them to track down the parties involved and make sure that this did not happen again. They demonstrated concern.

I have spoken many times about the customer service experience. If your customer comes away from a transaction feeling that they got what they expected, I count that as a loss. Nobody remembers “what they expected”. If, on the other hand, you have exceeded their expectations, that is a win. Everybody remembers an expectation exceeded. Here’s another one for you and this is really the point of this post …

A negative customer service experience can be turned into an exceeded expectation, and an even stronger customer relationship than you would have had without the occurrence of the negative experience, provided that you correct that deficiency in a satisfactory and timely manner.

How can that be possible? Not that difficult to explain. If you are dealing with just about any product or service, there will come a time when something will go wrong and that will require some level of service. When nothing does go wrong, that meets my expectations (at least my hopes) and that is a neutral experience. If I am a realist I recognize that, at some point, I am going to need service and I am wondering what that experience will be like. Will they take care of my issues or won’t they?  Having spent the last week in the service lake of fire, I now know what I can expect from this company in the future. They stood up to the plate and they took care of me. If I were to move to another host … is the grass always greener or might it be brown?

Right now, I am a very happy. My sites are screaming fast. I have a closer relationship with this web hosting company than I probably would have had we not gone through this.  I would have to give them an “A+” for the final results but an “F” for the process that I had to go through to get to that “A”. I’ve told them that. Time will tell but, for now at least, I am willing to give them another chance to continue to earn my business.

Author: Craig M. Jamieson

Craig M. Jamieson is a lifelong B2B salesperson, manager, owner, and a networking enthusiast. Adaptive Business Services provides solutions related to the sales professional including Boise's best B2B leads groups, NetWorks! Boise Valley. We are a Nimble SCRM and a HootSuite Solution Partner and a Value Added Associate for TTI Performance Systems. Craig also conducts training and workshops primarily in social selling.