Recently in Iowa, a major and unexpected power outage allowed for a unique opportunity: The chance to compare web hosting capabilities for one savvy entrepreneur who wanted to see exactly how different hosts stacked up during crunch time. Ellen Rollenhagen is an Iowa-based entrepreneur who knows how important securing good web hosting is, but it’s pretty challenging to see just how service-oriented hosts are unless they’re in the midst of an emergency. Her company manages websites for a variety of clients. Rollenhagen notes that, “Although relatively rare, these outages have a serious effect on clients and can take down thousands of websites at once. Communication during this time can be critical.”
As the owner/manager of a website that depends on “Host X” for uninterrupted service, you may lose business or even customers because of an outage—and the host’s related lack of communication. This is true whether the bulk of your business comes locally (and in this example your online customers may know about the outage), or if your website visitors are located around the world. Imagine this: Your host’s server goes down due to an outage and suddenly all your customers around the world can’t access your website. They don’t care why and they won’t do their research to find out there’s an outage. They’ll simply take their business elsewhere.
This can devastate a startup or small business.
And the winner is…
Rollenhagen was careful not to actually name the two hosts, but she does note that Host A is well known. She reached out to Host A when the outage, and subsequent websites, went down but says they “did not admit there was a problem until we had submitted four separate support tickets for affected clients.” She also points out that “simply” submitting those tickets took hours because she was put on hold every time she wanted to talk to one of the web host’s techs. She tried email, too, but it took 72 hours to get a reply. “There was never any sort of public statement regarding the overall status of the issue,” Rollenhagen says. “So we had to separately pursue tickets for each client, which means separate hours spent on hold for each status update.”
As for Host B, they were proactive and created an alert page to let clients know what was happening throughout the outage. Clients had the option to be alerted via email or text, and the host also posted updates to Twitter. Rollenhagen kept score, and noted that Host B posted Twitter updates every hour. Sometimes there was little to report, but the host would simply post, “Still working to resolve the issue.”
Holding the power
Since Host B was so proactive, Rollenhagen was able to keep her clients informed and updated. “When we reported specific client issues, they acknowledged the issues immediately and followed up to make sure they were resolved,” she says. For this entrepreneur, it reinforced just how critical customer service is with a web hosting company. “Trust comes not from being perfect, but from being honest,” she says.