All industries need to understand the importance of keeping their current customers happy, And, in the last few years, there has been an upsurge and increase in the demand for higher standards of customer service in the web hosting sector.
The advent of cloud hosting and specialised web hosting for niche platforms like WordPress along with the demand for higher bandwidth and higher data storage has increased the number of players in this industry.
Consequently, The web hosting niche has become increasingly competitive with over 10,000 hosting companies in North America alone – all competing for the same market.
With the introduction of cloud hosting, small to medium-sized hosting companies have to do everything they can to increase and diversify their offerings to compete with large corporate brands like AWS and Google.
What strategies should your hosting company do to remain competitive, keep your current customers, and get new customers?
1- Understand Client Needs
Just because a web host is good for one company doesn’t necessarily mean it is good for another. There are so many different types of hosting packages along with varying requirements for each business that makes a one-solution-for-all unrealistic.
For example, small business websites have different needs than membership, portfolios, and E-commerce sites. These business owners might need some help to understand their hosting requirements.
If your staff can clearly communicate the different options available based on the specific needs of the business, the more likely that customer will choose a package that works for him from your company.
The better the solution they choose works for them, the more likely they are to stay with your company, all other things being equal.
The evidence that a web hosting company understands its client needs is the existence of a simplified sales structure. Prospective clients and business want to be able to tell at a glance, what is in the web hosting package, what it covers and what it doesn't cover.
Web hosting companies that fail to explain its service offerings and the extent of its service provisions are leaving money on the table.
Most small business do not have time to wade through the plethora of web hosting options.
They need to know the type of hosting they're getting, the availability of storage space, email services, up-time, and the relationship between the number of domains, sub-domains and the overall hosting package.
Clear and succinct web host packaging is a mark that the web host has done its homework in regard to client expectations.
A well-designed website is the starting point. Service offerings should be laid out in a clear and obvious manner. Navigation and movement through the site should be logical.
If a prospective client cannot navigate your site easily they will simply move to a hosting service with greater transparency.
2- Customer Support
Of course, not everything can be answered on the sales page or the lead page of a website. So, after good design and good, clear package provision, the next important thing is the availability of immediate support to prospective customers.
The quality of customer support is often cited as either a pro or con in company reviews depending upon if the service is perceived as good or bad.
The reason for this is self-evident. If you do not provide stellar customer service and support to your client base, they will leave you and move to a competitor who does.
In the hosting industry, being able to get customer questions answered or issues resolved promptly will go a long way in keeping your current clients.
The reason for this is that almost all businesses, large and small, have a website. Unless they have a dedicated IT staff or are technically-proficient themselves, they will need to rely on expert advice and help from their web host.
With technology advancing at an incredible rate, keeping up with it has become a job in and of itself. Hosting companies are more aware of the latest trends and need to be able to communicate with their less technical customer-base so as to continuously meet the needs of their business.
Practical customer service provision would include access via telephone, personal online chat and fast email or help desk turn around.
For many web host providers, the purchasing decisions are made within a matter of minutes. If the prospective buyer does not have access to immediate conversation, there's a good chance that you will lose a customer.
For those considering web hosting, if you cannot find a simple way of making contact, both quickly and easily, with a web hosting company, that may be a sign of things to come.
Poor customer service at the sale stage would indicate too many prospective buyers poor technical support down the road.
3- Reliable and Proficient Technical Team
Speaking of technical support, proficiency and reliability are essential for all companies when responding to customer issues and complaints.
More than ever before, the web hosting industry needs to be on top of their game.
There are so many issues that can affect a company’s website that many business owners do not comprehend because they are not highly technical. They rely on your company’s support team to help them understand what is happening, why it is happening, and how it can be resolved.
The faster issues are resolved correctly, the better the chances that your customers will be satisfied, the higher the likelihood they will refer your company to others, and the longer they will stay with your company.
A 20 minute turn-around for helpdesk support is acceptable. One or two hours is not uncommon. But if service response move beyond the three hour mark then again the web hosting company is leaving money on the table and we'll soon find itself left behind by more efficient web hosting services.
The quality of technical support goes beyond just knowledge and information. There are many things that the average small business owner said we cannot do them self with efficiency.
As a result, an expectation has developed that the technical support of a web hosting service will be able to solve common issues. It's not good enough to simply refer people to documentation. If technical support could step in and solve the problem within 10 minutes, then they should.
It is this level of support that will encourage higher customer retention and more often than not, a greater number of successful referrals.
4- Transparency and Honesty
As soon as you lose the trust of your customers, they are gone. In an industry like web hosting, it is more important than ever to be transparent and honest with your client base as their hosting needs change while their business grows.
Customer or client loyalty is is not only maintained through transparency in terms of product and service disclosures, but as dental marketing expert, Justin Morgan points out, it is also true in regard to your marketing.
The last thing you want to do is be dishonest about an advertised hosting package you have sold them and pretend it does more than it actually does.
You can rest assured that if you tell a customer that they have more than enough bandwidth and their website shuts down because they have exceeded their bandwidth limit, they will not be happy and rightly so.
It is better to be up front and explain in layman’s terms, especially to non-technical customers, which package is best for their needs even if it means they will have to spend more money than they anticipated.
5- Communicate with Your Customer and Keep Them Informed
If there is a change, upgrade, or downtime on a hosting platform, your customers would rather hear about it from you than find out the hard way when their website breaks or can't be accessed.
Make sure your clients know that there will be times when routine backups and general maintenance is required. Then send them reminders or post on your website when these events occur.
If your customer is having a specific issue or problem, be honest about the time required for resolution. If it is taking longer than anticipated, communicate with them and give them an updated progress report.
While most business do not want to be bombarded with unnecessary sales pitches and product upgrades that they were not looking for, it is still necessary for a high-quality web hosting service to provide regular updates on its service provision.
This is an opportunity to highlight milestones and upgrades in technology. It's an opportunity to reinforce the quality of your service provision and stabilize the confidence clients have with the web hosting service.
If the only thing that the email marketing department of a web hosting company is doing is trying to up-sell and introduce a continual variety of products, they will soon find their conversion rates tanking.
Keeping your clients with your hosting company all starts with caring about them and their needs.
You show you care by providing outstanding customer and technical support, communicating clearly with them, and resolving their issues or problems correctly and quickly. You can increase confidence by occasionally mentioning milestones that are relevant to the client.
Smart web hosting companies keep their clients by implementing a consistent and stable communication channel that reinforces transparency, efficient customer service. It will be a service that responds with a high level of technical skill that can be explained and implemented in layman's terms and packaged with transparent pricing models.
As the demand for higher quality internet and web hosting services continues, only those web hosting providers who are able to provide these essential elements will be able to maintain high-quality customer satisfaction and an increase in customer acquisition.
About the author: David Trounce
David is the Co-Founder of Mallee Blue Media, a Content and Publishing service for agencies and business websites. David is an Australian born content creator and search marketing consultant with a background in small business.
He also writes for Business.com, GrowMap and Born2Invest.