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Numbers That Matter

Written by Douglas Hanna

Friday, July 25th, 2008

Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.
– Albert Einstein


I work with many companies of many sizes through my consulting business. When HostGator offered me the opportunity to conduct a customer satisfaction survey for them, I jumped at the chance. Even though customer satisfaction as a topic profoundly interests me, I have generally held the view that numbers themselves are painfully boring. I’ve never liked math and I have always felt that numbers are things that are best left to the experts who actually like numbers.

Over the last two weeks, though, I’ve been immersing myself in numbers – especially numbers relating to customer satisfaction. HostGator has sent out nearly ten thousand surveys to random customers and people who have completed live chats. The result? A lot of data (and a lot of numbers) on what HostGator’s customers think of the company and how its doing.

Fortunately, the results we gathered from all that data were neither shocking nor surprising. While there were no astonishing revelations, there was data that confirmed what HostGator thought based on gut feeling and there was data that showed everyone some interesting trends and correlations.

  • That data showed that just about 90% of HostGator customers gave a positive response when asked how likely they were to recommend HostGator to a friend or colleague. The average “would you recommend” rating was 8.36.
  • A similar percentage of HostGator customers felt the company’s employees were able to resolve their problems. The average “agent performance” answer was 8.55.
  • Roughly 83% of the customers surveyed through post-chat surveys responded saying that HostGator resolved their issues in a timely manner.
  • About 91% of HostGator’s customers rated the customer service ability of HostGator’s employees positively.
  • In every survey conducted with a 0 to 10 scale, 10 was the most popular choice.

Even though the ratings HostGator received were pretty good by essentially any standard, HostGator wants 90% or more of ratings at an exemplary, not a “pretty good” level. To HostGator’s management team and to me, exemplary means means that just about 100% of a company’s ratings would be 9’s and 10’s. Averages would then be in the mid 9’s instead of the mid 8’s.

The fact that HostGator was willing to conduct the surveys and then share the results shows a lot about the company.

In the business world, there is no shortage of companies that approach customer satisfaction with complete confidence that the results will be overwhelmingly positive. As the results come in, the executives at these companies quickly learn that ignorance is not bliss and does not provide for adequate protection against shocks to the ego.

These executives see painfully disappointing results and even more disappointing feedback from customers, all of which indicate that the real world is very different from what they had assumed.

HostGator has done just the opposite. Not only have they asked me to share the results of their surveys, but they have already started making changes and working on improvements. HostGator’s management team is not conducting these surveys just to see where they are and leave it at that – they are conducting these surveys to gather the information necessary to make changes and to improve

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Customer Service
Comments

33 Responses to Numbers That Matter

  1. EE says:

    I’ve conducted very similar surveys within the hosting industry as the one you have done. Make sure you take into account WHO filled out the survey in the first place when analyzing the meaning of the results and implementing your fixes to increase those numbers.

    If your survey group consists of current customers of HostGator, then in all honesty I think your results are just a tad over mediocre. I mean, essentially you’re asking happy customers if they’re happy (or at least asking customers not mad enough to leave if they’re happy), so your numbers will be overwhelmingly positive. Conversely, send the same survey to all of your cancelled customers and you’ll probably see more negative than normal numbers. For instance, after conducting one such survey myself and determining that 88% of people that were surveyed had a “positive impression” of the company I worked for, and 70% would consider referring, I was immediately floored by what I interpreted to be nearly overwhelmingly negative stats. That is to say, of people happy enough to keep their Web site with our company, more than 1 out of 10 of those weren’t happy enough with the service to rate it a positive experience, and 3 out of 10 wouldn’t refer!

    Your true stat with customer satisfaction comes from both your ongoing subscribers, who generally tell you what you’re doing right, and your cancellations, who generally tell you what you’re doing wrong. As a whole, that’s how you can attack your plan of improving your customer service.

    Anyway, the best part of this post is you mentioning HG already implementing measures to increase those numbers. It sounds like you’ve already identified that 9 out of 10 is no longer a stat to be content with.

  2. Douglas says:

    Kayol,

    Unfortunately, all statistics can be manipulated and many organizations do that just that. Some manipulate the results, others apply “loading” on questions to the point where they’re statistically invalid. It’s a pretty common occurrence for everyone from Fortune 100 companies to the U.S. government to manipulate every type of statistic you can imagine.

    With that in mind, though, you have to have faith in the company conducting the survey and in their ways of reporting the results. HostGator has a long standing track record of being a transparent and honest company and I believe the statistics reported above coincide with that.

    And I feel it is worth mentioning that HostGator has very little to gain from manipulating the numbers. The company is not publicly traded and they’ve already reported that there is room to improve and that good is not good enough. The ratings on third party review sites say just that as well – HostGator does a good job, but is not perfect.

  3. popo says:

    Yes, they’re the best !

  4. Keith W says:

    The results of the survey do not surprise me.

    Brent strikes me as one of those people where being good at something is not good enough and he continually strives for excellence and it is this sort of drive and determination that benefits everybody in the long run.

  5. sweeboo says:

    man, I can’t wait to host my sites on hostgator next month. Hope the words speak for reality :)

  6. Baki says:

    After reading a lot of excellent reviews for Hostgator on literally every site and after speaking with numerous webmasters on DP forums, we decided to move our main site to Hostgator in January 2009. We hope that Hostgator will transfer the domain and databese.
    As Sweeboo said we hope the words speak for reality

  7. Alonzo says:

    I’ve been a Hostgator Client for a few years now, I don’t regreat moving from Imhosted. I can say I really appreciate the way Hostgator handle my support chats and phone calls. To me support is the key ti keeping your clients and in my book they do a fantastic job of support. Too add I’ve had atleast 5 host and don’t think I’ll be leaving here.

  8. Courtney J,

    Thanks for figuring a way to help us launch our client’s new site — in the absence of our IT guru. Your understanding, cooperation & “can-do” thinking was above expectations, and sincerely appreciated.

    We’re now even bigger fans of Host Gator.

    Peter Godefroy
    Dragonfly Design Group / Principal

  9. robert says:

    let it not be so

  10. rick sparks says:

    HostGator seems to be very thourogh. Thank You.

  11. Very well written post, loved it. Keep more of them coming!

  12. Amber says:

    Either way, everyone is different, you may lose faster or slower and if you have more to lose it comes off faster until you get to a weight close to your goal. I lost weight by exercising for 40-45 minutes 6 days a week (I usually did Hip Hop Abs, but lots of other at-home DVD videos too) and following the Diet Solution Program’s plan. I did a diet because if I’m not accountable to myself I have no willpower and eat anything I want, but it isn’t necessary as long as you eat healthy. Now I have started P90X which is intense, but hopefully I shed pounds faster. If you want to look up either of the videos go to http://www.losequicklyweight.net. Hope that helps good luck!!!

  13. Angie says:

    Im glad that I read this. Thanks for the information and keep up the good work with your blog. Regards.

  14. Nene Gray says:

    Your service is very good!

  15. Lovers says:

    Thank you and see you later. I’ll be buck with cool news for you. Don’t forget to grab stuffs behead !

  16. nikki says:

    Thanks for creating such a nice blog, It was a pleasure reading it and posting a comment.

  17. Nick Thomson says:

    First of all, I would like to say that I like the quote of Albert Einstein at the beginning of the article as it’s really great, I think, and deep. As for importance of numbers, well, I know what you mean as I’m dealing with them every day. Numbers seems to be an inseparable part of my life because I’m occupied as a financial advisor at one experienced and developed American company and I often have to calculate. I didn’t like it at first and considered it even boring. But in some time I began to enjoy it, even can’t say exactly why. Anyway, it you want to see what I’m dealing with you can visit the site of the company I work in http://consolidatedebtsloans.com/.

  18. Pitumbo says:

    I’ve been with Hostgator for years, and their service has never been anything but top notch. It doesn’t surprise me at all that their customers are extremely satisfied. Keep up the good work HG!

  19. Ernie Suarez says:

    Having used a few of the “discount” hosting services, for a previous reseller business, I can tell you…they are not worth the aggravation they can cause you and your customers. I’m glad I found Hostgator, their service and support are among the best, and the cost is reasonable. As I begin a new hosting reseller business, I hope for a long relationship with this company!

    Thanks

  20. Lyle Elton says:

    I just want to drop a note to say that I just had an experience with a hostgator employee and her name is Teresa A. This was the most amazing experience I have ever had with support people she was so pleasant,helpful and more . I can’t put into words how happy I am with her . The only other thing I can say is I hope the boss gets to read this and realizes how lucky they are to have her on their team . I think she should be used as a model for all other employees and if I were hostgator I would do everything in my power to make sure that she is well compensated and looked after and not lose her because that would be a big downfall. I will always be a hostgator customer because of Teresa A .

  21. peter says:

    Yes, they’re the best !

  22. I’m thinking of switching to HG from godaddy since my service sucks for WP application

  23. Web Hosting says:

    HostGator do a very good job.

    • Dinafem says:

      I agree, we’ve found that hostgator offer a great service, simple and quick which means everything in the online business. We also have found that their live support is amazing, really helpful and go above and beyond to help you. We had an issue after moving to a vps with them and they were so on the ball and we spend about 2 hours over the live support with them until it was fixed. Great service for sure.

  24. Stephan Söderberg says:

    WHAT IS THIS CONFUSION?!?!
    The support gave me this link: https://secure.hostgator.com/restore.php
    I applied for a transfer, you discover that you wrongly charged me and then nothing happens, and now this!

    “Hello,

    This is more of a website transfer from one account to another, this could be better accomplished by doing a Transfer request athttp://www.hostgator.com/transfer.php

    Please reply to this ticket with any more questions or concerns you may have.

    Best regards,
    Peter Rodriguez
    Linux Administrator”

    I sold in a HostGator account on your behalf and I have spoked well in that you are the best web host.
    – and now my client gets insecure on my services!

    I WANT THIS FIXED NOW!!!
    Don’t live dangerously in the social media age!

    :(

  25. Mark says:

    Finally went back to HG after dealing with a couple of unsavory host providers. Best decision I made, and ain’t turning back.

    Thanks HG!

    Best regards,

    Mark
    http://UberNifty.com

  26. James Bowie says:

    I would have to agree that hostgator service and support has in the past been second to none. Unfortunately, recently this has all changed and their service and support is very very dismal now. Raising a support ticket these days is quite scary as you just know that you will be answered by someone who either does not understand english or will not or cannot help in any way.

    I am going to go elsewhere today if my latest tickets are not resolved, which is a shame as I have been with HG since 2007 and until recently have been very happy.

  27. Frankie says:

    Yes they are great we are soooo happy we made the switch!

  28. Ahmad farid says:

    Great I love HG and will

  29. skysenshi says:

    I used this host for my brother’s toys and games business and when I decided to transfer one of my mature sites (nothing illegal, basically just deconstructing how women are portrayed in many anime and video game titles), they gave me a hard time. First they asked me for identity verification, and then without notice they suspended my account without first reading what it contained. Reputable companies like J-List would not work with me if I were doing something fishy.

    I am still waiting for their response to the last ticket I sent in compliance with two of their customer service reps’ requests.

    Another complaint is that they seem to have 3 different interfaces for their support tickets. Confusing!

    So far, my first 48 hours have been a nightmare but hopefully it will get better soon. I certainly would like to be treated the same way my brother has been.

  30. wrt54g says:

    no wireless

  31. Pharm East says:

    I love there service

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