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Customer Service, part I

Written by Sean Valant

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

What unquestionably sets HostGator apart from other web hosts is, and will always be, our Customer Service. Customer Service is a dynamic term, and arguably a dying art form; I thought it might be interesting to discuss what it means in it’s various forms.  Being a fundamentally abstract concept, it’s defined and interpreted in multiple (and sometimes even conflicting) ways, even redefined at a moments notice. In other words, Customer Service can mean different things to different people… at different times.  What does Customer Service mean to you?

 

I suppose the most well worn phrase pertaining to this topic would simply be: “The Customer Is Always Right.”

For this blog post, I’m going theorize that HostGator has the level of Customer Service that we do simply because the Customer isn’t necessarily always right; that fact being key to what keeps us so closely engaged with our Customers.  If our Customers knew everything all of the time, then what use would they have for us?  In a way, our jobs depend on the Customer being wrong, at least some of the time.  Fortunately, we Gators are a helpful kind and truly enjoy working with you.

I feel like I should quantify the statement “the Customer isn’t necessarily always right” with at least one quick, specific example: WordPress plugins.  Plugins are fun and easy to install, but they come with a price.  It’s not an uncommon occurrence for an overly-plugin’d WordPress install on our Shared environment to be consuming an inordinate amount of system resources, particularly when coupled with a large surge in traffic.  Many plugins are doing significantly more behind the scenes that one may realize, with regard to system resources.  This circumstance can, in extreme cases, even result in an account becoming automatically suspended on the server for exceeding the maximum allowed resources for the given cPanel, completely due to excessive plugins.  When this happens, the Customer can become understandably upset regarding the suspension, though once we explain the cause and assist with scaling back the installed plugins, then all is well.  It’s more or less a case of us fundamentally correcting an improper course of action taken by our Customer.  While we’re on this subject, remember: the less plugins, the better.

I cannot stress enough the fact that we enjoy assisting our Customers.  The vast majority of our staff eagerly awaits troublesome issues, because those issues are an opportunity for us to learn, ourselves.  We don’t always immediately know everything, all the time; no one does.  But our ingrained Customer Service values will result in us never letting you see us sweat, even if we’re pouring through Google and querying any gurus throughout the office on a quest to answer your question, or fix your problem as quickly as humanly possible.

We pride ourselves on this aspect of our business and it truly sets the tone for our daily operations.  For us, Customer Service isn’t necessarily the Customer always being “right,” but it is an ever-expanding process of serving our Customers in such a way as to always exceed their expectations, in every way possible.

Our Customer Service Department sets the proverbial bar in this industry, constantly going above and beyond to better serve you.  When we next speak on this topic, I’ll discuss some of the things those folks do and some more points on exactly how our entire company is built upon a foundation of Customer Service.

In the meantime, we’d like to hear from you.  Leave us a comment letting us know what Customer Service means to you.

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Customer Service
Comments

8 Responses to Customer Service, part I

  1. gkvaughn says:

    At what point does a WP site/blog become “overly-plugin’d”? Is there a number of plugins one shouldn’t exceed, or is there a list of plugins that are known to be resource hogs?

    • HostGator says:

      Excellent question. As an example, today we had a Customer who was having an issue with their WP site… it had 65 plugins. That’s definitely too many. Our blog here runs on WP also, here are the plugins we use: All in One SEO Pack, Disqus Comment System, Facebook Like, Google Analytics, Slickr Flickr, TweetMeme Retweet Button, W3 Total Cache, Google +1 Button, & WP DB Optimizer.

      Most of what we use facilitates sharing across social media platforms, but it’s generally a good idea to have some type of caching plugin. One more note about plugins; they often can cause issues with each other. You may be fine using plugin A or plugin B, but when you have both at the same time, it creates significant issues. Sadly, there really is no guide to what will conflict with what, so there may be some trial and error while each person finds the best situation for their given circumstance. Happy blogging!

  2. Simon says:

    From a far-flung part of the globe, I agree that HG IM support is among the best of the type that I’ve experienced. Sure, maybe one or two small lapses, but hell: 100% perfect is asking a lot. However, I have a suggestion. The ‘canned’ phrases that the techs / agents seem to have ready access to need a little tweak, every so often. Think ‘trite’ and think ‘cliche’ and then maybe the word ‘insincere’ might come to mind. When I need help, I do try to engage with HG staff by being, well, engaging.

    Consider this: if someone has a hosting account with HG and calls in with a problem: “thank you for allowing us to be of service to you” is worse than trite. Who else was the customer going to contact? Any sort of support service for a HG account sure isn’t going to come from Dell, or Intel, or Mozilla HQ.

    Abe Lincoln once said that it was better to be silent and risk being thought a fool than to open mouth and remove all doubt. To paraphrase: better to avoid the syrupy sentiments and risk being thought of as insincere than to paste/gush cliches and remove all doubt.

    • HostGator says:

      I do understand your perspective, Simon. This is a perfect example of part of what this blog illustrates; not everyone will agree on what Customer Service is. Where one person may find these generalized courteous statements superfluous, another person will find them attentive and respectful. In some instances, some phrases in chat may be used simply as an acknowledgement that we are still working on the issue, as our experience has been that if a chat Agent has too much of a delay in a response while working on an issue, that the Customer may begin wondering if they are still there and grow impatient, so these small courtesy (arguably “filler”) statements that an Agent may say also serve to just check in so the Customer knows we are still there and working.

      I hope this perhaps sheds some light on the nature of some of the statements you are referring to. And I appreciate your having weighed in on this topic. :)

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  4. Dennis says:

    I’ve migrated over a dozen websites to your hosting service and have appreciated your LiveChat functionality while transferring. It has made the process easy and particularly helpful having the immediacy of response. Your responses have been professional. Unfortunately I am now having to move everything to another provider because your validating team is so inflexible over their policy to have a scanned/photographed credit card. I’m sorry to see the end of the HG support team but as they say, a chain is only as strong as it’s weakest link!

    • HostGator says:

      It is truew that when certain flags are raised regarding a new account, that our Fraud Prevention Department may require additional documentation to ensure the legitimacy of a sign-up. This is simply an aspect of security, which exists for our protection as well as yours. It is regrettable that this circumstance would cause you to look elsewhere for hosting, please email us at feedback@hostgator.com if there is anything we can do to assist.

  5. CandleForex says:

    We have been with HG for years.

    In short for us, customer service can be defined in one word: “HostGator”.

    The eagerness to help and the speed of support from the likes of Zach, Irving and many more people at HG is just fantastic. They really do go out of their way to fix issues.

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