Written by Sean Valant
Tuesday, January 15th, 2013
Please see Part I, right here. As our story continues, I am now on the chat floor speaking primarily on the phone with Customers, though also taking random chats as well between calls. Starting to get into the swing of things, but still not completely at ease. I’ve managed to not break anything or anger anyone, so I figure I’m doing well enough. Many of our Customers are familiar with the firstname.lastname@example.org email address, which is directly read by Management and is intended for use any time anyone has any complaints or praise about anything at all related to their HostGator account or the related support they’ve received. Thus far, I have assisted a few Customers who took the time to email in to let my Supervisor know about the quality of my work. It’s always nice to have nice things said about you by strangers.
Having never provided technical support to the general public in any capacity before, those first few days were interesting and full of constant learning. I wanted to do the best I could and maintain HostGator’s stellar level of support, but at the same time I lacked the actual experience which is what ultimately leads to complete confidence. Time would solve this circumstance, but time takes time. I can honestly say that working on the chat floor was fast-paced and exciting and there was truly never a dull moment.
I decided to query some veteran Gators on their initial impressions from when they were brand new Hatchlings, fresh out of training. The consensus seems to be pretty similar to my own experience. Presenting, in alphabetical order, some initial impressions from my fellow Gators:
Cody (presently a Linux Admin): “When I first started as a Chat Tech, I was kind of overwhelmed by the huge amount of information, but very excited by the huge learning opportunity in front of me. I did all I could every day, studied the KnowledgeBase, and life got easier and easier each day.”
Dominic (presently a Sales Representative): “It felt like my first time swimming. I was scared, splashing around trying to quickly find answers to questions I just learned. As I was flailing wildly, I held on to whomever was there: Quality Assurance, Level 2 Chat Agents, Supervisors… whoever didn’t mind that I had a deathgrip on their arm”
Kristi (presently a Retention Specialist): “I was so nervous. Fortunately the resources, tools and overall assistance provided allowed me to quickly grow to where I became much more confident and comfortable working directly with the Customers.”
Russell (presently a Linux Admin): “I felt overwhelmed at first, but the more I worked with customers, the more knowledgeable I became and the easier and more enjoyable the job became to me.”
Zach (presently a Linux Admin): “It was like playing that lightening reaction game: each time you start a new chat it’s panic until the Customer describes the problem… and then you realize that yes, you can actually fix this.”
It seems that almost all of us start out with a certain degree of cold feet, but ultimately we have all risen to other positions within the company and made room for dozens and dozens of new Hatchlings that will follow in our paths. Speaking of new Hatchlings, this is a picture of our Austin Training room on the day this post was written. Behold, the future generation of HostGator, likely presently feeling that initial nervousness of which we’re speaking:
It should truly go without saying that most of our interactions with our Customers are overwhelmingly pleasant, but anyone providing front-line support will always have an interesting or unusual interaction. One of the Customers that sticks out for me was an individual who initially took a shine to me and began requesting me each time time they called. This particular Customer wound up calling up to discuss a myriad of topics, including their recent doctor appointments and on-going health issues. Another call was to request my assistance in repairing a hardware issue on their home computer. We have a very soft “scope of support” here at HostGator, but troubleshooting home PCs (or doctor appointment visits) is simply not a service we can really provide, with our apologies.
Before too long, I would be promoted to a position where I no longer actively accepted telephone calls, thus was the end of my interactions with that particular Customer… at least as of this writing, but one never knows. As for the position to which I was promoted, we will certainly come to that as we further speak on this topic.
Once again, if you have any questions at all about our front-line Agents, or anything at all that has been discussed up to this point, please leave your question in the comments section and I’ll be happy to elaborate.
Written by Sean Valant
Monday, December 24th, 2012
As the year comes to a close, not only should we all reflect upon the successes and any failures of the year in order to grow from the lessons contained in each, we should also set aside some time to simply celebrate. Celebration has manifested in multiple forms here at HostGator this year, and we’ve had a lot to celebrate. It had been a truly great year, full of very positive change and we’re all looking forward to what the new year will bring.
We had our annual holiday party recently, but before we get into those pictures I wanted to share with you the tree that was set up in one of our Houston buildings last week:
Every tree needs a topper; some sort of symbol or designation that sets the tone for the season and for the tree itself. Apparently for a HostGator tree, that symbol is Darth Malgus, of “Star Wars: The Old Republic” fame. It’s starting to look like this tree was decorated by, well, nerds. There’s the aforementioned jack-o-lantern again. Also, we see an Ethernet cable and a network switch; further supporting this nerd theory. And is that a telephone receiver? Let’s take a further look:
Yes, that is indeed a telephone receiver. We also now see a couple of HostGator lanyards. No tree would be complete without Snappy, but is that also a more realistic gator there on the left? Yes, it does appear so. Below, we’ll find a rubik’s cube and a keyboard:
And what nerdy tree would be complete without a couple of O’Reilly books underneath; always give the gift of learning:
Now that you’ve seen this amazing tree, we’ll move right along to the company party. The Houston party was held at Dave & Busters, a Texas-based restaurant and entertainment complex.
The series of pictures will best tell the tale of the company party; we ate, we drank, we played games. It went something like this:
It’s safe to say that a good time was had by all. We came together as a company to celebrate our successes and share some time together. Thank you, from the bottom of our collective heart, for allowing us to have such a great year and we look forward to serving you for many, many years to come. Have a safe and happy holiday and new year from all of your friends here at HostGator!
Written by Sean Valant
Monday, October 22nd, 2012
HostGator.com was registered on October 22nd, 2002; Ten years ago today. A lot has happened in that time, but we have remained true to the initial vision for the company throughout. It is with great pride and a strong sense of achievement that we acknowledge this anniversary.
Customer Service remains king here at HostGator. It is the foundation upon which the entire company has been built. We have had our growing pains, and learned the inherent lessons therein, but we have never wavered from that initial desire to provide outstanding Customer Service.
As we leave our single-digit years behind and walk confidently into our double-digits, we are stronger and more ready to take on the future than ever before. We thank every single one of you who have allowed us to serve you over the years, and we welcome everyone to continue walking with us on this amazing journey.
Do you follow us on Twitter and Facebook? If so, you could win free hosting or even one of our infamous and coveted plush Snappys! We will be doing random give-aways all day today in celebration of our anniversary. Like us on FaceBook and follow us on Twitter for your chance to win! In fact, leaving a comment on this very blog post could potentially be worthwhile as well, but be sure to use a valid email address.
And without further ado: Happy Birthday, Snappy!
Written by Sean Valant
Wednesday, October 17th, 2012
This year’s annual cPanel conference was held October 8-10 in Houston, Texas. Being that Houston is home base for HostGator, there were many Gators prowling about the conference. An excellent time was had by all, from the exhibitor floor and the myriad of speakers to the daily meals and nightly outings and events. You will be hard pressed to find a conference that can top cPanel’s; they do it right!
The festivities kicked off with a dueling piano show at local nightspot Howl at the Moon. Howl at the Moon is quite an experience on any given night, and the cPanel party was no exception. Songs and drinks flowed freely, the open bar may have had something to do with that, and the dueling pianists did an excellent job of taking requests from the crowd and otherwise playing hit after hit:
Keeping in mind that all of this happened before the doors had actually opened on the conference, one of the highlights of the evening would have to be the spontaneous on-stage “Gangnam Style” group dance. This pic simply doesn’t do the actual event justice, but shall nonetheless be shared here for posterity’s sake:
The first day of the actual conference found Snappy wandering around the exhibition floor and posing for pictures with conference revellers, including Bluehost founder / BetterLinux CEO / all-around ping pong champion Matt Heaton:
Matt actually had a standing offer at the BetterLinux booth; anyone who beat him at ping pong won a laptop. It can pretty much go without saying that no one was able to win that laptop. Here’s Matt taking on one of our very own Admin Supervisors:
Snappy somehow snuck away long enough to play some Guitar Hero in the conference arcade, conveniently located right next to the HostGator booth.
Speaking of the HostGator booth, here’s Brian and Joe holding down the fort:
Those white squares you see on the big Snappy there aren’t bandaids. They’re actually QR code stickers that were related to a convention activity. Have no fear, Snappy didn’t cut himself shaving or get into a fight with any other mascots or anything like that; he was simply participating in the festivities.
We had a great time meeting everyone, talking and handing out HostGator items like the adorable and somewhat infamous plushie Snappys as well as the smaller, squishy stress-ball Snappys. Regarding those stress-ball Snappys, we happened to come across a rather interesting one. Now, we aren’t trying to alarm anyone with talk of an impending zombie apocalypse, however we did find this one Snappy that was, well, slightly different than all the other Snappys:
As day one of the conference wound down, we all prepared for the second night out with our fellow conference attendees. The venue for night number two was a club called Roak. Once again an excellent time was had by all. Roak is an indoor-outdoor club; inside featured a live band, the Spazmatics:
The outdoor section of Roak has a swimming pool, which you can see there in the middle of the picture below. At one point, a couple of conference attendees did go ahead and take the plunge, actually jumping into the pool.
Towards the end of the night, quite a few folks found their way onto the stage, joining the band for their final encore:
The next morning found us back on the conference floor, bright and early. Snappy, being an ever-popular Gator, wound up hanging out at various other booths on day two. It seemed anywhere we went in the exhibit hall, there was a Snappy in view. Here’s Snappy at the BetterLinux booth:
And here’s Snappy sitting pretty at the ServerHub booth, who were our very kind neighbors for the duration of the conference:
Before it was all said and done, Snappy even found time to get in a game of ping pong. And no, he didn’t win the laptop:
As the conference began winding down, we couldn’t help but to reflect on the entire experience and what exactly it all meant. Yes, cPanel throws an excellent conference and we’re already looking forward to next year’s in New Orleans. Yes, Houston is a great party town with a vivid nightlife. Yes, our industry is exciting and any time we come together will undoubtedly be good times. But how exactly to sum all of that up? Well, I think this picture essentially does exactly that:
We simply cannot conclude this blog post without sending an enormous thank you in particular to cPanel, but also to every single person we interacted with at the conference. We hope you all had as good of time as we did. See you next year!
To see even more pictures from the conference and the nightly parties, check out our official Flickr photostream.