I recently had a customer care encounter with one of the website hosting companies  I use which ended up as one of those experiences where a point or two get knocked off the ‘how likely are you to recommend us to a friend’ surveys.

I have a number of websites hosted with this particular company and was utilising the Uptime Robot service which reports on website availability in (more or less) real time. I received a number of reports of websites going down for a few minutes or longer then coming back up again during a 24 hour period. Somewhat worrisome if it’s your main interface with your public as it hardly builds confidence.

An email to the technical helpline garnered a rapid response apologising for the inconvenience and telling me it was because they were upgrading their servers and it was now all but completed. True to their word I got no more reports of floundering websites.

And then they asked for my feedback on my recent technical support engagement.

So I told them they had missed a massive opportunity to add to their customer satisfaction levels by not being proactive in letting me know beforehand about what they were doing, and how it would affect me. Let’s just look at what was involved.

  1. They were upgrading the quality of my service at no charge to me
  2. There was potential for a degraded service in the short term
  3. I had to contact them when I noticed something was wrong

1 is a positive, 2 and 3 are negatives which should have been neutralised by being proactive.

Before commencing they should have let me know that they were upgrading my services at no charge to me, and that there was a possibility of some disruption to service over a short time scale. They should also have given a projected timescale or let me know when it was completed. Yes I know, all blindingly obvious, but why do so many companies still not recognise why this benefits them or how it can harm them if they don’t do it?

Confidence always colours our purchasing decisions

To start off with, the idea of getting something for nothing is attractive as long as it’s credible. If the service has been acceptable up until then, that just adds to the believability. It also suggests that the company isn’t just sitting back and taking my money, they are looking at how to make my experience with them better. Warm feelings towards the company!

Secondly, if they was any service disruption, I wouldn’t have been surprised and wouldn’t have ended up calling tech support. If on the other hand I didn’t notice any disruption, then I would have felt relieved. More subconscious positive feelings toward the hosting company.

The opposite is also true however. Rational consideration of the technical issues doesn’t change that. At some level the company disappointed me because my websites were down and I didn’t know there was a risk of that happening, and that can’t be undone.

I’m not bitter and twisted about it, but it is still there subconsciously and will affect my relationship with that company from here on in whether I like it or not. There is now some lack of confidence in my mind and any further perceived slip-ups will confirm and extend that doubt and erode my confidence.

I’m not unusual in that, most customers are like me, but the thing is confidence always colours our purchasing decisions or our decisions as to whether to stay with a company.

If you are shopping online where do you spend your money. A name you recognise or a website that you have never heard of? What makes the difference? It is because you are given confidence by your experience or the experience of others which has resulted in a good reputation for that business.

This is the tightrope businesses tread every day. In the effort of trying to keep customers and find more, proactivity can get subsumed by the day to day. If routine problems can be anticipated however, then it’s relatively simple to keep your customer informed and thereby keep your customer. Every happy customer is a potential sales person for you.

The technology is available for even the smallest businesses to keep in touch with their customers through MailChimp et al, but if it’s only used to try to sell more stuff, then a trick is most definitely being missed. All it takes is a little thought ahead of time.