Archive for January, 2007

Companies and their customers…

Tuesday, January 23rd, 2007

Why do companies go out of there way to make customers angry? Have you noticed how many products and services seem like they were designed to frustrate the customer? This blog entry is going to be a rant. It won’t accomplish much except to make me feel better at the end :) Below are some products, services, or business practices that I feel are a complete slap in the face to the consumer.

1) DVDs that won’t allow you to skip the advertisements at the beginning before you can watch them – I can only imagine the group of dimwits sitting around a table deciding that angering millions of people to make a quick advertising buck was worth it. I can’t stand to start a movie for my kids only to have to wait 10 minutes to actually start the movie. I avoid buying kids movies for this very reason. When will they ever learn?

2) AC power adapters with no label on them – Everyone I know has a drawer full of black ac power adapters that they have no idea what they are used for. Manufacturers don’t have them labeled because they cost a little bit more. Many of these are used for several different devices and they save their 2 cents by not having them labeled for their specific device. Sure I can label my devices myself but should I have to? Come on!

3) Airlines miles that you can’t use when you want, and have to pay double when you do use them – The days of 25,000 points equal to a single coach airline ticket are gone for most airlines. Sure they “advertise” it, but when you try to use them you find out that those tickets are full but if you want you can “upgrade” and use double your points to get what you should have gotten in the first place. Delta Airlines is the king of customer dissatisfaction. Based on my findings I estimate that they provide somewhere between 4-6 seats per flight that are the 25,000 points per ticket. After that you need to use DOUBLE your points for the same ticket. Airlines are probably the worst offenders of any company when it comes to dealing with customers. The level of disgust is enormous in this market!

4) Any company that does mail in rebates – Mail in rebates were invented to charge people with more money a higher cost than those without. That has been the marketing/sales problem for many a company. How do we get the most money out of each customer? The problem is that all it does is make your customers angry. I will always avoid buying a product with a mail in rebate because I find the marketing practive so distasteful. Over the years it has become such a problem with customers that many large retail chain stores like Staples won’t even allow it anymore. If the rebate can’t be taken at the register then don’t even have it. There aren’t many things that makes a customer feel more put out than mail in rebates!

There are obviously more customer relationship issues than what I mentioned above, but those are some that get to me personally. Companies should consider the long term implications of their short term decisions with regard to customers. For some companies it doesn’t matter how they treat the consumer. In return, we should reward these companies by taking our business elsewhere. If company executives would simply ask themselves if they personally would like to deal with/participate/use the products in the manner that they expect their customers to do so that many of these ridiculous practices would be eliminated.

I feel much better now :)

Thanks,
Matt Heaton / President Bluehost.com

Working with competitors…

Saturday, January 20th, 2007

Over the last several months I have worked feverishly to further educate myself in the area of performance and system tuning to overcome server issues and improve our customers satisfaction and hosting experience. As the President of Bluehost.com my responsibilities normally take me far from the technical issues that I normally love to work with but lately I have felt that some things are simply best done yourself. In this case it has paid off handsomely as our server loads have dropped considerably and server speeds are now faster than they have ever been before.

The thing that surprised me the most was how I obtained the information to increase our speeds. Much of the information was obtained from competitors. How could this be? Simple, I make it a priority to call and discuss hosting issues with many of the companies that I compete with. I try and do this once a month. I truly want to help these companies with technical problems and business decisions that they come up against. I help where I can and most of these companies return the favor when I am looking for information as well. Over time we have come to trust and help each other so that we might both have a better hosting service.

Many see this as a strange way to do business. I don’t have to hurt other businesses in order for me to succeed. Quite the opposite actually. When I need help or want to see how our operation compares with another company that is similiar to mine I ask them and normally without hesitation help is given. I try and give help myself even if it is unsoliciated. Often I have called competitors and told them of a problem or security concern that we have seen and to tell them where to look to find the problem and what we did to solve it. I do this because I believe what many say but don’t act on. I treat others as I would like to be treated and guess what? It works – even in the hosting industry.

Bluehost customers are now reaping the rewards of me being a good citizen in the hosting community. Any hosting company that is in need of help can always email or call me with problems and I will do my best to help. In return, I would expect them to do the same and most are eager to do so.

Just about 15 minutes ago I was chatting with the head admin of a different hosting company. We were talking about some firewall issues and what we thought was the best method to do x,y,z. We both came away from the conversation better informed and more ready to solve the problem than if we had not spoken to one another.

Working with competitors is doable in most cases. Hosting is a big enough market that I don’t damage my own business when I help a competitor solve a major problem. Think about that? Are you willing to do the same? If the answer is clearly no, I would encourage to reevaluate and see where there might be benefits. I would be interested in your comments especially if you do it my way and how it worked out good or bad :)

Thanks,
Matt Heaton / President Bluhost.com

Why Microsoft will fail (has failed) in the hosting market…

Monday, January 1st, 2007

By anyones account Microsoft is a wildly successful company. They have dominated nearly every market they have entered, and companies that compete directly against them have failed time and again. However, there is one area where I think Microsoft is destined to always be in second place. That area is Hosting.

How can I possibly make such a bold statement? Simple, I just look at the facts. Microsoft is a company used to being in the lead, but hosting is a different animal. The days of hosting being server space connected to the internet are long gone. Hosting is about applications that run over the web. These include blogs, ecommerce shopping carts, discussion forums, etc. The vast majority of these applications are hosted on linux but the users of the applications are running windows on their desktops.

What this means is that there is a disconnect between the operating systems people run on their computers and the web applications that they use each day. This is a HUGE problem for Microsoft. There is now no need to use Microsoft specific software when WordPress (Bloggging software) or PhpBB (Forum Software), that runs on linux is one click away in the Bluehost control panel (For free I might add).

Microsoft has some nifty software to do web related work, but it is just one fish in an ocean of web apps to choose from. Microsoft’s current model is clearly going in the wrong direction. They have decided to replicate (Either directly or with partners) some of the great software on the web and try and convince users to try that option instead of what they are using. A great example is dot net nuke. .netNuke is a good software, but there are at least 5 different options that are just as good that are already freely available and in use all over the world. Instead of making Microsoft’s hosting platform run what is already out there and popular they reinvent the wheel time and again and frankly do a poor job of it, and do it late at that!

Microsoft MUST understand that they are NOT the leader in the hosting world and start acting accordingly. They have a chance to embrace what is already out there and add their own capabilities to create the ultimate hosting experience. Instead, they choose to stick their head in the sand and run as fast as they can in the wrong direction. In my discussions with Microsoft it is obvious that there are two camps inside the company. One wants to go down the path where Microsoft sets the agenda and provides all the software solutions needed for the hosting client (THE WRONG CHOICE!!!!), and the other wants to embrace the existing apps and add support for Microsofts other products and give the customer the ability to mix and match products to the users satisfaction.

As long as Microsoft chooses not to acknowledge what is right in front of them they will fail to gain any significant market share. I personally believe they will continue down this flawed path simply because it is all they know. The days of user applications running only on the Windows operating system are dead and someone at Microsoft better sit up and take notice.

Matt Heaton / President Bluehost.com