The web hosting business is an extremely tough business because so many customers need different services and support to meet their needs. This is VERY difficult when you need to manage and balance those needs across hundreds of thousands of customers as is the case with Bluehost and Hostmonster. In web hosting specifically, I believe there are basically three types of customers.
The first type of customer constitutes 80% of our customer base. These customers needs are moderate on most levels. They require stable email and hosting services. They usually require support services only during the first 30-60 days while their site is set up and configured the first time. From a financial aspect these are the “golden” customers. They don’t eat up system resources and they don’t consume more than their “fair share” of support services.
The second type of customer is the power user that pushes the envelope of what a shared hosting client should be. They usually are more educated in terms of hosting than the average customer. They don’t often use support services, but when they do it is usually a difficult task that requires at least a level 2 support rep and often is escalated to our team of admins. These customers are the ones who make shared hosting difficult because CPU and memory usage is extremely disproportionate in their favor. These 10% really do consume 90% of our system resources. If these 10% were 90% instead I would run for the hills and never dream of doing web hosting as a business!! This customer base is also VERY useful to us for one specific reason. They drive us to be better and to implement features and enhancements that we would normally never put in place, and that helps everyone in the long run. So while these customers cost us money – we make no money at all on these type of customers – we are grateful to have them. They push us to be better and in most cases we respond positively to that.
The third type of customer is the toughest by far. These are the people that are generally new to web hosting and have expectations that are almost impossible to meet. They demand the world, don’t/won’t understand what responsibilities fall under their control (domain issues, script security, etc) and what is under our control (servers, network connectivity etc). Often they will call as many as 50 times in a single month for support and hand holding. These are the people that REFUSE to learn on their own and constantly require us to do everything for them. For their $7 a month they expect instant answers to their questions via phone, chat, and email, and tolerate no faults on our side as if they have a cluster of managed dedicated servers. These customers cost us 10-50 times what they pay us and threaten to leave when things don’t go their way.
I am not trying to anger customers, but I think it is important to understand that we are a business that operates for profit (A dirty word I know). As I mention above, 90% of our customer base is extraordinary. We are happy to work our tails off for them day and night. I don’t know another hosting company that has so many people that REALLY care. I guess even the CEO gets to rant every once in a while
Matt Heaton / Bluehost.com