Respect your customers!

We have hundreds of thousands of satisfied customers right now and add tens of thousands of new customers each month. With that many happy customers it also means we have our fair share of dissatisfied customers. As obvious as that statement is many companies wouldn’t admit to it. We try very hard to meet everyone’s needs, but we can’t be 100% on customer satisfaction.

What we can do is avoid adding insult to injury. If someone is unhappy with our service or no longer requires hosting services they can cancel anytime with no cancel fee and no hassles. You see, we respect our users even if they no longer need or want our services. This is important for two reasons. First, I despise companies that force me to do business with them on long term contracts and so I will never require that from my own customers, and second customers love it – even if someone leaves because they don’t need their website anymore they remember that we didn’t try and force them to stay or charge them to leave. Our customers know this and refer extra business our way because of it.

We deal with many companies that have a VERY different view than ours on this issue and it just causes problems for us and pain for their customers. King of the list for us is GoDaddy. GoDaddy is the largest registrar of domain names in the world. Because of this we HAVE to deal with them everyday to move domains to our system to provide hosting for many of their customers. Transferring of domains has many rules that are required by Icann, but instead of making it easier for their customers to choose where they want to go the system GoDaddy employs is to hassle, obscure, deny, and provide such poor support that their customers finally give up and stay because its so impossible to move. This is good for them in the short term because the customer stays out of sheer exhaustion from trying to leave. However its bad in the long term (And good for us) that they do it this way because once a customer successfully leaves GoDaddy they never want to go back. GoDaddy leaves such a sour taste with so many customers that no matter what they won’t go back.

If you respect your customers they will stay and refer new business. If you don’t they will leave and never come back. Pretty simple to me.

Matt Heaton / Bluehost.com / Hostmonster.com

28 Responses to “Respect your customers!”

  1. While it’s great that Bluehost doesn’t have unsavory business practices, I believe in a much higher standard of customer service than that. It’s so saddening to me that I’m neither informed of maintenance windows in advance nor notified of downtime on my Bluehost account. I’ve never been able to get a reason for my server being down and found out that the Bluehost team actually scheduled a database maintenance window during the middle of a weekday afternoon.

    Good customer service requires personalized service and responsive representatives when things go wrong. Bluehost does a really poor job with both of these aspects.

  2. Mark Bocek says:

    Ouch! StopDaddy! I teach Web stuff, and my students split their custom between GoDaddy and BlueMonster and a few others. So far, I’ve heard no bad words on GoDaddy—but then, they were all starting service, not ending it. I will watch out for this. For now, their problem is a horribly designed UI that costs me a lot of time helping students. You kick their ass in this.

    You’re right about the effects of bad transfer experiences. I have a personal horrible experience with a bottom-feeder named LowestHosting. Over 2 years and over 80 email messages were needed to transfer my domain name. They did all the crap you mention. The result? Now in class, I tell 20-40 students a term, “Host where you like, but whatever you do, don’t go with LowestHosting”. Bad WOM is very potent.

    mb

  3. Jeff says:

    What’s worse is companies that use false advertising to waste company’s time and then act as though it is the customer’s fault.

  4. Defiance says:

    I agree with this philosophy. It’s truly sad that so many business people do not realize that taking the extra risk of providing the epitome of service can pay off by orders of magnitude more than trying to entice just enough to force a profit.

    People who use the force and shady techniques probably think they are savvy business people and laugh all the way to the bank; but this is one of the cases where I’d favor a rather common sense psychological analysis to conclude that they must not believe in themselves or their services enough to believe that people will continue to pay them because they truly like them. Of course, seeing the books leads to less general discussion in attempt to be fair about the bottom line; but I think the philosophy transcends that in a big way.

    I’m currently using month to month net service and I’m always pleased with the no commitment approach and the company usually earns my repeat business without question as if they locked me in contractually.

    I must say, I think Hostmonster and Bluehost could clean up their marketing techniques on their sites because prospects have to dig to the help center to realize that the verbiage regarding payment can be confusing (or some might say misleading). But I also know that when trying to be brief and catchy it is difficult to balance accuracy. Ultimately, BH’s/HM’s best and most marketed deal signs you up with a 24 month contract; but the prorated refund option is there. I suppose this is a decent balance between cash flow for the bottom line and pay as you go… but it isn’t exactly the ideal pay as you go because you throw more cash out up front. People also have to trust that you’ll honor that refund without hassle, which can be a little difficult to accept for some when combining marketing info versus help center info with the abundance of unethical companies. Your blog helps, but you could probably improve the verbiage on your sites.

  5. How is neglecting to post comments that aren’t supportive respecting your customers? Transparency and managing the issue would be much better moves. Since it’s not just your team that chooses to treat customers well, I’m not sure that Bluehost can ever win back my respect.

  6. Wow, did your post anger someone to the point of hacking your site?

    I pulled you up to log in to my cPanel, and YIKES! Missing images, no CSS (Times New Roman everywhere)…. “The page cannot be displayed” message.

    I’m not saying this is what happened…it’s an odd coincidence.

    I am a VERY HAPPY Bluehost.com customer! And, I love your blog, Matt.

    Call me a die hard, loyal customer. Hope my site won’t get hacked! :-)

  7. Overton says:

    Unfortunately, some things about transferring from GoDaddy aren’t made any easier.

    For example, you recently announced the addition of SimpleScripts at Bluehost. Very cool! I’ve used it several times and it is a far cry better than Fantastico, plus having up-to-date versions of software far sooner is great.

    BUT! If I’m working with a transfer client, I can’t use SimpleScripts to install things on a newly setup hosting account until the name servers are transferred to Bluehost. It won’t recognize the temporary URLs. Over half my clients are transfer clients and that means that I have to use Fantastico for an older version or manually install, then go through extra work to uninstall and reinstall via SimpleScripts when it’s time to launch, AFTER the name server switch, guaranteeing a little down-time and risking errors.

    Bluehost tech support (at level 1) will only reply with “Hey, just switch your name servers” and don’t seem to be willing to bounce this problem upstairs for at least consideration of a real fix to the problem. You want transfers and I, as a Bluehost affiliate that’s sold quite a few sites this year that include Bluehost hosting, want transfers to be easy. I doubt this is only a problem for the limited few.

    Of course, when the president has his own blog that allows comments… :)

  8. Keith Myers says:

    GoDaddy = Poor Services + Poor Servers + RemoteMySQL ONLY

    Hostmonster = Great Customer Service + Well Managed Servers

    If you want to see something funny, guess who owns GoDaddySucks.com ?

  9. dastagir says:

    I just need to add what Matt has said above, and he is absolutely right when he said “respect your customers”
    One can get more customers just by providing them genuine customer support, irrespective of any location you are providing support from.

    good work Matt.

  10. arum says:

    well said Matt. I have several doman names with Godaddy and have had a difficult time trying to transfer them to bluehost. Also I am disappointed to learn that .co.uk domain names cannot be transferred to bluehost. I wonder if this is something you can change?

  11. Charles says:

    Matt,

    We are sure in agreement with the feeling about the GoDaddy transfer process. I had gotten the impression that there was something that I was doing wrong which was making the process so cumbersome.

    I’ve gotten most of the names that I want to keep transferred thanks to the help of your support staff. This will happen no more.

    Have a great holiday with the family.

    Charles

  12. Jeff says:

    Godaddy’s service is superior to Bluehost’s in every way; why would you state otherwise?

  13. raul says:

    If godaddy is bad ( and it is ) you should try register.com…the worst in the industry !
    I wouldn’t recommend it to ANYONE.

    P.S. Keep up the good work..:)

  14. Matt C says:

    I am a usually happy Bluehost customer. I also have a dedicated server with another company for my main business, but Bluehost is the only shared hosting I will use for my personal sites.

    I even register my domains through BlueHost, because I find the domain manager tool to be fast & intuitive.

    However, I am currently a dissatisfied customer, after a request for Domain Name support went unanswered for 5 days. (I needed to have name server domains registered for my dedicated server’s domain.)

    GoDaddy, on the other hand has fast and responsive support, making it less likely that I will want to leave. (And it is not a requirement to move domain registration in order to use most hosting services.)

    As a provider of Internet services myself, I believe these are the most important factors for customer satisfaction, in order:

    1. Security
    2. Support
    3. Ease of Use OR Freedom of Control (Low-tech vs power users)
    4. Performance

    With Bluehost, I’ve never had a security problem, and I haven’t found anyone with better performing shared hosting. Bluehost’s use of cPanel meets industry standard expectations in #3.

    However, as my recent experience shows, Support is the category that is lacking, at least for highly experienced users with unique needs like myself.

    I hope that Bluehost will improve in this area so I can continue to recommend it enthusiastically.

  15. Ricco says:

    Many Online Companies FAIL to live up to, and

    Provide Q.U.A.L.I.T.Y…SERVICE !!!

    this is the crux of the “TOTAL MATTER” period !!!

  16. Angel says:

    Unlimited hosting space!? ok, ok, it´s a marketing strategy, I´m a bluehost fan, but I don´t know if the word “unlimited” it´s the best choice…

    anyway excelent service Matt!!!

  17. Rich Noob says:

    Hi Matt,

    Although I agree with your points, I think it’s best if you avoid naming companies specifically. It’s enough to mention “one of the largest registrars of domain names in the world”… Those in the know will get it.

  18. Travis says:

    Register.com makes it hard too — I use directNic (small, great customer service, great free tools, and decent prices) and have been consolidating domains from other places such as Register.com. Transferring from Register.com is mainly annoying because you need to CALL them to get your auth code. On top of that, they have hours that don’t even cater to the continental US. Finally, when you do talk to them, they ask why you’re leaving and give you a guilt trip about it. If they had a nice, clean site and better customer service, things might be different (by the way, their web site is always touting how great their customer service is, but I’ve had multiple occurrences of poor service with isolated events).

  19. deuts says:

    Yahoo! webhosting doesn’t provide a one click option to disable auto renew of your domain name. You can’t even just email them. You email them and they will tell you to call them. What the heck, I’m in the Philippines, they’re in the US, why would I care spending some money in calling them. That option should be in the control panel in the first place.

    Well, for now, I’m not updating my credit card details with them, and they keep on renewing. Let’s see when will they stop. After a year, two, whenever, I don’t care.

  20. charles says:

    when see you said.. godaddy sucks… i totally agree. They were my first hosting company, and leaving them within 6 months. Currently only using their domain registration service. Well, they hosting services is truely bad, and with faulty control panel, which i totally can’t accept.

    for customer satisfaction i totally agree. Thats one of the reason i am adding live chat to 2 of my websites. Offering them helps, goes safe a few ‘life’.

  21. Christina says:

    You have a good point Matt. I hope you will continue giving good service to your customers. This will truly reflect in the long run. Your success will depend if the customers are satisfied with your services.

  22. Amy says:

    You have to improve your customer service a lot. My friend just had a bad experience with your customer support. Work on the quality and publish such comments instead of only publishing the good ones. Be transparent and be truthful to your customers rather than working on diplomacy

  23. Andy says:

    I agree with the previous post. I haven’t been a bluehost customer for a long time. This webhost was recommended to me by a friend who ownes a big company in NYC. I have stayed loyal to bluehost thanks to the regular four/five people in customer service who are extremely professional, helpful and know what they are talking about. I don’t even know why I am even bothering writing this post. The arrogance and rudeness of some people at your end can make it difficult for a customer to stay loyal. The funny thing is that I even paid to get treated this way??? I sent in an email on June 5th and got a reply on June 14th. Obviously the problem wasn’t even looked into as they needed username and password. Somehow, this post may not even be published. However, thank you for your time. The people at customer service are the mirror of a company. Unfortunately some really do spoil that image and all your hard work.

  24. I’m a Bluehost customer for couple of years now and I am very satiesfied. Keep up the good work Matt.

  25. marjorie says:

    Yes, you are good but not perfect yet. I am a happy Bluehost customer. As a webdesigner i now have over 20 clients hosted on Bluehost. Recently, on June 6th, I had two websites lose their ability to send forms. The formmail script had been removed from both the control panel and from the cgi-sys bin. There was no warning. I called tech support and it took 2 days to get the response that you were disabling the formmail clone script from all servers. Meanwhile my client was losing registrations to a conference.

    I had to check over 20 accoounts to see if those sites had also lost their formmail. That weekend I lost about 4 hours waiting for your response and trying to figure out if more than 2 sites had been affected.

    Your final response was that you were discontinuing that script and I was onmy own. If i wanted to use it i had to reinstall it on my own. So I started installing it on my other clients sites and I sent out an email to them about this situation. I did complete this conversion for 4 clients.

    Then you backtracked and decided to keep the formmail script. I found this out because I had called back.

    Your technical person who first decided to disable a script without notice made a bad decision. Then for you to backtrack after I had sent emails to all my clients that we had to change things made me look like a fool.

    Not a good weekend for me. Please dont disable things in future without consideration for the effects that this has. In retrospect all you had to do was download a more recent script and save it as the same script name in the cgi-sys bin.

    thank you for listening. After 20 days I am still a bit annoyed about the inconvenience this caused.
    marjorie

  26. Alex McLarty says:

    Right on, Matt!

    I hosted a website for a charity (www.sustainableglobalgardens.org) with the UK based provider Streamline.net, what a mistake it was. Downtime, FTP connectivity issues, appaling support. After weeks of downtime (which has tarnished the charity’s reputation), the host refused to refund the hosting fee.

    Thankfully I’m in the process of moving the charity to Bluehost, which now host all of my sites. You guys are low cost, have excellent support and excellent uptime. What more do you need?

    All the best,

    Alex.

  27. Valued User says:

    I’ve decided I’m going to buy all of the materials to build a classic car and then call Autozone and stay on the line with them all day so they can teach me how to do it because they sold me the parts. Very backwards mentality. They sold me the product if I have no knowledge about what an engine is I should have not bought one and have expected to magically obtain the knowledge required to build the car when purchasing the product.

  28. Blue Host is definitely one of the more reliable hosting companies out there. In my opinion its worth spending a few extra dollars and getting good service, than trying to save a couple of bucks and get nothing but a headache.

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