Do what you do best!

I had a customer that had complained about an issue directly to me via email. He was surprised that I was brisk with him. He felt that I didn’t give him the time and attention that he needed to properly resolve his problem. He was right and he was wrong. I have been doing web projects since 1996 in many various forms. During that time I have personally answered more than 50,000 email support issues. I never want to answer another support email for the rest of my life :) Thank goodness we have 60 other support engineers that are awesome at answering our customers questions. Support engineers aren’t burdened with accounting issues, or marketing issues, etc. They simply need to give their full attention to the customer.

I like to make myself available to our customers, but my emphasis is on growing the company. If I wanted to have fun all day at work I would do system administration, and do perl programming for 25% of my time. Unfortunately for me I am a MUCH better marketing guy than I am a perl programmer. I love growing Bluehost, but sometimes I just want to tinker. The problem is Bluehost needs me to grow the company and frankly that is what I do best. If you really want to succeed let people do what they do best, and you do what you do best. For the lucky ones they are one and the same and that should be the goal of everyone to combine those two things.

Do what you do best, and let others deal with their responsibilities without constant interference. That is one of the ingredients for success in my book!

Thanks,

Matt Heaton / President Bluehost.com

24 Responses to “Do what you do best!”

  1. Mark says:

    Ok Matt, I have read through your latest blog entry and I think your handling of this issue was incorrect.

    If I received a support email direct to my CEO email address then in my mind this poses two questions.

    1) Why am I receiving support emails, is there an issue with my support department which means that my customer is not getting assistance to an enquiry they logged, which is a cue for me to go down to support and get answers from my Support Team manager.
    2) Or, and this sometimes happens, that certain customers feel that the only way to get anything done is to go right to the top, which is a cue for me to handle this customer a certain way.

    If it’s the first point, and admittedly I don’t know the full situation here – a quick hunt through your blog has a comment against “Productivity matters!“ which is asking you directly for help because they did not receive any form of response from your support team. Additionally there is also a whole blog entry done by you which states that lately your service on the whole has been poor and you are working desperately hard to resolve the issues. So, a lay man would think, potentially you still have a problem in terms of support. If you go down to your support team and find that this simply is not the case and you are now on top of things then you are on to the second point.

    This customer may be the kind of guy that always goes to the CEO for help, because that’s how they operate. Therefore I would forward there email on to my head of support and would get him to start the email (words to the affect of): “Matt has personally asked me to look into your issue for you”. I find that as long as the customer feels they are getting special treatment from a head of department, this is usually more than adequate and saves my CEO time for more important issues.

    I would certainly not handle the enquiry briskly and ultimately turn what was probably a simple enquiry into a heated exchange resulting in the customer complaining not only at the level of service provided by the Bluehost support team but also at the support provided by the CEO.

    In the end all you have achieved (just to save a few minutes of your time) is to annoy a customer in a fiercely competitive market – Not good, not good at all.

    That’s my view on things anyway…

    *** Please note to any one reading this comment, I wasn’t the customer who emailed Matt directly. ***

  2. jrh says:

    I would never even assume that the owner of a company would be the best person to help on a customer support issue. I don’t think this would be the case with any company, small or big. Unless it’s a one-man company, of course.

  3. Mark says:

    Fair enough Matt.

    As long as the customer was happy in the end that’s all anyone is bothered about.

    This whole industry is sadly littered with reports of unnecessarily disgruntled customers due to poor service and bad tech support. I think lots of companies (and this isn’t directed at you) conveniently forget just who is paying all our salaries at the end of the day!

    By the way, I have sent you a few emails over the last month regarding a hosting / File Manager tie-up between our two companies. If all of this is of no interest to you just drop me an email and I will go looking for another approved host to team up with.

    Thanks

    Mark Roberts
    i Dot Communications

  4. Wes says:

    Just last week I had an issue that I needed resolved and for the first time I used the Live Chat. I found that to be very useful and the problem was resolved quite quickly.

    That’s somebody doing well what they do!

  5. Chris says:

    “That is one of the ingredients for success in my book!”

    You wrote a book?

  6. Adam Schilling says:

    A client’s website will not load, so I poke around, check the error logs and call Bluehost Tech Support. I find myself 4th in the queue – no problem. Only takes about 5-or-10-mins for a rep’ to take my call. He tells me my problem is actually with the domain.

    Okay. So, I call the third-party domain manager. He tells me everything is picture-perfect. DNS is set up fine and the domain won’t expire until 2008.

    Hm. I call back Bluehost Tech Support and wait from 11th position in the queue all the way to first … only to be hung up on without so much as a ‘Hi my name is …’. Of course, I’ wasn’t too happy about this (especially being on an international call, from Australia), nor was I happy about the 40-minute run-around (at that point), but I call back. Accidents happen (I should know, I was once a ‘tech-support guy’ myself).

    Then the automated message plays: “You are currently caller number 19!” Argh!

    Another 30-mins and I finally get through to a reasonably pleasant (and apologetic) guy who sorts out the problem. Relief, but not without substantial grief. Evidently my ‘buggy code’ (actually: valid XHTML and CSS, with a few PHP includes to break the site up into more manageable chunks) was flooding the server with processes. Huh? Did he say ‘buggy’? It was a flippant remark, but talk about insult to injury!

    Being on hold for over an hour to resolve a two-minute solution is unacceptable.

    After the last couple of months, I’m now officially considering pulling my handful of websites from Bluehost. I have already ceased to recommend what was once a fine host.

    *** PS. I wasn’t the guy who emailed Matt in the first place. However, after today, I can easily imagine why someone would consider an email to the CEO. ***

  7. Rajiv Dingra says:

    I just became a customer and i am not happy at all. I tested my site on the IP it was working fine but as soon as i changed the dns my admin section refuses to work and all i am running is a blog script! I have chatted with three of your representatives Jay, Dave and Nicole and none of them have been able to help me.. Its not a script error as the script worked fine on the earlier server and all i have done is just uploaded the backup. The database is also working fine and even the customer service guys agreed to that. I own a company here is India but i am very disappointed with the service i have been given at bluehost. I am sure there has been no error on my part is uploading the script as the site was tested by me on the IP and scripts dont break up suddenly.. Its a server configuration issue thats not allowing me to log into my admin section. Hopefully you will care enough to take up this matter as i believe a company can grow the fastest through good word of mouth but as of now i have nothing great to say about bluehost infact im very very disappointed.

  8. Flavio says:

    Just a quick comment — Matt has stated in previous blogs that he only hires the best people to work for him and that he feels that the people working around him can do equally if not better than him, that is why he hired them.

    As for the customer contacting the boss, it is quite common. Tech support can’t do everything for customers, and unfortunately there are some who think that Bluehost support is their personal Webmaster or Programmer. Bluehost offers probably the best level of support service you are going to find from a shared hosting company, however, they can’t do everything for the customers. Imagine if you had the wait times if every technician also had to debug and fix php programming for any customer that called in with issues (which are clearly not related to Bluehost).

    In defense of technical support, you have to understand that there will always be people who will try to contact the CEO if they don’t get the answer they want.

  9. Kris Beldin says:

    Matt,

    I had no idea you blogged! I’ve read a little bit here and am impressed. Granted, I knew you were opinionated, but this is great. Thanks for being honest and sharing your thoughts/opinions/insights with the rest of us.

    I especially liked your post on entrepreneurs being born as such. Knowing you as I do, that is very true and I see that in you–great insight.

    Hope all is well.

    -Kris Beldin

  10. Lou Honick says:

    I found your blog through isabelwang.com. I found your post today interesting and I can sympathize with your situation. However, I do slightly disagree. I make my personal contact information readily available to our customers (everything short of just posting it right to our public site). We have 140 employees but I still find a fair amount of my time going to customers that contact me directly. I get copied on a handful of issues every week. Although I delegate a lot of the issues to our very capable staff, I always follow up personally. I believe that service culture is top down, and if I don’t want to take care of the customer, why should anyone else at my company? People will do what I do, not what I say, and there is a lot of merit to being a roll-up-your-sleeves type leader. Sure, 80-90% of my time is spent on non-operational issues (strategic planning, etc…), but if customer complaints become overly budensome, then it is up to my management team to look at the root cause of those issues and attack the problem at its source. I agree that it can be difficult and distracting to handle these sorts of things, but in an industry that is sorely lacking for decent service, it is gives us an edge in the marketplace for customer issues to get a little extra attention from the CEO.

  11. Steve says:

    i’m starting o know why most CEO’s don’t blog like this! it’s a calculated risk but seems like you’re talking your self into a hole here Matt. lol

  12. Minh Nguyen says:

    Please stop overselling! I love BlueHost and its products, but if it’ll degrade because you guys are overselling, I would rather pay more for better service.

  13. Roy says:

    I like the customer service very much and I have had zero problems in over a year. I recommended Blue Host to a friend of mine and to my son. Both have had no problem and both have complimented the customer service. There are obviously times of the day when there will be some wait time. Compared to my experience with Bell South and Charter (cable), this web host is a dream.

  14. Leonard says:

    As a marketer, I understand where you are coming from. But as a customer, I beg to differ with what you had said. You, as CEO, have forgotten one fundamental rule of growing a business, and that is customer service. How do you expect your business to continue growing with such negative comments?

    If I were a prospective customer today, I might be utterly turned-off.

  15. Phil Vouers says:

    I agree with you Matt, for I am trying to grow my company also BUT when the site is down due to DDOS then I would think the CEO would try some of that site admin work so your not embarrede as I was at MY customers today!!

  16. les says:

    Matt,

    Enough about growing the company. How about taking care of the customers you’ve got? Do that, and you might not have to worry so much about looking for new ones. All the rest is just dot-bomb bs.

    P.S. – I wasn’t the original complainer, either.

  17. Jennifer says:

    I have had a great experience setting up two websites on Bluehost. I will be setting up a third in the near future. I called support for an issue once and it was handled swiftly and beautifully.

    However, I wanted to e-mail my issue to support and could not find the support e-mail address anywhere. I’m sure it’s there but it’s not on the contact page or on the help center homepage. I got tired of looking and called. E-mail would have been fine had I been able to.

    I have found many answers to my issues since then in the help center.

  18. Matt,

    I’ve got to jump in here once again. The service at Bluehost is top notch! Everytime I call I get professional, prompt and courteous service. My questions are always answered to my complete satisfaction. On two occassions they’ve had to escalate the question to a level 2 tech and it’s never been more than one hour before I’ve had an answer.

    I’ve been with Bluehost for over 2 years now and am absolutely going to renew my account when it’s time. You have been highly recommended to everyone who has asked what hosting company I’m using. There’s a small link to Bluehost on my website.

    Thanks as always for a great company with great staff!
    **NO I am not being paid to say this!** :~)

  19. Tim says:

    it would be nice if bluehost.com had their sales prices in an easily accesible location. 6.95 is listed on the main site for the basic hosting, but no specifics are found unless you go through the signup process. just saying it would be nice if no digging needed to be done. Regards.

  20. John Peeler says:

    Matt,

    Bluehost has excellent products and services.
    Have you ever thought of adding dedicated servers to your product options?

    John

  21. J Nozzi says:

    I suppose I shouldn’t have expected you to post that comment – after all, it demonstrates the loss of an account in large part due to your attitude toward customers coming to you directly for help they’re not receiving from support. It also demonstrates the serious problem you have in your support department (such a long time without even a single response from tech support after numbers calls and e-mail is an utter failure, you must admit). Best not to let that info get around, huh? A shame, really, as it only bolsters my decision to move away from BlueHost … bad customer service and dishonesty does not get my money.

  22. Dan LUke says:

    I understand your sentiment, but what you’re forgetting is that you have your CEO blog on the front page of your site. Of course people are going to write to you directly (as I did). The feedback you get from your users is where the gold is, because we will tell you what we like and don’t like. You attribute the successs of your business to innovation in one post, and to marketing prowess in another. If you hadn’t done something write to begin with, no amount of marketing could have got you anywhere (where would the money have come from, anyway?) Good service is good marketing. Innovation is good marketing.

    Having said that, there are other hosts who offer more than Blue for less. I chose Blue for one particular feature, and so far it hasn’t worked. I wonder if my issue will be resolved.

  23. Big Dog says:

    Many of these customers are correct in that you put yourself out there by being on the front page. I don’t know the situation but you could have easily informed the emailer that you were forwarding his concern to the best person to handle it and THEN MADE SURE THAT HAPPENED.

    I have had good service from BH and have no real complaints about that. I do however want some resolution to Comcast blocking everything coming from the servers at BH. BH syas they are discussing with Comcast and Comcast says that the IPs from BH are spamming up a storm. This issue ahs been going on for some time and it neds resolution.

    Dan Luke is right, there are other companies that offer a great deal more for the same money (Dream Host offers tons more bandwidth and server space, not that i need all that) but people pick BH for the service.

    It would do you well to remember that. I believe you had a post about one of the companies you do business with raising prices and not working well with you. You said that forgot customer service and that they were going to lose a lot of business from your company.

    You might want to re-read that post…..

  24. I had a customer that had complained about an issue directly to me via email. He was surprised that I was brisk with him. He felt that I didn’t give him the time and attention that he needed to properly resolve his problem. He was right and he was wrong.

    Today (6 December 2006) I had a major issue that has been unresolved for five days concerning the transfer of an existing .co.za domain to Bluehost. And this issue is logged and has been active and yesterday I presented critical info to Bluehost support for an answer and the email reply (to a bluehost support email) was returned because I have to post issues through the Support Center webform.

    Now, I did so, I posted two issues and a third issue. The third issue concerns the fact that I can post support forms, I can log into the Support Helpdesk but when I click on an issue, I am immediately logged out! The critical issue remains unresolved and I am one very unhappy customer.

    Now I regularly read this blog. I used to like Bluehost as a hosting company. But, right now Bluehost has (from my point of view) turned in to one of those companies that Mr Heaston so often complain about in this blog – the type of company that does not listen to its customers.

    Which prompted me to write this. I would dearly like to point out that in my experience, once customers start complaining directly to the person at the top of the corporate food chain, it is an indication of a massive communication problem that exists in the organisation. And that is exactly my experience at present.

    And yes, there is toll-free phone support – for North America. I am in South Africa, where we have very different time zone from Utah and we have THE MOST EXPENSIVE telephone operator in the industrialised world. Phone support is out. Email works, but there has been a decision in Bluehost not to accept email queries but only the help desk form. And 1) I cannot log in there and 2) that form is in any case an idiot 40 character wide form. Try to post complex Unix commands or any long output into that form – it is a nightmare!

    Yes, when customers complain to the top person in any organisation it is because there is a problem down below in communication. Not because they expect the boss to sort out the problem himself. Once companies grow large they spend massive amounts of money on consultants that identify the same issues that could have been identified by the top official of any organisations if there was a channel of communication to that person.

    People contact the CEO not because they want that person to sort out the issue, but because they are desperate for the issue to be sorted out!

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