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  Post #1 (permalink)   07-17-2011, 09:09 AM
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Establishing an online presence for your business is easy. Establishing an online multi-channel presence is also easy. The challenge, however, is to manage to provide a high level of online service for your clients. Online customers do not expect just to be satisfied; they want to receive a “beyond-expectations” support. Every business that goes online has to cope with aggressive competition not just from local businesses but from competitors worldwide. Therefore, by providing superior after-sales service and support you will have both happy customers and a competitive advantage over your competitors.

Here are a few things you should always do to avoid alienating your customers:

Respond to Emails

Not responding to emails is unforgivable. Email support is not like telephone support where you can have office hours. Whilst most of your online client will expect an instant email response, accommodating a first-level of support for the fastest possible answer on a client’s issue/question is fine. If you don’t have the human resources to facilitate a fast email response, you can set an auto-responder to your e-mails saying that you will reply as soon as possible, and also provide a link to your website’s knowledgebase where the client can search to find an answer to his problem/question.

Send Regular Request for Feedback Emails

Whether you are a consultant, a service or product provider, you should regularly check if your clients are happy with your service. Remember that the online client is more aggressive than the traditional one. The same way the expect a superior level of service, they expect a perfect end-product/service. If they get pissed off, might not call or email you. Spend 5-10 minutes to prepare an email asking them How they are doing, if everything is okay with the service you provided to them. Just that.


Remember: A happy client is unlikely to go over the social networks, forums and blogs to advertise you. A disappointed client though can spread the bad word within an hour!
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  Post #2 (permalink)   07-17-2011, 09:24 AM
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Quote:
Email support is not like telephone support where you can have office hours.
For big companies maybe, but for small one man companies there are certainly hours in which they are reachable, at least things like sales. Support should be available as often as possible, but people running a one man webhost do need sleep .

It also depends on what you are offering. People paying the least amount of money usually expect the most for it. That is, they expect to get velvet ropes, the red carpet and a dedicated support tech that replies to their trouble instantly for the 1 dollar a month package they got last month.

Not to say I don't want to do all I can to keep my customers happy, but some do stretch the limits of what you can/want to do.
 
 
 


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  Post #3 (permalink)   07-17-2011, 09:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RobinF View Post
For big companies maybe, but for small one man companies there are certainly hours in which they are reachable
You can get a mobile with 3G Connection just to receive emails on your cell phone. From there you can provide a first-level of support even during weekends or at night. Your clients (existing or potential ones) need to know that there is always someone there to answer. This is very important on pre-sales, as your client will be confident that the first-level of instant support will be also available when a critical/emergency issue comes up

Quote:
Originally Posted by RobinF View Post
It also depends on what you are offering. People paying the least amount of money usually expect the most for it.
That's true. However, you never know when one of those clients will turn into a big one. He can also become one of your biggest fans and refer you to others and so on
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  Post #4 (permalink)   07-17-2011, 09:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Netshop-Isp View Post
You can get a mobile with 3G Connection just to receive emails on your cell phone. From there you can provide a first-level of support even during weekends or at night.
Of course, but what I was trying to say is that I do need sleep. Even if I spent every single minute when I'm awake answering e-mails, I still can't answer them when I'm asleep. As a one man company the only thing you can do is pray nothing urgent comes in during those 8 hours of being semi-unreachable.

I think a lot of smaller starting hosts, myself included to some degree, are afraid of the fact that they can't offer true 24/7 support at first. While this is a goal to work towards, it shouldn't be something to discourage those who can't provide it.

The most you can do is respond to urgent matters the second you see them. Trying to provide 24/7 support by yourself will break you and thus your company in less than a month.
 
 
 


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  Post #5 (permalink)   07-17-2011, 10:00 AM
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Hi Robin,

I hate being negative and I am not trying to be however... regardless of the size of the business you need to be available ALL THE TIME, there is no exception to this. Personally in years gone by I haven't hesitated moving hosts if there were hours at a time with no response. The nature of web hosting is that you are dealing with people that are going to be up at all hours, and potentially from OS in a different time zone. If your small business client has an FTP issue, server issue, mail issue etc. He doesn't care how much he is paying, he needs support.

If you advertise anything less than 24/7 support you won't even get off the ground. It is such a competitive market, best intentions don't convert sales.

Another option is to outsource your support for your sleep times, either by online chat; lots of options for support here. Or forwarding emails to an employee or support centre that can take care of it for you.

Just my thoughts.

Stewart
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  Post #6 (permalink)   07-17-2011, 10:01 AM
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Ofcourse Robin, 24x7 availability is just an advantage. Not being able to provide it doesn't mean you can't get clients and run the business.

Regarding this:
Quote:
Originally Posted by RobinF View Post
pray nothing urgent comes in during those 8 hours of being semi-unreachable.
Establishing robust servers and therefore a reliable end-product/service will save you from prayers
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  Post #7 (permalink)   07-17-2011, 12:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Netshop-Isp View Post
Ofcourse Robin, 24x7 availability is just an advantage. Not being able to provide it doesn't mean you can't get clients and run the business.

Regarding this:


Establishing robust servers and therefore a reliable end-product/service will save you from prayers
Even the best servers in the best datacenter can (and will) fail at some point. Assuming it won't happen isn't a wise idea in my book.

"Assumption is the mother of all mistakes."
 
 
 


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  Post #8 (permalink)   07-17-2011, 12:24 PM
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Certainly Robin!

However what's left to do, since there is no way you (as a one-man webhosting provider) can support your clients around the clock, is to take care of your servers infrastructure to minimize any failures or service disruptions.
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  Post #9 (permalink)   07-18-2011, 02:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Netshop-Isp View Post
Certainly Robin!

However what's left to do, since there is no way you (as a one-man webhosting provider) can support your clients around the clock, is to take care of your servers infrastructure to minimize any failures or service disruptions.
To be honest, I think that if he is running a one-man hosting company (which I can't figure really how he can do this), he should simply not advertise 24/7 support.

Sleep and don't make promises you can't fill. Having work hours support is not that bad.
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  Post #10 (permalink)   07-19-2011, 10:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HostRadical View Post
To be honest, I think that if he is running a one-man hosting company (which I can't figure really how he can do this), he should simply not advertise 24/7 support.

Sleep and don't make promises you can't fill. Having work hours support is not that bad.
Just starting out small with a reseller package and putting a lot of hours into the company for the first year or two. Hopefully I'll be able to get my own servers when business is good and maybe hire some staff .
 
 
 


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  Post #11 (permalink)   07-21-2011, 08:13 AM
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Honestly, having like 2-3 people in support isn't a good idea once you start getting orders in a quick succession. When you start out, one man is enough to handle most of the times.

I or my staff normally tries to answer any tickets or queries within 3-4 hours maximum but it depends on timings of course.

Most importantly, try having good quality servers. Good quality servers will lead to more satisfaction of clients and hence the 'word of mouth' promotion can lead to more clients eventually.
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  Post #12 (permalink)   07-28-2011, 01:33 AM
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Quality support means much and time mustn't matter or influences its quality.
 
 
 


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  Post #13 (permalink)   07-31-2011, 11:01 AM
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Well our sales office has hours (Generally 6am - 7pm). We do however have support agents 24/7 and they are on live chat when a sales member isn't. This is good for service as most people aren't buying hosting durning the graveyard shift and lets us cut costs and pass savings to customer.
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  Post #14 (permalink)   08-20-2011, 05:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RobinF View Post
People paying the least amount of money usually expect the most for it.
This is so true. It's hard to find any reasonable explanation but it's just like that.
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  Post #15 (permalink)   11-01-2011, 11:22 AM
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Originally Posted by bighost View Post
This is so true. It's hard to find any reasonable explanation but it's just like that.
We find that all the time the most demanding are those paying the least...
 
 
 
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