There are millions of services available on the Internet, from web hosting to crisis counseling.
How can you spot the better ones that provide the best service?
There is no simple way to single out the best but there is a way to identify the worst, let me illustrate:
When I first began web design, I felt I should be patriotic and support the local web host services. I opened an account with MD Webhosting here in Melbourne, Australia. They were more expensive than the USA web hosting services and were well recommended, so they had to be better right?
Wrong! My password didn’t work and I could not log on to my account. I called their 24hr help line and was redirected with a recorded message, to log on to my account and raise a ticket. That’s fine except my log on password didn’t work!
Over the next three months, I mailed them, emailed them, did a search for the company principals and got their phone numbers and called them. I even had a friend who was another customer raise a ticket through his account, on my behalf. The only response we got back was to my friend’s ticket – and you can probably guess the response . . .”We cannot respond to your ticket. Please log into the account and raise a ticket from that account so it can be tracked on our system.”
Because I had registered my Domain name with MD Webhosting, I could not take my business elsewhere. To transfer my Domain name to another hosting service, required MD Webhosting’s release and their contact number was a recorded message. I rang their sales department and was referred to their website and their ticket system because it identified me as an existing customer.
Three months later, I gave up, threw out all the business cards, printed quote forms, invoices and pamphlets. Effectively MD Hosting had kidnapped my business name. The physical cost was around $1500.00 back in 2005-6 but there is no way to cost out all the PR work e had done to launch the business name. It was another two years before the new business name had gained the same level of customer good will.
My only options were:
- Sue MD Webhosting and outlay a minimum of $5000.00 in fees and lost time as well as risk losing the existing trade. This would eat into my time and I did not need the resulting stress. Even if I won, tho final solution could be delayed for a year after the case and there was a one year waiting list in the courts.
- Register a new business, buy new stationery and pound the pavement to promote the new business and educate my existing clientele that the new business was at least as good as the old one – not that easy in the art trade!
I chose the second option and registered a new business name – Mimenta.
Yesterday I went to log into my Google adsense account and the password wouldn’t work. After several tries and even changing tom a new password which Google accepted then said was incorrect, I clicked on their “contact us” link. I was redirected to their FAQ pages and from there to their Q&A pages.
Like MD Webhosting, they too forgot the importance of human contact. The websites that ran those adsense ads, now have ads from Chitika – an opposition to Google Adsense. They do have a help line telephone number, email contact (that doesn’t require you to log in to your account first).
The first test of any web service is their help desk. When it all goes bad, we need to actually speak to someone – someone who is human, with the same flawed logic as us, who understand frustration, whose heckles rise like ours do when asked to “Please select from the following menu”.
Any business who does not provide a valid contact point, doesn’t want to be contacted, so why would you deal with them?
When choosing any service on the Internet test their “contact us” link. Make sure it allows you to contact them for support outside of your account – preferably a human contact. It doesn’t feel important now, compared to the cost and the benefits today but if anything goes wrong it’s going to be your lifeline.