I’ll come right out and say it: I’m a web hosting junkie. I’ve tried over 20 hosting providers in my lifetime and I don’t see that number getting any smaller as newer services become available every single year.
I do this partly because I enjoy experimenting with new providers and services to see what they’re up to and to see if they can provide a much more fluid and simple experience for not only some of my projects but for some of my clients. I also do this because I’m insanely curious about hosting and I just want to know everything about it, at least from a user’s perspective!
But over my lifetime I’ve seen just as many newcomers hit the street as the ones that can’t seem to make it. Either through acquisition or closing down many of these smaller players can’t seem to make ends meet. The large ones will always be with us (unfortunately) but they don’t necessarily provide the “best in class” systems, support, and technology.
Over time I’ve become much more calculated in my approach to trying a new hosting provider and this strategy, which was once just an idea, has now become a very important part of my decision-making process; it’s also grossly overlooked when it comes to choosing a hosting provider for the very first time.
What is it?
It’s simply the human element in the hosting company’s business. In other words, it’s the relational component that really attracts me now. For example, the last 5 or 6 hosting providers that I’ve tried had the same thing in common: I knew someone on the inside and had been building a relationship with them for a while.
Whether it was through Twitter or Facebook or whether or not I actually met them in person didn’t really matter – it’s the fact that I knew someone, flesh and blood, and had begun a relationship before I committed to trying (not selling my life to them forever) their service.
What’s kept me going on many of these services are those same relationships. Go figure, right? Unfortunately most hosting companies don’t seem to “get” that part of the business modeling.
What can we learn from this? Two things, one for the customer and one for the provider:
- Customers should engage with the provider like you would building a relationship. Try to create a real relationship with someone, even if it’s not an account representative. Many of my relationships are with IT engineers in the backend who never actually handle my account but who I feel very comfortable with.
- Providers should actively stay open to these types of relationships and allow a “human element” in the mix of their business. It is sustainable, trust me. You just have to be creative and clever enough to figure that out.
Website hosting is an interesting world and one that continues to evolve technologically – you might as well invest in the one thing that doesn’t fundamentally change: Real quality relationships.
Do you agree?