A long time ago, in an entrepreneurial venture far far away when I used to own a website development firm, I did everything I could to bring all of our clients to one particular webhosting company.
I wasn’t a reseller, and I wasn’t making any money besides a modest one-time $50 referral fee, but my reasons were sound. This was an amazing hosting company with customer service that would blow your mind with its supreme awesomeness.
Then, something happened.
They were acquired by another company.
Things went downhill.
Wait times to get a tech support rep on the phone or a live chat skyrocketed.
Worse, their servers were constantly crashing. They were selling hosting that was supposed to be optimized for WordPress, but every time the servers crashed, we were told the server crashed because WordPress put too much load on the server and maxed it out.
My complaints fell on deaf ears.
I felt SICK and embarrassed that I had recommended them to our clients.
Finally, I tucked my tail between my legs and persuaded the clients to trust me again in moving their websites to another company.
When I dissolved the website development firm, I even recommended the clients allow us to move their hosting elsewhere before we wrapped up, just so we could leave them in a better place than we found them.
What was the deal?
Most of the same tech support reps at the hosting company, all of whom knew me by name and were aware how many customers I had brought in, stayed after the transition.
But their level of enthusiasm went so low that if Hell indeed freezes, they found the ice.
Chances Are, The New Owners Knew The Servers Were Crap And Ignored Customer Pleas For Better Servers
Look, if this was happening to ALL my clients, it was probably happening to many of the hosting company’s other customers as well.
I wasn’t actually there, but this is what I speculate might have happened.
My guess is, the owners decided it was better to keep taking money from customers who somehow weren’t experiencing problems, or were willing to grin and bear it – reasoning somehow the PR cost of admitting they let things get out of hand and the cost of the upgrades wasn’t worth it.
So, they didn’t exactly tell middle management to ignore the complaints.
Instead, they responded by telling middle management, “You know, these customers and their WordPress sites, they install all these stupid plugins and dumb themes, then they blame us when their websites swell up. Bear that in mind when you hear this stuff.”
Of course, they could cite a couple cases where this was true, because WordPress plugin overload is a real thing that happens when people get stupid and add 75 plugins they don’t actually need.
But, just like Margie the Finance Manager assumed there was no way Dave Fortunatti could write a $54,000 check for a sports car just because most customers need financing, upper management applied a broad brush to ALL their customers.
That Tone-Deaf Response Set The Deaf Tone For The Entire Organization
Again, I wasn’t actually in the room, but the following absolutely could have happened next.
Middle management, in turn, repeated that “blame the customer” message to the tech support reps.
Even the most dedicated, customer-loving tech support rep who knew better and realized the servers were crap could only beat their fists on the wall for so long before their hands got bloody and the pain became too much.
Some of them probably heard some stories about how they, as tech support reps, weren’t getting paid enough to leave their station and pour a damn glass of iced tea for the customers.
The ripple effect was felt by their customers.
See how these threads are coming together?
The customers felt those ripples – in those increasingly rare cases when their websites were up and their e-mail actually worked.
Again, all of the above is speculation.
They never asked me to come in and help – and believe me, I offered, over and over, in conversation after frustrating conversation with their tech support reps.
But the following is true – there was a BIG ripple effect.
This hosting company is no longer a name that comes up – ever – in the endless discussions in groups on the topic of “What’s the best hosting company to use?”
They were doing so good for a while there!
Perhaps they’d be better off if they just refused service.