I have had a hosting provider for a number of years (Aplus.net, now a Deluxe Company) who had been highly recommended as one of the best website hosting providers according to C|Net.com. While the service initially was fine, over time the company was purchased and repurchased, servers were upgraded and I, of course, upgraded my website several times. After several years, I began to notice changes – the website wasn’t as stable as it once had been, emails were not being handled correctly and technical support was slower and less capable. Remarkably, their 99% uptime guarantee is gone from their website as well. I began to have one of those “bad mojo” feelings about this relationship. Incidentally, if you are reading this post on the home page of the company website, instead of the site, it has everything to do with the site not being properly set up.
When working with outsourced service professionals (vendors), such as a web host, a bookkeeper, a phone company, an internet provider, an accountant or a consultant, you have to be very clear in setting your expectations – both for your company and for them. When those expectations aren’t being met, you have got to a) find out why and b) determine what you are going to do about it and when. For example, with Aplus.net, I decided several months ago that I was not going to renew with them and had begun looking for a new host. The changeover to the new host will be completed in the next few months. I decided to wait until then (at contract renewal time) because I felt that the site should remain stable until that time and I don’t want to hassle with them over money and refunds.
- I set my expectations
- Found my expectations weren’t being met
- I made a plan to remove my company from the situation
- I set a deadline – with a reason – which is most important for getting things done, regularly
While this is common sense, this has more to do with knowing what to do and when. As business leaders, we cannot afford to spend a great deal of time fighting fires that we pay other people to manage. Simply the size of a company or their length of time in the marketplace doesn’t make the immune to being dropped for inability to meet the expectations that both parties agreed to. Have a policy to simply not deal with bad service and move quickly when expectations aren’t being met.
Consider the impact that this will have on your business. Let’s take my websites for example:
- I have had the site Aepiphanni.com up for about six years now
- I have built up a reputation on the internet, to the degree that the site shows up on the first page of Google for a number of keywords
- I have invested in marketing that will drive people to the website
- I need to upload this blog post
Now, as a result of the site being down,
- While I can create the post in a third-party software, I cannot upload it to the site. I will have to check periodically to see if the site is back up = lost productivity
- Given the frequency and volume of site visits, I have probably missed out on some business opportunities = equals lost revenue $$
- I am running a marketing campaign that drives people to the site. When they go to the site, the information they are looking for won’t be there = lost marketing $$
- I am, no doubt, losing search engine ranking since if the web crawlers crawl my site, they are going to see something completely different. Here’s a case in point: At one point, Aepiphanni.com was within the top 1,000,000 websites world-wide. Because of some changes in site architecture, the site has dropped to more than 7,000,000th position = lost SEO $$
How does one put a dollar value to this? Understand that there is no compensation for this – pursuing the issue will result in a greater loss of productivity. Your time will be better spent finding a new provider.
What do you think? What have your experiences with bad service/expectations mojo? Had you been quick to change providers or did you work with them to work it out? Did you ever have a provider whose cost was much greater than the benefit? What did you do?
Aepiphanni Business Consulting: The Business Strategy People is an Atlanta, Georgia based Operations Management and Business Strategy Consulting Firm dedicated to serving the needs of small to medium sized business leaders. We help business leaders DESIGN| CREATE | BUILD extraordinary businesses. We support our clients with financial management, product and service production and delivery, outsourced services management, sales & marketing and business growth. We provide them with a number of flexible solutions to help them reach their goals.
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