Struggling with customer satisfaction

Actually I meant to write a post on how to find a good hosting company for your WordPress projects. In the end it turned out to be an article on customer satisfaction, due to my experiences with different hosting companies.

Every once in a while, the question of where to host your website pops up and is rather persistent. What looked like a pretty good fit years ago just doesn’t feel right anymore.
So as it happens,  there was this hosting question  lingering in the air. There were actually two things that made me itchy this time:

First of all, I wanted to be able to use the Let’s Encrypt certificate for the websites in my shared hosting package. I inquired with my hosting company but they showed not the least bit cooperative. Reading through their forums told more of the same tale.

I might have gone along and bought some certificate, hadn’t that company made another strange move: They sent a newsletter to all clients happily announcing the relocation of all servers to a state-of-the-art data center in France.

In order to understand what makes this a big deal you need to know that a lot of people in Germany are very sensitive when it comes to data privacy. In Germany, laws enforcing protection of data privacy are rather strict, therefore clients tend to be willing to pay extra money to make sure their data actually stays in Germany. Many of the clients receiving this newsletter had deliberately picked that hosting company because of the data center located in Germany.

I actually would not have minded the move to France for my websites. What I did mind, however, were the snappy, harsh answers people got if they dared to question the decision or just raised concerns.

In the end the company turned out to offer a second option – an additional data center located in Germany  – for a slightly higher price. But the damage had be done, I believe a lot of people just lost trust.

It usually is not one single decision or one single problem that gives you that nudge to go looking for a different solution. I mean, let’s be honest, moving all your websites and email addresses is no fun. No matter how much assistance the future hosting company provides, people still have to change their eMail credentials etc. There is no such thing (in my experience) as a pain free change.

Or better: It isn’t that one problem or that one bug that urges us on. That goes for hosting companies, WordPress plugins or themes, and lot’s of other things in our private or business life. Looking for new solutions usually creates a lot of hassle we truly don’t want.

What really can get me to the tipping point in no time is the way my business partner – the plugin creator, the hosting company,.. – acts in view of my problem or my question:
Do I feel taken seriously? Are they able to solve my problem? Or do they brush my concerns aside, explaining how their approach is the superior one? And why do I even dare to feel entitled to question decisions they have made on behalf of me?

I mean, I don’t deny that I might not have enough knowledge to judge their decisions, I might be inexperienced and I also might act stupid. But it never helps to make your client feel stupid, talked down to or treated like you wouldn’t deal with your three-year-old. I, at least, am extremely sensitive at that point. I gladly listen to explanations, but I don’t take a “just because” very well. And I don’t seem to be alone, either:

A couple of years ago I read about studies on customer satisfaction. In that particular case it turned out that the happiest customers were those with products sporting minor flaws that were fixed most obligingly. No discussions, no questions asked.
Customers with “perfect” products didn’t even come close!

So, in the end, we are all human and we want to be treated with respect and kindness. I know it sometimes is hard not to lose patience with a “dumb” user, answering the same questions over and over again. But it still is important and it will pay in the long run, because I am pretty sure that these people might in the end become the most loyal clients. All of us are a bit stupid at one point or another.