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[[b]edited by[/b]: lizzie at 4:25 pm (utc) on Jan. 11, 2004][/1]
Make it clear you cant offer tech support before taking their money
I don't know many people that would wear this. The other option is to team up with somebody that can offer tech support.
I do this with bigger organisations ... I just know that they are going to lose passwords, break email account settings etc on a regular basis.
So I sign them up for a support contract with a third party that offers a sensible service level agreement.
Are you saying that each customer signs up for a separate support contract
Where necessary. If I can't offer a client the level of support they need, I'll give them the option of signing up with a trusted third party.
At some point on the future, this will probably become transparent. I work pretty closely with a number of other consultants and companies.
or that your entire service relies on the support of a third party?
Not this particular part. Although I do have a reseller account ... so I guess you could say that I rely on a third party there.
But in this day and age, I don't know many services of any size that don't rely on external support.
It can get pretty expensive over time, particulary if you are registering domain names on behalf of your clients.
People will comment to you on forums about lack of customer focus etc etc, the truth is your customers would be better off in the short to medium term with that solution. You need to keep a sensible ratio of support staff Vs customers and thats just not possible in the early days without outsourcing.
Try looking at www.bobcares.com for email support. There are others out there too, this one has been around for a while. (no I'm not affiliated to them)
Hope this helps,
I want to find a way to continue to run the hosting business while having the clients on another service that will deliver the customer service. Does this sound realistic?
The bottom line is that you have to add something of value if you want to find and/or keep customers.
The hosting business is essentially about ...
The same customers may also want all sorts of other things. Web design, site promotion services, credit card services, etc.
You just need to work out which of these services you can/want to provide. Anything that is left, you need to find a 3rd party you can work with to help out.
Customers are often happiest (I have found) if they can go to one place for everything. This means that you will need to find a way of making all of the parts into a coherent service (e.g. ... if you outsource support, this just becomes an extra number. Clients can still escalate to you if things go wrong).
This will also give you the opportunity to make a little commission from business you refer to these 3rd parties.
Another point worth remembering ...
The first sale you make to a customer will often be the most difficult. Back end/repeat sales will be easier (and usually of a higher value).
So ideally, you want to find a way of building and controlling your own customer database.