TL; DR: After scaling back to concentrate on providing the best hosting and support to roughly 5,000 domains in about 35 countries, Founder David Mckendrick and the global Fused team have reloaded and are ready to use automation and proprietary programs to serve a larger audience. By observing large-scale mergers and acquisitions across the hosting industry, as well as the shortcompings of mainstream hosts in delivering adequate support, Fused has reorganized into a developer-centric host with the tools and systems to offer top-notch service at a variety of price points.
David Mckendrick’s competitors can thank his previous employer for the creation of Fused, a small host that places a major emphasis on customer support. While working for another hosting provider, David was inspired to do better. He had started a hosting review site in 2004 and took what he calls a “weird, backward way” into launching his own hosting brand.
Although the business model has changed since the company launched in 2006, David and his global team continue to serve upscale hosting plans and around-the-clock support to thousands of customers around the world.
“For some reason, I’ve always immensely enjoyed helping and assisting people, and that was a core goal in launching Fused,” he said. “I get easily offended if you call up a company, and you’re on hold for 45 minutes. Why call it a customer service line if that’s not what you’re going to get?”
Watching the Industry and Learning From Large Business Challenges
Altruistic intentions aside, David’s interest in customer support extends to a wider industry perspective and genuine curiosity about business impacts.
“I pay attention to a lot of the mergers and acquisitions, and things like that, to see what’s happening,” he said. “I want to see where the money is going, why it’s going in certain directions, and what’s happening with other companies.”
In addition to the general trend of gigantic mergers and establishing offices in less expensive areas, such as Arizona or Indiana, David remains enchanted by how enterprise-level hosting companies treat support.
Even though major brands may have almost 1,000 employees for customer service, the thin margins of the ultra-competitive shared hosting space mean an account might automatically become unprofitable once the customer reaches out for help.
“You can see where many similar vendors have actually gotten rid of support tickets, which is fascinating to me, because they couldn’t cope,” he said. “It’s easy for a customer to click a button and fire off a ticket, but it’s extremely tedious for a company to respond to that ticket. They might be able to help someone on the phone or can do live chat, but they aren’t able to keep up with the emails they’re getting.”
How Fused Focuses on Doing Business Differently
Naturally, David is curious to see how long the large hosting providers can offer the support currently seen across the industry. Noting the model for Amazon Web Services, in which support costs an additional fee ranging from $29 per month to in excess of $15,000 monthly, David sees affordable and immediate support as a major selling point — particularly to the small- to medium-sized business owners to which Fused appeals.
“Every request from any customer, for the most part, is completely urgent,” David said. “It’s impeding their business, otherwise they wouldn’t be bothering you. If their business is being affected, you need to be there.”
1. Valuing and Delivering Superb Support Instead of Solely Focusing on Specs
In addition to true 24/7 support and a 99.9% uptime guarantee on which Fused regularly overdelivers, the company’s base web hosting plans start with:
- 10GB of storage
- Unmetered data transfers
- Nightly backups
- Hassle-free migrations
- 20x-faster DNS clusters
- 90-day money-back guarantee
To David, however, the features so commonly touted in other hosting providers’ plans mean nothing if the company can’t deliver strong, responsive, and reliable customer service.
“I can list specs all day, but if I’m not there for the customers when they need me, they’re not getting the service they actually require,” David said. “The real one that our customers are looking for is instant support. Of course, that’s the most costly feature to offer. Servers are really, really cheap; support is not.”
2. Emphasizing Transparency and Setting Customer Expectations
According to David, honesty is key when establishing and promoting a hosting company’s support program. Instead of following industry standards, he recommended being truthful to the level of service a company’s team can reliably provide.
“It’s easy to throw a 24/7 label on your site, but customers will notice if you don’t actually adhere to that, he said, adding that it’s better to publicize and actively deliver a 12-hour-per-day support window than touting around-the-clock service and having customers endure eight-hour response times.
Developing Tools to Automate Hosting and Measure Value
Although Fused’s upscale plans cost more than the bare-bones packages offered by the major hosting brands, David aims to demonstrate the value of immediate support by developing a hosting costs calculator. In addition to the monthly subscription rate, the tool calculates the business impact of downtime.
“What if you’re put on hold for 45 minutes and your team doesn’t have email? What if some low-level employee sends a password to the wrong person?” he asked. “Shared hosting is a funny little world, where there’s a certain level of sufficiency and inefficiency with inexpensive servers that could still have a major impact on business.”
As Fused grows its customer ranks, David factors in the burdens larger companies have faced when scaling the matching support programs.
“I like hearing about these problems because I can build our internal tools to compensate for that same problem in advance,” he said. “If you can’t solve those problems instantaneously when a customer reaches out to you or fix something automatically in advance, your support load is going to be too heavy.”
Fused’s Future: Regaining a Global Footprint Behind Strong Software
Over the past year and a half, according to David, Fused has been reforming into more of a developer-centric organization to produce the necessary internal tools to scale support.
David employs a very small staff and plenty of contractors — many of whom have been on board since the beginning, more than a decade ago. The international team ensures no one has to man the support lines in the middle of the night.
“I used to work the night shift, way back in the day, and there were few things I found more offensive than the midnight-to-6-a.m. shift,” he said. “I decided I was never going to allow one of my teammates to work those hours.”
David said he has always enjoyed running a small company but admits he would like to have a bigger piece of the pie. Currently, he has tentative plans to re-enter the budget-driven shared hosting space — but only when his team has the programs to push customer support efficiency. In fact, that software could at some point become Fused’s main role in the hosting industry.
“We’re building a lot of support tools that could be very useful for companies that are much larger than us,” he said. “We realize the need to automate a lot of the lower-level requests to make sure we’re there for the urgent ones that require a human to solve.”