TL; DR: Hosting companies that aim to compete in the market often decide to reduce valuable services, such as customer support, that don’t directly boost revenue. But U.K.-based 365Hosts takes a different approach. The fully-managed hosting solutions provider makes exemplary support a critical feature of its retention strategy while offering competitive rates. And as it grows, 365Hosts uses feedback to develop new services and features that will add more value for its customers.
Web hosting providers that want to succeed in a highly competitive industry face two significant challenges. First, the margins on many service offerings in an over-provisioned market may be slim. Second, their business models typically need to exclude value-added services that don’t produce revenue.
Too often, that dynamic leads to decreased customer support, and the resultant churn can drive up new customer acquisition costs for companies — which further hurt their bottom lines.
But U.K.-based 365Hosts has a different approach. CEO Chris Withington told us that the company doesn’t view customer service as a cost center. Rather, the host’s focus on delivering robust support is allowing 365Hosts to differentiate in a crowded market that leaves few opportunities to stand out through innovation.
“When we first started, there were many web hosts on the market that offered either very expensive or very cheap hosting solutions,” Chris said. “So we wanted to offer a hosting model that would appeal to a mass audience, but also attract the affluent end of the market. So we offer support and advice, but without the costs that are often associated with such value-adds.”
That philosophy aligns with research that predicts customer experience is set to overtake price and product as the most critical brand differentiator.
Web Services Built on a Clear Differentiation Model
365Hosts has an extensive portfolio of shared, reseller, and platform-optimized hosting options, including WordPress and CloudLinux. It also offers a wide range of VPS and dedicated server solutions — all delivered through its datacenters located around the world, including in the United Kingdom, Canada, the U.S., Germany, France, and Poland.
The company, in operation since 2010, keeps a trained eye on hosting market trends and shifts and takes advantage of expansion opportunities. Over the last decade, 365Hosts has grown its footprint both organically and through well-timed acquisitions.
However, unlike the conglomerates that buy smaller hosting providers to enlarge and commoditize their customer bases, 365Hosts has upwardly adjusted some of its prices for its newly-acquired customers — with negligible customer loss, according to Chris.
Critical to that retention is adding value with exemplary service support that leaves customers feeling satisfied. And Chris said that satisfaction often leads to customers extolling the virtues of 365Hosts on review platforms,including Trustpilot. The company also attracts dissatisfied customers from hosting providers acquired by conglomerate players, and whose service quality has dropped as a result of the change in ownership.
And 365Hosts clients benefit from free websites, CRM and email migrations, domain name registration, and SSL certificates.
“We certainly do not see support as excessive overhead. In fact, we encourage customers to engage with our support services team — it can be a great way to reinforce the benefits of paying a little above budget rates,” said Chris. “It reminds them of the value they are getting.”
A Business Based on Always-Available Service and Added Value
The company stands ready to engage with customers at any time through support tickets, phone calls, or web-based live chat, Chris said. That means that, for the support team, there is no such thing as customer contact outside of business hours — the team is available around the clock.
And live chat has grown into the support channel that customers rate most highly.
“Our differentiation is leveraged mainly through customer support, and by that, we mean building a really good relationship with customers,” Chris said. “There are very few hosting companies that offer live support through the early hours of the morning. They just don’t have the economies of scale. With the smaller low-price hosters, many are one-person bands, and that one person has got to go offline to sleep at some point.”
Another area where 365Hosts adds value is through speedy website migrations — many as fast as the same day, and sometimes within an hour or two.
“Customers don’t like hanging around waiting for things to be done when they buy a new product. They want to use it right away,” Chris said.
365Hosts also offers free backups of customer data. According to Chris, that arrangement is beneficial to everyone because, if data gets lost for any reason, 365Hosts will likely lose a customer, too.
“Not offering backups as standard is a false economy,” Chris said. “Our customer’s data is as precious to us as it is to them.”
The company also keeps its customers informed of cybersecurity issues through alerts from its dedicated Threat Intelligence Team. All of these services help 365Hosts connect with customers and maximize value over the lifetime of their relationship.
“For us, it’s about the long game, sustaining great customer relationships, and deriving even more value when they recommend 365Hosts to others,” Chris said.
And at 365Hosts, the concept of sustainability is about maintaining high customer satisfaction into the future.
365Hosts: Developing Client-Driven Products that Meet Corporate Social Responsibility Commitments
The company is guided by feedback from its customers in developing its future product and services portfolio. And the team continually monitors customer requests for additional features.
“What are they asking for? Is there enough of a pattern to inform the launch of a new service? If we think so, we act on that information — client feedback certainly does not go unnoticed.”
Chris offered two recent examples of that strategy: the introduction of a password manager tool and a cloud-based file sharing service to be launched later this year.
Another initiative reflects the company’s concern for its carbon profile. Working with a local tree specialist, 365Hosts pledged to plant an oak tree for every new customer that signs up.
“Sustainability is massive for us,” Chris said. “Whether that gives us any leverage in the market, I’m not that bothered. It’s more important that we are acting responsibly, doing something good.”
Perhaps the company’s most effective differentiator is the integrity that informs its value proposition, evident in its glowing customer service ratings on review platforms.
According to Chris, competing in today’s global web hosting solutions market on product offerings alone is somewhat of a lost cause. That’s why 365Hosts created an experience that includes outstanding customer support and standard options that give customers peace of mind.