TL; DR: As one of the first cloud services providers in South Africa, HOSTAFRICA takes its responsibility as an innovator seriously. That’s why the company has been expanding its hosting services across the continent to cover more businesses and offer more robust customer support than many of its competitors. HOSTAFRICA also ensures that new services operate without interruption before rolling them out for its clients. That way, the company only offers tools that provide value, rather than add unneeded bells and whistles.
Five years ago, Michael Osterloh was working for a virtual server company in Germany. He realized that very few hosts saw the potential of expanding cloud services into South Africa.
Michael also recognized that the demand for cloud infrastructure in the country was outpacing the supply.
Following his instincts, Michael decided to relocate to Cape Town, South Africa, and launch HOSTAFRICA in 2015. HOSTAFRICA offers web hosting, virtual private servers, cloud servers, and domain services for businesses — and it started meeting that pent up demand quickly.
“We were one of the first companies to bring cloud services to the Rainbow Nation and have grown considerably into an established hosting company leading in cloud server solutions in South Africa,” said Michél Lipan, HOSTAFRICA’s Marketing Director.
It turns out that Michael’s hunch was correct. Demand for cloud infrastructure in South Africa grew considerably year over year. In the last five years, HOSTAFRICA has also acquired five other hosting companies to help it meet those needs in South Africa and across the entire African continent.
Now, the company has expanded its server network worldwide.
As HOSTAFRICA has grown, it has always focused on providing services to its core demographic. Cloud services may present a steep learning curve for some customers, which is why HOSTAFRICA offers responsive support. The company is also committed to improving its products, services, and features for the IT managers who need them.
“We understand that every customer and their challenges are unique. Our support staff goes the extra mile and even provides after-hours support, sometimes working long into the early hours of the morning to help clients,” Michél said.
Working with Clients to Offer Enhanced Customer Support
HOSTAFRICA has established a large customer base in such a short time because of its support. Even as the company has grown, it remains committed to providing helpful, personal customer service.
The company noticed that as other hosting companies entered the market and began expanding, they would often start ignoring their clients after they’d gotten their business. That also happened with many other players aiming to enter the cloud services space.
“If you look at the large-scale providers, you will find the sentiment is that human interaction is an error by design. There’s nothing more frustrating than picking up the phone to call a company to resolve an issue and being met with a robot or automated response,” Michél said.
HOSTAFRICA customers who are struggling with an issue have many options for contacting an expert support representative. The support team is trained to answer questions while showing compassion for customers if they struggle with technology.
“We don’t have one-off interactions with clients, and our services require enormous amounts of infrastructure and subsequently the skills and dedication to maintain it,” Michél said.
HOSTAFRICA also has set a time frame in which it aims to respond to client tickets. The company strives to address all customer concerns within an hour.
“There are very few companies in South Africa where one can simply pick up the phone or send an urgent email, and the issue or query is resolved within the hour,” Michél said.
Five years ago, that commitment to customer service became the foundation of HOSTAFRICA. And without spending much money on marketing, the company has gained business through word-of-mouth from satisfied customers.
Curated Services Provide High-Quality Experiences
From early on, Michael understood what the South African market needed from a hosting company. At first, HOSTAFRICA started by specializing in Virtual Private Servers and Cloud Servers, the services that clients most frequently needed.
HOSTAFRICA ensured that services would have high uptime and meet the level of reliability their clients required. That is important for its clients, which include hospitals, medical companies, ecommerce businesses, and financial institutions, among many other companies that can’t afford periodic interruptions.
So, HOSTAFRICA took its time to diversify its offerings. Not only did the company want to ensure that its primary services ran smoothly, but it also didn’t want to start developing tools that its clients didn’t want or need.
“Some competitors make the mistake of trying to do and offer it all, which results in many low-quality services and less support. For example, ISPs that try to branch out into cloud servers or domains,” Michél said.
Instead, the HOSTAFRICA team researched what products and services would most benefit their clients. They also believe that simplicity is critical. If a company has too many offerings in its portfolio, then it almost always shirks on quality. Still, clients have come to expect a range of products that HOSTAFRICA now provides.
“We only expanded our portfolio once we had the workforce and skills to do it. By focusing on taking care of customer needs first, we set a standard of service and support that is rare in South Africa,” Michél said.
The company also offers customized service plans that allow customers to design packages that fit them best. That flexibility has been useful to many clients that have needs beyond pre-designed hosting packages.
Expanding its Hosting Capacities Beyond South Africa
After growing its hosting business throughout the continent, HOSTAFRICA is poised to expand its offerings beyond Africa without diminishing its commitment to its customers. The company’s support staff is already diverse and has representatives who speak many different languages. That allows the company to help clients across the continent and beyond.
Clients have also voiced their appreciation for HOSTAFRICA’s reliability.
“Today, it is difficult to find a company that offers great customer service. HOSTAFRICA is one of the few that actually still offers service. Prompt response to help tickets, to the point and CORRECT info supplied. Would recommend them to anyone and everyone,” reads one online testimonial.
The company also sees managed hosting as the way of the future, as clients are demanding more automation and less maintenance. In South Africa, the choice of dedicated servers had been limited to a few local companies. So, HOSTAFRICA recently introduced managed and self-managed dedicated servers in response to the high demand from its users.
“As it’s extremely expensive to host, set up, and maintain, we are now one of the only hosting companies who offer dedicated hosting in South Africa — and it is very popular,” Michél said.
HOSTAFRICA is also working to introduce more managed services, including WordPress, eCommerce, and container management services like Docker and Kubernetes.
“Our Systems Administrators are very specialized at managing our infrastructure, and not all of our client businesses can afford one for their own systems,” said Michél.