TL; DR: Building an online presence is something that many people are capable of with a little bit of help at the beginning. Hosting company Rebel aims to provide businesses and individuals with the jump-start they need to create their own website. With the goal of helping people contribute online, Rebel is making a renewed charge to enhance customer service, make customers a part of the development process, and expand its VPS hosting platform. Through the Rebel Ethos program, the company also uses technology to make a social difference.
The digital agency business is changing. Although hosting customers once relied on a service provider to publish online, they are becoming less dependent. At the same time, however, many businesses still need a helping hand getting started.
Balancing the hosting industry trends of self-service and automation with a personal approach to helping customers build an online presence, Rebel is doubling down on customer support and expanding its services.
“What we’ve done in the last year is transitioned from being a domain registrar first to being a hosting company first,” said Director of Technology Brett Tackaberry. “Rebel is meant for those who want to self-manage — people who are trying to create a brand experience — but we also support and help people get online.”
A lot of knowledge and experience is behind the innovation at Rebel. The company has been highly focused on the user experience — both by offering superior customer service and developing features with the help of clients.
“In the last six months to a year, we’ve brought in a much more user-centric and more user-based decision-making process,” Brett said. “We tested a lot of the new features we put out last year with various groups of customers. We’ll release a feature to 10% of our audience, ask them for feedback, make the changes, and continue to launch the product that way.“
This two-fold effort to guide customers into getting online and include them in the creative process represents Rebel’s ability to keep a wide range of clients happy.
“It comes back to our motto of helping people contribute online, and whatever they need there,” Brett said. “It’s scary to get this new domain and face a ton of questions: How do you get the website up? Do you have to hire someone? Do you have to pay someone? Those are the tough parts we’re trying to really cater to.”
Meeting Needs Across the Client Spectrum, From Students to Retailers
Rebel’s services include domain name registration and transfers, website building and hosting, eCommerce, email, and security. Many clients aren’t particularly tech-savvy, Brett said, but they have a good idea of their business and how they want to present it online.
“Sometimes you see students looking for a job or people trying to transition in their career,” Brett said. “Or they might be a photographer, so they’ll have a one-page or three-page website and they’ll launch a portfolio or a small business. In the same realm, we have folks who are selling a house or getting married and they have a small website.”
On the other end of the spectrum are more mature businesses that want to sell online, along with web developers, design agencies, IT companies, and corporations that are especially interested in Rebel’s VPS hosting services.
“That’s actually what we’re focusing on in the next year,” Brett said.
Revamped Customer Support Provides 1-on-1 Onboarding
When Rebel decided to enhance its customer support, the company looked to a fellow Ottawa business as a model, Brett said.
“Shopify has this hands-on, incredible onboarding process,” he said. “They have these gurus who are trying to help you get online with your store. What we’ve done in the last six months is taken that sort of approach.”
Rebel added one-on-one assisted setups, where a customer service rep will work closely remotely with a customer using screen sharing to help get their site up initially. In addition, the company’s website migration service is now free.
“Getting the site online is the tough part,” Brett said. “Managing once it gets up and running with a bit of training is easy. So we try to help them through the tricky parts.”
In revamping the company’s customer service efforts, Rebel aims to be more empathetic with customers’ processes and identify where the company could help the most.
“We’re trying to understand what they’re going through when they’re trying to publish online and what the stress and the pain points are,” Brett said.
Growth Focuses on VPS Projects for Agencies and IT Companies
Recently, growing interest in Rebel’s VPS hosting services has prompted the company to shift more energy into further optimizing and marketing the platform, according to Brett.
“We’ve re-architected how we’re offering that, and it’s enabled us to expand it,” he said. “It’s another growth area we’ve found, so we wanted to get behind it and help those customers scale.”
The self-managed plans, powered by solid-state drives, come with full root access and a pre-installed Plesk control panel. Users can enjoy up to four CPUs with 16GB of RAM, 200GB of storage, 5TB of bandwidth, and dedicated IP addresses.
Some of Rebel’s VPS clients include web developers, agencies looking to streamline their business, and larger businesses with the technical staff to maintain a hosting environment.
“Part of the reason why we have folks buying more of the VPS in the last six months is that they’ll want to buy a VPS server and host the 10 or 20 clients that they have on one server,” he said. “IT staff want to manage them all in the same way. If a company has a web developer or technical employees who can manage it, they’ll have a high-performance VPS web server they can host their stuff on.”
Giving Back by Breaking Down Barriers to Getting Online
In addition to serving customers and scaling a VPS platform, Rebel also prioritizes charitable contributions through its Rebel Ethos program.
“In our model of contributing online, we want to help reduce barriers for those who have difficulty making that happen,” Brett said. “We do a lot in this area. It’s great for the work culture and the team, but it has a real impact.”
In addition to offering hosting discounts and partnerships to nonprofits, students, and social enterprises that are making a difference, the initiative also entails sponsoring and hosting events, including Random Hacks of Kindness, Tech4Good Ottawa, and Ladies Learning Code.
“We try to bridge the gap between technology and the nonprofits and social enterprises in our community,” Brett said. “We’re not in the business of making tons and tons of money; we are in the business of hosting. So we try to help people contribute online by giving our services for free when we can.”