I’ve recently learned that moving digital property is almost as emotional as moving physical property.

Over the last few days, I’ve been moving my web sites to a new server and this has been more of an emotional process than I had anticipated. In some ways, leaving one web host was like breaking up and moving out. It included all the feigned politeness that was required. And then moving to the new web host had all the hopeful emotion attached to any new relationship.

What do relationships have to do with servers?

I didn’t think relationships had anything at all to do with servers. What’s the big deal? You click a few buttons, identify a new server to point to, then sit back, cross your fingers and hope for the best. But what happens when it doesn’t go perfectly? Can a kind word and attitude really keep customers loyal?

I’m not sure if a kind word can overcome poor quality product or performance, but a kind word can certainly earn you the benefit of the doubt. And depending on the promise of your brand, it can make all the difference.

HostGator‘s Customer Service Boosts Their Brand

A lot of business bloggers have been recommending HostGator to host their blogs. I don’t recall the actual reasons and I don’t even know what HostGator’s official positioning is. But based on my experience in searching for a new web host, visiting sites and getting recommendations from people who are just like me — I got this impression that HostGator was going to be a good choice for me. It seemed to me that they were targeting people who had enough technical know-how to host their own blog or web site — but that’s sort of where it ended. (Yup – sounds like me).

Their site spoke my language – they used standard terms that I understood and they didn’t give brand names to things that obscured what they were. Hey — just being able to say that I needed a “dedicated IP address” was enough new language for me.

They had FRIENDLY and helpful online chat people no matter how many times I needed their help. They didn’t even get snippy when I contacted them two or three times within a fifteen minute period (and got the same guy!) ?to ask the same question. In fact, their customer service has been everything that I need; patient with my lack of technical knowledge and information, informative, responsive and generally helpful.

But what happens when something goes wrong?

Well, something is going wrong. Something is up with a couple of my sites and I’m not getting email on my main email account. Yup. This is a problem. And it’s making me nervous. But HostGator’s customer service training, policy or whatever it is that they are doing over there is keeping my anxiety at bay. When I contacted them this morning — they rep’s response was “I see that our admins are actually working on this right now.” ?Maybe they were and maybe they weren’t but his next sentence was along the lines of “We’ll handle it from here.” And I went on about my day.

How to Create a Brand Building Customer Service Strategy

  1. Build it around your ideal customer. Focus your customer service on your target ideal customer — not everyone. The whole point of competition is that there is a choice for every type of customer. Pick the one you serve best.
  2. Ask yourself – what’s important to my target customer when they are dealing with what I’m selling. If your ideal customer is a technical dolt who sees themselves capable of managing several blogs without understanding how the technology works, then the customer conversation is COMPLETELY different from the IT professional or company who is in the web site management business. Identify the circumstances and events that your ideal customers will most likely find themselves in and then create a service conversation around those in a language they can understand.
  3. Be who your customer expects you to be. It’s amazing how much simpler customer service training is when you simply focus on BEING who your customer expects you to be based on the brand you’ve put out there. In my HostGator experience, I expected to be walked through the process and to have certain things explained because I’m not a technical person. So if your brand were a person — who would they be? Would they be helpful, patient, super technical? ?Once you choose that – having a customer service conversation from that point of view should be easy.

So can great customer service overcome technical difficulty — absolutely. It can certainly buy you time, patience and loyalty. If you focus on BEING your brand as you practice your customer service, you’ll find happier customers, happier employees and a bigger bottom line.