Siteground should be a case study for how to manage a service for small businesses. Customers who pay $6 to $8 a month for hosting get a wide range of pre-installed applications and virtually unlimited disk space and bandwidth. And every few months, an email comes saying that customers are generally getting more bandwidth and more disk space.
But the most amazing thing about Siteground is their support. Even with over 100,000 sites hosted, Siteground’s tech support team responds to most tickets within 15 minutes.
I’ve used Siteground for over 3 years now, after leaving one hosting provider who abandoned me and another who had abysmal customer support. I’m not going to tell you everything is perfect. It’s been a great marriage though, and they have raised me from a customer to a fanatic.
I asked Lilyana Yakimova, who is Marketing Director for Siteground, to answer a few questions about how Siteground works.
Paul : When you started in Siteground in 2004, did you ever think that you were going to have 100K customers in less than 5 years?
Lilyana: The truth is that at the beginning we did not set a goal like: “we need to have a certain number of customers in certain number of years”. We were not obsessed with the numbers but we rather concentrated on creating a service that will be good and useful for many people. So it seems that this approach was appropriate.
P: What are some of the factors in your being able to maintain a high level of support, even with so many customers?
L: It is extremely challenging to provide quality support, when you target a low cost market and the number of your customers grows so fast. There are two main factors that allowed us to keep up with the good support level: good admin work that helps us keep the number of server issues to minimum levels and good support system and team that helps us decrease problem resolution times.
The non-stop automatic server monitoring help our server administrators diagnose and solve many problems before they ever affect our customers. This is one way to decrease the number of reported problems. Our server administrators also believe that when a problem occurs its immediate resolution is just a small part of the work. What is more important is that we make efforts that it never occurs again. This way almost every server problem occurring now help us have less problems in the future.
The other thing that helps us provide efficient support to so many customers is our constantly improving HelpDesk. It was started as a simple form for posting a ticket. Now it includes quick answers for the most frequent questions, several extremely innovative report generating tools that reduced the time for problem solving dramatically. We are also constantly adding new features.
P: I’ve noticed on your site that you have both offices in the US and Bulgaria. How do these two offices work together?
L: The company’s main activities are performed from Bulgaria. However, we do have experience in coordinating two offices in different geographical locations and I may say that it requires a very clear structure, efficient communication and strong management.
P: How do your keep your staff motivated? They seem almost to jump on support tickets.
L: We have high standards regarding the speed of the support team reaction, especially when it comes to serious problems like website or email being inaccessible. These high standards are definitely not easily met by everyone. However, people who make the effort always receive the recognition. There is also a lot of fun, besides the hard work, that bonds our team together.
P: With the growth of Web 2.0, streaming media, and other high bandwidth needs, how do you see Siteground keeping up with that challenge?
L: I believe that to a great extent there is a natural balance in our industry. The price of server resources falls constantly and these technologies become more and more massively available.
P: With such a barebones price, how do you support marketing initiatives?
L: It is true that money is one of the important things needed for a successful marketing initiative. Good ideas, however, can often be even more important. IOur low cost put some constraints on our marketing budgets, but on the other hand it inspires us for more creativity. Another thing that helps us grow without a big marketing budget is the fact that our customers are happy with our service. Once they start using our services they often transfer all their websites to us and they also tell their friends about us.
P: And finally what’s the weirdest site that you host?
L: We have had such a diversity of websites that it is really hard to single out one as the weirdest. I have made some quick research among the people in the office and the most weird we come up with was a website that was asking each subscriber for a list of all the people, who have ever called him/her “an idiot” and explanation for the reason this happened. Not surprisingly it did not have many subscribers:)
I hope that this interview didn’t sound too much like an infomercial. The downside to working with Siteground is that there is no phone support. If you don’t like working through a helpdesk, even one that’s blazingly fast, then you’ll probably want to go elsewhere. (Me, I prefer helpdesks myself).
I really, really, really like Siteground, and if you are considering a place to host, you should check them out. www.siteground.com