♦Best Web Hosting Companies*
If you run a bricks-and-mortar business, an online presence (website) to extend the reach of your brand and widen your customer base in today’s digital age is imperative. If, at the other end of the spectrum, your business is run exclusively online, it goes without saying that a functional website with an uptime of 100% (99.9% is the least you should settle for) is vital to your business’ success.
Which is why the reputation, reliability, promptness and nimbleness of the web hosting company hosting your business’ website matter; that is why you owe it to your business and yourself to do your own due diligence before signing up with a web hosting company*.
What’s their track record? What’s the level of expertise of their tech support? Will your inquiries be responded to quickly? Do they offer multichannel of communications?
In a nutshell, what should you look for in a website hosting company before you decide to do business with it? What are the criteria to determine whether you are dealing with a reputable and legitimate entity?
*Disclosure: Tpublish.com (Tpublish Inc.) may earn compensation (at no cost to you) from transactions conducted through affiliate links. Thanks in advance.
Look for an Address◊
Call us old-fashioned, but we still believe in a business with a bricks-and-mortar address. Although email is the electronic lightning speed form of communication, there are still contents and information that can only be conveyed via snail mail. How about a certified letter with return receipt requested? Try an email for that one! A verifiable physical address, although a necessary indicator of a business’ existence, is not sufficient to determine the legitimacy of the entity you are dealing with.
A Phone Number*
We know, in a fast-paced world, a certain predilection for emails, as a vehicle of communication, is highly favored. But whether you hire a webmaster or run your own website (do-it-yourself), the unexpected (inadvertent files mix-up, download and installation of incompatible plugins, clicking on the wrong icons, etc.) should be expected, which will cause your website to crash or malfunction.
An email can’t convey the immediacy and urgency of your concern, and the speedy resolution the issue requires (you want it solved at the speed of now!). Only a phone call will do. An email cannot, nor will it ever replace the emotional and soothing sound of a human voice.
Before you sign up with a web hosting company, place a test phone call. The ease and speed with which your call is answered foretells their level of customer service. Depending on calls volume and time of day, your phone wait time should be under 5-7 minutes, anything beyond that time frame is a red flag. Your interlocutor should be courteous, professional and knowledgeable.
To locate a company’s phone number and speak to a live customer representative:
Emails, for instant electronic communication’s sake, are all the rage and a great way to convey your concerns, illustrate content, make a point, pay a compliment, get a ticket for troubleshooting, etc.
Emails leave an electronic trail behind (record) as evidence in case of a he-said/she-said argument needs clarification to be settled. Most companies have a 24-hr policy to respond to email inquiries, which is a reasonable time frame to address your concern.
If the only way to reach a company is by email, it’s a telltale that it is unlikely that you’ll get a hold of a live human being to talk to in the event of an emergency. As a customer, you shoot for multilevel or multichannel of communications.
Before you sign on the dotted line or click “I accept” the service agreement (read the fine prints), shoot an email to the web hosting company you’re contemplating doing business with. If it takes forever to get a reply, that’s another red flag customer service-wise.
Sometimes, the only channel of communication at your disposal is a fax machine or e-fax, so a company must be reachable by fax if need be. It all comes down to one thing: Scale of Reachability. How reachable is the web hosting company you are doing or contemplating doing business with? How quickly are your concerns addressed, your problems solved?
If you have the required dexterity to type fast, construct elegant sentences, and make sense all at once, on the fly (walking and chewing gum at the same time, sort of), all the power to you! Chatting, in this case, is a vehicle of communication that a company should put at its customers’ disposal to address their concern and alleviate their fear.
Again, it speaks to the “Scale of Reachability” (phone, fax, snail mail, email, and chat) of the company. A decent website hosting company should operate on the following principles:
- Under promise, over deliver
- Always keep its promises
- Establish a multichannel of communications, and
- Make it easy for customers to do business with it, the company.
The contact information of a web hosting company should be found on the “Contact Us” page.
Better Business Bureau (BBB)
Again, before you part with your hard-earned money signing up with a web hosting company, it is incumbent upon you to do your due diligence about the company’s reputation. That’s where the Better Business Bureau comes in. One can glean the following information about a company from the BBB site:
- BBB-accredited: Accreditation or non-accreditation should have no bearing on your decision. Accreditation just adds prestige (a feather in the cap) to the image of a company with respect to compliance with BBB rules. There are, nevertheless, fine companies that refrain from BBB membership.
- Description: Type and nature of service(s) provided by the company.
- Rating: If the company is rated, what is the rationale behind the rating.
- Customer Complaints and Resolutions: An outrageous number of unresolved complaints within a short period of time is a red flag.
While one should not rely exclusively on BBB rating to do business with a company, for no company is perfect and cannot please every customer; the rating, nevertheless, should be taken into overall consideration. The BBB rating is just a gauge in the larger scheme of things. Rating ranges from A to F; A being the best, F the worst.
A responsible company, concerned with its image and reputation, would have policy in place to respond to and address quickly customers’ complaints.
In the absence of a BBB report, ask friends, customers of the company (if you know any) if they are satisfied with the services. If so, they’ll have nothing but praise. If dissatisfied, they’ll spill the beans. Read internet reviews as well.
Price should not be the sole determining factor in your choice of a web hosting company. Because of cut throat competition, most companies use the low price weapon to lure customers in. Once the bait is taken, the web hosting company’s true colors are shown: the expected customer service you were counting on vanished, it’s nowhere to be found in time of dire need.
Low price should not imply second class customer service, but most of the time that’s exactly what it is. First class customer service should not be sacrificed on the alter of cheap price. Unfortunately, all the cliché adages (if it sounds to good to be true, it is; you get what you pay for, etc.) apply, when it comes to cheap price.
It’s better to spend a few extra bucks in exchange for peace of mind and great customer service when you need it than to save a few pennies for poor and nightmarish customer service, if any. Don’t be penny-wise and pound-foolish. Price is not everything.
Refund or Return Policy
What’s the grace period, if any, and under what circumstances a refund is issued? Does one have to jump through hoops to get one’s money back if dissatisfied? Those are all factors to consider before you part company (pun intended!) with your money.
Why go to great lengths to identify and pick a reputable web hosting company to host your website before you pull the trigger? Because it matters. Those filters do not guarantee you would not stumble upon a few bad apples, but they minimize the risk of choosing the wrong company and help you discern, distinguish and separate the wheat from the chaff company-wise.
♦ Disclosure: Tpublish.com (Tpublish Inc.) may earn compensation (at no cost to you) from transactions conducted through affiliate links. Thanks in advance.