A Graphical Business Process Management Description

Early this week, the folks at GoDaddy managed to break literally millions of web sites, simply by screwing up the DNS tables they maintain—or by being hacked. There are conflicting accounts of what happened at “NoDaddy”.This got me thinking.

One of the things it got me thinking about is where businesses should host their web sites. This isn’t exactly a laboratory question, though; since we offer web hosting at Answer Guy Central and through our affiliates, the answer I’d like you to conclude is “correct” is here.

But if you agree with that conclusion, you’re going to pay us about five times what it costs to use GoDaddy. This isn’t because we’re trying to get over on our clients, but reflects a different business process and business model for hosting than GoDaddy employs. GoDaddy, like Apple, is a marketing company; at Answer Guy Central we’re about customer service and bullet-proof business process.

That said, perspective is reality. Five times as much is . . . five time too much, right? Well, maybe.

If you’re a GoDaddy customer and had no web site this week, you might not think so. But I’m not trying to poach GoDaddy customers; this really is a story about perspective and reality, not sales. So here’s the deal:

If you think you can run your entire business for under $10 per month, you’re deluding yourself.

I mean, you can get hosting that includes everything at an incredibly low price. But if your business is based on the amount of traffic you attract on the Internet, doesn’t it just make sense to pay fifty bucks instead of ten if you’re getting something that furthers your business goals? Don’t have fifty dollars? Please; then you don’t have a real business anyway, right?

Watch this story take a twist, now.

A couple of months ago, one of our clients—a hosting company, actually—found themselves in a bind when the company they bought some of their bandwidth from decided to stop doing business here in the USA. The good news is that this company—Fasthosts—gave their customers two months to make alternate arrangements. The nearly-unbelievable news is that even though FastHosts is part of United Internet Group, a larger company that includes in its portfolio the huge consumer-directed hosting company 1and1, the only thing they had to offer US-based business customers when Fasthosts stopped operating here was that they do business with Fasthosts UK.

That would be fine if it actually worked. I love England, the people there speak my language, and the Fasthosts UK charges were almost the same as what Fasthosts charged here. But guess what? There was no way to migrate from Fasthosts here to Fasthosts there. At that point, Fasthosts became just another company vying for business they had previously earned.

Better formulated business process could have addressed this, just as GoDaddy’s DNS issues could have been avoided. And now, it gets really interesting.

When Fasthosts shut down and the smoke from that fire had cleared, the question my client asked was this one: I’m still floored that they aren’t even trying to sell off their customers; can you think of any other example of a business doing this? And while I didn’t have examples at my fingertips, I have the experience to comment, and again, this is all about business process:

“Ultra-cheap hosting customers bring in so little revenue per capita and very little profit and are therefore only valuable in the aggregate” is the big point here. Absent correctly-designed business process there was no way to magically sell off their base and have them just work in someone else’s systems.

This underscores how important having and sticking to standardized business processes can be; had Fasthosts done that they could have just transferred everyone and waited to see how many revolted, or sold the business. But lack of those standards made it so Fasthosts couldn’t pull off an internal transfer, so if you’re a GoDaddy and are offered “the base” for acquisition but have to then handle account migration manually, what’s the value?

In other words: we do our more-expensive-but-still-affordable hosting by adhering to business process standards, and that enables to to provide great customer service. Fasthosts failed at that and had to shut down a big business as a result. GoDaddy failed to define their business process well enough and took down millions of web sites.

One of the things the Internet teaches that the old world has always known is that great customer service matters. Just ask anyone on The Answer Guy’s Verizon Wireless Customer Service Wall of Shame.

But customer service, while not necessarily expensive, isn’t free.

It’s your business. If you provide great customer service, your customers will thank you. And you might even find they’re willing to pay for it.

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