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The ServInt Source

New Network Status Reporting Tools

Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at 3.35.46 PMEarlier this week, we launched two new tools designed to immediately inform our customers whenever issues emerge that may affect the performance or accessibility of their server.   In this brief blog post, we’ll explain how these new services work and how you can put them to use.

First, an important detail:  both of these notification services are hosted completely independent of the ServInt network — so, no network or datacenter event that impacts ServInt’s core infrastructure will prevent us from providing you with up-to-date information.  If you want to be certain you always have visibility into the ServInt nerve center in the event of performance issues that may affect your server, I strongly urge you to sign up for both of these services.

These systems were designed to alert you about two kinds of incidents:  those that affect specific infrastructure, where the larger ServInt network is functioning without incident; and events that are having an impact on entire segments of the larger ServInt network, affecting multiple customers at once.  We are very proud of our high levels of network redundancy and our enterprise-grade hardware, so incidents that involve our infrastructure are rare.  Even so, problems can and do occur, albeit rarely, despite our best efforts.  That’s why these systems exist.  We hope you never have to use them, but in the interest of full transparency, they are here for you.

For reporting on smaller pieces of infrastructure, we have launched an opt-in Twitter account called ‘@ServIntStatus’ (twitter.com/servintstatus).  Use of this system is simple:  items will pop up on this feed when we are investigating problems specific to a hardware or system component.  Of course, you also have the option of having Twitter send you push notifications from the account whenever an issue is discovered, or a maintenance requirement is being fulfilled — but this may result in information overload due to the size of our network. Please note that this feed will only display brief status updates that reflect initial investigation or discovery on our end.  For resolution and ongoing updates, please login to the customer portal.

The second of our two notification systems is called the “ServInt Status Report,” and it can be found at https://servint.statuspage.io/ This site was set up to display information about service issues that are affecting ServInt’s core network and/or datacenter, impacting multiple customers at once.  Sometimes, these issues can affect ServInt’s customer-facing systems at the same time they impact our datacenter — so, during the crucial minutes after disruptions are discovered, but before they’re fixed, this is the place to turn for immediate updates on what is happening.

Of course, this report is also capable of sending you push updates to let you know when our network is dealing with a service-impacting incident.  We strongly recommend you subscribe to these updates, since the number of alerts you are likely to receive will be small, and each of them could be of critical importance to your business.

In addition to providing a real-time network status monitor for ServInt’s Reston, Los Angeles, and Amsterdam datacenters, the ServInt Status Report portal also shows you the operational status of the ServInt customer portal and phone system.  In addition, it provides users with detailed updates on what is being done at the moment to address identified issues.  Lastly, it displays service incident reports for all events in the recent past, allowing you to better understand what happened to the ServInt network in retrospect — helpful if you only discovered a performance shortcoming after the root cause had been fixed.

Operating instructions for the ServInt Status Report can be found at the site, and they are very straightforward.  I strongly urge all ServInt customers to sign up — both for the Status Report and the ‘@ServIntStatus’ Twitter feed — as soon as possible.

100% cPanel Certification

cpanelAt ServInt, we are well into our eleventh year selling the cPanel server control panel. We have been an authorized cPanel Partner NOC since 2003, and believe it to be the best control panel on the market.

I don’t think it’s too much to say that we are also the world’s foremost experts in cPanel.

And now we have distinguished ourselves by being the very first web hosting provider to achieve 100% cPanel certification through cPanel University for our support and sales staff.

I believe so completely in the importance of a quality control panel – and in cPanel specifically – that I trained and passed my cPanel certification as well. It seemed like a natural step to maintain the best perspective on providing services to our customers. I was surprised – and honored – when Aaron Phillips, cPanel’s COO, told me that I am the first C-level exec at any company to get cPanel certified.

In an effort to help old and new customers who would like to learn more about how to use the cPanel/WHM control panel package, we’ve put together a joint webinar with our friends a cPanel: “cPanel 101 – Top Features.” The webinar will begin on Sep. 26th at 1pm EDT. Click here to sign up.

To celebrate our 100% cPanel certification, and to meet more of our customers face-to-face, we’re also sponsoring a booth at this year’s cPanel Conference in New Orleans (September 29th – October 2nd) and offering VIP tickets to the conference for our clients. You can Register FREE using the code ServintVIP2013.

I hope to see a you in New Orleans. Look for me at the ServInt booth in the Exhibit Hall or find me after my keynote: “Lessons from 18 years in web hosting.”

So you want to talk to ServInt’s COO?

photo-mgt-christian

ServInt’s COO, Christian Dawson

It’s not often that we pull back the marketing curtain here at ServInt and expose the inner workings of why and how we choose to engage with our customers, but today is a special day.

If you follow us at all, you know that we strive to put out blog posts, knowledgebase articles and white papers (like this one) that educate, inform, and answer important and popular questions, and we use Facebook, Twitter, and occasionally paid advertising to get that content in front of our audience.

We also, of course, keep an open ear to our social media outlets and engage with customers who want to talk with us there.

We enjoy talking with you through social media channels, and we think it’s important.  So does our Chief Operating Officer, Christian Dawson. That’s why — starting today — he’s asked us to let more key ServInt employees drive the conversation on Twitter, with Christian taking over as the primary voice of ServInt’s Twitter feed. Our goal is that as time goes on, you’ll get more perspective on who ServInt is as a company. Additionally, if you want to talk to the guy responsible for all of our day-to-day operations — the guy who manages the managers — all you have to is reach out to us at @servint.  Christian will be the guy reading what you have to say, and, unless he’s not available, he’ll be the guy responding too. And if he’s not the right person for the job, he’ll be pulling in the people that are.  We expect some interesting discussions to follow!

The marketing and engineering teams will still be on ServInt’s Twitter feed posting updates on the content we publish and watching out for technical questions we can help answer. But know that if you have a question for our leadership, or if you just want a friendly chat, Christian is on the case!

The ServInt Way

Managed hosting companies live and die by the quality of their hosting customer service. At ServInt, we’ve succeeded for 18 years because we always try our best, and our best is some of the best in the industry. No company can be perfect 100% of the time on every interaction, but that must be the goal.

We’ve written about hosting customer service quite a lot on the ServInt Source, but this time we thought you might find it interesting if we shared one of the short lessons we teach internally to help build customer advocates out of all our staff members. We just want to give you a little peek behind the curtain. We demand that everyone at ServInt give their best to the customer. How we teach them to do that is called “The ServInt Way.” Read more

The Best Questions to Ask a Web Host

Many readers of the ServInt Source are current and long-time customers. But for those of you who may have just found us — or have been reading for a while, but are not ServInt customers — this one’s for you.

We recently sat down with our sales team and were talking about some of the questions prospective customers ask before they purchase a server. As you might guess, some questions are better than others if you want to really learn something about a web host.

The first question that came up was from our Director of Sales, Devon Rutherford. Without hesitation, he said that the best question a customer can ask is, “Which package is best for me?” But that came with some qualifications: Read more

The more things change, the more they… make your web hosting life a whole lot easier.

This week’s a big week at ServInt. After a lot of hard work, we have an all-new ordering system for our entire line of products. Not only is it simpler and more intuitive with only three pages for the entire order process, but we’ve also built in some pretty exciting functionality.

The Custom Shop allows you to configure and save server packages

Our all-new Custom Shop is a powerful tool that lets customers and non-customers alike configure and save servers packages for later purchase or to send to their referral clients. More than a simple shopping cart, the custom shop allows you to: Read more

When it Comes to Customer Service, You Get What You Pay For

When you purchase web hosting, you get two things: a platform (server, network, software, etc.) and service (migration assistance, technical support, best practice advice, etc.). The platform is cheap. Hardware is powerful and inexpensive. Network connectivity bought in bulk is peanuts.

What costs money is quality customer service. Is your plan a managed plan? Does it come with qualified technicians who will troubleshoot your unique business issues and resolve your problems? Does it come with technical advice and assistance you can trust?

Some new customers that come from the $5/month shared hosting world of massive providers and fly-by-night shops are surprised by the $49/month price of ServInt’s entry-level product. But these customers are used to web hosts that cannot offer the scalability of a robust virtualized platform, let alone the technical expertise demanded by fully managed products.

Want to compare what different hosts have to offer?
Download our Web Host Comparison Worksheet.

Read more

The Feedback Loop in Customer Service

I’m excited to announce that we have a brand new function in our customer ticketing system: customer ratings and ticket reviews.

All too often in our industry, customer service is essentially a one-way street. Or more accurately, it’s two one-way streets with both the customer and the service provider trying to fix a problem by talking at each other in a series of monologues or lectures instead of with one another in a dialogue.

Of course, customer service involves technical expertise, but without open and thorough communication, the customer may not walk away from the experience satisfied or confident that future problems will be handled competently.

In customer service, excellent communication is just as important as technical ability and troubleshooting skills. Service technicians have to fully understand the problem the customer is having and be able to explain the causes and solutions concisely. Without this communication there can be no trust, and trust is the foundation of good customer service and satisfied customers. Read more

A Free VPS Server: not just a perk of working at ServInt

At ServInt, nearly all of our employees have VPS accounts on our products. I personally host multiple sites on my VPS server and have since the first month I came aboard.

Most people who hear about this shrug it off as just a perk of the job. And, of course, it is. But knowing how to run a VPS server is much more than that for us here at ServInt. As employees, we’re not only allowed, but encouraged to open accounts in our own names. Read more

How to Succeed in the Hosting Industry: Don’t Suck

Man, there are days when I love coming to work.  I wasn’t sure this was going to be one of them, but a new customer changed all that with what may be the best pre-emptive testimonial we’ve ever received.  In his sign-up form, our new customer, whom we’ll call “MW,” took the time to say:

“After my nightmares with (previous host name deleted), I’m going to go out on a limb and pre-emptively say, ‘thank you for not sucking.'”

MW, I want to promise you, right here and now, that we will do everything in our power to not suck.

Wait a minute: scratch that mealy-mouthed marketing nonsense.  Let me say this instead: MW, we will not suck.  We will deliver what we promised you; we will give you an honest return on your hosting dollar; we will meet or exceed any reasonable service or performance expectation you have.  We will be friendly, we will be helpful, and we will know what we’re talking about.  We will never give you any reason to say:  “man, those guys suck.”

Here’s the deal, though:  you can’t suck, either.  You’ll need to work with us as a partner.  You’ll need to keep your server clean and tidy.  You’ll need to make sure your third-party software is up to date, and that your passwords are secure.  You’ll need to have a backup system for your critical data.  You’ll need to describe any performance issues you see in as much detail as possible, so we can help you quickly and effectively.  And if you’re starting to grow too big for your server, you’ll need to upgrade it.

We’re lucky.  We attract customers who realize that reliable hosting requires a little bit of organization on their part.  They’re smart.  They’re friendly and helpful when working with us on a problem.  They’ve got their act together.  They don’t suck.  We treat each other respectfully, and we call many of them friends.  That’s what we’re going to call you, MW.  Not just a client, or a customer, but a friend.  We’re going to help you grow your business, MW.  We’re going to make you glad you chose ServInt.  I promise you:  we will not suck!

Photo by Stewf

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