I did this last year and got a reasonably positive response from whoever happened to be reading at the time, so I thought I might make it an annual thing. I deal with no shortage of companies throughout the year for work alone that I deal with all types of customer service, and one of the companies I wrote about last year actually reached out to me asking about a bad experience. So it’s not like these are entirely self-indulgent.
This was a good year since the best customer service I’ve gotten has come from companies I rely on for work-related reasons. G Suite, which made the list last year, would be on here, although it feels like other companies deserve the spotlight. Nonetheless, shout out to G Suite, and with that out of the way, here’s who takes the gold:
Back in June I had enough customers that changing servers for the number of clients I had at that point was no small task. I was also changing companies and leaving HostGator behind (but more on them later). It was only after months of due diligence that I decided on InMotion Hosting as a provider. I’d been impressed with their keeping a record of my inquiries and putting me in touch with a knowledgeable, well-informed sales professional who never pressured me and patiently answered all of my questions. Especially considering I vetted this company like I was conducting a murder investigation.
I was nervous about the migration process; my mind kept going to a doomsday scenario where some kind of unforeseen consequence took dozens of websites offline. InMotion was there for me every step of the way. They seamlessly moved all of my content to the new server, gave me detailed instructions on what to do from my side, and everything went off without a hitch resulting in virtually zero downtime for me or any of my customers. One minor crossed wire with my own website was fixed in a matter of seconds. At that point, I knew I’d made the right choice.
Since then InMotion has been nothing but responsive, helpful, and informative. I’ve never had to wait more than a few minutes to speak with them by chat or by phone. They’ve gone the extra mile and offered to do some legwork on my behalf. I’ve had zero downtime and they assisted me in addressing an intrusion attempt quickly and professionally. I’ll concede that this caliber of service may be because I’m using a dedicated server, but general reviews of their service across the board have been solid. I’m very happy with him and even if you’d rather not host with me directly, I can’t recommend them enough.
I finally started taking advantage of Amazon Prime this year, and the result has been a much needed reinvestment in my business; mostly new computer hardware and software for what’s colloquially known as my battle station. Bear in mind, before I get any flak for relying on Amazon, that everything I buy from them I can’t buy locally.
I’ve only had to rely on Amazon’s customer service a few times, but each time has been a charm. Amazon consistently tops the polls when it comes to great customer service and it’s easy to see why. The one time I needed a refund was when a screen projector became a redundant item, and I was pleasantly surprised to discover that they refunded me before the item even arrived back at their warehouse. Immediate and full no questions asked refunds is something we could bear to see more of in an era where modified EULAs and digital licenses means getting refunds is a hassle, so it’s gratifying to see Amazon leading the charge.
I’ll even give a shout out to Piktek. Two months after I bought a keyboard from them it started malfunctioning; they sent me a replacement unit that was dead on arrival. As irate as I was, I will give them credit for refunding me immediately well past the Amazon return refund window. That was big of them, even though I can’t in good conscience recommend the product itself.
I got lucky this year. Aside from one particularly frustrating instance with my former web hosting company I had to really rack my brain to think of the worst customer support I received. It was certainly nothing like the maddening experience HP put me through years ago. So without further adieu, step forward and claim your dubious honors:
Oh HostGator, oh, honey. I never thought I’d have to put you on a list of the worst customer service I experienced during a given year, but here we are. If you told me this is where you would be as a company back in 2011 I’d have never believed it. I’ve taken shots at HostGator a few times now, since their purchase by EIG has seen their quality bar take a truly disappointing nosedive. Unlike in years past there was no specific, egregious incident. It was more of an issue of 30 minute plus wait times to talk to people, glacial website loading speeds when pinging the server and an overall sense of disinterest by HostGator itself.
Then they began the retention process. While I didn’t mention InMotion by name, the HostGator rep said – somewhat to my shock – that “some other web hosting companies are worse than us.” While I was still surprised the rep went that far in badmouthing competition, this was followed by an effort to give me a few discounts without really addressing my core issues.
To their credit when I politely but firmly declined they put in the cancellation request and that was that. Even so, it was an appropriate bookend to an increasingly disappointing time with a company that I once considered the best in the business. I can’t in good conscience recommend HostGator and advise you to look the other way if you ever need a provider.
I haven’t bought anything from Dell since I was in high school. The last time I did it was a nightmare; it was a desktop with a fried hard drive, and getting the PC serviced was a complete mess of missed calls, long wait times and a completely unhelpful series of customer support reps, some of whom barely spoke English.
My only experience with them this year was on behalf of a client. I called the number I was given, ostensibly a fast-tracked customer support line, to inquire about a modification to a recent purchase. After a half hour wait time, I was abruptly disconnected (on a landline). I spent another 20 minutes on hold even as my client met with similar results. Dell chat support simply told us that they couldn’t do what we needed to do and redirected us to the same phone number that we couldn’t get anybody from. Eventually, he was so irate that we just agreed to cancel it.
Dell has talked a big game about overhauling and redoing his customer service, but from my perspective very little has changed from my high school days. Dell, you’re not the monopoly you were back in the 90s and you’re far from the only game in town. Brand recognition is giving you a free ride, but that won’t last. Get your act together.
As was the case last year, the highs were more than the lows, though I will grant I didn’t deal with companies most notorious for their bad service like cable companies. Even so, there’s a lot to be impressed by when it comes to tech company investment in multichannel service that relies on getting peoples’ questions answered quickly and professionally. Hopefully it’s a trend that we’ll see continue, especially after years of cost cutting and outsourcing that left us with Dell.