Selling the Service, Not the Servers

I’m going to admit what a lot of web hosting company CEOs are hesitant to admit for fear that it’ll cause an apocalypse or something; web hosting is a commodity product.

From a technical point of view, what we offer is very similar to what our competitors offer. Sure, we have some things that make us a little different. For example, not many web hosting companies let their shared customers have SSH access like we do. Not all hosts offer unlimited domains with even their least expensive packages, but we do. However, at the end of the day, what our hosting accounts can do is pretty similar to what hosting accounts at many other companies can do.

That’s okay, though, because our goal at A Small Orange is to set ourselves apart through service. Our official mission (which we finally agreed on and wrote down not long ago) is to provide “service, not just servers”.

This mission is straightforward: it communicates our desire to sell more than just a commodity product. It says that we will be providing a level of service above and beyond our existing products that will be valuable to our customers.

There are lots of companies that compete on price and do a good job at it such as Walmart and Ryanair. And then there are companies that compete on other things – whether that thing is luxury like the Ritz Carlton has come to be known for, a cool customer experience like Virgin America providers, or “just” excellent customer service that you might see in a local Nordstrom department store.  We want to be more like the Virgin Americas and the Nordstroms of the world and less like the Walmarts and Ryanairs because we think it’s a lot more fun (and financially sustainable) to compete on service and cool than it is to compete on price.

We recently put our new mission to work when we decided against offering unmanaged dedicated servers. By definition, unmanaged servers lack a service, so we don’t think it makes sense for our business model to offer them.

Similarly, we’ve been thinking about our new mission as we have begun overhauling our backup procedures. A company committed to providing service and not just servers shouldn’t hesitate to offer free off-server backups to its dedicated server customers, so that’s what we will do once our new procedures are in place.

Our commitment to service and not just servers also helped make our decision to offer Proactive Support to our traditional VPS and dedicated server customers an easy one.

Over the coming months, you can expect more from us as we continue to integrate our new mission into our day-to-day operations. For our customers, our commitment to service and not just servers will mean even better customer service and stronger offerings in line with our new mission.

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