Customer service = answer the phone and speak the truth once you do

My yearly rate with iPowerWeb resets on July 22nd and I'm planning on being on another web hosting service before then. I'm actually planning on doing it this weekend, since BlogHer is next weekend and I'd like to have a site that's not slow and crappy before then. Since I've had both speed/connectivity issues with them and many communication issues, I need to stop enabling them by giving them money. I've just been loathe to transfer my worldly internet belongings somewhere else because of the hassle (It seems librarians aren't the only ones who supposedly fear change). But since the pokiness of my site has made me less inspired to use it, something's gotta give and pronto!

The two big contenders for me are Liquid Web and Media Temple. I've been attracted to both of these companies not by their prices (I've seen plenty out there cheaper, including my current account on iPowerWeb), but by the glowing recommendations of folks who use them and get customer support from them.

In particular, I noticed Media Temple's web site has a section called Why (mt)? that lists the 10 reasons I should choose them. The one that stood out the most for me was their support promise, including the oath to answer the phone and get back to your emails within 24 hours. That shouldn't be rocket science, but it really does seem to be at so many places.

Our contractor, Bill, is phenomenal. He is clever, truly interested in doing the job "right", and one of the most honest building contractors I've ever met (which is saying a lot). But Bill is a bit overwhelmed and it can literally be impossible to get him on the phone. He receives so many calls his voicemail is usually full and when there are non-English speaking men in your living room with sledgehammers about to tear major walls out, getting someone on the phone becomes increasingly important. So while I can empathize with Bill that it's hard for any contractor these days to make it while things are tight, I just want to get someone on the damn phone.

To Bill's credit, when I do get ahold of him, he is quick to assess the situation and make it right with minimal crap. To my knowledge he has only fibbed about one thing (if the inspectors came by for the insulation inspection) and that was when he was under a lot of pressure to try to get another draw of money to keep going. We talked about it and I tried to make it clear that I don't want the answer that sounds nice, I just want the truth. The truth will get you a check for $6500 while some line about inspectors coming when they didn't will get my foot up your ass.

If the things Media Temple promises are even remotely true, then they sound like the company for me, even if my yearly costs for web hosting will more than double by leaving iPowerWeb. And despite all the pain involved with this house renovation and the wacky shenanigans that have gone on, I would still highly recommend Bill to anyone (maybe not all his framers, but definitely Bill).

The way I see it, truly great customer service relies on 1) answering the goddamn phone and 2) being straight with the customer about whatever the issue is. Both show that your respect the customer enough to value their time/energy and you think they deserve honest answers. Solving the problem at that point becomes secondary and generally just falls into place.