Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.
– Albert Einstein

I work with many companies of many sizes through my consulting business. When HostGator offered me the opportunity to conduct a customer satisfaction survey for them, I jumped at the chance. Even though customer satisfaction as a topic profoundly interests me, I have generally held the view that numbers themselves are painfully boring. I’ve never liked math and I have always felt that numbers are things that are best left to the experts who actually like numbers.

Over the last two weeks, though, I’ve been immersing myself in numbers – especially numbers relating to customer satisfaction. HostGator has sent out nearly ten thousand surveys to random customers and people who have completed live chats. The result? A lot of data (and a lot of numbers) on what HostGator’s customers think of the company and how its doing.

Fortunately, the results we gathered from all that data were neither shocking nor surprising. While there were no astonishing revelations, there was data that confirmed what HostGator thought based on gut feeling and there was data that showed everyone some interesting trends and correlations.

  • That data showed that just about 90% of HostGator customers gave a positive response when asked how likely they were to recommend HostGator to a friend or colleague. The average “would you recommend” rating was 8.36.
  • A similar percentage of HostGator customers felt the company’s employees were able to resolve their problems. The average “agent performance” answer was 8.55.
  • Roughly 83% of the customers surveyed through post-chat surveys responded saying that HostGator resolved their issues in a timely manner.
  • About 91% of HostGator’s customers rated the customer service ability of HostGator’s employees positively.
  • In every survey conducted with a 0 to 10 scale, 10 was the most popular choice.

Even though the ratings HostGator received were pretty good by essentially any standard, HostGator wants 90% or more of ratings at an exemplary, not a “pretty good” level. To HostGator’s management team and to me, exemplary means means that just about 100% of a company’s ratings would be 9’s and 10’s. Averages would then be in the mid 9’s instead of the mid 8’s.

The fact that HostGator was willing to conduct the surveys and then share the results shows a lot about the company.

In the business world, there is no shortage of companies that approach customer satisfaction with complete confidence that the results will be overwhelmingly positive. As the results come in, the executives at these companies quickly learn that ignorance is not bliss and does not provide for adequate protection against shocks to the ego.

These executives see painfully disappointing results and even more disappointing feedback from customers, all of which indicate that the real world is very different from what they had assumed.

HostGator has done just the opposite. Not only have they asked me to share the results of their surveys, but they have already started making changes and working on improvements. HostGator’s management team is not conducting these surveys just to see where they are and leave it at that – they are conducting these surveys to gather the information necessary to make changes and to improve

24 thoughts on “Numbers That Matter

  1. I’ve conducted very similar surveys within the hosting industry as the one you have done. Make sure you take into account WHO filled out the survey in the first place when analyzing the meaning of the results and implementing your fixes to increase those numbers.

    If your survey group consists of current customers of HostGator, then in all honesty I think your results are just a tad over mediocre. I mean, essentially you’re asking happy customers if they’re happy (or at least asking customers not mad enough to leave if they’re happy), so your numbers will be overwhelmingly positive. Conversely, send the same survey to all of your cancelled customers and you’ll probably see more negative than normal numbers. For instance, after conducting one such survey myself and determining that 88% of people that were surveyed had a “positive impression” of the company I worked for, and 70% would consider referring, I was immediately floored by what I interpreted to be nearly overwhelmingly negative stats. That is to say, of people happy enough to keep their Web site with our company, more than 1 out of 10 of those weren’t happy enough with the service to rate it a positive experience, and 3 out of 10 wouldn’t refer!

    Your true stat with customer satisfaction comes from both your ongoing subscribers, who generally tell you what you’re doing right, and your cancellations, who generally tell you what you’re doing wrong. As a whole, that’s how you can attack your plan of improving your customer service.

    Anyway, the best part of this post is you mentioning HG already implementing measures to increase those numbers. It sounds like you’ve already identified that 9 out of 10 is no longer a stat to be content with.

  2. Kayol,

    Unfortunately, all statistics can be manipulated and many organizations do that just that. Some manipulate the results, others apply “loading” on questions to the point where they’re statistically invalid. It’s a pretty common occurrence for everyone from Fortune 100 companies to the U.S. government to manipulate every type of statistic you can imagine.

    With that in mind, though, you have to have faith in the company conducting the survey and in their ways of reporting the results. HostGator has a long standing track record of being a transparent and honest company and I believe the statistics reported above coincide with that.

    And I feel it is worth mentioning that HostGator has very little to gain from manipulating the numbers. The company is not publicly traded and they’ve already reported that there is room to improve and that good is not good enough. The ratings on third party review sites say just that as well – HostGator does a good job, but is not perfect.

  3. The results of the survey do not surprise me.

    Brent strikes me as one of those people where being good at something is not good enough and he continually strives for excellence and it is this sort of drive and determination that benefits everybody in the long run.

  4. After reading a lot of excellent reviews for Hostgator on literally every site and after speaking with numerous webmasters on DP forums, we decided to move our main site to Hostgator in January 2009. We hope that Hostgator will transfer the domain and databese.
    As Sweeboo said we hope the words speak for reality

  5. I’ve been a Hostgator Client for a few years now, I don’t regreat moving from Imhosted. I can say I really appreciate the way Hostgator handle my support chats and phone calls. To me support is the key ti keeping your clients and in my book they do a fantastic job of support. Too add I’ve had atleast 5 host and don’t think I’ll be leaving here.

  6. Im glad that I read this. Thanks for the information and keep up the good work with your blog. Regards.

  7. Thank you and see you later. I’ll be buck with cool news for you. Don’t forget to grab stuffs behead !

  8. I’ve been with Hostgator for years, and their service has never been anything but top notch. It doesn’t surprise me at all that their customers are extremely satisfied. Keep up the good work HG!

  9. Having used a few of the “discount” hosting services, for a previous reseller business, I can tell you…they are not worth the aggravation they can cause you and your customers. I’m glad I found Hostgator, their service and support are among the best, and the cost is reasonable. As I begin a new hosting reseller business, I hope for a long relationship with this company!


  10. I just want to drop a note to say that I just had an experience with a hostgator employee and her name is Teresa A. This was the most amazing experience I have ever had with support people she was so pleasant,helpful and more . I can’t put into words how happy I am with her . The only other thing I can say is I hope the boss gets to read this and realizes how lucky they are to have her on their team . I think she should be used as a model for all other employees and if I were hostgator I would do everything in my power to make sure that she is well compensated and looked after and not lose her because that would be a big downfall. I will always be a hostgator customer because of Teresa A .

  11. I’m thinking of switching to HG from godaddy since my service sucks for WP application

  12. I agree, we’ve found that hostgator offer a great service, simple and quick which means everything in the online business. We also have found that their live support is amazing, really helpful and go above and beyond to help you. We had an issue after moving to a vps with them and they were so on the ball and we spend about 2 hours over the live support with them until it was fixed. Great service for sure.

  13. I would have to agree that hostgator service and support has in the past been second to none. Unfortunately, recently this has all changed and their service and support is very very dismal now. Raising a support ticket these days is quite scary as you just know that you will be answered by someone who either does not understand english or will not or cannot help in any way.

    I am going to go elsewhere today if my latest tickets are not resolved, which is a shame as I have been with HG since 2007 and until recently have been very happy.

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