What do customers really want?

Written by Alex Lekas

It sounds so easy, yetrepparttar graveyard of business is littered withrepparttar 148889 tombstones of companies that never foundrepparttar 148890 answer. Well, thatís not entirely true; some companies hadrepparttar 148891 answer, but couldnít articulate it in terms of products and services. Other firms had answers, too, but to questions that were not being asked. And, still others tried to re-definerepparttar 148892 question in time of change forrepparttar 148893 Internet services industry.

Determining what customers want sounds like such a cut-and-dried proposition, provided customers themselves knowrepparttar 148894 answer, and therein liesrepparttar 148895 rub. Web hosting sounds so generic; anybody can do it andrepparttar 148896 Internetís short history shows that almost everybody has tried. The industryís evolution and maturation have yielded dual results:repparttar 148897 weeding out ofrepparttar 148898 weaker companies andrepparttar 148899 emergence of niche providers. Shared or dedicated? Windows or Linux? Fully managed or self-managed? Cookie-cutter solutions or build your own? No wonder customers are confused.

Of course,repparttar 148900 heart ofrepparttar 148901 confusion lies inrepparttar 148902 industryís relative youth. Features that didnít even exist a few years ago are now industry standard. As hosting becomes more commoditized, customers have increasing access to basic plans that offer more for less. It's like anything else that evolves from amenity to necessity. Take cell phones, PDA's, even PCís as just a few examples; prices continue to drop while capabilities increase. Atrepparttar 148903 same time, customers understandrepparttar 148904 difference between basic and premium services, and companies who get caught up in price automatically cut into their potential market share.

If price wererepparttar 148905 sole consideration for every buying decision, no one would drive a luxury car, no one would have a plasma screen television, and no one would stay in a four-star hotel. Customers who wantrepparttar 148906 cell phone that has games, makes fries, tap dances, and stores music will pay for that capability; customers who want nothing more than a portable phone will pay for that. Same with hosting, which is why many providers cater to specific markets. With that in mind, one answer torepparttar 148907 title question is that there is no one answer, which is evident by what customers look for in shopping for a provider: ēHow much can I get for how little? ēI want ping, power, and pipe with self-management. ēI need a reseller program with profit margins and a provider that understands Iím more than a customer.

In each instance, value is a relative thing, and in each instance, there is an understood give and take between customer and provider: ēThe low-price leader usually offers a one-size-fits-all plan with limited support; curiously,repparttar 148908 most price-conscious customer frequently exactsrepparttar 148909 heaviest support burden. ēThe discount dedicated server offersrepparttar 148910 win-win of cheap bandwidth and cheap hardware. These solutions are usually un-managed, butrepparttar 148911 customer who buys them typically needs little support anyway beyond global issues. ēResellers get industrial infrastructure at a discount rate,repparttar 148912 provider assumes resellers understand hosting, and both sides understand that problems are shared.

Often, a customerís wants boil down to a couple of things: getting what is being paid for, and someone to answerrepparttar 148913 phone when it rings. It is easy to get caught up inrepparttar 148914 technology ofrepparttar 148915 industry and forget that hosting is a service business. Think of how irritated you get when dealing when navigatingrepparttar 148916 myriad options of your phone companyís automated menu. But, what are you going to do about it? Unlike utilities, however, ISPís have no territorial monopoly meaning customers have options, especially customers who are unsatisfied. Letís assume for a moment thatrepparttar 148917 providers whoíve lasted this long already know this. They pay attention to what customers tell them, they respond to complaints and inquiries, they even incorporate good suggestions. Thatís one important step in survival but more than good phone etiquette is required in providing quality service; itís also about being able to offer customers what they want before they have to ask for it. Of course, before a service provider can know who its target is, it must first be clear about its own identity: shouldrepparttar 148918 focus on increased automation or on value-added features, and isrepparttar 148919 primary customerrepparttar 148920 enterprise market orrepparttar 148921 SME?

How to Choose a Web Host

Written by Matt Smith

Choosing a web hosting company to host your website isnít easy these days. There are literally thousands of web hosting companies to choose from, each offering different combinations of web space, bandwidth, extras (such as databases, asp, php, cgi, free scripts), and customer support. Some companies lure customers with extremely low prices onrepparttar physical assets like space and bandwidth. In return, however, most customers of these extremely low-priced companies get poor Ė if any Ė customer and technical support. Inrepparttar 148650 hosting business, as with everything else, you usually get what you pay for.

So how do you determinerepparttar 148651 web hosting company thatís right for your website? Having been inrepparttar 148652 hosting business for several years, Iíve often had friends and acquaintances ask me, in so many words, this very question. I always suggest that they first sit down and simply write out what they think their website (whether for a company or personal) will need. Do they need a database? If so, what kind of database do they want, MySQL or something else? Likewise, do they need support for PHP, CGI, ASP, or some other programming language? If you have certain scripts youíd like to use on your website, these questions can be very important. Also think about exactly how much space your website is going to need Ė not necessarily right now, but perhaps five years downrepparttar 148653 road after youíve expanded a bit. The same thing goes for bandwidth, or transfer. You want to secure enough space and bandwidth now so that you do not have to switch hosts, or pay a premium for extra services, inrepparttar 148654 future.

Onrepparttar 148655 topic of bandwidth and storage space, there is an important financial lesson Iíd like to impart. Although you want to make sure you have enough of both forrepparttar 148656 foreseeable future, you donít want to pay for lots and lots of bandwidth and storage space, month after month, that you will never actually use. For instance, there are many hosting companies out there who are now offering 5+ GB of space and perhaps 100 GB of bandwidth from $7 - $10 a month. This may seem like a pretty good deal. However, if you are only going to use perhaps 100 MB of space, and 10 GB of transfer, then you are wasting money! You can find a nice 500MB / 20GB plan for under $5 per month. This is where planning really comes into play; know how much space and bandwidth you will need before you go looking for a host.

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