Douglas Hanna, Customer Service Manager at HostGator Interview with Douglas Hanna- HostGator LLC:
As Customer Service Manager at HostGator, Douglas Hanna is responsible for customer service, quality assurance, customer feedback management, and customer service operations. He is also responsible for HostGator's corporate communications and public relations efforts.

Before joining HostGator, Douglas was the Vice President of Customer Care at Idologic, a high-end reseller and dedicated web hosting company. While at Idologic, Douglas also started Service Untitled, a blog that focuses on customer service and the customer service experience. Douglas has written more than 600 posts for Service Untitled and has also interviewed senior executives from leading companies such as Dell, HP, and Best Buy.

When he isn't working, Douglas enjoys reading, writing, listening to music, and playing the piano. He is also a diehard Duke Blue Devils fan.


 FindBestWebHosting.com:
Hello Douglas Hanna, welcome and thanks for being with us today.
HostGator was established in 2002. Growth of HostGator was phenomenal. In just 7+ years, you become one of the leading web hosting companies. Please give us a brief introduction to HostGator and its amazing run.

Sure. HostGator is one of the largest shared, reseller, and dedicated hosts in the hosting industry today. We're still the largest provider of white-label reseller hosting and we're continuing to grow at an astonishing rate.
In August 2008, we were recognized by Inc. Magazine as the 21st fastest growing private company in the United States, which was a huge honor and something we were very excited about.

 FindBestWebHosting.com:
What other awards and recognition have HostGator won?

So, the Inc. Magazine recognition was big. It was a national recognition from a publication we read and respected and we were pretty close to the top of a list of 5000 extraordinary companies.

Beyond that one, we have gotten a lot of other awards and recognitions, though. There is a page on our site that showcases some of these awards (http://www.hostgator.com/reviews.shtml) and we're always getting reviewed by different websites and publications.

 FindBestWebHosting.com:
What types of hosting service does HostGator offer? Also, please brief us on HostGator hosting plans.


HostGator offers shared, reseller, and dedicated hosting solutions. Our cheapest shared hosting plan is just $4.95 a month and includes unlimited space and bandwidth. Our reseller plans start at $24.95 a month and our dedicated servers start at $174.00 per month.

Our Business shared hosting plan is really interesting because it includes a free SSL certificate, the IP address you need to make that SSL certificate work, and a free toll free number that you can use for your business. You also get unlimited space and bandwidth, a $25 Google Adwords credit, and a 45 day money back guarantee -- all for $12.95 a month if you pay in advance or $14.95 a month if you pay monthly.

 FindBestWebHosting.com:
Web hosting is a competitive business. What makes HostGator stand out from the crowd? What's unique about Hostgator?


It depends on the customer and what they're interested in. Some of our plans have really unique offerings (like the Business plan I talked about a bit earlier). Our resellers like that our reseller plans include free templates, a free billing system, a free domain reseller account, etc.

Overall, though, our customers seem appreciate our support and customer service the most. We provide 24/7/365 support over live chat, email, and the telephone. We don't do any outsourcing (our entire support team is based in our Houston, Texas office) and we really care about what our customers think of the service we provide on a daily basis.

Something that I think is really unique about HostGator is how accessible our management team is. There aren't many 225 person companies where the CEO is available to respond to customer complaints and suggestions on a daily basis. I respond to a ton of customers on Twitter each day and it isn't uncommon for our CTO or similar-level technical managers to work with customers on issues as well. How personally involved our managers are with customer service is pretty unique, but also something we're very proud of.

 FindBestWebHosting.com:
Very recently, HostGator introduced "Green hosting". How green is Hostgator? We understand you have teamed up with 3Degrees to make this happen. Please brief us.


We're definitely a "green" company. Basically, our shared and reseller servers are 130% wind powered, which means we buy renewable energy credits to equate for 130% of the power that our shared and reseller servers use.

In addition to buying the renewable energy credits, we do what we can to help the environment at our office (emailing paystubs, recycling the small amount of paper we do use, etc.) and use energy efficient servers.

 FindBestWebHosting.com:
Blog hosting, especially for Wordpress, is very popular nowadays. Does HostGator support Blog hosting? How quick are you in implementing version changes?


Definitely. We ran the statistics late last week (mid-June 2009) and found that we were hosting more than 490,000 WordPress blogs on our shared and reseller servers. That's a lot of blogs and something we're very proud of.

Right now our customers use something called Fantastico to install WordPress and a number of other free scripts and software packages. Fantastico is generally fairly quick about implementing version changes (not as quick as we'd like, though), but what's more interesting and relevant is that WordPress now includes a feature that makes auto upgrades possible, so once your blog is installed, there is never a need to manually upgrade it in the future.

 FindBestWebHosting.com:
Your customer support is one of the best in the industry. Brief us more about your customer support department. What options does a customer have?


I talked about this a little bit before, but the main ways we support our customers is through email or live chat or over the phone. We have people responding to emails and taking live chats and phone calls literally all the time. People are shocked when they call us at 2 AM on Christmas Eve and someone answers the phone and is able to help them.

In addition to our "official" ways to get support, we have a pretty active community forum (http://forums.hostgator.com) that both customers and employees participate in. We also have a very active presence on Twitter (http://twitter.com/hostgator) where we respond to and address customer questions and concerns.

 FindBestWebHosting.com:
Hostgator's reseller plans are very popular. What's unique about HostGator's reseller plans?


Our reseller hosting plans come with a lot of things. They all offer a free billing system, free web templates, a free site builder for your customers, and a free Enom Domain Reseller account. We will also transfer up to 30 websites over to our servers for free for you. In addition to all that, you of course get 24/7/365 access to our technical support team via email, live chat, and the phone.

 FindBestWebHosting.com
Please brief us on your Data centers, server reliability and Server Up time stats.:


We use The Planet's datacenters and servers. They have a couple of datacenters in Texas (most of our servers are in Dallas) and they're all state of the art -- redundant power and network connections, high end security systems, etc. Our servers are extremely reliable and we guarantee 99.9% uptime or we'll provide you with a credit to help make up for the downtime.

 FindBestWebHosting.com:
The big question!? Windows Hosting: We had been seeing "Windows Web Hosting coming soon" for a long time:) When does Hostgator plan to introduce Windows Hosting?


We've been getting ready to launch our Windows hosting offering for a while now. As you know, we're already offering Windows dedicated hosting and that has been going well. We also started offering Windows shared hosting to our existing customers through a limited beta program and that has been going well.

The reason for the delay is that we'd rather get it right initially than have to go back and fix problems after the product line is already launched. When you have to go back to fix things and inconvenience paying customers, it is a lot more difficult and involved than tweaking a offering that is still in a relatively limited beta.

HostGator isn't the type of company that believes in the perpetual beta, so you'll see Windows hosting coming from us sooner than later. Once we have perfected what we need to prefect, we'll launch it and have a great Windows hosting offering to offer to both new and existing customers.

 FindBestWebHosting.com:
Moving ahead: What are you future plans? How do you envision HostGator 5 years from now?


Hosting is probably going to change a lot in five years, so if you're looking that far out, it's hard to know exactly what we'll be doing and exactly where we'll be.

I think we'll still be growing a lot five years from now and I think we'll be an even bigger player in the hosting industry than we are today. Within five years, we'll likely have another division or two to address different market needs and we'll likely have a larger range of product and service offerings than we do already.

 FindBestWebHosting.com:
One last question, What's the future of hosting and hosting industry? What's your take on new technologies like Cloud hosting and Grid hosting?


I don't think anyone really knows what the future of the hosting industry is going to be like. People run around worrying about Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, and Amazon and I think a lot of that fear is premature at this point. It's something to think about and consider, but definitely not something to lose sleep over.

I highly doubt that the shared hosting industry as we know it is going away any time soon. Hosting is still more of a service business than it is a technology business and I think as long as the same people (individuals, freelancers, small businesses, etc.) continue to buy shared hosting for relatively little money, the business will pretty much stick to that model. The big companies that I mentioned earlier are used to and prefer to tackle problems that can be automated and solved by engineers and computer scientists. Shared hosting just isn't that type of industry at this time.

With that in mind, though, cloud hosting and grid hosting are definitely great technologies with a lot of promise. I think they're going to continue to grow in popularity and we're watching how they progress and develop at HostGator, but I also think they're a lot more than what the average hosting customer needs.

What I think is going to be more relevant to the hosting industry as a whole is the blurring of the lines between traditional web hosting and software as a service. Google Sites lets customers create simple websites for no money. Is that hosting, software as a service, or both? There are lots of examples like that and I think the lines will blur a bit more and change the "traditional" definition of hosting as a result of that.

 FindBestWebHosting.com:
We thank you you finding time for this interview. We wish you more and more success. We are sure our loyal readers will find this interview very helpful.

Thanks for thinking of HostGator. I'm happy to be interviewed!

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