According to the company, the improvements come in response to customer demand and are having a positive effect as indicated on the most recent semi-annual customer survey, which included than 1,300 customers.
The upgrade of LeaseWeb's support department included the hiring of 20 more engineers along with improvements in the terms of employment. In addition, all support engineers completed a series of communications training courses to improve their ability to operate in a more customer-friendly manner. These measures have resulted in a reported 20 percent increase in the number of "fully satisfied" customers over the past six months.
"Various developments caused our support department to become somewhat overburdened at the end of 2008," LeaseWeb Operations Director Rolph Haspers said. "In Q4 2008, LeaseWeb experienced a tremendous growth spurt that had repercussions on the support department. This department was facing extra difficulties due to the unfortunate lack of engineers at that time, and the fact that it had too many lower qualified engineers. Also, we are traditionally a highly technology-oriented company, which is not always conducive to customer-friendliness and which became more apparent during this stressful period."
More than six months ago, immediately after the disappointing support results from the previous customer survey, both short-term and long-term measures were implemented in order to provide customers with renewed confidence in a positive support experience.
"The survey results confirmed our gut feeling and we immediately took action," Haspers said. "Our short-term measures included the temporary hiring of additional support staff, partly from the U.K. These highly experienced employees were able to relieve some of the pressure and provide effective support to less experienced staff."
For the longer term, LeaseWeb immediately started looking for more highly qualified engineers in an effort to expand its support department with additional permanent staff.
"This expansion process is still continuing, although the current staffing of the department already has significantly improved the ability to handle peak loads," Haspers offered. "This positive effect is clearly reflected in the most recent semi-annual customer survey. In addition, six months ago, we immediately decided to relieve the burden on the support department in a structural manner through additional investments in automation, among other areas, and by unlinking the provisioning process, i.e. the process of making servers and other hardware available. That should also help to lighten the work load of the department and improve the quality of support."
Many of LeaseWeb's customers are Internet professionals or specialists such as system integrators, web developers and application developers who resell LeaseWeb's hosting services and integrate them into a total solution. As a result of this particular customer focus, customers have a relatively extensive knowledge of hosting. Support nonetheless remains vital.
"Hosting has become a commodity for these companies. They have some knowledge of hosting, but they want to have the ability to fully concentrate on the services they provide in addition to LeaseWeb's basic hosting products," Haspers stated. "In that sense, support remains vital for them."
"The customer survey confirms that we are on the right track and that our quality improvement operation has been successful, but we want to optimize our support to an even further extent," Haspers concluded. "Our focus for the coming six months is to further improve the response and resolution times for issues. In addition, we are continuously working on expanding our engineers' knowledge, e.g. through additional certification processes, in order to take the customers' technical support experience to yet a higher level."