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WEB HOSTING ARTICLES

What to Look for When Choosing Hosting Automation Software
By: Terri Wells
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    2006-11-01

    Table of Contents:
  • What to Look for When Choosing Hosting Automation Software
  • Business Functions
  • The Customer Side
  • More Customer Management Features

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    What to Look for When Choosing Hosting Automation Software - The Customer Side


    (Page 3 of 4 )

    Your customers will probably want to manage their own accounts as much as they can. Think about it: would you want to be on the phone to your ISP for every little change? These can include simple matters like changing passwords, opening and closing email accounts, and more. Or, looked at from your point of view, do you really want to spend your time doing that kind of handholding? Of course you don’t. So here are some of the things you will want your customers to be able to do for themselves through their own control panels.

    Let’s start with account management items that can be automated. Customers should be able to retrieve and change passwords in a secure way (why penalize someone for a faulty memory?). They should also be able to pay for their hosting plan; the easier it is for them to pay, the more likely it is that you won’t have to hassle them about it. Likewise, if any of your customer’s personal details changes (like phone numbers or postal addresses or such), you should not make it difficult for them to change those with you.

    Other account management items customers should be able to do for themselves deal with the account itself. Make it easy for customers to upgrade or downgrade their hosting plans; cancel accounts; and add and drop web sites or plans that are attached to an existing account. Customers should receive confirmation emails when the changes they’ve requested have gone through.

    Here I’d like to reiterate what I said in the previous section about account creation. Automating this process too much may become a security risk. Hackers can break into the system to open fraudulent accounts for distributing viruses and/or spam. So you do need some human oversight. 

    If you’re hosting online businesses, they’re going to be concerned with site statistics. If your customers are engaged in any kind of SEO, they’ll want to know how many hits they’re getting on each of their pages, how much time visitors are spending on their pages, where visitors are coming from – and especially if their visitors are coming from search engines, which engines and keywords they’re using.

    Another item that falls under site management is something I’ve alluded to earlier in this article: a tool that lets customers know when they’re approaching their monthly bandwidth limits and maximum disk space. It’s a convenient feature that will keep your customers from being smacked with unpleasant surprises – and we all know an angry or unhappy customer can quickly become a former customer.

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