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"Arrogant" datacentre operators blasted by users for poor customer service approach

Research from MigSolv suggests many customers are unhappy with the service they receive from their datacentre providers

Datacentre users are being urged to vote with their feet and desert co-location providers that deliver poor customer service levels, as research suggests many are highly dissatisfied with the treatment they receive.

According to a poll investigating user purchasing trends, carried out by datacentre consultancy MigSolv, good customer service was cited by all 30,000 respondents as the top reason for seeking out the services of a new provider.

Speaking to Computer Weekly at the Datacloud Europe event in Monaco, MigSolv CEO Alex Rabbetts claimed poor customer service is rife in the datacentre industry.

“What happens right now is when you sign a contract with a provider and move in, they don’t need to give you good customer service because you’re already there, and lots of customers do complain they get terrible service,” he said.

“If we’d asked that same question three years ago, the answer would have been cost or location, but the reason for that is because no matter what the datacentre service is – whether it be co-lo, hosting, cloud or managed service – people’s understanding of the market is so much greater now and their expectations are higher.”

Because of the contractual and technology complexities involved in moving to a new datacentre supplier, users have traditionally felt inclined to make do with the service they receive, but that’s not necessarily the case anymore.

“It’s difficult and disruptive to move, because moving a sizeable IT estate is complex and businesses can’t take the downtime, and it’s very expensive,” said Rabbetts.

“I do think customers will become more agile with their movements and, as an industry, when we wake up to the fact that we do need to be providing a good level of customer service, we’ll be okay, but there will be few providers smart enough to recognise that.

“There is an arrogance in the industry where operators say to customers, ‘I’ll tell you what you want and how you can have it’, and if those operators don’t change, I think they’re in for a really bad time,” he added.

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Therefore, warned Rabbetts, operators need to start paying closer attention to the needs of their customers or face losing them altogether.

“It isn’t happening now, but I see it happening later down the line. While there is confusion about the cloud, what it’s really good at is enabling customers to move. It is a datacentre migration enabler,” he said.

One area where respondents said they’d like their providers to be more responsive is in appreciating the difficulties they face when trying to predict how their datacentre requirements are likely to change over time.

This can lead to users paying over the odds for datacentre capacity they never end up using, which can leave a bad taste in their mouths.

As an example, Rabbetts talked about a hypothetical customer getting locked into a three-year contract for five racks, and part way through realises it doesn't need them all. Most providers would insist they keep paying for them until their current deal runs out.

“I think the days of fixed-term contracts, with fixed cabinets and fixed amounts of space are still with us, but they are numbered and I think the datacentre has to move to a commodity sell. So you’re not going to buy the rack for three years, you’re going to pay just for what you use,” Rabbetts added.

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