HOSTSEARCH: Hi Peter, can you reveal a little about yourself and your day-to-day role with Affinity?
PETER: Hi Jason. Well as a new CEO with the company, my role is evolving. I'm very hands-on right now, learning, in particular about our customers and levels of service, evaluating and then initiating appropriate actions to improve all aspects of the business - from how we serve customers to creating even more operational efficiencies. As I dig in, I'm realizing what we need to do to create a long range vision for Affinity, going forward.
HOSTSEARCH: You are approaching your fourth month at the helm of Affinity, how have you found working in the web hosting industry?
PETER: We are on the brink of a communications revolution. An enormous number of small to medium-sized businesses are getting online each day. We haven't even begun to tap this market. But we have a lot of work ahead, to expand the vast set of services that can help these companies grow their online businesses.
HOSTSEARCH: Can you explain what role Affinity plays in the industry?
PETER: Affinity provides web hosting and online marketing services to small and medium-sized businesses. We help these companies get online, operate and grow their business.
HOSTSEARCH: Affinity operates five separate brands, what was the thinking behind the decision to employ a multi-brand strategy?
PETER: According to Tier 1, the SMB market represents a $3 billion plus industry for web hosting services. We believe different brands are necessary to meet the diverse needs of the market. Some want nothing but hosting. Some want many services to help them expand their site, promote their business and sell their products. So, we give SMBs, web developers and other resellers a choice of brands that specifically matches business needs.
HOSTSEARCH: Affinity is in the top ten of hosting companies; is the number one position within reach? How far away?
PETER: You must strive to be the best - best also means making your customers successful. Affinity's objective is to continue to be in the top three web host services company r within the next 18 months. In the long term our objective will to be the best in the industry.
HOSTSEARCH: In your view, what five characteristics turn a good hosting company into a great one?
PETER: Offering superior customer care and providing the services and applications customers' want has to be the top two priorities of a great web hosting services company. is a close No. 2. Being flexible to customers needs, network reliability and an efficient back-end infrastructure round out the list.
HOSTSEARCH: Which of these characteristics is Affinity's main strength?
PETER: Affinity provides total customer care in the first 15-30 days of an account, with rewards for being loyal over time. We also promise 100 percent uptime, so that speaks to our commitment to the customer, as well as the reliability of our network.
From a business standpoint, Affinity has a common billing system that enables us to integrate the provisioning of our products and provide flexibility in customizing our product offering. In the near future, we will offer a common control panel, tech support service, email and billing system across all brands.
HOSTSEARCH: Strong customer relations are paramount to success in a highly competitive market. Is this why you launched the Customer Loyalty Program? How does it work?
PETER: Affinity's Customer Loyalty and Customer First Programs put human interaction back into customer care. Within minutes of signing up for a new account, customers receive a welcome email. A full welcome kit, complete with all the tools they need to get their site up and running, is mailed in less than a week. Then, a tech support person proactively calls to see if the customer is running into any problems. This all happens in the first 15 days. From there, we have regularly scheduled check-ins every few months and reward customers for being loyal over time.
HOSTSEARCH: Where do you see yourself, Affinity and the industry in five years time?
PETER: In five years, web hosting services companies will play an integral role in everyday life. Just like the newspaper or the telegram before there were telephones, the web is an enormous communications medium that will become increasingly more important, enabling businesses to communicate with customers and partners. Hosting companies will be the facilitator of that vision.
HOSTSEARCH: What is the first web site you visit when you switch on your computer?
PETER: First, I go to web hosting-specific message boards to review any feedback on our service, The New York Times then to Sports Illustrated's "Sports" section.
HOSTSEARCH: Thanks for your time Peter.
PETER: No problems Jason, anytime.