A Day in the Life of a HostGator Employee

What it's Like to Work for EIG
Last week, someone published this great review of what it's like to work at HostGator (another company that is owned/managed by EIG or Endurance International Group) over on /r/webhosting.

It really gives you a glimpse of what it's like to work for EIG and also why so many people complain about the customer support.

I wanted to publish it here just incase it gets deleted (I've also edited it for readability.)

Also, I just want to say that I am not anti EIG or anti HostGator. I truly believe they have some really great brands. I actually recommended them for several years. But when I started hearing complaints, I decided to move some of my more important sites to BlueHost. The service was absolutely horrendous. They have a great product. It's user friendly and easy for beginners. But they really need to change the way they manage their customer service employees. They also need to either invest in better/more servers or hire more server admins.

I really hope someone who's in charge there will read this and change the way things are done at EIG brands.

I've seen many complaints and questions about Hostgator [posted here on reddit.com/r/webhosting]. As a former employee, I would like to share my experiences with those considering working at AIG and AIG customers alike. Hopefully this will give you an idea of what to expect.

Though I am basing this review on personal experience, keep in mind, many of my co-workers share the same sentiments.

What it's like to Work at HostGator

Training:
Hostgator starts you off on a training program for the first 3 weeks. They teach you the basics of web hosting and customer service.

The training covers: DNS, Doman names, customer service skills and how to manage phone support. The there is a lack of good management in the training program. Someone coming in with no previous experience will likely struggle.

I had a new trainer who more often than not read straigt from the manual instead of actually teaching the skills necessary for the job.

Sometimes during training, the trainer would skip our questions to finish the lesson. The trainer would ignore raised hands and just move onto the next lesson.

Many people drop out because they don't understand the things being “taught”.

To stay hired, you have to pass the training class with an average of 80 or above. If you were just under 80%, it's up to the trainer to decide whether you stay or go. I saw instances where employees with a borderline failing grades were kept on. I also saw the opposite.

The training has 2 parts

Weeks 1 and 2: Classes covering web hosting and customer service rules.

The final week: On the floor taking real phone calls from customers.

Working in the call center:
There are two types of agents in the call center: phone and chat. All employees start as phone agents and can move into a chat position if they qualify.

However, if you move to a chat position, be warned. In the chat position, you will have to handle at least 4 customers at a time. In my experience, chat queue is almost always backed up, so customer abuse is bad in the chat position. Also, the metrics listed below still apply to you, so if you can't keep up with the work flow, you will written up.

If you pass the training, you are assigned a Supervisor and placed on the floor to begin the real work. Working on the floor has many complicated issues I will explain in full detail. But first, I will discuss how performance is measured.

Your performance is measured by a metric system is split into 3 categories:

1.) Conformance
2.) Average Handle Time
3.) Survey Score

Conformance is a measure of how much time you spend at your desk. The less you spend at your desk, the lower the score. Working at Hostgator, this can become a problem.

Anytime you step away from your desk, you lose Conformance points. This includes things like trips to the restroom, to get a drink, or taking an important phone call. All will impact your score.

In my time at Hostgator, there was never any leeway in this. No matter what the circumstance, if you stepped away, your score was impacted. And if your average score falls below 93%, Hostgator will write you up.

For the most part, I felt like I was chained to my desk. One of my supervisors told me to “hold it” instead of going to the restroom!

As you might imagine, the conformance rules cause some employees to find “work arounds”. Ways to bend the rules so their score is not affected. I will explain this more in the customer section.

“Average Handle Time” is the average amount of time you spend on the phone with a customer. Hostgator wants you to spend, no more than 15 minutes on the phone with a customer.

If you aren't able to solve a problem in 15 minutes, you're supposed to escalate the call to the next level of support.

If your average handle time gets too high, Hostgator will discipline you.

“Survey Score” is the score from a survey the customer takes after a service call/chat. The problem is that the survey question is not about you the agent, but about the company itself. So even if you provided great service, the customer can give a bad rating to Hostgator itself. But it will end up impacting you negatively.

If an employee manages to score well in all 3 metrics marks, they will receive a bonus every pay period. Otherwise, there will be no bonus.

As you can imagine, employees strive to hit these metrics, but in doing so, the customer service experience suffers.

When you first start out on the floor, you are considered a Level 1 agent. All calls begin with Level 1 agents. This includes billing, technical, legal and every other question. They are all will routed to Level 1 agents no matter what.

As you might imagine, this is very ineffective. It clogs the call flow and causes heavy delays, leading to even angrier customers.

The crazy thing is, no other departments take phone calls. They are only responsible for replying to emails.

If you try to transfer a call to someone who can help, you will penalized for it. So if a customer has a question about billing migration, legal issues etc, you are expected to solve the problem. When it would make a lot more sense to transfer the call to the correct department.

What usually ends up happening is the following:

1.) Customer will call in with an issue for another department.

2.) The agent attempts to assist the customer and fails.

3) The agent then places the customer on hold to contact the appropriate department for help.

4.) The customer stays on hold until that department answers.

As you can see, a simple question ends up taking a lot longer because the agent of the phone has to jump through several more hoops to get an answer.

Their system is just flawed. Usually, companies route customers to the right department depending on your specific issue. But because you are the only person the customer ever speaks to, (and because other departments don't take phone calls ) you end up being the target for abuse most customers dish out.

Sales are becoming a performance metric:

When I first started at Hostgator, I was told sales wouldn't be somethign we would have to do. However, this has changed, now we are expected to sell products to customer.

There was also a rumor that sales figures would become a performance metric. Meaning that if you don't sell, you get written up (and eventually fired).

Also, if you did make a sale, the commission rate is extremely low. I once made a $4000 sale and the commission was only $150.

Internal Customer Support:

That's right! There's customer support for the customer support! Whenever a customer is angry, and the agent doesn't know what to do, they reach out to this department for help.

Internal Customer Service (or Internal CS) handles ticket escalation requests, ticket reviews, and reviews of certain customer complaints, among other things.

However, Internal CS was recently eliminated. I'm not sure what happened, but one day they just decided to “step away for a bit” to address a huge backlog of open tickets. They never returned.

This was pretty muhch out of the blue. And as you might imagine, customer service suffered even more as a result.

Agents must now go to their supervisors to get help or to have calls escalated. But since supervisors are usually busy doing other things, requests can take quite some time to addressed. And often times may not happen at all.

Supervisors are not helpful:

Whenever a customer asks to speak with a supervisor, you will be told to direct the customer to feedback@hostgator.com. Supervisors don't want to speak to customers, and other than giving email, they won't go out of their way to help you. They expect you to handle everything, even if you are brand new. The only time a Supervisor will take time to speak with you is when you are being disciplined or having a performance evaluation. I will elaborate more in the customer section down below.

Things often change without warning:

Hostgator often make changes with little warning to the staff. One recent major change was to the phone system. They decided to push the new system out to the floor without ever testing them.

The first day with the new phone system was extremely problematic, which directly led to more angry customers. On top of that, the new phone hardware was not compatible with most of the headsets phone agents were using. Hostgator stated they were looking for adapters to compensate for this, but it's been 4 months, we are still without a solution.

Hostgator makes changes to customer support performance metrics without notice as well. For example, hold time/ live call tracking was recently implemented. This means supervisors listen in on your calls without notice and warn you if you are doing something wrong. Micro managing is becoming the norm.

Benefits:

Hostgator offers standard benefits for full-time employees. Employees get health insurance (and dental) as well as a 401k plan. They offer insurance discounts if you take part in health programs and reach your intended goals. Hostgator also hosts parties and movie nights were they rent out a theater for employees to watch the newest release of a movie. If you can't make it, the company will give a voucher for a movie ticket. If you have a shift and can't go to the movie, Hostgator won't give you any sort of compensation. For example, if your shift starts at 3AM, but the movie starts at 7:30PM, you won't be compensated.

Hostgator hosts beer and wine days once per week. Employees are allowed a limited amount, but rules are very loose. I will explain more in the customer section.

Employees can accrue up to 1 month of Paid Time Off time. However, you’re Paid Time Off and sick days are all the same.

In order for you to use your Paid Time Off, you must request it at least 72 hours in advance. And the time slot has to be available.

For the most part, requests are, but certain times of the year, request will more than likely be denied. This actually happened to me when I requested a specific day off, and a supervisor denied it. I was told that request was on one the busiest days of the year and that they needed every employee available. When I came in on that day, I took 4 calls the entire day. Keep in mind, only customer support agents have to come in, all other departments are off.

There is also an “attendance bank”or sick time that's used for calling in sick or other emergencies that like weather. There is a max of 40 hours in your attendance bank. The attendance bank shares hours from your Paid Time Off. For example, if you call in sick for a whole work day, you will have 8 hours deducted from your PTO bank as well as your attendance bank. You can only use the attendance bank hours if you have PTO hours to spare. Once you go over the 40 hour attendance bank limit, you will be written up.

Hostgator used to reset the attendance bank twice every year, but they recently changed the policy so that it resets only once per year. Needless to say, this did not go over well with employees.

Hostgator does serve free lunch, but the food is terrible. It really says something when employees choose to bring lunch or eat out rather than eat the free lunch.

There have been instances of raw chicken and other undercooked food. Food complaints are a common, every day occurrence. Also, the food is not exactly free, as the cost of the food is actually reflected on your taxes.

There are several game rooms and a snack bar, but the snacks are overpriced and the game room is mediocre at best. The game rooms are also monitored by cameras.

You are not allowed to sleep anywhere on the premise, even if you are on your break time. and.

There are various vape lounges throughout the building, so if you “vape”, you can do it there.

Things Customers Should Know:

I would warn customers about using Hostgator. I've heard multiple reports that Hostgator used to have good service. But ever since it was bought by EIG, the level of customer service tanked.

Here are some things you can expect as a customer.

  • Long wait times are the norm with Hostgator. If you get disconnected while on a call with an agent, the next agent can't transfer a call back.
  • If you call in very early in the morning, you will get an agent right away. Primary call centers are located in the Central Time Zone. If you want to get through fst, call early, because things get busy around late morning / early afternoon.
  • On average, a customer can expect to wait anywhere from 20-45 minutes before they receive support.
  • If a Level 1 agent can't solve your issue, they will likely transfer you to the next level of support where you will be put back on hold wait for the next available agent. Even if the customer manages to reach a next level support agent, they often get their phone call disconnected for various reasons.
  • It is common for customers to get their phone call disconnected due to them being on hold for so long.
  • Chat support is actually worse than phone support If the chat works at all, hold times are always long.
  • If you are put on hold, it doesn't mean someone is working on your problem. As mentioned before, every support employee’s performance is measured by a metric system. One of which is conformance, which measures how much time you are at your desk.

    Since employees don't a bad conformance score, they find ways of getting around system. If you on hold, it is very likely that the employee is taking a break, going to the restroom, or getting lunch. Keep in mind, at lunch time he wait can be quite long.

  • There is no ticket system. Hostgator/EIG decided it was a good idea to get rid of this customer service option. Agents were never given a reason for it, but speculation is that the ticket queue got so over overwhelmed, Hostgator/EIG decided to just get rid of it.
  • Don't bother asking for a supervisor. You aren't likely to get one. You will likely be told that:

    1.) The supervisor is currently busy assisting other customers.

    2.) The supervisor is in a meeting

    3.) Please e-mail feedback@hostgator.com and a supervisor will get back to you.

    I've actually had supervisors stand right beside me and tell the customer they were not available. Supervisors tend to avoid direct contact with customers. I've seen many customers who ask for a supervisor wait on hold for long periods, only to be denied.

    If you email feeback@hostgator.com, don't expect a prompt response.

  • Agents will do whatever they can to get you off the phone/chat as quickly as possible:
    In the employee section, I mentioned employee performance id measured using a metric system. If an employee doesn't meet the minimum requirement, they will be disciplined or fired. If standards are not met, the employee won't receive bonuses. Because of this pressure, agents will do whatever they need to in order to get off the phone as quickly as possible. Sometimes even give false information.
  • You will only get a refund if you request it, but it is not guaranteed. For example, if you cancel your account and don't specifically ask for a refund, you won't be refunded. You must call again and specifically request the refund. Level 1 agents are not allowed to give refunds. Only the billing department can. The billing department will only communicate via e-mail, so even if you are owed a refund, it can take quite a while to get done.
  • If you are a Dedicated server customer, your call will be automatically escalated If you signed up for a Windows server or a Dedicated server, your case will be escalated automatically. This is because Level 1 agents are not able to solve these issues, due to the complexities. If you wait on hold to have your problem handled, you will be escalated put back on hold.
  • Migrations/transfer can take a while Some migrations take months to finish — with several mistakes being made along the way. Since the migration department only communicates through e-mail, this makes transfers and migrations complicated and time consuming by default. If you do request a migration, beware that it will not go smoothly.
  • You won't receive an ETA: Even if you ask for an ETA, you won't get one. Agents are not allowed to give an ETA, because it sets “unreasonable standards”.
  • Drunk/buzzed employees: As mentioned earlier, Hostgator provides alcohol to employees once per week. There is a 2 drink limit per employee, but the tracking is not very strict. I've never personally witnessed it, but I've heard anecdotes of drunken employees continuing to work. Given what I've seen at this company, it wouldn't surprise me.

Hopefully this will be helpful for understanding what it's like to work for and be a customer at Hostgator.

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