by Michael Goldstein
[Sometimes dead simple innovation can have big results. In this post, Michael Goldstein discusses Hover’s “No-Hassle Renewals”. By implementing this simple feature the company has been able to reduce support costs while improving customer satisfaction. Goldstein is the VP of Marketing at Tucows, the company behind Hover.]
Renewals should be the fun part of a domain name registration business for registrars. The phrase “make money while you sleep” comes to mind.
But nothing is ever that easy in Web services. In fact, we discovered recently at Hover (Tucows’ retail service) that renewals were our number one support issue, accounting for 36% of support tickets opened.
Some customers were confused about when their domains expire. Some got confused by all the fraudulent fake renewal notices out there. Some couldn’t find the Renew button. And tons didn’t have access to the username and password on the account.
This last problem was more common than you might think. We got dozens of calls a week from frantic web administrators, personal assistants, friends and relatives trying to renew a domain name on someone else’s behalf. Maybe this other person was on vacation, sick, no longer with the company, divorced; we got a lot of great stories. The point is, somebody wanted to pay us to renew a domain and couldn’t.
We brainstormed a bunch of ways to make it easier for our customers to retrieve their account details. None of the improvements had much impact on our support queue. Then one day, somebody raised his hand and said “Why does anyone even need a username and password to renew a domain name?.
What? That’s outrageous! Think about the security issues. The fraud!
Wait. There really isn’t any harm in letting total strangers renew someone else’s domain name for them (if that’s the worst case scenario here). It’s sort of the opposite of fraud. The bad guy puts down the valid credit card and the good guy gets a free renewal. None of this brings anyone any closer to actually accessing the domain name account.
And to the original point, it gets a whole lot easier for the good guys to renew their domain names.
So that’s what we did. We put a button in our top nav that lets you renew a domain name without ever logging in. We called it “no hassle renewals.” (We’re not clever.) We see about two-dozen visitors a day renewing their domain names that way. (Most of our customers still auto-renew.) We haven’t had any complaints of rogue or malicious renewals. Most importantly, we are getting fewer support calls and we are solving renewal-related problems much more quickly.
We’re not quite making money while we sleep. But our customers are sleeping a little better.