How Marketing Automation Can Improve Your Customer Service

A recent nightmare situation caused me to end a long term relationship with my hosting service.

Like many break ups, better communication and an earlier response time may have saved us.

But they chose to go old school.

Long wait times, calls to an ever rotating support team, the failure to solve a problem they know about.

Long story short, my site was hacked.

It happened either three times in a month or they didn’t clean it up the first time…who knows. What I do know is I’ve lost hours on the phone trying to resolve the issue of the malware and an apparent related issue of email undeliverabilty.

Hundreds of dollars and three trusted tech sources later and my site is back up and moved to a new host.

A Fictional Case Study

It didn’t go like this but could have.

Let’s imagine the hosting company in question had applied modern technology to their customer service and saved all of us time, money, headaches and perhaps our relationship.

First, the problem.

Imagine, you open your email and find the following from your hosting company…

“Web hosting account deactivated for ______. Reason, Malware/Virus which is against the Terms of Service.”

As if I did it on purpose.

When I call, one of the support staff calmly says something to the effect of yes, your site is disabled due to malware. It could be a lack of updates, a rogue plug in or something else. Once you get it cleaned, we’ll reactivate your site.

Me: How do I get it cleaned?

Them: You pay us $50 to use our service and we’ll clean it.

Me: Ok, let’s do it.

30 days later, we’re having the same conversation, of course, now I’m furious because my tech guy has told me for a month that he didn’t think they got it cleaned completely and that’s why the site has gone down again. AND now, I have to pay ANOTHER $50 for them to “clean” it again.

Something sounds fishy to me.

Of course, I’m changing hosting providers and upping my security.

But what I want to know is why security an “extra” charge? It seems to me that’s pretty important and should simply be part of the hosting fee. (It’s ok with me if you charge me the extra $40/ year.) Really.

Except now it’s not.

I can’t wait to move my site to another hosting company.

Yet, it didn’t have to be this way. We’ve been together for five years.

Here’s my idea for improved customer service that could have saved our relationship. Why not use marketing automation to send more personalized emails that offer a solution rather than a generic “you broke our terms of service” email?

Surely I’m not the only one who feels a little like I’m being sent to the principal’s office and I don’t know why.

Here’s my perfect world suggestion.

Instead of the unhelpful nastygram that was sent, the email would be more helpful and friendly. I’d feel better and they’d save money in saved customer service time. Here’s how it could go. Think something along the lines of:

“Hi Jen,

We hate to tell you this but it looks like your site was hacked. We’re so sorry. We’ve had to disable it to prevent it from infecting multiple other sites but we’d love to get you back up and running quickly.

Here’s what we suggest:

1–Our Site Doctor system can clean it for you and remove all traces of malware. It usually takes a couple of hours though it can take up to two days.

We’ll get rid of all traces of that nasty code to get you back up and running. The fee is $50. A small price I’m sure you’ll agree to keep your site back in working order as quickly as possible. Ready to do it? Click this link to purchase and we’ll get it started for you.

When it’s completed, we’ll send you an email letting you know and we’ll reactivate your site.

2– To prevent this from happening again, we recommend you take some serious security measures.

In addition to changing your passwords (and making them difficult), we recommend a security and monitoring program like or

These will monitor your site on a daily basis, and alert you to any problems. They will also clean your site of any malware automatically without you having to do a thing. Do you want to go ahead and add this to your service?

If you have any questions you can certainly call us at xxx-xxx-xxxx and we’ll be happy to answer them.


Your Support Team”

I don’t know about you but that approach feels friendlier and more action oriented rather than “we disabled your site because you violated the terms of service. Reason: Malware/Virus” with a large block of text about why this was against the TOS. (Again, why would I want to infect my site?)

The Click and Approve Approach

It would save time on both my end and the customer service side if I could simply click and approve the cleaning rather than having to call and wait on hold.

It would streamline the communication and the support team could help other people.

Instead, here’s what happened:

After I listen to the interminable wait music for upwards of 45 minutes(!), I explain my problem, the support rep repeats, “yep, you have malware” and then starts giving me complicated directions about how to remove it involving a public_html folder in the root directory. I don’t know about you, but that’s way advanced for my skillset.

Then, they tell me about the paid for “cleaning” service. Is the first direction to “presell” me on the cleaning service?

It’s all frustrating. Especially, when there are multiple calls involved over a period of weeks BEFORE the deactivation because my email wasn’t operating at 100%. It seems that should have been a sign and they could have helped prevent the deactivation.

The Second Deactivation Notice

Here’s another email automation to consider, when you see this is the second time this has happened in 30 days, you can offer a different message.

“Oh no Jen!

It looks like your site has been hacked again! Because we’re within a 30 day window, we’re going to go ahead and run our cleaning service on it for you. We’ll let you know when it’s completed and get you back up and running as soon as possible. It typically takes a couple of hours but sometimes up to two days.

Once that’s complete, we highly recommend additional security on your site such as our program xxxx here. It’s only $1.99/month. Would you like to add it to your cart here? That way, we can install it as soon as we’re done cleaning.

If you have any questions, please call us at xxx-xxx-xxxx and we’ll take care of it right away.


Your Support Team

I think they’d sell a lot of the security add on (why is it an “add-on”?) if they took this approach. Better yet, they’d sell a lot more of this “add on” at the outset if they made it clear to people what it was and how important it was.

Instead, I’ve called approximately 20 times during the course of the month and talked to a variety of support people. My email issue was never resolved the entire time and my web person said he suspected malware was still present after the first cleaning. but they told me no, the site looked clean.

However, my email still wasn’t working 100% so something was going on.

In my mind, my support ticket was never closed. I kept calling about the same issue over and over (not receiving emails through my domain address). Then, boom! My site is hacked again. They claim it’s a completely new hacking and therefore I have to pay to have it cleaned, again.

This company could use marketing automation to improve their customer service — and it may have saved our relationship.