I Ain’t No Techie!
Like so many of the staff here, I was a customer of 34SP.com looong before I joined the staff. I was working for a charity at the time (unlike most peeps here, I don’t have an IT background) and had been given the task of making our website more user friendly, and, if possible, enable it to take online donations. The site I’d inherited was hosted with plusnet at the time, written in Frontpage (oh for the days!) and site visitors needed a pair of sunglasses to view it it was that “loud”. Our host at the time was plusnet, and it didn’t seem to matter how I tried to get the site set up, I kept hitting limitations in the server setup that just wouldn’t let me do what I needed to. After asking a few questions in the plusnet forums, their own staff referred me to 34SP.com – always nice when the competition send customers your way! It was their opinion that 34SP.com provided exactly the flexibility and configurability in hosting I needed in order to get the site to do what I wanted. And they were entirely correct – I would never have been able to get pages set up that encrypted form mail before sending sensitive donation details where we had been hosting (the tutorials I passed onto 34SP.com about setting this up are still lurking in the Knowledge Base somewhere). I doubt I’d have been able to do it on any shared hosting server with any other provider to be perfectly honest. From my point of view as a customer at the time, the support was second to none and nothing was too much trouble for the guys (mainly Ian) I had been dealing with. When the opportunity came up to go for a role with the support team here, I really felt that the company had an ethos of friendly, professional and timely assistance that it would be one of the few in the private sector I’d be happy to work for.
Luckily for me, a keen attitude and willingness to help people was, and still is, more important than technical aptitude. You can teach someone the skills to do the job, but you’d have a hard job teaching the right attitude. This came in handy on my first week on the job, when a server went kaput. This was at a time when a dozen calls a day was the norm, so to be suddenly getting that many in an hour was very much a case of being thrown in at the deep end. Happily, our Sys Admin team had everything up and running again in short order. A busy start to my new career, but a sunny disposition had seen me through the “trial by fire”! There had, of course, been some challenging customers, understandably upset that their site was unavailable, but these were far outnumbered by clients who have since become more than just a voice on the end of the phone, they’ve become people you can really have a friendly chat with whenever they call or email (you know who you are!). I think we’ve managed to retain so many of our customers over the years because of this attitude, in that we’re as much about knowing our customers as much as we are about knowing their needs.
We’re also about having a good time whilst we do it 🙂 Admittedly it’s been at my insistence, but each year since I’ve been with 34SP.com, we’ve held a Eurovision party (keep May 14th 2011 clear guys!). Everybody dips into the lucky hat and pulls out the country that they will be supporting for the competition. The fun then begins when they have to then bring along a dish or dishes representative of their country. I’ve never seen such a disproportionate amount of satisfaction from a programmer in their ability to toast almonds for a Greek pudding. If that’s taught me anything, it’s that sometimes it’s the simple things in life that make the biggest impact.