I've been hosting friends sites on dedi servers for years now, I've also helped a lot of friends start up their own hosting co's that have become either reletively sized (100-200 clients) or just failed due to lack of support.
So i am going to be planning it all out very very carefully and would like to see what people around here expect from their webhost.
My policy would be:
true 24/7 support (live chat, e-mail, tickets, my cell)
fast servers on reliable carriers
worldwide presence (servers in USA, UK, Europe etc etc)
ensure that all staff have access to clients details, not just personal details but what kind of questions they ask, what kind of site they host, just little things that make it a much more personalised experience.
In-house software development team (for a full suite of our very own in-house php, asp etc site tools)
completely automate everything possible. Account signup, billing, fraud checks, anti-spam on orders etc etc.
also give both new & current clients access to offers & discounts!
of course if you feel ive missed anything feel free to stick it down in a reply
The only thing i care about is that my site should be up and running most of the day, i don't want any fancy shmancy offices anywhere in the world.
Believe it or not, i could not find such a host that's why i got my own dedi and i host all my stuff on it.
As for manual billing I was thinking it would be better if clients could get their accounts online asap without wait then let one of our staff go over the order during office hours, even then we would still be using an anti-fraud service to check it over at the order process.
David, I would have considered asking people what they want from a webhost to be market research especially when asking somewhere as big as WHT. However rest assured this is by no means our entire 'market research' we have been scouring the web looking at many message boards, news groups, knowledgebases and competiting host websites to find out what people want, what people aren't getting and how we can give it to them.
P.S. I just noticed I didn't mention uptime anywhere in my post above, sorry about that I meant to put 99.99% and should it fall below this level a very good discount policy to all clients affected.