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Danish hosting firm expands cloud offerings

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Domain and cloud services provider DanDomain has built its business by listening to the needs of its customers and ensuring that they receive products and services that will help them thrive. In response to customer feedback, DanDomain expanded its cloud offerings to include Microsoft Office 365 through the Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider program. As a result, DanDomain found new ways to package products and services to meet customers’ individual needs and provide them with the technology tools they need to succeed.

Targeting business offerings to customer needs

At Danish cloud and hosting services provider DanDomain, the key to the company’s success is its clear focus on meeting the needs of its customers. “The customer is at the center of everything we think, say, and do,” says Mark Frihagen, Executive Vice President at DanDomain. “We make the effort to really get to know our customers and their technology journeys so we can help them plan an effective cloud strategy and match them up with a package of products and services that will help them achieve and surpass their business goals.”

DanDomain is located in Randers, on Denmark’s Jutland Peninsula, near the country’s second most-populous city, Aarhus. The company was founded in 1999 and currently employs 82 people with 71,000 active customers, making it one of Denmark’s largest and most prominent domain providers. DanDomain primarily targets the entrepreneurial and startup markets, along with small-to-midsize businesses (SMBs). As the company has grown, so has the scope of its offerings.

“We started out as a basic domain provider, but from the very beginning we started gathering feedback from our customers about the types of services they wanted us to provide as add-ons to domain packages,” explains Frihagen. “They told us they wanted email, so we began offering hosted Microsoft Exchange Server and hosted desktop services. Our willingness to listen to customers and serve as a trusted advisor drove rapid expansion, and we soon won a prize from Danish financial magazine Borsen for growing by 509 percent in a single year.”

DanDomain currently has three primary service offerings. In addition to domain services and web hosting, the company has developed its own e-commerce platform, called DanDomain WebShop, built on Microsoft .NET technology and backed up by the Windows Server operating system and Microsoft SQL Server database software. DanDomain has a wide network of app partners who develop and deliver extensions to the service, and the DanDomain WebShop is currently Denmark’s industry leader with 20 percent market share of Danish e-commerce sites.

The newest business branch at DanDomain is its CloudButler service, which grew out of a series of strategy discussions about new ways to look at the company’s business model and optimize value for customers. “With CloudButler, our goal is to simplify the processes required to get a cloud system up and running, because some of our smaller customers don’t have deep IT experience,” says Frihagen. “So there’s less talk about the technical aspects of services and deployments, and a greater focus on drawing out the customer’s needs and pain points and offering a premium ‘white glove’ experience that lets them focus on the business without worrying about IT infrastructure.”

Using Office 365 to help customers thrive

In 2014, as part of its ongoing focus on customer needs and strengthening its own business, DanDomain began looking in detail at customer churn and the reasons why some customers were moving to other providers. The company found that one reason was that hosted Exchange Server users wanted more robust productivity solutions with their email such as those found in the Microsoft Office 365 suite of cloud-based email and productivity applications, which DanDomain didn’t offer. So DanDomain remedied this by adding Office 365 to its portfolio. From there, the company started reviewing available licensing options to find the one that would pair best with its monthly recurring revenue web business model.

DanDomain decided to join the Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program, which allows partners to sell Microsoft cloud services and oversee the complete customer lifecycle, including contract and billing management. Partners can also bundle or integrate the Microsoft cloud with their own services and products. For DanDomain, this has offered new packaging and upselling options in the three main branches of its business that help it better target customer needs. “We were one of the first global partners in the CSP program, and we provided feedback to Microsoft that helped shape the program,” says Frihagen. “We felt that it was an important opportunity to highlight our commitment to cloud solutions and the investment we wanted to make in automation.”

Continues Frihagen, “For our domain and web hosting customers, we make the basic transaction as simple as possible, and then once they’ve made their initial premium choice, we offer the option to add Office 365. For established companies looking for a more comprehensive cloud package, we put them in touch with one of our consultants and design a comprehensive suite of services that meets their very specific needs. As part of that discussion, we talk to them about the tremendous benefits that Office 365 offers.”

DanDomain can now tailor services to specific industry segments. “We’re currently in the process of rolling out a new program that is specifically geared to emerging businesses and startups,” says Frihagen. “We like to think of it as turning DanDomain into the place where your dream of starting a new company can become a reality. And we think the Office 365 suite is a great set of tools that will help those entrepreneurs thrive.”

In each of these scenarios, the DanDomain philosophy focuses on assessing the individual needs of each customer, and then matching them to an appropriate technology package. But the commitment to its customers doesn’t end with the sale; DanDomain backs up all of its offerings with Extraordinary Support to ensure that customers are able to get maximum value from their purchases.

“Optional add-on services for Office 365 bundles include customer device deployment and data migration support,” says Frihagen. “We’ve also partnered with a training company and begun offering free initial courses to teach startup businesses and SMBs about the many features available in the Office 365 suite. Customers who want more detailed instruction can purchase more advanced courses as an extra service. It’s one more thing that ties us closer to our customers and strengthens our collaboration with them. As with so much of what we do, we added the training in response to feedback from customer surveys. We’re also creating step-by-step training videos to make using Office 365 as effortless as possible.”

"Since we joined the Cloud Solution Provider program, we’ve seen much higher growth rates in our cloud business compared to other parts of the company, especially the parts related to Office 365."

- Mark Frihagen, Executive Vice President, DanDomain

Driving business growth with cloud services

While helping customers boost their productivity is certainly an important part of what DanDomain does, it’s also important that any new products and programs benefit DanDomain as well, and participation in the Cloud Solution Provider program is showing some great results.

“Since we joined the Cloud Solution Provider program, we’ve seen much higher growth rates in our cloud business compared to other parts of the company, especially the parts related to Office 365,” says Frihagen. “As one example, after only 18 months in the CSP program, we have seen a greater than 60 percent growth in Office 365 and Hosted Exchange net customer volume, which I think is a great success.”

As a product and service bundler, a key success measurement for DanDomain is the number of add-on services that the company is able to attach to sales, and things are looking good there as well. “A critical target for us is attaching several services to a customer—a minimum of three services, if possible—and Office 365 is definitely helping us towards that goal. Currently, 65 percent of our Office 365 customers meet or exceed that threshold, which significantly increases average revenue per user and increases our appeal as a Partner.”

“Since introducing Office 365 through CSP, we’ve seen a decrease of more than 20 percent in customer churn in product areas around Office 365,” says Frihagen. “The licensing agreement that’s part of the CSP program makes it very easy for us to do business with our customers without the need for a lot of interaction with Microsoft—we can automate a lot of our processes, which is vital for a high-volume business.”

Adding Office 365 to its product and services portfolio has helped DanDomain grow its overall business and reach new customers. “We focus on startups and the small-to-midsize business [SMB] space, and introducing Office 365 has helped us attract customers who previously might not have looked at us as a potential service provider,” says Frihagen. “There’s been so much buzz about the cloud in the industry in recent years that it’s imperative for us to be on the leading edge of cloud services in order to be seen as a modern, innovative company. Now we’re attracting more innovative, technologically sophisticated companies in the entrepreneurial arena. For me, attracting the right mix of customers is as important as volume growth, and I think Office 365 is a catalyst for making that happen.”

DanDomain has been working with Microsoft for 12 years and has been a Gold Partner for almost ten, and the Cloud Solution Provider program has helped make a great relationship even stronger. “Even though we’re just a small Danish company, Microsoft is very open to listening to our needs and expectations—we learn a lot from them, but they are also willing to learn from us,” explains Frihagen. “The fact that a company as big as Microsoft is open to listening to us and working with us so closely is really fantastic.”

"We focus on startups and the small-to-midsize business [SMB] space, and introducing Office 365 has helped us attract customers who previously might not have looked at us as a potential service provider."

- Mark Frihagen, Executive Vice President, DanDomain