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On Certification and Seals

That cute photo of the seal set as this posts’s featured image has absolutely nothing to do with third-party certification. I’ll connect its relevance later in this post.

This blog post could also have been entitled, Who Certifies The Certifiers?

As an advocate of the B Corporation movement and designation, I speak often about business certifications. Should a company apply for a certification? What’s the value in becoming certified? Is it worth the cost? Are some certifications more important than others?

In this post, I’ll try to answer some basic questions, framed in our company’s experience, and help you identify the kinds of designations you may want to avoid.

Why A Company Should Certify

A business can choose to certify for any number of reasons.

In an age of “fake news” (in which media companies publish unvetted and misleading content as “news”) and “greenwashing” (in which unproven or misleading claims are made about the ecological benefits of a product or service), third-party certification can validate a company’s brand for its proven merits.

Certifications exist to spotlight a company for its efforts, to set it apart from its competition, and to help build trust in its brand. The range of possible certifications is determined by a company’s industry, its philosophical and social values, and in some cases, geographic location.

Certification Examples

Within Oregon, numerous ecological-based certifications exist: Salmon Safe, Certified LIVE, OEC Carbon Neutral, and Oregon Tilth Organic, to name a few. Each has its own set of costs, as well as unique application, certification, and renewal processes.

Outside Oregon, national and international certifications include 1% For The Planet (in which a business contributes at least 1% of its gross revenues towards environmental causes), Certified B Corporation (the highest level of third-party certification for socially conscious businesses, internationally recognized and administered by a nonprofit, B Lab), and Benefit Corporations For Good (a locally-run certifier and designation for triple-bottom-line businesses).

What To Consider When Choosing A Certification

Ultimately, the particular choice of certification is up to the business:

  • Is it a match for the company’s values and service lines?
  • Is it important to be recognized for the good that business is doing?
  • Is it worth the cost and hassle to go through certification, and re-certify at each renewal period?
  • Is the effort going to equate to increased respect and trust for the brand, and thereby enhance sales that will at least offset the associated costs?

When A “Certification” Is Just a “Seal”

Now we get to ogle over that adorable seal photo — SOO cute!

Over the years, Canvas Host has earned many certifications. At the time we applied for a given certification, we felt it matched our values, and that our brand would benefit by being associated with the certifying organization. Most importantly, we wanted others to understand why we do what we do, and to increase trust in our words and actions.

We’ve also dropped several certifications. We determined in some cases, that were not enforced — a business need, or lacked accountability due to being associated with greenwashing or similar abuse by unscrupulous businesses that broadcast the designation.

A prime example of a certification that has lost almost all credibility, is Green America Certified. One of the first organizations in North America to organize a business community for environmental and socially responsible causes, Green America was an association we were drawn to during our early years. The Green Business Network, a business community of thousands of like-minded companies, provided us many wonderful connections and relationships that, to this day, we are still proud to maintain. That said, the Green America Certified designation has little value to us any more. Here’s why:

To register as as Green America Certified business, a company fills out an online form. Within 20-30 minutes, the business is certified. Submitted information is not vetted. Though we pressed the organization many years ago to enforce accountability, a business close to us went through the online certification process, and nothing has changed. We have seen many examples over the years, of businesses that should not be certified, but are taken at face value.

Beyond vetting, the renewal process for Green America Certified couldn’t be easier: For as little as $150, a business can extend its certification for one more year. Again, there is no vetting or personal communication to ensure the business is in fact living up to its claims. Without accountability, we do not see the value in the certification, and so we have removed all mentions to the certification from our website, social media, and printed marketing materials.

Please don’t get me wrong. I believe there are many great people working at and supporting Green America. They are a good organization that has helped legislate and fight for worthy environmental causes. Where the organization falls short is in the vetting of its business community, and I would suggest they withdraw their certification program until such a time as they can truly enforce it to the extent that is needed.

Sometimes a “certification” is really just a “seal” — something cute or cool to place on your website. If you want to spend $150 each year for nice images to entice customers, I’d suggest spending that money on good photos, and drop the fake seals. Even if seals are absolutely adorable.

Overall, when it comes to vetting a certification, if the certification process was “easy” to obtain, or “easy” to renew, and ask yourself: Who might abuse this process, and do I want my business associated with companies that do not live up to the standards this certification claims to signify?

Celebrate The Right Certification

Thankfully, there are many great certifications available to a business. In Oregon, one of the newest certifications is Benefit Corporations For Good (BCFG). This is a standard began by two colleagues in our business circles, as an answer to the limited field of recognized for the Oregon Benefit Company designation.

Going through the certification process, we were reminded of what it took for us to become B Corporation Certified: A rigorous application process, providing vetted information about our business, and being personally interviewed by administrators of the program. Even better, future certifications will see us go through the same vetting process. As our business evolves, this will ensure we are able to maintain a current designation that truly reflects the state of our brands for which we seek renewed validation.

BCFG certifies businesses located outside of Oregon, as well. This came as a surprise to us, but it’s wonderful news, because more than 30 States recognize benefit company designation, but not all have a domestic certification process.

If you are interested in learning about certification for your business, or would like to learn more about our company’s journey down the certification path, please contact us, at csr@canvashost.com, and we’ll be happy to chat.

Thank you,

David Anderson


Say What?!? Power in Words

By Angela Anderson, Operations/Co-Owner

Transparency and full disclosure time.  Lately it has come to my attention that words can do a lot to cut down or build up a conversation.  At Canvas Host, we communicate with our customers in various formats.  In all instances, we do our utmost to deliver a professional message, even when the initiator of the message uses derogatory language.

Case in point, two tickets were opened today that started off by the customer dropping explicatives in a condescending tone to our entire team.  These two tickets were not from individuals that had an ongoing support issue, nor have had issues with their accounts in years.  Their messages started off in escalatory tones demanding service.  This form of communication is not acceptable.

As Founders, David and I are gatekeepers and defenders of our team.  All tickets like this come to our immediate attention to de-escalate and resolve in the most professional and productive manner.  In both of these cases, David was able to communicate to these customers our boundaries and reroute the concerns appropriately.

Our mission statement as a company, revised in January 2019, states “At Canvas Host, we strive to create a safe, just, and socially equitable internet one website at a time.”  When asked why this necessary change, David Anderson, our Founder and Co-Owner stated, “It’s not enough to create a free internet.  Freedom is nothing more than anarchy without a sense of fairness and responsibility towards each other.  Our goal is not to create a wild west of the internet.  It is to create an internet that people want to use and benefit from.  Enforcing rules that support mutual respect doesn’t hinder expression so much as it facilitates a higher quality and a shared sense of appreciation for each other’s content and place on the web.”

To that end, we want to enforce and make clear our Mutual Respect Policy that is referenced on our company website.  There are signs on roads that state “Drive Like Your Kids Live Here”.  Communicate with us like your kids are watching over your shoulder.  Language can be used as a force for good. It should be used to build up and not break down.


Importance of Updating Billing Information

People often ask us, “What is the most requested issue our team helps customers with?”  From a billing standpoint, it is updating a client’s payment information.

Every day, we receive phone calls and answer tickets about billing requests.  We thought it would be a good time to refresh all customers on the importance of keeping account information current. If your online presence relies on orders coming through your website, any interruption in service can be disastrous.

Unlike some hosting providers that suspend you immediately for any lapse in payment, we provide a 15-day grace period before suspending an overdue account. Suspension means that instead of a customer going to your website to see the products and services you provide, they are instead redirected to a message saying that the website has been suspended.  Additionally, if you use your account for email service, you will not be able to access your account, nor will you be able to send or receive mail. All of these things can bring your business to a stop, not to mention be embarrassing from a public relations standpoint.

If a website has been suspended for more than three (3) months, we remove (terminate) the hosting account from our network. This is done for several reasons:

1) If you haven’t renewed your website in this time frame, you no longer need the service;

2) Space and resources are being used on our server for said website without payment, thus using space we could allocate for other customers.

3) Suspended accounts contain your confidential data (email messages, database data, possibly customer orders, etc.) Out of concern for privacy and protection of this data, our policy is to terminate the account.

For these reasons, we recommend that you should always, always, always make sure that your account and billing information is up to date, as a lapse in payment could result in suspension.

Your website is your business.  It is how your customers see you. It is how you promote what you do.  It is important for the revenue of your business and how you reach your demographics.

To fix billing issues, you can call us during business hours,  877-HOST-503 x3, or by logging into our customer portal at https://support.canvashost.com, where you can update your billing information or open any tickets for our team to assist.  For security reasons, we do not accept credit card numbers via email. If you have a billing issue that is not addressed here or cannot be solved via the Customer Portal, please open a ticket.  Our Billing Team is happy to assist.

Your business is important to us! We want to keep your site online and working, so you can run a successful online presence, and we do not take any pleasure in your account being suspended for a billing issue.


Tier 1 Vs. Tier 2 Support

support

Howdy, all you gorgeous, internet wizards…

Lawrence here, with another informative article about the goings on behind the scenes at Canvas Host.

We’ve got a lot going on in the realm of streamlining and improving things throughout the company this year, and the Support department is no exception.

In this newsletter, I wanted to touch on something which you may or may (not) have noticed, but something I feel should be addressed none the less…

If you’ve opened a support ticket within the past week, you may have noticed the designation of “Tier 1” and wondered what that’s all about, so I wanted to take a moment to explain and hopefully allay any confusion and satisfy any curiosity about it.

From now on, when a new support ticket is opened (either by an email being sent to support@canvashost.com or being directly opened through your customer dashboard), the ticket is assigned to Tier 1 support. Depending on the complexity of the matter, the ticket will either be answered straight away by the support team on staff at that time, or, it may be escalated to Tier 2.

So what’s the difference and does one tier have priority over the other?

Firstly, Tier 2 tickets do not have higher priority over Tier 1. If anything, Tier 1 will be answered the fastest. Customers cannot open a Tier 2 ticket. The designation is decided by our staff at our discretion.

Basic Rundown…

* Tier 1: Simple, everyday questions/issues that can be answered/resolved quickly by anybody on the support team within under an hour depending on the size of the support queue, number of phone calls coming in etc. Missed call tickets are designated Tier 1. Any staff member who touches this Support queue is required to make sure Tier 1 tickets are answered/called back before their shift is over for the day/evening.

* Tier 2: Tickets that address issues which senior members of our staff might have to take over, issues requiring further research and development, internal discussion between staff members etc. These tickets will generally be resolved within 24 to 48 hours depending upon their complexity and other tasks being juggled as we all wear several hats around here.

The reasons for this new system have to do with managing the daily throughput of our support ticket queue as well as internal tracking and analysis which will help us to establish a clearer understanding of how and where our resources can be most effectively utilized.

As always, we hope this explanation serves as a continuance of our rule of transparency in business.


Weathering the Bumps and Turns

By Angela Anderson, Operations/Finance

Every journey has bumps.  Every journey has struggles.  Nothing is ever easy.  With over 20 years of experience in managing employees, I’ve seen almost everything.  I’m not surprised with much these days.  Some say I should write a book with all my experiences so that others can learn from what I have gone through.  If I ever did that, I think many of you would sit back and just laugh at the hysteria that is human behavior.

Through my many years of  experience in training and development, I had many positive and rewarding experiences.  I loved working with individuals on performance goals.  I loved watching them achieve new things and see themselves break out of their shells of reluctance and fear.  Many individuals I was coaching on public speaking in groups. Others I was coaching on effective listening and learning to clarify for understanding.  Some I was working with solely on understanding and meeting the expectations of their position.  Each member of my team needed something different.

Just like as any stream of water hits a rock and has to flow a new direction.  We are like that stream.  Our experiences shape who we are as a river of knowledge.  We ebb and flow based on hurdles, challenges, and successes.  They shape us.  They mold us.  We are who we are as professionals because of the rocks, twigs, and branches along the way.  Don’t be afraid to bust through an obstacle from time to time though.  I used to always use this amazing line on my team.  I know they hated it and cringed when I said it but it is very true…. “It is when we are most challenged or uncomfortable that we are learning.”  Be challenged.  Be pushed, but break through and rise above.