Phone Support

On our new site we have a phone number displayed on each page as well as on our contact pages we have the extension of each department listed.  Even with this we have not seen much of an increase in the frequency of calls which is a good thing.  It may just be our target market who do not feel comfortable calling or just people who buy web hosting find making a support ticket far easier.

That’s not to say we do not get calls at all because we do.  The majority are sales tickets which are great the sales person can ramble on without having to look up the persons information.  For support tickets however support is a difficult thing to do and we’ve always been telling people unless this is an emergency or a 2 second question please use the ticket system.  I always thought this was an acceptable thing to do because the process to verify the person is time consuming as well as actually troubleshooting something over the phone.  If the issue is complicated the person could be on hold for 20 minutes while the technician looks into the actual problem.  There are also lots of situations that cannot be handled over the phone and one that comes to mind is resetting someones password.  The reason being It is not exactly easy to tell a person their login information again over the phone when the password is something like “2Fi!pU@dC8” without the quotes.

There have been a few complaints about this policy stating they want hand holding or even worse they do not know how to use a computer well.  The not knowing how to use a computer well enough to send us an email or make use of our web site is a troubling one for me as I do not know how they could possibly run their website.  It’s unfortunately one of those situations where for us as a business we could not reasonably support them while charging the prices we do.  It’s the same as how we do not support every single possible configuration.   For example we strictly offer PHP5 and not PHP4 or support for alpha versions or things like that.  For us what makes us competitive is the fact we stream line things and over the phone support for every situation would negate that advantage.  We might revise our phone support policies a bit to maybe help with a few situations but I just don’t see it as something we’ll change.  It may sound back but most hosts do not have a number to call at all even in emergency situations.  The majority that do have a number tell the people the same thing they ask for a ticket number and if there is none and it’s not an emergency they should open a ticket.

Anyways..  Just another rant more than anything which hopefully does not make us look bad in the process but explains why us as well as the majority of web hosts out there have limited phone support unless you’re paying hundreds of dollars a month for 1GB of space.  There might be a few exceptions here or there but nothing ever compares to the quality and speed of a support ticket for any reasonably complicated issue.

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4 Responses to Phone Support

  1. I totally agree with you, Tony! There’s only so much you can do, and the fact that you do offer phone support (it being for emergencies, pre-sales and even short support questions), is great already, because many competitetively priced hosting companies don’t even show a phone number.

    Anyway, tickets are really easier, also for me as a customer, since I can keep track of what happend and when. Not that phone calls cannot get a ticket (eSupport offers phone tickers I believe), but that’s different. I just think your support is great and that I totally understand your “rant” about phone support :).

  2. Exactly; people tend to think when we say submit a support ticket or say that’s one of our main avenues of support that they’re being brushed off and will get a lackluster response / poor response time – which isn’t the case. It’s far easier for everyone since not only does it keep a track record – it allows us to help whomever submits a ticket first and lets us clearly see which issues have been rectified while those waiting.

  3. Indeed, people don’t see that support tickets are a way to offer better support.

    And I would like to add that in some cases, people just need to have a little more patience. “I cannot install my script” isn’t an urgent nor a phone support issue.

  4. Ian L says:

    I do computer tech support at times and I hate doing it over the phone. There’s a similar thing to this with hosting. On the other hand, hosting is a bit more technical so people generally know how to ue IM or e-mail anyhow. That said, having phone support is very reassuring, though I probably will never use it on a host that also has live chat available (IMO the best realtime support system).

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