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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Posts
    300

    What Does A Support Person Need To Know?

    Hi guys,

    I need your advice please.

    A friend has health issues that require her to work
    from home. I'm trying to help her get a Net career
    going.

    Can you help me understand what she needs to know and
    do to get an entry level support position at a hosting
    company?

    1) What information does she need to master?
    What do you require your entry level support people
    to know?

    2) How should an job applicant go about
    convincing you to give a remote worker a try?

    3) How do you pay your support people? By the hour?
    By the ticket? By the client? Any general feedback
    you can share regarding pay ranges for support people
    is appreciated.

    Many thanks in advance for your time and replies, they
    are much appreciated.

  2. #2
    Experience,that's what he actually need so to give a try to a remoot worker you must know at first what exactly he can offer.Anyway google is your best guide,it will professionally answer your questions and you will find a sufficient answer.
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
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    Newport Beach, CA
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    2,920
    This might not be an easy way to find work. From what I've seen most companies don't hire people out of their homes like that.

    I might be wrong, but it seems like before that would happen they'd be looking for 3rd party support companies. but those companies may allow working from home. not sure.
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  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2004
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    300
    Thanks for the replies guys.

    Yes, I agree, the working from home part is a challenge.

    But, to look at the upside, working remotely makes every hosting company in the world a potential employer.

    Yes, big companies with their fixed policies don't seem like the best opportunity.

    But it seems there are thousands of small family owned and solo hosts who might like to take the weekends off, have temporary help to cover for sick staff etc.

    I know of one large host (20,000 accounts, something like that) that I believe uses remote support staff, because they advertise for help in the emailed newsletter that goes out to all their clients worldwide.

    Anyway, she needs to make it work remotely, and I need to tell her exactly what she needs to learn to be qualified to apply.

    What do your entry level support people need to know?

    Your policies of course. Cpanel seems likely. Basic web site building knowledge seems helpful. Mastery of your support ticket software seems useful. What else?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Singapore
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    It really depends how fast your friend can learn. But all this start up from experience so what I suggest is to ask your friend to join those outsourcing companies first because they will train you up first if I am not wrong.

    Normally for Level 1 staff, they just need to know the basic. If they can't solve, they will pass to the higher level. From there, you climb up the level from experience.
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  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2002
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    Internet / Colorado
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    1,652
    Quote Originally Posted by tanfwc
    It really depends how fast your friend can learn. But all this start up from experience so what I suggest is to ask your friend to join those outsourcing companies first because they will train you up first if I am not wrong.

    Normally for Level 1 staff, they just need to know the basic. If they can't solve, they will pass to the higher level. From there, you climb up the level from experience.
    Ya or they will start you on sales and you just have to memorize their web page, and then from there just practice cpanel tutorials and read read read.
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  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
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    West Michigan, USA
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    9,675
    If she's in the US and can't work outside her home, she can get SSI or SSDI (Social Security).

    --Tina
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  8. #8
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    Sep 2004
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    She could always start a hosting company! Tap tap ta ding! (That was my drum roll)


  9. #9
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    May 2004
    Posts
    300
    Quote Originally Posted by AH-Tina
    If she's in the US and can't work outside her home, she can get SSI or SSDI (Social Security).
    Thanks Tina, I was hoping you might join us, as you seem uniquely qualified to comment on this, from both sides of the equation.

    I believe she gets some kind of check like that, but it's barely enough to survive. Every day, on the edge of disaster.

    And she's not really disabled, she just can't do the job she used to do. Her mind works just fine. We just need to connect her mind to people who can use it.

    She's begun building her own sites, and her own little net consulting biz, but that's going to take awhile to build, like any business.

    She's not going to be a certified Red Hat engineer anytime soon, or perhaps ever.

    But she can master Cpanel/Plesk, basic site building skills, company policies etc. And she has the right personality for doing support work.
    It seems to me that many of the support folks I've talked to over the years were at this level.

    Do you see any future for her in web hosting support, or maybe sales?

    Or would she be better advised to seek support roles in other less technical industries?

    I want to encourage her, but not send her off chasing something that isn't there.

    Many thanks again for any replies.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Location
    West Michigan, USA
    Posts
    9,675
    My technical skills are basic. I can tool around WHM and cPanel and, after years of dealing with 1st level support issues, I can answer almost all of the basic questions. I also know sales and billing like the back of my hand. Anything that requires root access or tweaking the servers, I leave up to the guys (our staff) who are far more qualified than I.

    My point is, if she has the knack for communicating to customers and can handle the basics...she's definitely going to be an asset to some company. I would be excited about hiring someone that might not have a huge technical background, but knew how to communicate effectively and in a friendly manner...and was willing to learn along the way.

    The only thing is that if she does get any kind of govt disability check, they will count her income against her check.

    <edit> I've fired technical support guys before that had amazing technical qualifications, but came across about as friendly as a rock to customers. </edit>

    --Tina
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    Plenty of space and bandwidth to fit your needs!
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  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Posts
    300
    Quote Originally Posted by AH-Tina
    I would be excited about hiring someone that might not have a huge technical background, but knew how to communicate effectively and in a friendly manner...and was willing to learn along the way.
    Right, that's the way I feel too. Actually, as a sidebar, I want her to run my support. I hate having to share her with others. I just don't have the clients yet to support her with a real income in return. Trying to help her survive until I do.

    Quote Originally Posted by AH-Tina
    The only thing is that if she does get any kind of govt disability check, they will count her income against her check.
    Right, I hear ya. Well, the thing is, living on these checks is really a path to disaster, because any little unexpected expense can be a life changing experience. You lose your bank account, your house, your car, one by one everything goes. The only way out is work or winning the lottery.

    People in this circumstance can be very motivated, given an opportunity. They've seen what's over the edge.

    Quote Originally Posted by AH-Tina
    I've fired technical support guys before that had amazing technical qualifications, but came across about as friendly as a rock to customers.
    Right, that's it. I enjoy posting with you, cause you always get it.

    It's an industry wide problem. Most techs, me included, belong in the back room doing tech stuff, not on the front lines doing people stuff.

    Tech stuff is very linear and logical, people stuff is not. It seems quite challenging for any of our brains to excel in both arenas at once.

    Ok, on to the next tricky bit. Working remotely.

    I understand the resistance, cause who wants to hire folks you've never even seen.

    On the other hand, if a host can make remote employment work, they tap in to a talent pool that far exceeds the limits of their local community.

    Even my home made ticket system keeps a record of every word typed back and forth between support and clients. There must be a way to manage this effectively without having the employee sitting in the next room.

    Anyway, I get that it's up to the employee to sell themselves and this concept to the host.

    Any thoughts regarding the most effective way to present this pitch are most welcome.

    Thanks Tina!

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    San Jose, CA.
    Posts
    1,622
    Quote Originally Posted by squirreldog
    Can you help me understand what she needs to know and
    do to get an entry level support position at a hosting
    company?

    1) What information does she need to master?
    What do you require your entry level support people
    to know?
    As mentioned... what she should know will depend on what each employer supports.

    There's obvious "technologies" that she should be familiar with and beable to explain the client/server processes; such as any major issues dealing with: FTP, POP3, SMTP, HTTP, UNIX navigation, and basic networking.

    FTP:
    Clients like the IE GUI, WS-FTP.
    POP3/SMTP:
    Clients like Thunderbird, Eudora, Outlook/Express.
    HTTP:
    Understanding basic HTML writing.
    UNIX navigation:
    Understand the contents of a book like "Linux for Dummies".
    Basic networking:
    Tools like whois, nslookup, dig, traceroute, and ping.

    Once she understands those common issues... I'd have her delve further into understanding MySQL, PERL, and PHP issues.

    In places I've worked... I'd say the majority of the webhosting support calls taken have been regarding problems configuring an email client.

    How easy the job will be will depend a lot on how much documentation the employer provides. In most cases, the customer asking for support won't be asking for something original... ie, you can quickly come up with a group of customized cut-n-paste knowledgebase type answers.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    666
    squirreldog
    Right, that's the way I feel too. Actually, as a sidebar, I want her to run my support. I hate having to share her with others. I just don't have the clients yet to support her with a real income in return. Trying to help her survive until I do.
    So your already training her? If so, that's awesome, she's already getting a feel for things! You may not be supporting her financially, but sounds like your very supportive in other ways.
    People in this circumstance can be very motivated, given an opportunity. They've seen what's over the edge.
    You probably couldn't be closer to the truth!
    Train her, show her the ropes, have her work out of her house and you can give her a reference in due time. Plenty of hosts hire remote support people. Yes, it's better if they sit in the next room, but that's not always possible. Level 1 techs I feel need more customer friendly skills than advanced technical skills, Tina's correct, you need someone with at least basic knowledge of things and good people skills.
    On a side note, I think what your trying to do for her is fantastic! Seems like she needs a break and your giving her one! Don't give up! Best of luck and let us know how things work out!
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  14. #14
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Posts
    300
    Thanks guys, I appreciate your ongoing input and
    encouragement.

    On one hand, it's discouraging to realize how much she
    really needs to learn to work at a regular web host,
    even as an entry level support person.

    On the other hand, this discussion is encouraging me in
    pursuing what I'm working on. And after months of
    endless coding, I can use the encouragement.

    Briefly, I'm creating a web interface clients use
    to create their web sites on my server. The goal is
    that someone whose tech skill is limited to surfing
    the web should be able to create a site with
    dozens/hundreds of pages on their first day.

    I could train any intelligent motivated person to do
    support in my system in a couple of days, or maybe a
    week at most. My main question is, can I trust this
    person with my clients? You know, attitude is
    the issue, more than technical skill.

    What makes a site successful usually? Quality and
    quanity of content and incoming links.

    If this is what will usually determine whether a client
    succeeds, and thus remain our client, is this what we
    should focus on supporting?

    I wonder whether the feature rat race has distracted
    both hosts and site owners from what makes most
    successful sites work?

    You've seen it, you know what I mean. The site owner
    _agonizes_ for months over appearances and gizmos, but
    then never gets around to promoting the site. Result,
    pretty site, that nobody sees. Been there, done that. More
    than once! :-)

    Anyway, I'm getting way off my own topic. But I couldn't
    help but wonder as I read what an entry level support
    person needs to know...

    Is all this tech really necessary? At what point
    does technology stop being helpful and start being
    a big distraction?

    Thanks again for the discussion.
    Last edited by Nature-Talk; 09-26-2006 at 08:39 AM.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Location
    West Michigan, USA
    Posts
    9,675
    Quote Originally Posted by Lightwave
    As mentioned... what she should know will depend on what each employer supports.

    There's obvious "technologies" that she should be familiar with and beable to explain the client/server processes; such as any major issues dealing with: FTP, POP3, SMTP, HTTP, UNIX navigation, and basic networking.

    FTP:
    Clients like the IE GUI, WS-FTP.
    POP3/SMTP:
    Clients like Thunderbird, Eudora, Outlook/Express.
    HTTP:
    Understanding basic HTML writing.
    UNIX navigation:
    Understand the contents of a book like "Linux for Dummies".
    Basic networking:
    Tools like whois, nslookup, dig, traceroute, and ping.

    Once she understands those common issues... I'd have her delve further into understanding MySQL, PERL, and PHP issues.

    In places I've worked... I'd say the majority of the webhosting support calls taken have been regarding problems configuring an email client.

    How easy the job will be will depend a lot on how much documentation the employer provides. In most cases, the customer asking for support won't be asking for something original... ie, you can quickly come up with a group of customized cut-n-paste knowledgebase type answers.
    Good post, but I disagree with some of your list. An entry level tech shouldn't need to know "Linux for Dummies" - I don't, and I answer helpdesk tickets all day long. "whois, nslookup, dig, traceroute, and ping" can all be found at places like dnsstuff.com and samspade.org - no networking skills needed there.

    I also believe that website development issues (html, php, mysql, etc.) are not covered under technical support. Technical support should cover questions/answers relating to the hosting account only and first level techs shouldn't be logging into the server as root or doing admin work at all.

    --Tina
    ||| 99.999% Uptime SLA!!!
    Plenty of space and bandwidth to fit your needs!
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  16. #16
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Posts
    300
    Quote Originally Posted by AH-Tina
    Technical support should cover questions/answers relating to the hosting account only
    Yes, what do you guys cover with your support? And how do you explain what is included, and what is not? I'm obsessed with support questions, as it seems like the main cost I have to manage.

    I hope to:

    1) limit tech support to the operation of our web interface (all site building is done through this interface)

    2) document everything extensively, both within the interface, and in a seperate support site.

    3) Answer most questions by either pointing to the page on support site that explains the answer, or by creating a new page on support site that explains the answer.

    In other words, make our support site really good, and gently train clients to use it.

    4) Offer extra support services at cost or modest profit.

    5) Pay support team by the client, thus investing them in both efficiency, and the growth of the company.

    6) Try to resist the urge to create too many features that don't really serve the success of the client's site that much, but have to be supported anyway.

    As an interface designer, view each support request as a little failure. How can I make the interface simpler, clearer?

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