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  1. #1

    how do you set up your hosting biz to provide great tech support?

    at an affordable cost?

    we are working on some internal systems and want to know what support models hosts use to support their clients, keep them happy, and at an affordable level.

    some hosts have amazing support and how others (charging the same price or more for service) have inferior support.

    i think support is very important to clients and would like to find a model that provides excellent support at reasonable costs

    any ideas/imput would be appreciated

  2. #2
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    I think providing good support is pretty much just common sense. Keep your cool and treat the customer the same way you expect to be treated.

    By support models I guess you mean the support infrastructure for delivering support? You don't need anything fancy. Keep it streamlined and keep it simple..
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  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by IH-Rameen View Post
    I think providing good support is pretty much just common sense. Keep your cool and treat the customer the same way you expect to be treated.

    By support models I guess you mean the support infrastructure for delivering support? You don't need anything fancy. Keep it streamlined and keep it simple..
    here is what im referring to

    lets say you have a hosting company where you want 99% of your responses answered (or completed) in 20 min or less and you have 400 clients (or servers), and your support department runs 24/7 and offers telephone and email support.

    you need at least 1+ warm body on shift at all times, so lets say you need at least 5 tech support staff minimum just to cover the hours, plus 1 manager. and then additional staff for scalability during times when you likely need more than 1 support person, (other than midnight shift)

    im trying to figure that model out

  4. #4
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    You just did?
    Cody McLain
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  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by ZinkHosting View Post
    You just did?
    ha, im guessing actually. wanted somebody with experience to discuss it in some detail, especially the part where the clients are very impressed with the level of suppor, not just adequate

  6. #6
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    I think it depends on your budget. I believe there are some excellent out-source companies that handle this, depending on your volume.

    Are you trying to "figure out" if a certain model works? or "i want the best possible for the least possible money?"


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  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by maknet View Post
    I think it depends on your budget. I believe there are some excellent out-source companies that handle this, depending on your volume.

    Are you trying to "figure out" if a certain model works? or "i want the best possible for the least possible money?"


    Lawrence
    good question, i want to figure out the model that gives exemplary support (ie responses within 20 min, problems solved in reasonable times, and good explainations from techs that care and communications get sampled and reviewed for quality control)

    without the cost of providing the above resulting in making us lose money in business

  8. #8
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    Pay your employees $40,000+ per year and that will be a good start. Works for us.

    - John C.

  9. #9
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    We always try to exceed our customers' expectations. We also are ALWAYS honest with our clients. If we need to investigate something, we tell them and either give them an estimate or a time we'll check back with them during the process. If we don't know the answer, we're honest and tell them and tell them we will find out for them. We're proactive when we see an issue, sending out alerts either by email, on our announcement page, or on our forums. And we strive to answer all tickets within 30 minutes with a human response. We don't count the autoresponse given by our support system. Also, we NEVER use canned responses and we always give the answer to the client FIRST and then kindly point them to the KB or tutorial, or website, where they can read more information. There is nothing worse than someone answering a question with a link and nothing more, or making a client feel like they're being bothersome because they didn't check the kb first.

    We're no experts, but these are the things that we do and if you were to ask our clients, they would rate our customer service and support very high.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnCrowley View Post
    Pay your employees $40,000+ per year and that will be a good start. Works for us.

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  11. #11
    Thanks Scott, I'm interested in this info too.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by edmond dantes View Post
    good question, i want to figure out the model that gives exemplary support (ie responses within 20 min, problems solved in reasonable times, and good explainations from techs that care and communications get sampled and reviewed for quality control)

    without the cost of providing the above resulting in making us lose money in business
    I still think it depends on your budget. Ie, the stage of growth your business is in.

    0 vs. 1 vs. 5 vs. 10 employees have different requirements.


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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by powerMonster-Scott View Post
    There is nothing worse than someone answering a question with a link and nothing more, or making a client feel like they're being bothersome because they didn't check the kb first.
    Hear, Hear!

    I especially hate that for the larger tech companies. (registrars and the like)

    Mostly because the brain-dead tech problems i can handle myself. It is the complex problems i need help with. Sometimes it just seems like the Indian data centre just quickly scans for keywords and then posts a crappy, unrelated link.


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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by maknet View Post
    I still think it depends on your budget. Ie, the stage of growth your business is in.
    0 vs. 1 vs. 5 vs. 10 employees have different requirements.
    Exactly. If you don't have the budget or a group of co-founders then your own passion has to fill in the blanks for a while.

    It's easy to come up with a theoretical solution to providing great support by having people distributed throughout multiple timezones. Then you'll run into the issue where somebody is ill or wants to take a vacation, so you'll need standby people or someone working a double shift.

    If you're just starting out, that's going to be cost prohibitive. Make yourself as available as possible, to the degree your time and profit can afford, but don't promise what you can't deliver on. Work toward 20 minute replies and 24 hour support.

    Offer a way people can get in touch with you for actual emergencies, or set up a routing rule in your helpdesk to send you an SMS. Just make sure you're filtering mail before it lands in your '911' mailbox or you'll stop taking those notifications seriously when they pull you out of bed at 3am.

    That's also part of the reason we host our live help as a group chat rather than 1-on-1. In the occasions where we're not around, it's fairly common for our community to start helping each other. It's similar to the effect you get with forums. It works for the general questions and troubleshooting that don't require sysadmin access to the servers.
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by maknet View Post
    Sometimes it just seems like the Indian data centre just quickly scans for keywords and then posts a crappy, unrelated link.
    That's really the problem, right -- if it's an unrelated link?

    I'll send people a link to the blog, forums, wiki, Twitter, YouTube tutorial video, bug tracking, wishlist, or whatever. Most of the time people are happy to discover more resources are available. I still address them by name while pointing them in the right direction.

    Sure, you can't expect people to check every self-help resource before writing in. Sometimes you just have to be a concierge.

    I still think it's important to have great resources that you can send people to with a link. Over here we have a habit of creating a reusable resource (like a blog post or wiki article) after we hear the same question 2-3 times.

    I agree you have to be tactful about it. You can't just send a link without understanding what someone is asking and pointing them at the best resource.

    Your bad experiences were probably with lazy techs just padding their average response time and daily number of replies. It's probably worth mentioning there, in aiming to provide great service, that putting metrics like that on too high of a pedestal will probably reduce the quality of your support. Techs will naturally try to make the metrics happy more than your clients happy.
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  16. #16
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    Edmond, 24/7 support scheme with 20-minute response time will require lots of human resources and thus high cost. You will need at least 2 engineers for one shift (to cover all requests in timely manner) - these people will address customers' queries, also you will need people to set up accounts, make updates, maintain technical part of servers. As for telephone support - will the same engineers work on the phone?

    So, engineers working with servers will have regular working day, also there would be day, evening and night shifts for engineers working with customers. People working night shifts will have longer week-ends. So you will need to think over the schedule thoroughly and make sure there are enough human resources involved.

    Have you considered the idea when most of engineers work regular working hours while there is one engineer at night who deals with urgent issues? Also when there is critical situation with servers it is possible to inform administrators on-line (sms, phone call, etc). I think most issues can wait for 12 hours, what do you think?

    I would not like to talk you off 24/7 support scheme however it needs to be thought-out system to make sure your customers are satisfied and employees are contented also.

  17. #17
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    If you are just starting out you should consider outsourcing your support to a reputable firm so they can take care of this while you focus on business development.

  18. #18
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    Hi,

    Your simply asking too much.

    Choose two: Quality, fast, and cheap.

    I've worked tech support for hosting for the last three years and none of the companies had/have what I would consider good support.

    Having quality people requires lots of money. Having enough quality people to cover tickets fast enough requires lots more money.

    I've looked into outsourcing support and I wasn't very impressed with the quality of the the sales staff at the places I made inquiries. YRMV.
    Common sense is not so common.

  19. #19
    The Quality support you are looking for will costs you large enough if you are handeling out yourself. providing a Answer in 20 Mins will need high man count. suppose you hire 12 People around the world, in different time zones (which suits them) then each one will have to work 24/12 = 2 Hours each, 7 Days a week. now when you come to the point that you have 500 Clients then One Single person cannot Support then (If you are talking Quality) so you need more people to respond to clients else the client would just see "You are in a Queue" (I have been in this situation and Hate this ). this gives a very Bad impression.

    so If you are to give Quality and Impression then suppose if 1 techie sees to 10 Clients, then you will need 50 techies. One way is you increase the Hours Per Day, other is Hire More.

    Now All this is said keeping in View 500 Clients, Quality and Impression (Forget the Cheap, Quality and Cheap dont go together)
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  20. #20
    Greetings:

    Please define what is affordable to you in dollars or euros.

    Please define the range of client numbers (i.e. 10 clients, 100 clients, etc.).

    Please define what you mean by happy clients (i.e. on a scale of 1 to 10, happy is a 10 or happy is a 7 to 10)?

    Thank you.


    Quote Originally Posted by edmond dantes View Post
    at an affordable cost?

    we are working on some internal systems and want to know what support models hosts use to support their clients, keep them happy, and at an affordable level.

    some hosts have amazing support and how others (charging the same price or more for service) have inferior support.

    i think support is very important to clients and would like to find a model that provides excellent support at reasonable costs

    any ideas/imput would be appreciated
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  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by IH-Rameen View Post
    I think providing good support is pretty much just common sense. Keep your cool and treat the customer the same way you expect to be treated.

    By support models I guess you mean the support infrastructure for delivering support? You don't need anything fancy. Keep it streamlined and keep it simple..
    I second this. You dont need anything fancy at all. My more technical, no pun intended, you get. The more distant you can get from the person who signs your check (the customer). I believe in the personal touch and approach. they need to know you truly do value your business.

  22. #22
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    I find that providing Live Support on a website can really help it cuts out the huge gap in between replies such as in tickets.
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  23. #23
    Ey mate. Have a look around HG. Best support i've ever had from a hosting company. You should be able to work out how they do it after a bit of "investigating" BOL.

  24. #24
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    Edmond, keep us informed about the scheme you finally choose.
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  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by jstanden View Post
    That's also part of the reason we host our live help as a group chat rather than 1-on-1. In the occasions where we're not around, it's fairly common for our community to start helping each other. It's similar to the effect you get with forums. It works for the general questions and troubleshooting that don't require sysadmin access to the servers.
    some excellent advice here mate

  26. #26
    Normally a 1 well experienced Level-3 Tech can take care of about 3000-5000 clients and provide Live Chat/Help Desk Support simultaneously and provide 10-20 min response time without any problems. However in order to do this, servers must be very well managed and certain things should be done to reduce the number of tickets per server.
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  27. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by SkyNetHosting View Post
    Normally a 1 well experienced Level-3 Tech can take care of about 3000-5000 clients and provide Live Chat/Help Desk Support simultaneously and provide 10-20 min response time without any problems. However in order to do this, servers must be very well managed and certain things should be done to reduce the number of tickets per server.
    what could you do to reduce the tickets per server? adding a knowledgebase for instance, you mean?

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by edmond dantes View Post
    what could you do to reduce the tickets per server? adding a knowledgebase for instance, you mean?
    Sure: self-help resources (wiki, knowledgebase, FAQ, forums); a resource-wide search on your website; video tutorials; a blog that regularly covers the most popular issues.

    Many people are always going to write in anyway, no matter how many resources you have. Part of your innovation needs to be making it faster and easier for tech support workers to act like concierges.
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  29. #29
    I agree pay your reps and make sure they have access. Your level 1 rep needs to be able to get to a level 3 rep at all times. Hiring a bunch of teanagers for level 1 is ok (pay them good and check references) But have someone knowlegeable with access to the physical server available at all times. I've been with many hosts GeekRack included and the main problem was the level 1 techs were always there but could never find a level 3 when needed.
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  30. #30
    I think you need to grow with your client base. When you only have a few customers it is easy to be able to peovide support by yourself or with a partner but as your clientbase grows it is hard to provide that same support. As your clientbase grows you need to hire more people or outsource your support

  31. #31
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    Presence of information on the website is important: knowledge base, manuals, FAQs, however from our experience you always will have customers who will ask the questions and who will need fast reply. What is more, there are requests that require investigation that needs to be done by engineers.

    Edmond, i would like to pay attention to the following point - no matter what scheme you will use, your customers should have a feeling that their problems are important for you, that their requests are being worked at.
    How you achieve that - by sending notifications to customers about expected response time or by other means, customers should trust you and the company.
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  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by XCart View Post
    Presence of information on the website is important: knowledge base, manuals, FAQs, however from our experience you always will have customers who will ask the questions and who will need fast reply. What is more, there are requests that require investigation that needs to be done by engineers.

    Edmond, i would like to pay attention to the following point - no matter what scheme you will use, your customers should have a feeling that their problems are important for you, that their requests are being worked at.
    How you achieve that - by sending notifications to customers about expected response time or by other means, customers should trust you and the company.
    Sorry for offtopic:
    I agree, but there are some clients which are so quiet and peaceful. They never ask any questions and our support write them letters to know how are they, are there problems, etc. And шт some days they ask moneyback. And as reasons they point mythic problems.
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  33. #33
    Quote Originally Posted by XCart View Post
    Edmond, i would like to pay attention to the following point - no matter what scheme you will use, your customers should have a feeling that their problems are important for you, that their requests are being worked at.
    How you achieve that - by sending notifications to customers about expected response time or by other means, customers should trust you and the company.
    great point and well said

  34. #34
    i think the model of having at least 1 high level tech on duty at all times and as many less trained techs as need should work. with somebody fanatical managing them

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by edmond dantes View Post
    with somebody fanatical managing them
    Exactly :-)

    At least from the beginning management is a critical point. Also, it would be perfect if everyone in the team would really like to help customers, not just work in the company.
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  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hosting Planet View Post
    Sorry for offtopic:
    I agree, but there are some clients which are so quiet and peaceful. They never ask any questions and our support write them letters to know how are they, are there problems, etc. And in some days they ask moneyback. And as reasons they point mythic problems.
    That happens I believe. However i hope amount of such customers in not large. Also, you should have some moneyback policy that clearly states when customers can get refund.
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  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by XCart View Post
    Exactly :-)

    At least from the beginning management is a critical point. Also, it would be perfect if everyone in the team would really like to help customers, not just work in the company.
    What are you saying?

    You wish you had (support) staff that had a lot of common sense, could fix problems easily, care about your company, but not require that much money?

    Is that really what you're saying?

    Might as well put in "excellent at doing my taxes" in there too.. while we're at it..


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  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by maknet View Post
    What are you saying?

    You wish you had (support) staff that had a lot of common sense, could fix problems easily, care about your company, but not require that much money?

    Lawrence
    No, that is not my idea, i meant attitude towards customers and their problems. Sure, qualified and experienced engineers will require and will get good salary.

    I mean special atmosphere in the team when each engineer understands that customers ARE important and treats them accordingly. I know that such scheme is possible, and customers feel and appreciate that.

    I hope my explanation makes sense to you.

    PS. Just came to the mind: schoolchildren take psychological tests that point the best profession - and as a result there is always a group of responsive people who get advice to work in support departments :-)
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  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by XCart View Post
    I mean special atmosphere in the team when each engineer understands that customers ARE important and treats them accordingly. I know that such scheme is possible, and customers feel and appreciate that.
    I'm not totally convinced.

    As a biz prof told me once, "no one cares like you care" and it has been re-iterated many times by many other authors / entrepreneurs i respect.

    They can be diligent and do the work, and you can even instill a "can-do" attitude in the culture, but in the end, no one cares, like you care..


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  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by maknet View Post
    I'm not totally convinced.

    As a biz prof told me once, "no one cares like you care" and it has been re-iterated many times by many other authors / entrepreneurs i respect.

    They can be diligent and do the work, and you can even instill a "can-do" attitude in the culture, but in the end, no one cares, like you care..


    Lawrence
    Lawrence, i would agree with you (unfortunately), in most cases there is one person who inspires other people in the team (the head of department usually or some outstanding engineer probably).

    However sometimes one such person can inspire the whole team I believe.
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