Customer support


What web hosting clients want

When clients and potential clients are looking for good customer support from web hosting providers, they're primarily looking for these features:

  • Convenient access to support when they need it
  • Quick, helpful, and polite responses
  • Proactive support

Types of support

Offering a variety of types of support is good:

Response types

  • Helpdesk / email
  • Phone
  • Live support (live chat)
  • Company forum
  • Instant Messaging (IM)
  • Social network (e.g., Twitter or Facebook)

Resource types

  • Knowledgebase
  • Tutorials
  • Wiki

Customer support and your target market

All of the above are good, but they cost money. 24/7 phone support is probably not in the budget for low-end web hosts. Clients who want more support generally expect to pay more for it.

Every web host should have helpdesk / email support, preferably via a helpdesk. A helpdesk provides a central place for all email support requests and an efficient method for staff to respond to those requests.

Live support has its pros and cons. Many clients like being able to access support instantly, and for some, it's a factor in choosing a web host. However, many issues require tech support to look into the problem and get back to the client. A ticket system allows clients and staff to document everything and helps them use their time more effectively in these situations. Also, live chat can be misused and waste staff time.

Some web hosting companies offer live chat only for sales questions, which can usually be answered instantly.

If you offer live support, post the times when chat is available and for what purposes, and be sure to have chat staffed during those times.

Web hosting company forums allow clients to help each other and provide opportunities for positive interaction between staff and clients. However, they require a lot of time, clients sometimes use them to post complaints, and if not enough of your clients post in it, it can look dead and create a bad impression of your company.

A knowledgebase and tutorials are cost-effective no matter who your target market is. When clients can look up information and find answers to questions themselves, they contact support less often, and they're happy that they could quickly find the answers they needed.

Access to support

Ideally, have at least one of the response types of support available at all times. If some of them are available only during certain hours, specify those hours at your website. Also indicate if account setup and billing support are available all the time or just during business hours, for example.

Responses to support requests

  • Be fast. Respond and fix as quickly as you can.
  • Be informed. Know what you're talking about. Make sure that your staff does too and that they know when to escalate problems.
  • Be informative. Explain why a particular problem happened, what you're doing to fix it (if it's your problem to fix), and when you expect it to be solved.
  • Be polite. Politeness goes a long way, especially when clients are unhappy.

Proactive support

  • Ongoing maintenance helps prevent problems from happening.
  • Advance notice of scheduled maintenance that will take servers offline even for a few minutes shows consideration for clients.
  • New features and offerings show continued interest in meeting your clients' needs.

See also

Web Hosting Wiki article text shared under a Creative Commons License.

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