Goog Web Hosting, No Phone Support?

September 29, 2008

I can not imagine that any good web hosting company does not provide phone support to its customers. Taking phone calls is important because any client might need a to discuss a number of things with its provider – from technical support and service customization to upgrade to higher class web hosting solution. Having someone on the other side of the line is a proof of reliability and physical presence. This should mean that a phone support is a part of any quality web hosting service. But there are good web hosts that neither provide phone support, nor list their phone numbers or physical locations on their websites. who do they make it?

The most important thing that web hosts who do not provide phone support do is to respond promptly to support tickets. Any hosting company that can not be reached by the phone must respond within no more than 30 minutes after its customers send email or submit support tickets to its support system. This model works and many people prefer to submit support tickets instead of dialing phone numbers.

“Honestly, for me as long as the Online support (either via e-mail, a help desk system or both) is great I could live without the ability to dial them up to make the same complaint.  Chances are your not going to get a quick fix for your complicated issues over the phone any ways.  What will the phone tech representative do?  They will put in a ticket for you.”, says my friend Mitch Keeler in its The Web Hosting Show, a website which at some point moved on YouTube.

ServiceUntitled.com blog quotes Sarah from the Chicago-based software company 37signals and writes that unders her opinion “phone support is essentially a waste of time”. The blog’s owner is a popular author in the field of customer care and customer support operations.

“If you pride yourself on quality service at an affordable price, then you most likely get away with providing support over mediums like email and live chat exclusively. However, if you are a premium provider and you are in a business where the low end companies offer phone support, it should be something you do as well”, says Doug Hanna, the owner of Service Untitled.

Doug suggests any online service provider to ask itself a few questions:

  • Does the business model call for it?
  • Are you having trouble resolving issues over email or live chat?
  • What are your customers’ expectations?
  • Can your company offer it?

The whole article is here – “To Offer Phone Support or Not“.

Phone Support – “Yes” or “No”?

I know that business advisers always calculate costs and suggests companies to save every cent they can. But cutting costs is not what makes any business sustainable.

So if a web hosting company offers standardized service (let’s say low cost cPanel hosting) it has to provide a comprehensive help desk service and its support operators have to respond promptly on support tickets. Such a web host does not need to provide phone support, because its service does allow any level of customization. So customers can contact its provider on various questions by support tickets.

Companies that however provide a high class business hosting service can not afford cut phone support only to save money. They must take phone calls to better communicate with customers and to discuss their projects.

I know that there are some web hosts that are good enough to provide good support without taking phone calls. One of them is ICDSoft. This company is well-known with its fast responsive customers support. Yahoo Small Business claims to provide “unlimited” disc space and data transfer, but does not provide phone support, or at least gives its best to make customers to submit support tickets. There are a few more web hosts ranked among top 20 on search term “web hosting” in Google that do not provide phone support.

There is only one good reason to force customers to submit support tickets. Tickets provide a record of the communication between any of them and support operators. This record can be used for various purposes – from quality assurance to a knowledge base for wikis and training purposes.

I always advice my clients to consider providing at least two different methods of customer support – usually to take phone calls and to respond to suppor tickets. Live chat and real time messaging through Skype, MSN, ICQ and other messengers work when a web host wants to keep a good communication with customers. But live messaging does not provide a history of the communication and the web host’s employees  and customers.

What’s the best solution?

To enable customers to manage their accounts and to contact web host’s support through a integrated web interface. Every company has different business model, so the best it can do is to create an online cusomer center that best serves its clients. The main advantage of system like this is that content, e-commerce side, help desk and all other parts of any website are easy accessible for customers. Every of them can log in into an online customer service center using a single username and password and then to use all services without wasting time to open and close new pages and to browse the provider’s website.

A good example for customer support system like this is the new website that the Web Hosting Provider HC has recently launched. Another company that maintains an online customer center for at least 4 yeas is GoDaddy. Lunarpages also offers login area to earch customers.