The hosting service you use is crucial to the success of your web project. In a hosting you should not only check the technical requirements that can guarantee your website the best performance but do more.
One of the most important aspects of hosting is customer support. Support, while so important tends to be the most underrated aspect of all.
Let's start with the assumption that ideally if you choose your hosting carefully you will never need to contact support. But this only happens if there is a support service behind it that can guarantee you a proactive monitoring of the situation and a quick solution to doubts or problems you may encounter on the site.
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The need for proactive monitoring
Having a proactive and constant monitoring of the hosting allows the system admin to solve problems even before they arise, avoiding, among other things, that you can suddenly find yourself with the site down. This way of acting goes well beyond the timeliness of the interventions, because keeping the systems under control constantly can act in advance on possible malfunctions.
In this way, monitoring can be used to prevent disruptions. But of course, you can't completely eliminate the unexpected. It is possible to prevent problems with a good monitoring system, and in some cases solve them even before the customer contacts the provider.
For this reason, if malfunctions should occur or if you have doubts to resolve, the customer assistance must be able to guarantee you a quick and efficient support.
Why is customer support so important?
In any case even though the servers are constantly monitored, customer support should always be available. There are several situations that make it necessary to contact support.
If you are concerned that your site has been targeted by hackers you can contact support to check the security status of your site. If you have trouble accessing your email inbox, you can request a reset.
In other cases, you may need to request additional services or need a consultation.
Then there are also other tasks you may need to do in site management. You can usually retrieve site backups on your own, but if you need to, you may want to enlist support to do so.
As you can see, the cases in which you may need to request support are not few. But what qualities should a proper support service have?
There are two key characteristics: timing and problem-solving skills. However, there are also other aspects that come into play, let's see what are the most important points to consider one by one.
Customer support always available
Problems and complications have no hours or holidays, which is why it is important to always be able to count on the availability of customer support.
A professional hosting service must have a support service 24 hours a day and even on holidays. You certainly can't expect the problem with your site to last for a whole day, or even for several days.
Fixing problems as quickly as possible is really important if you don't want to impact inbound traffic to your site, lead generation and the sales themselves. Keep in mind that the inconvenience generated by a problem that goes on for a long time can have a negative impact both on your company's image and in economic terms.
That's why you should focus on those services that offer quick response times and ever-present support.
In order to ensure a timely response to all customers, there must be a structured support service.
Imagine what would happen if customer support was entrusted to a single person, the classic one man company. It could never be able to respond quickly to everyone and most importantly it would only have to keep support available for a few hours of the day. What if something happens when this person isn't active?
This is one of the reasons why we always advise against relying on those companies that are run by one single person.
Competent customer support
Timing is just one of the aspects to consider. You can't be satisfied with a response given quickly if it's just a vague, pre-set response.
What you need is a constructive solution to your problem, so support must either resolve the technical issues which are their responsibility or guide you step by step through the resolution. This is why the expertise of technical support is crucial for the answers that are provided to be comprehensive.
Type of assistance provided
The type of support provided is also important, for example, there are cases where telephone support is not provided. Sometimes telephone support is not necessary, and troubleshooting is handled more effectively via tickets.
In rare cases, however, verbal communication helps to resolve problems more quickly and thoroughly. In these cases we allow the booking of a callback. For emergencies the best way to contact us is the ticket, we have very low response times, often we answer and solve in a few minutes.
When considering customer service, language is also an important factor. If you have a problem you will need to communicate with the customer support service as quickly and clearly as possible. If you have difficulty with the language and the support is only in English the situation will become more difficult than it already is.
This is something to take into consideration when you are in the process of choosing a hosting. In most cases you might, therefore, prefer those who offer support in Italian, so as to avoid any problems during communication.
The case of the one man company
A client of ours had a site with a one man company, a friend who kept and managed his server.
At some point there is a problem with the MySQL server, which does not restart itself and the site gives an error connecting to the database, since it was not reachable.
The customer contacts his friend who manages the server, but due to his other commitments he doesn't respond quickly, and has no way to resolve.
The client contacts us to transfer the website from that server to ours, and asks us to do so as soon as possible to get the website up and running again.
Here are some issues:
- If MySQL is down we cannot download a copy of the database
- If we don't have root access to the server we can't check and fix it (which we could have done for a client in trouble even if it wasn't our server)
- The domain takes 5 days to transfer. The customer did not have access to the domain control panel, so they could not change the pointing before starting the transfer. This results in a 5-day downtime if the old provider does not restart MySQL.
As soon as we saw the seriousness of the situation we called the client to see what could be done. In fact, many of the points above were clarified over the phone.
The customer is also a customer of wp-ok a partner of ours which among other services offers a backup service.
We were provided with the latest database backup,uploaded it to the newly created account and activated MySQL. We configured WordPress to use our database and the site was back online in minutes.
At that point we started the domain transfer of the site.
5 days later, the customer had the site from us, and the problem was solved, bypassing the (absent) support from the one man company.
Proactive support: DDoS attack
Another case study demonstrates how important it is to rely on a provider who can offer proactive support.
Proactive support means keeping under control, all the services of a server in a constant way or at regular intervals in order to prevent possible problems or solve them in a very short time.
The client in this case study has VPS cloud hosting service on which it hosts an "inconvenient" site that gives information to consumers on how to defend themselves from the most common "shenanigans" of large companies (those small print notes that no one reads and that often give consumers unpleasant surprises).
This client suffers an DDoS attack, of a magnitude that would bring down the server if left unchecked.
Our proactive support is based on zabbix and grafana, as well as the emails the server sends us in case of problems. We also use uptime robots to get an additional alert on the status of our servers.
We are alerted to an excessive load on the customer's machine, and we set to work to mitigate the attack, using CloudFlare among other things.
Once the attack is mitigated we open a ticket to let the customer know what happened and what we did to fix it, with no damage done.
As you will have understood from reading this article,The importance of good hosting support, being able to count on an efficient customer support provided by your hosting service is fundamental in order to promptly face any problem.
If your website goes offline or has problems, it can result in image damage and financial losses. That's why you should always aim for a top-notch support service that limits problems with proactive support and knows how to help you when you need it, without making you wait for days on end.
What elements do you think are essential for good hosting support? Let me know in the comments below.