This post has been adapted from our white paper “The challenges of supporting web hosting customers”. You can find more web hosting white papers here.

Given the diverse nature of websites and the mixed skill-sets of the people that run them, supporting web hosting customers is often perceived as being too time consuming or difficult to be worthwhile. Even the most technically knowledgeable customer will eventually raise a support query, and it is important that the web hosting company is on-hand to deal with it.

Whilst large web hosting companies such as ourselves have the resources to deal with these queries with dedicated customer support teams and system administrators, potential web hosting resellers worry they will find themselves overwhelmed by the volume and complexity of support questions. If the reseller is a small or home office organisation, there is a limit to how many queries can be dealt with at once, leading to frustration from the customer at being kept waiting. This is even more frustrating for the customer if the issue is a simple question or an easy fix for the service provider.

In this post I will go through the challenges of supporting web hosting customers and how you can overcome them surprisingly easily.

How do customers want to be supported?

Perversely, although many people think telephone support is superior, research shows that it often leads to customer dissatisfaction. A customer service survey by Econsultancy found that nearly half of UK consumers said that call centres were the most frustrating service channel, with the biggest annoyances including call queues, automated telephony and the charges that mount up with continued contact. This leads to the question, how should you offer support if not by phone?

Another factor to consider when providing support is when to offer it. Website and system errors are likely to occur at any time during the day or night and customers will grow frustrated if questions are not answered because their provider is out of office. These customers are likely to leave negative comments and reviews, say damaging things on social media, or become difficult to deal with via the phone or email as they are unwilling to co-operate. All these things can be detrimental to a business’ reputation, research by Reevoo in 2012 found that 88% of consumers consulted online reviews before making a purchase decision.

Feeling obligated to work longer hours to prevent customer frustration results in the reseller being unable to take time off to relax or go on holiday, or simply unable to provide the kind of support they want to.

This doesn’t have to be the case, and in the next section I’ll explain how you can avoid this from ever happening.

Providing the right kind of support

Having seen how telephone support and call centres can lead to mass frustration for customers waiting in queues, the alternative is to offer an text based solution, where customers can raise support queries electronically and wait for a response. Econsultancy’s survey on customer service tells us that telephone is the preferred method of contact for just 1 in 3 consumers, meaning that two thirds prefer other forms of contact with their service provider.

Implementing an electronic system for support queries allows you to deal with more than one customer at a time as different issues can be looked at simultaneously, increasing productivity as well as customer satisfaction.

With a system such as this, you can still choose the hours when support is available and advise your customers accordingly in the same way a call centre would. This approach allows you to deal with as many support queries as possible but sets clear boundaries as to when they are available for support.

Empowerment though knowledge

Another resource that eases the flow of support questions is referring customers to a system status page. This is a web page that tells customers if there is any planned maintenance or any problems or errors with the system.

Letting customers know that the web host is aware of problems and that they are being worked on can reassure the customer that the system is being monitored and controlled, and stops them from raising questions about why their website is experiencing difficulties or downtime. The status page is also useful to inform customers when you are out of office or outside of your support times.

Additionally, by giving customers access to the information they need through in-depth support articles you will drastically reduce support queries. For example, our reseller hosting package comes with a full white-label support database that resellers can offer their customers access to via their eXtend web hosting control panel. This is exactly the same database we offer our own hosting customers and it has a huge impact on reducing support queries.

Summary

Website owners become frustrated when they encounter problems or experience downtime. These customers become even more frustrated when their support queries are not dealt with quickly. Frustrated customers develop a negative impression of the reseller, driving the customer to potentially damage the reputation of the reseller through negative online reviews and forums.

Traditional telephone support can slow down the response rates to support queries as only one query can be dealt with at a time. Nearly half of UK consumers said that call centres are the most frustrating service channel as they are forced to deal with queues, automated messages and the charges for calling (source: Econsultancy).

Your choice of reseller web hosting package directly affects the quality of support that they can offer to their customers as certain resources can be relied upon to enhance the reseller’s customer support platform.

The best reseller web hosting packages are those which offer white-label features that allow resellers to customise and brand resources as their own. Our Reseller Pro package has been created to offer as many white-label features as possible, with resellers able to make use of and customise our ticket system. This email based resource enables resellers to deal with more than one query at a time as multiple messages can be opened simultaneously.

This post has been adapted from our white paper “The challenges of supporting web hosting customers”. You can find more web hosting white papers here.

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  • Ian Sheppard

    02/03/2014

    I think one thing that gets forgotten about telephone support is that it is of no use whatsoever to those with hearing loss. We are constantly told by the media that the number of elderly people in the population is increasing all the time, so by definition the number of people with hearing loss must be increasing, must it not ?

    The absolute worst type of telephone “support” (I speak from experience) is the call centre in India, as used by BT. In my opinion this is just another way of saying, “we do not intend to give you any meaningful support whatsoever”.

    So far, the support provided by Heart Internet to me, an 80 year old, has been excellent and I thank them for it.

     
  • Robert Mathers

    03/03/2014

    Hi Ian,

    We definitely agree that ticket support is the best way to go and we’re really glad we’ve been able to provide you with such great support.

    Cheers,

    Rob

     

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