A decade back, 24/7 hosting support was considered a premium service offered by large web hosts. Not anymore. Now almost everyone seems to offer 24/7 hosting support.
How can you stand out from the crowd?
Maintaining 24/7 hosting support can be costly, AND it can be a huge drain on management time. That is why many companies cut corners and provide only email support, or use cheap support to keep costs down.
But this often creates more problems that it solves.
We've all heard of after hours support disasters where staff reacted slow to emergency requests (like server crash), or support calls getting messed up due to poor staff competence.
There's a way to avoid all that and provide high quality 24/7 hosting support. And no, it doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. This post is about that.
Here at Ibmi Media, we help web hosts and web designers maintain 24/7 tech support over Phone, Live Chat and Email. We've been doing this for a very long time, and here is what we've learned about delivering 24/7 hosting support the right way.
Emergency help is best delivered over phone
When services don’t work, people usually assume the worst. We’ve handled support calls where a simple domain name expiry led customers to believe their site was hacked and their data was stolen.
These situations are best handled over phone, because:
i. Human factor – Talking to a living, breathing person is any day better than an impersonal email. During emergencies, customers need reassurance, and a human voice is the best way to deliver it.
ii. The interaction happens in real time : Unlike mail communication, the customer knows that someone is looking into the issue RIGHT NOW. That someone is accountable at that moment.
iii. Helps quick & accurate issue troubleshooting – Upset customers tend to leave out critical information. On phone, the techs can ask precise questions to quickly find out what’s going wrong.
iv. Assess customer satisfaction – It is important to de-escalate a situation before signing off from a support interaction. On phone, it is easier to understand if a customer is happy with the resolution, and if not, more actions can be initiated to make the customer happy.
While some customers don’t mind sending in a mail during emergencies, a vast majority of users would pay a slightly higher price to be able to call their company if they have an emergency.
If used right, this can be a powerful marketing edge. Such high level of personalized support can put your company in the premium league while keeping the price comparable to your competitors.
Phone is ideal for initial service setup
Even with all the advances in hosting technology, the average web site owner remains clueless about the inner workings of servers and PCs.
So, many customers would prefer to be with a hosting provider that helps them setup things just the way they want.
Now, it is easy to think that people can work with KB articles or videos.
But you must remember that almost all terms in a hosting panel or email client appears alien to them. They’d appreciate the opportunity to ask someone if a particular setting is important to their setup. That is why we recommend web hosts to use phone support for initial hand holding. This works very well when you have customers who are new to hosting technology.
Using phone support is not a replacement to email support. You can still send your customers setup instructions, but the phone channel gives you the ability to make sure that you’ve made a great first impression with your customers by helping them setup within a few hours of placing the order.
One small step like this can go a long way in reducing customer churn, and save hundreds of dollars in marketing.
Small things like cultural identity is important
Sure, everyone understands that it is a global economy and support could be delivered by an external company.
But, it has been our experience that customers are more co-operative when they talk to someone they can identify with. That is why all our phone support operations are based out of Australia, or more specifically, Melbourne, AU.
Share support cost with other companies
Yes, you can share your support cost with other companies. That is how we deliver high quality support at a low price for our customers.
We maintain a support facility in Melbourne, Australia that has highly trained & experienced staff, quality analysts, fault-tolerant communication systems (phone, internet, electricity), and much more.
Yes, it costs a lot, but by using the same facility for all our customers, we drive down the cost per customer.
Also, since our customers subscribe only for the minutes they need (say 10 calls per day), they save hundreds of dollars per month on infrastructure, rent & utility costs that they would have to maintain for a 24 hour support operation.
Some of our customers who tried running their own infrastructure say that switching to our "pay per minute" model has helped them cut down costs by more than 40%.