The way that support is provided to a client can be separated into the speed and ease with which dedicated server queries are detected by the hosting company or reported by the customer; and the speed and ease with which these queries are resolved.
I’ll tackle the point of detection and reporting first. It’s an important point to reiterate at this point – we’re talking about speed AND ease. The faster the query is detected, the faster the resolution can be sought and so any impact will be minimized. The easier it is for a customer to raise a query, the less stressful the episode will be for them. What methods can and should be employed to ensure fast and easy detection? If its speed of detection you’re after, its monitoring you need:
- Service monitoring – by monitoring the main live services on the server, for example HTTP and SQL, you know if you suffer a software issue
- Hardware monitoring – by monitoring RAID arrays and power supplies, for example, you know if you suffer a hardware issue
- Capacity monitoring – by monitoring the usage of various aspects of the server relative to their maximum capability allows you to be warned before capacity is reached, when it is potentially already too late
Ease of reporting is all about making sure information can get to the person that needs it with no interruptions and without undue hassle.
- Make sure you answer the phone quickly and avoid keeping customers on hold or making them choose a series of options in a phone system. Avoiding delays in the customer getting through to an actual person makes the whole process more enjoyable for them.
- Use freephone numbers to ensure situations are not exacerbated by the customer getting irritated by the costs of making the phone call
- Make sure support teams are not outsourced and are always UK based. Engineers dealing with issues need to have all relevant information, be in the same time zone and speak the same language as the customer
Speed of resolution is probably a more laboured argument with hosting companies guaranteeing response time pretty much as standard now. We all know that it’s important to resolve queries and get a customer back online ASAP, so what should we do? It is sensible for dedicated hosting customers to expect a guaranteed speed of response and speed of resolution – the web hosting provider should ensure the customer knows how soon an engineer will be working on the query and how soon there will be a resolution. You also want to make sure the right type of engineers are going to be available at all times – there is no point in having fully qualified dedicated server engineers who only work 9 – 6. They need to be there 24 hours a day because we all know that queries always arise at the most inconvenient times.
Getting it right is not that easy and that’s why the level of support provided by different web hosting companies varies dramatically. However, you will certainly be on the right road if you include the elements I’ve discussed above.