Leaner Technical Support for Web Hosts – How you can save costs in a bad economy
There seems to be no end to the bad news trickling in. From Wall street bailouts, Home foreclosures, poor spending by consumers during the holiday season and now – the downturn in the auto industry. The poor economy seems to have touched everyone, Web Hosts included.
Besides dealing with poor sales, Web Hosts are also hit with reduced monthly income from customers who decide to either downgrade their plans or cut spending on extra features. Web Hostng is a recurring income business. When a customer leaves, the impact is felt on the monthly income immediately.
What can Web Hosts do in such a scenario? Most web hosts look for various ways to reduce cost. And Tech support operations seem to be the first choice for most companies. Reason? Many see it as a cost center, a necessary evil to have to keep customers happy.
In this economic climate, certainly reducing cost is the way to go, even in Technical Support operations. However, there are elegant ways to deal with it. And this article will suggest some proven ways to help reduce those costs, both in the short term and in the long term.
Well managed servers result in fewer support issues
During server downs, Web Hosts usually see approximately 5 to 20 times increase in incoming tickets. They keep coming fast and with increasing intensity. Angry customers, and those who are simply frustrated, and understandably so, will simply bombard your support team. It’s at times like this, Web Hosts understand the importance of having well managed servers, and a knowledgeable team that know their systems well enough to respond fast and with authority to the situation.
The simple logic that works here is that well managed servers result in fewer downtimes, which results in fewer issues from irate customers. Invest in good server management practices. Invest in good engineers who know what they are doing. They will reduce tickets in time, and this will reduce support costs.
How much time does all this take? In my experience, Web Hosts who outsource to Bobcares, approximately get their tickets reduced by at least 40% within 5-6 months of being with Bobcares. This is a big saving, that results in a reduction of at least 40% in monthly Technical Support costs within 5-6 months.
Online Knowledge base helps reduce questions to your support team
We compared two Web Hosts, one with helpful Online tutorials and Knowledge base, and a Web Host with no such tools. We noticed at least a 20-40% difference in incoming support issues. It makes a great deal of difference when there are self help tools for customers. It saves them time and effort in trying to talk to you. It saves on critical “per ticket” costs.
How can Web Hosts setup support tools? They can either buy Online tutorials from companies such as Demowolf, or they can create their own. I would recommend a combination of both. Generic software tutorials are great for common software related issues, such as control panels or other tools. However, billing, sales, custom technology, and other common issues that customers have with your company, have to be necessarily answered and usually form a large part of the support tickets that come in. The more you can address those, the more successful you are in reducing your ticket flow.
Better proactive communication with customers
Is it a good idea to give your customers bad news fast? Not many would agree. But our engineers having worked with hundreds of Web Hosts in their careers with Bobcares, can tell you this works.
Many Web Hosts under-estimate the importance of Customer Communication. When a server goes down, be the first one to tell your customers. It saves your customers a lot of trouble finding this out on their own, or from their customers. Besides, it shows that you are on top of your business, you know what is going on. They feel confident that you will get it corrected, if you have been proactive enough with them.
Most importantly, being Communicative with your customers, saves you money! It reduces that massive flow of tickets that pulls down your support staff, when they are trying to get things up on the server. Your support costs come down, because your customers are confident with you, next time the same thing happens, if it does at all.
Outsourcing is a viable option now
Yes, outsourcing technical support saves you costs, big time. Because the costs of the technical team is shared by many other Web Hosts, the costs really come down. If you want to have a dedicated team that works only on your company, that is also provided and its usually cheaper than a full time inhouse team.
But can you trust an outside agency for handling your support? The best way is to find out about the background of the company. For example, Bobcares has been around for 9 years, has worked only with Web Hosts during that time, and has a very strong technical background with Web Hosting technologies. The combined experience of Bobcares is more than what you could ever get in a single Tech support personnel, no matter how experienced that person may be. In addition, you save costs. Its a win win in both technical expertise and cost savings.
The slow down won’t last forever. There is bound to be a improvement in the economy. If your business has lasted for so long, you’re doing good. Hang in there, and don’t lose focus. Work on your business like you did earlier. Many business owners make the mistake of losing focus and more importantly ‘belief’ in their business. The state of mind of the business owner, in bad times is as important as it is when times are good. A positive attitude helps a lot, and yes, it works..
About the Author:
Sangeetha Naik is co-Founder and Director, Poornam (Bobcares). With 9 years of experience in the Web Hosting industry, she speaks in various conferences about how Web Hosts can cost effectively setup and run their Support Operations.