Shared hosting support – Top five best practices to reduce customer complaints
In a previous post we covered top 10 tips to make shared hosting a success. In this post, we will look into the top 5 queries commonly posted by shared hosting customers, and the best practices to resolve them.
1. This is all new to me. Help me!
Issue : Based on our experience, the majority of tickets are posted by web masters who are new to your systems. It could be from those who have started hosting just now, or from someone who transferred in from another web host. Your systems, however user friendly they might be, would still be alien to a new web master.
Commonly asked questions include, “How do I create an email account?“, “How do I upload my files?“, “How do I reset my password?“, etc
Solution : The initial period, which we call as the hand-holding period is the time where the bond with your customer solidifies. This is also the time when customers are most likely to post reviews about you, and that is why this is a critical user base who can influence your brand image.
While some web hosts think a well maintained FAQ is enough to help these new web masters, our experience has shown us that it can never replace actual human support. The proven sure fire solution is to provide them with responsive 24/7 email, live chat and phone support channels.
Why is the human touch important? Based on their previous experience, web masters expect your systems to work in a particular way, which might differ from how it actually works.
Real-time interaction channels like live chat and phone support offers them a chance to clarify their questions, and get them started with your service. Such personalized care early on in your relationship has time and again shown to create loyal customers.
As the saying goes, you get only one chance to make a first impression, and personalized, human touch is the way to do it.
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2. Why don’t you provide XYZ? Your competitors do.
Issue : Each web site is unique, and web masters accept ideas from a large spectrum of online forums on how to build their site. The flip side is, they expect their web host to meet all myriad requirements to build their site. In an effort to not be outdone by their competitors, web hosts often resort to overloading their servers with resource hogging services, leading to unhappy customers. Some such feature requests include, “Why don’t you give me access to incremental backups of my account?“, “My new add-on domain needs ASP. Why don’t you give that?“, “Why don’t you support JSP? I need it for my pages.“, etc
Solution : Just like trying to arrange a dinner buffet for 500 guests, and expecting to satisfy them all, setting up the feature list for a shared hosting server can be a daunting task. To make a server profitable, you will have to strike a balance on the choice of features, and the number of customers that can be hosted in it.
In our experience, we have seen that feature overloading is done on servers to satisfy less than 5% of the customer base, while 95% of the customers would have similar feature requirements. The support desk is a gold mine of information on what your customers need.
At Bobcares, we collect statistics from the support desk on the popularity of various features, and we advice web hosts on what feature set will satisfy 95% of their customer base.
While powerful shared servers can cater to the majority of your customers, a VPS with good spec can host the rest of your customers with special requirements.
The investment on the VPS would be low, and it offers the possibility to upgrade as the number of customers increase. There would still be another group of customers whose requirements cannot be met. For them, you can resell VPSs or dedicated servers.
Our support engineers not only resolve tickets, but also identify and capitalize on such opportunities to up-sell your services.
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3. I can’t wait. I need to talk to someone right NOW!
Issue : Support is like an emergency room in a hospital. No one contacts you when everything is running smooth. More often than not, customers would need immediate assistance in resolving their issues. Some web hosts follow the age old custom of giving quick support only during business hours, and letting the customers make do with FAQs the rest of the day. Common laments from customers include, “I don’t understand your tutorial. Which number can I call to talk to you?, “I don’t understand what even the problem is. Can I talk to you?“, etc
Solution : No matter how intuitive your control panel is, you still need a support team that cares for your customers and is available 24/7. Almost every service in today’s world is 24/7 and customer support is right at the top of that list.
When a customer needs human assistance, there simply is no substitute for it. Smart web hosts implement at least 24/7 help desk for their clients, while some give 24/7 phone and live chat support as well.
At Bobcares, our support engineers walk customers through a resolution step-by-step until we are sure the customer is completely satisfied with the solution.
A responsive support team can quickly calm down a customer, and can restore their confidence that your service is reliable. Availability of such a responsive support over phone, live chat and help desk round the clock will establish your reputation as a customer focused company.
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4. My mails are black listed AGAIN!
Issue : Surprising as it may seem, even while the market offers proven anti-spam and security systems, there are cases of server IPs being black listed in spam source monitors. This usually happens to those web hosts who are not aware of industry best practices, and ignore the fine aspects of maintaining server security. This leads to tickets like, “My mails to some of my contacts bounced saying I’m a spam source.“, “Is your server hacked? My mails are bouncing.“, etc
Solution : Mail server black listing happens when a few vulnerable sites in the server are exploited to send out spam mails. In a short burst, thousands of spam mails would be sent in an hour.
This happens when due diligence is not applied in keeping a server secure. At Bobcares, we believe server security and hardening is not a one time fire-and-forget operation.
It should be an ongoing process which includes conducting server audits, tweaking service settings to block malicious behavior, applying security patches, and implementing new security technologies.
The shared hosting support team works hand in hand with the server administration group of Bobcares conducts monthly audits on the servers, and pro-active measures are implemented to keep the server secure.
5. My site is slow AGAIN! Your server is crap!
Issue : The most persistent complaint about shared hosting is sluggish web site performance. Every web host, at one time or the other has had to deal with this complaint. New services keep getting enabled in shared server, and new customers keep getting added, until one day a deluge of tickets forces the web host to get a new server. Common customer concerns include, “My clients say they cannot see my site. What is happening?“, “I have an important client meeting in 15 minutes, and my site is down again. Please fix urgently.“, etc
Solution : At Bobcares, we believe there are generally two approaches to resolve this issue. One is ensuring the availability of a reactive 24/7 emergency support.
Our shared hosting support team is enabled with 24/7 monitoring, and we immediately get an alert if the server load causes services to be sluggish. We then follow established procedures to stabilize the server.
Tested and verified emergency reaction procedures helps us to immediately free up resources, quarantine offending users, and restore normalcy as soon as possible.
Second is to implement continual capacity analysis on shared servers. Regular audits are done by our server administration group on the shared servers to monitor resource usage by accounts, tweak service parameters to implement fixed usage quota on resources, and determine a cut off limit beyond which a new server should be deployed.
Regular audits allows us to isolate the heavy users and give the web host an opportunity to up-sell them into a VPS or dedicated server plans. While the above were the top 5 issues based on our sampling, depending on the market segment you cater to, your challenges might be different.
Here at Bobcares, we assist web hosts to stream line their shared hosting service by identifying their top customer expectations, and tailoring a solution that maximizes customer delight.
Our most popular plan for shared hosting is the Unlimited Help Desk Support plan. This gives your customers virtually limitless 24/7 technical support, that covers all popular web hosting control panels.
We give you regular feed back to help you adopt industry best practices, which will stabilize your servers and improve customer experience. We take total ownership of your help desk, enabling you to focus on growing your customer base.