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Recommended Host for Phone Support
Hosts with Phone Support
When it comes to technical support, ticketing systems can be a slow and cumbersome way to address problems. Phone support lets you get help in real time. When you compare Web hosting providers and plans, you'll find a wide range of support options.
If support is included with your hosting plan (it isn't always), you may be offered one or more of the following support mechanisms:
- Knowledge base access
- A knowledge base is essentially online text documentation or a user guide. Some KB systems are wikified (can be edited by users) or allow commenting. Some Knowledge Bases are enhanced with video, tutorials, and FAQ sections.
- Ticketing system
- A ticketing system is a bug tracker for customer service issues. Customers submit problems called "tickets," which are then dealt with by the customer service team. It is a bit like emailing your complaints to a contact address, but more organized. You can also track the status of your ticket, which is really helpful if you are impatient.
- Live Chat
- Live chat allows you to IM (instant message) with support personnel. It offers many of the advantages of phone support, without having to wait on the phone. On the other hand, it isn't always easy to type out your problems. Sometime a human voice is the only thing that will get the job done.
- Phone Support
- Phone support is exactly that -- a number to call and a person to talk to when you need it.
When ticketing is too slow, and the knowledge base doesn't cover your exact situation, and the Live Chat operator just doesn't get what the problem is, sometime you just have to do things the old fashioned way: calling someone on the telephone.
Some Common Issues
Of course, what you can expect from phone support will vary by hosting provider. High-end, premium hosting providers may have well-trained, English-speaking representatives that work full time for the hosting company and know what is going on, and how to fix it. Even many of the larger discount hosts can afford in-country call centers and well-paid operators.
But this is not always the case. Many hosting providers save money by outsourcing their call center operations. This sometimes works, but it often backfires. Outsourced call centers aren't dedicated to one company and customer base, but rather contract out to a number of different companies. The person you are speaking to about your web hosting plan might have just been answering questions about a car warranty, handling a complaint about a broken cell phone, or dispatching a tow truck to the scene of an accident.
This can mean that sometimes the call center operators simply don't know enough, or have enough authority, to solve your problem. This is especially true when you have the sorts of problems most people call phone support about: unusual or off-the-wall issues not covered in the FAQ or knowledge base.
Phone support in this case is perfectly fine if there was a glitch in billing or you forgot your account password. But how can they help you if your website is mysteriously unavailable for five minutes every day at 4 PM? What will they do if one single Apache process spontaneously combusts on a frequent, but irregular, basis?
What they'll do is submit a ticket and real tech support will get back to you. (And you could have done that yourself.)
Another issue with phone support is that it may not be available when you need it. Some hosting providers have 24 hours a day, 7 days a week phone support hours. Others have limited business hours, which might not even be in your time zone.
There are also limits on phone support. Some providers charge by the minute, or offer a limited bank of time for phone support use.
Great Phone Support
Phone support problems are common, but there is a lot of really great phone support available. Read the customer reviews provided about various hosting companies and you'll find that many of them have excellent and friendly phone support.
Sometimes this is something that comes free along with your account. In other cases, there are Service Level Agreement (SLA) plans that you can purchase, which provide phone support along with other support options.
If you're a hosting reseller, you might have tech support for your own account. Some resellers provide you with the ability to offer their phone support to your customers (at a cost to you, which you may be able to pass on to your clients).
Phone Support and Web Hosting
If phone support is an important feature for you, make sure that it is included in the hosting package you select.
Also, check the hours of operation. If you are running a web business as a hobby or side project, and need to call phone support on the evenings or weekends, make sure your hosting company allows you to do that.