Phone Support Hosting
What You'll Learn
While it may seem straightforward, phone support can either be a seamless or a rather painful experience. This is hugely dependant on the hosting provider you are dealing with. On this page, you'll learn about how you can avoid awful experiences on the phone, saving you both time and money.
By the end of this piece, you will hopefully be able to differentiate the good from the bad and the ugly.
What Types of Technical Support Do Web Hosts Offer?
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 these five following mechanisms:
- Knowledge Base Access
- Ticketing System
- Live Chat
- E-Mail Support
- Phone Support
Knowledge Base Access
The Siteground knowledge base.
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 videos, tutorials, and FAQ sections.
A ticketing system is a bug tracker for customer support 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 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. Sometimes a human voice is the only thing that will get the job done.
Similarly to a ticketing system, you are required to submit a written query to the hosting provider. Often, you may be required to fill in a pre-structured form, to make the agents' job easier when contacting you to find a solution.
Phone support is exactly that -- a number to call and a person to talk to when you're having issues with your websites. Phone support agents, however, can frequently be based abroad, giving you crackly connection during calls.
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, sometimes you just have to do things the old-fashioned way: calling someone on the telephone.
How Does Phone Support Compare with Other Types of Web Hosting Support?
Yes, phone support is considered old-fashioned, but sometimes it truly does have its perks.
These perks surface when you compare it side by side against a couple of examples like live chat and ticketing support.
Let's take a look:
|Ticketing Support||Live Chat||Phone Support|
|Speed||Slow, often days||Fast, when agents are available||Almost instant, depending on the host|
|Expertise||If the issue isn't highly flagged, you'll likely have an all-in-one agent||Similarly to ticketing, if the issue isn't severe, you'll have a general agent helping you||Sometimes outsourced agents aren't very competent, but at least you can ask for someone else|
Common Issues With Web Hosting Phone Support
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.
What Happens When Web Hosts Outsource Call Centers?
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.
Some common issues can also arise due to:
- Poor linguistic skills of the agent
- Weak or crackly telephone line
- An inordinate amount of noise in the background
- Lack of technical knowledge
- Untrained agents
- Negligent management
- Not enough agents
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.
Lack of Specialist Knowledge
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.
Most unusual or off-the-wall server issues not covered in the FAQ or knowledge base.
The Difficulty of Solving Technical Hosting Issues By Phone
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 team will get back to you. (And you could have done that yourself.)
Lack of Availability
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.
Find The Best Phone Support Hosting For You
Great Phone Support Does Exist
Phone support problems are common, but there is a lot of really great phone support available.
Read the customer reviews provided by 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).
Not only does this eliminate extra costs for you as a reseller host, but it saves time. Furthermore, if the reselling host has good quality phone support, you'll benefit from this too.
Premium Support Packages
Moreover, phone support can be a standard inclusion in your selected basic hosting plan. How do you get a better service? It is worth keeping an eye out for premium support add-ons. While it is pricey, these options often have guaranteed response times from expert in-house teams.
You can get anything between 1 hour to 6 hours of guaranteed response times, contractually. Should a host not fulfill this, you have the upper hand.
Sometimes standard live chat has an annoying queue.
Thought it can't get better than guaranteed response times and contractual obligation to respond? Well, it can. Some hosts even offer customized support with their top-tier hosting plans. These include fully tailored advice and support from an expert, whether it's via the phone, e-mail or live chat.
It's an extremely useful feature for more sophisticated businesses where things can go wrong at a frequent rate.
Here's What Your Phone Support Hosting Needs To Offer
Sometimes you really need to talk to a live person about a problem you are having with your website. Knowledge bases, ticketing systems, and live chat all have their places. But they are also varying degrees removed from direct contact. If telephone support is important to you, you should choose a hosting provider that is committed to it. For excellent telephone support, we recommend SiteGround.
How Can I Find a Web Host with Great Phone Support?
If phone support is an important feature for you, make sure that it is included in your host account when you purchase a package.
The hosts with the best support usually display their phone number prominently in their website header.
Transparency usually plays a vital role here too. If a company is too secretive with their contact information, there is usually a downside. Most companies with phone support are transparent.
Hours of Operation
Also, check the hours of operation of the host company.
If you are running a web business as a hobby or side project, and need to call phone support in the evenings or weekends, make sure your hosting company allows you to do that.
Should your business income heavily depend on a smooth running website, we heavily suggest you opt-in for flexible hour phone support. This way, you can prevent huge profit loss, as well as general downtime.
Finally, keep in mind that while it's nice to have support there if you need it, purchasing a high-quality hosting plan will automatically prevent a lot of issues that would require support. I recommend finding potential packages that have everything your website needs, and then comparing support after.
In terms of preventing unexpected and unpleasant issues causing major disruption, it's sometimes worth going for the top plan.
3 Best Hosts with Phone Support
So, which hosting providers are the best when it comes to dialing the digits? I have selected three as usual, with a few ups and downs included.
Decide for yourself as to which one suits you best. Check out their individual review pages for more info.
Phone support with InMotion Hosting.
If there's one thing InMotion Hosting is known for, it's the knowledgeable staff on their customer support team. There are multiple ways of getting support 24/7. This includes not only telephone support, but also live chat support, and e-mail support.
Additionally, InMotion Hosting has an incredibly in-depth knowledge base. Aside from the support, InMotion Hosting offers highly scalable servers and plans, all with free SSD disk space built-in for maximum speed. As an added bonus, you can take advantage of their free domain offer by purchasing a hosting package for a 12 or 24-month term.
Phone support with Siteground.
If you're looking for managed hosting, but also great phone support that's available 24/7, Siteground should be a strong consideration. All cloud and dedicated server plans are fully managed, meaning that most issues are taken care of before you even need to contact support.
SiteGround is one of the few hosts to offer technical support in not only English but also Spanish. Each hosting plan comes with a 99.9% uptime guarantee. Finally, they have plans specific packages created for WordPress hosting that comes with several benefits to website speed and convenience.
Phone support with A2 Hosting.
Finally, if you're looking for a more competitively priced host service, A2 Hosting is still a solid host provider that offers 24/7 phone support. They offer a wide variety of plans including shared hosting, VPS hosting, semi-dedicated server hosting, and dedicated servers. Aside from price, A2 Hosting differentiates themselves by focusing purely on site speed and decreasing your website load time.
Each server is configured to achieve a maximum performance level for popular website frameworks like WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, and more. Each hosting package also comes with plenty of free SSD storage space and supports multiple website builder options.
Pros and Cons
As a summary, let's weigh up the pros and cons of using phone support. While it may sound silly to have downsides to phone support, there are a few which you wouldn't have necessarily thought of.
- It can be easier to explain issues.
- You can get a reply quickly, often right away.
- You talk to a "real" person, not a screen name.
- Not always instant - While faster than most ticketing systems, response times for phone calls can be slower than live chat.
- Not always available - Some hosts offer 24/7 phone support, but most do not.
- Can be in different timezone - Some hosts offer phone support during their business hours, which may not align with yours.
Phone Support Hosting Frequently Asked Questions
What is phone support?
Phone support means that your web hosting company has a support team that is available via a phone call, ready and able to assist you on the phone with any issues you encounter related to your web hosting account.
Do most web hosting companies provide phone support?
Phone support, while common in other industries, isn’t a guaranteed feature for all hosting companies. Many web hosting companies will save money by offering alternative forms of technical support for their customers instead of phone support, assuming that their customers are more technically inclined and willing to work out any issues on their own. If the availability of phone support is important to you, you should check to see if your chosen web hosting company offers it before you purchase a plan, since it’s not a universal practice.
Does phone support usually cost extra?
The vast majority of web hosting companies that offer phone support won’t charge any extra for it; it’s just an included perk with their hosting plans. However, some hosting companies only provide phone support with their premium hosting plans, or will charge by the minute for phone support for all their customers.
Why do some web hosting companies not provide phone support?
Many web hosts chose to save money by offering alternative support methods and forgoing phone support in order to provide web hosting at lower costs. The costs of keeping well-trained, capable support staff available via phone can be prohibitive for smaller hosting companies. Time zones can also be a factor preventing hosting companies from providing phone support depending on where their offices are located.
What are some other types of customer support that web hosting companies typically provide?
Most web hosting companies will offer one-on-one customer support via a support ticket system, email, or live chat. They also offer self-service help by providing access to help articles or knowledge bases on their websites. These methods can be less resource-intensive and, therefore, more affordable for most web hosts, allowing them to offer lower rates for web hosting.
What hours do web hosting companies usually provide hosting support?
Some web hosting companies only provide phone support during regular office hours, typically 9 AM to 5 PM Monday through Friday, excepting holidays. The specific times will depend on the web host’s office hours and the time zone where their support teams are located. Sometimes larger web hosting companies will offer 24/7 phone support.
What are the benefits of phone support from web hosting companies?
Many hosting customers prefer phone support because they can receive almost immediate assistance with their problems, instead of waiting on a support ticket or an email to be answered. Some also prefer chatting on the phone with a live person, instead of email or ticket support.
Are there any drawbacks to phone support?
In some cases, you might receive a faster response by submitting a support ticket instead of calling if your hosting company is busy and has long holding times before your call is answered. In addition, many companies outsource their customer support to other countries in order to save money and pass the savings on to their customers with lower prices for hosting plans. Often, this doesn’t present a problem since the support staff is likely to be sufficiently trained wherever they’re located. However, occasionally you might be connected with a support staffer who is a non-native English speaker with an accent that’s difficult to understand, making it hard to resolve your technical issues. Sometimes these call centers provide phone support service to multiple companies and don’t have the in-depth expertise required to solve complicated technical issues. Another issue with phone support is that you don’t have any record on your end of the support you requested, unless you record your conversation, which is illegal in some jurisdictions unless you give prior notification to all parties.
How does phone support compare to support ticketing systems?
Support ticketing systems are a very common way of providing customer support in a variety of industries because of all the features and benefits they provide. With a support ticket, your issue receives a number for you and your hosting company to keep track of, and you also have a record of the help you requested. Support tickets vary widely in their response times depending on your web hosting company and their current volume of work, however. Some tickets might be answered within the hour while other may take days to get a response.
How does phone support compare to live chat support?
Phone support and live chat support have their immediacy in common: with both forms of support, you get a near-instant response and help with your hosting issues. The live chat may be easier for those who have difficulties using the phone, while phone support may be preferable if you’re not a fast typist.
How does phone support compare to email support?
Email support is another common way to request technical support from your hosting company. Often, any emails you send requesting support will be processed as a support ticket. But if you have a smaller or more disorganized host, email support may be handled more casually. With email support, you have a record of the support you requested, although it’s not numbered like a support ticket. Email support will also take longer to receive an answer than phone support, with the exact response times depending on your host and the volume of requests they’re receiving at the time.