When I take my car into the shop, I’m that guy. You know who I’m talking about.
Maybe you’re that guy (or that gal) when it comes to your car too, as described so aptly below by the great Brian Regan (until 1:38):
I don’t know about you, but I always find that to be slightly embarrassing.
Worse than any momentary embarrassment though is that it takes much longer to get to the bottom of the issue.
Even worse than that, is how it inverts my relationship with the mechanics. They end up managing me, even though I’m the one hiring them and paying them to provide a service. Doesn’t that seem a bit backwards?
But what choice do I have? I have no idea how to troubleshoot or fix the problem myself, and I’m bringing precious little information to the table to make the diagnosis efficient.
The same thing happens when it comes to hosting.
But it doesn’t have to. You don’t need to be that guy or gal when it comes to getting issues fixed with your website (or your car, for that matter).
And don’t worry, you don’t need to be anything close to an expert to get the most out of hosting customer support. You just need to know the basics and follow a few simple tips, which anyone can do.
The following 8 tips will allow you to manage the hosting support process instead of the hosting support process managing you …
1. Follow Directions
If you take your car into the dealership for service, you wouldn’t go to the sales office first would you? I hope not. It would be a waste of time, and they would just direct you to the service area.
Keep this in mind when it comes to submitting customer support requests with your hosting provider.
We see this issue a lot in our own help desk.
All Synthesis customers can access a customer support form through their customer portal. The form allows for specific classification of the type of issue at hand, which helps us to provide responses quickly and accurately.
Some customers still prefer to go the email route. This is okay, when the email is sent to support [at] websynthesis [dot] com. Unfortunately, many customers will email support [at] copyblogger [dot] com. This will eventually get sorted and placed into the proper bucket, but it guarantees a longer response time.
The gist of this tip: take a moment to find, and then follow directions before you send a support email.
This isn’t some kind of power game, we want to respond as quickly as possible and help you solve your issue in a timely manner. And we’ve set up systems to make this happen. But they only work if people take a few extra seconds to learn and follow them.
A quick note on emergency tickets: if your site is down, by all means classify your request as an emergency; if it’s not, then don’t cry wolf. We give priority to emergency tickets, and you’ll be glad we do in the case of a real emergency. It’s counter-productive for everyone involved to have non-emergencies flooding into the emergency bucket and distracting the support process.
2. Provide Identification
You can’t get much useful help solving a problem specific to your car if you can’t produce the physical car itself, or at least the make and model. The same is true for hosting.
At a minimum, always provide the domain name for the site in question as opposed to simply saying “My site has such and such issue.”
If the issue is payment or account related, include the account number.
Properly ID’ing your specific site or account provides an immediate direction for problem solving. Yes, we can probably find all of this information ourselves, with varying levels of effort required, but it can add up to a longer period of time between the support request and the ultimate solution.
3. Be Specific
The more vague you are in the description of the issue you’re having, the more follow-up questions and time-consuming poking around will be required. This is needlessly inefficient — for you.
If you’re getting an error message, drop it in your support request.
If a specific function is being problematic, describe it (and what specifically is occurring) in as much detail as possible.
Maybe you don’t know exactly what the issue is, or how to describe it very well. That’s fine. The key is to at least think in terms of specifics and provide as many as possible.
4. Take Screen Shots
This is an offshoot of #3, but it warrants its own section.
Sometimes a picture truly is worth a thousand words when it comes to troubleshooting website issues. If something is going haywire visually, rather than trying to describe it, just snap a screen shot and send it over.
The first thing we’re going to try to do on trickier support requests is attempt to recreate the issue to see it. By sending a screen shot, it can sometimes shave 5 minutes to a half hour off the response time.
5. Gather the Data
This takes specificity to the next level, and it can be the most helpful information you can provide.
In fact, you may not even realize the importance of a piece of data, but someone with a trained eye will. If you can gather it, and it might be germane to the issue, include it.
You never know what can spark a potential solution, especially for someone who understands what they’re looking at.
6. Be Accurate
Tips 2 through 5 are all great, but providing misinformation can set the process back. We see this time and again. So, even though this should be a no-brainer, it warrants mentioning.
You don’t need to understand every piece of data you send over, but at least be sure it’s accurate.
If you need an issue with a specific URL investigated, make sure to send over the proper URL.
Providing inaccurate information can lead to the support staff chasing its tail trying to find a solution. Again, the negative for you is more time between ticket submission and solution.
7. Be Honest
Here’s another one that should be a no-brainer, but often is not.
Don’t let pride or ego get in the way of an efficient hosting customer support experience!
If you made some kind of change that you think might have caused an issue, don’t hide it in hopes that your error will not be noticed. We’re not going to broadcast on the web that you made a boneheaded error.
Just know that the Synthesis (or any truly great) help desk is like Las Vegas: what happens there stays there. Your secret is safe with us.
Besides, what do you care so long as the issue gets solved ASAP?
So be honest, even if you think you screwed up. You are paying for serious managed hosting, so your errors are our errors. We just want to help you resolve them as quickly as humanly possible, but we can only do it with a complete picture of the issue at hand.
8. Be Responsive
If we had our druthers, every customer support request would be super simple and solvable with just the information contained in the request. Of course, this is not the reality.
Most hosting customer support requests are going to require follow-up questions. So if you want a timely resolution to the issue, keeps your eyes open for these follow-ups to keep the process moving along as quickly as possible.
If every one of these eight tips seem like common sense, good. I hope they do.
But the panic and frustration that often sets in which people have an issue with their site can lead to common sense being overlooked, replaced by impatience and inadequate information.
I know all about this panic and frustration. It happens to me anytime I have an issue with my site, but I learned long ago that the better picture I could paint regarding the issue, the more quickly and more satisfactorily the outcome would be.
In addition, I can manage the process better, just by taking a few minutes to understand the issue as best I can, and then providing as much relevant information to customer support as possible.
Now if I could just do that better with my car.
By following these 8 tips I probably can.