Low price should no longer be a factor in choosing hosting. While many people naturally assume that pricing is a key decision-making factor, other issues may ultimately be more important. Most of the hosting packages today offer low costs, ample storage space and bandwidth, decent functionality, excellent backup systems, plus many (or even unlimited) e-mail accounts – so these are rarely the determining factors in the decision.
But in my book, tech support is the single most important factor. Let me say that again… tech support is the single most important factor. Even if you (the client) will not be the person dealing with them most of the time, this will make the process easier and more efficient for your web designer.
Last night I was on the phone with tech support at my favorite hosting company (GoDaddy) from 10pm until 11:15pm. I had a very complicated process that needed to be worked out for a client who was transitioning to a new hosting and email system. We wanted to make the change at night, to minimize downtime. This is not something I could have accomplished without having the tech expert on the phone to assist me. I think I’m pretty good at this stuff, but I know probably only 5-10% of what these guys know.
What are my criteria for excellent tech support?
- Someone is always available 24/7 by phone and chat, including weekends and holidays.
- There is usually a very short wait time in the queue.
- I speak with a representative who is polite, articulate, and patient.
- The representative is a trained problem-solver, who can listen to my questions, formulate a plan, and troubleshoot on the fly.
- The representative is talking only to me, and not constantly jumping back and forth between calls by putting me on hold.
- The representative does not talk down to me with excessive techno-babble (until I let on that I understand it, and then by all means go right ahead).
- The representative is willing to stay on the phone with me, however long it may take.
- There are second-tier (and even third-tier) experts available if my problem needs to be escalated.
When clients come to me with existing hosting at some of the companies with notoriously poor tech support, I am often going to make it a requirement that they change hosting providers before I work with them. Otherwise I’m spending more time — more billable time — debugging an issue (which may be the hosting company’s issue to begin with), than on doing the actual work.
Or possibly even worse, I’m stuck after business hours, unable to solve a problem or finish a task that you are anxious to have completed. And that means more downtime on your site, or a partially completed project.