levels-of-supportThis is something I’ve been thinking about a lot. The issue came to a head on Father’s Day. I woke up to an error message that one of our dedicated server was having problems connecting to the database. Now this of course affects all my WordPress sites and other database driven websites.

I immediately jumped on a support chat with HostGator (the company which hosts this server). It took me about 20 minutes to get on a chat as since HostGator has been sold they can’t seem to hire enough technicians, and it can take a while to reach someone. I finally did, and the gentleman who was running the chat was extremely friendly and as helpful as he could be. But the problem is he is the first level support person. They are great for helping you with things like email and other simple settings and issues. But in all honesty, any halfway complicated issue is beyond their knowledge and/or capabilities. Typically they will open a ticket for you or tell you to request a reboot or things like that. So then you have to wait for the next level of support to actually look at the issue and handle it.

So what I am proposing is that web hosting companies have two levels of support chats, one to handle the minor issues and then have another for the more difficult problems. And so you don’t lose a bunch of time when you have a server down or other serious issues, the first level person should pass it along to the next level on the chat, instantly. That person can actually jump in reboot, look into more serious issues, hacking etc.

This would save so much angst for web hosting clients. As with many web development firms, I have several hosting accounts, but I still have to rely on hosting vendors to manage the day to day tasks. They are the experts in the field, and they are the ones we turn to. But in today’s world we have so many more issues affecting us, and the threat of hacking is real and it’s never a question of if you’ll be hacked, it’s a question of when. So we really need help from hosting vendors.

Bottom Line: Having a two level support chat will definitely help. But we also need better handling of major outages. We have seen a few of these in the last few months, lasting as long as 9 hours or more. We are bombarded with calls, and text messages, but can’t get through to webhosting companies as they can’t handle the volume. There has to be a better way. For one thing when a server is down, there should be an immediate email blast detailing the situation so that we can pass the information along to our clients. In that email needs to be an estimate as to when the issue will be resolved as that is what our clients need to know.