Hosting Customer Support

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Web hosting support is a critical aspect of any hosting plan. So you may ask, what is customer support and what should I be looking for to find the best support as I analyze various web hosts? Web hosts generally offer a variety of customer support options, and these different types of customer support are addressed below.

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What is customer support?
Many web hosts offer different types of customer support to fit the needs of their users. The three most common types of customer support include: telephone support, online support, and email support.

Telephone Support
Telephone support is generally given through either toll-free or long distance calling numbers. Most webhosting providers have telephone support personnel available during business hours, although more and more web hosts claim 24/7 telephone support. Be prepared to put in some extra time if you wish to receive telephone customer support. Because it takes time for support technicians to answer questioins on the telephone, users may spend time on hold or receive busy signals waiting for their turn. This form of support is great for users who prefer to speak to a "real person" concerning their support needs. Obviously, some web hosts place more of an emphasis on telephone support than others. So if telephone support is your support method of choice, you should look for a web host that has a proven track record of reliable, professional, timely phone support.

Online Support
Online Support consists of FAQ's, online tutorials, live chat, user forums, and help pages. Online support is the most time efficient way to receive technical support. Because help information is posted online, users do not have to wait around for help. Web hosts who develop effective online support pages are able to assist users without having to have support personnel on hand, so online support is cheaper to the company and the customer. Technically savvy users or users who are somewhat experienced with web hosting can usually get by with just having online support from their web host and can generally trouble shoot problems on their own.

Live chat has established itself as a preferred form of online support where the user can instant message support representatives for answers and feedback. Many web hosts offer 24/7 online chat support, while others limit their online chat support to business hours. Many larger web hosts have invested substantial resources and manpower to establish and maintain their online chat support departments, which is a great development for the web hosting industry. Online chat allows a user to receive help quickly without spending time on hold on the phone waiting for a customer support representative. 

Email Support
Email Support may not provide users with instant answers, but is great for questions that are not emergencies. Email support includes: Trouble Tickets, 24 hour assistance, and regular old email to the support staff. Although this form of customer support may not give instant feedback, it is a cheap and effective way for web hosts to offer support. A user could expect an email reply in less than 24 hours from a good email support staff. Users benefit from email support because they may send an email for help at any time of day, they don't have to wait for business hours to request assistance.

Testing Customer Support
Often, you may test a web hosts' customer support before signing up for their services. Some ways you can test customer support before signing up: Try the customer support phone number, make sure it routes your call to the correct place, and most importantly, see how long it takes for you to be connected with a customer service representative. Additionally, a user can visit a web hosts' support page and view the online tutorials, help pages and make sure that the live chat and email support options are easily accessible. You may even choose to send a test email to the web hosts' support department and see how long it takes to receive a response.

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