In my last article, I looked at criteria for evaluating a managed hosting provider: services they provide.
In this post, we’ll look at another crucial feature: availability and quick support.
Tip: Call the hosting provider at 3:00 a.m. to see whether they are available.
Before buying the solution, try reaching the hosting provider via phone and chat at odd times (late nights, holidays, long weekends, etc.). If they are available, then there is a good chance that when there is a problem, you will not lose sleep or peace of mind.
Also, keep in mind that not all managed hosting providers offer support via phone. So don’t forget to find out whether you can even call them in the first place!
Once you’ve determined that the provider is available, you’ll want to evaluate whether they can actually resolve problems in a timely manner.
Tip: Find out the problem response and resolution times
Imagine you were waiting for an event where you planned to market a product, and you created a website or a blog to tell the world about your product.
Then, just when the event starts, you notice that load time of your website is 10 seconds. That’s unacceptable!
So you call your hosting provider immediately and hear “Your call is important to us and your average wait time is 20 minutes.” Frustrated yet? As the seconds tick by, your audience is evaporating, your SEO is adversely affected and you’re losing money.
When evaluating your hosting provider, always ask:
- What is the average response time for a phone call or chat?
- What is the average resolution time for a phone call or chat?
If your don’t get an answer — or get a vague answer — that’s a red flag for a managed hosting solution
This is especially true if you are building websites that are seasonal in demand — say an e-commerce site that makes over 50 percent of its money during Christmas and New Year’s. In this case, you definitely want to make sure that you have a good managed service.
Good managed service requires well-trained experts who resolve customer problems quickly — and these experts are not inexpensive. True, not all premium hosting providers will provide great support. But no lower-priced hosting service can afford experts.
The bottom line: if you don’t want to deal with servers, and want an expert to help you when you need one, then cheap solutions may not be very cheap in the long run.
To provide a basis for comparison, the average response and resolution times for Rackspace Cloud Sites customers are less than 30 seconds and 18 minutes respectively.
Of course, ideally you’d love to never have to call tech support in the first place. To minimize your need for help, you’ll want to look into the provider’s uptime. We’ll cover that topic next week.