Customer service has become a real buzzword in the recent past, with companies the world over queueing up to offer it. However, as anyone who has experienced a battle with a customer support department will know, offering it is one thing, delivery is often another entirely. This is sadly often true of the technical support departments of web hosting companies, and of online service in general.
You may be familiar with the sinking feeling of being on hold to a company and hearing the recorded message telling you “Your call is important to us, thank you for holding” repeatedly. It cannot be underestimated how annoying this is, and how entirely counter-productive. The message may be designed to reassure the customer that their problem will be dealt with soon, and dealt with well – but to many of us it signals the company protesting too much.
Before you sign up for a web hosting company, it is essential that you research their record on tech support. Some companies do not have a tech support phone line, advising that you send them an email – hardly reassuring when they seem to have such problems with Internet downtime. Others offer a “live chat” service on the Internet, and this can be a worthwhile option, but only when it is adequately staffed.
There is evidence to suggest that, with the energy demand placed by web hosting and the increasing popularity of running your own website, the web hosting industry could be one of the larger polluters in the world within a decade. That, at least, is the claim being made by some of the newer web hosting companies on the block – and their claims are backed up by research. If you want your online endeavors to be green compliant, it may well be worth seeking one of the increasing number of green web hosting companies to host your site.
The idea behind these companies is that they purchase green energy credits which go towards creating energy through renewable sources. All the energy created – from whatever source – goes into a central grid, so although the demands of web hosting may be creating a negative environmental effect right now, they will at least be funding the increasing use of green energy sources – with an eye on making this the most common source of energy in time, and reversing some of the negative effect of web hosting at present.
It is particularly beneficial if you are running a site which reflects green interests, or are working in an industry with an eye on the environment, as you can display your green credentials at the foot of your site, showing that you are using an environmentally friendly web hosting company. The more people that do this, the better chance there is that the technology will improve in the future.
If you are paying for web hosting, then it makes sense that you should expect to see some return on that money in the form of a service that enables you to make the most of your site. Simply put, the least you will require is a viable stat counting service, and most of the better paid web hosting services will offer something along those lines. When you are looking around for a web host, this should be one of the deal breakers for you – if they don’t offer a decent stat counter, begin to look elsewhere.
Stat counters are an essential for anyone looking to get the most from their website because it is only by seeing what action people take once they arrive at your website that you can begin to put right any wrongs that are escaping your attention. if people are surfing away from your site at an early stage, then clearly you need to make your website grab their attention more. If people are visiting a certain page more than others, see how you could bring some of the magic onto other pages.
It is of course possible to download and install your own stat counter on your website, but when you are paying for the privilege of web hosting it really is not too much to expect that the site should have a stat counter built in and ready to run. That way, you can really start to make the most of what you have got.
Having paid for web hosting, you will naturally want to make sure that you are getting what you paid for. If your hosting service is not giving you the amount of working time that you expect from it, you are entitled to know why, and to find this out as soon as it happens. You cannot constantly be sat monitoring your site – and if you have more than one, this is impossible anyway, so it may be a good idea to pay for a dedicated website monitoring service that will constantly check the status of your site.
The way this works is that dedicated software is used to access your site once every three minutes (the time may vary, but the principle is the same with all services of this nature). As long as the service gets the response it is expecting – an active website – it will take no further action, and simply check again as soon as the time period has elapsed. When it gets a message saying that the site is down, it checks again seconds later using a different IP address. If it gets the same response, it will contact you.
Generally, this will be done by means of a mobile device such as a cell phone or a pager, and will be a short message telling you that your website is down. If this is during an already advertised period of downtime, there is nothing more you need to do. If not, then you can contact your hosting service alerting them to the fact, and get the problem fixed as quickly as possible.
When you are running your own website for the first time, it is something of a rite of passage and what you want more than anything is for things to go smoothly. However, the old problem exists that those who are in something for the first time will find themselves facing a confusing situation, which can easily lead to them making the wrong decision. One place you can’t afford a bad decision is in your choice of web host.
A quick hunt around the Internet with the search term “Worst web host” and “web hosting nightmares” throws up some quite illuminating information. While the hosts themselves must remain nameless on this site, there are endless stories of awful tech support (not being able to get through, having an impossible time getting anything fixed when you eventually do get through, and plain rude staff), of unscheduled downtime, and in the case of one host porn being placed on the servers.
If you are paying for web hosting, you have the right to expect that it will do what it is sold as doing. Therefore, it is advisable to shop around for a host that offers what you need (in terms of bandwidth, pricing and customer support) and then looking for independent testimonials on the Internet. Don’t be put off by one story of poor service, but if it becomes a theme you should begin to wonder why that is. You’re entitled to expect good service, and if they can’t supply that they are no use to you.