Tips to Reduce Your Customer Support Costs

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When hosting websites, whether as a mainstream hosting provider, a hobby, or to supplement another service, it’s your job to make sure your customers have access to technical support in case they need help. Customer support is one of the highest expenses that a web host can encounter. Just my making a few small changes, you can reduce the amount of customers that contact you for help, and increase your profit margin.

Revamp your “Welcome” documentation

The welcome documentation is usually an email that is sent to a new client containing server and account access information. It’s important to cover your bases to avoid ending up with confused users that have no other avenue but to ask you for help – something that tends to be frustrating for a new user. Your welcome email should not be wordy, but rather bulleted and easy to read, and separated into sections. It should contain any information your users needs to access their account and server, steps to get started, and how to find help.

Use video tutorials

Sites like Demo Demo provide flash tutorials for common control panel software, that can be branded to your company and used in your support center. Making it known to your customers that flash tutorials are available to explain the procedures for common tasks may prevent them from contacting you.

Establish a knowledge base

A knowledge base is generally used by hosting providers to provide information to address common questions and problems encountered by customers. If you’re seeing a common question being risen by your users, consider making the answer to that question more visible by adding it to a knowledge base full of FAQs, or adding it to your welcome documentation.

Don’t do anything that provokes a response

It

should be expected that changes and upgrades will need to take place during the life of a user’s account. However, unless you’ve planned for the worse, don’t make changes that your customers will notice and likely contact you about unless you’ve notified them first. If you’re making a change that may affect users, make sure your users know how the change can affect them and what steps to take if they have a problem. It’s not recommended to play fast and loose with items that will attract user attention in a negative light, so plan your upgrades and changes accordingly.

Be open

Set up a blog or status site that your customers will know to check if they are experiencing a problem. For example, Dreamhost has a website their customers can access to find out about outages or problems, thus preventing them from contacting the customer support center to find out what’s going on. Customers tend to appreciate more transparency when it comes to problems that can affect their site.

Test, test, test

It should go without saying that you should not deploy changes on your hosting servers without thoroughly testing them first.

Keep an eye out

If you are not monitoring your network, you’re a step behind from even the worst of the hosting providers out there. You should be monitoring anything that could cause an interruption in service, as your customers should not know about downtime before you do. Knowing when a problem will happen before it does will easily prevent problems that can result in thousands of dollars in losses and customer support costs.

Be responsive

If you see a problem that is continually affecting multiple clients, do something about it. Sites getting hacked? Consider implementing a solution to block the attacks and issuing an advisor so your customers know you are looking out for them. Hosting servers are in constant need of maintenance to make sure they are running quickly and securely.

Get it right the first time

Anyone that manages a support center will know that each response, phone call, chat, and email costs money. Addressing your customers’ requests and problems correctly and thoroughly the first time will limit your follow ups.

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