Web Hosting Support – Phone vs. Email

Written by: Hosting Coupons on August 29, 2014

Picture the scene. Your website has just gone down, and you realize that you need to get in touch with the tech support team of your web hosting company. When you visit their support page, you’re presented with a decision. Either send an email/open a support ticket, or pick up the phone and give them a call?

The first move for many people would be to pick up the phone to speak with a human. This is actually the preferred method of contact for most people, however isn’t always the best or quickest way to get in touch when you need a problem resolving.

Though phone support can be great, it’s important to know when to use it. Unfortunately, too few do and end up passing up an opportunity to quickly resolve the problem in exchange for the comfort of talking to another person.

So when should you turn from your keyboard to your keypad? Unfortunately, this isn’t a simple answer.

Why I Usually Prefer Email

Though there are times where both are appropriate, when given the choice I usually prefer to send an email or open a support ticket. Here are three reasons for this:

  1. Paper Trail: If you get in touch by email or support ticket, everything is recorded and written down, including the time of the request and what was said/done by all parties. This helps both you and the host out in the case that anything goes wrong.
  2. Easier to Explain Issues: Are you seeing an unusual error you need to resolve? This might be a nightmare to try and explain over the phone. But if you instead spend some time detailing the problems you are having, you’ll have a much better chance of your problem being resolved sooner. Also, you’ll have the advantage of copy and paste.
  3. Support Tickets Go To People Who Fix Problems: The chances of your support request reaching an actual technician go up considerably over email compared to phone. Hosting companies rarely have technicians answer the phone directly, and instead have customer service reps answer the lines, who are trained to answer only basic questions and pass along more complex ones to technicians, which is the same thing a support ticket does anyway.

In addition, most phone calls to hosting companies result in the filing of a support ticket that is treated the same as if the customer had filed it themselves. By making the phone call, you’re simply making the process more complex and time-consuming.

Most of the time, it’s quicker and simpler to just go straight to creating a support ticket or sending an email.

Exceptions to the Email over Phone Rule

Of course none of this is to say that the people who answer the phones at your host are not technically adept and able to help you, just that they usually are not the ones with their fingers on the servers fixing problems, unless they are at a very small host.

Depending on your web host, you might receive great help over the phone and if your problem is one better discussed over the phone.

For example, if you need to be walked through a process, especially something such as setting up an FTP client or installing a database, phone support can be a huge help. Any time you are wanting to do something yourself and need instruction, phone support is probably a good place to start.

Similarly, if you have a website go down and are already aware that they are working on it, but need an estimated time for a fix, getting in touch with a technician by phone could be a huge help.

In short, if you aren’t looking for someone at your host to fix the problem themselves, calling phone support can be a great way to get an issue resolved. However, if you need the help of a server technician, in most cases, all the phone support rep can do is file a trouble ticket, the same as what you can do from the site.

Conclusion

Is phone support a worthless feature to get from a web host? Absolutely not. It is always nice to have it and it can certainly be useful to have, especially if you’re a beginner. However, it’s not something that’s necessary.

Furthermore, phone support is a fairly expensive feature for hosts to offer as they require at least several full-time employees to manage, who would otherwise be fixing server issues.

If a host is offering it and it is a good deal, then I would say view it as a bonus. But if your host doesn’t, don’t worry too much. What matters the most is how quickly and comprehensively your host responds to support issues, not how you send it in.

You would much rather have a host only accept email or trouble ticket notices and respond quickly than a host that simply ignores phone calls. Though talking to a human can be comforting, it’s useless in the big picture and support should be all about getting things done, not what feels good.

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