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«Return to Blog List I’d Like to Say Nice Things About HostGator’s Support, but…

Update 2/4/2010: I had reason for some support help from HostGator, so I tried out their chat support. It’s an entirely different experience. Dedicated attention from a single support tech who stays with you until the problem is resolved. The result? The problem was resolved quickly and efficiently.

Update 1/8/2010: when I returned to HG’s contact page this morning (still not resolved and I need to get beyond the ticket system), I noted that the email addresses did carry the instruction to “submit a ticket by emailing us.” Like most people, when I want help, I tend not to see the details but go straight to the info that looks like it will get me help, without reading (or even seeing) the supplementary info: when I see an “Email Us” heading, I expect the process to act like email. There is a usability lesson in that for me as a web developer/information architect.

This is not the first time I have complained in my blog about Hostgator’s support ticket system. Last time, a nice person from HG even responded to that post, but nothing in the system has changed since then, so nice responses that seem to offer understanding don’t amount to much.

On HG’s behalf, let me say they are very reliable, and I don’t have more support issues than I’ve experienced with other webhosts. I’m just not happy with their support system and/or processes, and probably all that can be traced to whoever is managing their support function.

What’s the issue? HG seems to have a single support channel: a ticket system. And no way around it when it does not fit the need. Here’s the story:

4:28pm: I submit a ticket on a problem with a hosted site after spending half an hour trying to determine for myself what the problem might be and what I need to do to fix it.

4:35pm: Representative A responds and requests more info.

4:41pm: I respond with requested info.

5:36pm: (note increased time) Representative B responds with partial fix and partial explanation.

5:39pm: I respond with questions to clarify what happened.

5:43pm: After noticing that some problems remain, I respond outlining remaining problems.

7:38pm: (that was one long dinner break) Representative C responds with additional partial fix, but no requested explanation.

7:42pm: I respond with remaining issues that are apparent.

7:59pm: I share repeated error that has been showing up in error logs.

9:28pm: I’m still waiting…

(Note: times are in HG’s time zone, an hour ahead of mine)

Does anyone besides me see a problem here with lack of continuity in HG’s support responses, both in terms of time and personnel? Anyway, I see such a problem, so I decided to go to HG’s website and send an email to the support contact email, with a little “constructive critcism.” Copied from my email:

I’m a fan of Hostgator. I currently host a few dozen websites on Hostgator. I spend a fair amount of time telling my clients how reliable and rocksolid Hostgator is.

But that may have to change, because HG does not have its support act together. At this point, I have several support issues behind me, and the record shows this is the usual experience:

1. submit support ticket to the support dept
2. receive first response in approx 10 minutes, from rep A (so far, so good)
3. respond and receive next response in approx 1 hour, from rep B (not so good)
4. respond and receive next response in 1-2 hours, from rep C (not even close to acceptable)
5. there may be 2-3 additional cycles, extending the support process up to 5-6 hours

The upshot is that relatively simple matters can easily take 2-3 hours (more is not unusual) to resolve. Between the lack of continuity (because of extended times and different support reps) and the slow response times, the support, well, it sucks.

(BTW, my one experience with support from your billing dept shows response times always in the 10-15 minute range, with greater continuity with support personnel)

Can you not see the value of going to a different system for a customer for whom the first response does not resolve the issue? I guarantee you are about to lose at least one customer entirely, or at minimum, cease to see any additional growth in this account.

Would you like to guess what happened to this email? It was directed to HG’s ticket system. That’s right: an email complaint about HG’s ticket system opened a ticket. I’m currently awaiting a ticket response on my original ticket, AND this ticket. Can anyone here spell “INFLEXIBLE?” Can everyone here say “It’s time to look for a webhost with a better support system?”

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