A few days ago, I devoted a good portion of my post to ranting about the quality of customer support at my current hosting service, NoMonthlyFees.com. You can read the details in that post, but the short of it was that I couldn't access the configuration tools for one of my clients and the hosting company was being less than helpful in resolving the situation. The problem has since been solved. In my last missive to them, I made the suggestion that, since I couldn't access the control panel where it was currently located, perhaps they could move it to a different server. The next morning, the company took my suggestion and I was able to complete the initial set up of the CNP of Ohio competition registration. Keep an eye on the CNP of Ohio website for more information about the upcoming competition.
So, it was a happy ending, right? The customer got what they needed and I got to ride off into the sunset?
Not so fast.
Yes, the hosting company did finally respond to me and implement a solution. For that I will give them a partial redemption from my vitriol. The technical issue, though, was not the real problem here. I understand that, every once in a while, things just go wrong. It's no one's fault in particular. My problem lies in how I was treated. What follows are a few tips on how this whole situation could have been handled just a little better and have made me a whole heck of a lot more sanguine about recommending this company to future clients.
- If the only way you are going to accept support requests is through the Web, your interface must be clear and professional-looking. In the form with which I was working, one of my options was "Category" for which there were three options: "Emergency", "Not Listed", and "Site Down". Perhaps one or two other major areas might be appropriate? Don't even get me started on the part which asks for a "Sample URL". The whole thing felt like it had been designed for a different purpose and then shoe-horned to serve in this capacity.
- Make sure your response method is consistent. As I mentioned in the post, responses to my queries sometimes came through email, sometimes only on the support site, and sometimes through both. Don't make me wonder if you have responded.
- Don't tell me the problem is somewhere on my end and that I should just wait for a couple of hours to see if it fixes itself. That's not a real solution and it makes me feel like you are just trying to get rid of me. How about trying to open up a dialog to help me debug the situation from my end?
- Don't blow me off if I don't fill out your form correctly. Maybe this should be #1, because it really got me steamed. In this case, I had provided all of the necessary information in the body of the support request. If the support person had taken half a moment to read the message that I had typed up, he would have seen this. Instead, I felt even more like they were hoping that I would just go away.
- Solve my problem. Don't make me do it for you. The solution which I came up with doesn't take a degree in rocket surgery. I don't care who is at fault. All I know is that your service isn't working for me, through no fault of my own, and I don't know the first person other than you to contact in order to fix the problem.
On a somewhat related note, I started uploading the new Community Housing Network online donation system to their new secure website. Thus far, the transition is going smoothly. I've still got a way to go before I can give the hosting service, DreamHost.com, an unqualified testimonial. So far, though, things look good and, as I mentioned before, for non-profits, you can't beat the price!
On a More Personal Note
I signed Lisa and I up to go on a VIP tour at Artrain USA. I recently learned about Artrain from Barb Shoffner, whom I met through Muriel Converse of our local SCORE chapter (isn't networking a wonderful thing?). The Artrain is, for lack of more poetic language, a mobile art museum, housed in a series of renovated 1940s passenger cars. It travels all over the country, from coast to coast not only bringing it's current exhibit, "Native Views: Influences of Modern Culture", but also revitalizing the local art scene and often starting a process of community renovation which lasts long after the Artrain pulls out of the station.
Barb told me about the VIP tours which are set aside for a limited number of visitors. The tours include a guide who will present information about the exhibit and point out the details of specific pieces. For Lisa and I, who spent part of our first date at the Toledo Art Museum, this is going to be a lot of fun! By the way, while donations are encouraged, the price of admission for this event? Free.
If you are going to be in Ann Arbor in January 2007, you might want to give them a call (734-747-8300) to find out more.
So, what fun events would you recommend in your community?