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Customer Service Suggestions for Hosting Companies
Recently my site was shut down for the second time in about 5 days by my hosting service. This time it was because I forgot to upload the two files which a company, MHS, complained about. I was not happy with the customer service I got during the time I was trying to get my site back up so I started to think of these suggestions for web hosting companies.
March 22, 2006
First set of suggestions
If you have live chat and it is not 24/7, let people know when your live chat hours are. Here is an example of one company's message when they are not online:
XYZ Customer Service online chat is currently unavailable.
Please use the online service system (via the URL below)
to open a service ticket.
It would be more helpful to give the hours it is available, as well as the current local time.
Explain your company's copyright violation policy.
Before shutting down a site, make a diligent effort to contact the webmaster, or someone who knows the webmaster.
Instead of shutting down the entire site, if at all possible, just deactivate the specific pages or links which are possibly in violation.
If you shut down a cite for copyright violations
Explain exactly what the problem is.
Explain why you are shutting them down. IE that you are afraid you could be sued.
Try to help them understand the copyright laws.
Explain to them that the laws basically say that the customer is guilty until proven innocent when it comes to copyright violations.
Show some regret in having to shut down their site. Show some understanding of how the customer might feel when their site is shut down.
Give the customer priority, as in a hospital which gives emergency or critical care service, since it is a very serious thing for the customer and not like just one link is not working.
Don't shut down their web-based mail.
Don't shut down their FTP service or their access to your control panel (if you have one)
March 23, 2006
Still thinking about how the service was shut down all weekend.
I assume Jonathan was gone for the weekend and I also assume he knew he would not be back till Monday. Thus I assume he could have said, "I will be out of the office until Monday. I have explained your case to so and so and he will help you get this straightened out if you get back to us over the weekend."
When I got the email that said something like "We visited your site again and you did not remove the material so we have no choice but to shut your site down again" I felt punished. It was like they were saying "Ha! Caught you! Now we are going to punish you." It would have been more helpful to say
"I visited your site again and am confused. You were very cooperative with us and you changed the files on your back up host. But the edited files are not showing up on our server. Could you please check on this? As long as the files remain unchanged we are a vulnerable position and subject to being sued. Please take care of this within the next 24 hours so we won't have to protect ourselves and shut your site down again. We would really like to avoid that extreme step."
They didn't notify me when my site was back up. And they didn't remind me that I had only 24 hours to make the changes. I am not sure they ever told me I only had 24 hours.
Nor did they thank me for taking the files down after I did, though I assume they checked again. They could have said
We checked your site again and saw that you had removed the two files in question. Thank you.
Sorry for all the headaches. In the future, if you have a question about whether a file is potentially in violation of a copyright, please submit it to us to review either before linking it or as soon as you do. If there are any suggestions you have on how we could improve our service, please let us know.
Sorry again for all the inconvenience.
It really bothers me that they not only shut down the site, but turned off my FTP service and then left for the weekend. It bothers me that Jonathan was possibly off having a good time while my site was basically being held hostage. It bothers me more to think he was aware that I would not be able to do a thing about it until he got back on Monday, assuming he knew that the case would only be directed to him and no one else and be waiting for him when he got back if I wrote during the weekend. If he were aware of all of this, then I would say his actions should be unacceptable to the hosting company. If he has such little concern for the customer, and possibly even felt some sense of satisfaction knowing he could shut down a customer's site for the entire weekend, then I would say he should not be working in that position.
I would say also that there needs to be a check within the company when a site is shut down. I don't believe one person should have authority to shut down a site, nor do I believe only one person should be assigned to communicate with the customer during the process of reactivation. The delay from Friday night to Monday morning was, in my view, totally unnecessary and could have been avoided.
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