How To Contact Support, Properly.

ElliotJ

New Member
Verified Provider
Many a time we've seen threads arise due to 'poor support' and slow turnaround times.

Whilst there's the unavoidable fact that the provider can be slow to respond, it's always a good idea to make their understanding of your problems as clear as possible.

Keep the upper hand by giving them all the tools they need to resolve your ticket as quickly as possible.

These pointers are written from my own experiences with receiving support and giving support.

1. Read Their Terms Of Service

It's important for you to get a grasp on what you can/can't expect from your provider.

Although you should do it before ordering services, have another read through just to make sure your request is reasonable.

The vast majority of providers on this forum are unmanaged which means besides the hardware and network aspects of your server, you're on your own.

If you're having an issue with a particular piece of software, they'll be unable to help you however may point you in the right direction to get help. Better still, you can always ask on forums like this when you're having an issue. Generally speaking, people are pretty helpful in diagnosing, troubleshooting and resolving server related problems. 

2. Appropriate Ticket Priority & Title

Although your problem may be annoying you, unless the server is completely offline refrain from using 'High Priority'.

Questions regarding upgrades, downgrades and cancellations should realistically be placed under the 'Low Priority' category.

Performance issues, depending on the severity should be Low/Medium priority.

Try and keep down to a few words, 'Slow Network Throughput', 'High Disk Latency' and 'Service Cancellation' are directly relevant to the problem at hand. Y U NO MAKE HAPPY' probably won't be too helpful, neither will 'YOU'RE LOSING ME MONEY'.

3. Clear & Polite Language

Although their service might be a tad awful at the time, you'll be talking to human beings. Remember that how you interact with them will influence how they interact with you.

Try to be courteous, don't give them an excuse to lower the priority of your ticket.

If English isn't your native language, it may be a good idea to first attempt to articulate your problem in English, but write the same below in your native language. If the employees are having trouble understanding you, a quick Google Translate might be able to clear things up.

4. Provide Relevant Information

Provide evidence for your problem - This may be in the form of benchmarks, traceroutes or outputs from other statistic generating programmes. Also, make it clear that it's an ongoing and not a sporadic problem by generating your evidence at different times.

5. Be Patient

If you're dealing with an unmanaged service, understand that there may be a wait until you get a response.

Response times may be dependent on your timezone, the provider's timezone, whether it's the weekend or not, public holidays, etc.

6. Be Appreciative

As pathetic as it may seem, it's important to maintain your relationship with your provider. If you're a nuisance, they'll remember it.

In the future you may really need them on your side, for example if you're the victim of a DDoS attack; don't give them another reason to kick you out.

If I've missed anything, give me a buzz and I'll add it on.
 
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shovenose

New Member
Verified Provider
Awesome article.

Also, please remember to read the terms of service first, and if you are unsure whether your application for the VPS will violate it or not, open a sales ticket and ask, before signing up.
 

Eased

Member
Good guide. Sometimes when people are in a panic + rush to open a ticket to resolve a problem, the rule book goes out the window regardless.
 

Damian

New Member
Verified Provider
This IS a good post. A lot of customers seem to expect that they're receiving an enterprise-grade product for a few dollars per month and lose scope of, well, everything.

http://www.hospitalitynet.org/news/4045688.html is a good article entitled "The Customer is Always Right (Unless they are Wrong)" with a focus on the hotel industry, but still quite relevant.
 

ElliotJ

New Member
Verified Provider
This IS a good post. A lot of customers seem to expect that they're receiving an enterprise-grade product for a few dollars per month and lose scope of, well, everything.
Also clients spending $3 generally need more hand-holding than those spending significantly more :(
 

Hassan

New Member
Verified Provider
This thread is on point, I always try to be courteous in my support tickets, explaining the problem and what I've already tried, and then always thanking them before closing the ticket. 
 

TheLinuxBug

New Member
Also clients spending $3 generally need more hand-holding than those spending significantly more
This is a two sided problem:

First, this is because people have gotten the idea that they are getting the same product as they would with enterprise grade, just they have been lucky enough to have found an awesome deal (What LET has basicly promoted with its bloated resources for low prices).  They do not actually stop to consider that the price reflects the level of support they should expect, especially in the 'low end' market place. It is also very common for many clients not to read the TOS/AUP and then complain when their server is suspended for breaking the rules. While this is not your fault as a provider, it still can lead to customers not understanding the limitations set forth on the service and becoming frustrated.

Secondly, this is not always the customers fault. While some providers go out of the way to explain in their advertisements the expectations the customer should have for support, others do not.  It often seems the ones who don't do this are the first to complain when they get a bunch of customers wanting managed support or 'hand-holding' from customers on their 'low end' product tier. As a Provider or Host, setting the correct customer expectations from the start is one of the best things you can do to build a successful business relationship with your customer, in my opinion, even at the low end.  Even though it may feel like its over the top and you may get a few less impulse buyers, you will end up with many more happy and long term customers from it.

Regardless of the approach chosen by the provider when advertising, as a Provider or Host, when you get a ticket from a customer where they are requesting something beyond the means of their account, be sure to explain this to the customer as well as include the things you will and will not do (and kindly link them back to the TOS/AUP they agreed to upon sign-up). Even if you decide to be nice and help the customer out as a one time gesture, be sure to let them know that there are limitations and what they can expect going forward.  Failure to do this can create the wrong set of expectations on the side of the customer and cause you more problems in the long run. Though it may cause you to spend extra time on tickets, you will end up with better customer retention because of it.  

My 2 cents.

Cheers!
 
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PwnyExpress

New Member
I'd also say it falls on the customer understanding it's responsibilities and rights between them and the provider. Once they understand that boundary well enough, I'd say it's pretty much good at that point.
 

HalfEatenPie

The Irrational One
Retired Staff
@ElliotJ, you're the hero the industry needs.

Seriously, all customers should probably read this.  
 

drmike

100% Tier-1 Gogent
read the TOS/AUP and then complain when their server is suspended for breaking the rules.
Providers really should in the welcome package point customers to both documents and have a list of clearly prohibited activities spelled out on concise fashion post payment.

I've probably misused a VPS in all my years and violated some rule.  Never heard about it, but they probably noticed :)
 

drmike

100% Tier-1 Gogent
Somebody should put this on LET.
Dude you put common sense things like this on LET the kiddies on LETcare will have to find new temper tantrum outlets.

Sure providers out there have some of their least favorite customers who bomb support with endless neediness.

That's why the $7 market on down is such a wreck.  Unsure how companies even afford to respond to a ticket on those plans.
 

Ash

New Member
Very good article. It's certainly true that if a user opens a ticket with AN ALL CAPS SUBJECT, high priority and then includes zero information in the ticket other than SERVER DOWN FIX ASAP im less inclined to want to help them, especially when i know there is no service outage.

On the other hand i have clients that speak to me as they probably would stood in front of me, polite and even the odd bit of humour which i completely appreciate. I usually go out of my way to assist these clients with things i normally wouldn't help with.

I have many decent lowend clients that never even contact us unless its something they physically cant do. But since we stopped doing anything lowend the clients im getting now are all perfect and professional and we see a lot less abuse (Network and verbal) and fraud.

Sure we get a lot less orders and i mean a lot less, but i know the ones that are coming are going to stay for the long haul and more than likely expand on there services with us.
 
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I've always sought to act as courteously as I can when I create a support ticket. You do not want to upset the very people that might be able to help you or else they will quite obviously react negatively or worse, not react at all. What people ought to also keep in mind is that Google is your friend if you are using an unmanaged service. If you've tried your hardest and can't come across an answer, then drop by the irc channel and ask some people who might help you out. If you still don't have an answer to your problem then opening a support ticket is the way to go.
 

Tux

DigitialOcean? lel
I've always followed these rules when dealing with support, even when it's Raj from India. It also helps to take a deep breath while replying.
 

ElliotJ

New Member
Verified Provider
Thanks for the feedback guys!

I've added reading the ToS as it's been mentioned a couple times.
 
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