Choosing a Web Host if You`re a Reseller - Customer Support is Key
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Remember the scenario I mentioned a couple of sections ago when I discussed the importance of a web host's reliability? I don't know of any web host that has never experienced down time--and if there ever was one, it would have made the news. (In fact, one web host did make the news for being located in downtown New Orleans and managing to stay up throughout the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina). When your customers experience down time, for whatever reason, you have to call your web host. This is when you will find out whether its customer and technical support is at the level you expect.
Fortunately, you can do a little quality testing yourself before push comes to shove--before you even sign up with them, in fact. They should have their email and phone information easily available. Use this information. Send them an inquiry and see how quickly you get a response. If you really want to test them, send a sales-related question to their technical support department and see how fast they get back to you. They will probably have to reroute it to sales first, which will give you a chance to see whether they're on the ball.
Don't judge it solely on speed, though; how well did they answer your question? Call the phone number, too. Do you connect to a person or a phone tree? How long do you have to wait on hold? Did the person you spoke with seem knowledgeable? Did they have to route you to several other people before you got an answer to your question (one of my personal pet peeves)?
A number of web hosts have other forms of contact as well. I had a pleasant experience recently when I was doing a little research on web hosts. After poking around for a while on RackSpace's website, a window popped up offering me the opportunity to do a live IM chat with one of their people. I did; he asked me a few questions as to what I was looking for, and answered mine. I appreciated the opportunity to get some quick answers without having to send an email or get on the phone.
You will probably want a web host that offers 24/7 customer support. People expect that these days. If your customers expect it from you (and they probably will, no matter what you say), you'd better be able to get it from your web host.
Of course, this is another area where visiting web hosting forums and doing your research will serve you well. When people complain about web hosts, it's usually because of reliability and customer support issues. Those tend to be the sorts of things that get remembered, good or bad. So you want to know how your prospective web host is remembered...because that is probably how you will be remembered as well.
You'll notice I've barely mentioned price in this article. There is a reason for that. I'm not saying that price doesn't matter, especially since reseller web hosting plans vary wildly in both price and the amount of space/bandwidth you get for a particular price. But all of the other factors I've mentioned are far more important. Once you narrow down the web hosts you would be willing to use based on reliability, features, and customer support, then you can think about price. Good luck!
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