Train your Support staff


#1

Hi DreamHost.

Here’s my sincere suggestion: train your support staff.

I do mean this seriously and I’ll provide you with examples below of why I am offering this suggestion.

Example 1:

[list]
[]My request:
[list]
[
]Good morning,
I tried to ssh into applewood today and was informed that the RSA key has changed. Can you confirm this key for applewood? (key attached)
[/list]
[]Support response:
[list]
[
]Please check out our status page for information regarding our key change
and methods on how to update your own:

http://www.dreamhoststatus.com/2012/10/24/proactive-security-maintenance-new-login-keys/

I have pasted the excerpt of how to solve this here:
[/list]
[]My follow up:
[list]
[
]Thank you for your prompt reply, but unfortunately, my question has not
been answered. I know how to fix the problem, but I want to verify that
they key I’m being presented with is in fact a valid key for applewood. I’m
using a public wifi connection at the moment, so there is a real
possibility that it may be a MITM attack.

So, can you confirm that applewood is
now xxxx ?
[/list]
[]Support response:
[list]
[
]Yes, that status update confirms we have changed our keys, it is not a
MTM attack.

If you have any other questions just let me know!
[/list]
[]My followup:
[list]
[
]You have changed your keys. I realise that. But I don’t know what the new
key is!

So, for the third time, can you confirm that applewood’s key is now xxxx?
[/list]
[]Support response:
[list]
[
]Thanks for writing back in and sorry for all the back and fourth. i can
confiem that that is in fact applewood’s new key fingerprint:
[/list]
[/list]

Example 2:

[list]
[]My request:
[list]
[
]Hi,
http://www.dreamhost.com/green.cgi has the following header:

And contains unicode which is not in that charset:

Finally, to neutralize those unavoidable emissions we’ve invested in Emission Reduction Credits (a.k.a. offsets) which guarantee our remaining impact is effectively erased.

Please change the charset so that your ’ shows correctly. Or use character entities.
[/list]
[]Support response:
[list]
[
]Thank you for contacting us. We can not make any immediate changes as our
design team in on holiday but I will be happy to forward you comments to
them, for review.
[/list]
[]Resolution:
[list]
[
]After three months, the page still shows the encoding problem.
[/list]
[/list]

Example 3 (via live chat):

[list]
[]My request:
[list]
[
]Hi, I’m trying to install gitit which requires building a haskell compiler, but I keep hitting the memory limits. Is there any way to increase that limit for 30 minutes or so on xxxx while I install it?
there’s no hidden haskell compiller (ghc) or package manager (cabal) hidden on the servers, is there?
[/list]
[]Support response:
[list]
[
] http://wiki.dreamhost.com/Php.ini
http://wiki.dreamhost.com/Git
[/list]
[]My followup:
[list]
[
]this isn’t a PHP problem. I’m trying to build but the process keeps getting killed (sig 9)
[/list]
[]Support response:
[list]
[
]You are able to modify the PHP.ini but we are limited on the amount of support we provide on setting this up.
[/list]
* resolution:
[list]
[*]Nothing could be done.
[/list]
[/list]

Example 4 (via live chat):

[list]
[]My request:
[list]
[
]Hi, my database server, armonica, is dead. PHP connection attempts report: mysqli_connect() [function.mysqli-connect]: (HY000/1040): Too many connections
[/list]
[]Support response:
[list]
[
]Hmm, let me take a look here. What is the hostname you are connecting to?
[/list]
[]My followup:
[list]
[
]xxx or xxx, both are set up as hostnames
[/list]
[]Support response:
[list]
[
]I’m getting a 404.html page text when I go to xxx
[/list]
[]My followup:
[list]
[
] i hope so. it’s for the database. i had DH block phpmyadmin to my database hostnames looooooong time ago
[/list]
[]Support response:
[list]
[
]xxx is a working hostname, as it is going to the database. What are the credentials you are using?
[/list]
[]My followup:
[list]
[
]there’s no problem with the hostname. it was working, now it’s not. i didn’t do anything
i’d prefer to have xxx blocked as well, but Support likes to bitch and moan every time I tell them to disable phpMyAdmin access to my databases
anyway, the problem is that people are trying to use my site, but the database is overloaded. it was working 8 minutes ago, now nothing
dead
it would be great if you could look at the database rather than the host names
[/list]
* resolution:
[list]
[*]The database was indeed overloaded with connections and started responding as normal after Support “killed off a few connections”
[/list]
[/list]

These samples represent about 50% of the interactions I have with Support. The overriding theme here is that Support simply does not bother to understand the problem before randomly shooting of suggestions.

In example 1, it took several hours to establish that the new SSH key was indeed authentic. That was several hours where I couldn’t get the work done that needed to be done because Support would not actually read my query.

In example 2, I was promised that an embarrassing mistake would be corrected, but in never has been. Support fails to understand that DH offers this page and encourages website owners to link to it to certify that their websites are green, but it’s full of errors! How unprofessional is that?

In example 3, Support again failed to actually read the question. The see the word memory then go into auto mode. During that strained conversation, Support even offered me a VPS to solve my problem.

Example 4 was today which prompted me to offer this suggestion. Clearly time is of the essence when people are trying to use your site and suddenly the database goes down. I reported the error clearly, but Support went into auto mode again and didn’t even bother to think about it. There’s no way I could have got that error if the hostname was incorrect or my credentials were wrong. Support went off down a garden path again ignoring my question which had all the details to fix the problem.

I realise that probably the vast majority of support requests can be resolved with stock answers and a quick skim of the question, but for those who actually know a wee bit about what they are doing, and would do it themselves if they had the correct privileges, interacting with Support can be worse than a trip to the dentist with a double hernia.

If you don’t want to train Support to actually read the request and identify the problem, then at least assign customers to different categories so that Support will know whether they can just skim and paste links to the wiki or whether they will actually need to put on their thinking caps and do some work.


#2

+1

Examples may lead to partial education sans direction.


#3

It’s really rare that I find the need to complain out loud… but

I’ve stood on my head and tweeted @dreamhostcare

what circus act do i need to do next??

ticket#'s #5707139 71468372 #5707068 #5707039 #5706874
[hr]
might have missed a number in there… i count more emails than ticket numbers…


#4

Posting here seems to help. At least the problem in example two has been fixed since the original suggestion.


#5

in this case my point is…

I’m having a ridiculous conversation with support…

there are really two problems… I’ve changed nothing in my settings in over a year… and I’ve said that…

I tweeted, I’ve posted here… and have repeated myself way too many times…

I just wondered if I need to act like a monkey next and eat a banana while scratching my head…

I’ll try that one… funny just opening a ticket should be all the theatrics needed…

new users have to know too much to get real support…
[hr]
and now i’ve linked them to there own wiki documentation after they told me to change ports…


#6

Agree about support issues - but all of the rest is way over my head. When I’m looking for a web host I hear it’s easy to transfer. It’s easy to set up.

It’s not! There isn’t someone to talk to and follow it through until it works. And even clicking the step by step instructions doesn’t work as it calls for passwords and logins I do not have! I tried the one in the first email - I can get onto Dreamhost but not the FTP, or other sites. And in the mean time the website is down - if it’s this much hassle to get it up how much is it to maintain. And from reading this, it doesn’t get better.


#7

DreamHost support may not be perfect, but it’s the only web host i’ve had whose initial support team is capable of reading as far as the second line of a support request


#8

Some issues require more than one line.