For hosting support – I prefer live chats over phone calls because:
- It’s easier to talk about technical issues via words, images, and screen captures
- Conversations on overseas phone calls are less useful sometimes – especially when talking technical terms in a foreign accent.
Live chat support is also better than email in my opinion, because it (usually) solves your problems on the spot. Whereas with email or a ticketing system, it would take hours or even days to solve one small issue.
For the past two months, I went undercover and contacted 20+ hosting companies via their live chat systems.
What I Did?
The test was simple.
I visited each hosting companies’ website, asked for support via their live chat system, and wrote my experience in a spreadsheet. Also, the wait time to get a first response for each session was recorded.
Here's What I Discovered
The results and my remarks are in the following table.
|Web Host||Number of Attempts||Avg. Wait Time||Satisfied?||Remarks|
|A2 Hosting||3||–||I was not able to reach A2 Hosting support staff via live chat. The system requested I send an email instead. See image-1 (below) for reference.|
|AltusHost||2||13 sec||Very quick response, my questions were answered professionally. Very good experience overall.|
|Arvixe||1||6 min 28 sec||Long wait time, my questions were not fully answered, and chat was closed unexpectedly. Poor experience – did not bother for second attempt.|
|A Small Orange||2||5 min 25 sec||[icon circle size=12]||Took a while to get a response but my questions were answered professionally. Okay experience overall.|
|B3 Hosting||1||–||Unable to reach the support staff via live chat. The system requested I send an email instead. See image-2 (below) for reference.|
|BlueHost||1||2 min 2 sec||Reasonable response time, questions answered professionally. Good experience overall.|
|BulwarkHost||1||8||Live chat was offline during time of contact. See image-3 (below) for reference.|
|CoolHandle||1||8||[icon circle size=12]||Live chat support not provided.|
|Crucial Paradigm||1||–||[icon circle size=12]||Live chat support not provided.|
|Dot5 Hosting||1||32 sec||Very quick response, my questions were answered professionally. Very good experience overall.|
|DreamHost||1||–||Live chat was offline during time of contact. Also, note that users need to login before getting help from DreamHost live chat support.|
|DTS-NET||1||20 sec||[icon circle size=12]||Very quick response – not very happy with the support I got though. Average experience.|
|eHost||2||11 sec||Very quick response, my questions were answered professionally. Very good experience overall.|
|FatCow||1||12 sec||Very quick response, my questions were answered professionally. Very good experience overall.|
|GoDaddy||1||15 sec||[icon circle size=12]||Can't find a live chat button at the GoDaddy site, but they provide two local numbers (Malaysia) to call. I tried one of the numbers and my call was picked up in 10 seconds. Unfortunately, my problems remained unsolved after 10 minutes on the phone. The support staff was not very familiar with their own product; I eventually gave up and ended the phone call.|
|GoGetSpace||1||10 sec||Only sales support is available via live chat, but support staff was helpful and very knowledgeable. Excellent experience overall.|
|GreenGeeks||1||20 sec||Very quick response, my questions were answered professionally. Very good experience overall.|
|Host1Plus||1||42 sec||Very quick response, my questions were answered professionally. Very good experience overall.|
|HostColor||1||8 min 5 sec||[icon circle size=12]||Long wait time. HostColor uses Skype instead of an on-site live chat system. Users need to add Host Color in Skype contact before communication.|
|HostGator||4||4 min||Response time was much quicker when I signed into my HostGator account. Very good experience overall.|
|HostMetro||2||–||Unable to reach the support staff via live chat. The system requested I send an email instead. See image-4 (below) for reference.|
|HostMonster||1||4 min 20 sec||[icon circle size=12]||Reasonable response time, questions answered professionally. Good experience overall.|
|HostPapa||1||3 sec||Very quick response, my questions were answered professionally. Very good experience overall.|
|InMotion Hosting||6||40 sec||Very quick response. We were having some technical issues with our private SSL certificate last month (June 2017) and I spoke to InMotion Hosting support multiple times. The support staffs were always ready to help and very efficient. Excellent experience overall.|
|Interserver||1||13 sec||Very quick response, my questions were answered professionally. Very good experience overall.|
|iPage||1||1 min 10 sec||Very quick response, my questions were answered professionally. Very good experience overall.|
|NetMoly||1||–||[icon circle size=12]||Live chat support not provided.|
|One.com||1||5 min 40 sec||Took a while to get a response, but their support staff was very friendly and helpful. Good experience overall.|
|SiteGround||1||30 sec||Very quick response, my questions were answered professionally. Awesome chat support system (see screenshots below) and very helpful support staff. Excellent experience overall.|
|WebHostFace||2||25 sec||Very quick response, my questions were answered professionally. Excellent experience overall. Given that WebHostFace is charging less than $2/mo, the company surprised me with their excellent live chat support.|
|WP Engine||2||2 sec||A chat box pops up after 3 seconds you are at the site. I got an instant response from the chat box, and my questions were answered professionally. Note, however, users need to login to their WP Engine account for technical support.|
The Table Only Tells Half the Story
In this experiment, there are things, such as genuineness and communication skills, that I can't quantify and put a rating on.
One of the staff members from InMotion Hosting spotted a potential issue with my account (that I was not aware of and he could have just ignored) during our live chat session and took the initiative to solve it.
Nikola N. from SiteGround had a great sense of humor and was fun to chat with.
WP Engine sent a followup email the next day to make sure that my issue was resolved.
And, for some companies, you can sense that they are well prepared and welcome live chat inquiries. For example, a live chat button is available at the top of every page of BlueHost's website. Same goes for InMotion Hosting, WebHostFace, Host1Plus, HostPapa, Hostgator, and SiteGround.
These small things are important but can't be quantified and rated in the table above.
[icon plus-sign] The Winners
There are five companies that stand out from the rest and made great impressions: SiteGround, InMotion Hosting, Web Host Face, WP Engine, and Go Get Space.
The following screenshots provide further details about my live chat sessions with some of these companies.
SiteGround – The best live chat support system
WP Engine – Pro-active live chat support
WebHostFace – Low cost hosting, outstanding live chat support
Higher hosting price does not equal quicker or better live chat responses. Just because you pay more does not mean you will get a better response speed on live chat support. Many hosting services that charge less than $5/mo performed well in my experiment.
For example, WebHostFace costs $1.63 (Face Extra plans) a month, but my experience with their live chat support was outstanding.
Live Chat Support Unavailable
Before drawing any conclusions from this, there are two things you need to keep in mind:
- I live in Malaysia, time zone GMT +8. My usual contact time in this experiment is 2 to 5 o’clock in the afternoon, which is midnight in the United States. I don’t think it’s fair to expect instant live chat support at midnight – especially if you are dealing with smaller hosting companies.
- Live chat is not the only way hosting companies provide support today. Often, users can get after sales support via email, phone, and also social media. Except for GoDaddy in this case, I have yet to try out the phone support in this experiment.
- For A2 Hosting – this is what Lori told me after she read and edited my post
I use A2 Hosting and always just email them. I've never had a problem with them getting back to me within a few minutes, but I've never had a problem that required a lot of back and forth I'd need through a Live Chat, so that was interesting that they weren't manning that.
I hope this post is useful to those who are searching for a web host. Make sure that you also check out our in-depth hosting reviews for more details.