Undercover Experiment: I Asked 28 Hosting Companies for Live Chat Support

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  • Hosting Guides
  • Aug 01, 2017

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 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 Live chat support not provided.
Crucial Paradigm 1 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 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 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 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 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 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.

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.

You can also learn more in our in-depth reviews on SiteGround, InMotion Hosting, Web Host Face, WP Engine, and Go Get Space.

SiteGround – The best live chat support system

The first screen SiteGround showed me right after I asked for a live chat support. The big heart sign made me feel welcomed instantly.
My request was attended in 30 seconds and my questions were answered in less than 3 minutes. Note that you can learn more about the person you are chatting with by viewing the staff’s profile. In this example, I was chatting with a cool dude named Nikola N. The human touch in SiteGround’s live chat system enhanced the overall experience.
I was redirected to a rating page once the chat ended.

WP Engine – Pro-active live chat support

Image-4: A few seconds after I landed on WP Engine’s website, a small chat box popped up at the bottom right of my screen.
Image-5: I launched a chat, got an instant response from WP Engine staff member Maurice Onayemi, and my questions were answered in a professional manner. The entire process was smooth and very easy.

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.

Screenshots of my live chat record at WebHostFace. My chat requests were answered within seconds, and my questions were answered professionally. The overall experience with the web host support staff was excellent.

Live Chat Support Unavailable

Before drawing any conclusions from this, there are two things you need to keep in mind:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Image-1: I wasn’t able to reach A2 Hosting support via live chat and was advised to send an email instead.
Image-2: There was no one answering my chat request at B3. The chat board asked for my email instead.
Image-3: BulwarkHost live chat system was offline when I reached out.
Image-4: All departments at HostMetro were offline at time of contact.

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.

Article by Jerry Low

Geek dad, SEO data junkie, investor, and founder of Web Hosting Secret Revealed. Jerry has been building Internet assets and making money online since 2004. He loves mindless doodling and trying new food.

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