Third-Party Applications & Technical Support

Black Chicken Host LogoAt Black Chicken Host, we completely understand how frustrating it can be getting the runaround from less-than-stellar technical support staff. That’s why each of our Home-Cooked Support staffers was hand-picked by our founder from people she has known and worked with personally for years; you’re not going to get a shady, half-wit answer from us. We promise.

Last night, I had a series of particularly frustrating conversations with the developer of a WordPress plugin and with MailChimp support. Each party blamed the other; the plugin developer said there was nothing he could do for me because it was MailChimp’s fault; MailChimp said there was nothing they could do for me because it was the plugin’s fault. Back and forth, round and round, as my blood pressure steadily climbed.

MailChimp ended up giving me a satisfactory answer on the fourth try, and throughout, they were very polite. It turns out they don’t log the information I was looking for, so it was indeed not their issue. Still, as a customer, I appreciate being given as much information as possible to help me figure out my problems, rather than being given vague, unhelpful answers.

Girl on telephoneHaving nearly 20 years in technical support myself, I understand that sometimes it’s not possible to diagnose third-party applications, because they may not log errors, and they may be written in an encoded format to keep proprietary code protected. However, usually someone on one side of the problem can glean a tidbit of information from the logs to help a customer out.

I fully understand there may be times, though, when tech support staff are unable to fully diagnose a problem if the issue is with a third-party application. Yesterday’s poor experience with two different support crews prompted me to write a post explaining our scope of support, so we are as transparent as possible.

Our “Scope of Support” is basically a guideline indicating what is fully supported, what is best-effort, what falls under charged-for support, and what is totally unsupported. 

Fully Supported: Server operating system (Linux OS,) and cPanel
Best-Effort: Everything else, including third-party software
Charged-For Support: Very rare situations, explained below
Totally Unsupported: Absolutely nothing!

Let’s break down some further terms:

Third-Party Software: A “third-party” application is any piece of software that is not the server’s operating system or the cPanel software which is the foundation for our customers’ accounts. Widely used third-party applications include WordPress, its many plugins, Magento, Drupal, and more.

Linux: A free, open-source operating system much like UNIX. This is the core of your account, the glue holding everything together. On your computer, you might have Windows or Mac OS, which serve the same functions as Linux does on our servers.

cPanel: Many of our WordPress customers never access cPanel at all; however, it’s the account structure and domain management tool for all Black Chicken Host customers.

Fully Supported: All problems will be ruthlessly hunted down and corrected by Home-Cooked Support, no matter how long it takes, free of charge.

Best-Effort: We will give our best shot at fixing these issues, including doing independent research and testing on your behalf. Best-effort support cannot be 100% guaranteed, as it is frequently dependent upon third-party vendors cooperating with us, upon which we cannot always count. We will never turn away from customers with problems and just say “no, we don’t support that;” even if we cannot fix it ourselves, we will provide as many resources as possible to help the customer find help with the third-party vendor.

We are experts with WordPress and many of its plugins, and we pride ourselves on going above and beyond the call of duty to solve any issue our customers may come up with, even if it involves third-party software. We know how difficult it can be to find solid answers, and we want to be the people you can always turn to for them!

A pallet of paintCharged-For Support: For issues involving coding or design work, we will either recommend someone for the customer to contact and hire independently, or hire one of our colleagues directly, depending upon the situation. The costs associated with that work will need to be paid for by the customer, and fees will be discussed and arranged prior to the work occurring – that way, there are no surprise costs.

There may also be very rare times when diagnosis, research, and implementation of a best-effort solution takes many hours. In that case, we will agree upon an hourly or flat rate with the customer before proceeding. We will give a good-faith estimate of how much the work will cost, and when that estimate is reached, we’ll get in touch with the customer to see if he or she wishes for us to proceed or call it quits before other costs are incurred.

Charged-for support occurs in less than .01% of all support tickets – we will always give it our best shot for free before moving into a charged-for support agreement.

Totally Unsupported: There isn’t any issue we’ll outright refuse to take a look at, unlike some of our competitors. We’ll give anything our best shot, and 9.9 times out of 10, we’ll do it for free!

I hope this answers any questions current or potential customers may have with regard to what Black Chicken Host will support, and how we may assist you with your website. You may always contact us at any time for technical assistance by sending email to support(at)homesteadhost(dot)com, or via your Account Portal.

The bottom line is this: We want to help you!

We will always do our best.

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