Something to Consider

Discussion in 'Feedback and Suggestions' started by -GH0ST-, Jun 18, 2011.

  1. ilovewhu86

    ilovewhu86 New Member

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    Well I tried to do as the message said and contact the server administrator, no-reply@x10hosting.com but received a response back The email account that you tried to reach does not exist.

    Additionally it was your support staff who escalated it. Hardly my fault was it?

    I can only reiterate that I am only talking here about the management of expectation and perception that is all.
     
  2. henk506673

    henk506673 Member

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    they realy do try to get it back up and working soon but the thing you need to understand is that x10 offices are in new hampshire the data center they use is in the middle of the country so they dont really have too much control over when things crash, although they certantly try to do their best from their end. and also, all of the upgrade to premium stuff is for the people that want features that would need to be enabled server wide and are there on premium if you upgrade.
     
  3. Camo Yoshi

    Camo Yoshi New Member

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    I hear ya, I work in tech support as well, so I know the stress and flak that us techs experience when something breaks...
     
  4. Corey

    Corey I Break Things Staff Member

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    He was stating that it should not have been escalated, not blaming you for it. Anything that is affecting multiple users should not be escalated and it was an error on the part of the person who chose to escalate it.

    All requests come in as low priority, the person escalating it does not have an option to change this as it won't affect the outcome regardless. Also if an issue is escalated it will take some time, I think if things were escalated at a 'high' level people would be here complaining that their 'high' priority ticket took 48 hours to get a response. So regardless of what it is escalated at we can't win.
     
  5. ilovewhu86

    ilovewhu86 New Member

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    Corey, I'm dissecting your post to address below the points you make.

    Quite a strange opinion. I certainly don't agree with it.


    That was one of my reasons for writing my initial response. There should be a method for support staff (not users) to set the initial priority level on escalated tickets.

    The whole point of me writing my initial response is that there should be a documented support level that people can refer to. In conjunction with a Priority Level it would enable people to have a perception and expectation of how long an escalated ticket will take to be initially dealt with. So yes you can win. You could even ultimately publish statistics of how well you performed against your targets (1 more vehicle for X10 to use to show how good they are).

    The very word escalated causes a person to have a perception that something has been referred for a higher and more urgent level of attention. But a priority of Low drastically reduces that perception. Staff may know that everything always gets assigned a Low priority but the user community do not.

    I have worked in Information Technology for many years and have Service Level Agreements (SLA's) with a wide user community. The SLA that the user community have for initial response to support tickets is as follows:
    Very High - A problem that affects the entire community or large group of users - within 4 hours
    High - A problem with no known workaround that affects a small group of users - within 1 day
    Medium - A general service request or problem with a workaround solution or a problem with no known workaround that affects only a single user - 2 working days
    Low - A service request that does not require immediate attention or involves long range planning - 5 working days

    Now that is just the initial response because as we know certain issues can take much longer to actually resolve but at least their initial expectation is documented and managed. You may not agree with those SLA's but that is what we have in place and always try to respond as quickly as possible within those timescales.

    So I come back to my reasons for posting in this particular topic. The topic is called Something to Consider in a Forum called Feedback and Suggestions that has a description of Tell us what we can do in order to serve you better here.

    I have made a suggestion that I feel would improve the escalation process. It is something to consider that I feel would improve things for both staff and users alike. It would also improve the 1 category fits all Low Priority that is currently used. It would also provide documentation of the timescales that you try and work to.
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2011
  6. joemgap

    joemgap Member

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    I love it! :wink:
    Yeah, you're right.
    Go @-GH0ST-!
     
  7. leafypiggy

    leafypiggy Manager of Pens and Office Supplies Staff Member

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    The reason anything that affects multiple users isn't escalated is because we have an internal messaging system and other means of communications as to how we get information around to who needs to know. It's as simple as opening an IM window, and messaging Corey or Bryon, or anyone, and they can investigate.

    Again, all tickets have the same priority for a reason. If they're being escalated, they're all equally important. If we were allowed (as staff) to set their priority, it's all a matter of opinion, just as it would be with users setting it. A staff member may think something's of dire importance and needs to be fixed, when in reality there's another ticket set with a lower priority that takes a lot more time, effort, and skill to fix.

    As to the rest: You're way overthinking this.
     
  8. ilovewhu86

    ilovewhu86 New Member

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    It's a shame then that (in the case of my own original problem) other users were not let in on the fact that a problem was being investigated. Support staff were merrily continuing to tell users reporting the same problem for most of the day that it was a permissions issue which it was known was not the case. One poor person was even told to check the permissions on every folder in a phpbb forum he had tried to install. That would probably have wasted at least a day of his time.

    That sort of backs up my point about priorities. If you look at the SLA that I included in my previous post it is fairly simple to decide what has what priority. If something should have a lower priority then, it does not matter what the time, effort and skill is required, it should take back seat to higher priority support issues (within the confine of budget, skill set and manpower availability, etc).

    If you are saying that staff members do not have the skill to set an "initial recommended priority" then there is obviously a training issue. Once more information is known about an issue, priorities are often changed by management either before work commences or post analysis but pre technical solution stage. But setting an "initial recommended priority" really is not that difficult when you have a guide to work to.

    I'm not sure what you mean by "As to the rest". All I've done is told you at least what my perception was and given you something to consider (including providing you with information that is used for my own community of users which was no more than a cut and paste). Nothing took a lot of thinking about really.


    You are obviously happy with the way things work for you. But that is not what this forum/topic is about is it? The forum is about how you can make things better for us.:rolleyes:
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2011
  9. leafypiggy

    leafypiggy Manager of Pens and Office Supplies Staff Member

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    Do you even understand what an SLA is? It's a Service Level Agreement. It has absolutely nothing to do with how support requests are handled. The system we use works efficiently, and is damn fast. Go to any other free webhost, and don't expect a response for at least four days. We don't guarantee response times - it's not something we can do with the massive load of tickets we receive, thus, there's no SLA on them. We actually don't offer any SLA on free hosting. We offer 99.9% Uptime SLA on Premium hosting. That's it. There's just no way we can provide any type of SLA for free hosting when nothing's being bought

    When there is an outage or server problem, we alert everyone through our internal messaging system and through IRC. This way, everyone who's handling free support tickets know what is going on. They are able to then tell the user that the administrators are aware of the issue, and that it's being worked on.
     
  10. bluemonkey51981

    bluemonkey51981 New Member

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    The priority level of the tickets completely makes sense - including the part about server-wide problems not being escalated.

    X10 is a great host, I've only been here for about a month or so, and I really like it. I'm on the Stoli server which has had its fair share of outages - but I know they are working hard to stop the outages and remove any sites abusing the server. I am in the networking field myself and know that problems will come up unexpectedly. There is no way to predict when the server will go down, all you can do is wait for the administrators to track down the problem and resolve it.

    Complaining about it over and over isn't going to help anything. Having owned websites & forums since 2005, I know that nothing is more annoying than people complaining about the obvious. Even more so when you put countless hours into it and instead of appreciating your hard work, they are going to complain about a minor problem.

    That's my 2 cents :)
     
  11. magicdives64

    magicdives64 New Member

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    Oh welll...


    I had raised a question about this very subject some hours ago.

    I am a programmer with a large experience in datacenters and systems and network infrastructures.
    I have worked with linux 500, have seen the birth and raise of linux distros, have been around (and avoiding whenever I can :p ) all windows platforms...
    Hell, I have programmed in assembly and made games for Z80 processors, for the ZX-Spectrum 48K micro computer... back in 1986!

    And OF COURSE I KNOW that it's no picnic to have a datacenter and webservice provider running without downtime.

    I know that
    And I know that being free it is, of course, only natural that is underpriorized for those who pay (and I'm not saying that it is, only that it would be natural to priorize those).

    But as I live in a different time zone, I shorely would LOVE to know that it's gonna happen soon. Whenever we're talking about scheduled interventions, of course...

    We had, at a Service Provider I used to work at, a custom 404 an 403 pages stating that it had happened "by mistake"... and whenever we knew it was going to happen, we mailed the customers warning them.
    That is automatized and could be done.

    I know we are using it for free.
    But in my case I'm moving to a payed service here soon enough...

    Now.. what are my guarantees that this won't happen like this at the payed service? none.
    I only hope I can have some warnings before.


    Thank you all.

    My business is offline for the day. It has been like that since this morning (Greenwich time)... I haven't sold ONE of my services today because people cannot reach my website... oh well, thank you. If I only knew it sooner I could have warned people about it.

    Best,
    Fernando

    Oh.. keep up the good work. It's actually a good service.
     
  12. stpvoice

    stpvoice Community Support Rep Community Support

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    There is a 99.9% uptime SLA on premium. That's your guarantee. :)
     
  13. ilovewhu86

    ilovewhu86 New Member

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    As I chair a Change Control Board every day I think it is one of the things I understand well. However it appears that you do not.

    A Service Level Agreement records a common understanding about services, priorities, responsibilities, guarantees, and warranties. Perhaps you should read up about the different types of SLA ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Service_level_agreement ) before launching into telling someone that uses them every day that they don't even know what they are. I have been in IT since almost certainly before you were born.

    The only reason I pasted an extract from an SLA was to provide the text on how priorities were set for the user base I am responsible for. The discussion was originally about why the priority was always set to Low. It was not about a full blown Service Level Agreement.

    I refer you to my previous post. The user base were not made aware for something like 6 or 7 hours. They were continually told the problem was permissions when it was not and it was already known that was not the case.

    I've no problem with you being defensive about how you run and support your systems - it is after all, as I have already stated, a very good free service. But please do not be defensive to the point of being almost insulting. I made a suggestion that is all.
     
  14. Sharky

    Sharky Community Paragon Community Support

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    The dark side...
     
  15. StarWallace

    StarWallace New Member

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    ya know i agree with most of your points. However i have been at free hosts that were capable of delivering better up time than x10, simply because they used a load balanced server farm to serve up the websites, meaning they almost never went down. It was nice and redundant, good and fault tolerant. Now that said, they placed certain limitations on the accounts, the most recent of which was the deal breaker for me. The disabled all mailing functions on free accounts... I had been using google smtp on my forum, but i got caught off guard when it suddenly stopped emailing.

    So for me, the fact that x10 allows us to use something like google smtp, and it all runs so smoothly is reason enough to forgive the down time.
     
  16. Smith6612

    Smith6612 I ate all of the x10Pizza Community Support

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    The downtime the Free Hosting servers are seeing at the moment is due to our current load balancing setup. We do have one so when everything is working fine and dandy, you won't see downtime. The issue we're having right now is basically an undocumented bug, like many of the other issues we've come across with trying out a unique setup to keep Free Hosting running at it's best. But glad to hear you like everything else though :)
     
  17. Corey

    Corey I Break Things Staff Member

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    So is the consensus that we need to change the priority tickets are submitted at from low to high for perception reasons even though the priority does not matter?

    We're going to work on a better system for notifications when there is a server issue, we just need to make sure it is 100% accurate. I'm thinking a notification at the top of the forum if your server is affected.

    I also read in this thread something about emailing when there is an issue or for planned maintenance... this is not feasible due to the amount of members we have. We would have our email server blacklisted within an hour.
     
  18. Livewire

    Livewire Abuse Compliance Officer Staff Member

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    With respect there Corey, I don't think it'd take an hour to blacklist the server for that many emails. Maybe like 5 minutes :p
     
  19. magicdives64

    magicdives64 New Member

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    Ok Corey, don't email.
    But it would really be nice to put it sticked at the forum ;)

    At least it would satisfy our curiosity or doubts about being some issue with our code :)
    Greetings .)
     
  20. ilovewhu86

    ilovewhu86 New Member

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    The notification at the top of the forum for server issues is a good idea and hopefully should mean that several new topics will not be raised for the same issue as is currently the case. It would be an improvement too if an update could be posted once the issue is fixed.

    Regarding the Priority, you guys have already said that server wide issues should not be escalated because the escalation process is only for account level issues. With that being said, when applied to the priorities for my own user base that I previously posted as an example (shown again below) then the priority would never be High it would be Medium at best. But from a user perception even Medium is better than Low.

    Very High - A problem that affects the entire community or large group of users
    High - A problem with no known workaround that affects a small group of users
    Medium - A general service request or problem with a workaround solution. Alternatively a problem with no known workaround that affects only a single user
    Low - A service request that does not require immediate attention or involves long range planning

    So you probably didn't think I would say always setting the Priority to High would be a bad idea but for account level issues I feel that Medium would be sufficient.
     

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