Same Old Drupal

I was fielding a ticket today for someone who was having a couple of issues with Drupal 8 after install, namely they were getting a Trusted Host Settings errorHere is the full error that shows up in the admin area:

*Errors found*
Trusted Host Settings –  Not enabled
The trusted_host_patterns setting is not configured in settings.php. This
can lead to security vulnerabilities. It is highly recommended that you
configure this. See Protecting against HTTP HOST Header attacks for more
information.

Being the awesome web hosting support technician that I am, I Googled it for a solution. And after watching the following video from the DrupalTutor I learned a couple of things:

  • This happens in Drupal  8 on install
  • This issue has been happening as far back as 2016
  • The fix is to edit the settings.php file in sites/default after changing permissions and figuring out a pretty hacky solution

The fact that this was happening to folks as soon as they installed the application is insane to me. What could be a worse user experience? Add to that the caching error below, and you have a perfect storm of terrible:

*PHP *
OPcode caching – Not enabled
PHP OPcode caching can improve your site’s performance considerably. It is highly recommended to have OPcache installed on your server.

Fact is PHP OPcode caching is enabled on this server, so you have to once again search the error message and use the fix given in this forum post to get rid of the error. I did not even check to see if they have a visual text editor after resolving these issues because I just didn’t have strength. Really Drupal?

Best Practices for Tickets– Left Sidebar

Continuing on with the Zendesk train here, Reclaim is developing the best way to handle tickets as they come in. Up until now, we’ve had a little system going but it definitely needed a bit of improvement. I thought it would be handy to write out how we use the left sidebar of our ticket viewer in Zendesk. So while this post is really used for employees at Reclaim, anyone can really take bits and pieces to this process their own. I’ll start with an overview of what our window looks like when we’re interacting with a user then move into specifics about how these help us respond to each user as quickly and efficiently as possible.


This is what our main ticket viewer looks like from the administrator end. You can see on the left hand side there’s a tool bar dedicated to ticket fields. This helps us organize each ticket so they do not get lost. The middle section is where we see the users response and are able to write our own. The right sidebar is where the user’s data is held. We can see things like open tickets and their account information. 

Left Toolbar

This is what the typical left sidebar looks like when managing a ticket. You can see the ‘brand’ of the ticket, meaning all responses are coming from Reclaim Hosting. When a ticket is created for Rockaway Hosting, we’ll see the Rockaway logo. This is one of the first things I look at when interacting with a ticket, it tells me where I need to login to access the client information. From there, you can see who is assigned to (currently working on) the ticket and if there is any one CC’d to the thread. 

The next few sections you’ll see are mainly used for internal tracking and reporting. The tags section is used to tell us a bit about the ticket content. We can use these to run reports on specific tags to see how many tickets we get on each tag. 

After the tags, the next section you’ll see is the the ‘Type’ section. This is used to designate a the type of ticket we received. There are 4 ticket types that Zendesk created by default. They are Question, Incident, Problem, and Task. 

Each ticket type is used for a different purpose and helps us organize our tickets even more. 

  • Question: This type is used for someone who’s asking a question about an invoice, a domain registration or transfer or, how to get started with their account. 
  • Incident: This is used when someone submits a ticket for a specific issue. Maybe they’re using a certain plugin and it broke their WordPress site. Maybe they can’t login to their cPanel. Incidents are used for one off issues like this. 
  • Problem: A problem type ticket is used when there’s a known issue within our system or if there is a server down. The problem type is the parent to an incident type ticket. You’ll designate one ticket to become the ‘parent’ problem then you’ll be able to link other incident tickets to that parent. 
  • Task: Use the task type when you need to assign a date to a ticket. You can use this when you’re waiting for a domain to be released to the public after the redemption phase, or you want to follow up with a potential sales lead. After assigning the task type, you’ll see a due date field appear. Select the date you’d like and you can add it directly to your calendar.

Next to the ‘Type’ section is the ‘Priority’ section. We use this as a status to prioritize our responses to tickets. 

  • Low: This status is used when the user doesn’t necessarily need a response right away. 
  • Normal: Normal is probably going to be the most used status. Assign this priority to any ticket that comes through that isn’t a pressing issue. If you get a ticket with a question or a small incident ‘normal’ is a perfect priority. 
  • High: Used for all tickets that need more attention over other tickets. So we can use these if a server goes down or we need to take a look at a site as soon as we can. 
  • Urgent: This is the highest priority and used when the ticket needs to be looked at immediately. 

The last ticket field in the left sidebar is the ticket Topic. The topic field is a custom field Reclaim Hosting created to help us designate the broad category of the ticket. So, we can designate the topic as Billing, WHM, WHMCS, Domain management and, DNS to name a few. 


When editing the ticket before we send out our initial response, we go through each section and add tags, select the type, priority and, topic. These ticket fields are only viewable by the ticket agent (us at Reclaim) and we usually edit them as the ticket progresses. This is just a little glimpse at Reclaim Hosting’s back end of Zendesk– there’s definitely a lot of customization and our view might be a little different compared to another company. 

Working by Myself

So today was a first for me in my support role. I started my shift bright and early this morning and everything was moving slow. Tim and Lauren went off to a meeting and Jim is traveling this week for a conference, so I was by handling support on my own for a short period of time, but this was a normal thing. I felt confident that I could handle each support request that came through and if I didn’t Tim and Lauren would be back by lunchtime and I could ask my questions then. I was completely unprepared for what would commence in the next hour.

A lot of schools are still getting up and running with their semester and that means a ton of sign-ups on our Shared Hosting at Reclaim. This September we had 721 new sign-ups on Shared Hosting. So we knew that things could get a little hairy on days where classes were signing up, like today.

Continue reading “Working by Myself”

Reclaim in One Word: Support

Much of my time since being on the road for much of October has been locked into Reclaim Hosting support (oh yeah, there’s also been conference planning and a new office as well). It’s been a fairly intense Fall, and Lauren, Tim and I are not letting up as the next few months will surely attest to. That said, it’s worth taking a moment to point out the reason we have been fairly successful thus far: stellar support.

Reclaimers ratings of their support over last 30 days

I like to remind myself of this because it’s grounding. From the very beginning Reclaim Hosting benefitted greatly from the work we did at UMW, an awesome community (hi ds106!), and a broader need in higher ed for web hosting. But at the end of the day, no matter how much people want to help—and believe me they do—when you’re hosting their personal, course, or institutional sites they just want them online. They also appreciate a heads up when they’re not, because at some point they won’t be. But more than anything they want someone to finally say yes and offer to help them when they’re trying to teach online. I think this last part is where Reclaim has nailed it. While we’re only 3 full-time employees (smaller than most ed-tech groups), I would be so bold to suggest we provide better support than hosts with 10x as many people working for them. The proof is in the pudding, check out the stats from the last 30 days in Zendesk:  Continue reading “Reclaim in One Word: Support”

Featured Applications | 04: Intercom

Make sure to check out the previous applications that have been featured:
 Asana, Evernote & Slack.

In regards to continuing the ‘Featured Applications’ series on this blog, I wanted to briefly highlight one of the backbones of Reclaim Hosting: Intercom.

We say all the time that we are our customers– that Reclaim Hosting would be nothing without the users that take us on and support our vision for web hosting. So we want to make sure that we are doing everything we can to support them in return. Having top-notch customer support is one of our biggest priorities, and we couldn’t be as rock solid as we are without the help of Intercom, our support interface.

Intercom describes themselves on their website as “the one place for every team in the Internet business to communicate with customers”. Truth. They offer a variety of ways that you can use Intercom, too: Live Chat, Marketing Automation, Customer Feedback and Customer Support.

HOW RECLAIM HOSTING USES INTERCOM

Featured Applications | 04: Intercom

Reclaim uses Intercom’s customer support feature. Its pretty great, I think. Users can send their questions tosupport@reclaimhosting.com, or within the app in their Client Area. All messages on our end come through the same space for easy access.

Featured Applications | 04: Intercom

This means no repetitively checking multiple emails or message chains, or overlapping with other Reclaim support members.

And because you can easily tag and assign other support members to tickets, this really cuts down on overlapping as well.

Featured Applications | 04: Intercom

At a glance in the Intercom dashboard, I can easily see how many conversations are open, when we last got a response from the user, and who on our end is responsible for replying to them. And because everything is out in the open (as opposed to private email chains, for example) we can all be in the know about a user’s current problem.

Perfect example: I’ll start my day with support at 10am. Tim, Jim or Joe may have began a conversation with a user previous to my arrival- if they temporarily log off for a meeting or other engagement, I’m able to step in. The user doesn’t have to wait on a response.

 

The top menu bar of the Intercom dashboard shows all instances of conversations possible: which conversations are assigned to who, which ones are unassigned and how many conversations are open in total.

Featured Applications | 04: Intercom

The right-hand sidebar of the Intercom dashboard rocks as well. If I click on TW’s conversation, for example, I’m able to see a bunch of useful information about TW to the right- institution or location, email, browser, IP address, etc.

This makes things really simple when a user reaches out for help. Almost always the user can realize when there’s a problem, but often they don’t know the ‘what’ or the ‘why’ of the problem. So having a dashboard that automatically gives us server/account information is critical. It points us in the right direction to find the fix.

KEEP TRACK OF TAGS

Featured Applications | 04: Intercom

Above the menu bar already mentioned, there’s a notification icon that keeps track of any tags you might’ve missed. There’s been many a time where I’ll log off for the day, and then sign in to Intercom the next day to find a few notifications from my co-workers saying “heads up, here’s another way to do this,” or something to that extent.

I’m constantly still learning and adding to my repertoire for how to handle unique support requests. So even though conversations may be long closed, I’m able to open them up and learn something new that I might have missed otherwise.

SPEAKING OF TAGS…

By far, my favorite Intercom feature is being able to have real-time brainstorming conversations with my co-workers on the same conversation chain that I’m having with a Reclaim user.

With each ticket that comes through, I have the option of replying directly to the user on the front end, or making an internal note that only support members see.

Featured Applications | 04: Intercom

^Front end with the user.

Featured Applications | 04: Intercom

^Back end with support members.

All support members can chat behind the scenes like this on a single ticket. We can work through problems together, or ask for help when we need it.

For more info about Intercom, check out their blog.

A New Low for Reclaim

Support for January 2016

In the last 4 weeks we managed to reduce our first response time for new tickets yet another minute. It’s only gonna get harder to do from here on out. I’ve been writing about our support a bit because I have the numbers, and I’m particularly proud of the average time for the last 4 weeks because the beginning of the spring semester is one of our busiest times of the years. We’ve been on our A-game. As I joked on Twitter earlier, I’m taking all complaints about our support on Twitter…

And the same goes for the comments of this blog. #NOBODY!

7 Minute Support

Last month I wrote about Reclaim Hosting support, highlighting the fact in August and September we had an average of 8 minute response time to ticket. I also joked we needed to make it even quicker. Well, looking at our stats, over the last 90 days we responded to 1290 tickets with a  media response time of 7 minutes! #NOBODIES

7 Minute Support

There is no half-stepping at Reclaim Hosting.

Announcing Open Office Hours

Starting this week we’ll be having open office hours at Reclaim Hosting headquarters (ok, it’s the slightly disheveled office in my home, dream with me). This will happen this Thursday at 11AM EST and we hope to continue doing these every other week depending on demand. Open office hours are a chance for you to get any question big or small answered in person. Maybe you have a question about how to use WordPress or Omeka for some other platform on Reclaim in your class. Maybe something isn’t working right but you haven’t gotten around to putting in a support ticket. I’ll be sharing tips and tricks that have come up for folks often over the past few weeks, some things we’re working on as well. So join us this Thursday! We’ll keep a schedule at https://reclaimhosting.com/open-office-hours with links to the event page and an embedded view of the livestream in case you’d like to watch along but don’t want to participate.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZXjmJjU7maY