Posts Tagged ‘customer support’

Free website monitoring—is it worth anything?

Today, we’ll take a look at the ubiquitous offers of free monitoring of the availability of websites. Why are they free, how do they differ from paid services and is it worth using them?

Let’s start with a truism—nothing is ever truly free. Providers of website monitoring services offer a free option only to increase the sales of paid services. They will do their best to convert as many free users to paying ones. Additionally, thanks to the fact that they offer a free service, they often appear on various blogs which very willingly publish descriptions and rankings of free services.

free website monitoring

Why does anyone provide free website monitoring at all?

The entire structure of a free plan is aimed at maximizing sales. Compared to the paid versions, the free one lacks the features that are of utmost importance from the point of view of an online business. This is how a free account differs from a free trial account—it isn’t limited in terms of time, but it provides very limited abilities. While a trial account is only available for a few weeks, it provides all the features.

Flaws and limitations of free monitoring

Let’s discuss the most important features and limitations that usually distinguish free monitoring services from commercial versions.

Low monitoring frequency

Virtually every free monitoring service offers website testing with a frequency of 5 (or more) minutes. This means that you can learn about your site’s failure up to 5 minutes later than your users. What’s more, with such a sparse sampling, monitoring may not “notice” failures lasting, for example, only 4 minutes. As a result, you may think that the availability of your site monthly or over a longer period is quite good—while it may simply be untrue.

Availability of only the basic feature

The basic feature of monitoring services, offered on all free accounts, is to check the availability of the website by retrieving the server’s response. If the server responds correctly (“200 OK”), then the monitoring service assumes that everything is OK and the website is working. If, on the other hand, the server responds with an error message (e.g. “404 File Not Found”, “403 Forbidden”) or it will not respond at all, then the monitoring reports an error.
The problem lies in the fact that the server sending the correct response is not synonymous with the fact that the website works correctly—or even that it loads at all! Such a monitoring service will not detect a situation where, instead of a website, a blank white page is displayed—or blank templates with no content are loaded. Also, it will not notice a sudden slow down of page loading, failure of an important feature, etc.

No SMS alerts

SMS is the ideal communication channel for notifications about failures. Fast, reliable, independent of the availability of the Internet, etc. A single SMS isn’t expensive, but once multiplied by thousands of users it gets quite expensive. Thus, free monitoring will only alert you via email. Well, unless you buy an SMS notification package. But then it won’t be a free service any more, right?

Limited customer service (or lack thereof)

Monitoring websites is quite a “resource-consuming” online service, so providing a free version is always an investment. But human work is even more expensive than server resources. For this reason, free monitoring usually does not include any support for its users. Or differently—support is limited to online help, FAQ and forums. Sometimes you can use e-mail or chat. But forget about a voice conversation with a consultant who will help you with configuration.

No guarantees and liability

You aren’t paying any money, so don’t expect any guarantees from the monitoring provider. Your service has the lowest priority—same with all your inquiries and reports. Server resources, transfer, troubleshooting—paying customers will be the first to receive all of these. Regardless of whether and how it will affect your free service.
Of course, you can’t count on an SLA which is a guaranteed level of service for which you aren’t paying.


So it’s not worth it?

A free service is a tempting option. Knowing the above deficiencies and limitations, you must decide for yourself whether this solution is good for. If you run a hobby blog, website or forum, and the availability and proper functioning of your website aren’t a critical matter for you, maybe a free monitoring service will be enough for you. But if you run an online business, sell online or provide services through an app, you need a service that you can rely on. One that will detect every failure and malfunction of your website and will notify you immediately—before anyone else notices a problem.

Inexpensive website monitoring?

Free is always the cheapest. But paid website monitoring services don’t have to be expensive at all. There are nearly 150 suppliers, and each of them offers several pricing plans for businesses of all sizes and with different needs. 6 dollars is a cost comparable to a large coffee from a coffeehouse chain—a monthly subscription of this size won’t significantly deplete the budget of any company.

Offer better customer support with Sugester

For any business, to ace success mastering customer support is essential. We often come across stories of how even after having great products and services, organizations aren’t able to reach the pinnacle they desire, all due to negligence in the customer support area. Believe us when we say, designing and delivering a great product is not the only thing that warranties success. You as a company need to be there to answer any and every question or concern your consumer may have. Agreed that it’s time taking and an often painful activity, but the results are totally worth the effort. And when you’ve got great tools like Sugester to assist you, why worry at all?

Sugester – Enhance your Customer Support Facility

Sugester is one of the simplest online applications available to help you provide better customer support, get new customers, and create an advanced ticket management system for your business. The tool serves as a one-stop helpdesk for you and your customers and helps keep both parties on the same page. With Sugester you can drastically cut down query response times by collecting and sorting through incoming messages, assign tasks to teams, and also monitor resolutions through a single interactive interface. With help materials posted online for 24 / 7 / 365 support, the tool makes sure you involve your team to resolve issues only when required. Also, it lets you monitor communication across various channels (email, phone, chat, and social media) at one place.

Sugester promises to help optimize your business communications by serving as a better formulized, specifically targeted, ever-present feedback and support platform. Some of the most appealing features of the tool include:

  • A simple yet powerful Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool that allows you to maintain profiles of your key customers, keep records of interactions and financial history with them, maintain regular contact with them, generate funnel charts and more.
  • You can add a “Sugester Live Chat” window to your website by pasting a simple code snippet into your site’s code. That’s all you need to start chatting with your customers right away. The chat feature lets you avail benefits such as customizing its look-and-feel, persistent sessions, searchable archives, etc.
  • Sugester is ideal for your company if your support team shares a common email id (for ex. It makes sure all emails get answered and that too, by the most apt team member. This feature includes time tracking, analytics, activity tracking, response rating, and canned response creation facilities.
  • The software makes you better at task and project management by enabling you to easily create and assign tasks, group them into projects (with attributes such as deadlines etc.) and measure how long they take to complete.
  • Offers a WYSIWYG editor to write, format, and edit professional help content without any programming. Even lets you create pop-up tips and intranet knowledge base for all team members.
  • Provides a manageable forum to serve as a sounding board for complaints, suggestions, ideas and more.
  • Integrates with Plivo, Telecube and other prominent VoIP providers to let you make / receive calls from computers, track call statistics, monitor email and phone conversations, etc.
  • Provides a host of emailing features to allow you to concentrate on your core product and services without having to worry about auto-responses, mailing lists, custom footers, group mailing, etc.

How does this work?

To start using Sugester you can sign up with your email and password or with your Facebook credentials. You will be provided with a URL where your Sugester program will be available. By default this URL will have your email id in it, but you can change it to anything you want. To proceed, click on “Go to Program”. Sign up might take a couple of seconds after which you’ll be directed to a “modules” page that shows all the features the tool has to offer. You can hover on any feature to highlight it and click to select.

We clicked on Live Chat which enabled it and then proceeded to chat settings by clicking on the settings icon on the top right of the ‘Live Chat’ option. It opened up a page from where we could click on a link to get the code snippet for a chat window for our website. On proceeding we were required to fill out our chat window requirements and save. Thereafter a unique live chat window code will be generated for your website which you can also test right within Sugester.

Next, we tried our hand at Knowledge Base creation. The process was similar to the one used in Live Chat. Click to enable, edit settings, and configure as per requirement. At any point, to go back to the “modules” page, simply click on the Sugester icon on the top left corner of the screen. You can also go to settings for profile, account, language, etc. by choosing an appropriate option from the menus displayed on the top right corner of the screen.

So how does it turn out?

In our trials, Sugester seemed to be a cool tool that simplified the setting up and configuration of solid customer support for any website. However, what we noticed was that while the process to enable features and tune them to our requirements is quite simple really, first time users would need to have a slight know-how of the tool before comfortably playing around. So there is a learning curve attached.

Other than that, we found Sugester very impressive. It is also quite affordable with plans ranging from free to max ($49 per month per account).

  • Build better customer support with @sugester via @supermonitoring

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Final Verdict

In this money hungry world, Sugester is a tool that attempts to truly help you out at a price you won’t mind paying. Thumbs up to the tool!

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