Commission Automator Being Removed

Why keep a plugin on your blog when all it does it junk up your site?

Commission Automator seemed like a good idea at the time if it actually worked as specified.  What it was supposed to do was write a new review post on a product.  Unfortunately, it did not write the post in the category I created for it and the post frequency is not as advertised.

So all those tweets that have been going out are driving me crazy and I am officially removing the blog posts that were created.

Why did I install it in the first place?  For the simple reason that I thought it might help keep the blog alive, since I seem to have little time to post on a regular basis.  Well – you betcha I will after this experience!

Why I Am Forced To Do This

I have contacted the support team several times on the issues I was having and have never received a response.  I kept checking my email inbox and junk/spam folder, but never received even a courtesy message.  What the hay?

Since I wrote the “book” on Internet customer service, you can imagine how this really ticked me off.

Hey – if it doesn’t work as expected or as advertised; if you don’t get a response to a cry for assistance, especially when they tell you where to go to get that assistance, then I pretty much have the right to write about my experience – right?

I really hate doing this, but they had a chance to make a customer happy and they blew it.  Nice idea for a product, but how about supporting what you created instead of just pushing out more products?

Hey – if you offer customer support, make sure it’s working!

A Review of the Best Website Hosts

I have been marketing on the Internet since 2004 and I’ve been through quite a few webhosting services.  This qualifies me to tell you what I’ve found, don’t you think?  There are a LOT of website review sites, unfortunately most of them are just affiliate marketers hoping to make a few bucks off you when you choose one of the sites they reviewed.

What to Look For in a Web Hosting Company

Every web hosting company has reseller accounts.  This means anyone can resell the services to you.  But what happens when the reseller goes out of business?

That happened to me recently through a hosting company that I started using through a membership site of theirs.  Suddenly they were not responding to support tickets and their phone had been disconnected.  As if that wasn’t bad enough, I came across a blog post from one of their customers whose sites had completely disappeared on January 1st.  Her problem was even worse since she didn’t know how to recover her sites without a recent backup.

Shared Hosting
If you’re new to online processes, you’ll want to start with a shared hosting account.  This is affordable, but means you have other sites on the same server with yours.  This could be a problem if one or more of those sites suddenly become high-traffic sites and consume excessive bandwidth.  It’s good to know that you can communicate with your webhost and know they will address the issue if it becomes a problem for you.

Support Team
You’ll want to know that you can communicate with your support team and that they are qualified to answer your technical issues.  Many of the day-to-day issues can be supported by outsourced staff, but make sure more difficult technical issues can be escalated to more qualified technical staff what speaks English.

Data Center Location
Find out where the data center is located.  If it’s located in a hurricane path you could experience more outages than you anticipated.

Data Center Ownership
It’s vital for you to confirm that the website hosting company you select owns their data center and reports 99.9% uptime.

Servers
Most of the web hosting companies offering shared hosting use Linux and Unix servers.  This is what you want to use.  Some have the option of using windows servers – don’t do it!  These are the most unreliable servers and should not be used for business services.

Free Website Hosting

Most of the searches for website hosting are for free services.  This is a very bad idea.  Why?  Simply because you get what you pay for and with free hosting – you haven’t paid anything!  So how do you think they make their money?

  • By collecting your personal information when you signup for an account and marketing other services and “get rich quick” programs back to you.
  • By selling your eMail address to lead generation services
  • By selling your personal information when available
  • By displaying lots of advertising on your website dashboard and/or your site

Usually these free website hosting companies are into other businesses and use their free website hosting service to collect leads for those businesses.  Wouldn’t you rather host your website with a reliable hosting company that you know will be around?  I’d hate for you to wake up one day and find your site(s) gone!  This is a very real possibility.

Paid Website Hosting

Remember – you get what you pay for, so let’s look at the most reliable hosting companies.  These are the best website hosts I have used and recommend:

HostGator

These guys have been around for years and many marketers swear by their service.  I have found you either love them or you hate them.  Fortunately, I’ve never had the issues some of the haters had.  You can buy their “baby” package and host an unlimited number of addon domains.  This allows you to run several websites from a single account.  This also means you don’t have to point to the root of the domain.  Although this creates a sub-directory within your main domain, it is accessed in a browser window just like any other individually hosted domain so nobody ever knows it’s hosted on another account.

Addon domains do not have their own cPanel (web hosting manager) and can be more confusing to maintain.  Personally, I don’t like addon domains because they can affect the performance of all the other sites you have on the account.

Servers located in Houston, TX

Live Chat
Help Desk System
Toll-Free Phone Support
User Manuals
FAQs
Video Tutorials

IXWebHosting

Excellent customer service and hosting.  Unfortunately, they do not use cPanel as their web hosting manager.  If you are purchasing software to use on your website, you will find that most require or use cPanel.  Regardless, I found their dashboard quite difficult to use and navigate.  But – they’re hosting is hard to beat – NEVER had any issues with them.

The data center is located in Hopkinsville, Kentucky

Live Chat
Help Desk System
Local and Toll-Free Phone Support
User Manuals
FAQs
Video Tutorials

1 and 1

This is another best website host that does not use cPanel as their web hosting manager, but the dashboard is much easier to use than IXWebHosting.  One of the features I like about 1and1 is you have access to your eMail on the server through a web browser.  This makes it easy to pickup your eMail when you’re not at your computer.  Most other hosting companies make you go through cPanel to get your eMail.

Founded in Germany with server sites in several European countries and Chesterbrook, PA in the US.

The data center is located in Lenexa, KS in the US.  They have their own trained support staff located in Chesterbrook, PA.

FAQs
Help Desk System
Toll-Free Phone Support
Video Tutorials
User Manuals
Easy Setup Guides

There are many other hosting companies I have used, but refuse to review because many of them are already using major sites (like WordPress) to market their services.  I tried many of these that were highly recommended and for many different reasons, had to move all my sites to a new host.

WordPress Tutorial – Removing Dates

wp-logoBy default, WordPress automatically prints the date and time a page or post was created.  Your theme may be designed to override this default.  In this WordPress tutorial we’ll review where you need to make the changes in your WordPress layout.

There are many reasons you may not want to show the date and time on your blog:

  • Information on your blog is timeless
  • You want to encourage people to continue commenting
  • You don’t post very often

Before removing the dates on your blog, realize that reader response is more prevalent when the dates are shown.

The first thing you need to know about WordPress themes is that each theme has their own set of files that control the aesthetics on your blog.  Therefore, if you have multiple themes installed, changing one theme DOES NOT affect the files in all themes.  Only the file(s) changed for the current theme are changed.  Therefore, if you have customized the files in a theme and then decide to change themes, you will need to transfer the customization to the files in the new theme.

Single Post

Let’s start with removing the date and time in a post.

Access Appearance; Editor; Single Post

Look for the loop to process all posts:

PostLoop

Within this loop, the following highlighted code needs to be removed:

PostDate

In the above example,  “Posted by”, the author’s name and “on”  is printed before the date.

To be consistent, you may want to make these changes elsewhere on your blog.  Be sure to check these pages:

  • Main Index Template
  • Page Template
  • Search Results
  • Recent Comments

Test Your Changes

The last step is to view your blog and test every page you changed:

  • Carefully review the main page on your site
  • Use the search function and review the results
  • Access one of the pages on your site
  • Click on the archives and make sure everything looks OK
  • Click on a post that has comments and review those as well

Making changes to your theme are not too difficult when you know what to look for!

Help Desk Troubleshooting Procedures

p_099Ok, so you were hesitant to use the Internet to make a purchase in the first place because you just didn’t trust it and you had no idea what type of help desk troubleshooting procedures existed.

And now you finally decided to go ahead and just do it!

But unfortunately, something goes wrong and you’re unable to access what you just paid for with your credit card.

What now?

Well, reputable online merchant sites understand many of the people making Internet purchases are doing so for the first time, and they understand these people will require assistance.

In anticipation of these issues, merchants have been proactive in establishing help desk support portals on their sites. The Internet support solutions customers are seeking to resolve their issues are commonly found in FAQs, or frequently asked questions, usually as a separate web page or system altogether.

And if the customer is unable to resolve the issue using the FAQs provided,  consumers can often search for a “Contact Us” or “Customer Support” link. This link is available to provide the dissatisfied customer with at least one way to directly contact the merchant for assistance. This is usually provided in addition to the FAQ support as online computer help.

By reading and following the procedural instructions, most customers can help themselves speed up the resolution process through their own actions.

Yes, it’s always upsetting when something goes wrong, but customer support systems or representatives cannot possibly read the mind of the consumer, and they cannot research a consumer’s issue or purchase history without the consumer first providing the correct information to the computer help desk.

For your own sanity, when contacting a merchant for customer service, provide as much information as possible about your what the problem is and how you’d like the problem resolved.  It’s the usual who, what, where, when and how that will get your issue addressed promptly, and fixed as quickly as possible.  Failure to provide the information to help desk support only delays the process.

What NOT To Do

I have a Support Desk that is staffed with a regular support person who takes care of help desk troubleshooting procedures for me.  This week Terry opened a new ticket that was submitted by Darrick.  Instead of providing the purchase information requested in the ticket template, the only information Darrick provided was “ebook!”  Terry knows people want their tickets resolved as quickly as possible, so she took the time to research the current purchases to see if she could find one for Darrick.

After finding Darrick’s purchase, she decided to reissue the download link for his purchase, since this is the most common problem people have.  Here’s the response she provided:

Hello Darrick!

I’m not sure exactly what the issue is since you did not provide much information. I’m going to assume you have not received your download. In that case, I have reset the download link and sent you a link. Please look for an email from grmbusinesssolutions.com in your email inbox or junk/spam folder. That email has the download link.

If additional assistance is needed, please reopen this ticket.

Terry
Support Desk

Well, it turns out that Darrick actually wanted a refund, although he failed to
put that in the ticket.  Now here’s the interesting thing, the product Darrick
purchased is through one of my clients who uses my Support Desk services for his websites.  My client had spent over an hour on the phone with Darrick, patiently answering his questions and concerns after reading the eBook.  He told my client he was very interested in starting the business outlined in the eBook.  He never mentioned anything about wanting a refund!

Within a few minutes of receiving the ticket response from Terry, Darrick replied to the ticket with this…

Terry, FYI…….I was experiencing trouble figuering out how to apply for a
refund, and after I explained this to you, I find it funny how you quietly
disappeared. Here’s the deal. I’ve documented my correspondence with this
company, and filed a dispute with my credit card. We can draw this out for
months waiting to see how the dispute resolution dept sides, or you can
credit my account today. It’s your choice!

Here’s My Advice

The Support Desk (or Help Desk) provided by a merchant has been established and staffed to help you get a problem resolved.  The people who process the tickets have been trained in customer support procedures and their only concern is to h-e-l-p you.  Therefore it is not in your best interest to insult or threaten them in any way.  Their only recourse is to stop working on your problem and report the issue to management.

Do this – not what Darrick did…

– Follow instructions

– Provide required information and more if necessary

– Review the site for days of service and the time to resolve issues. You’re not going to get a response in minutes…remember, there are other tickets that
have been submitted ahead of you.

– Log back into a Support Desk (or Help Desk) to update your ticket when necessary.  Not every Support/Help Desk accepts a reply via eMail.  Read all the information inside your ticket to determine how to update your ticket information.

Internet Support Solutions When Making Internet Purchases

p_069Where do you go for Internet support solutions when your Internet purchase goes wrong?  I remember my first purchase on the Internet – I approved the payment and then nothing happened.  Now what?  Where’s my digital product?

Well – that’s over five years ago and the Internet has progressed far since then with much more helpful information being provided to guide you through a purchase.  In fact, most reliable sellers now provide step-by-step instructions through the purchase, even what to do when your payment has been processed.

The Order Process

Here’s the general order process:

– If you are purchasing hard products, you will probably be using a shopping cart.  This holds your products just like a shopping cart at the market.  As soon as you’re finished shopping, you go to Check Out to enter and process the payment.

– If you are purchasing a digital product, you click on a Buy Button somewhere on the sales page.  The Buy Button will take you to an order page to obtain customer information and the form of payment.

– Once the form of payment has been entered, you are asked to supply the required information, such as credit card number or PayPal log in.

– After you have provided the payment details, the payment is processed and you should be given instructions on what to do next.  This may include 1) Click Here to Return to Merchant to obtain your download, 2) Click Here to receive your download – this is the actual link to your product to save on your computer, 3) Look for an eMail from – this directs you to an eMail that is sent to the eMail address you provided. This eMail will contain information about your order, including instructions.

When you make a digital purchase, you are added to the merchant’s customer
list.  To do this, the merchant must send you an eMail asking for your permission to add you to their customer list.  This eMail requires your confirmation and should tell you to click on a link that has been provided in the eMail.  This is called a double opt in and is required to satisfy the CAN-SPAM Act.  Once you give your permission by using the activation link, the merchant can send you other offers via eMail.  These follow-up eMails are not SPAM – you have given your permission by using the authorization link.  This is referred to as permission based marketing.

What to do When the System Hiccups

When you’re using the Internet, you’re constantly being passed through different systems that are connected together through routers.  That means you could lose a connection at any point in the order process.

Don’t Panic!!

Reputable websites have contact information on their site for you to use for questions and issues.  There are many different ways they can provide customer support and include:

– Phone
– Online Chat
– Help Desk Support
– eMail Address

Any of these methods will work, the only issue is how responsive are they and how fast do you need assistance?  If you are contacting your web hosting
company because your site is down, then you need immediate help.  Most hosting companies will have an online chat during regular business hours. This allows you to get assistance now in lieu of waiting for someone to respond to an eMail or Help Desk Support ticket.  Look for an option to get a hard copy of the chat in case you need to reference it later.

I really like using Help Desk Support because they usually have a Knowledge
Base of self-help articles that may resolve my issue without opening a ticket.
If you can’t resolve your issue, then open a ticket.

About Help Desk Systems

When you open a ticket with a computer help desk, you will have to wait for
your issue to be addressed.  This means there may be a lot of tickets ahead of you if it’s a busy merchant.  Expect to wait anywhere from 2 – 16 hours for a response.  This means you need to check your eMail to see of a response has been sent.  Look to see if the ticket resolution time has been provided on the computer help desk.  This should tell you what hours they work and if they are closed over the weekend.

Internet support solutions will vary from merchant to merchant.  You just need to know where to look to find assistance.  You’ll usually find this information on the merchant site as “Contact Us,” “Customer Support,” or something similar.  Just follow their instructions and you should have no problem getting your issue(s) resolved.