A Day in the Life of our Technical Support Manager, Richard Griffin
“Being a part of activ for more than a decade has greatly contributed to my growth as a technical support manager. I have gained (and shared!) years and years worth of knowledge and experience from my colleagues, our franchisees and clients. I am grateful for this.
So now I’d like to share how each day goes for me and how I help keep most technical aspects of the business in order…
The first thing I do when I login to work everyday is to check all our servers to make sure they are all fully operational and there are no issues such as abnormal loadings. These are the main cause of slow website loading and a slow server, or potential hackings, or any other unwanted issues such as server blacklisting, which can cause so many problems for customers especially if they also have emails through the same server. Server problems occur due to many different reasons so after years of managing servers, I know that you cannot be greedy and have too many sites on a server. You have to find the balance between what the server is capable of and what is the most efficient way to use the server. I currently manage a suite of different servers to cater for our varying needs and extensive client list. We generally have well over 1000 live websites in our care at any one time.
Throughout the day I have the ticket system open permanently as it has always been my belief that all tickets should be answered as soon as they arrive if possible. I believe I manage to answer around 90% of tickets within the first 30 minutes of them being submitted. I can solve a large amount of issues myself, however if problems cannot be solved instantly and where bugs or coding issues are the problem, then this is the time that I assign them to our brilliant activ developers.
Handling domain names
We manage a vast amount of domain names for our clients and we have new renewals due everyday. This is once again a balancing act because the renewals can only be renewed if the client has renewed their website or package. I work closely with our admin and account manager Camille to make sure the correct clients are renewed in a timely manner. If the client has not renewed, I will chase the customer to let them know that their site has expired and to give them the opportunity to renew before the site goes offline.
Managing email servers and efficiency
Managing emails and websites on the same server can cause many unforeseen problems. A common example in the past was a customer gets their computer hacked and their email accounts get compromised because the hacker has got their email credentials. If the hacker then uses a script to automatically send spam, then, unless this is spotted in good time, it will have adverse effects on every other account on that server. These adverse effects include the email either bouncing back to the sender or going to a spam folder. Either of these options are bad and this is why it is vital to not allow this to happen or, if it does happen, to be on top of that issue and get it resolved asap. This month, I have also just completed moving the last of our email clients from our main server to a new provider called Yandex (a great email host) which offers an email service very similar to Gmail. I am currently doing the groundwork to start migrating email from our second server.
Assisting head office customers
As well as franchisees, I deal with all the head office customers directly. This means I make all website updates, changes and deal with any issues that they come across including email issues. This is great as I have good direct relationships with our customers and we have a very high client retention rate.
All website launches across the group come through me. I aim to get these sites set up on the same working day they are logged. There are quite a few factors to be aware of when setting a site live and there are many checks that are needed to make sure that when it is passed back to the franchisee, they are happy with the end result and they don’t experience issues with that new site.
Supplying dev sites
All the franchisees need a regular supply of development sites to start building new sites for their customers. I aim to get these sent out in good time when received so franchisees can operate as efficiently as possible.
Every week, I update the plugins on our networks that have had minor updates and I also communicate these updates via our internal processes for the entire activ team. If some plugins get a major update, then we need to wait for a while as major updates can cause problems with other plugins. We usually update the complete network on a quiet weekend from a staging area when necessary. We also use this method if there has been a major WordPress software update.
We have 6 separate servers and all the websites need to have backups in case of a major server problem or hard disc failure. This is a vital part of my job and ensures things are kept safe and well!
Working closely with our activ team
The reason everything works in activ is because we have such a good team who all know their job inside and out. Whenever I have an urgent problem, I know I can rely on our developer to look and hopefully resolve that issue at very short notice. Because of this close working relationship, it guarantees a great service for franchisees and clients as urgent issues are not pushed to the back of the queue – they are highlighted as urgent and Tyrone, for example, will include that issue to his current job list.
Scheduling bespoke jobs
As bespoke jobs come through the ticket system, I then book these in and assign them to developers so that any job is completed in good time.
I handle all purchases for the technical team here at activ. I make sure we are purchasing the best solution for our business in a timely and cost effective manner.
Harnessing my DNS superpower
From ‘A’ records to CNAME records to SPF and DKIM records to web forwarding or even framed redirects, I am very lucky as I have learned just about everything worth knowing about DNS over the years. Name servers and pointing a domain to a service – I know just about every possible method of setting up domains on most platforms. This is vital as if you don’t have the correct records in place when you launch a domain or email, then you will probably get problems along the line. I have set up literally thousands of websites over the years at activ and I would have set the DNS on around 90% of those websites.
These are the main tasks that keep my hands full on a daily basis. Luckily, with years of being a technical support manager, I am able to find ways on how to efficiently juggle all these and provide quality service that our franchisees and customers deserve.”
If you would like to know more about our technical support and have us manage your website, get in touch today.