When my co-founder, Kerry and I started scaling Wordfence as a business, our first hire was in customer service. We had both been taking shifts answering customer service tickets and forum posts along with doing engineering, QA, finance and everything else. We knew customer service was labor-intensive, but we also knew that the kind of business we wanted to create in Wordfence would need to have great customer service.
Since then we have grown the customer service team to six people. Providing excellent service to our customers is a very high priority to us, so we review our performance from time to time. Today I thought I’d share a few of the numbers with you to give you a sense of how we’re doing.
We provide free customer service to our community via the WordPress.org forums. We also provide Premium customer service to anyone who owns a Wordfence license. So we looked at our performance both on the forums and in our Premium ticketing system.
Wordfence Forum Customer Service Performance
The WordPress.org website provides metrics for each WordPress plugin that shows you “Issues resolved in last two months”. You can find it on the WordPress.org page for our plugin and for any other plugin, on the right below the star rating.
This is what our star rating and customer service data looks like as of this writing:
In the past 2 months we have resolved 226 out of 266 customer service requests from our free community customers in the support forums. That means 85% of all requests have been resolved.
We performed a review today of our performance, and many of the remaining unresolved requests are waiting for a customer to get back to us with more info or to let us know if the issue is resolved. We try to avoid forcing a resolved status on a post unless we get data that the issue is actually resolved.
How Do We Compare?
We wanted to know how we compare against other WordPress plugins. So we created a list of the top 50 plugins and their forum customer service performance. Then we removed plugins with less than 20 customer service requests in the past 2 months because we want to measure against plugins that receive a comparable volume of requests.
That left us with 30 plugins out of the top 50 that received more than 20 requests in the past 2 months. We sorted the table by which plugins have resolved the highest percentage of customer service requests. That gave us this ranking table:
Wordfence ranks 8th out of the top 30 plugins with 85% of requests in the past 2 months resolved. As you can see, we are one of the plugins that receive a higher volume of requests. That may be because we actively send our customers to the forums if they need help. I think 85% and 8th out of the top 30 plugins is doing fairly well.
It’s worth pointing out that TablePress is doing an amazing job. They received 320 requests in the past 2 months and have maintained a 90% resolve rate. What is more remarkable is that it looks like Tobias Bäthge, the plugin author, is answering his own customer service requests and being diligent about only marking requests resolved when the customer is happy. If you need to create tables in WordPress, definitely check out TablePress on their plugin page or website.
Yoast SEO is also doing a good job, maintaining 80% resolved requests out of a total of 423 requests in the past 2 months.
The top 7 plugins in the list don’t receive as much volume as Wordfence, TablePress or Yoast SEO, but they are all doing between 33 and 77 requests per 60-day period, and are maintaining between 91% and 100% resolved rates. Clearly these plugin authors are staying on top of things!
Wordfence Premium Customer Service Performance
For our Premium customer service system, we use Freshdesk. With this system, our customers can open a ticket that our CS team can track. We only provide support via our ticketing system, and we don’t provide phone support. This gives our team time to go off and research each issue in depth. That allows us to provide every support request with a detailed and well-researched response that has a high likelihood of resolving the customer’s issue.
Our CS team is currently a total of six people, and they have a variety of skills, including programming, quality assurance, computer repair, web development, project management and technical writing. They work closely together and often collaborate with their coworkers for input or advice to help resolve a ticket.
The CS team also works closely with our engineering team to ensure that customer voices are heard. When the engineering team prioritizes feature requests, for example, they take into account how many people have requested a feature or are affected by an issue.
The Premium Customer Service Numbers for August
So far in 2017, Wordfence has processed 9,979 customer service request tickets. That’s an average of over 1,200 requests per month.
Our average time to provide a “first response” to a customer for August was 1 hour and 30 minutes. In addition, 38% of our customers received a reply within 15 minutes.
Sometimes the numbers don’t tell the whole story, so we regularly survey our customers to find out what they think of the service we provide. In our 2017 customer survey, 89% of surveyed Premium customers said that the support they received was “Awesome,” the highest level of satisfaction on our survey.
Customer Service Matters
Software companies often try to turn as much as they can into an “engineering problem.” You’ve probably noticed how difficult or impossible it is to contact someone in customer service in some online companies. Customer service is a major expense, and companies may try to avoid allowing you to interact with a person to reduce costs.
I think our team has done a great job of providing online documentation and self-service options for our customers. But sometimes you find that you have a unique problem that the forum posts, documentation and Google just can’t help with, and you need to help from a real person. That’s where our CS team comes in.
We also find that communicating with our customers provides a valuable feedback loop. Our CS team represents our customers in conversations about product direction, and that is a valuable source of input for the engineering team and leadership.
That is why we will continue to invest in providing excellent customer service to our free community customers and our Premium Wordfence customers.
Mark Maunder – Wordfence Founder & CEO
PS: In case you’re wondering how well our customer service team work together, here’s an example of Tim helping Åsa with her mini-golf swing. Incidentally, Tim holds the current record for most tickets processed total. So far he’s handled 22,039 Premium tickets since joining Wordfence in March of 2015.