Improving our (plugin) support

Improving our plugin supportAs you may know, most of the products and services we sell here at come with support. In fact, the only product we sell that doesn’t come with support is our eBook. And even for the eBook you’re obviously welcome to ask us questions! And this post is about just that: our support. I’ll be showing you how we’ve improved our support in the past 2 years and how we’re planning on improving it even more!

The growth of Yoast’s support

In the beginning, when we were only selling our Video SEO plugin, we used to do two kinds of support. We offered support through our forums and email. After a few months we realized that the forum support was not working out for us, and we moved to just email support using HelpScout. This was a well thought out choice and we’ve not regretted it once since we made it.

The move to all email support was 3 days after the launch of our Local SEO plugin, which also meant a big increase in our support activity. That’s exactly why we hired Taco in August 2013, because until then, support had fallen mainly to me, Joost and Michiel. And we had a lot of other things on our plate as well. Taco soon bloomed into a real Support Engineer doing the majority of the work. However, the support kept growing. Let me give you an idea of how the support requests have grown over time:

The growth of Yoast's support

The growth of Yoast’s support from December 2012 to now

In 2013 we’ve helped 5220 customers and in 2014 this has already grown to 13726 customers. This was to be expected, since the release of Video SEO and Local SEO we’ve released 5 other premium WordPress plugins. And on top of that we’ve launched 4 WordPress themes, an eBook and completely overhauled our Website Reviews.

Splitting support up

The first thing we did to make our support more manageable was split it up to separate subjects. We created a support box for review support, plugin support, general support and later on also theme support. This meant that people weren’t wasting time reading support requests they couldn’t answer anyway.

However, over 75% of our total support is still just plugin support, so the rest of this post will be focused on just plugin support.

Yoast Knowledge Base

With the increase of support, we felt we had to do something. Optimization junkies as we are, we felt that we should optimize as soon in the process as possible. After all, what’s better than preventing a support requests being sent in the first place? Answer your customers’ questions before they’ve actually asked them.

And that’s where our Knowledge Base came in. We made a list of all the common questions people were asking and started answering those questions on our Knowledge Base. Before long it also included installation guides, setup guides and more general information on our plugins. We’re still updating our Knowledge Base as often as possible and analyze the search data. It seems to be working, because it’s actually being visited more and more:

Increase in Knowledge Base traffic

Increase in Knowledge Base traffic

Timezones and 24/7 support

However much we wanted it though, this didn’t solve all our issues. There was another problem: timezones. We’re in The Netherlands and most of our customers are actually not. In fact, the biggest portion of our customers aren’t even in the same timezone (f.i. USA and Australia).

And this presented us with the next problem: even though we’d work hard during the day to help everyone out, the support requests would just pile up during our nights. This meant we were busy doing support during all the mornings at the office and people had to wait a long time for their requests to get answered. And that’s when we started hiring people abroad. We currently have one support engineer in the Phillippines, one in Spain and two in the USA.

Having our support team located throughout the world like that, means we have almost full 24/7 support. We’re still improving a lot, but currently over 98% of the support requests get answered within 24 hours, weekend or not. Again, to give you an idea of how we’re improving:

Average time it takes the Yoast support team to reply to a first support request

Average time it takes the Yoast support team to reply to a first support request


As you can see, we’ve already improved this a lot. Currently we’re at an average of responding to your initial support request in 4 hours and 35 minutes. Our aim is to get this average under 1 hour.

Happiness reports

We’ve recently also started asking our customers for feedback on our support. This way, we can also improve the quality of the content of our responses on top of the response times. This feedback option looks like this at the moment:

Edit Mailbox Yoast Review Support

Clicking any of these icons will send a rating to our support system over at HelpScout. The smiley is a Great rating, the middle one is an Okay rating and the right one is a Not Good rating. This gives us insights like this:

Customer's happiness on our support

Customers’ happiness on Yoast support

This is the customers’ happiness on our support in the current month (January 2015). It’s based on 38 ratings though, so the percentages don’t mean a lot yet. However, this still gives us a lot of information. We can see exactly which support requests were rated with what rating and customers can even leave a description of why they gave a certain rating:

Customer's description of the great rating

Customer’s description of a great rating

This sort of feedback is invaluable to us, as it makes it transparent what kind of information we should and should not provide, how clear we should be and what kind of knowledge we can expect the customer has.

We’ll keep improving

As you’ve probably read way too much now, we’ll keep improving on our support continuously. We have aims and goals that might be ambitious, such as replying to your initial support request within 1 hour on average, but we won’t stop until we’ve met them.

We will also keep using the data we have and the feedback we get from customers to stay on top of our game. So we’d like to thank everyone using our products and especially the ones taking the time to give feedback on our support and/or products. Keep all of that feedback coming, and we’ll keep bringing (and improving) the awesomeness!

This post first appeared as Improving our (plugin) support on Yoast. Whoopity Doo!