The Things We Did for Our Members in 2018 – Year in Review

Jacob Stimpson

I remember one of the first times I got paid to do computer work. I don’t remember exactly what I did, I think I added some new hardware to upgrade a computer and maybe fixed some software issues as well. This was back in the Windows 3.1 days or maybe Windows 95’s early days. I clearly remember working four-plus hours in the home of an Aunt and Uncle.

My introversion makes me tend to be hyper-aware of people and expectations especially when I’m in their “space.” So I remember telling them it would take an hour or two at the beginning. When it went on for twice that amount of time, I was really bothered and apologetic. They didn’t seem to care and were just glad I got it fixed. They paid me well for my time and I remember thinking something like, “wow, people appreciate my expertise. I’ll have to make sure I estimate the time better in the future.” Even then, long before I began working with WordPress, setting proper expectations, and meeting those expectations was vitally important to me.

Fast-forward nearly twenty years to the beginning of 2018. I realized we needed to make some big changes to take better care of all our members. They make our business possible, they’re the reason that wpXPRESS exists, and they’re the “why” we do what we do. So taking better care of our existing and new members was the major priority for us in 2018. What follows are some of the awesome changes we’ve made this year to improve ourselves and services for you: our members.

Better Support System and Response Times

Previously, we’d tried a webapp called Onboardify that synced our email and Asana (the app where we do all our project management and task tracking). It was great when it worked, but it didn’t really provide some of the tools and data that we needed to ensure we were responding to our members’ requests quickly. It was also hard to be sure we’d completed their request in an effective way that made them happy. The following three sections show how we were able to improve this with the help of a new tool.

Help Scout

So we ended up switching to Help Scout. Help Scout is very easy to use and combines all email and chat requests into a single, unified inbox. In the unified inbox, we can all see the messages and easily assign them to whichever team member will be handling that request. We’ve been very happy with Help Scout. The analytics it provides combined with the ability for our members to easily give us feedback on each reply, allows us to have a much better measurement of how we’re doing. Simply being able to have our actions tracked has improved our response times, time to resolution, and overall happiness of our members with our help and support. In 2019, we’re going to renew that and set even higher goals for response times and satisfaction among our members.

Quicker Response Times

Response time wordxpress 2018 help scout

As you can see from the stats (via Help Scout reports) above, we sent over two-thousand replies in 2018! That’s a lot of typing for a small team like ours! Additionally, our average first response time is less than 24hrs, and one third of those we resolve with that first reply! Our total resolution time is over a week, which we don’t like. It’s an area to improve on in 2019. But it’s also probably a process issue: we need to move the larger projects into Asana, and not keep them in Help Scout.

Great Feedback From Our Members

Happiness score wordxpress 2018 help scout

Since we started using Help Scout, we’ve only received “Great” ratings from our members! Thank you all so much. That’s what we’re striving for. We recognize we can’t be perfect all the time, and wouldn’t be surprised if a few “Okay” or “Not Good” ratings creep in there in 2019. However, we’ll still strive for this goal and do everything we can to restore your satisfaction and trust, if we ever disappoint you. Our purpose is to make your life easier and better, within the scope of our plans. So if we’re ever not doing that, please let us know so we can try and make it up to you.

In addition to those quick feedback ratings, we also received lots of great public reviews on Google and Facebook from many of you! Thank you so much for those. They help a lot. You can see some of these on our home page.

SSL For Everyone!

In July, Google updated their Chrome browser (by far the most-used web browser) to give an alert on websites that asked for any user data, but didn’t have SSL/HTTPS encryption to protect that data sent and received between the browser and the website. We wrote an article previously about this if you’re curious. But the effect was that many visitors would receive a small warning when visiting a website that wasn’t SSL encrypted.

So we made sure to upgrade all our members who are hosted on our servers, with an SSL certificate and HTTPS encryption. Many of them didn’t even know we did this back in June and July. It means a slight increase in SEO, and more importantly, visitors won’t see any kind of a warning. For members who are on a plan that doesn’t include hosting, we provide support and whatever we can to to work with your host to get SSL installed for HTTPS encryption. If your site doesn’t have this, please contact us so we can start working with your hosting provider to get it added to your site.

New Reporting, Monitoring, and Insight

When we rebranded under the wpXPRESS name and launched our new support and maintenance plans (no website design/build required), we also started using ManageWP to manage those new sites. We’d previously used MainWP to do all of that. We still like that solution and the people behind MainWP. However, since MainWP is installed on a WordPress site that we run, support and maintenance largely falls on us and can be very time consuming if something goes wrong. So we decided to switch to ManageWP, despite the much higher cost.

Among many benefits, one big benefit of ManageWP for our members is that we can automatically generate and send very nice monthly reports. Those reports include things like the updates we’ve done to WordPress, the plugins, and themes on your site; your site’s uptime; speed rating results; the backups we’re taking; malware scanning results; Google Analytics overview; and even sales on WooCommerce sites. These  PDF reports are emailed to you monthly and provide a quick and easy overview of how your site did in the previous month.

Charry put in a lot of work and got all of our long-time members moved over to ManageWP by the end of 2018. So now all our members will receive these reports. It’s a free upgrade, regardless of what plan you’re on. We had a few had issues we’re ironing out with ManageWP support, so if you didn’t receive a report on 1 Jan. 2019, you’ll receive one on Feb 1st.

Here’s a couple pages from the website Dec 2018 report as an example:

Monthly report wordxpress managewp

Included in this free upgrade are a number of other free upgrades. Well, they’re free to you, they definitely cost us. But we want to provide that extra value to all our members. If you didn’t catch it in my list of things featured in our reports, we’re now doing daily malware scanning, and pagespeed (performance) monitoring of all our member’s sites. That’s in addition to the uptime monitoring and backups we were already doing. We’re now constantly taking your website’s pulse, blood pressure, calorie burn rate, and more. If anything goes wrong, we get alerted right away.

Other Improvements for Our Members

We’ve also implemented a number of other improvements and enhancements for our members that don’t deserve a full section of their own (at least at this point), but make the experience of being a wpXPRESS member, just that much better:

  • We started using ChargeDesk to help automate things when the card you pay with stops working. Now you’ll receive automated emails with a link to easily update your card.
  • We also offer a number of great Premium plugins and services to our members, that we didn’t offer before. Several of them can help with your online marketing to get more reviews on Google and other online platforms. Some members will need an upgrade in order to add these to their plan. But we always take care of our long-time members and are giving them a special discount if they want to upgrade to receive some of these benefits.
  • We started documenting everything that we do repeatedly and have a policy of always following the documentation. This makes us more effective, and makes it easier to bring on additional help as we grow.
  • We created some core principles and a governing document that guides wpXPRESS at a high-level. We’ll probably share this at some point, but it’s not fully polished and fleshed out yet.
  • We improved our ability to communicate in-bulk. You can now get browser notifications when we publish a new post here on the wpXPRESS blog. Plus we went back to MailChimp, after MailPoet send some rogue emails when it wasn’t supposed to.
  • We’ve upgraded many of our members (who host with us) to PHP 7.1. There’s some still on 5.6 while we get them compatible with PHP 7.x. We hope to upgrade all sites to 7.2 in 2019. PHP 7.x has huge speed improvements, plus is much more secure.
  • We acquired WP Upkeep! We welcome their members as new wpXPRESS members. We also were able to get many articles that talked about them, updated to reflect wpXPRESS.
  • We started sharing our ongoing revenue and traffic analytics, plus key milestones over on our business profile on IndieHackers.

How You Can Help Us Improve

There’s a few things that you, our members, can help us do to improve going forward:

  1. If someone you know could use our support and maintenance on their WordPress website, please tell them about us! If they sign up and stay with us for at least 4 months, we’ll give you a free month of membership on your site! I’ve stated before that we need to grow some in order to continue providing the great service we’re known for. So helping spread the word, is huge for us!
  2. Leave us a public review on Google, Facebook, or Trustpilot. If you haven’t already, we’d love an honest, public review. Just click here to leave us a review.

Looking Forward to 2019

We’re super excited about 2019! It’s already started off great, with some new members and lots of momentum. We’re going to build off what we did in 2018 and move forward in big ways. We’re so excited to work with all of you, our members, this year to make that happen!

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