Support Stress: An Apology

You need a budget, on that we can all agree at this point, right? But you also need support from YNAB.

This will be an apology and an explanation of where we’ve been, where we are headed and where we want to be.

So get ready because I am just going to be totally transparent and shoot straight—it’s the only way I know how.

Before we launched the new YNAB in late December, we had four full-time people in Support. It was the  biggest team we’d ever had and we thought we’d be okay. But it never even came close. We were immediately overwhelmed with the launch. In one week, we had one year’s worth of emails. Literally.

Things have slowed down, but the demand on Support is still much more than it used to be. Today, we have 12 part-time support folks and they’re phenomenal. Some of them are still learning, but they’re learning super-fast which is awesome—so, kudos guys!

But we aren’t done. Our goal is 20. As of May 1, we plan to start another round of hiring. (And if you’re interested in working for YNAB in a support position, go to our Jobs page and check it out.)

Now, a little bit about Direct Import. It is a killer feature competitively. It is the feature we felt like we had to have to really get more people interested in YNAB. We have to have Direct Import. Am I loving it at the moment? No! Do I wish it weren’t there? A lot of the time, yes. It’s magic when it works, but when it doesn’t, it’s just a total fail.

Before launch, we had no support tickets about Direct Import. Now, about half our tickets are Direct Import and that is no small thing. Not to mention the fact that they are tougher to troubleshoot. It requires coordinating with our third party provider and getting back data from them, and then coordinating with you. It’s not like, “Hey, how does reconciliation work?” It’s just hairier. So, these tickets are not only voluminous but also technically more challenging.

There will always be issues with Direct Import—it’s the state of the industry of banks not necessarily being keen on having other people scrape data and things like that—but it is my goal to get it down to about 15 percent of our support tickets.

Back in the day, we would support people mostly on how you budget. You’d get support tickets like, “How do I do this? How do I do that?” and we would teach them budgeting. Now, so much of what we’re doing in support is technical, how to fix this, how to fix that—and it doesn’t feel nearly as good as teaching. We want to get back to that, to teaching people budgeting. We’ll get there. It’s already looking good; it’s trending that way. I think it’s just a matter of time.

We used to have one developer occasionally working on support. Right now, we have essentially two full-time developers working on support-related things. It keeps us from building other features in the app, but support is critical. If we can’t support the app, we can’t sell it.

This is taking us a little longer because it isn’t as simple as throwing people at the problem. It isn’t a hump. It is an issue that will be ongoing, that we need to learn how to cope with and manage well, so we can be sure that people are getting fantastic support, the kind we used to give people and that we want to be able to deliver again soon.

The medium is going to change. In addition to email support, we want to offer live, in-app support. So when you have a question, you just pop something up, ask your question, and someone gets back to you quickly. Right now, 65 percent of our support cases are answered in two hours or less. We will get to a point where 85-90 percent of our support cases are answered in less than an hour. I want more than an hour to be the exception to the rule. I think live, in-app chat will do that.

Had we known what we would see in terms of the technical challenges of Direct Import, we would have launched it differently. But we got slammed and we keep getting slammed and we’re scrambling. We have solutions that we’re working on that will make things better, so that we can get to where they are just a smaller amount of support and we can get back to just teaching people budgeting and getting them back to managing their money and following the Rules. Because that is where real change happens. And that is what counts.

I want to just apologize. For those of you that have written in and you’ve waited or you’ve written in again or you got an auto-reply back. I’m sorry for the lackluster support. It is not for lack of our Support team trying. They are doing the best they can possibly do. They’ve been working long hours; they’ve just been grinding it out—this is nothing to do with the team. I love them to death and they’re awesome. I couldn’t ask for a better team. This is just the environment we’re in. Given the launch, and the technical issues we didn’t foresee, we got nailed. So, I apologize.

It will get better. It’s still going to take us some time, but it will get better.


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