DreamHost Support Queue

From time to time people complain about DreamHost Support in the discussion forum. When I started this blog about 6 months ago there had just been another long thread about the size of the support queue, so I started to track the number of open support requests in the, to see if the queue was really ever increasing and to see if there was any pattern in the queue size.

DreamHost Control Panel > Support > Contact Support

Unfortunately my script broke about 3 weeks ago (I changed my control panel password, but forgot to update the script), but I still have a bit more than 5 months of data from the 11th November 2005 to 22nd April 2006 (totally 3880 observations).

Average Open Support Requests
Daily – Last 6 months

The graph shows how the support queue has evolved over the last 5Ā½ months. It started pretty high in mid-November with an average of around 800 requests in the queue and even surpassing 1000 a few times.

Since then it has hit the 800-mark just before Christmas, down to the 70’s at New Year and back in the 800’s in mid-January and in the beginning of February, where it even reached 1054 open support requests for a few hours.

Since mid-February the queue has been noticeable shorter, which the following chart clearly shows.

Average and Maximum Open Support Requests
November 2005 – April 2006

While the average number of open support requests in November – February was between 500 and 600, the average in March fell to 258 and 213 in April. The maximum of open support requests has also fallen from between 900 and 1100 in November – February to 701 in March and 614 in April 2006.

Average Open Support Requests

Another interesting observation is how the support queue changes over the week. There’s clearly a weekend effect with fewer requests on Saturday evenings and during Sundays (or at least fewer requests per employee). It’s also evident that the queue is longest around noon each day and shortest around midnight.

It’s important to notice that the queue size doesn’t tell anything about average response time and it’s impossible to derive anything about response time from the data I have. DreamHost states that they strive to answer all emails within 24 hours, but obviously had troublesĀ fulfilling this goal last fall, because of the recent growth.

When taking in to consideration that the growth has continued and the number of hosted domains has grown from 160.000 to 260.000 in the last 6 months (60% growth), I find it impressive that they at the same time has been able to shorten the support queue. DreamHost honcho Michael recently revealed that 55% of support questions are now answered within 2 hours and 95% are answered within 24 hours. The more difficult the question, the longer it takes to find a resolution.

2 Responses to “DreamHost Support Queue”

  1. Pete Happy DreamHost Employee says:

    I can definitely confirm what Michael said about our response times. We have hired on several people for support in the last six months and our times have been going down steadily despite the fact that our subscribers continue to rocket upward.

    We are also reworking parts of our back-end systems to help reliability, which should help prevent people from having to submit a ticket in the first place! That could take months though, per project segment, with the testing and beta-rollout procedures and soforth, so it won’t be like.. tomorrow or anything.

    There are fewer requests during the weekends, but there are also fewer staff. There are also fewer tickets over the graveyard shift, and likewise fewer staff… so it doesn’t really make a big difference when you submit your ticket vs. how long it takes to get answered.

    The keys to getting a fast response are simple!

    Provide as much information as you can. “My email doesn’t work” will prolong your response, and in many cases will result in us asking for additional information (and thus a second delay!) “My email account, foo@example.com is getting the error 554 Relay Access Denied” will get you a faster answer.

    Related to the above, you should also fill out the support form correctly. We have drop-down menus where you can select a domain, email address, or other details about which service is not working properly. If you specify the wrong information here, it can get your ticket delayed. This does not, of course, apply if you’re emailing your support ticket, but if you’re able to submit the ticket from the panel, this additional information helps us out.

    Don’t forget to mention potentially confusing conditions, e.g. if you have multiple accounts under the same email address, if you’re managing your own DNS server, if you’ve installed your own custom PHP and anything else that might have an affect on the problem in question.

    Hope this helps! I know they’re kindof “duh” points, but you wouldn’t believe how often people forget!

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