19

What leads me to ask: I requested assistance with a thorny problem via the "Contact Us" on Nov. 6. No answer; tried again on Nov. 17. Still nothing (December 8).

How many SOS's are there in the current backlog? What's the average wait time to get a response from "Contact Us"?

How many SOS's are received per week?

How do those numbers compare with those that were occurring prior to The Firing?

Is average wait time calculated and recorded? If so, how could I look at it?

Has the data guru been looking at these issues at all?

Have the community managers and/or management noticed or hypothesized a correlation between reduction of wait time and the general level of trust?

And now, two feature requests:

  1. When a user sends a message to the CM team via "Contact us" or an email to community-support@stackoverflow.com, arrange for the automatic response to include an estimated number of days of wait time.

  2. Publish somewhere (here perhaps) the average wait time on an occasional, on-going basis, e.g. approximately once a month.


How this question is different from the proposed duplicate:

The proposed duplicate seems to be saying that average response time is between one day and one week, and that if it's going to be longer, one can expect an email to that effect.

In these difficult times, I'd be surprised if the numbers were the same.

I'd like to know how they compare. My target answer author: the data guru, I forget her name (hope someone will help me and edit this part).

  • 3
    First! With the obligatory 6 to 8 weeks .... – rene Dec 8 '19 at 7:27
  • 1
    @rene - I don't understand your comment. Could you clarify, please? – aparente001 Dec 8 '19 at 7:28
  • 8
    The "6 to 8 weeks" is a very old and unfunny meme. Whenever a new release or fix is due, someone will respond "6 to 8 weeks", which is equivalent to saying "sometime in the future, long enough that you'll forget what was requested" – Mari-Lou A Dec 8 '19 at 7:38
  • @Mari-LouA - Thank you. And what did rene mean by "First!"? // Any idea what's going on with the downvotes? – aparente001 Dec 8 '19 at 7:40
  • 2
    Naturally someone was going to respond with that comment. Rene got to it first. – n8te Dec 8 '19 at 7:41
  • I thought things had slowed down on Meta. I didn't think there would still be such a massive backlog. This reminds me of the I-hate-paperwork method of dealing with incoming mail: when mail arrives, don't sort it, just let it mound up on your desk until it starts to slide off. Then toss it -- all of it. If there was anything in there that needed to be dealt with originally, it probably doesn't any more. If the water got cut off, you noticed that because no water came out of the tap, and then you called to pay your back bills. (If your phone is still working.) – aparente001 Dec 8 '19 at 7:46
  • Then again some users might object rehashing old grievances and believe that for the good of the community we should "move forward". I'm just repeating what was said to me when my question, not a duplicate and upvoted 117 times (and 35 DV), was deleted. – Mari-Lou A Dec 8 '19 at 7:48
  • 3
    @Mari-LouA - It becomes an "old" grievance when it sits there unresponded to for weeks on end. But time doesn't automatically heal wounds, when there's no communication. They just fester. // We have a data guru. I would like to see some numbers. If nothing else, it would help me look at what I've experienced more philosophically. – aparente001 Dec 8 '19 at 7:54
  • @SonictheReinstateMonica-hog - Please see updated question. – aparente001 Dec 8 '19 at 8:48
  • 2
    They were never fast. It takes months to get a proper response, if you'e lucky. – Shadow The Burning Wizard Dec 8 '19 at 9:00
  • @ShadowThePrincessWizard - That is interesting. Would you do me a favor and contribute an answer? Note that your comment is diametrically opposed to the answer at the proposed duplicate. – aparente001 Dec 8 '19 at 18:51
  • @ShadowThePrincessWizard - I appreciate it. Rather depressing reading, I must say. // Maybe instead of "dry facts" you mean I only have data points from my own attempts to contact the team -- or something like that? – aparente001 Dec 9 '19 at 7:52
  • @aparente001 done. – Shadow The Burning Wizard Dec 9 '19 at 7:53
8

Tldr: unless contractually obligated no organisation is likely to share that sort of statistics.

Tbh, CM contacts have been a little slow for quite a while. It's a small team, with fairly nebulous scope, and lots of responsibility.

Even with a dedicated part of the team handing the stuff coming in - it's always been rather slow and I suspect that relative workload hasn't directly been impacted by these events.

Most of the time - stuff ends up handled quietly and I think I have sent less than a dozen cm messages over the past decade.

It's not visible enough to be a major issue for most - time sensitive issues that need staff itervention, or even issues that need staff intervention are probably not that common. Its certainly not as visible as meta and other broader media.

I doubt anyone would mind more CMs and having them free to be more hands on but apparently resources haven't been available a while.

So absolute timelines and soft SLAs feel unlikely

Getting what feel like statistics on staff performance ... probably even less so.

  • 3
    What is an SLA? – Mari-Lou A Dec 8 '19 at 8:12
  • 2
    Thanks for responding. I didn't mean to request absolute timelines. When I call a customer service number and the system tells me, "Your wait time is between 35 and 55 minutes," that is helpful information. I'm requesting data based on observed events, not absolutes. I'm also not requesting that some sort of promise be made and kept regarding response time. I'm requesting information. Given that there is a backlog, is the current average wait time on the order of one week, four weeks, 40 weeks? – aparente001 Dec 8 '19 at 8:12
  • @Mari-LouA - I looked it up and found "service-level agreement (SLA) defines the level of service you expect from a vendor, laying out the metrics by which service is measured." (I don't know for certain that is what the post author meant.) – aparente001 Dec 8 '19 at 8:13
  • 1
    SLA. In the field it's an assurance to a customer of how long it takes to get support. – Journeyman Geek Dec 8 '19 at 8:13
  • 2
    Could "been rather slow" maybe be quantified a bit? To me this could mean anything from days to weeks to months. – Trilarion Dec 8 '19 at 8:15
  • Well also never. But I'm often fine with that. I often attempt to let people know of issues rather than require attention. I'd be a non representative sample and will need to dig through my emails over a decade for an answer.Fundamentally though - contact us response times are a non issue for many people I suspect since they never need to use it. – Journeyman Geek Dec 8 '19 at 8:17
  • 3
    @JourneymanGeek - Most of us never need the emergency gear in an airplane. But it's nice to know that it's there and that it's been tested and maintained. – aparente001 Dec 8 '19 at 8:25
  • Police response times are also a non issue for all the people that never use it, until they use it. – Trilarion Dec 8 '19 at 8:27
  • However, I think if you asked for the caliberation and test certs on your next flight... – Journeyman Geek Dec 8 '19 at 8:27
  • @JourneymanGeek - was your ellipsis meant to represent "the pilot would be offended"? If so, that would be a surprising thing to say in light of what has been discovered recently about the FAA's sweetheart relationship with Boeing. Anyway, the question isn't about an individual pilot's reliability. It's about the system. – aparente001 Dec 8 '19 at 8:35
  • I leave it to the reader to come to their own conclusions – Journeyman Geek Dec 8 '19 at 8:38
  • It's hard to respond when I'm not sure what you're saying. If you are saying that a mod or CM would be offended by my question, then my response would be, this isn't a criticism of any individual, or even a group. I don't have any data, so how can I judge? Also, I have never been a moderator, so it wouldn't be fair for me to judge. // I would like to know how many Contact Us'es are currently being received per week, or per month if you prefer, and what that number was previously. Just some rough estimates would be helpful.//It's about the system, not one person. – aparente001 Dec 8 '19 at 8:52
  • Pretty much there's no way any organization would share that information. – Journeyman Geek Dec 8 '19 at 9:01
  • 1
    @JourneymanGeek I have heard that it can take a long time to get needed surgery in the UK. I hear wait time data talked about in the news. Example 2: Wait time to be seen in the E.R. in a US hospital. Example 3: Average wait time to get through to customer service at the phone company. // What is the reason you are imagining that this information would be held close to the chest? – aparente001 Dec 8 '19 at 18:50
  • An organisation with stellar reaction times might share it freely. – Helmar Dec 9 '19 at 14:04
6

Well, I only have my own experience. I contacted the team directly via email in the past three times (as far as I remember), and the response times were between one week and half a year.

I submitted few "contact us" forms as well over time, don't remember how many, but that's what I do remember:

  1. At least two were submitted before the auto response, and never got a reply.
  2. Those which had any effect took few weeks before I got a reply.
  3. The latest one was in August, here is the reply I got:

And no, I didn't get any reply to this day, over four months later. Actually, I forgot what I submitted and there's no way to even see it, but I do remember I decided it's pointless to try and contact the team. Others can waste their time; I don't plan to do it anymore.

  • That's pretty depressing reading.... // What does "two were submitted before the auto response" mean? // For what proportion of your attempts, did you receive a personalized response (not, for example, "Ticket received")? – aparente001 Dec 9 '19 at 7:53
  • @aparente001 when submitting a contact form, there used to be auto reply for a while (year or two, I think) but turns out they shut it down recently as well. :/ – Shadow The Burning Wizard Dec 9 '19 at 7:56
  • @aparente001 as for actual response I don't remember for sure, it was between 2 and 4, but also includes direct email to a CM which I'm not sure counts here in this discussion. – Shadow The Burning Wizard Dec 9 '19 at 7:57
  • Confusing. I did get a canned "Ticket Received" email. – aparente001 Dec 9 '19 at 7:58
  • @aparente001 when? Maybe they turned it on again, i.e. animuson answer need an update? – Shadow The Burning Wizard Dec 9 '19 at 8:03
3

Let's assume good faith and assume that your case is really time critical, a case of online harassment or exposure of private information maybe. Something really serious that wasn't solved otherwise where the direct contact with the company is the only hope left.

What would be a reasonable delay time in such a case? I think the standard for such cases on Facebook or Twitter is around one day, but I'm not complety sure and would go with a few working days in the majority of cases. That's what the company should aim for, I guess.

Your reported delay time of at least four weeks may mean that your message is a total outlier, a kind of sorry we cleaned up in the attic and found this outlier.

In the end, only the company can deliver the required statistics, but just as a general statement, the amount of work is not affected by the delay as long as every message gets answered at all. It doesn't become easier if you wait longer. What could have happened is that the amount of contact messages increased without a proportional amount of increase in workforce and now they push a mountain of unanswered contact messages in front of them, leading to a permanent rather big delay.

  • 3
    I'm hoping for an answer from the data guru, containing numbers. I'm not so much looking for answers that are mostly in the speculative realm. – aparente001 Dec 8 '19 at 8:55
  • 4
    @aparente001 I know. I'm just filling the time until the data guru answers. You could also maybe ask for a statistics of how long it takes until the data guru answers. – Trilarion Dec 8 '19 at 8:57

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .