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Is Customer Service Important for SSL Certificate Providers?

Many people wonder what it takes to make it in the SSL Certificate industry. It is a market with relatively few players (in you don't count resellers) with very high potential profits (more than a billion dollars of revenue each year).  SSL Shopper is very interested in helping people find the right SSL provider, and, as it has published customer reviews, it has found several patterns in what people look for in an SSL Certificate provider.

What criteria are considered before buying an SSL certificate?

  • Cost. One of the greatest considerations is cost. Prices vary greatly between different SSL certificate providers ($10-$1500 per certificate) and customers want to know that they are getting the best deal.
  • Customer Service. Great customer service can be the number one consideration for many customers. People are willing to pay extra as long as they know they are going to have a positive experience and are going to be taken care of.
  • Brand recognition. Because SSL certificates are associated so closely with trust, brand recognition is important to those needing to create a strong sense of security.
  • Features and doodads. This is one of the minor considerations, but many people need a specific feature or the right amount of control over their certificates (e.g. re-keying, bulk management, etc.).

Why is customer service so important?

First, who do you think is more likely to write a review on SSL Shopper, an angry customer or a happy customer? It turns out that happy customers are much more likely to write a positive review than a negative review. More than 60% of all reviews on the site give the SSL provider 4 or 5 stars. Close to 30% goes to 0 and 1 star reviews.

SSL Shopper Reviews Pie Chart

Negative Reviews

Let's take a look at what those 0 and 1 star reviews are talking about. Here is a word cloud of the most common words used in the titles of 0 and 1 star reviews with the larger words used with more frequency:

See any patterns? Customer service clearly comes up with the highest frequency and we can only assume that it was because of bad customer service given their 0 or 1 star rating of the provider. Other common words include "suck", "slow", "worst", "terrible" "arrogant", "pompous", "horrid", "rude", "clueless", "inflexible", "disappointing", and "attitude". Not the kind of words you want to have your company associated with if you're trying to sell something to customers.

While we are talking about negative reviews, we should point out some of the more entertaining negative review titles:

  • "Comodo is english for pain in the ass!!"
  • "Idea for a gift: a doc about openssl"
  • "Going Nowhere Daddy" and "GoSomewhere else"
  • "Don't buy this SHIT."
  • "Run from this place"
  • "The very, very worst company I've ever dealt with" 

If you are one of the companies who received one of these negative reviews, we hope it will inspire you to provide better customer service. That would certainly be a wise move considering Google's recent actions in penalizing merchants that provide an extremely poor user experience.

Positive Reviews

Now let's take a look at the word cloud for 5 star reviews:

Again, customer service is mentioned the most along with words such as "support", "easy", "great", "fantastic", "experience", "price", and "excellent". Some of our favorite positive review titles include:

  • "Easy to use for drunken admins"
  • "What I wish Verisign had been in 1994..."
  • "Least bad ssl experience in last 10 years"


Based on the SSL Certificate Reviews on SSL Shopper, it is clear that, while other factors like price, brand, and features are considered, SSL certificate purchasers are very interested in buying certificates from a company that provides great customer service.

Customer Service Comic

Originally posted on Thu Dec 23, 2010

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