You’ve released a great new app or started the store you’ve always dreamed of, you’ve gotten covered in all the top sites, and you’ve got customers actually paying you money for your hard work. Congratulations! Now comes the hard part: supporting your customers.
No matter how nice your service or product is, your customers will need help with it. You’ll need to help them with everything from pre-sales questions to billing problems, from issues with your product to things you could have never thought of before.
The problem is, most customer support web apps are rather expensive, and can quickly eat into the meager amount your startup’s making. Plus, they’re often complicated and confusing to use, and don’t work exactly like you want.
WooThemes, the popular WordPress theme design firm, recently launched a brand new app theme, SupportPress. This advanced theme transforms a simple WordPress site into a full-fledged support system for your team. Does it have what your company needs? Let’s dive in and see.
A New Take on Customer Support Software
Since its release in 2003, WordPress has grown from a simple blogging system to an advanced content management system that powers over 50 million sites today. Much of its success is due to the wide variety of plugins and themes that 3rd party developers have created for it. They’ve turned basic WordPress blogs into interactive news sites and easy to update Tumblog-style sites.
Now, they’re going a step further. Theme developers at Themeforest, AppThemes, WooThemes, and more have started using custom post types and taxonomies in WordPress to turn the CMS into Q&A, reality management, job boards, and more.
The latest of these is SupportPress from WooThemes, and it is one of the most impressive app themes we’ve seen. Simply install the one theme, and your whole site will be made over into a support tool where you can save documentation, respond to customer support tickets, post updates about your site, and send private messages to your team. Most support web apps cost $9-$30 a month, and will cost even more as your support team grows. With SupportPress, you can buy the $100 theme once, and use it forever.
Setting Up Your SupportPress
To get started, simply upload the theme and install it on your site as you would any other WordPress theme. Once it’s installed, you need to open your Permalink settings under your WordPress main settings and save the settings to register the new post types. Once you’ve done that, you’ll be ready to dive into SupportPress.
Your WordPress dashboard will now show 4 new section in the left menu: Tickets, KB articles, Messages, and the SupportPress settings. You can view the individual tickets and messages here, and edit them with the normal WordPress editing environment. You can also tweak SupportPress with your company’s own style and logo, and can choose whether you want the support site open to everyone or only to members.
For the most part, though, you’ll never need to use the WordPress dashboard when using SupportPress. Your customers and support team can create and respond to tickets, view internal messages, or tweak their own profile and email settings right from SupportPress without having to navigate into WordPress.
Support Your Customers, Seamlessly
Now that you’ve got SupportPress installed, your site will be fully transformed into a support center. Your support site will look different depending on who visits. Normal visitors will see your blog posts and knowledge base, and can sign up to submit a support ticket. Existing customers can see the status of the tickets they’ve submitted, and reply to them when they’re logged in. And support agents will see all tickets they need to respond to, ones they’ve been assigned, and can also view internal messages.
To submit a support ticket, your users will first need to register for an account with an email and username. They can then log in and submit questions or problems they’re having with your product. They can even include an attachment with the ticket, which is a great way for people to send a screenshot to show exactly what’s wrong.
Once tickets have been submitted, agents can respond to them directly in SupportPress. The tickets can be assigned to someone else in the company if you can’t respond, or can be marked as closed if you’re finished. Alternately, if you’d like to reuse your support in the future, you can turn a support ticket into a public knowledge base article in a click.
Using SupportPress In Your Company
SupportPress makes it easy to find tickets from the administrative dashboard. You can search through tickets, view only new tickets, or sort them by their category. Best of all, you can see how old a ticket is, so you can respond to them based on how urgent or old the case is.
Another great feature for your team is the internal messages. These are similar to group emails, and will only be seen by administrators on your account. This way, you can send messages that your whole team can see. It’s a nice way to keep everyone informed of what’s going on, without having to use another messaging tool.
SupportPress is an impressive tool that makes it easy to create the support system your team needs. It may cost more upfront and take a bit more time to get setup, but over time, you can see huge savings from managing your own support system. We’re always excited to see web apps that you can install on your own server, and it’s amazing how simple they can be to deploy today.
It’s still not the perfect tool for every team, though. Many newer support systems include rich social media integration, so you can keep up with support requests that come through Twitter and more. Additionally, most support tools let you receive emails to, say, firstname.lastname@example.org, and automatically import them as new tickets. SupportPress doesn’t include either of these features, though they are considering adding email integration. If they do, it’ll be useful for many more teams. Even still, though, it includes a great amount of features that should be useful to many.
If you’d like to give SupportPress a try, feel free to play with WooTheme’s SupportPress demo, or create a free account and try it out in their WooThemes Playground. We’d love to hear your thoughts about SupportPress, and what you think of the new trend for WordPress app themes.