For any web entrepreneur that runs a service based business – whether that is a copywriting firm, SEO firm, or Software as a Service membership website, we all know the headaches that can come from attempting to run a service-based business while still offering top-notch customer support. There are many solutions out there that provide support centers complete with ticketing and helpdesk’s to provide general information to your user base.
The problem is that many of us are operating on WordPress. It is by far the most popular website and content management platform out there today.
Up until a recently, there weren’t a whole lot of good support center and HelpDesk platforms (in the form of plugins and themes) that were reliable, and didn’t come connected to some bloated membership or eCommerce software. Believe me, I looked around quite a bit.
Over the course of the last year or so, a number of different solutions have come out.
My favorite of these is Support Desk.
Why Do I Need a Help or Support Desk?
The reasons behind a support desk should be pretty straight forward. When customers have questions, they can use the support system that you have in place to get into contact with you.
It’s especially useful as a time saving tool. Allowing your clients to connect with your support team directly through your website for small issues (that wouldn’t require a phone call) saves you a great deal of time. It also provides your support team with an ongoing workflow.
There are a few things that Support Desk provides;
Allow Customers to Ask Questions
Instead of having to go through the lengthy process of emailing your company, Support Desk and similar solutions allow your customers to login and ask questions to your support team directly on your website.
This is going to be a lot less time consuming for you or your support staff, and allows various questions to be categorized by their level of importance. If something is “urgent,” it can be labeled that way by the customer and therefore jump higher in the priority list for the software team.
Provide Free Tutorials
In conjunction with the support features, the theme also offers a built in HelpDesk, which allows you to upload tutorials teaching people how to use your product or service.
Even if your product isn’t all that complicated, you’ll quickly find that many of your customers are not as well-informed as you think. They will inevitably have questions about your product or service, and everyone one of those questions costs you valuable time.
Increase Customer Satisfaction
Consider the different services that you pay for on a monthly basis. You’ve probably had a question yourself.
In example, I’ve run into problems with my web host on many occasions and needed the help of tech support in order to use a particular script or understand why my hosting was behaving strangely.
Quite a few times I have been able to turn to the HelpDesk to get my questions answered without having to use the support system. This saves them time. It saves me time. It allows me to get my answer immediately without having to go through a lengthy support process. It’s a mutually beneficial setup.
Create a Community
In many ways the HelpDesk is an unofficial forum. It allows customers to help other customers within your business. This is an alternative route that can help them to quickly connect with the answer that they need. In essence, it is crowd-sourced support.
This can be useful in many obvious ways, but the building of a community can be a great thing for fostering customer loyalty and low customer turnover for membership websites. This can save you a great deal of time and resources.
Installing and Using Support Desk
The setup and installation of Support Desk is relatively simple. If you have experience setting up WordPress, then it will be an absolute breeze. Here is the process;
Step 1: Decide Where to Install
Support Desk can be installed on domains, subdomains, or in sub-folders. Personally, I would recommend installing the theme on its own support-oriented subdomain. For those that plan on building a community through the Support Desk theme, it might be a good idea to install it on a subfolder to retain the SEO benefits on your main domain.
Those that install Support Desk on its own domain likely have several different services websites and are looking for a central hub for all of their different businesses. This isn’t ideal in all situations, but the location in which you install the theme depends upon your own situation.
- Subdomain: Support.YourDomain.com
- Sub-Folder: YourDomain.com/Support
- Domain: YourNameSupport.com
Step 2: Install WordPress
In order to install Support Desk, you have to use its own isolated installation of WordPress. You can not run 2 themes simultaneously on different portions of your main WordPress installation.
If your hosting comes complete with cPanel, it often comes with a one-click installation through one of the apps that allows you to choose whether the new WordPress installation is installed on a subdomain, sub-folder, or complete domain.
This simplifies the WordPress installation process.
If your hosting does not come with cPanel or some kind of equivelant with a one-click install, follow the WordPress installation guide provided by WordPress.
Step 3: Install Support Desk
The Support Desk framework is fully installed on top of your WordPress installation.
In order to install it click on Appearance, then Themes. At the top of this menu, click on Install Themes.
After purchasing the theme, you were prompted to download a .zip file that contains the theme. This file can be uploaded in the Install Themes section, which will then upload the theme onto your server.
Once the theme is installed, you must activate it.
Set Up and Configure Support Desk
HelpDesk makes a number of changes to your WordPress installation that will allow it to transform into a complete HelpDesk. That does mean that there is going to be some work that is required in order to properly set up the theme and get it running the way that you would like.
Step 1: Setting Up Required Pages
The first thing that you need to do in order to get the theme running correctly is to setup the required pages.
Go to Pages > Add New.
Create a blank page. On the right side of the page, look at the Page Attributes Section. Set the template to Homepage. This will be the page that acts as your homepage, automatically populated by the theme.
Now create another blank page. Title the page “News”. In the Page Attributes section, make sure that you have it set to Default Template. This page will act as the news page for your Support Desk and allow you to keep your customers up to date on the recent changes.
Now go to Settings > Reading. Look at the Front Page attribute. Select Static Page. Choose the “Home” page you just created. For the Posts Page choose “News”.
Make sure to save your changes, or you’ll have to go back and do it again.
Step 2: Branding Changes
When setting up your Support Desk theme, you want to make sure that you make branding changes so people know what company they are interacting with when using the support system.
Start by going to Appearance > Theme Options and changing the settings Homepage Options to match your business. Save when completed.
Go to Appearance > Settings and select the Styling section.This section allows you to set a number of new colors including the color of the links and the overall theme color. Match these colors up with the current branding on your website.
Adding a Logo
Go back into the Appearance > Customize menu. Here you can edit the title of the site and tagline. Under the Site Logo menu you can upload a file from your hard drive to your website.
Select your logo and then click Publish.
You may have to do some editing to the size and dimensions of your logo to get things looking perfect on your support portal, but that should be relatively easy.
Now you have a beautiful looking support center that is consistent with your branding.
One of the biggest benefits of the Support Desk theme is the fact that you can add tutorials to the Knowledge Base, which will greatly cut down on the number of support tickets that you can expect to sift through. This WordPress support plugin can make it extremely easy to fill out your knowledge base with relevant information, and keep users form submitting tasks all day.
Adding tutorials is relatively easy. Go to Knowledge Base > New Article. This allows you to create custom tutorials for your service or product, instructing users on how to interact with and use the product.
I would recommend doing this for every aspect of your product or service, as any question that can be thwarted with in depth help files can save you a great deal of time and money.
Setting up the FAQ Page
The built-in Frequently Asked Questions page allows you to update any of the frequent questions that your visitors may have. This is built directly into your WordPress dashboard, and can be edited by going to FAQs > Add FAQ. It is best to deck this page out with any question that you could envision a customer asking. This will often be the first place that they go to see if their question is answered. Additionally, many of your customers might actually forego looking through your tutorials and just looking at the FAQ page before submitting a ticket.
A good FAQ page should be your first priority in reducing the number of support tickets that you have to deal with.
Adding a Forum
The Support Desk theme is compatible with the bbPress forum. You can install this easily by going to Plugins > Add New and then searching for “bbPress.” This will give you the option of adding a community forum to your Support Desk installation, which will make it easy for other users to share quick fixes with typical problems with your product or software.
Crowd sourcing your support can be extremely helpful. Many problems that would usually warrant a support ticket can be solved by adding a forum and allowing your users to respond. It is important to remember that this can cause some issues, such as other members giving the wrong answer to a support question. Your goal should be to find a reliable moderator to watch over the forum and point out or fix problems that you run into.