5 Ways to Use WordPress to Provide Exceptional Customer SupportBy Adrian Try
This article is part of a series created in partnership with SiteGround. Thank you for supporting the partners who make SitePoint possible.
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Whether you develop web apps, sell WordPress plugins and themes, or run an online store, offering great customer support is essential for success. Do it well, and you’ll have happy customers and set yourself apart from your competitors. Do it badly, and it will come back to bite you.
Make support easy. Develop a comprehensive system, give your users multiple ways to contact you, and respond to support requests in an acceptable time frame. Aim to surpass their expectations. This is a proven formula for support success. Our partner, SiteGround, for example, sticks to it and each year they achieve a satisfaction rate over 96%.
How do you achieve that?
WordPress makes a great platform for your support system. There are over 10,000 support-related plugins that enable you to set up ticketing systems, live chat, support forums, frequently asked questions, and more. Some plugins just about do the lot.
But 10,000 plugins is a lot to wade through. In this article we bring you the best-in-class plugins in five categories—plugins we recommend that are widely used and highly rated by their users.
You may not want to implement all five categories in your support system. As you read through this article, think through which make the most sense for your business.
1. All-in-One Support Plugins
Here’s one way to simplify your support system. Rather than choosing a different plugin for each strategy, install one plugin that covers all the bases.
- Cost: Basic plugin free, extensions available individually or in bundles (from $199)
- Active Installs: 5,000+
- Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars (81 reviews)
This comprehensive plugin will do just about everything you need for support, except chat. The basic functionality is free, but some of the features you may want cost.
Awesome Support is the most versatile and feature-rich support plugin for WordPress. It’s the result of three+ years of work, research, and improvement. The features are an answer to user requests for a solid, WordPress-based help desk, and that’s what makes it the best!
Features of the free plugin include:
- Ticketing: Users can submit tickets from the front-end, and your agents respond to them from the WordPress back-end.
- E-mail notifications: Parties are notified of certain actions by customisable e-mails.
- File upload: You control when files can be uploaded, how many files, and how large they are.
- Multiple products: Provide support for as many products as you want.
- Multiple departments: Provide support for multiple departments.
- Terms & conditions: Ask users to agree to your your terms and conditions before they open a ticket
- Old tickets: Identify old tickets quickly with tags
- Sorting And Filtering: Includes an amazing flexible sorting, filtering and tagging system for your tickets
- Prioritize your way: Create your own priority scheme – you don’t have to get locked into a 1-5 priority scheme!
- Time Tracking: Basic time tracking is included! Admins can even adjust time and all time changes are logged directly in the ticket.
Popular premium extensions:
- E-Mail Piping: Reply to tickets and collaborate using just e-mail.
- WooCommerce: Bridge between your WooCommerce store and Awesome Support.
- Canned Responses: Preconfigure replies to common questions.
- Gravity Forms: Create custom ticket forms.
- Satisfaction Survey: Automatically collect survey responses that rate your agent’s performance on a ticket.
- FAQs: Powerful FAQ management make your agents more productive.
- Notifications: Get notified of important events in slack and via pushbullet. Notify third parties of important ticket events via email.
2. Provide Support via Tickets
A ticketing system might form the centrepiece of your support system. It’s the best way to give support on complex issues—it lets you track progress and clarify issues, prioritise jobs, and work through them systematically. It keeps everyone informed, and also provides a resource for how issues were dealt with in the past. That’s a lot of value from one plugin!
- Cost: Free, with pro add-ons available individually or in a bundle (from $99.99)
- Active Installs: 9,000+
- Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars (149 reviews)
This plugin adds to WordPress the features of a complete ticket system with 100% responsive and 100% Ajax functionality. This allows users to submit tickets to report problems or get support on whatever you want. Users can set the status, priority and category of each ticket.
- Unlimited ticket submission.
- Priority, Status, Category selection for each ticket.
- Multiple file attachment for ticket.
- Assign tickets to agents.
- Agent based ticket statistics.
- Smooth integration with all WordPress themes.
- FAQ functionality.
- Add Note for Support staff to keep private notes among support team (hidden for customer).
- Canned Reply for agents to answer frequent questions reply.
- Email templates to edit email contents.
- Email Piping of tickets.
- Woocommerce integration.
- Easy Digital Downloads integration.
- CSV export of tickets.
- Company or Usergroups.
- Timer (calculate time spent for ticket).
- Google Calender Event.
- Advanced Canned reply.
3. Provide Support via Live Chat
We live in the age of chat, where many people are more comfortable texting than picking up a phone. And it makes a great medium for customer support, especially for issues that are not so complex, or where you want to assist a user to complete a job themselves.
- Cost: Free, with pro add-in (from $39.95)
- Active Installs: 30,000+
- Rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars (341 reviews)
The most cost effective Live Chat plugin. Chat with your visitors for free! WP Live Chat Support is perfect for small businesses. No third party connections required. There’s no need to pay for live chat monthly subscriptions in order to better understand your visitors. This is a fully functional live chat plugin. Increase your conversion rates by communicating directly with your visitors when they’re ready to do so using WP Live Chat Support.
Features of the free plugin include:
- Unlimited simultaneous live chats.
- Live chat directly with your visitors.
- Users can drag the live chat box around their page.
- Change the colors of the live chat box.
- Fully responsive admin chat dashboard.
- Offline messages are stored.
- Access historical live chat records.
- Compatible with translation plugins.
- Google Analytics integration.
- Create a custom offline message form when you’re not online.
- Add surveys or polls to your chat box, before or after a chat session.
- Anonymity for your visitors.
- No monthly live chat subscriptions needed.
- Allow the live chat box to automatically pop up.
- View any live chats you may have missed.
- Enable/Disable the chat box on mobile devices.
- Ban visitors from chatting to you based on IP Address.
Pro features include:
- Unlimited live chat agents.
- Initiate live chats with online visitors.
- Quick Responses (insert a predefined response to your live chat box).
- Data triggers (time trigger, scroll trigger, page trigger, on page leave trigger).
- Reporting (chat stats, popular pages, ROI tracking and reporting, customer satisfaction ratings).
- Customer satisfaction ratings for each chat session.
- ROI tracking.
- Encrypt your live chat conversations.
- Fully responsive admin chat dashboard.
- Transfer chats to another agents.
- Set up your user profile.
You now have the choice to host your live chat on either your own website (using your own resources) or LiveChat’s server (using their resources). The latter will improve your chat’s performance by up to 300% and reduce the load on your host.
4. Provide Support via a Comprehensive FAQ
Give your users the information and resources they need to solve their own problems before they need to contact you. The more issues they can solve on their own, the less strain is placed on your support system. This starts with a detailed Frequently Asked Questions section.
- Cost: From $30 (single site lifetime license with 6 months support)
- Active Installs: 10,000+
- Rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars (54 reviews)
FAQ plugin that lets you create FAQ, organize FAQs and publicize your FAQ in no time through your WordPress admin panel. Select from multiple FAQ styles and FAQ layouts. You can use either the toggle FAQ and/or accordion FAQ style, to display one expanded FAQ answer on click, or choose to display all FAQs on page load, with the optional list FAQ style that offers a more traditional FAQ layout.
Features of the free plugin:
- Unlimited FAQ, unlimited FAQ tag and unlimited FAQ category support.
- Create FAQ categories.
- Create FAQ posts and assign categories to them.
- An AJAX FAQ search form.
- Export all FAQs to a PDF to create a user manual.
- Insert custom CSS to style your FAQ posts.
5. Extend Your Support with a Forum
A forum will enable your users not just to ask questions, but to help to answer them too. It also provides a useful reference where they can find answers to their questions, assuming they have been asked before.
Forums are flexible. They can deal with product questions (like you see on on Amazon or eBay) as well as support questions. The “sticky question” feature can act as an adequate FAQ. In fact, depending on your business, a forum may be the only support solution you need.
- Cost: Free
- Active Installs: 10,000+
- Rating: 4.1 out of 5 stars (97 reviews)
This forum plugin is designed for support from top to bottom. While not quite as popular or highly ranked as some of the alternatives (listed below), it’s a great option for a support forum.
DW Question and Answer is a WordPress plugin which builds a complete Question & Answer system for your WordPress site, like Quora or Stackoverflow. The plugin supports multi-languages, shortcodes, reCAPTCHA, email notification system and so on.
- Submit/filter/order/edit/delete questions.
- Answer and comment on questions.
- Vote and pick the best answer.
- Email notification system.
- Instant search by keywords.
- Captcha supported.
- Private/public for question and answer.
- Questions/answers follow function.
- Sticky question.