Welcome to Episode 16 of Mastermind.fm! This week our masterminds Jean and James delve into the topic of hiring and support. Look for this week’s conversation to revolve mostly around support, and then turn to hiring next week. You’ll find a brief overview below as always, but be sure to tune in for the full scoop! You won’t want to miss it!
How Can We Offer Great Support for a WordPress Plugin or Business?
James kicks things off by laying out his philosophy on support: instead of looking at support as the inevitable thing we have to do because we have a product, look at it as an opportunity to engage with your customers. The goal of support shouldn’t be to close a ticket or end one conversation so you can move on to another one, but to build trust and relationships.
Jean addresses logistics. As a beginning business, how much of your small team’s time do you devote to support and development? You have to manage setting priorities and scaling as your company grows. What’s the factors to consider in managing this aspect of your growth? It’s a reality for almost everyone. The ‘passive income’ of a plugin that doesn’t need support is a reality to varying degrees, but it’s tantamount to chasing unicorns. You need to plan for support!
How Can You Plan for Support?
In a nutshell, target and address top issues for your customers proactively.
- Look for gaps in your product: specific problem areas that users struggle with. Address these proactively.
- Implement a series of steps/troubleshooting guide/faq inside the support form prior to submitting it. “Intelligent forms” so to speak.
Support can, in Jean’s words, “quickly take over your life”. How do you handle it within your team?
For James and Ninja Forms, a key quality in a support team is to act as customer advocates. People that can show empathy and relate to the customer. Someone who can solve a problem for the customer and, when warranted, come back to the development team and suggest changes. They’re not just ‘question answerers’, but team members that are actively engaged in shaping the direction of product growth. They are support-first hires rather than developers that handle support too.
For Jean, the nature of his team’s work require developers in the support role. That’s a common arrangement shared by other organizations like Delicious Brains and MailPoet. This brings a high degree of technical know-how to the support aspect of the business. Jean’s team uses a three-tiered system for support where tickets are delegated based on the nature of the individual ticket and which developers are best suited to address them.
Find a Help Desk Solution
Email or form support may work ok in the very early days, but both Jean and James strongly recommend adopting a help desk solution early. Even a homebrew support method is going to be overwhelmed quickly by your evolving needs. Don’t be afraid to research and experiment with different systems, but look into a professional solution early.