Your network is a beautiful thing. Never underestimate its power!* Start here before opening it up to the broader community, since it tends to generate a higher quality crop of applicants* Be creative: sticky forum post, newsletter blasts, personal Twitter/FB pages* Who knows the product better than your users?
Stay focused & trust yourself.* Finding, interviewing and hiring people is going to take longer than you think* Continually question: is technical experience or a love of helping people more important? * Half-assing it and picking an under-qualified candidate just to finish the process sooner will only come back to bite you in…well, you know* Go with your gut! if you have a nagging sense that this person might not be a good fit, they probably won’t be
Ultimately, raving fans!
Running Support For A Premium WordPress Plugin
Running Support for A Premium WordPress Plugin Rob La Gatta / Modern Tribe email@example.com @roblagatta
Im Rob. I run Quality* for Modern Tribe. (No, Im not one of these guys). * Quality = QA + support!
Good support… • Makes existing customers happy & prospective customers excited• Fights the rigid bureaucratic machine • Engages the community, instead of just preaching to it • Provides value that can be easily measured internally &externally • Is offensive, not defensive
Building your team• Are they happy, helpful, curious & accountable?• Where are they located? Does it even matter for the job they’re doing?• Do they understand a lifestyle company, & the work/life balance?• How do they handle the interview & test project?• Is this someone I’d want to spend time with at our next team-wide retreat?
“Stacking the bench”Positives (+) Negatives (-)• Patience • Obvious bullshitting• Strong verbal & written • Poor verbal communication or a less- communication skills than-100% command of• A sense of humor, English regardless of how dark • No other source of income• Thick skin & no • Lack of experience semblance of working remotely defensiveness • Overly granular (or,• Openness to wearing “paying too much many hats attention to the wrong details”)
Being a buddy• Remember the “Golden Rule”• Embrace the conflicts that being voice of the customer causes with your dev team• You can be a professional without being cold & impersonal (use smiley faces, exclamation points)• Treat users like a friend…someday, they might be one
Remember…It’s not a matter of whether or not you can solve their specific problem…it’s about whether or not they have a good experience throughout the exchange.
So you’ve pissed someone off• Be diplomatic• Swallow your pride & be liberal with apologies• Never let your emotions take control• Take 20 minutes to write a thoughtful, detailed reply that calmly addresses all their points• Strategically escalate to defuse a volatile situation, if needed• Keep the user on your radar & check in as needed until you know they’re happy (or at least calm)
Providing support: free vs PROThe Events Calendar (free) Events Calendar PRO (paid)• All posts gets a reply within • All posts get a reply within 7-10 days (usually sooner) 24 hours• Help with bugs; don’t help • Help with bugs, feature requests, customizations & customizations & most theme/template theme/plugin integrations integrations as much as is practical EVERYBODY is a customer. Some have paid for more features & support than others, but you owe it to everyone to respond professionally, with enthusiasm & in a reasonable timeframe
Curiosities about free vs PRO• The value provided should be proportionate to the amount the plugin costs• Strategically include links to PRO/premium support threads when practical• Setting expectations of limited support on dot-org & sticking to those can actually increase buyers of your premium product• Reply to the written reviews, even (especially) the nasty ones
The right philosophy?"I dont care if you pay us $39 or $390,000. Treat our support team poorly and you may be asked to take your money and leave.” - @byronrode
Act nice, get help“The more respectful and thankful that you are, the more inclined they will be to help you out for little or no charge. Remember you pay NOTHING to use the plugin, so the least you can pay the developer is some respect.” - Wpbeginner.com
If you can’t help them…• Direct them to a competitor who you know will treat them right• Be wary about letting your team provide “additional support” at a cost they determine• Keep a customization referral list that is well-stocked with available freelancers/shops
How do you QA?• Do devs QA their own work, or each other?• Do you have an independent QA team whose job is exclusively to test products before release?• Do you bypass QA altogether, release & make fixes based on user reports?…don’t trip, but you’re doing it wrong.
Good support teams do QA• It avoids creating silos• Creates a more cohesive, less fragmented experience for the end user• Expectations on the scope/timeline of a feature or bug fix can be set more accurately• Who knows what the community wants & whether your changes get them there, better than the person engaging with them on a daily basis?
An ideal quality process• Team members each “own” a unique plugin & are responsible for testing before release /support after• Multiple (2+) testers before a major release• Implementation of a strict monthly maintenance release cycle
The monthly release cycle• Week 1: Post-mortem the last release, refine specs for the next• Weeks 2-3: Heavy focus on necessary development work• Week 4: Complete QA, test all the issues specific to the release, & do a “full pass”Release updates on thefirst Mondayof themonth, every month, then start the process over.
Why are monthly releases good for support?• They make people happy• Gives users a reasonable timeframe for expecting bug fixes• Makes better use of support resources• Proves that we’re committed to the product & that the issues they report on the forums aren’t being ignored
Good outcomes of a monthly release cycle• For ourselves, they excite the team by get everyone from design to QA into a monthly route with a shared, attainable end goal• For the competition, it shows we aren’t going away anytime soon
Other time-saving support hacks• Provide “how-to’s” for everything: not just related to your plugin, but on using the website/forum too• “Bad documentation is a bug”• If your forums are on BBPress, install Pippin Williamson’s Private Replies plugin• Strategically hide the contact form to everyone but a small subset of users