Supporting your community of users isn’t the sexiest topic this week at WordPress Camp NYC, but providing great support can make or break your business. Mason James supports WordPress plugin users at WPMU Dev and runs WP Valet supporting individual WordPress sites. He manages supporting tens of thousands of users with a seven person support team.

Support is the MOST Important Issue for Web Services!

The code you’ve created is a commodity. It’s the quality of your support that will keep your clients coming back (and paying you).

Why Provide Support?

  • If you don’t care about your users and your community, call someone who does to support your clients.
  • Long-term customers and community equals long-term revenue.
  • Publicly available forums and FAQs are extremely valuable content to convince search engines and new users to visit you (and then sign up).

Creating a Community

  • Welcome new members when they arrive. Send a welcome email. Send a friend request.
  • Show them ways they can get more involved. Send a group request right away.
  • Answer any questions in a timely fashion.
  • Ask for frequent, regular feedback from your community. (Polls, customers surveys, contact form, social media.)
  • Respond immediately and honestly when there is a problem. Be transparent and give a human apology.

Creating Better Support Materials

  • Use a variety of media types, some folks like videos while others like step-by-steps.
  • Nobody likes reading big blocks of text, break it up with screen shots.

The Best Tools for Great Community Support

  • Support Forum Tools: bbPress and BuddyPress are the best free WordPress support forums. ZenDesk and GetSatisfaction are great paid options with ticketing systems.
  • Buy common support topic content. For WordPress you can white label video tutorials from a company like wpmudev. They update all the videos with every WordPress upgrade so your content is always up to date. You can also link to WordPress.com help content for easier to understand content than WordPress.org.
  • Use a WordPress update management tool like Manage WP to update plugins/themes across multiple installs from one great dashboard. WP Remote is another free option that’s newer.
  • Create reward mechanisms for users helping each other. BuddyPress allows users to reward points to each other for writing helpful content. This will save you tons in support costs.
  • Make sure users can rate your support documents and support responses so you know where you need to improve your content.