WordPress Customer Service Lessons Learned

Posted by John Turner on January 30, 2015

You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time. - John Lydgate

I have been solo entrepreneur for the past four years with my Coming Soon Page and Maintenance Mode plugin for WordPress and that means I wear many hats. One of those hats being ‘the’ customer service rep. With that experience I have some insight that I’d like to share with you and some things I wish I had known before I got started.

Expectations

When you provide a WordPress product or service, customer service should be one of your main priorities. This should be a no brainer right? But I have dealt with many ‘Premium’ WordPress themes, plugins and other service shops where customer service was severely lacking.

When I buy a plugin I expect friendly, accurate and prompt customer service, these are the same principles I apply to my customer service.

The Basics

When dealing with customers or potential customers here are a few basic guidlines.

  • Always use a friendly greeting and call the person by name on the first response. For example:
Hi Jane,

Disable all plugins and see if the problem still exist.

When you skip calling a person by their name sometimes the tone can sound like you’re barking orders and unfriendly. Plus people love hearing their name.

  • Leave the conversation open to follow ups. I typically end all my conversation with
Please let me know if you have any other questions.

Thanks,
John
SeedProd.com
Founder

I want to make it clear that we believe in our product and that we are always available if a problem occurs in the future. Also I want to make it clear who they are talking to. If you have multiple people providing support then this helps as they move up the support chain.

  • Respond within the first 12 hours. I typically aim for 2 hour response during business hours but some companies I have dealt will take 48 hours or longer. In my opinion this is unacceptable. If it take 2 days to respond then it’s time to hire help.

  • Most customers just want a quick resolution to their issue. Try to be as to the point as possible with human tone. I typically include what is the source of the problem and the resolution.

Hi Jim,

The reason you are having an issue is because you need to clear
your cache. See this article on the best way to this.

This all seem pretty basic right, I can’t tell you how many times I have received a one sentence reply 3 days later on a premium product and left with a bad taste in my mouth.

Common Scenerios

Here are some ways I handle praises, conflicts and feature request.

  • When someone gives you a virtual high five whether that be through an email, blog post, tweet or some other form of communication make sure to acknowledge them and thank them for it.

  • When someone is critical of your product I either: ignore or listen depending on the type of comment. When someone genuinely has a complaint or issue I listen and try to defuse if they are upset and resolve.

Customer:
I just bought your product and it doesn't work. This is really frustrating.

Me:
Hi Jeff,

Sorry for the issue! I know when I buy a product I expect it to work out of the box. Can you send me some specifics and I'll get this resolved ASAP.

If the customer is downright rude or insulting then I either ignore or send a canned response. For example when I was first getting started someone tweeted to me that my product was overpriced and shit. I proceeded to engage and ended up in an emotionally heated conversation. My product is my baby and at that time I took the tweet very personally. This ended badly for everyone. In hindsite it’s best to ignore or have a canned response ready you can send. I have several canned responses I resort to.

  • For Non Customers who are rude I always ignore.

  • Customers who are rude and I don’t feel I can defuse. I just refund. Example Response:

Sorry you feel that way. If you would a refund let me know and I can process that right away for you.

While these are rare, you are never going to be able to please everyone. Inevitability you are going to run into these situations. It’s best to determine how to deal with them in advanced instead of sending an emotionally charged response.

  • Feature request just come with the territory when you have a product or service. My number one rule is never commit to a feature or give a specific date time for completion. Basically all my feature request replies go something like:

If you intend to implement:

Thanks for the feedback. While we intend to add this I can't give you a timeline. (Otional) We hope to have it by late spring.

If you don’t intend to implement:

Thanks for the feedback. We will look into the request but don't have any plans at the moment to implement.

Customer Service As A Marketing Tool

I typically leave marketing out of my customer responses but in my case I have a free product and take pre-sales questions. Don’t forget to market when the opportunity presents itself.

For examples I have a few free plugins in the WordPress.org repo. After answering a suport request by a non customer I include at the end of my response:

By the way we have a Pro Version. While the free version works great I think Pro Version will blow your mind. http://www.seedprod.com

or request a review:

If you have a chance do you mind leaving me a review! (Insert link)

For your customers, just providing great customer service is marketing itself. Great customer service gets you word of mouth referrals, reviews and testimonials, and repeat buyers.

Helpdesk Software

Should I just use email or should I use helpdesk specific software?

My suggestion is alway use a product built for customer support. While your gmail works great in the beginning eventually you will need features like, reports, canned replies, ability assign, track history, etc.

Here are a few companies I recommend:

  • Helpscout - This is what I currently use. Has a great email workflow and Docs software for your knowledge base.
  • Zendesk - I used to use this product. It’s great but a bit much for a solo operation or small team.
  • Uservoice - I used to use this product as well. It really liked the backend and has a nice feedback tool. I didn’t like their knowledge base software. Plus they had some uptime issues when I was testing.
  • Groove - I have not used this company but from what I hear it a lot like HelpScout

Plus there are many more.

So this my brain dump on my customer service journey so far. If you have any other tips I’d love to hear them in the comments.

Bonus

As I said above I use HelpScout for my support system. They have an excellent integrated knowledge base software called Docs. By default the have a ‘Contact Us’ link on each article that pops a contact forms. Since I have to ensure my users have a valid license before I provide support this does not work for me. HelpScout allows you to add javascript in the docs. So what I did is replaced the default ‘Contact Us’ link with my custom link that goes to an authenticate contact form.

You can see it in action at http:support.seedprod.com

Here’s the code, just add it to the Custom Code Head field in your HelpScout Docs settings.

The only drawback is that you don’t get the built in analytics in the reports on who has clicked on this link.

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Collect emails on your Coming Soon Page with MyMail

Posted by John Turner on January 21, 2015

SeedProd’s Coming Soon Pro is excited to announce integration with the myMail plugin for WordPress.

MyMail is asuper simple Email Newsletter Plugin for WordPress to create, send and track your Newsletter Campaigns

SeedProd now makes it super easy to connect insert your MyMail forms.

Coming Soon Page with MyMail Integration

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Collect emails on your Coming Soon Page with Drip

Posted by John Turner on January 21, 2015

SeedProd’s Coming Soon Pro is proud to announce integration with getDrip.com. Drip is lightweight email marketing automation made easy. From Drip’s website:

“Maybe you’ve tried out one of the big players in marketing automation and you’re exhausted with their clunky UI or lack of new features.

Or maybe you’ve outgrown your entry-level email marketing tool and find yourself adding hack after hack to try to keep up with your marketing needs. At your stage, static email newsletters just aren’t cutting it anymore.

You’ve heard for years that marketing automation is a place to make big leaps in conversion rates; from lead nurturing to trial emails to post-purchase education and retention. But it’s been too complicated and time consuming to set up.

If that’s the case, you’re going to love Drip.”

SeedProd now makes it super easy to connect your Drip account.

Coming Soon Page with Email Marketing Automation

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7 Features of JetPack for WordPress You Should Start Using

Posted by John Turner on January 13, 2015

JetPack for WordPress is a plugin created by Automattic that tries to bring a lot of features available on WordPress.com to self-hosted WordPress sites. The plugin contains multiple modules, in fact 34 at the time of this article and has lots of functionality built into it. Here are 7 feature of the plugin you should start using today to improve your site.

Site Management

The site management module allows you to create posts for all your sites from a central spot on WordPress.com. In addition to that, and the feature I’m most excited about, is the Site Management module allows you to control plugins and autoupdate plugins on a per-site basis or in bulk. So no more having to log into all your sites when you favorite plugins are updated. Just turn on autoupdates and they get updated without you having to lift a finger. How cool is that?

Monitor

When your site is down you lose money. The Monitor module is crucial for anyone wanting to know when their site goes offline. The module will ping your site every five minutes and if it sees it as being down it will notify you so you can take action. If you need to check your site more than every five minutes check out Pingdom as a paid solution.

Photon

Are you running a CDN on your site? If you are not then you should be. CDN’s offload your site’s static content like images, css and javascripts file to a server from various geographic locations closest to the visitor. This in turn dramatically speeds up your site because your site’s server is now doing less work. Photon is a one click CDN for images on your posts and pages for WordPress. If you do not have a CDN currently for your site this should be a no-brainer.

Related Post

There are many related post plugins for WordPress. The problem is that these plugin tend to be resource intensive. There are many calculations that have to be ran to determine if a post is related or not and on a shared host this can bog down the database. JetPack’s Related Post modules offloads this process to WordPress.com servers so there is no resource issue on your server. Also it does a great job at accurately finding related post. So if you want to keep readers on your site longer use this module for an easy win.

Publicize

Want to broadcast your posts on Twitter, Facebook and other social networks automatically after you publish them? Then activate this module from JetPack. After activating the module you’ll want to connect the various social networks you’ll be broadcasting to. Then it’s just a matter cresting post and publishing. When you publish the post will automatically be shared to the social networks you have selected. Wow, that was easy!

Stats

Everybody wants to know how many people are coming to their site, where they came from and what they are looking at. The stats module does just that. While Google Analytics is free and contains all this information, it can become overwelling because there is so much other information in Google Analytics as well. If you or your client just need basic stats then the JetPack stats module is perfect for that. Plus you get a nice summary of all your activity at the end of the year.

VaultPress

VaultPress is a backup solution for your site. If you are not backing up your site then get ready for a world of pain. Because it’s not if you will lose your site, it’s when. Imagine a hacker getting into your site and deleting all it’s contents, or an employee that made a mistake, or a server hardwall failure, or a corrupt plugin and so on. All these thing can cause your site to disappear in a blink of en eye and if you are not prepared your site will be gone. Start backing up your site today if you are not already. There are many plugins that do this but I think VaultPress is one of the most elegant. It a simple install and forget plugin. It’s also a paid plugin ($5 per month) but it’s well worth it. I like the fact I don’t have to think about it, it just works and restore are just as easy too. One click to you get your site back.

These are just a few of my favorite modules in JetPack. There are many more like the auto embeds and markdown modules. I suggest you install the plugin today and start exploring all the features the plugin has to offer.

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Download Button for your free WordPress.org Themes & Plugins

Posted by John Turner on January 09, 2015

I went searching for an official button for my free WordPress plugins similar to the Google Play and Apple App Store buttons. I was surprised to find nothing existed. This is my modest attempt to build one. Below is the Photoshop .psd and Web .png files.

I would love to see WordPress.org build a tool similar to how Google Play generates their multilingual buttons. I may try to build one myself.

Anyone interested in a tool like this?

Download from WordPress.org Button

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What's the difference between Coming Soon and Maintenance Mode

Posted by John Turner on January 05, 2015

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between Coming Soon and Maintenance Mode, and when they should be used? There are many WordPress plugins that do one, the other or both. The problem is many users use the two plugins or modes interchangeable when in reality each one has a very specific purpose and can hurt your SEO if you use them wrong.

When to use a Coming Soon Plugin (or mode)

A Coming Soon Plugin should be used when a domain is new and you are building out the site. Believe it or not, the head of Google’s anti-SPAM team has specifically suggested a “coming soon” page is a good idea. See for yourself.

Adding a Coming Soon page gives you a head start on getting indexed by Google. Plus it’s an ideal time to collect emails from interested visitors. A coming soon page should be a no brainer for anyone creating a new website.

When to use a Maintenance Mode Plugin (or Maintenance Mode)

Maintenance Mode should only be used when your established site is truly down for maintenance. Maintenance Mode returns a special header code (503) to notify search engines that your site is currently down so it does not negatively affect your site’s reputation. Typically you also set a time for the planned maintenance so the Google Bot knows when to return to your site.

Google also stresses that your Maintenance Mode page needs to be useful to users. So you’ll want to communicate why you are down and when you’ll be back up. It’s also a great place to put an opt-in form so you can collect email from users and notify them when you are back up.

Never use a Coming Soon Page for Maintenance Mode or Maintenance Mode for a Coming Soon Page

If you were to use a Coming Soon page when your site was down for maintenance then Google could potentially index that page as your site and this could have detrimental affects on your SEO.

On the other side of the coin if you use Maintenance Mode when you site is launching Google will not index your site.

Google also warns against using Maintenance mode as a permanent solution.

It is important, however, to not treat 503 as a permanent solution: lasting 503s can eventually be seen as a sign that the server is now permanently unavailable and can result in us removing URLs from Google’s index.

I typically only use Maintenance Mode for a day or two at the most.

Final Thoughts

Be sure to use a plugin like SeedProd Coming Soon Pro which has both a coming soon and maintenance mode when you are launching a website or going down for maintenance respectively. Using the wrong mode could have a major impact on your SEO efforts and cause major headaches for you and/or your client.

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Copyright Infringement Lesson Learned

Posted by John Turner on December 05, 2014

photo-1415356838286-df6fd593e8b3

About 5 years ago my mother-in-law was diagnosed with breast cancer. Obviously this was devastating news to her and the family. With such a grim outlook she asked me to help her start a blog to document her journey and to have something to leave behind for her kids. I ended up setting up a blog on WordPress.com, gave her the login and let her go at it. Over 1500 posts and 14,000 images later she had amassed quite collection of stories from her life’s journey. She was always posting anecdotes with pictures she had taken and images she found on the internet to help with the story. Unfortunately, she had no clue she was breaking the law.

Copyright Troll Cometh

About 2 weeks ago I received a rather nasty email from a travel company that I had infringed upon their copyright images registered with the US Copyright Office and that I needed to pay a settlement fee for usage or they would sue.  At first I was confused as to why I received the email about my mother-in-laws blog. As it turns out I was technically the owner of the blog. I registered the domain and was paying the bills for it. I immediately contacted my brother-in-law, who is a lawyer, for advice. After doing some research it was the determined that this was a valid company and the claim was valid. I was advised to settle instead of taking my chances with a potential law suit.  So that’s what I did, I paid the fee to the troll and moved on. I could have taken my chances and called their bluff but I was not ready to deal with the worst case scenario. The law provides a range from $200 to $150,000 for each work infringed. Could fair use have been argued? Maybe, but again I just wanted it to go away which I’m sure they bank on as it appeared they had a dedicated person who dealt with this within their organization.

The Fallout

Knowing my mother in law had used many images she had found on the internet, we determined the only course of action was to completely remove the current blog and start fresh. Yes this sucked. All that work she had put into the blog , stories and connections she had made gone. At least from the public.  Leaving the site up ‘as is’ was a huge liability. We explained what had happened and she was devastated. But she has started fresh and is as positive as ever. You can find her blog at http://chapelofhopestories.com

Lesson Learned

Ultimately I should have explained to her before she ever got started that she should only post images that she owned or that has a license that allows you to post. Don’t let this happen to you. Below is a list of sites that have creative commons or other licenses that allow you to post  images on your site. Some required attribution and/or have commercial limits. Just be sure to read  and understand the license associated with the image. Above all never just grab images you randomly find from the internet.

Image Resources

Here are a few image resources. Again make sure you understand the license before you use any image.

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Introducing Coming Soon Pro Version 4

Posted by John Turner on August 18, 2014

Coming Soon Pro Version 4

I’m proud to announce the latest version the Coming Soon Pro plugin for WordPress. I have been working on this new version for the past 5 months. The new version is highly extensible which allows for the creation of new 3rd party mail providers and pre made themes. There are also a laundry list of other improvements. See the changelog below.

One of our 1st mail provider add ons will be for MyMail and GetDrip.com available later this week. Many more to come.  We also will be releasing premium theme add ons. The plugin by default allows you to easily customize the look and feel. But we had many people who wanted pre-made themes to make it that much easier to get up and going. We’ll be releasing at least one new premium theme every week.

Version 4 is still in beta but should be exiting beta by the end of this week or early next week. You can download it from your account dashboard.

Upgrading from 3 to 4 will be an optional manual process. Read more about the migration process.

I’d love to hear what you think about version 4. Please give me your feedback!

Changelog:

* Added - Container Animation
* Added - New options framework more validations when submitting options
* Added - More design options for fonts, backgrounds, etc
* Added - Privacy Policy Text
* Added - Footer Credit Text Option
* Added - Social Font Icons
* Added - Custom Container Width
* Added - Support for classic and universal analytics
* Added - Auto Launch email notification
* Added - Moved language string to its own tab.
* Added - Themes Framework, allows for 3rd party themes
* Added - Third Party Marking List Framework
* Added - MyMail Integration
* Added - Affiliate Link Option
* Added - New templating system
* Added - Background Videos
* Added - Retina Support
* Added - Lots of hooks and filters for developers
* Tweak - namespaced css to prevent style clashes when wp_head was enabled
* Tweak - Updated all 3rd part libraries included in the plugin
* Tweak - Use the Facebook Share instead of Like button
* Tweak - Multisite Custom Icon Support
* Fixed - Sometimes large social icon were not fully clickable, made sure clickable are cover full icon
* Fixed - Client URL / bypass would not work on heavy cached platforms like WPEngine, now works

 

 

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The easiest way to add SSL to your WordPress Site

Posted by John Turner on August 10, 2014

Google recently announced that they will start giving a small SEO boost to sites that use https. I’ve seen several articles pop up that explain how to add a traditional cert that you buy to your site, but this can be complex and some host even charge more to add a SSL certificate to your hosting account.

I added SSL my WordPress site in a 5 minutes and I’m going to show you how I did it.

I’m  a huge fan of Cloudflare and I’ve written a past article on making your site crazy fast with Cloudflare. In this article I’m going to explain how to use their Flexible SSL service to make your site secure (https). First I’ll preface this by saying Cloudflare currently only offers SSL on their paid plans, but they have announced they plan to make it free for everyone to use soon.

So the first thing you’ll currently need is a Cloudflare Pro account. It’s $20 a month for one domain and $5 per additional domain. On the Pro plan you also get a Web Application Firewall for WordPress and other apps which is huge plus. Also when you use SSL you can enable SPDY which make your site well, super speedy. Some might say this is expensive but I think it’s quite a deal. When you buy a cert you have to maintain it and reinstall it when you renew it. With Cloudflare there is nothing to maintain, nothing to install.

After you get a Pro account just log into your Cloudflare dashboard and enable Flexible SSL.

Cloudflare Flexible SSL

Then log in to your WordPress site and install the https plugin. When you configure the plugin make sure to select ‘Yes’ on whether or not your site uses a proxy.

2014-08-10_09-37-04

 

You should be able to test your site now to see if https is working. Just type in https://yourdomain.com

The only thing left to do now is redirect all non secure traffic (http) to your secure site (https) Again to do this I use Cloudflare page rules. This will do a 301 redirect on all non secure pages.

Cloudflare https page rule

 

That’s it! Your site is now secure and faster!

 

 

 

 

 

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Coming Soon Page Inspiration

Posted by John Turner on May 01, 2014

Here’s one from juloot.co

juloot interactive (http://juloot.co) gamification new media agency
celebrate it’s 3rd year birthday with a major web design upgrade. Use Coming

Soon Pro features plus adding a QR code pic for quick smartphone scan link

to their new English website www.gamifixation.co.il

juloot.co

 

And one more from theknackcapecod.com

theknackcapecod.com

 

See more coming soon pages

 

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