Effective today, we’re starting the move away from our support ticket system in favor of our new support forums. There are a few reasons for this which I’ll outline in depth further down but the short story is that we think it will be better for our customers and better for our business model.
Our Old Support System
Until now, we utilized the comments for each OUR item from Envato, to enable users to submit a message on Envato, which then notifies us via email of new feedback/comments/issues that the clients (or future clients) have to share with us.
These comments do not have some basic required information which would help us collect some details we needed to better troubleshoot, including WordPress version, plugin version, URL to the page they are seeing the issue, and an optional URL to the theme they’ve got installed (although it verifies the purchase of users).
Although this system has worked pretty well for us for over two years, there were some shortcomings.
First, setting up a support form for new products was laborious at best. Secondly, we found that there were just too many ways in which our support ticket flow was not as streamlined as we once thought, which I’ll cover below.
Why We’re Moving to Forums
When we first launched coderevolution as a business, I personally campaigned hard against the use of forums. I had been burned before with lackluster forums setups and it left a bad taste with me. I was of the opinion that forums were a time suck and that threads could go on forever into tangent oblivion. I also wanted to make sure we were giving a more personal support experience to our users and I didn’t think that could be accomplished with public forums.
I don’t believe that having individual support tickets was a bad decision. On the contrary, it worked very well for what we needed and wanted for our users but times do indeed change and so does the technology behind forums in WordPress. We’re utilizing bbPress now and thanks many contributors who helped us create our current support forum (with WordPress plugins for bbPress), we’re confident that it can handle whatever we need it to. In fact, during our move we ended up writing our own bbPress extension plugin to integrate it better for what we needed from it.
I’m confident that we’re making the right decision but this will be a continual learning process. Both to get more familiar with the nuances of forum administration and to be agile in tweaking the process in order to best serve our users.
All that said, here are a few reasons we’re moving:
1. Too Much Clutter in Too Many Places
Although comments on CodeCanyon are very robust way for supporting items and we still highly recommend their usage for developers who start their journey selling plugins/themes on CodeCanyon, we still found ourselves with too much clutter in our inboxes. This is a major concern for a small team trying to manage support as well as get new features added to existing plugins and develop new plugins.
2. Repeat Issues
We constantly found ourselves answering the same questions over and over. Of course, comments on CodeCanyon can be paged and searched, but few users check each page of the comments and use search from their browser to search for the keywords they are interested in (this was happening in less than 1 case from 100).
With bbPress forums we think that the ability to mark topics as Sticky and Super Sticky will go a long way in documenting the most common issues our users face and help them to help themselves before needing to open a support topic.
3. Giving Users an Opportunity to Help Themselves
And speaking of helping yourself… forum search. Yay! Our old system didn’t allow for the traditional knowledge base search that some people, especially our advanced users, prefer to use. Not without additional monthly cost anyway.
Although we have some pretty hefty documentation with advanced topics, we still get support tickets that start with “I searched Google and your site and couldn’t find the answer.” We find that given the chance, the majority of users would like to just find the answer quickly themselves and move on with developing their sites.
Waiting for a reply to a support ticket is frustrating, especially when there isn’t an opportunity to find the answer on your own first.
4. Better Search Results and SEO Opportunities
Growth. There are numerous ways in which a company grows and acquires new customers and having more content available in search engine results is one of those baseline methods that we weren’t taking full advantage of, not as much as we could have been anyway.
Sure, we blog (not as often as we should) and the articles we publish run the gamut from useful tips to product announcements to general WordPress web development. Allowing our forums to be indexed and making sure they’re optimized for SEO gives us some very targeted opportunities for new people to find out about CodeRevolution and our individual products like Newsomatic or Echo RSS Feed Post Generator.
How We’re Handling Premium Plugin License Validation in Forums
First, you should know that our plugins are licensed as GPL and that we firmly believe and adhere to the spirit of Open Source but we are a business and what we are really selling is access to plugin software updates and support for one year, and are given a 50% discount on license renewals. You can review our licensing terms here if you’re interested.
When someone purchases one of our paid plugins, they are issued a license key. This key is used to validate their license within the plugin and triggers the auto update feature that we all know and love with WordPress plugins.
You can use this purchase code, to register on our forum and to tell us about the issue you are having with our plugin you purchased, so we can help.
I hope this change will benefit our customers and also us, so we can work in a more efficient way.
You can view our new support forums here.