Gravity Forms the latest provider to move to ticket-based support
Gravity Forms announced today they are moving to a ticket-based support system, versus their previous forum-based setup. They cite that this will make it easier for them to manage and continue to scale. I’ve seen a few companies do this that are battling scaling issues — WooThemes comes to mind off the top of my head.
I’m glad they are keeping a community forum, as I personally use other people’s support threads a lot, but I almost never ask for it myself. Most basic questions have been asked for popular software. But as a developer, I know I’m in the minority. Moving to such a system also makes comprehensive and easy to navigate wikis and documentation centers very important. I look forward to hearing how this affects their support queue and business six months or a year from now.
I know WP Engine has had scaling issues with tickets, too, so keeping a forum is a great hybrid for support. As a dev, I check documentation and Google for stuff first, and then I like the personal touch that comes with a ticket.
Honestly, I use documentation but I get a lot out of the forums because of the nature of the question. Plus the interaction tends to create a frame around the topic that is sometimes hard to get in the documentation.
Support forums are great for community driven support. But when you are trying to manage support for a paid product and you have a team of paid support staff trying to manage things via a forum… it’s a logistical nightmare. Forums aren’t made for support. They are made for discussion.
I’m surprised we held out as long as we did. We’ve been using HelpScout to manage all other requests and Priority Support for the last few years and absolutely love HelpScout.
Our support team was coming to it’s breaking point over their hatred for dealing with support via the forums so it was time to do something about it. Everyone here loves HelpScout so it was the logical choice.
After the initial support request, the user interacts with our support team via email. We interact with them via either email or via HelpScout’s web UI which is beautifully streamlined. It’s not bloated with tons of features that we don’t need, want or will never use like other help desks.s
We have plans for leveraging HelpScout’s API in the future to build either a Gravity Forms Add-On or a standalone HelpScout WordPress plugin that we can then use to display a users tickets on our site so that they can view and reply to tickets via our site and not just via email. If it is done as a standalone HelpScout plugin and not an Add-On then it’s something we’ll release to the community via the WordPress.org plugin repository.
We are also working on our own plugin for managing product documentation. I’m surprised as hell that a solid solution for this does not exist given it’s something that every commercial theme and plugin developer needs. So we’re building one. We also plan on releasing it to the public via the WordPress.org plugin repository once we deem it ready for public use.
Lot’s of changes, but all so we can continue to provide the highest level of support possible to our customers while continuing to push our company forward and build a better product(s).
I fully agree, Carl! Out of similar reasons I decided against a support forum (via bbPress) and for HelpScout to do support, especially for my upcoming premium plugins. After first few weeks, I can only say it was the best decision to do so!
Regarding the plugins, I am awaiting both eagerly! I’d use the documentation plugin on my own site for sure! So glad you are on this stuff! The whole community will benefit from this!
I relate to Jeff’s comment as I also typically look first to documentation, then do a Google search for answers to a question I might have. Nine times out of ten, I’m convinced I’m not the first person to be having the issue. But I *totally* understand how forum based support would be a nightmare. Have you considered creating a “Common Support Questions Answered” section of your documentation as you make the switch and start to see trends? (Maybe this already exists??)
Also, very interested in your product documentation plugin. If you need beta testers, let me know. 🙂
We will be building a Knowledge Base that will be updated regularly based on common ticket requests and information we feel should be added. So that is something we will be introducing. There is a lot of things we’ll be introducing as far as support resources go. There is an FAQ and a section in Documentation that touches on some of this stuff. But we’ll be introducing an official Knowledge Base separate from Documentation down the road.
I know the volume that Gravity Forms generates must be insane, but a lot of the issues that came with running support via a forum we were able to squash by implementing Pippin’s suggestions in the tutorial he wrote. http://wp.tutsplus.com/tutorials/plugins/using-bbpress-as-a-support-forum/
We could customize the hell out of bbPress if we wanted to and use plugins, etc. but ultimately HelpScout already does what we want.
Forums work great fr community support. They can also work fine for commercial support when you have a lower volume AND a smaller team of people providing support. At high volume, things begin to breakdown.
We’ve been using HelpScout for years to manage Priority Support and all of our Contact Us related requests. So we know how much better it is compared to th forums for efficiently providing support.
So as much as we’d love to keep the forums as the are users who love using them as a resource, the trade off isn’t worth it. Not to mention the support team would have probably gone insane had we not done something, the forums were disliked that much from a support management perspective.
We’ll be building and maintaining a Knowledge Base that can be used to search, etc. which will b built rimarily from issues or situations that arise via support tickets.
We’ll also re-launch non-support forums as part of a site redesign for community discussion, people to post tips/tricks/code snippets, a job board for customizations, etc. So we’ll bring back forums in the future. Just not for support.
This is a timely post for me, i was thinking about starting support forums (per few customers request), but it seems that mix of KB and email support for commercial product works best.
Also, i get a feeling that with a forum, some impatient users would post their questions everywhere forum, email and KB comments.
One of the things I’ve done to reduce support load is to have a Gravity form as the front end for help requests. I use the conditional logic to walk users through the most common questions and show the fields needed to make sure we collect the information required to best help.
I currently have that form e-mailing into my helpdesk software. I’m planning a switch to HelpScout soon and I’m looking at using the API so my Gravity forms can create tickets directly. That along with the plugin you’ve described would be a great combination for a well-rounded solution integrated into the site.
We definitely plan on creating a HelpScout plugin that will pull in HelpScout ticket data and display it on our end so users can see their tickets, etc.
We’ll either be doing that as a standalone plugin or as a Gravity Forms Add-On. Either way we’ll likely be implementing Gravity Forms integration so that tickets are created via their API rather than via sending to the HelpScout email that initiates ticket creation.
If it’s a standalone plugin like we’re doing with Documentation and our Knowledge Base after that then we’ll release it publicly on the wordpress.org repository. If it’s a Gravity Forms Add-On then it’ll probably be made available like our other Add-Ons.
So it’s something we plan on tackling down the road in some form.
Did you and team ever get around to a knowledge base plugin?
I am using Gravity form plugin in my site http://savannahgmenweekend.org/register/.
This form is fine. But i need entries of this form to be display as dropdown in other form.
So that i can assign table(hotel table) to those users.
Please solve my problem.
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