Why Your Support Team Should Work Part Time

True Confession:

Being the Solutions Manager for FooPlugins is not a full-time job.

Truthfully, I don’t think it should be either. The only way I am able to provide top-notch support to our users is because I know our products really, really well.

I wasn’t given a “support manual”. I didn’t study up on “the top 10 ways to make people feel like you’re helping them,” or some other schmoozy PR strategies. Nope. I know FooBox inside and out, I love using FooTable, Social Wiggle… all of them!

They are really great tools and I get great stuff done with them.

You see, I am also a professional Web Developer and do client work regularly, and most often, I use at least one or more FooPlugins products per client.

When a client is displaying images or galleries on their site, FooBox is my go-to. If they have a large amount of data to present and want it to look awesome on mobile phones too, FooTable is always the answer. I install them, configure them, make other plugins “play nice” with them.

That experience informs all of the support tickets I answer every day.

But if I worked full time at support, I think I’d know these plugins less well than I do now. Here’s a few reasons why

Because Support is More than Answering Tickets

its-magnificentA big part of my job is answering support tickets. That’s the nature of the job, and I like it. Every person who submits a ticket gives me a chance to show someone how awesome our plugin is, or how much we value our customers by going the extra mile to make things work well.

But there’s more. I tag and collect “feature requests” from tickets and bring them up at meetings. When the development team is considering new features, I know the stuff people have been requesting right off the top of my head because I’m working with customers every day.

Customer tickets are also the primary way I know if a certain feature needs a little improvement. But I know that not just because I read a ticket, but because I then end up trying it with a client and see the issue personally. Then, because I understand the code fairly well, I dig into it and can give Brad (FooBox creator and Lead Developer at FooPlugins) very specific feedback about the issue and even some suggestions for where the problem originates.

Because My Clients Inform How I Do Support

Let me give a specific example. Just recently I had a client who wanted to display multiple galleries on one page, but didn’t want the page to be really cluttered.

Well, I know how to implement our Inline HTML method really easily so that we can have a whole Gallery load in FooBox from one thumbnail image. But I also know that it’s a manual process, and you have to be fairly familiar with html to make it happen reliably.

This client wasn’t going to be doing that.

I ended up creating a custom solution for that client that works pretty well. But then we all talked about it and are currently working on ways to make that whole process much more intuitive. I can’t give away the details, but let’s just say you should keep a careful watch on our blog and social channels for updates in the near future on that.

Because of my experience with clients and with our products, I’m able to help shape the conversation about our future development.

Support Doesn’t Have to be a Pain

Frustrated_man_at_a_desk_(cropped)I read quite a bit from other developers and marketplaces about how they approach support. Often, you’ll find an article from a Support Manager who discusses how she/he works to help the developers or other departments take support more seriously. Fortunately, that’s not the case at FooPlugins.

Brad and Adam started FooPlugins knowing that support would be central to their success and that is evident in every decision we make. They receive my input gladly, they provide new tools and resources so I can do support better.

They get it.

For me, building websites and seeing clients succeed in their online business ventures is why I work.

Being the Support Manager at FooPlugins compliments that by making me a better developer. Being a developer, makes me a better Support Manager. It’s a win-win.

As we grow and expand here, we’ll be hiring more support folks, and you can believe I’ll be looking for people who want to work part-time and build sites on the side.


  1. says

    Nice post, Matt. Always interesting to hear how other folks go about their day-to-day, especially in support roles.

    Here’s a question for ya: How do you deal with setting customer expectations? e.g. you mentioned creating a custom solution for one customer. Where does the line get drawn between “this is what we can help you with” and “this is beyond what we can support”?

    • says

      Hey Andy! Great question. In this case, the client was my own personal client, and I was building the siet out from the ground up, so naturally I had the flexibility to do a custom job for her. But I used that example to highlight how my client work gives me new insight into usage of our FooPlugins plugins.

      But concerning our FooPlugins users and tickets, we don’t do custom CSS solutions, but we provide a CSS cheatsheet for FooBox. We don’t typically provide custom JS solutions unless Brad sees how the functionality could be more broadly useful and potentially wrapped into the plugin as a future feature. So we don’t take the place of a solid developer for our users, but we do make sure we’ve done everything possible to make the plugin work for each environment users end up using. Thanks!

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