The importance of giving support

Giving support and assistance to customers is an essential part of every business.

This service can be materialized in different ways: A pre-sale question to answer the customer’s doubts, helping with the setup and usage of the products, or just solving the incidences it can happen with the shipping or their bad working.

Support is not different when selling digital products. In this world, who or where the product is developed is less important, so giving good support and getting your customers satisfied with your products and services can make a difference to the success or failure of your business.

In my case, I’ve worked for many years developing WooCommerce extensions sold in the official marketplace, and although my professional profile is focused on development, I spend part of my daily work providing support to customers.

In my opinion, giving support to customers is an important skill that every developer must acquire. As a curiosity, one time I read a post related to this topic that contained a quote that really shocked me. (I remember vaguely it was in the WooThemes blog or from an “Automattician”. Sorry for not being able to credit the author).

The quote was something like this:

Every candidate (developer) to join the company must spend his first-month providing support to customers, and that person won’t be hired if the support team doesn’t give its thumb up to him/her.

This procedure aims to be sure the candidate knows:

  • What the company does.
  • How its products work.
  • What the needs of the customers are
  • How he/she can improve these products.

In the beginning, I wasn’t sure about this protocol, but with many years on my shoulders creating products for WooCommerce, I cannot agree more with this way of hiring. That’s why I designed the onboarding for new developers at Themesquad following this principle.

The first month is dedicated exclusively to knowing our extensions and starting to solve the customers’ doubts and questions, and in the following weeks and months, we progressively introduce the developers into the development workflow.

To convince you why giving support is so important for the developer’s growth, I’ll give you a few more reasons based on my own experience:

Know your customers

As developers, we tend to focus on coding, that’s our passion and what we really enjoy doing at work, but that makes us easily forget why we do it and for whom. Giving support will remember us who is using our code and at the same time, will let us meet our customers, their needs, and their concerns.

Improve your products

It’s important to use the products you sell. It’s a good way to find what works and what doesn’t, but in the end, your customers will be who use the products the more. So, listen to and learn from them to add new features, make tweaks, and fix issues.

Focus on what really matters

As a product owner or a developer, you may have tons of ideas or an infinite roadmap for your products. Prioritizing the tasks is crucial for building a good product, and your customers will help you with it.

They will guide you to decide what should be the following feature, tweak, or fix to include in the next release. This way, we’ll avoid spending time on features we think would be fantastic but nobody requested.

Improve your communication skill

To be able to communicate with our customers is another skill we must dominate. Moreover, we must explain the information they request by adapting our knowledge to a language they can understand.

Giving support not only will help you with this task, but it will also let you identify issues in the documentation of your products.

If you think something is easy and it’s documented, but customers constantly request assistance for it, maybe you should review this part of the documentation, isn’t it?

No others can do it

Most questions or issues customers will ask you can be solved by people with basic technical knowledge and enough experience using the product. This is also known as the first level of support.

If your company receives enough tickets of this level, it’s likely it has one or more employees for this job, but there will be tickets that will need to be scaled to the development team for further research.

These tickets belong to the second level of support, and they require a deep knowledge of the code and how the product works internally. So, there are no other people who can answer these questions but the developers that built it.

Learn to say “No”

Sometimes customers will ask you for features that aren’t in your roadmap or simply don’t belong to the scope of your project.

We want to make our best with every customer and build a product that fits his/her needs, but this isn’t always possible.

In these cases, just say “No”. Well, try not to be so rude and give the customer some arguments. People are more comprehensive than you may think.

Discover new opportunities

Tired of saying “No” to your customers? If their requests have something in common, maybe you have found an opportunity to create a new product and make your business grows.

Create loyal customers

Satisfied customers will renew their subscriptions and will recommend your products.

If a customer feels abandoned when he has an incident, then, you will lose this client forever.

Increase your sales

It isn’t all about the money. Customers want a product and a company behind it they can trust.

Providing them with good support can make the difference between choosing your products or your competitors’ even if the others are cheaper or include more features than yours.

Get their gratitude

If a customer is happy with your product, he will probably make you know it when asking for support or writing you a review.

These are the best tickets to reply to and will give you the motivation to go on improving your products.

It will blow your mind

To me, this is the funniest part of giving support. Customers will use your products in ways you never expected.

Most of them will use the product as intended, but there is a little percentage of customers that will twist the settings and make tweaks in its behavior to expand the functionality beyond its own conception.

Customers want a solution for their problems, but if there is no product covering their needs, they will look for the closest solution and try to adapt it, and they can be pretty imaginative.

Trust me: “I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe”.

The not-so-good parts

I’ve enumerated many positive reasons for giving support, but like any other job, it has its counter-backs. A tiny portion of the tickets you will receive are from unsatisfied or even angry customers.

Dealing with this kind of situation can be quite frustrating, time-consuming, and may affect your self-esteem.

Sometimes you will feel you are doing things wrong or that all the effort and passion you put into your work are not recognized by people.

My recommendation in these cases is to use your diplomatic skills to calm down the other person, to make him know that you understand your situation and that you are here to help. You will see how the tone of the conversion changes radically for good.

Another important lesson you must learn from all of this is accepting you cannot get all customers happy. And remember that “It’s just work”, so leave the problems and worries out of the home.

Final thoughts

As I’ve exposed above, there are many reasons why giving support should be part of the daily work of a developer. Of course, not everything is so wonderful, but I prefer to focus on the good parts because their benefits are greater than their drawbacks.

In addition to improving the product and getting the customer satisfied, you will acquire new skills and grow as a professional.

Before you are aware of it, you would have assimilated concepts like usability, user experience, accessibility, etc. Each new feature you develop will be easier to use than the previous one. Your products will work better from the beginning, and they will require less iteration, which implies less effort and investment in the development.

I hope this post helped you to understand the importance of giving good support to your customers and getting rid of all these prejudices and bad conceptions you could have about it.

Now, it’s time to give it a try. I bet a coffee that will be more gratifying and satisfying than you expected.

Juan José

By Juan José

Building amazing products for WordPress & WooCommerce since 2012.