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Why We’re Retiring @WooSupport on Twitter

Written by Marina Pape on February 4, 2015 Blog.

The wording of this title took some thought. We’ve decided to retire @WooSupport but certainly don’t want anyone out there to think Woo Support itself is going anywhere. On the contrary our support is cooking with Customer Happiness this week averaging 90%, all support teams coming in under 24 hours for first-reply time.

So, why the change?

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I started as Social Media Manager for WooThemes seven months ago and quickly realised people in our community have a lot of questions. And a lot to say. And that pretty quickly, questions get technical and DMs and 140 characters are not ideal facilitators of such things.

Woo spends a lot of time and resource on supporting our customers through ZenDesk as well as creating passive resources for the hundreds of thousands out there who use our free products – like WooCommerce – and we’re committed to being supportive.

What does that look like on social media?

Yes, we want to encourage conversation. Yes, we want to have an ear to the ground and be able to help people when the rubber hits the road for them and escalate tickets if people have been waiting for unusually long periods. But the truth of the matter is Twitter is not the place to handle support queries and when we try we shoot ourselves in the collective foot.

The @WooSupport account has less than 1,000 followers but it is more the principle of it all and so here are the key reasons why we’re retiring it.

All support requests are not created equal

When you are waiting on us to get back to you on a ticket – and it is taking longer than you hoped – it might feel like we don’t care, just want your money, and are purposefully trying to make your life a nightmare. It also might feel like because we made the products in the first place we should have all the answers for you in a matter of moments. But the nature of inquiries we get are as individual as snowflakes, and while we create macros and docs where possible the reality is that most times a unique conversation needs to be had, which requires a support ninja looking into a specific site and issue.

I didn’t understand this before I got stuck into doing some tickets myself and quickly hit walls left, right, and centre and had to step aside and let the experienced team of support ninjas, all of whom specialise in different types of inquiries, do their thing.

Creating unhelpful expectations

Social media makes an ongoing conversation between brands and customers possible and we are active as a brand in a number of spaces because we welcome that. Gone are the days of brands far away and smoke and mirrors: nothing is sacred, integrity is essential, and nothing can be swept under the carpet. Everyone with a smart phone has a soap box.

With our users being of the techie variety most are on Twitter and it’s a space where we frequently get questions about products, potluck inquiries, reports of glitches, panicked alerts about problems, shout-outs, suggestions et al. It’s a mixed bag! I never quite know what each refresh of SproutSocial will bring and the diversity is exhilarating as well as kind of scary.

We experimented for a while having two handles operating as we thought it could be good to separate the content we shared on Twitter into ‘general’ and ‘support / education’ – i.e. separate out tweets about support docs, Kbs etc and let interested folk follow the dedicated handle for that type of stuff.

But after letting @WooSupport run for a while realised what it was actually doing was creating an expectation that we never intended to meet which was that we were able to actually give support over Twitter.

140 characters are not enough to talk about the weather let alone why your custom-built-million-moving-parts website is breaking.

Playing middleman

Our support-related goal on Twitter is simply to point people to the best places to get help. Like a middleman or one of those tiny lights on airplanes pointing to the nearest exit. Those places being? Woo customers can use their order ID to open a support ticket and non-paying folks using our free products can get help through our passive resources (docs, videos, community forum, WooCommerce Facebook Group etc).

We can’t offer support over Twitter but we can point people in the right direction.

Tickets are where it’s at

A lot of time, energy and to-and-fro is saved when we know certain things about the inquiring customer upfront – including logins details, order history etc – and this is best and most securely done through ticketing, We currently use ZenDesk to be at your service in this regard. DMs on Twitter to get details and sort out problems is akin to birthing pineapples.

As mentioned earlier, our first reply times are coming in under 24 hours and we are working on bringing these constantly lower, much like a limbo dance. Lower lower, you cry! And we promise we are trying and hiring accordingly which includes recruiting across timezones.

To him who shouts the loudest?

Most people are familiar with the urgent versus important line of thought. Handling all support queries through one offline place ensures fairness and means people are not able to shout louder and get attention ahead of those willing to follow due process. The idea of someone with a larger social media following being able to fling something aggressive out and make everyone jump is not just. While we will always have an ear open on social media we are committed to fairness and honouring those who respect their fellows, submit tickets and demonstrate trust in as they wait their turn.

A truth social media managers experience is that humans behave rather differently when they know they have an audience. Vents on Twitter are a dime a dozen these days and while @WooThemes will always be there, we didn’t feel keeping @WooSupport active added much to this.

What then, shall we say on Twitter?

Beyond support, our hope is that by being active on Twitter we can build the Woo Community and be more literally connected to the thousands of people who make up our ecosystem. We are keen to hear from you – via Twitter if that’s your poison – about anything and everything Woo – positive or negative, new or old, victorious or frustrating.

Next time you have a fleeting though that your support ninja might actually be the devil himself take a moment to remember he or she is a human like you doing his or her best to help. One day I will write a list of my favourite outrageous and rude things people have said to Woo ninjas and peoples’ eyeballs everywhere will pop right out of their sockets.

And so we bid farewell to @WooSupport but look forward to chatting to you and doing our best to help you be awesome in your online business.


One Response

  1. CJ Andrew
    February 13, 2015 at 2:59 pm #

    Thanks for clarifying Woo’s position, Marina.

    I’m a fan of all things Woo: product, docs, support, etc. I really like how Woothemes is presented as a business. A lot to learn and emulate from the company. Not to mention that you guys write really gooood code!

    But yes, agreed that Twitter is probably not the place for detailed support. The one-off quick Q&A, perhaps. Anything else will probably be better served by a support ticket, as you mentioned.

    I think this is a good direction to go in. Social chat for social media. Support requests for Zendesk.

    Makes sense to me.