A Human Tech Team to Solve Your Website’s Technical Problems
No one wants to encounter problems with their website, but how they're resolved can change everything. And the last thing anyone wants is to struggle with a support bot— you want a human tech team to help you with your website.
Here at Valet, we feel strongly about how our clients experience their technical problems. And we know that our team plays an important role in making it a good one.
What does that mean for our team?
While every support ticket that comes in for us needs different resolutions, we keep in mind the same key principles and core beliefs. Every client on the other end of a ticket deserves a human tech team.
Three Core Beliefs Of A Human Tech Team
Not just Sympathy, Empathy
We have a lot of sympathy for clients experiencing technical problems. But working with websites both professionally and personally, we’ve encountered our own website issues, and this gives us empathy.
Having empathy means we can understand our client’s feelings, even though they are not our own. We know exactly how we feel when having technical problems and can therefore really put ourselves in their place. We can then help them with a deep understanding that we otherwise couldn’t.
This informs and guides our responses to support tickets. Empathy isn’t what solves our client’s problems, but it gives us the tone we hope resonates personally with them.
There Are Humans On Both Sides
In an age when so much communication happens virtually, it can be too easy to forget the human behind an email. Valet always remembers the person on the other side of a frustrated support ticket.
Our team strives to be aware and conscious of the humans on both sides. In every email we send, call, and interaction we have with our clients, we remain mindful of the fact that we’re all humans. Humans with feelings, thoughts, opinions, and beliefs— humans who have good days and bad days.
That includes not only remembering this for clients but also what kind of individuals and team we want to be for our clients. We want to be empathetic, friendly, kind, understanding, supportive, and helpful because that’s what each client deserves. Our relationship with each client matters to us.
Clear communication is an important key to being a human tech team. And for our team that means being honest, always setting realistic expectations for our clients, replying to them promptly, and keeping them informed.
Clients expect honesty from us in everything from the fact that we never have hidden fees for our services to the fact that we will own our mistakes.
If we tell a client the price of a certain development project, that’s the price. They don’t have to fear any unexpected extra fees being tacked onto their bill later.
And if we make a mistake, we’re going to be straightforward about it. Our clients won’t hear excuses or catch us hiding something we broke. While we of course strive to never make them, they do happen. And clients deserve to know the truth about anything and everything happening with their websites.
Setting Realistic Expectations
When a client comes to us with a project, we're always sure to set realistic expectations for it. We never want to promise things we can’t bring to fruition.
If a client receives a date for the estimated time for a project, our clients can trust it. If we say we’ll have something done then we will.
From onboarding to monthly maintenance our clients are always up to date on the status of their website.
Clients never have to wait two weeks to hear back from us while they sit and wonder how their project is coming along. We’re prompt in our replies.
We don’t want our clients to ever feel left in the dark. We’re always available to answer their questions or explain things to them.
When a client wants information on our processes or wants to understand better what’s happening with their website, we believe they should know what’s going on. Too many times we get clients who have no idea who is hosting their website, or if their previous tech team was updating properly. At times they don't even feel they can approach their tech team with their doubts, questions, and concerns. That doesn’t happen under our watch.
Do you need a human tech team?
Instead of waiting till something breaks and you’re frantically writing into support chat boxes with automatic canned responses— make our team your team. We can provide you with monthly maintenance services, e-commerce maintenance, support and development, audits, and assessments.
If you’ve decided to use WordPress to power your website, you’ll likely need some help staying on top of everything. Picture the scene:
You’re working on an online project and need help managing the technical side of things.
You are part of a company that has moved the website (and website maintenance) to your department.
You want to focus on delivering your business’s services instead of spending time on website maintenance.
You need some security for your WordPress website and want professionals to lean on for those rare instances you need timely, expert WordPress help.
You need WordPress help, but WordPress help isn’t easy to come by. Why not?
WordPress has achieved such a prominent place in the internet ecosystem because it’s free, open-source software, which means that you can simply install the software to your hosting server and use it to power your website. But this also means that there is no official support for WordPress.org sites. As you can probably imagine, this is a significant limitation of the WordPress platform.
If you’re using WordPress to power your small business website or run an eCommerce store, you’ll understand how frustrating it can be to run into a problem with your site and not be able to find timely WordPress help.
The good news is that you can outsource WordPress help to professionals who will integrate website support and development into your workflow and take care of site maintenance for you.
In this article, we’ll explain how you can get WordPress help for your website, what to look for when evaluating options for getting the best WordPress help, and how to choose the right solution for your specific needs.
But before we begin, let’s quickly take a look at what you can do to troubleshoot WordPress help issues on your own and why that isn’t always a viable option.
Troubleshooting WordPress help issues on your own
If you’re technically proficient, you might be inclined to take the DIY approach. While it’s certainly possible to try and troubleshoot problems by yourself, it might not always be the best option for you or your business. If you’re unsure about what you’re doing, troubleshooting can take a lot of time, as you’ll have to scour the internet for solutions, work out which is the best advice, and then action it yourself. And that’s assuming you do it right - there’s every chance that you could end up doing more harm to your WordPress website than good.
Let’s say you work in your company’s marketing department. Your job is to create advertising campaigns, monitor market trends, and develop targeting strategies based on various metrics. If you take on the responsibility of supporting the business’s website, WordPress admin and troubleshooting WordPress issues as well, you’ll likely be sidetracked from what you’re actually supposed to be doing.
Keeping both your job and your WordPress website running is mission-critical for doing business in 2020 – especially considering the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the decline in brick-and-mortar business presence.
Limitations clients feel with getting WordPress help
As a WordPress site manager, you might feel your options are pretty limited when it comes to resolving WordPress problems. As we mentioned earlier, WordPress.org is free, open-source software, which means there isn’t dedicated support available from the developers. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t any support available for when you need WordPress help.
We’re Valet, a full-service agency that’ll take care of everything for you, and we wrote this article! Our service enables you to integrate professional website support and development into your day-to-day workflow. As a result, you’re able to outsource maintenance and site upkeep off to WordPress help and support experts so you can focus on growing your business.
Five options for getting WordPress help
Here, we’ll lay out the different options available to you for getting WordPress help for your website or online store.
Valet provides professional WordPress website management, consultation, and development services. It’s the go-to solution for business owners that need WordPress help regularly (or from time to time) to manage the technical side of running a website.
In addition to WordPress maintenance and support, Valet also offers website health and speed audits and assessments, the option to add WordPress experts to your team remotely, and scanning and remediation for website accessibility issues.
Valet is a full-service company that takes care of everything for you, leaving you to work on what you’re best at - your own work and business! Depending on the type of WordPress help you’re seeking, you can sign up for different Valet services.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the services Valet offers and how they can help you keep your business website running smoothly:
Core WordPress Maintenance. Valet’s WordPress website maintenance features offer secure code backups, malware scanning, and uptime monitoring to help protect your site and make sure it’s up and running around the clock. It includes ensuring the WordPress core, themes, and plugins are always up to date. The team can also help you with CDN and HTTPS setup – both of which are critically important for business sites.
eCommerce Maintenance. Valet’s eCommerce website testing workflows help ensure that your online store is running smoothly at all times. This includes making sure important pages load successfully, testing guest (and logged-in) user checkout workflows, and verifying contact forms work properly. Valet works with all major eCommerce platforms, including WooCommerce.
Professional Support and Development. Valet gives WordPress businesses the option to expand their tech team with project managers, full-stack developers, and other resources without having to worry about hiring talent during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This means you can outsource WordPress help-related tasks like troubleshooting and development, such as creating custom code to add new features to your site.
Audits and Assessments. Valet provides a complete Website Health Assessment and Speed Assessment to help WordPress businesses figure out where they stand and what they need to do to improve their website.
Accessibility. Valet is an online ADA partner that provides scanning and remediation for accessibility issues, helping you ensure your WordPress site is accessible by people with disabilities and socio-economic restrictions, and to eliminate legal liability for noncompliance.
Why Valet is the best choice
One of the main reasons why Valet is the best choice for businesses looking for WordPress help is that it provides full service, instead of just standard WordPress maintenance. In other words, it’s a one-stop-shop for managing your entire WordPress website or WooCommerce store.
When it comes to finding good WordPress help for your business, you need to think long term. Ask yourself:
What happens after you get support? Will you be able to do the work you need to do? What if it’s development-related?
You don’t want to end up in situations where you’re vetting service providers on freelance websites for specific tasks. You might end up hiring a freelancer one month to take care of WordPress maintenance and a few more people the next month to help with WordPress development. You’ll have to keep continually on top of who has done what, why, and when, and end up becoming an impromptu project manager for a project you don’t even understand!
Valet, on the other hand, takes care of all of this for you and brings years of professional experience to the table.
Whether you’re running an online or brick-and-mortar business, if you don’t have people with technical experience to keep WordPress secure and up-to-date, it makes sense to outsource site maintenance and upkeep to a single, cohesive team of professionals. It gives you peace of mind knowing that you won’t get bogged down by technical work.
Even if you’re technically proficient, it helps to have someone constantly monitoring your site’s uptime and stats and able to take care of things if your site goes down. Less hassle and more peace of mind for you.
The best part is that Valet’s WordPress professionals work as an extension of your team, rather than the ad hoc nature of getting freelancers in to solve problems. By developing a long term relationship with your site, the Valet team understands your site’s infrastructure. It’s a relief when they can quickly resolve any issues you’re facing without requiring you to go into in-depth explanation, as some of our users told us:
“Valet gives us peace of mind and frees up a lot of time when fixes or development needs to be done, as Valet's team already has access to our framework and understands the infrastructure.”
“We see Valet as a partner to help us maintain and update our website. They are proactive to keep it updated and running smoothly and quick to react and solve any problems or custom solutions we may need.”
2. Free support from WordPress.org
WordPress.org is free and open-source, which means it’s supported by volunteers, not a dedicated support team. This means that you shouldn’t expect to access support via email, live chat, or phone.
Keep in mind that WordPress.org is different from WordPress.com (by Automattic), which is a hosted platform that comes with dedicated support.
That said, WordPress does have a support page on its official website, which is basically a knowledge base with documentation, step-by-step tutorials, and FAQs covering the following broad topics:
In addition to this, the official WordPress support page also links to volunteer-led support forums. This allows WordPress users to see if other users have experienced similar issues and get WordPress help from the community.
It’s also worth mentioning that you can get similar support for specific themes and plugins if you download and install them from the WordPress Theme Directory or the WordPress Plugin Directory. You can do this by heading over to the WordPress theme or plugin’s page and navigating to the View support forum link to access the forum.
For example, if you’re using the Yoast SEO plugin, you can visit Yoast’s support forum to learn about common issues WordPress users have had with it and the community’s recommendations on how to resolve them.
This sort of WordPress support is fine for basic WordPress issues and tasks that aren’t time-sensitive. For example, if you’re a website owner running a simple online magazine or personal blog, you can rely on the free support you get from WordPress.org. However, your forum post might not get a response for weeks or even months! Businesses that need their site to be running smoothly at all times are best off looking elsewhere.
3. Support from the premium theme or plugins you’re using
If you’re using a premium WordPress theme or plugin, you might be able to get some WordPress help from the developers - though this will often depend on the pricing tier you're on. However, the team will likely only be able to resolve very specific problems related to their product(s) rather than general WordPress errors.
For example, if you’re using a premium WordPress theme or page builder (like Elementor) and aren’t sure why your website is slow, there’s only so much the theme developers can do to help you to get it to speed up. For this, you’d need professionals to perform a speed assessment for your WordPress website and develop an action plan.
The theme developers will, however, have the know-how to help you to customize the look and feel of your website’s front-end and figure out where to insert custom CSS code. You will need to write the code yourself, though.
Similarly, if you’re using premium plugins, the WordPress developers can help you figure out why their plugin isn’t working on your site as it should, or how to set up a widget in your site's header or sidebar. For example, they might recommend making sure you’re using the latest PHP version, but they can’t go into your hosting server and site to check it for you.
Depending on your needs, it might make more sense to work with a professional WordPress support and development agency, like Valet, that’s an extension of your own team. This way, you’ll get timely replies and be able to resolve issues faster, no matter the trouble. Plus, you can even ask them to write up some custom CSS for you!
4. Managed WordPress hosting providers
If you’ve been in the WordPress space for some time now, you might have heard of managed WordPress hosting providers. For those unfamiliar, managed WordPress hosts only take care of the hosting side of things.
For instance, they’ll help you install WordPress to your hosting server after you sign up for a managed WordPress hosting plan, make sure your server is configured properly, install an SSL certificate, and help you configure the MySQL database. Beyond this, managed WordPress hosting providers aren’t responsible for conducting speed audits or making sure your site is secure.
It’s important to bear in mind that managed hosts will only support WordPress installations running on their hosting servers. In other words, they don’t offer support for the WordPress software itself. This means that they can help you resolve plugin conflict issues if they’re related to your hosting environment but can’t help you figure out how to extend the plugin’s core functionality using PHP code for a specific, development-related task, set up a page builder (like Elementor), or resolve WordPress back-end issues.
In addition, they won’t be able to help resolve issues related to eCommerce websites powered by WooCommerce or membership sites that use a combination of plugins to run. This is a major downside of relying entirely on managed WordPress hosting providers if you’re running an online store.
Put simply, if you sign up for a managed WordPress host, you shouldn’t expect to receive in-depth support for WordPress core issues or theme and plugin problems. They can only provide support for WordPress issues related to hosting.
It’s easy to understand why WordPress users are increasingly frustrated with the support experiences they receive from managed hosts. Most complaints fall under one of three broad categories:
Long wait times.
Slow response times.
Support tickets getting passed around several different support tiers before finally ending up at one that can give an answer
And, many times, after all that the managed hosting provider won’t actually be able to help you resolve your issue. On the flip side, a WordPress management, support, and development company, like Valet, solves everything for you, whether it’s related to the hardware side of things or the software.
5. WordPress maintenance and support services
There are some other options available to you when it comes to getting WordPress help. A quick Google search will turn out maintenance and support services for getting basic WordPress help. You can sign up for WordPress maintenance and support services provided by companies like GoWP or WP Buffs.
However, these services typically just cover basic WordPress support and maintenance related tasks. This typically includes making sure the WordPress core and themes and plugins are up-to-date and making sure your site is backed up. Some might even help you with search engine optimization (SEO) efforts, social media integrations, or making sure your plugins play nicely with Elementor page builder.
The first step to solving a problem with your WordPress site is to understand what exactly the issue is. If you don’t have a clear understanding of the problem, it’s difficult to get support or WordPress help. Valet’s professionals have real-world experience and can help you resolve issues with your WordPress site in a timely manner instead of implementing quick fixes.
If you run into a scenario where there’s follow-up work that needs to be done, many of these one-time support sites will leave you on your own. For example, if you have trouble getting your CDN to work smoothly with your WordPress site, then a WordPress maintenance and support service provider can help you configure your CDN plugin’s settings, but you’ll have to mess around with the actual CDN yourself.
Valet, on the other hand, solves all of these problems for you since it’s a full-service provider that’s always ready for you and your site. The team ensures that you have professional support available to you around the clock that you can reach out to via phone or email. This saves you from having to submit support tickets and waiting for a representative to get back to you.
Get WordPress help for your business
If you’re running an online business, brick-and-mortar business, WordPress side-project site, online store, or membership site, you might need some sort of WordPress help sooner or later.
Instead of spending time troubleshooting issues on your own or worrying about hiring in-house talent, it’s a great idea to enlist a WordPress support and development company with a proven track record of success. This way, you won’t feel limited when it comes to using the powerful and flexible WordPress CMS to power your site. You can use it to its full potential while outsourcing the technical side of things and focusing on growing your small business.
To recap, here are the WordPress help services Valet can help you with:
Making sure your WordPress site is up-to-date, backed up, malware-free, and running smoothly.
Setting up a CDN and HTTPS on your business website or online store.
Create, set up, and run automated eCommerce website testing workflows to ensure important pages load successfully every time.
Onboard project managers, full-stack developers, and other WordPress experts for WordPress help, support, and development tasks.
Running a complete website audit and assessment (health assessment and speed assessment) to improve site performance.
Find and fix website accessibility issues to ensure your WordPress site is accessible by people with disabilities and socio-economic restrictions.
Valet is the perfect WordPress help solution provider for businesses that don’t have time to manage the technical aspects of running a website or don’t have the technical expertise in-house. Instead of hiring freelancers or outsourcing support and development tasks to multiple agencies, it’s much more cost-effective to go with a full-service WordPress help solution provider.
3 easy steps to deal with "your site is broken" user reports.
It's common for users to report that they've experienced errors using your website. It's also common for users to think that it's actually your website that is causing the problem.
There are dozens of factors at any given minute that control a user's experience online. Connection speed (upload and download independently), browser version, OS, background processes, memory, and so much more. So when a user reports an error how do you know where it's stemming from?
You should always treat a report about usage issues on your website seriously. A consistently broken user experience can be damaging to your brand or following. So how do you find out whether a usage report is valid or not? Try these 3 easy steps:
gather as much information as you can - what browser? what kind of machine/OS? what actions are you trying to take? do you get a specific error? mobile or desktop?
try to replicate the issue - remember to clear your cache, use incognito, etc. Tools like Browserstack are helpful.
use your findings to determine your next steps. If, after thorough testing, there is an issue to report send the problem to your web team. If there is not thank the user and let them know you cannot replicate their problem. Be sure to let them know you'll keep an eye on it for a little while as well.
PRO TIP: supplying or asking for screenshots and/or screencasts is the ultimate in helpfulness.
24/7 website support is a standard sales pitch these days. You can get nearly anything you want 24 hours a day. You can get a meal, a pair of socks, dog food, or a shed for your backyard. If you can't walk into a store and buy it, you can find online. Add to cart, click to buy now, with free 2-day shipping. Anytime. Anywhere.
Retailers have led the way here, and now, many services are also offering 24/7 options of their own. Sounds great right?
Many would argue that it's a sign of the times, something that makes you competitive. It's standard fare, and anyone without it is just not even trying. I'd agree that 24/7 is a necessity to be competitive or deliver on some services out there now. I'd disagree that it's necessary or even reasonable for everyone to be supplying it.
Features vs. Benefits.
A feature is a characteristic that a product or service has.
A benefit is a characteristic that a product or service has that brings value to you.
Feature shopping is the new standard. Any purchase now begs the question 'What am I getting for my money?' The longer the list of features, the better. Right?
My car has a feature for driving in snow, but I live on the gulf coast, so it's not much of a benefit. It was part of the impressively long list of things auto-dealers list on the window sticker but not ultimately why I purchased the car.
I own a crockpot that has a delay timer on it, so my food doesn't overcook if I'm gone longer than anticipated during the day. That is a great benefit to me, and why I paid a little more for it than a traditional one.
Just because I got something extra with my purchase doesn't mean it was useful. Consumers are subject to marketing hype now more than ever. Marketing is a science and the broader application of particular methods, like cramming features into services or products, causes us to think they are right and standard.
Do you really need 24/7 Support from your Website Maintenance company?
Since this 24-hour support availability is listed as a feature so it must be a good thing. Your Website is incredibly essential to you, and you want to be able to ask for help anytime there is a mission-critical issue. Even if that means asking for help at 2 AM. Moreover, the maintenance company is happy to sell it to you! This feature bags yet another customer.
This scenario is common and not wrong. If getting help any time of day is a benefit to you, then you've nailed your goal and can move on to other productive things. Bravo, you!
You just purchased peace of mind by having a human there to fix your problems any time of day. However, what if I told you that this was a feature disguised as a benefit?
Let's zoom out.
There are scenarios where your website software is so complicated, and your usage patterns may indeed require round the clock support, but these are few. Sometimes feature lists can blind us to reality. We perceived a feature as a benefit that solves a problem (or perceived problem), so we think "Problem solved!". However, what if that feature is blinding us to a more significant issue?
Consider that your Website could (should!) operate without the issues. Is the code old, convoluted? Would you benefit from having it cleaned up and eliminating the need for having to wake up at 2 AM to call anyone?
What about hosting? Hosting is where the round the clock service should be demanded and is a real benefit. They want to answer the phone in the middle of the night as much as you want to call them. They have a vested interest in making sure the platform is secure and stable.
We often get asked during sales calls whether we offer 24-7 support, and the answer is always no. Our first order of business upon taking on any new client is to do a thorough assessment to make sure that things are running smoothly and correctly. Our updates processes safeguard against pushing live updates that wreck the existing sites until a human can troubleshoot and understand the issue.
We don't offer 24-7 support because we don't need to. You shouldn't have to expect it as a rule from any maintenance and support agency if you are investing in a reliable infrastructure and ongoing best practices. There are indeed scenarios where this is a real need, but they are less common than you may think.
Empowering Communities: A Valet Roundtable Discussion
To receive you first must give—and in the case of gaining power, your willingness to give power to others is the starting point. It’s the idea of prospering by empowering communities.
Empowering communities is worth doing because it helps you make industry connections and grow friendships.
We recently brought together four of Valet’s leading experts on the topic of empowering communities and asked them to explain what it’s all about, why you need to engage in it, and how to do it.
Empowering Communities: How to Make Connections and Grow Friendships
VALET: Say your company sells widgets online. Why is it important that the names and faces of the people in your company become familiar ones throughout the industry?
MAUREEN: A business is only as strong as its network. People do business with people they like and with whom they feel comfortable. And, if they like you, they say nice things about you—word of mouth is a powerful marketing tool.
ERIC: Humans connecting with other humans is how the world moves forward. Get connected if you want to help guide the direction the world is going.
KIMBERLY: No matter how innovative you are, it's important to keep your thumb on the pulse of your industry. Making connections helps you to better serve your own client base by getting help, referring services, and deepening your own knowledge. You have the option to learn from others, their successes and their mistakes.
JOSH: People remember how you feel. People like familiarity, and they like gaining the acceptance of their peers. Those things are incredibly influential in business, in business decision-making, in success, and in empowerment.
VALET: Let's define our terms. When you speak of empowering communities, which communities do you mean? And what does that empowerment look like?
MAUREEN: I’ll answer that by quoting the World Health Organization on the occasion of the 7th Global Conference on Health Promotion held 10 years ago. They define a community as "groups of people that may or may not be spatially connected, but who share common interests, concerns, or identities. These communities could be local, national or international, with specific or broad interests."
WHO defines empowerment as "the process by which people gain control over the factors and decisions that shape their lives. It is the process by which they increase their assets and attributes and build capacities to gain access, partners, networks and/or a voice, in order to gain control."
VALET: So, in practical terms, what does empowering communities mean for your customers?
MAUREEN: We seek to empower the WordPress community and our client community. Our job is to empower our clients' communities by providing a healthy technology platform. They then can use this optimized platform to enable the empowerment of their own communities.
We empower the WordPress community by actively participating in WordCamps in both the U.S. and Europe. Also, we evangelize for WordPress in our personal and professional networks. And, above all, we empower our client community by providing quality.
VALET: Can you cite a few examples?
MAUREEN. Sure. For instance, we proactively share with our clients information and best practices from the WordPress community. We do this to help our clients optimize the effectiveness of their WordPress websites so that they can do a better job of empowering communities.
Another example is our knowing where our clients are trying to take their businesses or organizations so that we can help them use their websites to get there. Also, we strive to communicate with our clients in a clear and transparent way.
One more example I can offer with regard to empowering communities is that we understand how our clients define quality WordPress management and support. We always make sure their definition matches ours. If it doesn’t, then we figure out how to align them.
VALET: Anyone else want to enlarge upon Maureen’s answer regarding empowering communities?
ERIC: I define both communities and empowerment in the broadest sense possible. It’s something that we believe comes by open, honest, and clear communication. Empowerment is how we’re able to provide information and answers in a way that gives others what they need to make their own informed choices.
JOSH: Empowering communities is all about online business owners and non-profit causes trying to be heard. We make sure that their platforms are stable, usable, and fast enough so that they will be heard.
VALET: Say that a WordPress user wants to practice empowerment. How does one go about it?
KIMBERLY: I see empowering communities as just a three-step process. One, assemble. Two, organize information and communication. Three, create opportunities for formatted discussion that leads to better information and communication.
MAUREEN: I see it as seven steps. The first step in empowering communities is to decide what you want to achieve. Start by defining measurable outcomes. The second step is to assess the current state of empowerment compared with desired outcomes. This allows you to create starting benchmarks. For example, say that female participation in the last regional conference your industry held stood at 66 percent. That’s pretty good. It tells you two-thirds of the women in your industry are empowered to come to a conference and make connections and increase their knowledge. But you decide that more women need to attend in the future. So you define the desired improvement as getting female participation up to 80 percent.
Now comes Step 3, where you develop a strategy—with detailed tactics--to move things from status quo to the desired outcome. Next, in Step 4, you develop metrics to measure the effectiveness of the strategy you put into play. For example, you defined empowerment as “starting a company with no outside funding.” One of the metrics to measure the effectiveness of that empowerment might be monthly revenue minus monthly expenses. Empowerment is the result as long as the remainder is greater than zero.
The fifth step involves completing the tactics defined in the strategy. In the sixth step, you measure and report metrics. Do this on a regular basis so you can determine if the tactics and strategy are guiding the community to the desired outcome state. Lastly, based on what the metrics show, you refine the strategy and tactics.
VALET: How will the empowering communities concept evolve in the years ahead?
MAUREEN: I hope to see disenfranchised communities enable themselves toward empowerment by harnessing the ability to gather, connect and organize online. It’s difficult to know how technology will change in the next 10 years. But I think communities will work hard at incorporating those changes so that they can be more successful in achieving and spreading empowerment.
ERIC: I don't see empowerment evolving as much as being leveraged. I think people and communities will more often make intentional use of it to change the world for the better.
KIMBERLY: Social media will continue enjoying its status as a huge tool for community empowerment. And that’s good. The more people connect, the more they find ways to keep the momentum going meaningfully through publications, activism, assembly, art, and just about any other physical medium.
Great Customer Service Training Starts with Lessons in Communication
Are great customer service representatives born or made? Valet thinks some are indeed born with a natural flair for helping solve the problems of others. All the rest become great as a result of great customer service training, the WordPress website wellness company says.
And great customer service training is something in which Valet takes much pride.
Do you remember Eric Dye? You met him earlier in the course of this series of posts on customer service excellence. He’s in charge of customer service at Valet. Eric will now reveal for you the secret of how to train people to be top-notch client support reps.
“If you want great customer service people, the training they receive must focus on teaching them to be excellent communicators,” he says.
According to Eric, excellent communication begins and ends with the customer service rep’s ability to listen.
“Some people—but not the majority--have a knack for listening,” he says. “The good news is that most people who are not naturally good listeners can be taught to be.”
Great Customer Service Training Techniques
A variety of theories exist as to how best to develop listening skills in customer service people. Some involve putting trainees in a classroom and delivering a lecture on the subject.
Or, perhaps, delivering a lecture plus a slide presentation.
Valet customer service trainees receive some of that.
But all of that is just to give them a foundation.
Mainly, though, they receive hands-on instruction.
“Requests from Valet clients for help are put onto tickets, and what we do to train our newly hired customer service people is give them a ticket to work on,” says Eric.
Not exactly a baptism of fire, he assures. “The ticket we give the trainee is for an easy customer service problem. A real softball.”
Also, the ticket comes from a help request that arrived via email. That means the trainee answers it the same way—by email.
“We ask the trainee to take the action or actions necessary to satisfy the client’s request,” Eric explains. “Then we have the trainee draft a reply, telling the client what actions were taken and stating the results of those actions.
“But in some instances action cannot happen until more information about the problem is obtained. So here the trainee must write back to the client and request further details.
“In all situations, we look to see how the trainee communicates with the client. We look for clarity of communication. We look for its level of detail. A friendly tone—does it have that? Is the tone respectful and not inappropriately chummy or overly familiar?”
Then, after drafting the reply, it goes to a Valet customer service supervisor who reviews and evaluates it.
“The supervisor points out any weaknesses or shortcomings in the reply and offers suggestions for improving it,” says Eric.
Natural, Honest Conversations
As part of Valet’s great customer service training, novices learn that the email reply counts as a conversation starter.
“Putting questions in the email reply opens the door for a dialogue,” Eric reveals. “We train our people to ask questions, to probe beneath the surface.
"Usually, there’s more than meets the eye in a client request for help—some underlying issue going on. Perhaps the client knows about the underlying issue. More likely the client doesn’t. Therefore, we always try to identify and address underlying issues.”
Eric says this habit of looking for underlying issues proves invaluable for two reasons.
First, it helps prevent today’s problem from occurring again down the road.
Second, clients very much appreciate knowing that Valet looks after their interests.
Notably, Valet customer service representatives do not use scripts in their communications with clients.
“No templates, no pre-baked conversations,” Eric assures. “The dialogue between us and our clients is live, natural, and honest.”
Non-scripted communications rule at Valet because the company insists its front-line faces not lose their individualistic voices.
“Our customer service people represent the unique culture of Valet, “says Eric. “But that culture consists of many different personalities. In other words, we want the personality of each customer service representative woven into the conversation with our clients.”
Flexibility a Must
And one other thing Valet teaches as part of its great customer service training: no becoming set in your ways.
“We think it very important for providers of customer service to stay flexible in their thinking,” says Eric. “The world changes constantly. The technology we use to interact with clients changes just as often. Same with the clients’ needs and expectations.
“As a result, customer service representatives must always stand ready to acquire new skills, learn fresh approaches.
“But to do that takes a willingness to occasionally look inward and challenge yourself. Complacency is the enemy. Always try to find opportunities to stay on the cutting edge. This is what we teach our people.”
Want to see Valet’s great customer service training play out in real-time? Then become a Valet client today. Outstanding customer service is only one of many reasons why you should make Valet your go-to resource for optimizing your WordPress website and keeping it performing at its best always. Please drop a line to Valet and get a conversation going.