I would love to know how other authors handle email support (not forums) and what particular features they love/hate about their current systems. Do you use a ticket system? A basic gmail inbox with labels? Do you never reply to emails?
Over the past few months I’ve been fine tuning my custom Envato support system. This is an email support system, not a forum. I created this system because I could not find a nice email support system that integrated with the Envato API for purchase verification.
Create tickets via email: The system will scan my IMAP inbox for support emails, import them into the ticket queue and send the customer an auto responder letting them know their position in the support queue.
Reply via email: The customer can reply to the support email and their reply will appear in my system. I can also reply to a support email from my normal mobile gmail account while I’m out and about, my reply will go back and be recorded in the system, then be sent onto the customer (wrap your head around that one! :P). So I can reply to support requests via email or from the system, and customer can reply to my questions via email or through the system – and all the replies are recorded in the same spot. Nifty (and an absolute mind bender to create!)
Web Form: There is also a web based submission form (located here: https://dtbaker.net/support-ticket.html) If you type in an item purchase code it will automatically fill in your username, pick which product you have purchased from the drop down list, show you a list of common FAQ items, and show what position in that product support queue you will be sitting. Phwoar!
Separate Product Queues: The backend groups support tickets by the item they purchased, so that different staff members can login and process that support queue without worrying about questions for other items.
FAQ System: I’ve also recently started work on a basic FAQ listing, so when customers go to create a support ticket it will show them some FAQ items before they submit. I can create a FAQ entry in a little popup while replying to a support ticket, and send that new FAQ link to the customer in my reply.
Priority Support: if people wish to pay a small fee they can move to the front of the queue. This works great! and covers some of my support time.
Convert to customer: if a support ticket turns into a custom job I can click a button and convert the record over to its own customer account in the system. The customer will then have a record of all previous support tickets, I can then create jobs against this customer and invoice this customer for those completed jobs.
Where can I get it? I will probably not release this system because I do not have time to support it. Any product that imports emails via POP3/IMAP can have A LOT of problems! haha. Hopefully this gives someone some ideas to create/improve their own system.
Here’s some screenshots of the backend, frontend and an example email from the system:
Enjoy! Let me know what you guys use!
I have a very similar system that I wrote (and is available to download on codecanyon).
The system contains a number of different sections.
User Registration + Licensing
The system has an open user registration system. Users with an existing item purchase code can register to gain access to the support portal.
As I have a number of different plugins I have setup a white list of products that allow users to register with; i.e you must have purchased a full application and not just a plugin to be allowed to register.
Once users have registered they can add multiple license keys to their account, allowing them to track the number and type of licenses that they own.
I can view all the users and the licenses that they own.
Forums + Articles
After a user has registered they get access to a forum where they can chat about the product. This is also where I post some free plugins (basically an incentive to sign up).
This is great for general chat that doesn’t require direct support and it keeps my codecanyon pages clear for pre-sale questions.
There is also a Knowledge Base section where I post commonly asked questions (this is also public: http://portal.dalegroup.net/public/kb/)
Here is my the core of my offering, a full featured ticket system that allows users to email us directly. Similar to your system users can staff can reply via email and it gets correctly stored and forwarded.
The ticketing system is a great way to send users hotfixes or patches for their applications. They can then login and download the files.
I have also setup a push notifications system with pushover.net that will push new tickets to my iPhone.
Over all it is very cool and is so much easier to manage than users sending emails directly to me!
I really like the little community of users it has gathered. It allows users to better interact with each other.
I have a wide range of features that I want to add.Some of them include:
- Application Stats (allow users to link their applications to the portal and get some specific stats compared to others with the same app).
- Download the latest versions of my apps directly from the site
- More free plugins
- Voting on new features etc
Here is a screenshot of the graphs I want to use for stats:
@dtbaker: I hope Envato will contact you about purchasing your system for a big box of dollars and making it default support system for authors.
Never ending story…. :((( I still hope that someday there will be a good native support platform with all the bells and whistles.
P.S. I’m using support forums + email (gmail).
I took email support form with purchase validation from extras.envato.com and customized it. I completely rewrote markup using bootstrap, integrated tooltips instead of old error messages…
I also “connected” my support email to outlook.com (new hotmail) and made my support mail default address for outgoing mails, and disabled incoming mails from support mail. This is because microsoft will ping my server to check for new mails every 30 mins, which sucks, so I rather forward mails from support mail to outlook. This combo made me able to receive mails sent to firstname.lastname@example.org in outlook inbox immediately, and send mails from outlook as email@example.com. I also set my outlook account to put new mails in trash. Why ?
Let’s go back to support form, I also set custom text line to be included in mails sent via support form (kinda secret word), and then used filters in outlook to move every mail which has secret word in it’s body to inbox. This way I’ll deal only with valid mails. So when I receive a mail, if it’s valid and shows in inbox, I add sender as contact so basically he needs to use support form only first time.
I use Zendesk and have it customised to be an email based support desk.
Customers email me either by my email address or by input forms, the ticket is then registered and they’re updated via auto responder to say it’s been received etc.
It also scans Facebook / Twitter for messages to my websites Page and turns those into emails, which can be replied to without logging into the accounts.
I can then simply respond to emails via my own email, or deal with it via the ticket support web or iOS interface.
It’s really cool for only $20 per year
Edit: However, it doesn’t have Envato support
I use Zendesk and have it customised to be an email based support desk.
could you use the zendesk api to read out support ticket messages and look for “item purchase codes” or “envato buyer confirmation links”. if an item purchase code is found you can verify it via api, then update the status or category of a ticket to say it’s from a valid buyer? if an envato buyer confirmation link is found, your php script could login to envato and check that link using curl to see if any purchases display on the page (I did this in my first custom ticket system, api+purchase codes was more reliable though).
im not sure what options are available in zendesk for assigning tickets to a particular category or giving them a new status like “buyer approved” via the api: (eg: http://developer.zendesk.com/documentation/rest_api/tickets.html#updating-tickets )