Giving good support

Users coming to the Support Forums for help may be in wildly varying emotional states – from mildly frustrated, to desperate, to quite angry. At all times, keep in mind that you’re there to provide help. This attitude will predispose you to deal with Forum users in a professional and courteous manner, regardless.

If a user is using angry or inflammatory language, take a moment to step back and take a deep breath, rather than giving in to the temptation to respond in kind. Try to parse out from the user’s post exactly what their issue is. If you’re not able to determine the cause of the trouble, and you need to write back to the user for further explanation, use language that is courteous and empathetic, but also clear and direct. You might begin by saying,

“I’m very sorry to hear that you’re having trouble. I’ll do whatever I can to help. From what you’ve written, it seems that you’re having an issue with X. Is that correct? Could you tell me a little more about the problem that you’re having?”

Here’re some other points to bear in mind:

Don’t take the user’s remarks personally. Don’t take the user’s remarks personally.

Remember that the user is not angry or upset with you, per se. They’re angry that their site isn’t working properly. They may be either frustrated with their inability to solve the problem on their own, or they may, irrationally, be angry at WordPress. As a support person and de facto ‘WordPress representative’, you may find yourself being the person they vent to, or being the unintended object of their rage. Having some insight into the psychology of the user can give you a little perspective, and may actually temper your own impulse to react defensively. Use the fact that you’re not having a face-to-face interaction to your advantage. You don’t have to respond right away; take the time to take a deep breath, or walk away from your computer screen for a while if you need to.

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You are a de facto WordPress representative. You are a de facto WordPress representative.

Your willingness to provide support in the Forums is very welcome and very appreciated by the WordPress community. Bear in mind though that, as far as the users are concerned, you are representing WordPress. Choose your words carefully; as mentioned above, don’t take the user’s remarks personally; err on the side of being professional rather than being right.

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It’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to ask for help.

If you don’t know the answer to a question, or are unable to find a solution to a user’s problem, there are resources that you can use. Google may also be a resource for answers that a user might be able to find him or herself, but may not understand, or be able to implement.

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Avoid the WordPress argument. Avoid the WordPress argument.

You may encounter a user who is very dissatisfied with his or her WordPress experience, who may make incendiary statements about WordPress as a whole, for example. “WordPress sucks!” or “The developers don’t know what they’re doing.” Avoid getting into a discussion about the pros and cons of using WordPress.Try to stick to the particulars of the issue the user is having, if there is one.

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Predefined replies. Predefined replies.

We have constructed some predefined replies to issues that WordPress users commonly face.