Anyone who has worked within customer support knows that service life is not for the faint of heart. Every day is one that is filled with adventure, and if there is one thing for certain, you can always expect the unexpected to occur.
Today, I would like to share what the WordPress support team here at Maintainn experiences on a regular basis with a behind-the-scenes look. Whether you’re considering joining our company or hiring us to support, maintainn, or host your WordPress website, here’s what it takes to thrive as a member of our elite team.
Specialist vs Handyman
- Do you consider yourself a master of very specific parts of WordPress or the technologies WordPress is built on?
- Are you excited every day to dive into React and create exciting WordPress Blocks for anyone who’ll start some new content?
- Do you get antsy at the idea of integrating all the fancy API-providing services, to pull in all this content?
If that’s you, I’m proud that you’ve managed to really dig in and learn the topics you’re passionate about, but that’s not a guaranteed day at Maintainn. If I may, let me regale you with a brief personal story.
For the first 14 years of my life, I grew up in a department store in a really tiny town. My father, and his father before him, had run this department store, and both were good old fashioned “handymen.” I can recall areas of the store for shoe repair, small appliance repair, bicycle maintenance, and probably things I can’t even remember any more. My dad and grandfather both knew how to disassemble, re-assemble, and generally fix a wide variety of things.
We closed the department store the summer I turned 14, so I never got to see if I would take the same path they did… or, so I thought. My brother and I were both put on computers at really early ages. In hindsight, this was potentially the best thing my parents could have done for us at the time.
I bring this up because around the same time we transitioned out of retail and repair, I transitioned onto the internet, and I’ve been here ever since. With my eventual interests in web development as a career and developed solid communication skills, I realized that I have become a “handyman” in the end after all. I’m a digital handyman, and Maintainn provides the perfect type of job for fellow “handypersons” to hone those skills.
In a given week, or even on a given day, I can end up touching a wide variety of topics for clients. First up may be be some custom styling of a new feature for Client A, followed by figuring out why the post editor screen isn’t responding to any clicks for Client B, then recommending the best plugin to solve a problem for Client C.
By that point, it could be lunchtime, and when I get back to it, Client A has some change requests for what was done. Then there are issues with odd redirects, SEO Sitemaps not updating, and applied updates by teammates causing entire frontends to go crazy and they’re not sure why. Lastly, the Pinterest button isn’t working for a blogger who relies on that social site’s traffic to help reach her own success goals.
We touch a lot of pieces, and sometimes very quickly; so knowing enough of a lot can be very important. We can’t and don’t expect our WordPress support staff to know everything, which is why we work as a team and together. We can talk and bounce ideas off of each other to come up with the best possible solution we can. We also do what we can to help each other learn more about the problems faced. We may not know the answer right now, but we can research to see if we can find answers later.
Knowing the Tools
Plugins are wonderful. They open up so many possibilities for a site to do so many things. So… many… things.
I love plugins; I enjoy writing them when I get the idea or the chance to. Because of the variety of plugins available, and the differing needs for each Maintainn client, we see a lot of plugins. As part of our WordPress support and maintenance services, we update them for our clients, too. We recommend, we install, we configure, we develop customizations.
Sure, some will be installed across most of our clients’ sites. Yoast SEO is definitely one of the most popular ones we help with, also Redirection’s plugin is pretty popular, among many others. The point I’m ultimately trying make is that knowing plugins and having understandings of how to use them helps out our clients and the Maintainn team.
I love digging into code just as much as anyone else with the same passion, but if there’s a setting negates need for some equally as easy custom code snippets, one should consider the setting instead. The setting with UI will be more readily find-able by someone, over some code snippets buried in a file somewhere.
Now, sometimes to achieve what’s needed, the code snippet route may be the only available option. At that point, we may have to resort to crafting our own tools, and for future-proofing, we could even provide a UI. It really depends.
Page builders are all the rage these days, and there are many to boot. There’s also the Block Editor, originally code-named Gutenberg, in WordPress core as part of WordPress 5.0. There’s a lot to know all around this topic, and we have many clients that make use of them. Some use Divi and Divi Builder, some use WPBakery, others use Elementor. On our small-medium website design side of the shop, we make use of Beaver Builder for all client builds.
Depending on the WordPress support task assigned, a teammate may have to make use of any amount of these builders to help a client get some requests handled, or some content updated that they’re just not sure where to find. On top of that, if Maintainn and a client part ways, this helps anyone else who is brought in to keep things centralized over those custom solutions. Those new helpers may be very familiar with the page builder of choice, but not be familiar with whatever custom code got written.
Block Editor with WordPress core has also become a big deal and all the other page builders are pivoting and adapting to make sure they are still competitive and viable. Our parent company, WebDevStudios, a WordPress agency, puts a lot of focus on getting the engineering team on a solid level with block development so that they can deliver modern, future-facing products that will remain viable for the long term.
When an ongoing long-term maintenance agreement is included, Maintainn takes over for WebDevStudios and we provide our services to continue applying backups, routine updates, and security scanning for these newly finished websites. If they’re heavily built on the Block Editor, we will want to be able to troubleshoot and handle any issues that arise, as well. So we need to be as knowledgeable as possible to step in at that point. When in doubt though, we are able to reach out to others within WebDevStudios to help troubleshoot and “rubber duck” issues that may come up. Maintainn is not an isolated team.
Communication and the Power of Deductive Logic
As a member of the WebDevStudios family of companies, Maintainn operates as a remote team. We don’t congregate at a single office for the work day and then leave at the end of the day. We are on our computers a lot, communicating with each other to make sure we’re getting our work done, and ensuring our clients are happy.
We don’t exclusively work with clients who have dedicated, onsite teams. Some clients are solo owners and entrepreneurs who know that they need a web presence but aren’t as familiar with the inner workings of how the site works. They just want it working, without having to worry about how or why, so that their business and personal goals can continue to be met. This means that client communication very important. While every client is going to be different, being able to explain and communicate without overloading them with the nitty-gritty details is a very valuable skill. Some are going to be more technical than others. Our WordPress support staff takes the time to familiarize ourselves with each client, solidifying our knowledge of who’s who.
Some client support tickets come in with a lot of useful information and detail that allow us to know exactly what’s going on, where we need to go check, and what needs to be done to start resolving he reported issue. Other support tickets, won’t have so much. Accurate deduction of issues, when there’s limited information, is an extremely valuable skill to have, and if we can manage to extract the real issue with little lead, we are ahead of the curve.
Sometimes we may just need to ask for more details from the reporting person, so that we can at least get in the right area of the overarching issue. Ideally, we try to find out and find our way to what’s going on without having to have extra reach-out, but there are limits. At some point, it’s just best to say “Hey, sorry to hear you’re having issues. Could I get a bit more information from you to help isolate things?”
What Maintainn Does for Clients
Everyone needs help boosting their online presence, especially if their business is driven by digital commerce. Considering what has happened in 2020, this is more true now than ever. Website access is also an important topic, and this goes beyond just being able to type in the domain into the address bar. Being able to successfully consume the content provided is essential for people of all ages and situations. The ability to connect and see the content in timely and efficient manners aid everyone, regardless of available bandwidth and device connecting with. We focus on all these things when satisfying our clients needs. Now that you know what’s going on behind the scenes at our WordPress support and maintenance company, I hope you’ll feel confident contacting us to fulfill the demands of your website.