There I was writing up a post about a then soon-to-be-released plugin called Sprout Invoice, by a cool fella named Daniel Cameron (I call him Tito, although he doesn’t like that, too much). I got to check out the beta version, but it does some critical things very simply. Handling payments and deposits for estimates and proposals like a boss. My write-up for Sprout Invoice wrote itself. It’s that good.

Well, I figured I’d keep an eye on that product and check-in here and again. I’ve already got a solid process in place I’m not in a hurry to change.

When I went to check out Danny Tito’s Twitter feed I saw this:

The words “Help Scout Desk” caught my attention because that’s what I use to manage support tickets over at my agency, DigiSavvy! So I had to check it out. Reason being is that while Help Scout is awesome (read: not shitty ZenDesk) it’s limited in that it’s all email based, so zeroing in on threads, for the client, can be difficult.

I have a couple retainer and maintenance agreements out there who track the time I bill for and the tickets I issue for the tasks I’m given. Everything goes into Help Scout. But, they often ask me, hey, what was the deal with ticket #555? Then I have to login, check it out and review the support history. It’s just easier to do it that way. Which is okay, but I wanted it to be better and figured, hey, there’s gotta be a plugin for that.

This is where things turn into a review

So I headed over and purchased a single-site license for Help Scout Desk, after clearing up a couple of questions with the developer. I dug in and got to work.

What is Help Scout Desk and why did I think it was a keen idea to buy?

Help Scout Desk is a WordPress plugin. It requires that you have an active Help Scout account (the free Help Scout account won’t cut it, you’ll need to upgrade) to make any use of either service together. Further more, Help Scout Desk allows you to post your support ticket threads/history on your WordPress site. This means if your clients login to your site with their email they use to write to you via Help Scout they can see their ticket history! AND they can also create new support tickets.

How is that better for me?

Help Scout Desk helps a bit for my workflow in a couple of ways. One, it provides a central ticket archive, on MY site, for my clients to login and review and, if they want to, they can create a new ticket. This helps me cut some back and forth with clients in tracking down tickets and what folks are paying for.

The beauty of Help Scout is also one of the things that can make it cumbersome to use. It’s email based, as far as the support interactions go.

Customers send an email to your Help Scout Address and a ticket is issued and assigned. My friend Nathan, I think, uses his own address for support tickets to track biz dev conversations. For me, I solely use it for Support ticketing.

Who is this for?
People who love and use Help Scout!

Will this plugin replace Help Scout?
No! Help Scout Desk simply provides an alternate client-facing view, hosted on your website, for your clients to review their tickets

How does it look?

It can look however you want! Fortunately theming Help Scout Desk is an easy process. It’s accomplished by copying the folders and files inside of the help-scout-desk/views folder into a folder in your template called hsd_templates. And then you go in and style it up however you want!

That said, the basic styling should be enough for most. If not, a basic gist for your css can be found here.

Here’s what I have so far.

Screenshot 2014-10-14 00.11.23

Screenshot 2014-10-14 00.10.01

 

That took me about 30 minutes to get down. Not too shabby. =)

How is this better than ZenDesk or something similar?

I’ve only used a few tools for support. One was WHMCS, ZenDesk and now Help Scout Desk for the last two years. Simplicity is the biggest reason I use Help Scout. It’s easier to set up and to manage and to integrate with as well. ZenDesk is a beast, like it or not. It just is and WHMCS’s offering was good for a time for me, but I’d always get complaints from clients about tickets not getting processed. No good! Help Scout things like that aren’t an issue. Everything is via email and it’s simple. Clients typically don’t know they’re even in a support thread exchange.

I love tools that allow me to make complex things simple. Support is simple with Help Scout and now, with Help Scout Desk, I have an actual portal that customers can go to review their ticket history and current tickets and it doesn’t break my workflow up at all.

Definitely give Help Scout Desk a try to let me know what you think, if you do.