On support in WooCommerce

This post reflects solely my personal opinion. It is not affiliated or supported by Automattic or WooCommerce in any ways.

What do you get when you shop at WooCommerce.com?

When you buy an extension at WooCommerce.com you buy three things.

  1. Access to the files you purchased.
    All files may be downloaded unlimited times for as long as your subscription is valid.
  2. Access to a closed support form.
    You may contact the WooCommerce team directly via the support form, which opens a ticket in ZenDesk. This way you can speak to the support team directly that will help you with any question you have.
  3. Automated updates for the extensions provided through the WooCommerce helper. This way you do not need to update your extensions manually.

As long as you have a valid subscription these three features get provided. The extensions will not cease their functionality once your subscription has been voided. Meaning you can run the software for as long as you like. You will however loose all access to the above mentioned services once your subscription has run out.

You may also install all software on as many sites as you like. But you can only activate your licence through the WooCommerce helper for the number of sites you have a valid subscription key for.

In summary this is what you get:

  1. Access to the files you purchased – Provision.
  2. Access to the support form – Support.
  3. Automated updates – Convenience.

Lets look at item number 2.

What is support?

Most people struggle with a clear definition of what support encompasses. Here are my personal definitions of support and its distinction to similar fields.

  1. Support: Telling people what to do.
  2. Self Help: Providing knowledge so they can do it themselves.
  3. Service: Doing it for them.
  4. Training: Making sure they can apply knowledge to do it themselves.
  5. Consulting: Preventing problems by helping them to make the right decision.

For each item there are two roles. Customer and support agent.

Roles in support and similar fields

From item 1-5 the “who does what” shifts. Lets call the customer ‘You’ and the support agent ‘I’.

  1. Support: You ask, I listen.
    I give instructions or tell you where to look.
    You do the work.
  2. Self Service: I write detailed instructions that tell you where to look or what to do.
    You search. You do the work.
  3. Service: You ask, I listen.
    I ask back until I have understood what you want.
    I do it for you.
  4. Training: I ask what you want and what you can do. I give instructions or tell you where to look.
    I demonstrate, you observe and mimic.
    I make sure you can do the work.
  5. Consulting: You do not know what you want or need.
    I help you find the optimal solution tailored to you.

From item 1-5 the amount of work that is done for you and the complexity of the task increases. As a result consulting is much more expensive than service. After all knowing what you want is the most challenging task not only in business but in general.

What is included in WooCommerce extensions?

Information on WooCommerce extensions is found in mainly two places.

  1. The products are described on their product page.
  2. They are explained in help articles and documentation.

For example WooCommerce Subscriptions has its product page here and its documentation and help articles here.

This defines the scope of the products. If a feature is neither teased in the product page nor described in the documentation it is not included.

What is a customisation and not covered by WooCommerce support?

If you need features outside the scope of the products, that this is considered a customisation. A customisation is a modification of the product to embed a feature that is not available. The WooCommerce support team does not do modifications for you, because they only offer support for features that are within the scope of their products.

How do I know my issue is within the scope of the product?

Ideal starting point: You test it until you can reproduce the issue at will. If one of the WooCommerce support team members can reproduce the issue at will as well by following your instructions, it is within the scope of the product. For testing it is mandatory that only WooCommerce.com software is active. Everything else: themes or plugins of different provider or custom code that was added must be deactivated while testing.

You can use wcdemo to setup a clean test environment or take a look at this article on what tools are available to setup a staging site.

Extension instead of plugin

You may notice that I refer to WooCommerce.com software as an extension? Why not plugin? It is because an extension plugs-in into another plugin in this case WooCommerce and not WordPress. Since they extend a plugin, they are called an extension.

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