WordPress has become more than a simple blogging platform, it has come to be the epitome, for many people, of what content management systems can and should be able to do. Some of the very best small business websites you find are powered by a WordPress blog and, often, you don’t even know it.
There are 3 keys to small business success: Customer Service, Customer Feedback, and Word-of-Mouth (read free) Advertising. Using WordPress as your small business site platform, you can easily integrate tools that maximize your potential to use each of the 3 keys to success.
In this article, I’m going to share the most amazing and completely useful tools small businesses need to have on their WordPress business blog, and each of them address at least 1 of the 3 keys to success.
The Tool: Facebook Share Button Addresses: Customer Feedback (Analysis) and Free Advertising
As far as interactive, social media sites go, Facebook is arguably the reigning champ. Agree or disagree, the fact is this: millions of potential customers use Facebook, and the free advertising your business blog receives when those potential customers “share” with their friends can’t be measured.
The Facebook Share Button is a simply genius WordPress plug-in. You can see exactly how the button works from the viewer’s end by clicking the little “f” Facebook icon right here on AC. No, the buttons aren’t powered the same way but the end result – from the viewer’s end – is precisely as clean and seamless. Mashable.com was a beta tester for this nifty little WordPress plug-in, and you may have already seen it in action on their site.
From the back-end, inside your WordPress Business Blog admin, the Facebook Share Button offers up even more features than the viewer could imagine. There’s an entire panel (refer to the 2nd illustration attached to this article) dedicated to the Share Button where you can apply a variety of settings – including allowing the viewer of your site to see how many times a specific page has been shared – as well as view analytics available only to you.
Overall, this is a plug-in that every small business WordPress blog can use easily and effectively to fulfill two important aspects of success: customer feedback (in the form of analytics) and free word-of-mouth advertising.
The Tool: WordPress Advanced Ticket SystemAddresses: Customer Service
For years, I’d given up on the hope that a robust help desk or ticket system would ever be available for free. Several subscription versions are out there and contain all of the great little extras that any small business blogger could ask for.
When I first found the WordPress Advanced Ticket System (WATS for short), I was very skeptical. Don’t let the page fool you – this is a professional grade plugin.
Once installed, WATS offers a dedicated administration panel and adds ticket system pages on your website. Administrators of your business blog can set ticket numbering, modify priorities, and define categories for tickets to be submitted in. They will also be able to view statistics about tickets on the main WordPress dashboard (the page you see when you login to your WordPress administration).
Only users with permissions to edit posts can edit tickets – a great security measure.
From the customer’s side, a ticket can be submitted easily and without the hassle of being required to have a registered account on your website. Tickets can be submitted from any post or page that you have designated, which will hold a form that works with Ajax – your customers can even submit tickets directly through email, making their lives (and satisfaction with your business) better.
There are tons of other goodies involved in this very intuitive WordPress plugin, but perhaps one of the most pressing ones for your own business blog is this: WATS uses custom and templates to display tickets to your customers. What this means for you is that it will integrate into your current WordPress theme without any extra work but you can choose to fully trick out the display as well.
The Tool: SurveysAddresses: Customer Feedback
It’s a fact that surveys are the most effective way of really gaining information from your customers. This information can help you modify business practices, incorporate new products or services, scale back on products or services, and get a true comparison of what “type” of customers your business blog is receiving versus the “type” you’re targeting.
Whatever the information you’re attempting to gather, there’s only one way to get it: ask for it.
The aptly and simply named “Surveys” plugin for WordPress is phenomenal in its features. You’re not restricted to single-question polls that sit static in your sidebar. Instead, you design full-featured surveys that allow your customers and business blog visitors to leave you a ton of information – even anonymously.
From the administrator side, you can create several polls at a time and add as many questions and multiple-choice answers as you’d like. The data collected is presented to you in a very easy to understand graph format. This graph is wonderful – at a glance, you can see the most popular answers to your survey questions. If you’d like to go deeper, that’s possible too! Every survey-taker’s responses can be viewed individually.
From the viewer’s side, your customer will see a clean little survey with your question, tick-to-select answers, and next buttons to navigate seamlessly along. And I could go on, but you really just need to check the plugin’s site out to see for yourself.
Just a small trio of plugins, all of which install into your WordPress business blog without any extra coding or modifications needed. They’re all plug-and-play! Get these babies going and pay attention to both the number of customers and – even better – return customers start to rise within just a few months, and you’ll be grateful for the time spent setting a few options up.