Building Your Startup With PHP: Collecting and Managing User Reports and Feedbac ...
What You'll Be Creating

This tutorial is part of the Building Your Startup Withphp series on EnvatoTuts+. In this series, I'm guiding you through launching a startup from concept to reality using my Meeting Planner app as a real-life example. Every step along the way, I'll release the Meeting Planner code as open-source examples you can learn from. I'll also address startup-related business issues as they arise.

In this tutorial, I'm going to guide you through how I quickly and economically launched a support system and knowledge base for the application as well as some of the issues and alternatives I considered.

If you haven't tried out Meeting Planner yet, go ahead and schedule your first meeting .I do participate in the comment threads below, so tell me what you think! I'm especially interested if you want new suggest features or topics for future tutorials.

As a reminder, all of the code for Meeting Planner is written in the Yii2 Framework for PHP. If you'd like to learn more about Yii2, check out our parallel series Programming With Yii2 .

Customer Support and Knowledge Base
Building Your Startup With PHP: Collecting and Managing User Reports and Feedbac ...

Many startups outsource their customer support, and in turn many startups have launched to address the needs of their brethren and all kinds of companies; they seem to compete on the level of cuteness of the children on their websites.

Zendesk is commonly used, but I've always had irritating experiences with it as a user. There's also Groove , LiveAgent , Freshdesk , and a number of others.

When I worked on Community Starter (formerly NewsCloud ) for the Knight Foundation, we used TenderApp ; it worked well for us. However, when I went to check in on the service, not much seemed to have changed in several years, and the last post on their blog was a year old .

Freshdesk
Building Your Startup With PHP: Collecting and Managing User Reports and Feedbac ...

I decided to go with Freshdesk as it not only had a free lifetime account for smaller companies but also included knowledge base functionality at this level. Providing people with a usable, well organized knowledge base is important. If I'd been choosing based on the cuteness of the kids on their competitor websites, I kind of liked LiveAgent (we need to encouragemorewomen in technology).

Warning About Freshdesk

After I'd turned in my article to Envato Tuts+, my Freshdesk account was suddenly suspended without warning. This happens to all free accounts―people are often surprised:


Building Your Startup With PHP: Collecting and Managing User Reports and Feedbac ...

After 30 days having signed up with them and mapped my domain name, they suspended my account and made me call in to change over to the free level. When you change over to the free level, they deleted all configuration information including your domain mapping.

Rather than migrate your account to the free level after 30 days, they suspend your account and make you call in to speak to a sales person.Just the language, "your account is suspended" instead of "your trial has expired" is so unintentionally hostile.Please keep this in mind and use Freshdesk with some caution. Again, alternatives include Zendesk , Groove ,and LiveAgent .

To their credit,a senior support manager at Freshdesk personally called me to apologize for my experience and said they are working on a variety of improvements to make the process more transparent and clear―especially to verify that warning emails are sent ahead of suspension.

I haven't made a final decision on which service I'll be using for the Meeting Planner alpha release. The timing of Fresh Desk's suspension without warning delayed my release.

Pricing Levels

Here's a snapshot of Freshdesk'sincremental pricing levels:


Building Your Startup With PHP: Collecting and Managing User Reports and Feedbac ...
Signup and Configuration

Registration is easy:


Building Your Startup With PHP: Collecting and Managing User Reports and Feedbac ...

They offer a four-step wizard to launch your support site. First, you need to set up your incoming support email to forward to the mailbox they've assigned you:


Building Your Startup With PHP: Collecting and Managing User Reports and Feedbac ...

As I wrote in the earlier episode about Mailgun routing , it's easy to reconfigure the destination of support emails:


Building Your Startup With PHP: Collecting and Managing User Reports and Feedbac ...

Then, you invite your first agent(s):


Building Your Startup With PHP: Collecting and Managing User Reports and Feedbac ...
The Dashboard

Initially, Freshdesk offers you 30 days of premium features with a free account, so there's a lot happening with the dashboard below. They offer a helpful welcome tour as well:


Building Your Startup With PHP: Collecting and Managing User Reports and Feedbac ...

Here's that test support request that gets sent to a new account:


Building Your Startup With PHP: Collecting and Managing User Reports and Feedbac ...

The upper menu andright sidebar bothoffer a lot of functionality for managing the ticket.

Customizing the Domain

To allow users to visit http://support.meetingplanner.io instead of http://meetingplanner.freshdesk.com , I just needed to map a CNAME at my domain registrar and update my settings:


Building Your Startup With PHP: Collecting and Managing User Reports and Feedbac ...
The PublicSupport Site

Voilà, here's the initial public-facing support site. We'll get to work customizing it in a moment.


Building Your Startup With PHP: Collecting and Managing User Reports and Feedbac ...
Constructing the Knowledge Base Your knowledge base is organized by configurable categories. For now, we'll stic

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