Get it Online: Low-Cost HelpDesk Support

By Andrew Lock | Posted January 11, 2010

Andrew Lock

If your company markets a product that requires technical support — and what product doesn’t these days — you probably have a technical support staff that needs help, particularly if they’re tracking technical issues on sticky notes and spending hours on the phone with a customer trying to solve a problem.

Kayako, a resource that might improve your technical support, provides a suite of reasonably priced helpdesk software solutions. The company claims that you can cut your costs, streamline your support, consolidate your e-mail and offer your clients a better service.

Kayako has been around for about eight years or so, and it says that the software is used by more than 30,000 organizations. You can license the software and install it on your servers, or Kayako can provide helpdesk hosting services.

Kayako offers three turnkey solutions: eSupport, which is a helpdesk support package; LiveResponse, which adds live chat capability; and the Support Suite, which combines the two products into one multi–stream support solution.

Features include a ticket support system that keeps track of technical issues or incoming e-mails, and an e-mail management program that extracts customer e-mails and integrates them into your trouble tickets. InstaAlert provides new ticket alerts directly to your staff’s desktops, while the Live Chat system engages your Web visitors with one-on-one or multi-user chats.

Here are a few of the things you can do with Kayako

  • Create a knowledge base so that your customers can help themselves by drilling down to the solutions for their problems
  • Develop guided troubleshooters so your clients can answer questions that lead them to the solution
  • Manage downloadable software updates including pushing them out to clients with an RSS feed
  • Allow your customers to submit tickets, access the knowledge base and complete a guided troubleshooter all without tying up your staff

I know I’ve used this support suite as an end user for some product or another, and as I remember it worked fairly well. The pricing for Kayako software seems reasonable, and you can license it on a monthly or a year-by-year basis. Prices range from $30 or $40 a month to a few hundred dollars per year.

You can download free 30-day trial of Support Suite software so you can see if it meets your needs. Of course like all knowledge-based products it’s only as useful as the content you load into it, but it does seem like a reasonable solution and may be an alternative to outsourcing your tech support staff.

Prelinger Video Archives

Prelinger Video Archives
Prelinger Video Archives
(Click for larger image)
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In 1983, Rick Prelinger began collecting films of historic significance that had not been collected elsewhere including the educational films that many of us remember viewing in school when we grew up, television commercials, and much, much more — with the intention of preserving them for future generations.

The collection was acquired by the U.S. Library of Congress in 2002, and all of its items are available in the public domain at http://archive.org/details/prelinger. Since these videos are in the public domain and therefore public property, they are available for use for anyone for any purpose. You’re free to do with them whatever you want. You could replace the dialog with your own; you could even superimpose your own face over a video’s character.

The archives include videos ranging from the infamous duck-and-cover atomic bomb films to Lucky Strike commercials, from health and social studies films to the more prurient stag films, so they really do run the gamut.

AdMob

If you’re a content provider looking for a way to monetize the mobile version of your Web site, or if you’re a company looking to advertise your products or services to people using mobile devices, such as an iPhone, an iPod Touch or other mobile phones, then AdMob should be of interest to you.

It’s a free site that requires registration before you’re able to use its many features. You can act as a publisher or an advertiser, but not both at the same time.  It lets you develop ads to be served up on specific types of mobile devices. You can create a generic mobile phone ad, you can create an ad specific to the iPhone, you can actually add download tracking for iPhone apps you’ve made, and you can create specific landing pages. 

You type in the ad name and the ad copy, which of course is limited to 35 characters because we’re talking about a standard mobile phone. You can type in the URL of a landing page that already exists on your Web site, or you can create one on AdMob.

You can add a whole bunch of different images in different sizes as well, and of course you can also see how that’s going to look as you add it on each of the specific phone sizes and mobile device sizes.

Once you’ve done all that, you can target specific regions and carriers such as taking all comers or limiting it to only North America or to only the U.S. and the minor outlying islands. You can also limit the ads to specific manufacturers or devices, say only Casio or Motorola phones or a specific kind of Blackberry.

Once you’ve entered all that information, you type in the amount you’re willing to bid for each impression. That’s for a standard mobile ad. The process for creating an iPhone ad is a bit more robust. It has many of the same features, but you can also limit by carrier or Wi-Fi only, or both, which is interesting to me.

You can also create iPhone ads that take advantage of its media capabilities. You can make a Web page, an app that’s downloadable from the app store, downloadable ring tones or GPS maps to the nearest location of your store.

There’s a whole bunch of different ways to create ads and different ways to serve them up and different monetization methods. It’s a really nice resource, a good way to make a few extra bucks and also to get the word out about your products and services.


You'll find lots more marketing tips and resources from Andrew Lock in our Small Business Essential series, Lock in Your Marketing Resources.

Andrew Lock is a self-described maverick marketer and the creator and host of Help! My Business Sucks, a free, weekly Web TV show full of practical marketing tips, advice and resources to help small businesses "get more done and have more fun."

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