Gravity Forms is a tremendously powerful plugin for WordPress and Help Scout is an awesome customer support system that also provides a service for handling documentation. What they miss, however, is a direct connection that allows site owners to provide customers with a way to search the Help Scout documentation before they can submit a support ticket submission form.

An ideal support ticket submission process goes like this:

  1. Customer enters keywords related to their issue
  2. Relevant search results are shown to provide customer with “self-help”
  3. If the answer is not found in the documentation, customer can proceed with opening a support ticket

As far as I know, there are very few (if any) documentation / support solutions that provide this flow out of the box. There are numerous ways to build it but they are often complex and time consuming. Most product owners and service providers simply allow customers to fill out a contact form to ask for help without providing them with a good way to try and help themselves.

To help provide a better support experience for our products, and to make it easier for customers to help themselves, my team and I decided to build a custom integration between Gravity Forms and Help Scout that would allow customers to enter a search query, see results, and then, only if no relevant results were found, be permitted to open a support ticket. You can see this in action on the Easy Digital Downloads support page and also on AffiliateWP’s support page.

affwp-support

Let’s take a look at how we can set up a similar ticket submission form to the one we use for Easy Digital Downloads.

Requirements

Setting this up requires the following:

Configuring the form

There are numerous ways the form could be configured so feel free to deviate from the steps below. I’m just providing a sample configuration that can work well.

First, install all of the required plugins and setup the Help Scout documentation sub-domain setting and shown in the installation instructions for Gravity Forms and the Help Scout Search Field plugin.

Next, create a new form and add a text field to it that has a class of helpscout-docs:

Search text field Search text field

The class name is required in order for the field to be made into a search field.

At this point you can preview your form and the search field will be functional.Help Scout docs search results

Now, if you wish, you can continue to add additional fields and set up conditional logic for those fields so that they only display after a search has been performed. I would recommend breaking the form up into two pages with the search field on the first page and the other form elements on the second page, that way you only need to add conditional logic to the page break instead of each and every form input field after the search input.

My form looks like this:

Form editor

The conditional logic for the page break:

Page break conditional logic

On the second page of the form, I have added the following input fields:

  • name
  • email
  • website
  • message

Depending on your own needs, you could add additional fields as well.

This gives us a fully functional submission form that includes documentation search.

GF Help Scout Docs Search Demo

That’s all there is to it! Now customers can search your documentation before opening a support ticket. This could potentially cut down your support ticket stats dramatically while also making customers happier since it is now easier for them to help themselves.

Huge thanks are owed to Zack Katz for his contributions to the plugin. My team and I wrote the initial version that worked for us then Zack came in and made it 10x more awesome, allowing us to release it as a plugin that anyone can use.

If you could like to contribute to the plugin or report an issue of any kind, you can find it on GitHub.

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