Consulting services have always been in demand in many domains. From conventional ones like career and education to emerging ones like social media, public relations, and fitness, consulting services are a great option for those that have gained expertise in a particular field.
Though it may seem like consulting won’t be able to hold out during the modern internet era with so much information accessible to everyone with a mobile device. But the fact is, consultants have found new and better ways to offer their services, the biggest of them being online consulting.
So not only do you need less to get started, you can only reach a much wider audience. If you’re looking to create your own online consulting website, follow this article along.
The Basics of Online Consulting
Here’s how our online consulting website works. A new client lands on the homepage. This is where you can showcase some basic information about your company, your services, case studies, reviews, and more.
If the client has any questions or doubts before purchasing, they can get in touch using a live chat service.
When the client feels comfortable booking a slot, they can click on the “View available slots” section to get a look at when the consultant is available for a session.
When they find a date, they can head to the “Book your slot” page to purchase their consultation session. Here, you can set up various consultation options with different prices based on session lengths etc.
They will then add the session to their cart and make the payment. The amount will be converted into credits that will be used to redeem sessions. When the session is scheduled, the client can get in touch with you or your agents using the form in the Start session tab.
In the backend, you can respond to the messages and offer your consultation services in the text form. If you want to switch to the live discussion, you can simply send a zoom meeting link in the chat.
The only way our consulting website differs from a standard WooCommerce website is that it can show the calendar with available slots and a helpdesk service that offers the pay-for-support option.
Therefore, these are the only aspects we’ll be covering in this article. If you’re starting from scratch, check out this article on how to create a WooCommerce website.
Creating a Schedule for Our Online Consulting Website
We’ll be using The Events Calendar plugin to create a viewable consulting schedule on our website. Clients can refer this calendar to see which slots are available for booking a consultation.
- After installing the plugin, click “Create Event”.
- We’ll show available consulting slots as events in our calendar. So title the event appropriately. And set the start and end date and times of the free consultation slot.
- You can provide other details about location and organizers that depends on the type of consultation you’re offering.
- When you’re done, click “Publish”. You can similarly create more available slots as events in your calendar.
You can view the calendar by adding the “events” extension to your website URL, i.e, www.yourwebsite.com/events.
You can make the calendar more accessible to clients by adding it to your website’s menu. Follow these steps:
- Head to Menus > Appearance in your WordPress dashboard.
- Select the “Custom link” option.
- In the URL field, paste the link to the calendar on your website, i.e, www.yourwebsite.com/events.
- Add something appropriate like, “View available slots” in the link text field. This is how the link will appear on the menu.
- Click “Add”
Creating a Pay for Support System for Our Online Consulting Website
We’ll be using the WSDesk Helpdesk and Customer Support Ticket System plugin as it has a pay-for-support addon.
The Ticketing system
- After installing the WSDesk plugin, you’ll see a setup prompt. Click “Let’s Setup Now”.
- Supply your support email on this page. You also need to name the support page that will have the form using which clients will start interaction. We’ll name it “Start session”. Similarly, we’ll name the individual ticket page as “Session” and existing tickets page as “Your sessions”.
- Click “Save and continue”.
- On the next step, you can configure the consultation form fields. By default, it has the email, subject, and description fields. However, you’re free to customize the existing fields and add new ones.
- The next step lets you automatically convert support emails into tickets. Just supply the IMAP server information from your hosting provider, the email ID, and the password. For gmail accounts, the IMAP information has already been provided in the placeholders. Just use your gmail ID and password in the fields provided. Click “Continue” when you’re done.
- On the next step, you can set up helpdesk agents as consultants who will be responsible for responding to support tickets. Click “Add agent”. You can select an existing user or create a new one. Click “Continue” when you’re done.
Pay for Support
The ticket system has been installed. Let’s add the pay-for-support functionality so that you as a consultant can charge for your services. We’ll use WSDesk’s Pay for Support Add-on.
- After activating the pay for support add-on, head to its settings.
- Here, we need to create credit rules for individual products. So let’s create a consultation session as a product. Head to Products > Add new.
- Create a title for the product. Keep it as a simple product and enable the “Virtual” option. Add a price for the session.
- In the Inventory section, enable the sold individually option if you don’t want clients to buy multiple sessions at once.
- When you’re done, click “Publish”. You can similarly add other session types as products.
- These products will be available on the shop page. Let’s customize its name to match our online consultation website. Head to Appearance > Menus. Expand the Shop option and edit the navigation label to say something like “Book sessions”. Save the settings before proceeding.
- Then, head back to the Pay for Support tab to add a credit rule for the products we just created.
- Supply the following details: name for the rule, product identification number, price for the product, and credits that correlate to that price.
- In the Triggers section, you can automate the process such that when a ticket’s status becomes “Unsolved”, a certain number of credits are deducted from the user.
The add-on also lets you manage rules, apply credit rules to users, view transaction history, and generate reports.
Now, when a client has booked a session, it will appear as a ticket in the tickets section under WSDesk, along with their credit balance. You can immediately confirm their booked slot time and date via a few messages with them. And make sure to remove the corresponding event to the booked slot from the calendar plugin.
Adding a Live Chat with Your Online Consulting Website
A live chat on your website makes you more accessible to prospects and customers. We’ll use an open source plugin called WSChat for this tutorial.
After installing the plugin, you will see a live chat widget at the bottom right corner of your website. Customers can click it and submit their details to start chatting.
We’ve successfully set up a WooCommerce website that features a schedule calendar, a booking page, and a live chat functionality. Combine that with your expertise and you’re ready to serve your clients instantly. Feel free to reach out to us in the comments if you need help with anything else.
If you prefer a video version, please check the video below: