Offering world-class customer support means having the right people, processes, and tools in place.
Good support starts with a customer-centric culture (the people), but the customer service tools and processes you put in place help make your job easier and provide direct value to your customers.
There’s no shortage of customer service tools available today and the abundance of options can be daunting. In this article, we’re going to provide a quick overview of the top customer service tools available today. But before we look at individual tools, let’s discuss some of the important features you should look for in customer service tools.
Critical Features of Customer Service Tools
The tools you need depend a lot on the products and services you offer, as well as which channels you will be using to support your customers (email, social media, chat, phone, etc). Some important features you’ll want to look out for include the following.
Reporting and Analytics
Each time a customer reaches out to support is an opportunity for product teams to collect insights and data that have potential to help drive the direction of your product or service. With proper reporting and analytics, you can make sure you’re understanding what your customers are contacting you about. Reporting around ticket volume and geolocation can also help determine head-count plans to prepare for future growth in customer support.
The ability to integrate customer support tools with other tools helps close the loop between the support team and the rest of the company. For example, when a customer writes in about a bug, being able to quickly turn that support ticket into a bug ticket for your development team means faster bug fixes, and happier customers, and tighter communication across teams.
Robust Workflow Customizations
Routing tickets to the right team or individual helps expedite responses to customers. Workflow customizations can automate these things to save even more time. If you’re running a large customer service organization, robust workflows and automation might be more of a focus than a young startup.
Reliable Up Time
If you can’t respond to your customers, it’s going to be a bad day. Your customer service help desk needs to be reliable and stable. Do some digging and check out their history of outages to make sure you can count on them to provide high availability.
Top Customer Service Tools List
Now, let’s look at some of the top customer service tools available today.
Zendesk has long been the leader in the world of customer support tools. It’s robust feature set caters to both small businesses with few customers, and booming enterprise organizations handling thousands of tickets per day. Zendesk offers a complete package including a help desk, live chat, and a knowledge base tool so you can start supporting your customers right away.
Freshworks (previously known as Freshdesk) helps teams keep track of their conversations with customers using their “intuitive, feature-rich, affordable customer support software”. Key features include the ability to perform multiple actions on a ticket with a single click, time-triggered automation, scheduled reports, and custom agent roles. They boast having customers such as HP, Harvard University, and American Express. Freshworks also offers a wide range of business tools in addition to their customer support tool.
Groove strives to help companies provide personal support in a simple, effective way. While more focused on small businesses, Groove offers a full range of solutions from ticket management, live chat, and a knowledge base platform for providing self-help resources. They’ve also done a great job with their blog, offering a large amount of content around customer support.
Help Scout is very active in customer support communities such as SupportDriven and Elevate Summit. They produce some of the best customer support related content out their and recently launched HelpU to help customer facing people deliver better customer experiences. Their product is extremely simple to use and focuses on making customer support more “human” through more personal interactions.
Desk.com is a Salesforce product, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s a big complicated tool. It was built for small businesses and offers features like categorization, bulk actions, and built-in satisfaction scores to help track how happy your customers are. Desk.com includes a self-service knowledge base tool and a mobile app, and of course, their Salesforce integration is top-notch.
Perhaps one of the newest tools in the space, Kustomer claims themselves as an “Intelligent CRM for support teams”. One feature that makes them stand out from the crowd is the ability to see all of your conversations with a given customer across different channels in a timeline-like view. This allows you to engage with your customers in a more personalize approach. Kustomer combines a CRM + help desk to deliver a unique way of understanding and talking to your customers.
Jira Service Desk
Jira Service Desk is built on the power of Jira, the leading issue tracker tool from Atlassian. While geared more towards IT teams, and “service” teams, it is gaining traction as a popular customer support solution. It’s affordable pricing model is attractive to all team sizes and Jira Service Desk has a big enough feature set to scale with your team and your customers as you grow. Many leading technology companies are using Jira Service Desk today, including Spotify, Twitter, and Airbnb.
Front has been creating a big buzz in the support community lately. Extremely light-weight, and simple, Front is great for small teams seeking a single place to handle all of their communication. Their “shared inbox” approach allows you to handle both internal and external communication using a variety of different channels including email, sms, twitter, and live chat. With Front, you can optimize your work, improve productivity, and provide fast, personable support.
Intercom aims to “help sales, marketing and support teams better communicate with customers”. Their suite of products includes three core tools; one for managing conversations, one for sending targeting messaging, and one for educating customers. These tools help remove the borders between customer-facing teams. Intercom is simple, personal, and delightful.
Letting support tickets slip through the cracks is never a good thing to see happen. LiveAgent allows you to prioritize all of your customer conversations (including email, phone, live chat, and social) in a single prioritized list. Knowing what to focus on is important, and LiveAgent makes that easy. They’re one of the few help desk tools that includes a call center solution.
Customer support tools directly influence the customer experience you’re delivering. For this reason, it’s extremely important to take the time necessary to evaluate the tools available and see which one fits you and your customer’s needs. Before you pull the trigger, do a proof of concept or a trial. If you can, use the tool with your customers and get their feedback. By selecting the right customer support tool, your support team and your customers will be set up for success.