Choosing the right customer service software and providing quality customer service often go hand in hand. Research has shown that loyal customers are less likely to leave you for your competitors and are more likely to advertise for you via word of mouth.
The more your business grows, the more you realize that responding to customers via email and keeping a record of this manually is not sustainable. Hence, the need for customer service software.
In this article, you’ll learn:
- What is customer service software?
- Advantages of using customer service software.
- 5 Types of customer service mediums
- Key Features for a customer service software
- 12 Best customer service software.
- How to Decide the Best Customer Service Software for Your Business
To read up on any section of this article, simply click on the title you want to read.
What is Customer Service Software?
In a nutshell, Customer Service Software is any tool or system that allows you to prioritize, manage, organize, report, and respond to customer enquiries either singularly or altogether. While almost any communication tool can do this, some were created specifically to handle customer complaints and enquiries. We’ll delve further into the rest of the article.
Customer service software can be used to handle one or more mediums of communication, this includes chatting, email, messaging, not only that, effective customer service software allows integration into group chat systems, social media, and even emailing.
One of the major differences between regular communication tools and customer service software is the ability of customer service tools to generate tickets. With ineffective tools like shared inboxes and spreadsheets, it’s almost impossible to get the level of detail and personalization that comes with proper customer service ticketing.
Ticketing keeps a tally of all interactions the customer service team has had with a customer. It could be via phone call, chat, social media et al. Proper ticketing tallies all these interactions regardless of how the customer contacted you. If a customer contacts you via email and the follow-up response is a phone call, these pieces of information are tallied in the same support ticket.
Taking it up a notch, customer service tools allow seamless integrations into systems that give the customer service agent more information about a customer and their enquiry.
Advantages of Using Customer Service Software
Customer service software can benefit businesses of all sizes-from an SME without a single customer service rep to a company with hundreds of customer service reps serving thousands or millions of customers.
Customer service tools help you create better customer service experiences. Here’s how it does it:
- Faster and more consistent support.
Nothing irks a customer more than a delayed response to their inquiry. Customer service tools help customer reps respond to inquiries faster with in-built features geared towards faster and more efficient management.
- Increases customer loyalty. When brands provide fast support, customer loyalty, and support increase. Reports have shown that customers revisit brands they’re loyal to. Effective customer support ranks up among customer retention methods.
- Better customer service rep. experience. Customer service reps are usually more motivated to provide better care with the right set of tools. This increases their productivity and saves the company time and resources.
- Gain better customer data. Customer service tools help companies collect, identify, organize and correlate all user requests, feedback, and even bug reports. With these insights, general customer service can be improved to stay ahead of the times and trends in the company.
- Helps your business scale faster. The ability for a business to grow rests entirely on the shoulders of its customers-both new and existing. And at the core of customer growth is customer satisfaction. Customer service tools allow companies to grow with their customers by analyzing their requests, inquiries, and complaints and with this analysis, create better services based on the needs of their customers.
5 Types of Customer Service Mediums
Five customer service mediums facilitate better customer service. These tools are different and serve different niches.
1. Call support
Calling remains one of the most effective methods of resolving customer enquiries, especially for sensitive, urgent high-stake enquiries.
What makes calling one of the best methods of customer service is the human touch. With other methods, customers are usually staring at a screen. But with phone support, a customer feels more at ease with their enquiries or complaints knowing a human is handling it and not a bot.
Emailing has been one of the oldest methods of customer support, and its relevance isn’t dwindling. Like call support, email remains an effective channel to resolve customer complaints.
To respond to angry clients via email read this article.
3. Live chat
Live chat helps customer reps solve customer issues in real-time from wherever the customer is, this could be the website home or support page, via your mobile app, or anywhere that has a live chat feature.
This helps brands stay ahead of problems before they occur. If your business requires users to go through different stages before service is fully rendered, you may want to add a live chat feature to the page that proves to be most difficult to navigate. For example, if you handle an online shop and the payment page is the page users have most trouble navigating, to stay ahead of problems and ensure the service is completed without any hitch, the payment page would be a great place to have a live chat feature.
If your company has regular enquiries from customers, a chatbot feature would be a great addition for enquiries. This way, you offer round-the-clock support even when there are no customer service agents available.
Social messaging channels like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Apple Business Chat-has brought a new age to customer service management and revolutionized the way people get in touch.
Another benefit of using customer service software is the ability for a complaint to be logged in a centralized location regardless of where the customer sent the enquiry from.
5. Customer knowledge community
With a customer knowledge community or forum, support teams can enable customers to solve problems themselves. Research has shown that over 81% of customers prefer to figure out the solution to a problem on their own rather than seeking customer support.
This is only advisable if your company has the right tech to flag responses and delete obsolete replies and updating them with more updated articles.
Key Features for a Customer Service Software
For customer service software to be effective, it needs to have key features that are unnegotiable.
The organization is a really important feature for any customer service software. This creates a clean interface for users by selectively grouping all incoming messages into folders, tabs, or groups.
This is important not only because it declutters the customer service software, but also because it lets the customer service reps know what’s done and what needs to be done and take action promptly.
Easily the most important feature any customer service software should have. This answers the question of “How do the customer inquiries come into the software for customer reps to respond to them?”
Customer service software collects emails and messages that come in through different channels.
Most customer service tools come with integrations with external providers that allow messages to come in from different channels.
A lot of customer service software offers seamless integration with other systems and APIs for programming integration into even more systems. The integration allows you to connect with tools like Slack or other communications tools, CRM software, Social tools, Shopify, and other internal systems that help customer service reps serve customers better.
Collaboration features on customer service tools allow multiple people to collaborate on the same enquiry – from regular customer reps to IT experts and operations if the need arises.
Collaboration features on customer service software allow participants to interact in teams, mention one another, share notes taken, assign conversations to specific members of the team, etc.
What good is a customer service tool that doesn’t respond to enquiries? Customer service tools respond to enquiries across platforms that these enquiries came from.
6. Report and analyzation
Reporting and analyzing are important for customer service as this helps companies understand their customers better. This is important because companies can tell where their customers are having difficulties, what they need, and what they’re trying to achieve.
This also gives the companies insight into how well their representatives interact with customers. This is done by reporting things like “time of response”, “period of resolution”, “popular request category”, “amount of request per time frame” etc.
Most of the features listed above are common among most customer service tools, the only difference is the implementation.
We’ve put together this list of the top 12 best customer service software.
Each selection has a unique innovative feature that sets them apart and we highlight these features along with the pricing.
12 Best Customer Service Software
To help you decide on which customer service tool would be just right for you, we’ve put together a list of the best customer service tools.
There are different approaches to customer service tools, there’s no one-size-fits-all, so we took the liberty of listing customer service tools from different niches with different and specialized specifications.
HubSpot is one of the most recognized customer relations management in the industry (CRM). They offer a wide range of software in sales, marketing and service.
HubSpot’s Free CRM solution does not exclude customer care solutions. HubSpot’s free features for customer care services include live chats, chatbots, ticketing, conversations inbox and team email. If you’re in the market for a free customer service tool for your small business, HubSpot may have some of the features you need.
They have paid plans for more advanced features and better benefits.
Starter: $40 per month.
Professional: $320 per month
Enterprise $1200 per month.
These rates are charged per annum. It costs 20% more if you’re interested in paying monthly.
Zendesk is an amazing customer service tool that helps businesses to create effective and seamless customer service experiences. Zendesk offers integrations that allow inquiries and conversations to come from different channels, creating a smoother customer experience all around.
Zendesk has a unique agent workspace that equips customer service reps with all the tools they need to deliver fast personalized responses, collaborate with teams, all from a single connected interface.
While no tool is a one size fits all, Zendesk defies this by providing simple and sophisticated customer service to large enterprises and small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs).
Zendesk gives large enterprises the tools customer service agents need to handle a wide range of customer needs from different channels while making sure the process from enquiry to resolution is as seamless as possible.
For Small-sized businesses, Zendesk offers a unique efficient customer experience. They offer all the tools needed to keep track of all customer enquiries and work closely with customers till their enquiries and complaints have been resolved.
With Zendesk’s Artificial Intelligence automation and unique workspaces, teams can work faster, smarter, easier and reach a lot more customers.
Pricing: Zendesk has 2 price models: Plans for everyone and Plans for enterprises.
Plans for everyone
Suite Team – $49 per agent/ month
Suite Growth $79 per agent/ month
Suite Professional $99 per agent/ month
Plans for enterprises
Suite Enterprise $150 per agent/ month
These plans are all billed annually.
Gorgias ranks among the best customer service software for integration with eCommerce platforms.
In eCommerce, providing good customer service is one of the most important things you can do to create, retain and increase old and new customer loyalty. Gorgias is a customer service software stacked with the tools needed to make this possible.
Gorgias does this by integrating seamlessly with three of the most popular platforms for eCommerce: Shopify, BigCommerce and Magento.
Georgia pulls customer data from these platforms giving you a comprehensive view of the performance and interaction with these customers, the data Gorgias pulls includes consumer data, order histories and interactions. This is important as it helps you personalize your responses to these customers, and give you more insight in creating chatbot automation with frequently asked questions and requests.
Georgia has a great user interface that helps your customer service reps to organize and handle tickets effectively. This customer service tool gathers customer requests across multiple channels like social media, SMS, live chat and email.
Georgia also takes it a step further by providing tools that take customer service to a whole other level. An example of this tool’s Omnichannel ability is for customer service reps to engage with customers when they interact with your ad, social posts or other published materials.
With this feature, you have a bird’s eye view of your customers and guide them through their buyer’s journey long before they visit your website and add anything to their cart.
Georgia has three pricing models.
The basic plan goes for $60 per month.
The pro plan goes for $300 per month.
The advanced plan goes for $750 per month.
If you pay per annum:
The basic plan goes for $50 per month.
The pro plan goes for $250 per month.
The advanced plan goes for $625 per month.
4. Help Scout
Geared towards smaller businesses, Help Scout provides great customer service for customers and your customer service support team. Help Scout boasts of being sophisticated and simple enough for customer service teams to use without spending time learning how to use the tool.
With Help Scout, customer service reps can handle email and social media enquiries from a single centralized tool.
Help Scout also offers a help centre that gives customers answers to enquiries on their own while reducing the number of enquiries your customer service team has to deal with. This customer service tool also offers a saved template feature that allows customer service agents to respond to frequently asked enquiries faster thus saving your customer service team time.
Help Scout also has a feature called collision detection that helps a customer rep know if another agent is already working on a particular service request. This completely eliminates the risk of multiple replies to the same ticket.
Help Scout has a standard plan for $20 per user/ month.
A plus plan for $35 per user/month
They also offer custom plans for large companies.
Monday.com is a customer service software that handles everything concerning customer relations but takes it up a notch by providing tools that help nurture customer relationships well after a sale has been made.
If you’re a B2B company interested in maintaining a long term relationship with your customer, Monday.com is a great tool to consider. Monday.com offers custom data you want to store regarding your customers, this includes client behaviours, client actions, touchpoints, etc.
In the case that a customer comes to you concerning a sale or anything relating to their account, any member of your team can pull up information on this customer and proceed to answer their enquiry without missing a beat. Doesn’t matter if a customer representative is dealing with the customer for the first time, all the information they need is right at their fingertips.
As a manager or an admin, Monday.com gives the manager a bird’s eye view on how well your customer service reps are handling the enquiries and also helps you ensure that you maintain a good post-sale relationship with the customer.
Monday.com has a lot of automation abilities and allows seamless integration with a lot of application necessary to make your customer service process as easy as possible.
Monday.com has a Basic plan that goes for $8 per user/ month
A standard plan for $10 per user/ month
A pro plan for $16 per user/ month.
And an enterprise custom plan.
If your business model requires real-time live chat with customers, Olark is a great option. Olark handles the same urgency that would require over-the-phone support, but at a much lower cost.
If you’re a tech company or your business involves customers taking multiple steps before a service is rendered, a live chat option would be most ideal.
Olark has a unique pricing model that allows you select features you need and ones you don’t. This is great for small business that does not need certain tools. Olark pricing starts from $19/ month per agent.
At the beginning of this article, we talked about a knowledge-based community where customers find answers to problems on their own. Over the last few years, there’s been a steady increase and focus on self-service options.
Knowledge-based self-service options are cost-effective and are preferred by many users. This also means way less ticket for your customer support team.
HelpDocs is a major contender in knowledge-based customer service software. They have an advanced feature set, a seamless easy-to-use interface that makes it easy to set up and a simple pricing model.
HelpDocs pricing starts from $49 per month.
Freshdesk has two customer support offerings. A knowledge-based help desk solution and a customer support channel that spans across all platforms.
Freshdesk offers flexible pricing plans for both their services, although the help desk solution comes at a much cheaper rate than the omnichannel support.
Freshdesk also has features like AI automated responders, field service management tools, etc, these additional services come as add ons. This means you get to choose the features you want making their pricing model extremely flexible.
Freshworks academy also offers in-house training services. This way, you’ll be able to train any member of your team to use their system in very little time.
NB: AI functions only come with the full package omnichannel support.
Pricing: The helpdesk service starts from $0 per month for the most basic plan.
The omnichannel plan starts from $79 per month per agent and is billed annually.
Helpshift offers in-app customer support that a user can access without leaving the app. Most in-app support usually comes in form of a chat application. Helpshift is a major contender when it comes to in-app customer service support, especially for mobile devices.
Helpshift has a flexible pricing system where you only pay for the features you need. They also have really good customer support that guides you through set-up and general usage. If you’re looking for in-app customer support, Helpshift is a great option.
Helpshift does not have any public pricing. To get their pricing information, you would have to contact their team.
New social media platforms pop up almost every day and to provide optimal customer support, your brand must have a presence in most if not all of them. Navigating through the enquiries coming from different social media channels can be a difficult task.
This is where Sparkcentral comes in. They offer a solution that brings the conversation from all social media channels. Doesn’t matter if your customer seeks support from WhatsApp, WeChat, Twitter and a host of other social media channels, Sparkcentral brings all the conversations.
Like Helpshift, Sparkcentral doesn’t offer any public pricing. You would have to contact their team to get their pricing information.
Aircall offers customer service for over-the-phone support. While phone support is usually associated with bigger organizations, it can also be a vital part of small organizations, especially for small organizations that offer expensive products and complex solutions.
Research has shown that customers prefer to solve complex problems over the phone with a real person than chatting on social media or emailing.
Aircall offers series of plans suited for teams of various sizes. All their plans come with essential like queueing calls, setting business hours and Interactive voice support (IVR).
Aircall’s pricing starts from $30 per agent/month.
Groove is a great customer service tool for small businesses and startups. If your business is gradually outgrowing email for customer support and you’re starting to get inquiries from multiple channels, Groove is a great choice to make that transition smoother.
Groove has great collaboration tools that help customer service reps add notes to discussions, assign different tasks to team members and mention them to bring them up to speed on ongoing enquiries.
This customer service tool also has a customizable knowledge base feature for customers to get self-help on their problems and enquiries. It also has automation features, tagging, custom folders, canned replies, etc, to make responding and resolving enquiries easier and faster.
How to Decide the Best Customer Service Tool for Your Business
Certain features are non-negotiable when deciding the best customer service tool for your business. This isn’t exactly set in stone as businesses have different needs, hence require different features altogether.
We’ve put together a list of options to consider when choosing the best customer service tool for your business.
- The number of agents. How many customer service representatives are in your company? If you have just three customer reps, you’ll need different features from a company with over 50 customer service agents. For large organizations, features like collaboration, role-based ticketing, AI automation may be non-negotiable. But for a small customer service team, these features can be done without.
- How do your customers communicate with you? How do your customers reach out to you for information and inquiries? Are you 100% okay with that medium or you’re looking to change this as your company expands?
These are questions you need to ask yourself before choosing a customer service software. There is customer service software for literally all modes of communication. If you accept inquiries from just emails, chatbots, live chat, or social media, there’s a customer service software that’s fit for you.
- What features are a must-have for you? This goes hand in hand with the kind of service you want to render. Are you building a help desk? An in-app chat system? You need to completely understand the kind of customer service solution you offer before choosing a software.
After deciding the features you want, create a checklist with all your must-have features and pick the best customer service tool that completely checks the list.
After creating this list, do extensive research, read up on reviews on the selected software before making your decision.
This would also be a great time to try out their free trails if they offer. This way you get firsthand knowledge on how the tool works and make sure it checks the features advertised before committing to making it your customer service tool.
- Price. The price of customer service tools vary on a wide range of factors, most depending on the number of customer agents on your team.
The features available per package also have a lot to do with the pricing of the plans.
To grow your business and provide quick and efficient customer support, you need to invest in a customer service tool that checks all the needs of your company. That said, you do not need to go overboard to get the right customer service software for your business.
If you’re a start-up or a small business, you do not need to start with the premium tools, a lot of the free customer service plans can do a world of good for your business without compromising the quality of service you render.
Deciding the best customer service software that best serves your team and your customers is no easy task. You need to find the right tool that checks all your immediate boxes, is flexible enough that it can handle your business when you expand, and also importantly, meets your budget.
While choosing the right tool is a hard task, it’s better to do your due diligence and take your time. This is because the wrong tool can lead to dissatisfied customers and disgruntled team members.
Regardless of the software you choose, your top priority should be providing adequate service to your customers. This should be at the top of your mind when choosing the right customer service software. Delivering the best customer service experience to your customers to retain them and make them loyal customers is the most important aspect of customer service.