Customer support software is nothing but an Ivy League graduate receptionist with the backing of Artificial Intelligence, and unlike Siri is capable of talking to multiple people at once.
Let me put this in context. If you run an online business, and have made the mistake of opening a social media business account, you need a customer support software.
Customers can drown you in queries from all mediums, through Instagram DMs and grammatically incorrect emails. Some even go so far as to trend their complaints on twitter causing a meme frenzy with your name in a very derogatory hashtag.
A customer support software empowers you with a set of tools to provide quick, and efficient customer support through various channels. It will compile and store customer history, from purchases to communication.
A customer support software combines various aspects of customer service and support to provide you a seamlessly integrated support desk. This means tools like messaging, chat systems, emails, shared inbox, phone support, CRM and knowledge base software all under one roof.
There are a variety of customer support software in the market today, some all inclusive and one size fits all; others quite specialized for the more typical business needs. Either way, a customer support software is supposed to do the following for you:
- Gather valuable customer insights
- Respond to customer on all channels easily
- Analyze customer relationship with factual reports
- Record customer history and appropriately address issues
- Integrate with tools to provide exceptional customer support
- Collaborate with Teams on Customer issues
Customer support software helps you provide your customers, dedicated, responsive support. Customer retention is any day more profitable to any type of business than getting a new customer on board.
And the great thing about nurturing your existing customers is that they will invariably bring you more business. 69% of customers recommend a business that has given them positive customer service.
Customer satisfaction is directly proportional to customer support. Thankfully, there are a ton of customer support software working to make this process a cakewalk for small businesses.
Customer Support Platforms
There are various types of helpful tools and software available in the market today to help you provide exceptional customer service. Customer Support Platforms however are a one stop shop.
They are wholesome platform systems, just like a sales CRM and help you manage every aspect of business communication. They will allow you to set up channels of interaction with clients through cross platform applications.
They even include your social media accounts, and give you support analytics, and provide you with a dedicated system for continuous upgrades. Here we will be discussing some of the best customer support platforms that can handle a large database and allow you to upscale smoothly.
One of the most widely trusted and popular customer support platforms is Zendesk. It is a truly complete customer support and service desk that will allow you to provide cross platform support.
It is basically the Michael Jordan of customer support software. It comes with support suite options so that you can manage everything on the go. Zendesk offers a personalized service depending on the scale and nature of your business.
Communication: Phone calls, social media messages and texts.
Chat: Inbuilt chat support tailor built for your website.
Method: Ticketing based, manage and track customer support agents through tracking tools.
Analytics: Consistent analytics with personalized parameters
Pricing: FREE 30 day trial. Essential model for Customer Support for email and social media with a web widget and mobile SDK starts at $5 per month per agent. Professional model for Customer Support Suite starting at $89 per agent per month.
If you are running an enterprise business Zendesk will provide you with an extensive list of tools and services to manage a large database and back your functioning up with the latest technology in the business.
A large organization will naturally have a lot of clients and therefore a lot of agents working to provide optimal customer service. Zendesk has a unique AI automation and self servicing ticketing system to align the customers to the right kind of agent and the right department for their complaints. You can integrate the StoryXpress Screen Recorder with Zendesk to add interactive videos to your replies.
Zendesk uses an omnichannel support solution to provide the best support service for the up and coming startups. Most startups choose to build a fanbase for funding and other purposes through social media.
This is where Zendesk steps in to save the day by providing integrated support channels on one platform. The great thing about Zendesk is that it allows you to reach your customers faster. With a self service automatic support channel, and dynamic team management it makes sure no ticket remains unresolved for more than 24 hours.
Salesforce Service Cloud is built by an award winning team of industry professionals with a backing of potent technical knowledge and understanding of the customer support industry.
It is one of those power houses in the market that boasts on its AI capabilities and it’s go getter attitude toward customer support. Salesforce uses state of the art technology to boost productivity with scale support. It aims at ruling out manual data entry from a customer support platform completely. And uses an agile platform to give you accurate results.
Communication: Calls directly from the Service Cloud console. Service tools to manage a database of calls with recording and consumer history.
Chat: Signature bot service called Einstein Bots, AI backed with varying degrees of sophistication.
Method: Integrated consumer ticketing system throughout all channels of communication.
Analytics: Data analytics for each customer.
Pricing: FREE 30 day trial. Essentials for $25 per month per user. Professional model for $75 per user per month with essentials and service contracts. Offers unlimited features with configuration and personalized support for $300 per user per month.
Salesforce basically doubles up as a sales CRM software which makes it a perfect solution for field service agents. Even Adidas uses the Salesforce Service Cloud to serve its clients. Salesforce provides a 24*7 live chat through embedded chat service.
It uses real time intelligence processing for optimized and accurate replies. You can also use service agents to give a personal service for selected queries. Salesforce allows you to use its cloud through all platforms, this means addressing queries on the phone using your smartphone or tablet.
Using an on the go interface, you can use access profiles to manage clients as well as your service agents to assign them tasks and queries.
Salesforce uses a truly personalized approach and allows you to make use of its services according to your business model. It has an all in one sales and support light application for small businesses and allows you to scale up with the CRM platform as your business grows.
With a simple package you will get innumerable knowledge tools along with the service console apps. Along with telephony integration, i.e., CTI and case management system. You can integrate the Salesforce service desk with the StoryXpress Screen Recorder chrome extension for video integration.
As you go further up the ladder, for an enterprise Salesforce offers professional features like web service APIs and 24/7 support and additional configurations.
HubSpot has been in the customer support industry for a while now. It provides tools to smooth out customer support mechanisms along with service based software.
Recently it launched its signature HubSpot Service Hub to address the “seismic shift in customer behavior”. Service hub is essentially a Marketing and Sales hub aimed at unifying the customer communication channel. And using service data along with the record of marketing and sales on one platform.
Communication: VOIP calls from your internal servers, and through phone. Universal inbox along with a team inbox.
Chat: State of the art bots for routine queries and redirects to supplementary articles and documents.
Method: Automated tickets for customer emails.
Analytics: Data collection in real time through surveys and customer feedback.
Pricing: FREE basic sales and marketing CRM with ticketing system and basic tools. Starter pack at $50 per month for 2 users and 20% discount on annual subscription. Professional pack at $400 per month for 5 users with sophisticated personalized ticketing modules and video creation services also with a 20% discount for annual billing. Enterprise pack for $1200 per month for 10 users.
Service Hub uses a holistic approach to engage with customers using its service tools Conversations. This tool is also available on their free CRM. HubSpot integrates messages through all channels into a unified customer communications inbox.
Taking in messages from email, live chat, social media etc. to help customers through a multi channel platform. The best thing is, you simply see the message and whatever your response is, it automatically outputs through the input channel.
You also get a knowledge base channel with the HubSpot Service Hub to create knowledge articles using indexing on Google and your in house database. You will receive reports and analytics on these articles and updates for content not doing well.
HubSpot also offers a ticketing model that lets you interact with customers through a marketing and sales perspective. Using a CRM object- Tickets, it allows you to assign, track, order and collaborate with customers to make upsells and resolve issues.
Solving problems has never been as easy as it is with Tickets. It allows you to generate tickets right through your dashboard with a prioritized list. Tickets allows you to route tickets to the concerned agents or technicians for efficient and optimized support.
HubSpot also gives great importance to feedback and survey creation. It allows you to collect customer feedback with Net Promoter Score (20 question annual survey) or generate small feedback surveys.
LiveAgent is a customer support platform built especially for small and medium sized businesses. It uses a unique customer support model that focuses on individual services and offers you the option of personalizing your customer support service platform to your needs.
LiveAgent has a one of a kind universal inbox that doubles up as a ticketing module. It allows you to update customer issues, raise requests, redirect complaints and respond through one tool.
Communication: Universal inbox for messages through email, chat, social media, internal sources, and forums. Customer calls along with video calls.
Chat: Chat widget of your choosing.
Method: Access based ticketing system, with redirecting and per agent limit. Allows you to give bonuses to hard working employees using a point based award.
Analytics: Customer satisfaction rate reports, with a reward system. Multiple reports automatically generated on overall service performance.
Pricing: FREE 14 day trial. Ticketing system with the customer domain and API forum, $9 per month per month. Live chat visitor version costs a little higher, $29 per agent per month. The all inclusive version with time tracking, auditing, and advanced reports is $39 per agent per month.
LiveAgent integrates all messages from all channels to include purchases, complaints, feedbacks, general comments on one ticketing management system. It automatically tracks tickets, phone calls, responses issues from your agents to give the user the best experiences.
The unique thing about LiveAgent is its sheer depth in reporting customer databases through the dashboard. As a customer service agent it makes a world of difference to have all the information right in front of you. LiveAgent also allows agents to make internal notes about customers and create a log for future.
Service agents can access an extensive knowledge base of articles, blogs, forum posts, survey analytics. LiveAgent also lets you create a reference sheet with general responses that can be linked to the chat bot.
LiveAgent has worked really hard to bring forth one of the best live chat softwares in the market today. It integrates its live chat bot with social media apps and combines everything on the support ticketing management system.
From upselling to resolving issues, all can be done using LiveAgent’s embedded chat bot and take in queries on social media. LiveAgent also supports reception of video calls and voice calls directly to its Call Center platform.
Freshdesk is another very popular customer support platform that is trusted by big businesses like American Express. Freshdesk offers an expansive list of tools and additional add ons for increased customization.
With Freshdesk, you get everything from ticketing, to field service, customer self service, automation and multi channel support. Since it caters to somewhat medium to larger sized industries, Freshdesk focuses on collaboration. Freshdesk is 100% cloud based, so it provides ease of access though cross platform apps and web extensions.
Communication: Internal call center, unlimited mail inboxes per account.
Chat: State of the art bots for routine queries and redirects to supplementary articles and documents.
Method: Multiple channel ticketing system, takes in tickets from email, website, chat, queries, social media.
Analytics: One of the best data reportage in the industry with hourly statistics, and productivity analytics based on time zones, business hours etc.
Pricing: FREE customer service tool for 21 days. FREE Sprout model which allows unlimited agents, email ticketing, knowledge base, ticket trend report and much more. With the Freshdesk Blossom model, at $15 per month per agent you can use automations, collision detections, helpdesk, etc.
Garden at $29 per month per agent, with CSAT survey, multi lingual support, session replay. Estate for multiple time zones at $49. And Forest with IP whitelisting, HIPAA compliant for $109 per month per agent.
Gamifications and powerful automations is one of the key features offered by Freshdesk. Freshdesk has mastered the art of ticketing with automatic ticket dispatching, and trigger time based actions. So no complaint or ticket goes unresponded.
Gamifications are basically to encourage service agents, make the work environment more fun, and distribute rewards. Freshdesk is also widely known for its multilingual support and knowledge base. The Freshdesk customer support allows support in more than 30 languages, and allows integration with various tools like Localize, Google Translate etc.
In line with that, Freshdesk also allows customer support in different timezones (personalized according to business hours). To execute a customer support channel on a global platform, you also get an expansive knowledge base. And to back all these features up, Freshdesk accounts have unlimited number of mails inboxes.
Groove is sort of the underdog of the industry. It is heavily used across geographical spheres, but it caters to a niche audience. Groove has on the best collaboration tools in the market today, however. It offers boundless integrations, and has internal tools to keep your team on the mark every time.
The entire interface of the platform is so wholesome and interactive that it has been described as a conferencing platform. You can integrate Groove with Slack directly and allow automatic ticket notifications. Groove basically offers integration to every professional software there is.
So all your tickets land up directly on the Groove interface. Groove offers a thorough personalized knowledge base. It is customizable in terms of designing, themes, and it is absolutely mobile responsive.
Communication: Unlimited agents allowed with unlimited tickets.
Chat: Integrations with popular live chat widgets, personalized to your needs.
Method: Unlimited add ons and options allow you to choose your own ticketing system.
Analytics: Client satisfaction based data analysis and reporting for overall success rate. Offers hour based, week based reporting and statistics.
Pricing: FREE for 4 months. Starter pack at $9 per user per month, with a mailbox, a web widget, free knowledge base, assignments and mentions. This pack will include Live Chat widget soon. Plus model at $19 per user per month. 5 mailboxes, rules, more than forty integrations and API access. $29 per month per agent Pro pack with 25 mailboxes, Jira integrations, Teams and a lot more.
Groove uses a client satisfaction based analytics system. So you get reports on the basis of reply time, first reply, average handle time, and client satisfaction votes. Groove offers the end clients an interface to file in their feedback right after a call is done.
You can customize this tool. The thing with Groove is once you purchase the core software, you get access to many many add on tools. Groove core customer support platform allows you to set rules for how the overall customer service support should function. You can add tags to categorize customer service tickets, use canned replies and organize your customer support platform through custom folders. All of this shows up in your dashboard, so you decide what your customer service agent sees.
Zoho Desk is an up and coming customer support platform specifically designed for scale and productivity. It is a global platform used by the likes of McAfee and Godrej. The stand out feature of Zoho Desk is its automation techniques.
Zoho Desk provides a two tier automation system. One level caters to the client directly. By empowering customers with an easy to use automated self service support. Aiming at solving issues as and when they arrive through an expansive knowledge base, a forum for discussions, and easy to implement solution keys.
On another level, Zoho Desk uses automation for service agents. Zoho calls these ‘smart automations’ to make simple activities completely automated. You as an end user can set up your own rules and automate your workflow.
Communication: Omni channel customer support through email, chat, social media and website enquiries. AI based self service support on websites.
Chat: Live chat widget with AI support.
Method: Automated workflow to open, route, and close tickets.
Analytics: AI data analysis on customer sentiment, ticketing traffic and agent productivity.
Pricing: FREE basic model for 3 agents, with email ticketing, support, help desk, macros, help center and much more. Standard at $12 per month per agent with supervision rules, workflow management, social media channels etc. Professional model $20 per month per agent with mobile SDK, and an Enterprise model $35 per agent per month with state of the art AI tools.
Help Scout is one of the easiest customer support platforms to use, due to its simplicity of design. And it is another one of those underdog softwares not yet explored by many in need of it.
But, the best in the business have used it to provide exceptional customer support. AngelList, Reddit, Basecamp, Trello, to name a few. Help Scout allows you to build a comprehensive database with interlinking within your script.
They call this feature as the Docs, and the Docs is truly one of the most flexible tools to make a knowledge base. To access this feature, Help Scout provides a small widget that can be embedded on your website for the end user.
Communication: Email based shared inbox.
Chat: Live chat tool with a self service tool, and a chatbot called Help Bot.
Method: Tickets on the help desk as conversations. A personalized approach with email like setup.
Analytics: Make instant reports with advanced filters and use these with graphic representation at your help desk.
Pricing: FREE 15 day trial. Standard model at $20 per user per month. Allows you access to 3 different mailboxes, and 1 Docs for knowledge base. Automated workflows, APIs and over fifty integrations. $35 per user per month includes all of the above with HIPAA Compliance, Salseforce, Jira, and Hubspot Apps. Undoubtedly one of the more affordable customer support platforms. Help Scout offers discounts to non profit organizations, and to up and coming startups.
Help Scout is an easy access software for customer support technical teams to make an elaborate knowledge base. You can easily customize self service modules using the Help Scout Docs that allows you to access your own data in a manner to create original content.
This database can also be accessed by your clients through the Help Scout live chat option: Beacon. It is an AI powered chat assistant that allows you to embed articles on queries. Most importantly all these tools are cross platform and absolutely integration friendly.
You can integrate with the popular software used by professionals like Slack, HubSpot, Salesforce. It is an affordable option, and offers a solid ticketing system.
HappyFox is one of those blacksheep customer support platforms that do just about everything. From email ticketing, to Help Desk reporting, a Multilingual Knowledge Base, an Internal Knowledge Base, to Task Management, you name it. HappyFox really does it all.
The HappyFox help desk is an easy to use, streamlined desk. It uses a universal inbox for emails, social media, live-chat and customer portals. Depending on the volume of your incoming tickets, you can divide these aspects of customer support. It allows communication via phone as well. HappyFox also provides building tools to make a self help service knowledge base. And allows tickets from all channels of communication, including social media, live chat, and phone calls.
To manage your ticketing volumes, it is best to use the HappyFox customer support portals to make a knowledge base. These can further be linked to tickets with a ticketing form, in case a customer is unable to address their issue through the portal. Further, these tickets can be managed by categories to be assigned or redirected to specific departments.
You can assign custom statuses to tickets, and prioritize issues. HappyFox also allows you to organize people or businesses as contact groups for internal and external help desks. Here, members of the groups can address tickets raised by other members.
Communication: Universal inbox for social media, email, phone calls and SMS.
Chat: Live chat tool available, HappyFox chat.
Method: Automatic ticket generation through all channels of communication, including Twitter, Facebook, phone calls.
Analytics: Satisfaction surveys, feedbacks with personalized templates. Analyze these through audit logs, and satisfaction at different stages.
Pricing: FREE 14 day trial. Starting at $24 per agent per month. HappyFox offers customized models on a need basis.
Customer Support Tools
To provide exceptional customer support, you need to roll in everything available to you in terms of resources and intel. A lot of great small tools can really give you a push towards efficient customer support.
Tools for Chat Work Flow
Intercom is a messaging platform that allows businesses to communicate with their clients or business on a universal inbox. This includes social media, your own application or website and emails. Intercom uses the phrase ‘conversation relationship platform’ to describe itself.
Rightly so, because Intercom uses a model of a combined chat platform with targeted outbound messages that include product tours, email campaigns. Intercom provides resources for both marketing as well as support.
This includes automatic replies to repetitive questions, proactive chat approach. You can also build custom bots, and resolution bots using the customer data. You can integrate intercom with Slack at just $39 a month.
LiveChat is an easy little bubble widget chat bot for your website. You can use it to manage your own agent profiles, to provide customer support through chat. LiveChat is one of the more popular chatbot services, priced slightly higher than usual.
This is because LiveChat offers basic statistics, chat reports, and sales goals. You can collect feedback through the chat itself and use a state of the art automation, and omni channel messaging. Moreover, you can add more context to each conversation using a session replay tool, such as LiveSession.
LiveChat also allows you to assign queries through ChatBot to different departments. You can integrate LiveChat with over 170 tools to manage orders, send customized links, link with your CRM and much more. The starter pack is priced at $16 per month per agent (for annual billing, $19 otherwise).
LiveHelpNow is a wholesome customer support appication in its own right. But it’s best feature, and certainly the most promoted is the Live Chat and SMS support. You can link it to your website or text new leads on their phone.
Along with the Live Chat option, LiveHelpNow also allows you to convert emails to tickets automatically. Furthermore you can build a searchable knowledge base using LiveHelpNow and integrate it with your chat, ticket and call back system.
This is your FAQ page content, and the Answer Bot provided by LiveHelpNow can be used to purpose this in chat automatically. Live Help Bot is a simple chat bot that allows you to redirect queries, answer FAQs without service agents. Starting at $21 per month per agent, you can customize your model.
Tools for Exceptional Customer Service
StoryXpress Screen Recorder
The StoryXpress Screen Recorder is a simple Chrome extension for recording videos through your webcam and screen.
This is an increasingly helpful tool for business and freelancers to record some vital frequently asked questions in the form of tutorials and educational videos.
It allows you to integrate with many other customer support software. Further, you can use it for peculiar customer queries in case you are a software based business. Or make interactive videos along with valuable presentations.
It is time effective, and free to use. You can create a video knowledge base using the StoryXpress Screen Recorder for your internal customer service agents.
Nicereply is a customer feedback tool that allows you to make CSAT (Customer Satisfaction Score), NPS (Net Promoter Score), CES surveys (Customer Effort Score). This allows you to measure your performance right through the sales funnel. Nicereply records customer answers through surveys, even if they are not completed.
You can use Nicereply to make customized inbuilt surveys with your regular emails, and post query resolution surveys. You can integrate Nicereply for customer feedback through Zendesk, LiveAgent, Freshdesk and many more other such customer support platforms. For $39 per month, you can record 100 responses for 3 agents. Nicereply also facilitates you with analytics, and reports on the database.
What works the Best for you?
Every software despite trying to capture all demographics, ends up creating a niche for itself. Most of the customer support platforms listed above cater to a large audience, but all of them have their strengths and weaknesses.
|****||Zendesk||Salesforce Service Cloud||HubSpot Service Hub||LiveAgent||Freshdesk||Groove||Zohodesk||HelpScout||HappyFox|
|Basic Price (Per Agent Per Month)||$5||$25||Free (Basic Tools)||$9||Free||$9||Free||$20|