Customer service software is most often used for customer support; however, it can also be used by the same company’s sales, accounting, IT, or marketing departments. Additionally, to be useful for traditional organizations, the system is suitable for non-profit, government, and educational institutions.
How does customer service software work?
Customer Service platforms connect to your day-to-day customer communication channels, including email, phone, chat, social media integrations, messaging apps, and even customer service portals.
The system automatically creates a ticket when customers contact your company through specified channels. For example, if a buyer uses a real-time channel such as phone or chat, the system automatically starts ringing to alert online support agents. As soon as the agent answers the call or chat, the agent and the client can begin communicating in real-time.
Imagine that a customer uses a channel such as an email, social media, or a messaging app to contact your company. In this situation, the system will create a ticket and assign it to a specific department/agent based on predefined criteria.
Companies that refuse to use this technology experience customer dissatisfaction and churn because many customer messages are missed or not responded to quickly.
Such a system allows any organization to establish communication with customers since it eliminates monitoring devices and accounts, keeping all messages in one place. As a result, it saves time and improves productivity and response time, contributing to excellent customer satisfaction.
Critical advantages of customer service software
Perfect customer service is the backbone of any successful business, especially if you are a small business that has to constantly compete with bigger and more established brands in the market. It means that customer service software becomes a valuable tool in your small business’s arsenal. How does this happen? We’ve rounded up some of the most critical benefits of investing in the ideal customer service solution:
- Helps to optimize all customer requests: Customer service software will help you manage all your inquiries from one place. It simplifies the delegation of work to agents and speeds up their joint activities. Such software will help you organize all incoming requests, considering the nature and type, and track their status.
- Reduces response time: customer service software helps reduce response time. According to a Hubspot report, about 90% of customers rate an immediate answer as necessary or very important when they contact a company’s customer service department. With these rising customer expectations, customer service software can enable agents to provide fast and responsive support as issues arise. It helps teams prioritize customer requests and resolve critical issues faster and better.
- Helps improve customer relationships: most customer support programs help collect and store customer information. They include customer conversation history with your company, their contact information, service requests, and more; support agents can use this real-time data to communicate more contextually with customers. Conversations like these really personalize the customer experience and help cement constructive relationships. Over time, gaining the trust of your customers and developing strong relationships can help reduce churn and improve customer retention rates.
- Allows you to confirm each client request: for a small business, you must respond to customers when they ask for help. The first stage here is to verify that you have received their request. The customer support solution helps you automate the first response, with which you can tell customers that you have approved their request. Many customer support tools offer ready-made answers and templates for email inquiries. Chatbots are another way of automated customer service.
By implementing customer service software, you receive access to performance reports that help you track key support metrics such as time to first decision (FRT) and average time to resolve (ART). These metrics will help provide valuable insights into the team’s performance, identify areas for improvement, and implement corrective actions if and when needed.
The classification of customer service tools
Designing a customer service program is like assembling a chair. Theoretically, you could create any of them with just two or three tools, but the overall quality and efficiency of the effort would suffer greatly.
Whether you’re building a chair or a support team, many tools are available, from generic to specialized. To determine which tools are right for you, consider what types of programs exist.
Support and help desk software
Help desk software is the platform that customer support teams use to serve their customers.
Its primary purpose is to assist customer support teams in managing tickets, tracking performance, reporting on common support issues, and providing information to agents to serve their customers better.
The helpdesk software provides helpdesk representatives with the following options:
- Customers contact your company via email, phone, text, web, chat, and social media with questions and concerns. Helpdesk software centralizes all questions on a single platform.
- Support tickets are assigned automatically or manually, depending on the nature of the problem. As customer service agents work on submitted tickets, they can collaborate with other departments to resolve customer issues quickly and efficiently. The support software can easily route the request to the correct department if a customer request requires additional technical support.
The benefit of help desk software is that it helps teams work more efficiently. You can answer many more customer questions with fewer resources.
Shared inbox software
A shared mailbox is a group mailbox that uses the email name help@ or info@. Thus, several people with access to a shared mailbox can manage the emails that come into it.
For example, the customer support department will access support@ and be responsible for promptly responding to emails in such an inbox.
Shared mailbox software offers several benefits:
- It collects emails from one or more email accounts into a collaborative email client.
- Provides tools to create workflow tasks based on email responses.
- Allows teams and representatives to communicate with each other via messages and comments.
- Lets customer support agents distribute and separate tasks related to incoming message topics.
Managing a shared mailbox is easy with a small team working on it, but the potential for miscommunication between people and groups increases as your business grows.
The Knowledge Base is an internal database of frequently asked questions and all company and product information helpful to customers and employees.
Previously, the knowledge in the knowledge base came from the customers, customer support teams, and other business units.
Today, however, knowledge bases utilize data and artificial intelligence to keep them up to date. For example, when a customer enters a query into the knowledge base, the software uses AI to help them narrow down response times, reducing the need to contact support.
Organizations use knowledge bases for many reasons. It organizes data for customer support teams and is also considered the preferred communication channel for many customers who don’t like contacting a company to resolve a problem.
Messaging and chat tools
Communication is critical in any business. That’s why so many messaging and chat software are on the market — it helps you serve your customers in real-time.
The excellent messaging and chat tools should help customer support teams:
- Schedule conversations with clients. Customer communications require the entire company’s attention; others refer only to the team. Not every support request requires the whole business to be involved. With a chat app, you can easily connect the right people needed to resolve your support request.
- Search and filter conversations with customers. The chat tool should allow support reps to find existing discussions and quickly access critical data. Thus, filtering this information makes it easier and faster to respond to customers.
- Ensure effective collaboration. The chat tool should allow your support team to collaborate within and across functions seamlessly. Teams must be able to easily share files and data to resolve support requests much faster.
Collaboration is vital to customer support, and more than 70% of customers believe firms should collaborate on their behalf so they don’t have to repeat data to different representatives.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Customer relationship management (CRM) is another kind of customer support software that helps businesses manage relationships with their customers.
Unlike other types of supporting software, CRM is not only focused on efficiency but also increasing profitability.
Like most customer support tools, CRM helps companies manage customer relationships throughout the entire customer lifecycle, not just customer service.
It records all customer interactions so that specialists can identify how best to serve their customers by resolving their support requests and offering them suitable products and services from the company.
CRM software is used by different business departments, from sales, marketing, administration, finance, and customer support teams.
The data stored in CRM provides a good overview of each customer, their concerns, likes and dislikes, conversations with representatives, what they ordered, and possible recommendations that would be useful to them.
Main functions of customer service software
There are many customer service products on the market today. The software differs depending on the purpose and area of use. Despite this, most customer service management programs contain some or all of the following features:
- Call routing: The customer service system uses many criteria to ensure that calls are routed to the right person. At the initial level, calls are routed to the appropriate department based on the customer’s asking. More sophisticated systems with automatic call distributors (ACDs) can route calls based on which agents wait for the longest, receive the fewest calls daily, or have the highest related skill level. Some solutions allow administrators to set their own call routing rules based on individual criteria (service level, account status, etc.).
- Auto attendant: the auto attendant acts as an intermediary between the initial dialing and contact with a live representative. Most auto attendants use interactive voice response (IVR) technology, which lets the computer provide dynamic answers and options based on voice commands or keyboard input. Some auto attendants function simply as attendants, directing calls to remote or internal agents through an IP telephone exchange (PBX); others can answer questions and complete requests (such as checking an account balance or activating a device).
- Reporting/insights: Customer service software helps coaches, managers, and department heads guide their teams and make effective decisions by giving them access to data on call metrics (such as average handled and wait times), problem-solving, and customer satisfaction scores. Most systems also include call recording and archiving, making checking easy.
- Mobile access: Some modern customer service solutions offer mobile apps to allow users to access desk phone features from a mobile device. Mobile and remote customer service agencies can make, receive, and transfer calls, access directories, and even use internal collaboration tools over cellular or Wi-Fi.
- Case management: often referred to as «ticketing», this feature is an essential element of customer service software. It allows agents to monitor and resolve product and service issues across multiple channels such as email, instant messaging, phone, and social media. Some popular customer service programs can automatically generate tickets by transcribing voice messages or parsing information from buyer communications.
Some features above are common to almost every customer support platform; others are less common or implemented quite differently. There is no single ideal customer service software, but there are ways to find the best one for your needs.
Rules to choosing a platform for your company
Choosing good customer service software can seem like a daunting task. The industry is rapidly evolving with so many new providers, each offering more features than the other, that it’s hard to reach a consensus on which is best for your business.
To make your job easier, we have listed a few key factors that small businesses should consider before investing in customer service software.
Calculate your budget and think about how much you may spend. Please note that the most popular customer service software solutions can be expensive. Instead of paying a high price for a core brand or deciding that customer service software is too costly, why not consider alternative options? Many lesser-known clients’ support systems offer free plans and more options than their popular competitors.
Ease of use
Customer service software is designed to make your help desk experience more accessible. Still, if it has a complex interface and is challenging to use, it will undermine all investment. It will help if you choose a flexible solution that is easy to navigate. Specialists must be able to implement the solution and effectively perform all the essential functions of the help desk. Easy-to-use software will help reduce training costs and save time and energy on onboarding.
Find out if your chosen software offers a free, multilingual, 24/7 service. It’s worth looking into the provider’s self-service options, and if you want to go further, try contacting them via live chat or email to see how long it takes to answer your question. Testing their responsiveness firsthand will give you a good idea of their service when you become a paying customer.
Scalability and flexibility
As your business grows, your requirements for customer support software will also change. Good customer support software should scale with companies over the long term. It should help you keep up with the growing needs of your customers.
If the software can’t handle the increase in customer demand or can’t serve your customers the way they want, your business will be impacted, and your reputation will suffer.
The software must also be flexible enough to be successfully used by different teams (for example, sales, marketing, and customer service).
Each customer service solution has features, not all of which your team may need. It will help if you prefer a solution that meets your team’s needs and long-term business goals. For example, suppose you have a lean support team. In that case, you will need a solution that may automate repetitive tasks so that your team may spend less on manual work and more time delivering a memorable client office experience.
Ensure your help desk software includes all the features you need, such as a comprehensive dashboard, built-in ticket system, live chat support, and efficient reporting.
Best customer service tools in 2022
Now when we’ve understood the importance of customer service software and the factors to consider before investing in one, let’s discuss the best customer service software for SMBs. Programs differ in functionality and pricing.
Zendesk customer service software enables businesses to create a great customer experience. Conversations flow seamlessly through channels, resulting in increased productivity and satisfaction for everyone.
The agent workspace in Zendesk Suite gives agents all the tools they need to collaborate with other teams, and deliver fast, personalized responses across any channel — from a single, unified interface.
Zendesk customer service software is fast to deploy, easy to use, and scales to meet the needs of any business.
With the ever-increasing proliferation of social media for communication, customer service software that helps support teams deliver a cohesive social support experience is extremely valuable. With a combination of sales, support, marketing, social media monitoring, and engagement features, Sprout Social helps facilitate communication across all social media channels.
And by bringing together social media teams and support agents, Sprout Social eliminates siled or disjointed communications and workflows.
Hootsuite helps teams interact with clients and plan content across multiple social networks from one secure web dashboard. A wide range of features and an extensive library of integrations make Hootsuite a reliable tool for service operations.
Combined with Zendesk through built-in integration, you can use Hootsuite to create, update, view, and edit social media tickets. Hootsuite and Zendesk eliminate the silos between social services and support groups. The result is a better, smoother customer experience across all channels.
MailChimp allows businesses to create, send, and track email newsletters, registration forms, and event invitations. Teams may personalize emails with targeted customer segments using a customer support system like Zendesk Support.
But even more, MailChimp can be a one-stop marketing platform for small businesses. While you’ll need one of their more expensive plans, you can use MailChimp to create landing pages and ad campaigns, control performance, and automate email.
Apple Business Chat
With Apple Business Chat, clients can get answers to their questions, make appointments, solve problems and make purchases without leaving the messenger.
Businesses need a messaging partner like Sunshine Conversations to ensure consistent and seamless messaging across custom messaging channels like Apple Business Chat.
Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp allow customers to get fast and convenient messaging support on phones Support for messaging on phones around the world. And they support everything you might need to communicate, including GIFs, images, emojis, videos, etc.
When integrated with a CRM through messaging programs like Sunshine Conversations, customers may change a hotel reservation, pay a bill, or find the perfect lipstick color within the Facebook messaging app.
Now you know that choosing customer service software can make or break your company. Choosing the right software and learning how to integrate it into your business strategy can be critical to your organization’s growth and success.
Whether they need to manage a shared mailbox, send messages to each other, or serve customer support requests, each company must determine what support software is suitable for their business.
If you have the right tools, nothing stands in the way of providing the best customer service in your space.