In sales, we’re witnessing astonishingly interesting times. Consumers have become prosumers who don’t only buy the products but who have become well-informed advocates of the brands. Although their voices and opinions about brands, products, and services have always been important, social media changed everything. Customers expect stellar customer service, and they expect it now. No wonder customer support has become a branch of marketing and companies compete in providing it. They’re aware that failing to address the new customers’ needs will lead to significant loses, estimated to be more than $75 billion per year.
At the same time, globalization and the ubiquity of the internet made services accessible from almost anywhere anytime. It has a tremendous impact on customer service that simply has to be where its customers are, as they expect their issue to be solved using a channel that is most convenient for them at the moment - an email, a phone call, instant messenger, just to name a few. What is more, the first touch point on the customer support journey, often determines how the customer will judge the brand. That’s why you need to make sure that first of all, you’re available at least in the most common channels and that customer experience is spotless in each one of them.
Fortunately, you’re not alone with this challenge and numerous companies have developed tools that make everyone happy. Customers - by allowing getting excellent customer support whenever and wherever they are. Customer support agents - by making their work easier, more efficient, without performing time-consuming and repetitive tasks over and over again. We’ve gathered the most popular tools to help you make an informed choice.
Customer Support Software - 13 tools to have happier customers
Customer Support Software is essential to connect the dots that modern consumers leave. Sometimes a client encounters an issue and finds it the easiest to call your customer service. However, later on, he or she provides additional features via email, social media or an instant messenger. In such a case, you must be able to bring all the information together. Luckily, tools can come to the rescue and do it for you. In short, they make it possible to stay on track with customers’ requests, communicate with them, and to deal with additional tasks related to customer service, such as onboarding or answering frequently asked questions.
It’s hard to imagine modern customer service without a live chat. Especially for younger generations, the chat is the most straightforward way to communicate with companies one-by-one. Live chats are usually small pop-up windows on the bottom right on the websites that facilitate initiating conversations, interacting with new and returning customers and supporting everyone who needs it in real-time.
Lemtalk is the perfect solution for those who need a live chat to communicate with clients and is an avid Slack user at the same time. It allows for running the entire customer support processes by receiving tickets from live chat, email, Facebook, Twitter or text messages directly on Slack. Automatic live chat messages can be triggered by specified users’ behavior or context, which leads to 3 times more leads, happier customers and happier team members who can work with the tool they are familiar with and enjoy.
CRM, which stands for Customer Relationship Management, is a platform that helps businesses organize, access and share customer data. In the past, managing relationships with customers used to be done manually, using handwritten notes, but now, in the advent of digital technology, there are more efficient ways to do it. What is more, CRM can be a link between many departments - sales, marketing, customer service and others. According to Salesforce’s study, companies that use CRM get a 37% increase in sales revenue, 44% more leads, a 45% increase in customer retention a 52% faster integration of business apps. In fact, CRM is is the most common customer support software used by millions of companies around the world, and there are many tools to choose from. That’s why we present several of them to show you different options.
Salesforce is a massively popular platform, used by over 150000 companies, both big and small. Its CRM helps sales teams to close deals, deliver quotes and proposals, and improve productivity. It is equipped with AI-powered tools that help to predict the next deals and provide intelligent automation. Apart from CRM, Salesforce has a significant portfolio of service, marketing, commerce and engagement platforms.
However, smaller businesses with smaller needs don’t need to use (and pay for) a huge platform. To meet their needs, Salesforce introduced Lightning Essentials, which is a package that brings together a CRM and customer service tool in one platform, including contact management, email integration and automated follow-up reminders.
Hubspot is another highly popular tool and the fact there is a free version for small businesses may be one of the reasons behind its vast usage. It has a similar structure to Salesforce and allows for tracking the company’s activities, deals, contacts in the advanced dashboard. Hubspot integrates well with various other tools, including help desks and call center software.
Another sales CRM that aims to facilitate sales teamwork. What differentiates Pipedrive from its competitors is the fact that it has been built around sales pipeline management methodology. Its interface is clear, customizable, and mobile-friendly.
Call Center Software
The goal of efficient call center software is to take the chaos out of the phone support processes. People call companies for various reasons and making a phone call is still the primary communication channel in customer support. Sales teams often use call center software for cold calling, whereas customer support teams need it to resolve even the most complex issues. Although having a call center is associated with big companies, the rise of cloud-based solutions made it accessible to smaller businesses that may not need to handle thousands of calls per day but can’t afford inefficient customer support processes.
CloudTalks is such a cloud-based call center software. For the inbound call center, it offers advanced features, including a multi-level Interactive Voice Response (IVR) menu that guides the callers through different options and connects them to the right departments that can handle their issues quickly and effectively. Smart call queuing is another useful feature - it sorts calls based on pre-defined rules to make sure that callers will reach the agents that will most likely solve their issues.
What is more, CloudTalk can be easily integrated with CRM, helpdesks and other platforms, making it a comprehensive customer support software.
Helpdesk is an essential tool in the majority of customer support teams. It can automatically assign, categorize and prioritize tickets, maintain queries, provide context such as transactional and other relevant information and automate the most routine tasks.
Helpscout is popular software that helps agents to handle emails and communicate with customers. It’s a useful tool for sales teams that work together. The entire team has access to all the data and each team member can preview if an issue has been already handled with another agent. Besides, there is a knowledge base software that helps to create clear and beautiful tutorials and other documents.
SupportBee is a helpdesk solution that is suitable for large teams (fees are not calculated per agent), but it doesn’t mean it’s a heavy platform. In fact, its interface resembles Gmail, which is not a coincidence. SupportBee is focused on email support that brings together emails from different addresses and contact forms to make sure no message remains unanswered.
Shared Contacts for Gmail
Shared Contacts for Gmail is another simple but useful tool for customer service teams that are focused on email support. It may sound like a limitation comparing to all-in-one helpdesk tools, but not every business needs an omnichannel approach to customer service. On the contrary, email is a widespread way to solve an issue. The name of this tool is self-explanatory - it allows for sharing G Suite contacts with other team members, just like sharing spreadsheets, calendars and other files.
Some tools aim to give sales, marketing and customer service teams a complete 360° view of their contacts and offer various products under one umbrella. The advantage of such a solution is pretty obvious - instead of buying several tools and integrating or switching between them, you have only one. On the other hand, it’s hard to find a toolset that answers the needs of every team. Some are focused on solving issues via phone calls, email exchange, live chat, social media or other channels. Nevertheless, those who offer their clients omnichannel customer support should take all-in-one tools under consideration.
LiveAgent is an example of an all-in-one, omnichannel platform. It doesn't matter where your customers are and how they prefer to reach you - you can merge all customer requests to a single inbox. As a matter of fact, it offers the right portion of help desk software features including a powerful ticketing system with automation, SLA, live chat, social networks and messaging, call centre, IVR, contacts forms and a support centre on top of that.
Explainer videos and onboarding
Onboarding and tutorials are an essential part of customer support. Agents shouldn’t spend their time explaining basic functionalities or answering simple yet frequently asked questions over and over again. It’s much more efficient to prepare the answers and explanations in an accessible and user-friendly way. Video is probably the best and the most intuitive way to do user-friendly tutorials, as the average Internet user spends 88% more time on a website when there is a video and 72% of customers claim that would rather watch a video to learn about a product or service instead of reading a text.
Wistia is an interesting example of video software. It allows for creating captivating TV-quality video content and connecting it to a CRM, email marketing or other tools in order to track leads and get a 360° view of subscribers.
Crew Studio is a platform that helps to create authentic user-generated content using a smartphone without having video editing skills. In customer support, it can be used to make tutorials and record answers to the frequently asked questions.
Communication and collaboration software is usually associated with teamwork, not with customer support. However, if your target audience consists of heavy users of a specific tool, why not making their life easier and let them contact customer service there?
Slack is a massively popular communication tool with an estimated value of over $8 billion in 2019 that makes it easy to run conversations in groups and in private and to share files. Its simplicity made it the most popular online communication tool for teams. No wonder that many people are used to switching between numerous Slack workplaces. If your clients would like to contact you through this tool, you can give them access to the dedicated channels and private messages.
How to choose the right Customer Support Software?
As you can see, some salespeople’s needs are so common that there are lots of tools on the market that addresses them. However, even if the list of features is similar, many other factors differentiate the tools. You should considerer at least these aspects:
- Cost. Compare pricings carefully. Some companies may provide similar products, but their target audiences are different. Therefore if you’re, for example, a small startup, you should pick the solution that has affordable pricing plans for SMEs. Some tools are free of charge or have a freemium model, but you should expect at least some limitations.
- User Experience. It would help if you had a tool that is intuitive, user-friendly, clearly designed. The last thing you need is to lose clients because of poorly designed third-party service.
- Effectiveness. The goal of introducing a tool is to reduce time and hassle. Pick the one that is easy to use and provides 27/7 support in case something goes wrong.
Meeting the growing demands of customers and making them happy may be a tough nut to crack. Still, fortunately, technology comes to the rescue. We are sure that investing in the right software will improve the effectiveness of the customer service teams, increase the number of leads and turn new clients into returning ones.