If you’re actively marketing your business, you need an equally active customer support program. after all, you can’t build your business without satisfied customers.
In this post, we’ll explore how customer support software tools can help automate, organize, and simplify your customer support efforts.
If you want to know specifically how to use social media channels to provide customer support, check out our post on customer support on social media. Here, we’ll look at the tools you can use to help your customers both online and offline.
what is customer service software?
Customer service software is any software tool that helps a business manage, track, or optimize its customer service efforts. that could mean anything from a simple chatbot to a complex customer relationship management solution that integrates with sales and whatnot.
obviously, a small business doesn’t need the same software tools as a multinational corporation.
but they have something in common. The most important function of all software-based customer service tools is to improve the service experience for both customers and customer service agents. (Or for a small business owner if it’s a one-person show.)
why use customer service software?
As we explained in our post on customer service metrics, there is a lot of important data to track in any customer service program. as your business grows, it simply becomes impossible to manage and track your service efforts without software.
Without software, client requests can be missed or take too long to respond to. and you have no way of tracking your response times or customer feedback to see how you’re doing and look for ways to improve.
As your business grows, customer service becomes increasingly complex. for example, you may need a ticketing system to manage support requests for multiple agents and departments.
but even when you’re small, you could use some help from customer support tools. they make work easier, allow you to automate simple and repetitive tasks and free up your time for more complex cases or to work in other areas of your business.
Simply put, you should use customer service software because it helps you provide better customer service. and customer service is a real concern for consumers, especially when shopping online. 60% of internet users said they are concerned about poor customer service online.
on the other hand, 94% of us. uu. consumers 18 and older said they are more likely to buy more from a company with great customer service. compare that to 72% of a company with “good” customer service and only 20% of a company with very poor customer service.
types of customer service software
Now that you understand why you might want to use customer support tools in your business, let’s look at some of the different types of customer support software options.
customer relationship management (crm) software
Customer service is all about relationships. A customer relationship management (CRM) tool allows you to keep track of all the interactions your business has with a customer, so you can learn about them as your relationship grows.
In addition to basic contact details, a crm tool will track purchase history, product preferences, and all contacts the customer has with your team members, in any department.
an effective crm tool improves customer service by giving support agents all the information they need to serve the customer in the most efficient and effective way.
for example, they will be able to see:
- what products and versions does the customer have
- how often do they buy or upgrade
- whether they have had previous interactions with other agents or members of the sales team
- blue shopping bag
- speed of light
- 780+ shipping providers
- commercial messages from google
- web and mobile chats
Instead of having to start from scratch to understand the customer’s issue or question, the agent can jump right into resolving the issue or providing a detailed, personalized response. the agent’s job is easier and the client leaves satisfied.
messaging and live chat software
Being able to chat with a human agent in real time is one of the most valuable customer service offerings for consumers. in fact, it was the highest-valued customer service feature in insider intelligence canada’s mobile banking emerging features benchmarking report.
Half of small and medium-sized businesses reported an increase in the use of online messaging platforms to build customer relationships in 2020. The majority of those businesses said it was the preferred communication channel for customers.
live chat and messaging can take place via your existing social media platforms. or you can use software tools to enable live chat within your own website or application.
social media inbox software
A social media inbox lets you see customer interactions across different social platforms in one place. someone could ask a public question and follow up with a private message. a social inbox will connect them so you can see the entire conversation.
and if someone sends you a message on more than one platform, you’ll be able to see both messages to ensure a consistent response.
A social media inbox also allows larger teams to spread the workload. you can assign messages to specific team members throughout the company. Even better, it allows you to create a database of saved answers to common questions. this can increase response time or provide the basis for a custom response.
customer service ticket management software
Customer support ticketing software allows you to create a unique case, or ticket, for each customer support request. this allows the client to track the progress of their case. it also ensures that the right people can address the issue at hand.
Customer support administrators can track the progress of a ticket. teams can close a ticket when the issue is resolved. this way the team always knows how many support requests they have to address. they can then provide customers with an estimated time to resolution.
Like a social media inbox, call center software collects all communications in one place. each ticket shows the context to resolve the customer request quickly and effectively.
customer support software for small businesses
Small businesses need the same kinds of tools as larger businesses, just at a reduced level. Most of the best customer service software tools offer cheap plans for smaller businesses. some even offer basic features for free.
When pricing customer support software tools for your small business, look for plans labeled “professional” (rather than “enterprise”). these generally have enough features for a growing small business.
8 Best Customer Service Tools
Here are our top picks for customer support software.
sparkcentral is a digital customer support tool that allows you to manage all your customer support channels from one platform. You will have access to SMS communications, social networks, WhatsApp, live chat and applications, all in a single inbox.
includes virtual agent functionality, also known as AI-powered chatbots, to give customers the fastest response. these chatbots are designed to collaborate with live agents. clients always get the level of detail and personalized support they need.
sparkcentral provides a dashboard to access chatbot data, your existing crm, and live agents, all in one place. Robust survey and reporting capabilities help you understand how well your customer service efforts are addressing customer needs. this means you can constantly work to improve customer satisfaction.
hootsuite is an effective customer service monitoring software platform. combines the benefits of a social media inbox with a social media scheduler, content library, and in-depth analytics.
Within the inbox, you can assign support requests to specific team members and track their progress. hootsuite analytics provides detailed reports on response times and other important team metrics. you can see what works and improve what doesn’t.
Using hootsuite streams and boards, you can also set up a social listening schedule. this means you can find public social posts that require a response from customer service, even if you’re not tagged.
heyday is an artificial intelligence chatbot for retailers. helps businesses turn customer service conversations into sales while creating the best customer experience possible.
heyday automates up to 80% of messages related to simple inquiries (about shipping, our business, order updates, etc.), leaving your team more time to get the most complex tickets the attention they need. deserve.
heyday integrates with eCommerce, shipping, and marketing tools, including:
with heyday, you can connect conversational artificial intelligence to all of your customers’ favorite communication channels:
… and handle all these interactions from one platform.
As a tool designed specifically for social commerce, heyday is much more than just a customer support solution – it can help you increase sales too. With Heyday, you can automate product discovery, sharing personalized recommendations with customers interested in a specific product category or a product that’s out of stock.
zendesk is an online help desk platform, crm and customer support ticket management software. gives customer service agents all the tools they need to respond to customer requests from multiple channels.
zendesk also enables your team to contribute to an ever-growing knowledge base. this provides self-service customer service, allowing customers to find their own solutions 24/7.
clickdesk is a live chat application that allows your customer support team to offer support via text, voice and video. agents can see what the customer is typing before they hit send, which improves response time.
Multi-language custom pop-up boxes encourage customers to communicate. meanwhile, a built-in help desk helps keep everything organized.
freshdesk is customer service management software that enables your team to offer service and support through multiple social channels and over the phone.
You can also coordinate in-person service calls with simple appointment scheduling and real-time updates.
source: cool desktop
hubspot is a crm platform with an integrated ticketing system and live chat features. includes tracking and reporting on metrics such as response time and ticket volume.
Automatic ticket routing helps ensure the right person is assigned to each customer service request. chatbots answer the most common questions.
salesforce is a crm specifically designed to enable cross-team work within companies to better serve the customer.
That means team members from sales, marketing, support, and any other relevant departments have access to the same customer information and can help them get the support they need.
source: sales force
best practices for choosing and configuring customer service software
Now that you understand the options, how do you choose the right customer support software for your business?
1. understand your needs (and the needs of your team)
this is critical to any choice you make for your business. As we mentioned earlier, a small business does not have the same requirements as a large business. but think about more than size when choosing your software.
For example, do you do most of your marketing online? throught social media? through your website? Are your customers likely to have technical requests that require the involvement of another department? Do you speak to customers on the phone or only through digital channels? Do you usually receive the same questions, or the same type of questions very frequently?
Think about which customer service tasks currently take up the most time or cause you the biggest management headaches. then think about what kind of tools could make your life easier.
2. understand the needs of your customers
think of customer service as an extension of your marketing efforts. after all, it’s much easier to retain and resell an existing customer than it is to bring in a new one.
So you need to understand how your customers want to talk to you. If they want to chat with you on social media but you only offer support via live chat on your website, you may be missing out on early-stage troubleshooting opportunities.
detailed audience research will help on this front.
3. think about your future growth
The customer service software tools you choose will become the foundation of your business workflows. You don’t want to have to change everything later because you chose a customer service solution that will soon outgrow you.
(If you currently manage customer support through google docs and spreadsheets, you’ll likely experience this issue.)
As you evaluate tools, look for room to grow. Can you add additional users as your team grows? can you upgrade to a higher tier solution from the same vendor if things really take off? Does the customer support software integrate with other tools that I might need to add later, in addition to the ones you already use?
4. consider reporting capabilities
one of the key benefits of social networking software is that it allows you to collect valuable data. you can use that data to develop a solid understanding of your customers, your team, and even your own products and services.
Your customer service software solutions should also allow you to collect information about team performance, so you can set a baseline response time and satisfaction level.
This allows you to spot customer service superstars and find ways to share your experience. You can also spot team members who may need additional training or support.
so instead of just thinking about the tasks that customer service software will enable you to perform, think about the data that it will enable you to acquire.
5. find free trials
many customer service software tools offer free trials for a limited time or with a limited set of features. these allow you to see the interface of the product and get an idea of how intuitive it is to use and how well it will suit your needs.
for larger companies, contact the software sales team to talk to them about your specific needs so they can explain how their tools are a good fit.
6. check the support documentation
Please consult the online help documents for the solution you are considering before committing. Is the help documentation complete and easy to understand? Does it seem to address common use cases and clearly walk you through the configuration options?
7. review your needs regularly
Customer service needs change over time. communicate regularly with your customer service team to ensure your software tools keep up with your evolving requirements.
Use customer satisfaction surveys to make sure customers are happy with your tools, too.
Save time by building an efficient customer support system with hootsuite sparkcentral. Quickly respond to questions and complaints through a variety of channels, create tickets, and work with chatbots, all from a single dashboard. try it free today.
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