10 Customer Service Tools: A Guided Checklist for the Right Tools
warning: this is not a customer service tool containing links and reviews (self-service). why? because that’s not what you need.
- Most customer service tools have similar features; Knowing the channels your customers and support agents trust is essential.
- Help desk and inbox software should be the centerpiece around which all other workflows orbit, integrate, and revolve.
- The right customer service software should complement your customer experience and support, not complicate it.
- shared inbox to help your team collaborate and resolve requests, no matter which channel they’re submitted through
- self-service support to allow customers to find answers to questions or resolve product issues on their own terms
- ticket organization to assign conversations to specific representatives manually and/or automatically, but (above all) clearly
- automation capabilities to eliminate redundant tasks and make it easier to build better customer relationships
- reporting feature to track customer sentiment and improve overall customer service
- assign responsibilities to specific team members
- add internal notes based on private discussions
- monitor support ticket status and update conversations
- avoid duplicate responses (collisions) in real time
- escalate conversations to non-support departments
- enable automatic replies to automate messages that are sent regularly
- widgets throughout the site for easy access
- google-like search function for visibility on and off site
- related content recommendations page by page, article by article
- data and reports to identify what is working and what needs to be fixed
- immediate access to your support team at the click of a button when the knowledge base is not sufficient
- track and respond to both brand and product mentions
- identify trending topics important to your product, service or industry
- get a better perspective of customer sentiment
- integrate with existing business tools like your help desk software, where you can create support tickets from social mentions and respond directly from the app
- integration with your help desk software
- access to chat transcripts
- recording phone calls and additional notes
- analysis of use, performance and improvement
- customizable forum to maintain branding
- profile customizations to allow users to adapt similarly
- segmentation and searchability to help customers find threads
- integration with email so you and your customers can send messages and receive notifications when others have commented
- some level of analytics to report on conversation sentiment, topics, and even customer demographics and transactional data
- protection to block spam or abusive users
- bugs to be resolved
- new features to be prioritized and built
- knowledge base articles to be written
- explanatory videos to record
- onboarding emails that need improvement
- and much, much more
- indicators of progress
- drag and drop functionality
- easy organization with labels, tags and categories
- integration with other communication channels
- upload large files and attachments
- activity streams and @mention functionality
- applications and integration capabilities with your current tools
- flexible organization across teams, projects, locations, customers, or products
- search history based on default naming conventions
- ability to share and upload files, attachments and link previews
- external partners or stakeholders with shared channels or guest accounts
- security to protect conversations or data shared on the platform
- mobile app for sales and support teams on the go
- csat (customer satisfaction)
- nps (net promoter score)
- ces (customer effort score)
- template design or pre-made templates you can use
- embed surveys in emails, web pages, live chat, etc.
- unlimited questions and answers
- export and filter custom data for reports
- panels inside platforms
- prebuilt metrics to cover the basics of customer service
- custom metrics through integrations (apis) unique to your company
- time and volume tracking for calls, email and other support channels
- direct integration with the rest of your suite of tools
customer support tools work in two directions, simultaneously.
Reading: Review how to improve customer care tool list
First, inside out: let your service team do what they do best. but they also work from the outside in: providing the capabilities to capture, analyze and resolve requests through external conversations.
Unfortunately, tool options abound. Far from helpful, the proliferation of apps, platforms, and software makes judging which ones are right for you feel paralyzing.
worse yet, with each addition to your tech stack, the complexity intensifies.
That’s why we’ve put together a tool-by-tool checklist of ten types of customer service tools. Instead of one unwieldy “list,” we’ll explore how each type works from inside outside and the outside inside.
1. help desk software and ‘ticket’ system
Your help desk software should be the central hub for all your customer support. while the term “ticketing system” is frequently used to think about,and talk, service requests as conversations keep them much more human
Today, customers post questions, concerns, and complaints through multiple support channels: phone calls, text messages, websites, Facebook messaging, email, and social media (to name just a few). even small businesses need a way to track them and prevent them from escaping.
externally: Customers who have purchased products or services can use your help desk software to submit questions or concerns where it’s convenient for them. whether from your office, home, on the go, or even from multiple accounts and devices.
internally: Your team members have a place to communicate with these customers and each other effectively. the tool helps you categorize the request, delegate it to the right person, and track the conversation history.
Many help desk software tools share similarities, but each will have its own unique benefits. When evaluating your options, consider whether they have the following characteristics:
2. All-in-one inbox for multi-channel support
an all-in-one inbox solution unifies your conversations across multiple channels, multiple input options, and multiple departments, in one central place.
inherently, a shared inbox spreads the insanity of “who responded to whom” or “who did what” feedback loops.
The goal is twofold. Number one, eliminate the craziness that drives everyone crazy: teams and customers alike. and, number two, reduce (rather than inflate) sensitive situations.
here’s the trick… from the outside, your inbox should be invisible to customers.
instead, they should be able to open a support ticket, start a conversation, how, where and when they want. either via email, live chat, social media, over the phone, or on your website.
From the inside, some of the specific features to look for focus on integration and automation capabilities:
There’s no more excuse for missing emails, customer messages, or website inquiries.
3. self-service knowledge base for FAQs and onboarding
A self-service knowledge base is an online library curated by you and your team to provide answers and useful information. customers want to solve their own problems first, as long as that process empowers them.
when a customer has a question or problem, where is the first place they go?
according to multiple customer service statistics, they resort to self-service:
Your knowledge base delivers on this promise in the form of articles, how-to guides, how-to videos, or illustrations. Just like your customer support team, your knowledge base also serves on the front lines. probably even more.
Only if the customer still has questions or can’t solve the problem themselves, it should be easy for them to ask for help directly.
building a knowledge base is relatively easy when you have the right software. Features to consider when choosing your knowledge base software include:
A world-class knowledge base packed with these features will be your customer support team’s best ally.
4. listening, monitoring and responding on social media
Social media monitoring allows you to listen and track what people are saying about your brand, allowing you to respond natively and collect useful feedback. strong>
When a customer chooses to communicate via social media, they have chosen it as their channel of choice and for convenience. like any social interaction, they also expect an almost instant response.
Unless you can have a social media team working around the clock, it’s impossible and expensive to keep up.
See also: 25 surefire ways to improve customer satisfaction
plus, the benefits of the right tool aren’t just about speed.
Social media monitoring can be used to identify trends, track competitor activity, understand customer sentiment, and measure the impact of your social media marketing.
make sure the platform you select allows you to:
It’s inevitable that customers will reach out to you via social media for support. it is up to you to decide how you listen and how you respond.
However, there will be times when an issue involves sensitive customer information or is too long for a quick instagram or facebook direct message. that’s where the following tools come in.
5. phone calls, chat and video in real time
real-time communication tools help your customer support team provide immediate service and information to a customer in a live environment.
Let’s be real. sometimes it’s easier to join a call or screen share with a customer to discuss an issue or walk them through a process.
doing so saves time. And if it’s a frustrating or tense conversation, having a live conversation (instead of resolving it over email) can defuse it.
but there is another benefit of having these tools…
allow you to conduct webinars, conduct remote training, and build a stronger customer support team when separated by zip codes.
so what are some phone, video and chat features to consider when choosing?
one last thing, which isn’t so much a feature, is to do your research and check out verified reviews of the software. make sure it’s trustworthy and hasn’t had too many issues with bugs and “resting” conversations.
6. community forums
online community software helps you provide a digital place for your customers to connect, ask questions, and share their experience and knowledge about your product or service.
Too often, we get so obsessed with how we communicate with our customers that we don’t consider facilitating conversations between them.
Forums give customers the opportunity to share their knowledge about your product or service, whether it’s a review, tip, trick, or even just a simple compliment. for others, it gives them more ways to access information and advice from other people who use your product or service.
a forum can become a gold mine for a customer service team. suddenly you have access to new information and insights into the minds of your customers. You can use this to develop more FAQ-style content, provide feedback to your team, and streamline your workflows.
You can choose to be a part of the conversations and moderate or just sit on the sidelines watching and observing.
Most online forums are easy to set up. register an account, create threads, and post in response to other users’ messages. (You’ll also want to make sure you can have admins and moderators to check for offensive content.)
in addition, other features you might consider include:
Please note that the forums are not “build it and they will come” platforms.
These are engagement-oriented online communities, which means you’ll need to consider your engagement strategy before you begin.
7. shared project management
Project management software allows you and your team members to create, collaborate, and track projects. but they must also be accessible (in part) to your customers.
Customer service isn’t just about answering support tickets. the best ideas often come from daily conversations with your customers, and you need a place to record and develop these ideas.
A project management tool will help keep these projects on track. think of it as a to-do list shared with your team.
Hinging isn’t just choosing an internal tool. is to select one that you can integrate with your service software and share with customers.
at groove, and within the customer service platform itself, we do this through an integration with trello. this allows you to attach conversations to existing trello cards or create new cards directly from conversations:
when you’re evaluating, here are the features to look out for:
For optimal efficiency, the project management tool you choose should be so well integrated into your team’s daily work life that it becomes second nature.
8. internal communication tool
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beyond email which can be too slow and formal for daily team chat, an internal communication tool is often cloud-based software for collaborating through channels or private conversations. strong>
for your team (internally), the tool has the main purpose of maintaining a good workplace culture, facilitating daily conversations with colleagues and giving the team a sense of belonging.
from a support perspective (externally), you become a vital link between your team and your customers.
is a space to share customer feedback and ideas, as well as company-wide updates on product features or fixes, keeping everyone who responds to support tickets up to date.
Some of the key features to consider when evaluating the right internal communication tool include:
If you’re still using email (or hangouts) as your primary form of team communication, it’s definitely time to think of something new. ours is lazy and a game changer.
9. customer experience and satisfaction surveys
Customer experience and satisfaction surveys uncover subtle and obvious clues (quantitative and qualitative data) about your overall performance.
With increased competition in nearly every industry, your business isn’t what it is without your customers. and technology has accelerated the speed with which word of mouth spreads.
while you may not like everything you hear, that’s exactly the point. and the main benefit! surveys are an excellent tool to obtain specific information on how a certain product, service or process can be improved.
In fact, we’re so convinced of their value that we’re delving deeper into Customer Satisfaction Surveys: Questions, Examples, and Reports to Guide Customer-Centric Companies.
can be short and simple with quantitative surveys like:
or you can use software to create a more substantive survey with open-ended or multiple-choice questions.
Customers who have something to say will find a way to do it. Usually this scenario develops when they are not happy and decide to share their experience via social media.
Incorporating customer experience surveys into your regular ticket flows provides an outlet for customers to vent and feel heard. on the other hand, it’s also a great way to identify those who are extremely happy and could be advocates.
Things to look for in a survey tool include:
generally, most paid plans will offer an upgrade to these features (and more), but the free versions may be all you need to get started.
10. customer service reports
Reporting tools help you measure, analyze, and track a variety of customer support services. they must also bring their metrics into a single, interactive dashboard that you can use to make real decisions and track bottom-line performance.
it’s easy to get overwhelmed with data. the key is knowing what to track and what to do with it. a customer service reporting tool should optimize this for you.
First, you have external information: received requests, open support tickets, time of day, frequent channels, and (of course) satisfaction.
so, you have internal information like response times, resolution times, average responses per resolution, and team member performance.
all this presented in a single interactive dashboard.
The overall goal is to take both sets of data and identify trends or insights to help your team operate more efficiently.
Your customer service reports are unique to your company, so it’s important to find the software that will allow you to get the most important data.
here are some of the short list requirements:
the number one customer support software is not a “tool”
in the end, no tool is a magic bullet for amazing customer service, but they do matter.
Sometimes it’s hard to decide on just a list of features, so take advantage of some free trial offers and see which tools best fit your budget, the size of your business, and how it will work with the existing tools you already use and love.
just remember… the best service solution is not a tool. their people. and the tool should serve them.
note: 10,000+ users love groove for its intuitive design and ability to scale for growing businesses. We think you will love it too! start your free trial today. (no credit card required)