Customer Service Software: Top 5 Support Products You Need to Know About

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Loyal customers are like the Holy Grail for any business. They’re less likely to buy from your competitors and more likely to share their positive experiences, resulting in more business at lower cost. But what helps you create loyal customers? You need to start with the right tools. The right customer service software, which is often part of a CRM software suite, helps you nail customer loyalty.

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Best Customer Service Software

 

According to research published by Statista, the global CRM software market is projected to grow to $40.26 billion USD by 2023, an increase of more than $5 billion USD from 2018. The growth of CRM indicates the importance companies place on creating valuable relationships with customers. Offering first-class customer service plays a central role, and that requires robust customer service management software.

This article provides a detailed overview of the top five customer support software platforms so that you can make an informed decision about which product to implement at your company.

What is CRM & What Role Does Customer Service Software Play?

Simply put, CRM software is a platform that helps manage the interactions between an organization and its potential and existing customers.

Within an enterprise, a CRM solution helps sales reps automate their activities, gives marketers the tools to run campaigns and enables managers to track team performance. A CRM system lets you know when to reach out to sales leads, what marketing messages to use and which channels to target prospects on. The basic functionalities of CRM products include marketing and sales tools, a database, and dashboards for tracking metrics.

Customer service features are another key component of CRM software. These capabilities can be integrated into the CRM suite or offered as a standalone customer service solution. Customer support software enhances the process of managing customer relationships. With the right customer service CRM in place, you can expect the following benefits for your business:

Omnichannel Support

You can ensure a seamless customer experience across different channels like phone, email, chat, SMS and social media platforms. More importantly, when you engage with customers, it’s always within the proper context.

Automated Responses

It’s impossible to address every customer issue instantly. Customers may know this, but they still expect an acknowledgment of some sort. Customer support solutions offer automated response capabilities via chatbot, allowing the system to handle every single request. The responses can help answer questions by directing visitors to appropriate places depending on their query, such as an FAQ page or your knowledge base.

Improved Customer Retention Rate

According to a report published by PwC, 80% of Americans consider speed, friendly service, convenience and knowledgeable help as the most important elements of positive customer experience, while 63% would share more personal information with companies that offer great experience. As you can see, ensuring a positive experience is crucial to boost retention rates.

Data-rich customer profiles help you get to know your customers better — who they are, what age group they belong to, what they like or dislike about your service and how they respond to your marketing campaigns.

Based on these insights, you can build retention strategies like targeting customers with special offers, rewarding VIP customers, personalizing follow-ups and keeping follow-up promises. The end goal is to nurture the relationship with your customers so that they trust your brand.

Enhanced Customer Experience

Elements like automated workflows, metrics that measure customer satisfaction scores (CSAT) and dashboards with real-time views enable you to provide better customer service.

For example, customer service management software helps you prioritize customer requests according to criteria you’ve configured. You can set an alert so that if an email is not answered within a given time, it’ll automatically jump the queue and get routed to the next available agent.

All these tools allow you to provide timely, accurate service, which makes for a better customer experience. Esteban Kolsky, the CEO of thinkJar, a customer strategy consulting and think tank organization, shares some stats on the importance of customer experience:

  • 72% of customers who have a positive experience will share it with six or more people.
  • 13% of unhappy customers will share their experience with 15 or more.
  • Only about 4% of unhappy customers will voice their complaint.

When you weigh all these factors, it’s obvious that investing in software that aids customer experience is in your best interest.

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Most Common Features

Live Chat

Both existing and potential customers can receive live chat support, enjoying instant help for any kind of issue. This feature ensures relevant queries are redirected to agents with the appropriate knowledge. Some live chat tools can have automated chatbots built in, encouraging customers to solve their problems by checking a knowledge base or FAQ page.

Customer Portal

One of the hallmarks of a customer service solution is a customer portal where customers can monitor and update their account, as well as track orders, view invoices, update billing information and more.

With a customer portal in place, common service processes like ticket creation, routing and payment reminders are automated, allowing agents to focus on more important areas.

Sentiment Analysis

This AI-powered feature is one of the most important attributes of customer support software, as it lets you analyze the sentiment behind every conversation. This helps you interpret large blocks of ticket text to understand the tone so that you can correctly assign every ticket.

Reports and Dashboards

It’s important to know whether the service department is performing as expected. Reports and dashboards that are automatically updated in real time make this task a lot easier.

You can check case count and status, see which channel cases were submitted on, view the most popular case topics, track average resolution time and more.  You can also use these metrics to measure overall team performance and identify underperforming agents. Insights like these help optimize your strategy and processes.

Customer Service Software Features

Best Customer Service Software

Salesforce Service Cloud

Service Cloud by Salesforce is a cloud-based solution that helps deliver customer service across digital channels. It offers self-service capabilities through communities and portals and streamlines the process of handling customer requests.

Additional capabilities include an employee service portal, a knowledge module, call center management, agent collaboration tools, contact management, reporting, case management and automated workflows.

Salesforce Service Cloud Omnichannel Reporting

Omnichannel reporting in Salesforce Service Cloud

Benefits and Strengths

  • AI-Powered Customer Service and Case Management: Salesforce’s AI tool Einstein helps enrich content based on customer interest, profiles and activities. It delivers the right content to the right customers by highlighting relevant articles and answers. It also recommends routing cases to agents who are best qualified to resolve the issue.
  • AI-Powered Service Analytics: Einstein helps uncover insights about data patterns, provides answers to critical business questions and predicts trends as well as potential risks. This visibility enables you to identify customer issues and product issues.
  • Chronological Timeline: The platform lets you track every customer interaction in a chronological timeline across channels. It logs email updates, voicemails, knowledge articles and other details about a case as they appear in the newsfeed.
  • Field Service Lightning: The system supports field service activities via work order management features, SLA compliance tracking and viewable help articles. It offers real-time visibility into KPIs and operational performance. The mobile app ensures real-time collaboration even with a spotty connection.
  • Image Recognition: Einstein Vision ensures proper fixation or replacement of product parts by identifying assets in images. Based on the classification of an image, technicians are able to automatically see which steps are required for set up.

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Top Features

  • Lightning Console: Service Cloud helps unify purchasing histories, case histories, customer profiles and account information with this feature. A responsive dashboard enables users to anticipate customer needs, deliver solutions and answer questions.
  • Omni-Channel Presence and Routing: This feature helps distribute work based on skill set, handling capacity and availability of the employees. As the work gets assigned in real time, a pop-up screen offers in-context view of the customer across all channels. Employees can also update the status in real time so that the high-priority works receive immediate attention.
  • Social Customer Service: The platform ensures customer care requests are handled promptly and offers a 360-degree view of customers. Users can route cases using language detection, classifiers and keywords so that agents can switch between channels and communities.
  • Live Agent: Customers and prospects can enjoy multilingual chat support in real time, with relevant ones being redirected to SMEs. The feature also helps coach agents, balance workloads and maximize productivity.
  • Operational Analytics: Users can monitor the pattern on acceptance, rejection of work and time spent by employees on statuses. It offers reports on service level agreement adherence and average handling time and wait time.

Product Limitations

Some of the limitations of Service Cloud are:

  • Adding a comment to a case does not support inline pictures.
  • Accounts can’t be shared with other employees.
  • The software can’t merge existing cases with new cases.
  • The solution doesn’t solve the issue of duplicate records.

Pricing Information

Salesforce Service Cloud is offered in four editions, priced annually, per user and per month. The editions range in price from $25 to $300.

Price: $$$$$
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Company Size Suitability: S M L

Zendesk Support Suite

Designed for enterprises, start-ups and small businesses, Zendesk Support Suite is a cloud solution that offers a complete customer service experience. It helps users customize the support environment without coding and track interactions across different channels.

It consists of CRM platform, contextual workspace and help-desk management, with the option to extend functionality via integrations with third-party apps and Google Analytics. Leveraging machine learning capabilities, it ensures efficient work and provides recommendations on help articles.

Zendesk_Reports and Analytics

Reports and analytics in Zendesk

Benefits and Strengths

  • Interactive Support: Through interactive voice response (IVR) technology, Zendesk Talk lets you create an automated menu with options that redirect to voicemail, agent groups and external numbers based on the keypresses callers choose. IVR enables recorded responses for FAQs. Phone support offers personalized responses for complex issues, while text support automatically converts customer texts into tickets with reporting, full customer history and built-in workflows. You can create triggers or respond with text messages for automated notifications and alerts.
  • AI-Powered Bots: Zendesk facilitates task automation by integrating with AI-powered bots, which lets you share relevant help center articles automatically via email to solve customer requests.
  • Collaboration Add-On: This feature helps agents collaborate with other people through email or Slack, even if they’re not on the support team. It supports internal comments on tickets so agents can call on experts for answers, all while retaining full context.
  • Chat Support: This feature, available on Zendesk’s mobile apps, offers templates for responses to common requests and specifies granular permissions for agents, controlling their access. Users can send behavior-based and targeted messages to customers. You can collect website visitors’ contact information through offline forms and pre-chat forms, as well as share files with customers.
  • Chat Insights: You can anticipate customer needs, analyze wait times and missed chats, and increase satisfaction by tracking agent metrics. It offers the option to create custom reports and dashboards to gain visibility into performance. You can also customize the chat widget and embed it into any CMS, including Drupal, WordPress, Wix, Joomla, Shopify, Squarespace and Prestashop.

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Top Features

  • Call Monitoring and Reporting: An interactive dashboard with details of abandoned calls, wait time and hold time helps managers adapt to real-time fluctuations in call volume. Monitoring calls lets managers train agents to ensure quality.
  • Self-Service Help Desk: This feature helps you create a customizable help center that can be embedded natively into mobile apps or websites. A personalized customer portal allows customers to manage their own requests.
  • Skills-Based Routing: Ensure tickets are assigned to the right agents via skill-based routing or initiate a ticketing workflow using time-based conditions or specific changes of a ticket.
  • Insights: You can collect customer feedback through CSAT ratings and NPS surveys that have machine learning capabilities to predict customer satisfaction. The software is equipped with performance dashboards that offer visibility into agent performance, ticket volume and other important support metrics. You can create custom reports to improve the team’s workflow and measure operational efficiency.
  • Ticket Forms: This feature facilitates the creation of multiple support request forms with a unique set of ticket fields. You can add conditional or custom fields to it and can gather all information about customers.

Product Limitations

Some of the limitations of Zendesk are:

  • It doesn’t allow users to retract a sent email.
  • It doesn’t have a mobile app for Android or iOS.
  • It’s not possible to view entire conversations with a particular customer on a single page as tickets are not linked by customer/submitter.

Pricing Information

Zendesk is available in two editions, starting at $89 and $149 per user per month, billed annually. Additional cost applies for WhatsApp phone numbers. A free trial is also available.

Price: $$$$$
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Company Size Suitability: S M L

Zoho Desk

Built for businesses of all sizes, Zoho Desk is a cloud-based solution that helps automate tasks such as service escalations, ticket assignments, time-based actions and notification rules. Equipped with in-built contextual AI, it can directly interact with customers and analyze their sentiment.

It offers a customizable multi-channel help desk, self-service portals, reports and dashboards, email template, knowledge base, live chat support and process management.

ZohoDesk Zia Sentiment Analysis

Sentiment analysis by Zia in ZohoDesk

Benefits and Strengths

  • Work Modes: This feature helps organize tickets based on due date, priority or status. While Ticket Peek shows a preview of every interaction, Agent Collision Detection ensures no two agents are working on the same ticket at the same time. A due time is set for every ticket according to SLAs and whenever that’s violated, the overdue tickets are automatically escalated to the relevant agent.
  • Blueprint Builder: This drag-and-drop tool aids the creation of a customized process flow and mandates the entire sequence of actions. You can write instructions to blend third-party applications with customer service efforts. These can be used for sending time entries to an invoicing app and adding tasks in a project management app.
  • Zia: This embedded, AI-powered tool can speak or chat with customers, process questions and deliver answers from a knowledge base, identify anomalies in a team’s performance, analyze conversation sentiment, and process incoming tickets and assign them appropriate tags. Zia can be trained using a skill builder so that it can perform specific actions like placing or editing an order.
  • Interactive Voice Response: IVR navigates through customer service hotlines and directs customers to the right support agents. The software automatically records all outgoing and incoming calls that can be used for further analysis.
  • Native App: Available on iOS and Android, Radar offers an overview of vital customer service stats like Channel Traffic, Live Traffic and Happiness Ratings. It allows users to set predefined standards to metrics and sends an alert message when an anomaly is identified.

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Top Features

  • Multichannel Ticketing System: You can collect and organize support tickets from different channels, view previous tickets and identify channels with the highest traffic and most bottlenecks.
  • Response Editor: This feature helps you customize responses using templates, customer context and FAQs. You can mark threads as “private” in case they need some advice from consultants and external partners.
  • Security: The platform is GDPR compliant and ensures privacy and security by assigning several roles to users, determining the actions each role can perform and managing the information visible to them. It provides a set of default profiles and lets you associate an array of roles with a single profile.
  • Integrations & Extensions: The software offers extensions from Zoho Marketplace to embed interactive widgets, APIs to integrate Zoho Desk modules and SDKs to build custom mobile apps. Integration with Zoho CRM allows sales reps to expedite the buying process. Other third-party integrations support notifications, analytics and connection to social media channels.
  • Customizable Web Forms: A web form widget allows customers to submit tickets with relevant details. Users can customize the forms according to specific needs.

Product Limitations

Some of the limitations of Zoho Desk are:

  • It doesn’t send alerts to end users after a ticket is passed from one agent to the next.
  • You can’t control which notifications to receive in the notification center, leading to excessive notifications.

Pricing Information

Exact pricing details aren’t available. However, Zoho Desk is one of the more expensive products in our list, comparable to Salesforce Service Cloud.

Price: $$$$$
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Company Size Suitability: S M L

Freshdesk

Catering to SMBs and enterprises, Freshdesk is a cloud-based help desk system that unifies conversations from phone, email, chat, web and social channels to resolve customer issues. It offers features such as collaboration, collision detection, canned responses, a shared inbox, automation, self-service, reports and analytics, and a knowledge base.

You can leverage it to customize everything from workflows to feedback forms, user access roles, and URLs and apps to provide personalized support for customers by classifying them based on their support needs.

Freshdesk Security

Security compliance in Freshdesk

Benefits and Strengths

  • Team Huddle: The platform integrates with Freshconnect to facilitate in-app chat by inviting colleagues from other teams or third-party partners. This helps solve customers’ problems while retaining context. 
  • Ticketing: You can split tickets into smaller sub-tickets on which respective teams can work simultaneously, save ticket templates for recurring tasks and create child tickets. It supports ticket escalations and reminders for pending and delayed responses.
  • Community and Forum: These tools facilitate help article updates based on reader feedback, convert forum issues into tickets and foster a community for customer engagement and product discussion. You can set up moderation protocols to control what’s posted.
  • Field Service Management: Freshdesk provides mobile service agents and technicians access to create, assign and track service tasks. You can schedule appointments based on agents availability, gain a 360-degree view of customers and share details with technicians to ensure proper service.
  • Call Management: Conferencing enables customer care agents to handle complex issues by adding members from different teams, while call masking allows users to establish a local presence and personalize the helpline number with a regional contact number.

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Top Features

  • Social Helpdesk: The software enables setting up a dedicated support team that gathers support queries from Twitter and Facebook and converts them to tickets. You can embed a help widget that delivers contextual support, collects feedback, enables customers to ask questions and addresses issues in different web platforms.
  • Team Inbox: This feature allows users to discuss and share ownership of tickets with teammates and experts. They can merge tickets about the same issues and view all activities in a log.
  • Data Security: Custom SSL certificates offer a safe and personalized experience by restricting log-in access or creating exclusive and secure access as required. You can set up a single sign-on script to authenticate user credentials.
  • Phone & Email: Ticket tagging and assigning can be automated and you can set notifications using the email workflow. The software integrates with Freshcaller so that you can handle phone calls right from the helpdesk. The system can convert voicemails and missed calls into tickets and attach recorded customer calls to tickets.
  • Call Routing and Monitoring: With interactive voice response, Freshdesk ensures customers can reach the right agent by navigating options. You can create custom business hours for global support teams so that all calls are answered no matter the timezone. Managers can also monitor calls whenever necessary.

Product Limitations

Some of the limitations of Freshdesk are:

  • It cannot duplicate tickets.
  • If a closed ticket needs to be re-addressed, it generates a new ticket number instead of updating the old ticket or reopening it.
  • It doesn’t have the provision to unmerge tickets.

Pricing Information

Freshdesk offers five plans ranging from $13 to $106 per user per month. It also has a free plan called Sprout.

Price: $$$$$
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Company Size Suitability: S M L

ServiceNow Customer Service Management

ServiceNow Customer Service Management is a cloud-based solution that helps identify and assign issues directly to different departments including engineering, field service, operations, legal and finance, ensuring that issues are tracked to resolution.

Trend analysis and monitoring of products and services allow you to identify problems and preemptively notify customers. Capabilities include customer service analytics, foundation data, case and knowledge management, personalized self-service options and automation of common customer requests.

ServiceNow Field Service Management

Field service management in ServiceNow

Benefits and Strengths

  • Predictive Intelligence: A predictive intelligence plugin uses machine learning algorithms for case management. It uses agent descriptions to predict priority, category and assignment group, and directs cases to the correct queue.
  • Flow Designer and Virtual Agent Designer: Using Flow Designer functionality, process owners can automate tasks, approvals, notifications and record operations without coding. The Virtual Agent Designer helps develop, test and deploy automated conversations, which assist users with self-service tasks or common issues.
  • Conversation Building: You can build conversations based on keywords or apply Natural Language Understanding (NLU) models that enable virtual agents to process, understand and respond to conversations.
  • Continual Improvement Management: This integration lets you implement phases and tasks that allow you to track progress, meet performance goals, measure success and request improvement opportunities. ServiceNow also enables you to manage the communication and resolution process for major issues that impact multiple customers.
  • Visual Task Assignment: You can assign customer requests with visual task boards that provide a user-friendly experience. In this board, tasks appear as cards that can be moved between columns.

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Top Features

  • CSAT Survey: The platform includes a customizable survey for gathering customer feedback. When a case is closed, the system sends an email with a link to the survey, which is optional to complete.
  • Service Management: ServiceNow integrates with different problem, incident, request and change management applications so that you can perform any actions needed to handle a case. When customers submit requests from the customer service portal, a case is created for each request, and records are automatically updated.
  • Agent Workspace: A configurable service desk application supports phone agents, chat agents and case agents to facilitate communication with customers in real time. It includes a single-pane view, integrated communication channels and agent support in the form of AI-assisted recommendations.
  • Customer Service Analytics: With performance analytics widgets embedded on the dashboard users can visualize data, analyze business processes and identify areas of improvement. It has pre-built dashboards along with in-form analytics, which provide configuration records.
  • Support: The software lets you offer support through email, telephone, chat and social media. System administrators can create outgoing and incoming email addresses for customers. Agents can place and accept calls from customers through computer telephony integration (CTI) and OpenFrame. You can also offer live chat support by creating or using predefined chatbot topics.

Product Limitations

  • The system offers device-specific visualizations and it may not adapt automatically if viewed from a different device.
  • Tickets aren’t saved automatically and can be duplicated to a new ticket number for items not resolved.
  • The classic mobile UI doesn’t support custom app configuration.

Pricing Information

ServiceNow creates custom quotes, so exact details aren’t provided. The software is available in three packages, with the option to buy separate licenses for financial modeling, operations management and project portfolio management.

Price: N/A
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Company Size Suitability: S M L

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In Summary

There you have it — our top picks for the best customer service software, along with their core strengths and features. As we saw, customer service solutions play an integral role in the overall process of managing customer relationships, which offers many benefits.

In order to get the most out of your customer service system, make sure you analyze your unique business needs before making a final choice (our selection platform makes this process fast and simple). This will help you not only make people and processes more efficient, it will also bring the best possible results and ensure you can satisfy your customers every day.

What challenges are you facing in finding the right customer support software? Let us know with a comment below!

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