As companies continue to find new ways to connect and serve customers and prospects online, we need a greater knowledge base about how to achieve customer satisfaction. That’s especially true when there are higher expectations, new challenges, and more channels, as noted by TLF’s research on the customer service trends that matter in 2022. To help address changing customer relationship dynamics, there are plenty of new customer service solution platforms, apps, and tools.
These customer service solutions offer everything from call center functionality to chatbots, self-service help desks to CRM automation. However, so many customer support software options are now available that it can be challenging to know which is the best customer service software solution for your business.
This guide helps you determine which tools can help your business or team. But first, let’s discuss what customer service software is and its benefits.
Let’s start with a better understanding of what defines customer service software.
Let’s look at how customer support software can serve business needs and customer expectations.
As your business grows and you serve more and more customers, you’ll need to scale your operations while still personalizing each customer experience.
There will also come a time when your customer support team may benefit from some automated assistance. Customer service automation software can improve workflows, response speed, and send helpful information that relates to customers’ problems. That can help your customer support associates be more responsive while still maintaining a personal touch.
Customer relationship management software can help you track customer conversations across all touchpoints and channels, including email, phone, live chat, social media, social media review forums, and review sites. Tracking these interactions can uncover areas for improvement.
Other types of customer service software can help you collect customer insights through qualitative feedback data, customer usage data, and quantitative reporting about things like response/resolution times and associate time tracking.
When your customer support team works better together, your customers benefit. You can strengthen communications between customer service team members with the use of shared inboxes, asynchronous messaging channels, and other tools. These provide a convenient way to exchange information, offer updates, and coordinate responses to customers.
From the number of answered support requests and phone calls to response times and customer satisfaction rates, most customer support software will output the analytics you need to increase productivity and positive customer experiences. Such metrics can help you better understand issues that are impacting customer experiences.
Customers often have a personal preference for how they want to communicate with you. By using an omnichannel customer service management platform, you will be able to handle customer requests and customer issues anywhere your customers want to reach you, so you can offer a personalized service experience.
The number of customer service software providers seems to grow daily. With so many options, it can be challenging to know how to choose the best customer service software for your business needs.
The best way to start is by clearly defining your needs and the outcomes you’re looking for. Are you trying to get a handle on your email support and share responsibilities among multiple customer service agents? You might need a ticketing system or shared inbox. Do you want to understand if your support interactions are improving customer satisfaction? You probably need a customer feedback analytics tool.
Let’s take a look at the categories of customer service tools and a few top options for each one:
Help desk software and CRM software help support specialists provide personalized communication and solutions to customers. They allow multiple associates to handle incoming support requests at the same time, and make it easy for agents to pass conversations off to one another. Both types of software also allow support teams to see how each customer has interacted with your site, team, and product in the past.
CRM software shows your support agents when a customer made a purchase, what they bought, and any other relevant information. That way, the customer doesn’t have to repeat this information during a support interaction.
Help desk solutions create support tickets for each customer support query. A ticketing system helps support associates understand more context for customers’ problems so they can effectively troubleshoot and offer solutions.
Many customers prefer to type rather than talk. With a live chat box or messaging system, you can quickly respond to customers who prefer this communication channel. Some software options also make use of bots, which can handle some basic FAQs and offer assistance when live agents aren’t available. However, support teams can also use these tools to provide immediate support.
Call center and VoIP software help customer service teams respond to customer phone calls. In the case of VoIP (voice over internet protocol) solutions, they do so without using traditional phone networks. These software platforms typically offer high-quality sound and reliable connection, as well as features for routing calls and tracking customer interactions. Some software may also offer analytics to track call center rep productivity and help identify areas of improvement.
Customer service automation software helps a company quickly respond to and start conversations with its customers across multiple channels, including emails and chats. This type of software can help optimize your customer support team’s time.
Artificial intelligence can be deployed by customer support teams to help answer basic questions so agents can focus on more complex customer issues. This type of customer service software also delivers analytical insights that enhance your understanding of customers and what they want, while also highlighting where service and support improvements can be made.
Customer feedback is key for creating a more engaging, supported customer experience. Many customer feedback analytics tools plug into your CRM or helpdesk and send customized surveys or prompt the customer to write some notes about their service experience. This feedback can be quantified using customer service-specific metrics like CSAT, CES, or NPS to help customer support teams improve over time.
Conversation intelligence software tracks customer conversations to find actionable insights that can help improve your interactions. These customer service applications use scoring systems to help agents improve their customer communication skills, reduce churn, and raise brand reputation across all channels. They can also be helpful for identifying common bugs or feature requests that product teams can use to prioritize product development.
This type of customer service software offers performance data results, such as ticket reviews and analytics specific to each agent, customer, or interaction. This type of actionable feedback directs performance objectives and identifies areas for higher quality service.
Whether you want to use a ticket management system, help desk solution, or customer surveying tool, think about these considerations before investing in any type of customer support software.
Start by focusing on opportunities for improvement in the customer support experience. Especially consider factors that impact your growth, brand reputation, and how you can help your customer support staff do their jobs well. Industry-specific needs also matter in this context. It might make sense to streamline the workflows of several departments with your choice of software. For instance, facilitating brewery workflow optimization on Ollie means managing customer relationships alongside inventory, payments and more. The adaptability of the solutions you choose is therefore critical.
Although there is a learning curve for every type of software, the best ones are designed to be mastered quickly. That way, support specialists can focus not on technical issues but on providing top-notch service to customers.
As your business grows, your software solutions need to accommodate all the new customers (and support associates) that will come onboard in the coming months and years. To tell if the software options can do this, check out the various pricing tiers and plans, which often list support volume or number of customers served.
It’s also worth looking at any case studies or customer logos available on the website of the software solution you’re evaluating. Do your peers use this software? What about companies that are larger than yours?
Analytics and metrics can help you deliver a better customer experience. Choose a customer support platform that offers data collection and analysis tools that give you specific, actionable insights.
Such data should provide customer trend information as well as performance results for your customer support process and team members. With these numbers, you can track changes in customer expectations and operational trends.
Cost and return on investment should always be a consideration for any software solution purchase. Software costs money, and you want to make sure it helps lead your business toward profitability or growth.
Calculating ROI is too complex to get into here with real depth, but consider how much a piece of software will cost and then consider what sort of performance or customer satisfaction gains you can reasonably expect. Try to assign a dollar amount to those gains and see if the purchase price is worth the investment.
Using the best customer service software available can help you be more responsive to your growing customer base and help you solve customer issues and customer requests.
Before jumping in to buy the first customer service software solution that comes up in your web searches, you need to consider what type of solution best fits your unique business challenges and strategies.
Compare software tools and integrations to understand what each option does, how easy it is to use, and how it works with your existing systems. Cost, scalability, security, and tech support should also be part of your decision-making.
If you’re considering outsourcing your customer support, PartnerHero can also be your partner in choosing the best customer service software for your needs. We have decades of combined experience working with just about every customer service software solution under the sun. Whether your company is B2B SaaS or B2C ecommerce, health & wellness, fintech or edtech, a small startup or established enterprise, our experts can help you choose the right software for your CX program.