Complete guide to the best customer support software
- Definition of customer service software
- 3 main benefits
- 5 key types of software
- 13 customer service software tools
- Choosing software for your business
Customer support software is the backbone of a great customer experience. Success starts by gaining a better understanding of what customer service software is and how to choose the right provider for your business.
What is customer service software?
Customer service software is a centralized system within a company for tracking, prioritizing, managing, responding to, and resolving customer queries or employee requests en masse.
Inefficient tools like spreadsheets or a shared inbox create silos and hinder the customer (or employee) experience. At its most basic level, customer service software provides business with a ticketing system to unify customer conversations across channels in a single location and provide good customer service.
This equips a support team with context—about who a customer is, where they’re coming from, and what they’ve reached out about in the past—regardless of channel.
Taking it a step further, customer service software can be integrated with a CRM to give agents access to context from external sources, such as a marketing automation tool or billing system.
Benefits of customer service software
Customer service software can benefit companies of all sizes and types—from multinational enterprises supporting millions of other businesses in multiple languages, to small consumer-facing businesses that need to answer customer questions quickly without hiring an army of support reps.
Here are three key benefits of customer service software:
- Drives customer satisfaction and loyalty
When businesses can provide fast, personalized responses to customers, they drive customer satisfaction and loyalty. And 52 percent of customers report going out of their way to buy from brands they’re loyal to, according to Zendesk’s Customer Experience Trends Report, 2020.
- Fosters a seamless agent experience
When agents have the tools they need to collaborate and streamline workflows, they’re more prepared and motivated to provide better customer care. This leads to greater productivity and saves the business time and resources.
- Gives businesses the ability to scale smarter
Customer service software gives a business the power of customer-centric agility—in other words; it enables a company to grow and scale based on the needs of its customers.
Types of customer service software
Customer service can be internal—supporting the employees within a company—or external—supporting the people who buy or use its products or services.
Each customer service channel is often considered a different type of customer service. Here are the main types of customer service you should know about:
Live chat software enables agents to solve customer issues in real-time, from where they already are, such as the homepage of your website or inside your mobile app.
This gives a business that ability to be proactive and get ahead of an issue before it happens or even occurs. For instance, an e-commerce company might offer live chat on its checkout page to answer frequently asked questions before a customer abandons their cart.
Live chat also enables a business to offer support around the clock. While your agents are busy being humans, chabots can handle customer requests for them.
A phone conversation remains an effective way to solve a customer’s problem, especially for high-stakes issues. It’s sometimes even more effective than drawn out email conversations or real-time chatting, thanks to the personal touches that come with a phone call like a human’s voice.
With features like call recordings, smart internal routing, access to the full customer history, and automatic ticket creation, call center software enables customer service representatives to be more strategic.
Email is the bread and butter of customer support. Similar to the phone, it’s long-ingrained, and remains a preferred channel among older generations.
Email often serves as an internal form of support as well as an external one. A Human Resources, Payroll, or IT team, for example, could use email to answer questions for full-and part-time employees.
With a knowledge base, community forum, or customer portal, support teams can empower customers to self-serve. In fact, 81% of customers would rather figure out an issue on their own.
But this is only possible if support teams have tools to make knowledge creation and upkeep easy. For instance, AI can flag when content is out-of-date or when a new article topic is needed. It can also use agents’ collective knowledge to automate resolutions for low-touch tickets.
The proliferation of messaging channels—like WhatsApp, Apple Business Chat, and Facebook Messenger—has changed the way that people get in touch.
That convenience factor has made its way to customer service as well. Customer service software allows customers to get in touch over the same messaging channels they use to communicate with friends and family.
The benefit of using customer service software to communicate over messaging channels is the ability to keep conversations and context in a centralized location. If resolving a customer’s issue starts with a message then necessitates a follow-up phone call, all of that information is logged within the same support ticket.
Go beyond simply meeting your customers where they are
Customer feedback has told us that customers have preferred a choice of channels for a while now. But an effortless customer experience means more than simply meeting your customers where they are—that’s table stakes.
To create a seamless, consistent experience across channels, a business will need a customer service software partner that enables it to go a step further and create a single, connected view of its customer—one complete with conversation history and context that moves with them from channel to channel.
13 best customer service software tools to enhance the customer experience
- Sprout Social
- Apple Business Chat
- NICE inContact CXone
- Boss Solutions Suite
- Jira Service Desk
Customers expect to communicate with companies using the channels they prefer, which now represent a host of technologies to staff efficiently and connect to your tech stack. Here are some customer service tools that help a business provide great customer service.
Zendesk’s customer service software empowers businesses to build effortless customer experiences. Conversations flow seamlessly across channels, leading to greater productivity and satisfaction all around.
The Agent Workspace within Zendesk’s Support Suite equips agents with all the tools they need to collaborate with each other, other teams, and deliver fast, personalized responses on any channel—from a single, unified interface.
Zendesk’s customer service software is quick to implement, easy to use, and scales to fit the needs of businesses of any size:
Zendesk for enterprise companies
Enterprise companies need the right balance of simplicity and sophistication to align large teams and technology around what matters most—their customer. Zendesk equips an enterprise organization with the tools it needs to meet the needs of a diverse customer base on the channels of their choice while ensuring the experience is a personal one.
A large, dispersed company also means managing multiple agents and their many unique skill sets. Zendesk provides flexibility to customize your support solution with tools like advanced workflow capabilities and AI-powered automation and self-service—which means tickets get to the right agents, and agents have the knowledge they need to solve any problem.
Zendesk also seamlessly integrates with other tools, data, and communications across all departments to ensure smooth customer interactions and less miscommunications within complex operations.
Zendesk for SMBs
Zendesk gives small and mighty teams the gift of efficiency. It’s powerful yet easy-to-use, and designed to help your customer service team work better together, making the most of their time and energy. Plus, it’s easy to customize with the tools you already use so you can build on what you have.
By working within Zendesk’s centralized workspace, you’ll have all the tools you need to keep track of customers' questions and share the information they need, right when they need it. And, by using Zendesk’s AI-powered automations and dynamic workspaces, your team can work smarter, faster, and reach more customers.
Zendesk for Startups
When you provide your customers with the experience they expect, you win their trust and loyalty in return. Zendesk’s omnichannel support solution empowers startups to be wherever their customers are. Integrate support channels like email, chat, and phone into one place, and save time by offering self-service options.
The best part? Zendesk for Startups provides a free 6 month credit—including access to tailored resources and a growing network and community of customer experience leaders.
Sprout Social combines social media monitoring, engagement, sales, support, and marketing tools for a cohesive social media strategy. This prevents disconnected communication or workflows between social media teams and social support agents.
Hootsuite helps teams engage with customers and schedule content across multiple social networks from one secure web-based dashboard.
MailChimp enables businesses to create, send, and track email newsletters, signup forms, and event invitations. Teams can personalize emails with targeted customer segments when integrating a customer service software solution like signup forms, and event invitations. Teams can personalize emails with targeted customer segments when integrating a customer service software solution like Zendesk Support.
With Apple Business Chat, customers can get answers to their questions, schedule appointments, resolve issues, and make purchases—without leaving the messenger.
To ensure a consistent and seamless conversational experience over custom messaging channels like Apple Business Chat, a business will need a messaging partner, such as Sunshine Conversations.
Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp enable customers to get fast, convenient messaging support on phones messaging support on phones all over the world. With a CRM platform like Sunshine Conversations, customers can do everything from change a hotel reservation, pay a bill, or find the perfect lipstick color—inside the messaging thread.
SurveyMonkey is a customer service tool that provides businesses with templates for a plethora of customer surveys to glean insight into things like product feedback and CSAT.
Slack allows internal customers to seamlessly get support from IT or HR departments, from the same channel they use to communicate with their teammates. When combined with an AI-powered bot, like Zendesk’s Answer Bot, employees can self-serve over Slack at scale.
When integrated with a customer service software solution, Slack also enables agents to better communicate with each other when solving tickets for more streamlined collaboration and faster.
Recurly provides a versatile subscription billing management platform to handle the entire subscriber lifecycle. When integrated with a support system like Zendesk Support, agents will no longer have to switch to separate tabs or systems to view or change customer subscription details.
NICE inContact CXone Agent consolidates customer context and contact center controls into a single interface for more efficient agents and better customer experiences.
EZOfficeInventory enables organizations across the world to manage tickets and incidents regarding equipment, assets, and inventory.
Typical use cases might include an employee filing a ticket about their broken computer or a person in the field requiring help using a drill machine: EZOfficeInventory manages asset-related details while a support tool like Zendesk manages the ticket workflow.
Boss Solutions Suite provides businesses with a fully integrated ITIL based help desk software and IT asset management solution available on-premise or on the cloud.
Jira Service Desk empowers IT teams with a modern service desk that has everything they need out-of-the-box, including ITIL-certified processes.
How to choose the best customer service management software for your business
Here are a few key things to consider when evaluating a customer service solution provider:
Is it easy to implement?
Businesses should be able to support customers with software that fits into their existing infrastructure for that fast time-to-value. That way, they can spend time helping their customers rather than administering a system.
Does it provide agents with collaboration tools?
The best customer service software equips agents with collaboration tools and streamlines workflows so they can work better together and solve customer questions efficiently.
For instance, with skills-based routing, agents are served questions based on expertise, such as product area or language. And when customer service software integrates with other internal tools, like email and Slack, agents can share best practices across departments.
Will it allow you to seamlessly scale?
As a business grows, so should its customer service. Support software should have options to accommodate a growing company, like the ability to seamlessly add or remove channels and integrate new systems and software.
Does it come with analytics and reporting?
Customer analytics help a business understand if goals are being met and if strategies are working. Reporting makes it so every necessary stakeholder sees what they need to.
Is it customizable to your business’ needs?
The ideal customer service provider is configurable to support any workflow and powerful enough to handle the most complex business, but flexible enough to scale at any pace. It should also come with apps and integrations to enable agents to customize their workspace.