Customer loyalty is a hard thing to quantify, and companies spend billions of dollars each year on aggressive loyalty marketing strategies in order to retain and attract customers.
But more often than not, customer loyalty and retention are much less functions of the amount you spend on expensive marketing tactics and more on how well you serve your customers before, during and after a purchase.
In fact, according to a survey by Hiver, 66% of consumers think that a company’s customer service reputation is a critical factor while making a purchase decision. Another report by Microsoft shows that 56% of customers stop doing business with a company because of a poor customer service experience. And when it comes to small businesses specifically, research suggests that 77% of consumers are willing to pay more if they receive excellent customer service from them.
So, if you’re a small or medium-sized business, one of the first aspects of your business that you need to focus on is delivering good customer service. It’s what will turn your customers from casual visitors into raving fans; it’s what will bring in recurring revenue for your business.
And that’s why investing in a customer service solution is important.
Table of Contents
- What is customer service software?
- What are the benefits of customer service software?
- Things to consider while choosing a customer service software for your small business
- 7 best customer service software for small businesses
- Wrapping it up
What is customer service software?
Customer service software is a solution designed to help your business effectively manage customer communication. It enables you to improve your team’s efficiency by streamlining workflows and keeping better track of customer queries. Additionally, it also helps you better serve your customers by offering them highly-contextual and timely responses.
What are the benefits of customer service software?
Great customer service is the backbone of any successful business, even more so when you’re a small business that has to compete with bigger and more established brand names in the market. Customer service software thus becomes an incredibly valuable tool in your small business arsenal. Wondering how? Well, here are some of the biggest benefits of investing in the right customer service solution:
1. It helps streamline all customer queries
A helpdesk or customer service software helps you manage all your queries from one single place. It makes it easy to delegate work to your agents and enables faster collaboration amongst them. It helps you organize all incoming requests – based on their nature and type – and keep track of their statuses.
2. It improves response times
Customer service software helps in improving response times. According to a Hubspot report, 90% of customers rate an “immediate” response as essential or very important when they reach out to a company’s customer service department. Moreover, 60% of customers define “immediate” as 10 minutes or less.
With such rising customer expectations, customer service software can empower agents to deliver quick and empathetic support as and when problems arise. It helps teams prioritize customer requests and deal with the important issues faster and better.
3. It helps improve customer relationships
Most customer support software help capture and store customer-related information. This includes a history of customer conversations with your company, their contact information, service queries, and much more.
Support staff can leverage this real-time data to have more contextual conversations with customers. These conversations are what will truly personalize the customer experience and help foster meaningful relationships.
Over time, earning your customer’s trust and developing strong relationships can help reduce churn and improve customer retention rates.
4. It allows you to acknowledge every customer request
As a small business, it’s crucial that you get back to customers on time when they turn to you for help. The first step here is to acknowledge that you’ve received their query. A customer support solution helps you automate the first response, using which you can let customers know that you’ve acknowledged their request.
A number of customer support tools offer canned responses and templates for email queries. Chatbots are another way of providing automated customer service.
5. It provides you valuable insights on support quality
To continue delivering great customer service, you need to analyze how well your customer service team is performing. This is where customer service software proves useful to your company.
By implementing customer service software, you get access to performance reports that help you keep track of key support metrics like First Resolution Time (FRT) and Average Resolution Time (ART). These metrics help you gain valuable insights into your team’s performance, identify areas of improvement, and implement corrective actions if and when need be.
6. It lowers operational costs
Customer support software also helps make your reps more productive by minimizing grunt work. It allows you to serve your customers more quickly and efficiently, thereby helping you significantly lower your operational costs.
With the help of customer service automation, you can automate repetitive tasks in your workflow, and focus your energies on understanding and serving your customers’ needs better.
Things to consider while choosing a customer service software for your small business
Picking the right customer service software can feel daunting. The industry moves so quickly and there are so many new providers, each packed with more features than the other, that it’s hard to come to a consensus on the best one for your business.
To make your job easier, we’ve listed a few essential factors that small businesses should consider before investing in customer service software:
1. Price of the software
Investing in customer service software is a long-term decision, one that you’d want to get right. But, as a small business, your resources are usually limited, so you must evaluate all your options carefully. Given that almost every customer service software offers a free trial, you can try them out and decide what works best for your business and caters to all your needs, including your budget.
2. Ease of use
Customer service software is meant to make your support team’s job easier, but if it has a complex interface and is difficult to use, it defeats your entire purpose of investing in one. You need a solution that’s agile and easy to navigate. Your team should be able to implement the solution and carry out all essential functions of the helpdesk, efficiently.
Software that’s easy to use will help you cut down training costs and save time and energy on onboarding.
3. Scalability / Flexibility
As your business grows, your requirements from your customer support software are bound to grow too. Good customer support software should be able to scale along with your business in the long run. It should help you keep up with the growing needs of your customers.
If the software is unable to handle the increase in the volume of customer inquiries or is unable to serve your customers where they want, it will not just affect your business but also have a deteriorating effect on your reputation. This is why before you choose a customer service solution, you need to be sure of how well it will be able to serve your requirements over time.
The software should also be flexible enough to be used across various teams (sales, marketing, and customer service, for instance).
4. Your business goals
Every customer service solution comes with its own set of features – not all of which might be necessary for your team. You need to pick a solution that caters to your team’s needs and long-term business goals. For instance, if you have a lean support team, you’ll need a solution that can automate repeatable tasks — so that the team can spend less time on manual work and more time on delivering memorable customer experiences.
Make sure your helpdesk software includes all essential features such as a comprehensive dashboard, an inbuilt ticketing system, live chat support, and efficient reporting.
7 best customer service software for small businesses
Now that we’ve gone over the importance of customer service software and the factors you need to consider before investing in one, let’s look at the top seven customer service software for SMBs:
If a major part of your customer communication takes place through email, then Hiver would be a great support solution to consider for your business. Hiver is the world’s first helpdesk built for Google Workspace. It has an easy learning curve and an intuitive set of features that provide an efficient way to manage all customer emails, right from Gmail – a tool you’re already familiar with.
Features you’ll love:
- Email delegation allows you to assign emails to appropriate team members with ease
- The Hiver Notes feature lets you add more context while delegating emails and collaborate with team members without using CCs and forwards
- CSAT surveys will help you keep a close tab on customer satisfaction levels and even offer proactive support when needed
- You can auto-assign emails based on predefined rules
- Hiver allows you to track your team’s performance and identify areas of improvement with its robust Analytics
- With Hiver’s Collision Alerts feature, you get a notification when someone else is responding to an email and avoid confusion and duplication of work
Pricing: Hiver offers a 14-day free trial. It has monthly and yearly subscriptions starting from $12 up to $57 per user per month.
Freshdesk is one of the most popular customer support software solutions in the market. It’s known for its simple interface and ease of use. Every member of your support team can keep track of incoming support tickets and their status, and stay in the know about who’s handling which ticket. Freshdesk offers multi-channel customer support across channels like email, phone, chat, and social media, in 26 distinct dialects. It also comes with self-service features like a knowledge base and support forums.
Features you’ll love:
- With its parent-child ticketing feature, you can resolve complex customer issues by splitting them into smaller tickets
- Its intelligent ticket assignment feature allows you to assign tickets to agents based on their current workload or skill
- It allows you to curate reports to understand the performance of agents
- It comes with a lot of customizations in features for workflows, customer portals, agent roles, and more
Pricing: Freshdesk offers a free 21-day trial with all its features. It has a free starter-pack for unlimited agents but with limited features. Its Growth plans start at $15 per agent per month.
Zendesk is a helpdesk that’s preferred and used by many enterprises and small businesses alike. Its basic plan lets you offer customer support via email and social media channels, including Twitter and Facebook. However, if you’re looking to provide support across other channels like phone and chat, you’ll have to opt for its higher-tier plans.
The tool comes with features like easy ticket assignment and tracking, powerful automation, SLA management, community forums, and a knowledge base.
Zendesk is one of the pioneers in the helpdesk space, but it’s costlier and more complex to set up than other software in its category.
Features you’ll love:
- Its AI-powered automation can help you improve your team’s efficiency and provide faster and better customer service
- Zendesk integrates well with your existing tech stack and thus enhances the performance of tools you’re already using
- The Zendesk for Startups plan provides its users a free 6-month credit. Additionally, it also offers them access to a community of customer experience leaders and exclusive resources
Pricing: Startups can get Zendesk for free for six months. For SMBs, the Foundational Support plan starts at $19 per agent per month.
4. Help Scout
Help Scout is great for growing customer support teams looking to offer email and chat support from a centralized helpdesk platform. It comes with a rich feature-set including capabilities like ticket routing and prioritization, task automation, agent performance reports, collision detection, and response templates, amongst many others. Help Scout even lets you customize your helpdesk, confining it only to features that your team actually needs.
Features you’ll love:
- Its plans can be customized to your team’s individual needs
- Apart from email and chat support, Help Scout even comes with a knowledge base
- Help Scout comes with several integrations that allow you to use the solution seamlessly with your existing customer service tools and channels
Pricing: Help Scout offers a free 15-day trial. It has plans starting at $20 per user per month.
5. Zoho Desk
Another popular customer support software for small businesses is Zoho Desk. It comes with basic helpdesk features that help streamline your team’s support processes, along with robust ticket tracking, task automation, and performance reporting functionalities.
One of the reasons why Zoho Desk is a preferred customer support solution is because it helps you offer your customers multichannel support via email, social media, live chat, web forms, and telephone, in multiple languages.
Features you’ll love:
- It gives you deep context into every incoming request based on your previous customer interactions
- It helps you identify the sentiment (positive or negative) behind every incoming customer request, so you ask your experienced agents to attend to critical customer cases on priority
- It helps you automate workflows, offer multichannel support, and track important support performance metrics. It even comes with a knowledge base feature to let your customers self-serve
Pricing: Zoho Desk offers a forever free plan with limited features. Its standard plan is priced at $12 per agent per month.
Intercom is yet another trusted name in the customer service software category. It allows users to offer customer support through live chat, email, and self-service platforms.
The tool is super easy to use, and its guided, interactive product tours make it much simpler for new users to adapt to the software.
One of its most sought-after features is a chat widget that you can install on your website, app, and product. This way, your customers can reach out to you from wherever it’s convenient to them.
Features you’ll love:
- Intercom lets you manage all your customer support interactions from one place
- It helps you integrate customer data from your entire tech stack, so you can access up-to-date customer information and personalize every interaction with them
- It offers easy ticket management, multichannel support, response templates, automation, performance metrics, self-service portal, and much more
Pricing: Intercom offers a free 14-day trial. Its Starter plan is priced from $67 per month for one seat, and an additional $19 for every additional seat.
HappyFox helpdesk comes with a wide range of features like live chat, a customer self-service knowledge base, a ticketing system, and much more. It offers multi-channel support and helps you respond to customer queries coming from email, chat, social media, phone calls, etc. Teams prefer Happy Fox because of its clean and user-friendly interface.
Features you’ll love:
- It supports over 35 languages
- It has a multitude of third-party integrations
- Its robust reporting and analytics capabilities allow teams to track and measure support performance
Pricing: Happy Fox encourages users to request a demo before offering access to a trial account. It offers an agent-based pricing plan starting at $29 per agent per month.
Wrapping it up
By now, you know that your choice of customer service software can make or break your company. Choosing the right software, and learning how to integrate it into your business strategy, can make all the difference in your organization’s growth and success.
Remember to take all the necessary factors into account like your business goals, team size, and expansion plans, before making your decision.
And if you’re on the lookout for a Gmail-based helpdesk, Hiver is the right choice for you. You can schedule a demo with us today!