The Internet has transformed many things since its inception, most important being communication around the world.
The barriers that existed before the internet have been broken down as people now are more open and connected through the internet.
Another area where the internet left its impact was businesses around the world.
In a transformation where ways of communication changed, it was not long before that the customers of these companies around the world also evolved.
It is during this very transformation journey where businesses understood the power of communication and the importance of keeping customers happy.
With the emergence of more and more open platforms on the internet, customers were no longer restricted from speaking their minds about the products they used- whether good or bad- it was all out in the open.
Businesses were now looking for ways to directly reach out to their customers in the most productive and hospitable manner.
Thus, came along customer service- a division that almost every business deemed necessary existence. Because after all, there would be no business without a client.
Customer satisfaction services quickly gained popularity and went a long way.
On looking at the efficacy of an excellent customer service which resulted in improved products and a higher number of retained customers, it was time to make the serving customers much easier than what it was.
Managing customers and keeping records of services offered for higher customer satisfaction meant a lot of data to be managed.
Hence some customer service management platforms emerged in the market that businesses could make the most of.
Some of the customer service management tools will be reviewed here which might help you choose better from the lot. So let’s start with one of the most popular of the players:
A relatively popular name amongst the customer service management players, Zendesk probably offers every single feature that you may require for a smooth customer service operations.
The tool believes in converting customer queries into conversations thus helping the business build healthy business relationships with their customers
All the features that you see on this platforms seem to emerge out of the objective that they have boldly displayed on their website.
Now, this may sound a bit confusing to some- all of their flagship features have been segregated as products that you can choose from for your business.
Probably one of the most important and fundamental feature for any customer service management portal, ‘Support’ itself offers a plethora of features. To name a few, multichannel communication helps in reaching out to the client through various platforms such as email, social, chat, talk, text, and message.
Multilingual services offer to support in over 40 languages, and the provision to create your workflows or ‘rules’ for effective ticket management makes things much simpler.
Moreover, there is also a provision to Collaborate on the platform, by just ‘CC-ing’ your colleagues for sharing required information.
b. Explore (Analytics and Reporting)
Zendesk believes that customer service improves if it is driven by accurate data and this where data analytics into customer behaviour and problems, comes into the picture.
Again, this feature offers a list of extremely helpful features under it- right from the ability to measure customer experience and product behaviour tracking to Salesforce data integration as well as trend spotting for improved operational excellence.
c. Connect (Proactive Campaigns)
A relatively new feature, the idea of introducing Connect is to anticipate customer requirements well in time and reach out to them proactively- quite a move to strike a long-lasting relationship with your clients!
Following this practise lets, you add a personal touch to your customer service and helps you build customer loyalty for your business.
The feature allows you to reach out to your clients through customized email campaigns to keep them engaged and informed, and also through in- product contextual messages.
Pricing: There is an option to choose a 30-day free trial, and if you don’t mind paying for the services then the packages begin from $5 to about $200 per user per month.
Alternative 1: FreshDesk
A cloud-based customer service portal, this platform comes along with a bundle of transformational features that your business would totally love. Amongst the first of its kind, FreshDesk really is a competing choice when it comes to offering a fantastic customer experience.
a. Customized Branding
While sending emails from your FreshDesk account, you get the option of completely customizing them with your company logos and colours. By using such an approach, you not only deliver a personalized experience but also get a chance to create a strong recall value for your brand.
b. Agent Collision
Freshdesk notifies you before hand in case of an agent collision situation. If your colleague accidentally or not, opens up a ticket already assigned to you, a notification is sent to both the parties.
The feature reduces chances of duplicated efforts as well as additional communication to the client.
Another cool featured offered by Freshdesk allows you to incentivise your staff for successfully competing for targets. The points added for each employee lead them to display the quality of their service, in a way recognizing their efforts company-wide.
Pricing: The pricing plans have been very smartly named as the Sprout, Blossom, Garden, Estate and Blossom . The Sprout plan gets yous tarted for free, with plans going up to almost $90 for a month.
Alternative 2: UserEngage
As the name suggests, UserEngage is a platform built to improve your user engagement and increase conversion on every step of the sales funnel.
With a focus on efficient and secure communication, this platform is perfect for companies that believe in open channels of conversation that lead to meaningful results.
Let’s take a quick look at the features offered by UserEngage that promise to stand for the objective of the product:
For a sales professional to sell without having a CRM platform can be a nightmare. USerEngage solves this problem by offering a CRM along with the other products in their kitty.
The CRM lets you track your customer conversations by keeping all prior communication at one place and letting you manage the new and upcoming deals systematically.
Not just this, all processes such as tasks, emails, meetings and deadlines are also tracked and updated for quick reference of the sales teams.
b. Chats and Messages
Since open communication and productive conversations are at the heart of UserEngage, a proper emphasis and been put on the chat and in- app messages for its users.
The product lets you analyze your customer’s behavior and send customized messages to keep conversations real and relevant.
Some filters let you connect with your audience with a focused approach in much lesser time. The feature is also available on the mobile app which is great as you can stay connected with your customers even on the go.
c. Marketing Automation
Automated marketing processes is the first step for effective selling and working towards achieving improved customer satisfaction. Under this feature, the user can easily create a customized marketing campaign with a quick drag and drop elements.
Not just campaigns, you can also create platform centric automated website messages, newsletters, SMSs and invites for Webinars.
This offering is a through and through, complete solutions for effective, customized communication with your customers.
Pricing: The basic plan starts at $29 and goes up to $35 per month.
Alternative 3: Kayako.com
Another platform that offers unified customer services, Kayako follows a couple of objectives that make them a competitive choice.
Although not too great when it comes to an overall view, but the idea here is to bridge the gap between customers and the servicing teams, which is an excellent way to lead a product towards success.
When compared to its peers, Kayako will seem to be a step behind the rest. However, they still deserve a look at the features:
a. Live Chat tools
The objective here is to increase the engagement with customers by enabling real-time visitor monitoring and proactive engagement.
They offer an option of automating messages, the execution of which is triggered by regular flag ups that occur due to visitors pulling away.
This intuitive behaviour let the sales and customer service teams work in tandem with each other for effective results.
The same is also available on their mobile version.
b. Ticket Management
Managing customer queries or tickets as they are names on the tool are of great importance. At times when a ticket gets ignored for any reason and is not tended to for the said duration, it automatically gets escalated and reassigned to another user for immediate resolution.
The intuitive behaviour under ticker management emphasises the importance given to customer satisfaction.
c. Custom Fields
Taking customization a step further, the platform lets its users edit and customize ticket and live chat forms. No just this, you may go steps ahead and tailor the workflows as per your requirement, along with ticket statuses, types, and priorities.
The user is also well equipped to update customer profiles with custom fields for easy referencing.
However, language is a barrier here as English is the only language that can be chosen here.
Kayako offers a few integrations with other apps that let you automate a ton of processes and activities on the side.
To speed up and increase productivity, the platform is equipped to be integrated with other applications such as Zapier, custom APIs, Webhooks, Kayako Apps as well as Salesforce.
Such useful integrations help avoid massive data transfers from previously used tools and platforms.
Pricing: The starter package is offered at a price of $20, going up to the Enterprise package which is offered at $90 per user per month.
Alternative 4: Happyfox
Another helpdesk software that provides multi-channel customer support, Happyfox offers some seamless integration options and a vast knowledge base for customers to make the most of.
Following are the features offered on the platform:
a. Task Automation
Many times, customer helpdesk portals miss out on giving out relevant information by missing out on the right opportunities to connect.
However, the task automation capability offered by implementing smart rules lets you handle repetitive tasks in a much smarter way.
It lets the user minimize time spent on updating task statuses, managing priority levels and due dates for tickets separately.
b. Open Knowledge Base
Happyfox extensive knowledge base hosts a plethora of articles that the customers may access for quick query resolution.
This initiative has proven to reduce the number of incoming queries as most of the time customer ends up finding a solution to their problem on this knowledge base.
Happyfox users are encouraged to consume more and more knowledge articles that could help their customers in one way or another.
c. Data and Analytics
While using analytics you can constantly keep an eye on your team’s performance measured basis reliable data and analytics. These charts are visual in nature, giving you more in-depth insights rather than numbers that lack conclusions.
Insights such as Tickets received, managed and resolved are studied under this feature before the final overview of the performance is delivered.
Since the product as a whole focuses on providing customized serviced for the customer base, they also offer an option for their users to customize the product itself. As a user, you get the chance to create your custom fields, workflows, and a personalized support experience.
Customization can be carried out across features, right from the Language to notifications, custom fields as well as look and feel of the platform.
This approach drives the essence delivering of customized services for improved results.
Pricing: Starts with $39, going up to $80 per user per month.
Alternative 5: Helpshift
Since businesses all around the globe are opting for a mobile-first strategy, pretty much everything is now available on our mobile devices.
With a plethora of mobile applications coming up for every little service that a customer seeks out, there needs to a ton of backend support ready to take on this growing challenge.
Keeping this point of view at the centre, Helpshift has focused on the building a customer service portal that offers an in-app support- going completely mobile.
However, taking the mobile first approach has not limited them to offering the basic features only. Instead, some of them are pretty nifty! Let’s take a look!
a. Smart Views
Helpshift offers an intelligent view editor that lets the user prioritize views of the tickets basis urgency, language, and issue status.
This particular feature is a brilliant way to organize and plan your day. In fact, taking the efficiency of the product one step ahead, you can also reassign tickets to other users basis the topic, urgency, and even language.
b. In- App Chat
Since the best way to keep a customer satisfied is by keeping them engaged in productive communication, in-app chat aims to do exactly that.
By letting the user directly communicate with a troubled client, the level of customized responses play a huge role in keeping the customer satisfied.
Moreover, the availability of this feature within the mobile app makes sure that the client is updated on the go, never letting them wait which is more often than not the reason for their dissatisfaction.
To make things easier for the user, the product also has the capability of storing canned responses that can be used to respond to common queries.
Responding with already drafted messages helps in saving time as well as speeds up the pace of reaching out to a customer.
c. Proactive Campaigns
Another interesting feature offered by Helpshift, the platform allows you to be personally engaged with your customer the minute they launch the application on their mobile.
You get notified at every step that they get stuck with for you to send them guides or solutions to their challenges.
Not just this, you can send them product updates, in- app surveys, special offers and even ask them for feedback.
Push notifications and proactive campaigns are the best way for users to stay connected with their customers on the go, at every level possible.
Pricing: The starter pack is offered for free, for 21 days which then goes up to $200 a month.
Alternative 6: Help Scout
Another customer service portal with an objective to make the customer fall in love with your business, is here to make life simpler for customer satisfaction teams. Help Scout relies on building a helpdesk software which is more human and delivers personalized services through effective communication.
a. Integrated Knowledge Base
As per this offering, the user can directly download the Help Scout knowledge base that lets them create ‘step-by-step’ guides, articles, and tutorials for quick resolutions of problem occurrences.
The user is also given the capability of putting up the product logo and customize it regarding content and design to make it look like a robust website.
These documents can be easily accessed by your customers on any device for quick consumption.
b. Traffic Cop
This feature helps eliminate duplicity of responses being sent to the client. The user is visually indicated if a customer is being serviced by another colleague already so that you can focus your efforts towards other pending tickets or queries.
Through this feature, it is ensured that a customer interacts with one single point of contact at all times.
c. Real Time Analytics and Reports
The functionality of real-time reporting and analytics offers customer service managers a chance to look at the progress being pursued in a particular duration of time.
These reports are segmented under the classification of- Productivity, Conversations, Team and Happiness- calculating and delivering the quotient for each.
Under the happiness report, an analysis of the feedback acquired from customers is displayed through interactive charts.
Pricing: Probably one of the most affordable products, Help Scout’s basic plan is available for $12, going up to $35 per user per month.
Alternative 7: Uservoice
Staying true to its name, Uservoice has been built to gauge and measure the customer feedback, basis which rest of the features can be applied to deliver better customer services.
Since there’s no better way to understand a customer than by asking them the questions directly, this particular approach to achieving improved results is not only logical but also practical.
a. Customer Satisfaction Feedback
UserVoice allows customers to share their feedback on the product through ratings which further gets them classified under promoters, passives, and detractors. They are further offered tips to improve their ratings.
These customers are then encouraged to share their feedback for the customer service professionals who had been catering to their requirements.
An entire system is created which also ranks the users, keeping in mind the response time calculated.
b. User Insights
Here’s an interesting feature, with the help of which, while creating a new product, insights into improving the development can be gathered via relevant, potential future customers.
By taking this approach, product development teams get access to qualitative feedback and inputs which when applied can help them deliver a product that resonates well with its target audience.
When stuck, a customer can quickly log into the portal to search for already accumulated queries with their responses available beforehand.
Such a functionality helps them avoid picking up the phone and making calls to the customer service team, eliminating one level of activity from the process.
It has been found that more often than not, customers end up resolving challenges on their own with the help of these already logged in responses in the knowledge base.
However, if even after reading the resolution methods they don’t feel satisfied and require personalized assistance, they may go ahead with that too.
Pricing: You can start using Uservoice for free for 14 days, of which the cost can go up to $95 per user per month.
Alternative 8: Groove
Another tool built to manage online customer support, Groove stands out for its simple design and ease of use. The objective on Groove is to convert support tickets into amazing customer experiences.
The platform is divided basis the services that the complete tool can offer. Each of these products then delivers with the help of certain features built for a particular use:
A range of activities can be taken care of with this product- right from ticket management regarding assigning owners and private notes meant for behind the scenes collaboration to Custom Profiles for viewing customer data from the CRM as well as using canned responses to frequent questions.
b. Knowledge Base
This is a repository of solutions that are always available online for your customer when you’re not available. The answers here are always searchable with a functionality of custom branding for your company.
The repository is available in over 12 different languages.
c. Support Widget
A live chat feature can be installed on your customer’s device in the form of a widget which can be removed once their queries are resolved. They may also choose to keep it even after the problem resolution for quick referencing in the future.
It can also be customized with logo and other branding elements.
Pricing: When billed annually, you may start using the product for a fee, with the cost going up to $20 per user per month.
Alternative 9: Apptentive
Apptentive focuses no helping you build a brand that your customers would love. It’s a fact that an overall experience of using the product becomes a part of the entire brand building exercise. Hence, taking care of customer satisfaction here becomes crucial.
Again focusing on delivering a great mobile experience, let’s see how Apptentive’s features mobile engagement have been built to help you keep your customers happy:
You may prompt your customers to rate you before they share a detailed feedback.
Doing so will help you segment and categorize customers as per their experience, according to which you may modify your approach of seeking detailed feedback from them.
Similarly, you can immediately get to know if a customer is unhappy and you may strike a conversation with them to understand the situation better and act accordingly.
b. Personalized Notes
We all love to receive cute little notes now and then. Playing on the same exact feeling here, Apptentive has tried to create a personal connect with their customers.
By using these Notes, you can leave customized messages that appear like notifications- you may use these to share any version updates, offers, announcements or any other new content.
c. Actionable Insights
You may use all the data off from reporting charts and graphs to take a deep dive into your customer’s persona. By consuming these insights, you will understand your customer better, know them better and resonate with their challenges, giving you a chance to deliver better results.
Pricing: There is an option to choose a free trial for a period of 30 days. But to pick a plan for your business, there is no cost mentioned as a custom package is prepared for every business that approaches them- which can be perceived as both ‘great’ and ‘troublesome.’
So, these were some of the leading customer service management platforms that you may instantly deploy for a successful business.
As we know that the customer is always the King, it is a wise idea to keep them happy at all times.
Choosing from the above-listed apps can be a tricky task, however, once you figure out on the exact objectives that you aim to achieve through these platforms, your job should get easier.
Happy Customer Servicing!