Imagine the timeline of your business when you had your first10, maybe 20 clients. Your relationship with them is most probably very friendly. You could maybe even recite their vital info by heart. Then the timeline advances — the company grows, the number of customers increases — and time spent with your customers are a notch-under. You realize that, to match the swelling demands means growth needs to happen in various areas of your company as well. Your time, therefore, is spread even thinner because of this need. What happens on the customer’s side is that emails are becoming short (sometimes too short), calls are becoming sporadic, requests are accomplished late and clients on a shoestring becomes sidelined, maybe even forgotten and eventually, lost. (T__T) The butter on your bread is spread out too thin and scraped over too much bread and its just not the same toast as before…
The solution : CRM or Customer Relationship Management. The cloud offers great options to rock your customer service. Here are some tools you can use.
Zendesk can be called “The Hulk” of CRMs. More than 40,000 companies are using it with over 375,000 helpdesk personnel. It features a ticket management system which allows tracking customer conversations from a variety of channels (phone, mobile devices, chat, email, social media sites) easily. Zendesk records all communications for each ticket so multiple agents, even the higher ups can work on one ticket together and a single agent can work on multiple tickets simultaneously.
With its HelpDesk application, Zendesk also allows users to make a “help center” for customers who like to DIY. These includes FAQs, user guides, community forums, related articles, etc. What’s more, it offers a lot of branding and customization opportunities because you can integrate it with many platforms. For startups, check out their Essential Package which starts at $5/month per agent after a 30-day trial period.
Giving Zendesk a run for the money, Freshdesk is an alternative ticketing helpdesk tool on the cloud. It covers support conversations from email, phone calls, live chat and even social media like Facebook or Twitter. Emails coming into your inbox are turned into tickets; Facebook and Twitter interactions are converted to tickets, all available in one interface. This automation allows for fewer agents to focus on closing tickets instead of managing them manually. Great value? Yes. It also has an integrated community and knowledge base.
Its unique selling point is the “Support Arcade” feature. It incites a friendly competition among agents using badges, prizes and points. The gamification feature though, is best suited for bigger shops with more agents. I mean, its not as fun to have a “top player” if you only have one (or two) players, right? There’s a free package called ‘Sprout’ for unlimited agents but with limited functionality.
Feedback! Feedback! Feedback! Aptly named for a product, Uservoice boasts a customer-centered, feedback collection product. How does it work? Customers can voice opinions, suggestions and complaints in a UserVoice page which a company can claim. Uservoice then helps in organizing, ranking and processing user suggestions which the company can use to improve their product. Definitely helps to ‘Build Better Products’. This on top of a support ticket system to help track customer interactions, a self-servoce tool for customers, analytics reporting etc.
UserVoice offers a free trial with limited functionality to let you get a feel of the product and see if it suits your customer support needs.
Another big fish in the sea is Groove — an ideal online helpdesk for startups and small businesses. Their product is built around one mantra: simplicity. Groove is built to cater to startups. Their product is swank with simple-ness, everything-you-need-in-a-customer-support-helpdesk, without the clunk of “enterprise” helpdesks. Tickets look and feel something familiar, too, emails. And, with the knowledge base feature available 24/7, customers can still work through product issues themselves.
Even their pricing system doesn’t deviate from their mantra; It’s a straightforward pricing at $15/agent a month inclusive of all features or its free forever.
Here’s another tools that’s both a helpdesk and a live-chat software. LiveAgent has a clean and modern ticketing module that converts customer communications from multiple channels like email and chat into tickets. With it’s social media integration feature, Facebook and Twitter comments, messages and other communications are brought to the same dashboard as tickets. What’s more, they also have a customizable live-chat tool and in-browser call center.
A cool and unique feature that LiveAgent has it the video call, that works similarly like Skype. It allows you to talk and exchange files with the person on the other end of the line. You can test the software for free for 14 days to see if it fits your customer service software needs.
Kayako is another one-place, cloud-based customer support tool which allows agents to efficiently collaborate to answer concerns from various avenues such as email, phone, live chat, etc. This tool’s knowledge base articles can be spiked with images and videos for customers seeking self-support and it is also a valuable resource for the staff as reference.
If you want to take Kayako for a spin, there is a free trial period for 30 days. After that, you can choose from 3 pricing options which starts at $20, the Standard package, geared towards small teams getting started to build a formal helpdesk operation.
7. Vision Help Desk
This is also a great option for a help desk software which offers an all-in-one centralized platform which allows you to manage various channels of customer communication like calls, chat, email, web forms, Facebook and Twitter. Vision Help Desk also has a buildable knowledge base — a self-service customer portal.
After a 30-day free trial period, their first tier begins at $7 a month per agent. Vision Help Desk is available as a cloud-based service or one-time download service available on your own server.
On the running as one of the best options for customer support and ticket management software is HappyFox with its combined intuitive automation and self-service tools. Emails to one or more addresses, Twitter mentions and direct messages are converted into tickets. After which, they are assigned correct statuses and categories for easy tracking and collaboration so that issues are resolved fast. Their buildable knowledge base is great for customers resolving their own concerns and seeking self-help options.
HappyFox offers three pricing tiers ranging from $29-$69 a month per agent paid yearly.
Desk.com, another helpdesk software option, starts at $20 per agent a month for the Standard package billed annually. If you’re looking into a solution that doesn’t need to have “enterprise-grade” frills, Desk.com is worth checking out.
It has a similar ticket management system which turns emails, phone calls and social media communication into tickets for agent to process queries easily. Priority flags can be assigned to the tickets using keywords which make it easier to track and process issues. Self-help options are also available with their knowledge base feature.
Free. Yes. This is not a free trial, but an actual no-fuss-no-frills free service in the web that requires no payment whatsoever and will help you kick start your formal customer service operation without the additional overhead cost. With FreshService, you get access to online articles and videos that’ll help optimize your IT and customer support efforts.
Subscribing to a Customer Relationship Management tool is indeed an investment. Question is, do you really need to invest in it? Nope. Not necessarily, when you can still manage using spreadsheets, a couple of social media and email accounts to cater to a handful of customers. There are definitely advantages using a CRM. No harm in looking, and taking advantage of the free offers.
Thanks for reading! My name is Lex Santiago and I want to be your startup’s customer support super hero. I bring best-practices and will create adaptive SOPs that keep your users and customers happy.
Contact me at cocoloco.CSHero@gmail.com.