Effective customer service is key to the survival and growth of any business. But how do you choose the right customer service software for your company? This guide will help you answer that question.
To choose the right customer service software, consider a solution with features that address your goals. The software should be easy to set up and use, secure, and scalable. It should also support remote work, allow third-party integrations, and have analytics capabilities.
This article will examine the various factors to consider and the questions to ask when choosing CS software. Let’s start the discussion with what customer service software is.
What is customer service software?
Customer service software is a set of digital tools that a business can use to manage support requests and provide help to its customers.
People who buy or use your services may need assistance with one thing or the other. This leads to the submission of support requests. In fact, 90% of customers rate “immediate response” as important or very important when they reach out to your company.
Customer service software provides a centralized platform that helps you track, manage, and respond to these requests, therefore, improving service delivery and quality. This enables you to build better customer relationships.
Support software includes tools like analytics dashboards, messaging bots, and automation features.
A support platform is especially important when scaling your customer service offering. Are you receiving more support requests than you can handle? Are you taking too much time to respond to requests or making costly mistakes? Then, maybe it’s time to use software to supercharge your help center.
Questions to ask before choosing customer service software
Will you want to commit to customer service software today only to regret the decision later? No one wants that scenario. To avoid it, ask yourself these essential questions before choosing a tool:
What are my customer service goals?
A famous Henry Kissinger quote is, “if you don’t know where you are going to, every road will take you nowhere.”
Put another way, “if you don’t have goals, you cannot begin to talk of strategies.”
Start by defining your customer service goals. That is, you need to know what you want to achieve before talking about the tools that will aid you.
When you have clear set goals, it is easier to determine which tools you need to address your needs. Are you looking to
- Reduce customer wait times?
- Improve the quality of customer service responses?
- Improve customer loyalty or customer advocacy?
- Reduce the cost per contact?
Not all platforms designed to facilitate customer service are made equal. They have different features, meaning some are better suited for achieving particular goals. This brings us to the second question you have to ask.
Do I aim to provide omnichannel support?
Omnichannel support is a strategy that allows customers to connect with your company across a variety of integrated channels and touchpoints with the goal to provide a consistent communications journey and elevate their experience. Some of those channels include phone, email, live chat, social media, knowledge bases, etc.
Each support channel has unique advantages and meets customers’ needs differently. For example:
- Phone support is perfect for customers who want to be guided through a process.
- Email support is great for communication involving complex information or file sharing. It is also ideal if you need to keep track of your conversations with your customers.
- Live chat combines the advantages of email and phone support. It allows customers to get almost-instant responses to written queries.
- Social media support is ideal for internet natives who want to engage with you via direct messages and comments on social media platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp, etc.
- Knowledge bases allow customers to find answers themselves in support resources.
The transition to omnichannel support requires a centralised system which enables data synchronization across devices and touchpoints. If your strategy is to go omnichannel you have to choose a software solution that is flexible to scale as you grow without compromising the customer experience.
Is my team working remotely?
While remote work has always existed, the COVID-19 pandemic shone a light on it. As the pandemic plunged the world into lockdown, workers were forced to work from home. Now that the restrictions have been lifted, having tasted its benefits, many businesses enable their employees to do work from home.
However, remote work has many challenges, especially for customer service reps. For example, a customer service agent in an office space may walk over to a colleague’s desk to discuss a customer request. But this is not possible in remote support teams.
For remote work to be successful, you need features that enable you to
- Organize customer requests and assign them to the right representatives for assistance
- Check the status of customer requests in real-time
- support seamless intradepartmental communication
How much am I willing to pay?
The various customer service solutions in the market have different price points. They range from affordable to expensive. Also, every business technology adoption is an investment.
First, no one will want to overpay for anything, and that includes new business technology. Thus before choosing a particular platform, ask yourself how much you are willing to pay for it. If it is overpriced and beyond your reach, you may consider more affordable options.
Secondly, everyone expects a new business technology to pay for itself. Thus, before you choose a solution, you should ensure the revenue it will generate is greater than its cost. If the solution does not provide a significant investment return, you may reconsider shelling out to buy it.
Top factors to consider when choosing a support ticketing system
A ticketing system for customer service is almost synonymous with customer service software. A support ticketing system helps you manage your customer requests so that you can resolve them efficiently.
However, to get a ticketing system that hits the mark, you should consider the following factors:
Does it support my business goals?
Every travel plan starts with knowing where you want to go – your final destination. We already mentioned earlier that your CS software adoption journey should begin with knowing what you want to achieve (your business goals). If you have already defined your customer service strategy and laid down your short and long terms goals all you have to do is evaluate whether the technology options available can support those goals.
Let’s say that one of your main goals is to reduce the volume of your inbound contact requests. As a result, you aim to build a knowledge base to boost the self-service options you present your customers with. To do with you should choose a software that allows you to deploy your knowledge base across your site and resolve issues before they become tickets.
What are its key features?
After outlining your customer service goals, the next step is to outline the features you need to address those goals.
For example, if you set out to reduce customer wait time, you should consider a solution that supports automated responses (like chatbots).
If you want to improve the quality of customer service responses, you need software featuring a ticketing system which can help your agents to organize queries. It also helps to connect customers to the right representatives for assistance.
Some of the features to look out for when choosing CS software are:
- Ticketing system
- Live communication
- Workflow automation
- Customer tracking
- Multi-channel support
- Self-service capabilities
Your customer care goals should steer you in the right direction when evaluating customer service software features. But, when it comes to features, there are two things to keep in mind.
- Do you really need all the features the software has to offer? It might just be that some of them add no value to your business, at least not in this point in time. If that is the case, go with an alternative solution or choose a different plan.
- How effectively does the software provider roll out new features? Technology and consumer expectations are constantly evolving. Your software provider should have the flexibility to introduce new features to accommodate market trends and business needs. A few years ago contacting a company via WhatsApp wasn’t even a thought. Now, it’s a reality and customer service software providers had to create the infrastructure which allows their platforms to handle such requests.
Is the tool easy to use?
A support ticketing system that is difficult to use will only complicate things for you and your support agents. You’ll be unable to use it effectively, meaning you’ll be unable to provide customers with the assistance they need.
For example, if navigation is difficult, you’ll struggle with using it to organize support requests.
In this regard, you should check whether the solution is intuitive, and easy to adopt when dealing with daily operations. This is an important step not only because it affects customer satisfaction with your service delivery but, also, because it can have a significant impact on agent satisfaction with their work and the tools they use to get things done.
How much training will my team require?
Some customer service solutions are intuitive, and your team will require little or no training to deploy them.
However, complex customer service solutions may require higher-level technical skills. With such solutions, your support team may need specialized training from specialist providers. Interestingly, such training has cost implications which you have to keep in mind, especially if you have a tightly set budget.
Is it easy to set up?
Installation is the first point of contact for users of customer service software. To avoid complications it should be fast, hassle-free, and shouldn’t cause service delivery interruptions.
It would be best to go for a solution that has a well-documented and straightforward installation process in addition to a simple learning process.
Does it support remote work and collaboration?
If you have teams that work from home an important buying factor should be whether the ticketing system supports this kind of work structure.
In addition, you should seriously consider this factor if you plan to expand your business in new geographies. This move might require you to set up a brand new customer care team or have your existing team providing service to clients in different time zones. Your software should support collaboration and communication between team members to equally cater for the well-being of your agents and the expectations of your client base.
Can it scale as my business grows?
In the business world, growth is a one-way street. As your business grows, your customer service department should scale with it.. Unfortunately, voluminous support requests make many CS solutions challenging to manage.
Here’s a couple of tips to help you determine a scalable support ticketing system:
- Check online user reviews. If large organizations use the software, it is probably scalable.
- Check the pricing page. Many software tools have different plans, ranging from a simple plan for small teams to a fully loaded plan for large teams. Check that the premium plan does not limit the number of users. Also, check that there are no restrictions on the number of times you can perform a task.
Does it have reporting and analytics capabilities?
You can only know whether or not you are successful if you track and measure your efforts. Keeping in mind that elevated customer service is considered a competitive advantage, your ability to measure customer service metrics and KPIs is essential.
The support software you choose should be able to provide customer service KPIs like time to first response, average response time, and resolution rate. It should also be able to show trends and correlations in the CS KPIs over a period of time.
Does it allow third-party integrations?
Integrations help synchronize data between the different tools you use. It is important that your customer service software integrates with third-party tools. Make a list of all the tools your customer service department is using and figure out whether the solution you are considering integrates with them. In many cases, robust CS platforms offer a variety of built-in tools that can replace the ones you are already using – this might be a cost-effective alternative and save you the need of an integration all together.
For example, consider the benefits of integrating your help center with a customer data platform (CDP). A CDP is a centralized customer database. It collects data from multiple sources and unifies it to build complete customer profiles. Access to such contextual data helps drive better engagement.
When looking at CS software, also consider integration with customer service analytics platforms. These platforms, derive data from live chat, emails, support tickets, and your other service channels and use the customer’s previous actions to predict their behavior.
Furthermore, an AI driven customer data analytics solution – like Surveypal – can provide you with instant insights on your customer service performance. Integrating your CS software with this kind of tool will enable you to make the most of your customer data eliminating the need for a technical background to do so.
Is the support software secure?
A data breach is costly. 70% of customers will stop doing business with a company if it experiences a data breach.
Customer service programs collect and hold critical customer data including personal information. It is usually the case that you are obliged by law to keep this is information private and out of the reach of hackers and cybercriminals. So, when considering support software, it is important to ensure data privacy and safety.
The right customer service software will improve your customer service delivery, therefore, fostering retention and advocacy.
The right customer service software should have features that address your goals. It should be easy to set up and use. It should be secure and scalable. It should support remote work, allow third-party integrations, and have analytics capabilities.