The 10 Best Customer Service Software for Small Business
Small businesses need to take advantage of the best customer service software to help them build and nurture customer relationships and offer excellent customer service. Here are our top 10 tools for 2023.
Small businesses typically have limited resources and must think carefully about the software they choose to support their operations. When in the market for customer service software, you’ll want to become aware of the range of options available and how this type of software can really help your business.
Small businesses will want to become known for their excellent customer servicewhen competing with some of the more established brand names. Customer service keeps customers returning and has them raving about your business to others. When you struggle to compete on factors like price, customer service sets you apart and earns you long-term customer loyalty.
Especially for small online businesses, you need a system that can help you deal with potentially large volumes of customers looking for assistance. If you want your company to grow successfully, you must invest in the right software to enable you to scale.
What is customer service software?
Customer service software is an app that helps businesses assist their customers. Without customer service software, companies will struggle to manage a flood of customer inquiries because they won’t have a system to organize their tickets.
Customer support software helps with any customer-facing activities and could include an email ticketing system, a self-service knowledge base, or an AI chatbot. A common type of customer service software would be a help desk ticketing system, which comes in-built with many features that help you manage, track and prioritize high volumes of customer tickets.
The best customer service software will scale with your team, allowing you to add extra agent seats to cope with demand. You can apply automation rules to help you sort through some of your tickets instead of manually assigning them to the right agent or department.
It is concerned with customer communications and can be applied across almost any channel, from self-service, to email, to live chat and more.
The 10 best customer service software for small business
We’ve got the best customer service software for small business right here for your convenience.
If you’re in the market for customer service software, look no further than Keeping. Keeping is our own help desk software that works right on top of Gmail to help small businesses provide superior customer service. Keeping helps you manage a shared mailbox so customer service teams can work together to deal with customer requests.
Starting at an incredible price point of $8 per user per month, this makes Keeping very affordable for teams with smaller budgets. That’s not to say that Keeping isn’t powerful – once set up and running in 15 minutes, teams can use Keeping to stay on top of a high volume of customer email tickets all within Gmail.
Keeping offers all the standard features like email templates, collision detection, internal notes, reporting, automations and more. Don’t think that Keeping can’t meet all your needs just because it is affordable.
2. Zoho Desk
Zoho Desk has been developed with small businesses in mind to give you access to great customer service software at a reasonable price. Zoho Desk comes packed with features that help you manage customer inquiries across channels and even integrates with its own self service portal so you can deflect more tickets.
Read More: 10 Customer Service Apps for 2023
Probably the best thing about Zoho Desk is it can scale with your business, so you can start small but then upgrade as your business grows. To free up your small business to focus on the most pressing tasks, Zoho Desk offers powerful automations that perform tasks when tickets meet defined rules, such as escalating urgent tickets.
Zoho Desk starts at $14.55 per user per month.
Helpjuice is powerful knowledge base software that helps you scale your customer service team. Customer service teams often want to create a help center that helps you deflect customer requests, while at the same time remaining on-brand and providing an intuitive experience. Helpjuice lets you customize your docs to look exactly how you want, taking advantage of their custom-made themes.
Helpjuice has in-depth analytics that tell you what customers are searching for and which articles need improving. You can find out who exactly is using your knowledge base and cater the experience to their needs. It’s easy to get started creating articles, collaborating, commenting and replying directly within the editor.
Helpjuice starts at $120 per month for up to four users.
HelpDocs is another knowledge base software that allows you to help customers help themselves. It’s very simple to create a knowledge base using the custom text editor with SEO-focused templates that help customers discover your content very quickly. HelpDocs integrates with Front and Chrome to give you a better customer experience, as well as live chat tools.
You can easily reorganize your knowledge base by dragging and dropping your content to different categories. HelpDocs tells you how many tickets have been avoided through customers using your knowledge base, so you can understand the ROI of your help center. It tells you your top articles and categories which gives you insight into which content is most popular.
HelpDocs starts at $73.72 per month.
Tidio is customer service software which offers live chat boosted with chatbots. It’s been developed for small to medium businesses to take their customer service to the next level through personalized recommendations for customers based on behavior. With Tidio, small businesses can save a lot of time by using automations for up to 47% of repetitive answers relating to topics like shipping and order status.
Chatbots, which can be created using Tidio’s no-code interface, help you generate new leads with custom greetings and personalized discounts. One of the best things about Tidio is it also offers a robust ticketing system that enables you to keep track of customer inquiries through Tidio.
Tidio starts at free.
Drift is another live chat and chatbot software that allows you to handle basic customer inquiries and connect with customers directly on your website. Drift uses AI-powered chatbots to engage with customers as they land on your pages and engages them through conversation and providing them with further information.
The main advantage of Drift is that it works quietly in the background to offer helpful customer service and nurture more leads. If customers need more help, they can be smoothly transferred to a human agent through live chat, email or video.
Drift starts at $2500 per month.
Dialpad is call center software for small businesses. It’s a customer service software that functions as a one-stop-shop for customer communication, using AI to help you manage customer conversations more effectively. Dialpad enables you to manage contact centers around the world that help you scale your team up and down exactly as needed.
You have access to details about every customer so you never lose track of the relevant context. Agents can easily link customers to useful self-service content that speeds up the time it takes to resolve queries. Flexible call routing directs customers to the right agent based on skill level, availability, or longest-idle time.
Dialpad starts at $23 per user per month.
Aircall is another cloud call center software for small businesses, helping you to manage your sales and support teams as customer calls come flooding in. One of the best things about Aircall is its integrations with popular help desk and CRM systems so you have access to important customer data during every call.
With Aircall, you can keep track of key metrics for your customer service team and monitor performance. It offers a professional customer experience with cloud call center IVR menus, skill-based routing, live call monitoring, and more. All you need to take advantage of Aircall is a headset and an internet connection.
Aircall starts at $30 per user per month.
Olark is customer service software that offers live chat, making it easy for your customers to talk to you. The advantage of Olark is you can chat with customers in real-time, on your website or app immediately when they have questions. Live chat tends to offer instant answers to customers, which might compel them to make a purchase on your site.
Olark offers some automations such as the ability to send a suggestion or offer at the right moment, triggered by customer behavior on your site. The full text of every conversation is saved in a searchable database so it’s easy to find out about past issues. Real-time dashboards give you access to instant reports on chat metrics and customer feedback.
Olark starts at $29 per user per month.
Freshchat is another customer service software that offers live chat for your customers. Sales, marketing and support teams can use Freshchat to have intelligent conversations through unifying messaging channels. You can keep track of CSAT to ensure that customers are satisfied with your service.
Freshchat can connect with any messaging app such as WhatsApp for Business, Instagram, or email. You always have access to the full customer context which makes dealing with every inquiry a breeze. You can prioritize conversations and easily tag other agents to collaborate.
Freshchat starts at free.
What are the benefits of using customer service software in a small business?
1. Helps you measure the quality of your support
Customer support software normally offers analytics that helps you measure the quality of your support. You can track key metrics such as First Response Time to find out how quickly you respond to customers. Customers hate to be kept waiting, and small businesses can offer support that ranks alongside more prominent players in the industry, increasing customer satisfaction.
2. Improves customer relationships
Customer service software will provide you with all sorts of information about customers, such as their history of interactions with your business, allowing you to offer a more personalized experience that caters to customer needs. When customer conversations are more contextual, you can improve the customer relationship experience, relating to them as fellow human beings.
3. Enhances the speed at which you can respond to customers
When you have a robust system that helps you manage high volumes of customer tickets, you can stay on top of service even when your team is bustling. Customer support software facilitates better agent collaboration, which means you can more effectively distribute the workload and view in the analytics what time periods might require you to schedule in more agents.
4. Helps you do more with less
Automations and rules can enable your small business to offer superior customer service with fewer resources. Technology mitigates the need to hire more agents because the agents you do have will be more productive. For example, a self-service knowledge base eliminates many potential customer tickets because customers can help themselves.
5. Allows you to manage tickets more effectively
If you’re working purely from an email inbox that receives customer inquiries, your small business customer service team will soon be overwhelmed by customers. When emails are converted into tickets, you can easily see which tickets have been responded to and which are still waiting for a response. You’ll be able to keep track of your backlog and ensure that no ticket gets lost.
6. Improves the agent experience
When customer service agents have access to the right software, their experience of working in customer service improves. Customer support software has been specifically designed to make your agents’ lives easier and make offering superior service a real possibility. Suppose agents are working with archaic or limited customer service tools. In that case, they won’t be able to help your customers properly because your business hasn’t cared enough to invest in the right technology.
7. Looks more professional to customers
When multiple agents can collaborate more effectively and understand who has been assigned to each ticket, this results in a more professional impression on the customer. Your customer service software keeps track of customer history, which agents can access when providing support. This ensures they look well-informed and properly equipped to help every customer.
The different types of customer service software
Customer service software can be divided into types depending on the channel. You’ll need to consider how you want to support your customers when choosing customer service software.
Some small businesses want to offer their customers service instantly on their website or app through live chat messaging. The advantage of live chat tools is that your business can be immediately available whenever customers have a query, so you can support them through buying a product on your website.
A chatbot is an AI-powered messaging tool that simulates natural conversation with customers without requiring the intervention of a human agent. Well-deployed chatbots can significantly enhance your small business’s ability to help larger numbers of customers with basic queries.
A customer-facing knowledge base is a self-service resource that contains answers to commonly asked questions. Small businesses can document their knowledge and make it available to customers to avoid the need for opening a customer ticket. When customers are empowered to help themselves, they are more satisfied with your business’s service.
Email is one of the most popular ways for customers to get in touch with your small business. It’s asynchronous, so customers can move on with their day while waiting for an answer from your customer service team. Being available for customers via email is critical for customer service teams that want to serve customers on their preferred channel.
Phone support is still essential for customers who have complex or urgent issues. Contact center software allows small business customer service teams to handle incoming customer calls, usually requiring a headset, computer, and internet connection. You can keep customers waiting in a queue and route calls to the right agent.
Current trends for customer service software
Moving toward AI chatbots
The trend is moving firmly towards chatbots to answer customer queries, which can save businesses up to 30% on customer support costs. Customers are increasingly comfortable with chatbots used for customer service, which can often resolve common queries more quickly than a human agent. Chatbot technology is evolving to the point where the chatbots are smarter and learn from previous experiences.
Customer want faster responses
Two thirds of customers say that speed is as important as price. This means that small businesses are competing based on how fast they can respond to customer queries, regardless of whether or not they are the cheapest option on the market. This can be good news for small businesses which often have smaller profit margins.
Increasing demand for self-service
Customers don’t want to rely on your customer service team for simple queries – today’s customer is accustomed to helping themselves. 67% of customers prefer self-service over speaking to a customer service agent. If you don’t provide customers with options to self-serve then they are likely to start looking elsewhere.
Customers take to social media
Customers are increasingly comfortable taking to social media to reach out to companies publicly in order to elicit a response. Your small business should be present on all the main social media channels where customers might choose to contact you and treat it like you would any other support channel. If you don’t respond to customer queries on social media, it can lead to a 15% increase in churn rate.
Omnichannel service is essential
Customers need to be provided with a coherent experience across any channel they might choose to contact you on. So whether they choose to jump from email, to live chat, to phone calls, agents need access to their conversation history to offer a seamless omnichannel experience with your customer service team. Customers don’t see “channels” – they just see your business. Businesses with omnichannel strategies have a 91% higher year-on-year customer retention rate.
Things to consider when choosing customer service software for your small business
Customer service software aimed at small businesses usually come at a lower price point than other solutions. You’ll need to choose a tool that suits your budget and bear in mind how much it will cost to add extra seats. The good news is the right customer service software usually saves money so any upfront cost should provide a return on investment.
You might not have a high volume of customer enquiries now but this is likely to grow in the future, especially if you succeed in offering exceptional customer service. You must consider customer service tools that have the capacity to scale with your business, and find out whether there are hidden costs.
Meeting business needs
Think about what your business aims to accomplish with your new customer service software. Is it to serve customers across communication channels, or provide a self-service knowledge base to reduce customer tickets? The type of software you choose depends upon what goals you have, and you’ll need to choose a solution that fulfills its function perfectly so you can be assured you’ll be able to meet those goals.
Range of features
Sometimes the software you choose will offer a broad range of features that will allow you to accomplish more with the same system. For example, many customer service help desks come bundled in with knowledge base capabilities, which as a bonus usually integrate well together. Often, live chat software offers chatbot services so you can automate many aspects of the customer experience.
Simple to understand
As a small business, you don’t have unlimited amounts of time to learn a new system – you need to hit the ground running. Look for a tool that is easy to learn and intuitive, so that your agents will immediately begin to enjoy using it. It should fit well with your existing workflows and not require extensive training.
Great support experience
Your software vendor should provide a great support experience for new users learning to use their software. They should be available across channels and respond promptly to all inquiries. Test out the support during the trial phase of the software to see how well they handle any issues.
The most common customer service software features
Typically, customer service software functions as a help desk to enable you to manage and prioritize customer tickets. Therefore, many will come with a ticketing system that turns any customer inquiry into a ticket and allows you to track its progress. The main advantage of a ticketing system is that you should be able to assign tickets to individual agents who can then be responsible for their resolution.
Customer service teams work best together. Collaboration features allow more than one agent to work together on tickets to find the best solution. Internal notes, tagging and collision detection are all features that enable teams of agents to collaborate on tickets. The system should be accessible to your whole team of agents who can deal with customer requests separately from their own personal inquiries.
Any customer service platform worth its salt should be able to offer automations that help you streamline your workflow. For example, automatic ticket routing should assign new tickets to the correct agent or department without manual intervention, based on keywords or sender. Other types of automations could include chatbots to deflect basic queries or self-service knowledge bases that offer up relevant articles.
One of the biggest reasons companies choose to use customer service solutions is to have access to advanced reporting. Metrics give you valuable insight into how your customer service team is performing and tell you about the backlog of tickets. Without reporting, you can’t tell whether your customer service team is getting better or whether your customers are even satisfied.
Often, customer service software companies will offer a suite of solutions that all integrate with one another, or they may integrate with third-party tools. These integrations help you streamline your workflows as you can access data from another system without leaving the tool. You can look for customer service software that integrates with the tools you are already using to create better experiences for your agents.
When you log into your customer service software you should be able to see the status of your tickets at a glance. Your dashboard tells you what actions need attending to and what customers are still waiting for an answer. If you’re using knowledge base software then you might be able to see which articles are currently waiting for review and whether you have new feedback on your content.
Best practices for customer service apps and software
Don’t stretch yourself too thinly
Rather than attempting to be available on all channels, identify your most popular channels and focus on providing exceptional support on those. If you only have a limited customer service team, then it is better to streamline your efforts and help customers using the channels you know are within your reach.
Use software to support human service
At the end of the day, customers want to deal with humans. Sometimes, that’s the only option if their query is complex or urgent, and customers won’t appreciate it if your company is hiding behind self-service or chatbots. By all means, deflect as many tickets as possible, but always keep the channels of communication open for those customers who really need it.
Take advantage of personalization
Customer service software gives you access to data about customers that you can use to personalize the customer experience. When you can see vital context about each customer, you’ll be able to resolve issues much more effectively and have more productive customer interactions. You may even be able to engage more customers and offer cross-sells and upsells based on past behavior, thereby increasing customer lifetime value.
Foster collaboration between teams
As a small business, internal communication isn’t likely to be too much of a problem. Make sure you foster collaboration between teams like customer service, sales and marketing, giving them access to the same systems that help you assist customers. All departments should be as close to the customer as possible, making customer service the job of everyone in the company.
Small businesses need to take advantage of the best customer service software to help them build and nurture customer relationships, and offer excellent customer service. There are many tools available on the market specifically for small businesses, designed for their needs and budgets. All you have to do is decide what you want to accomplish and adopt a tool that is right for your support team.
With the right customer service software, you’ll be able to scale your business much more effectively and help more customers with fewer resources. Customer service software is designed to make assisting customers as easy as possible, and vastly improves the agent experience.
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