You probably decided that email isn’t cutting it as a support solution for your business; maybe, you’re building your customer support team or launching a startup of your own — whatever the reason, quality support is crucial in creating great customer experience and building brand loyalty. Sooner or later you will need a robust customer support software to run your support efficiently.
But there are so many support solutions out there! And the search for the right helpdesk software can be daunting. Let’s put an end to that misery with this easy-to-use guide
#1 Start with These Four Questions
Each business is unique in its own way. Be it the industry that it belongs in or the kind of operational processes that it runs on, a lot can differ in the way a company does business and support. Here are a few questions that we want you to chalk down as a first step to choosing a customer support software. These questions will help you define your support goals, the type of support you want to provide, and set the right customer expectations.
What are your customers’ expectations?
Not every customer prefers dialing your support line. I, for one, take to Twitter to reach a company’s support team. There might be others who prefer looking through only community forums to look for answers. Not only that, each industry functions differently. For example, the retail industry receives the maximum number of customer queries each month while the banking industry gets the least. To understand what your customers want and where they go in search of information, you need to look for customers’ behavior patterns and keep an ear out for what they are asking. This brings us to the next question on team goals.
What are your team’s goals?
Once you’ve figured out your customers’ expectations, you need to align your support team’s goals and see how you can achieve them using a help desk software.
Let’s say you’re an online store with plenty of your customers reaching out to you on social, then your team’s goal should be directed towards social support. But if you are the type of company that has a lot of customers taking to community forums for support, then finding a helpdesk software that helps you set up and manage a community becomes important.
So what’s it going to be for your team?
Is your customer support software scalable?
The third aspect we need you to look at is scalability.
Scalability is a core component of any customer support software. Let’s say, you are a small team now but you have plans of expanding your support in a few years. This means that you are expecting a rise in the volume of customer queries as your company grows. A volume that large needs a team empowered with a robust help desk software to manage your customer communications, allow better collaboration between different teams, and not lose sight of important queries. The customer support software you choose should be scalable and future proof.
Oh, and choosing a helpdesk software is also a great opportunity to rethink your support strategy and streamline your support operations.
Do you know what your support team needs?
Your support team is the one that will use customer support software extensively. The very medium of customer support should not be a hindrance to delivering great customer experience. You need to make sure they have the right customer support software that is easy to set up and increases agent productivity. Your support agent should have access to all relevant information about the customer in one place so that they do not have to switch between tabs for that information. For example, Freshdesk’s Team Huddle feature provides context by ensuring that you have all necessary information about a ticket at all times.
#2 Decide on a Budget for Your Helpdesk Software
The answers to the four questions will give you a clear outline of the kind of support you want to offer your customers and goals to measure them against. Once you are done sketching out these details, it’s time to draw a budget for your customer support software. Here are three key aspects for you to consider.
Your Team Size
You might expect that a help desk software’s pricing plans be slotted based on team size. You hope that this will make it easy for you to decide which plan to choose. However, not all customer support software are designed that way. Some have hidden charges or limitations on the plan that you want to trial. Be on the lookout for such pitfalls and find a helpdesk that offers you maximum features at a lower cost.
Let’s just say you are one of the smaller teams, here’s what you can do — start with a free plan. As your team grows and as you require more features to run the support show, you can switch to a higher plan that accommodates your support needs.
Integrations and Software Compatibility
Installing a customer support software alone will not cut it. There are external integrations that need to be done which your help desk software should be able to accommodate. This can shoot your budget up. Find out what integrations are required and make sure it doesn’t burn a hole in your pocket.
Apart from integrations, you need to check if the helpdesk tool is compatible with software used by other departments. For example, to answer a customer complaint related to payment, your customer support software should be able to retrieve the details from your payment software.
#3 Know What Features to Look for
Let’s narrow down this some more for you. We’ve put together a quick list of features that we think a good helpdesk software must have. The real question is — what are the different channels through which customers reach out to you for support.
Most small companies start out with a shared support inbox. But things can get out of hand as your team grows. Imagine a team of 10 or 20 support agents using the same inbox to respond to customer emails. It’s difficult to keep a track of which emails have been answered, which ones are a top priority, assigning agent accountability, etc.
A team inbox simplifies all of this for you. It allows all your customer queries to land in one place. Each of your support agents can log in individually to access and respond to the queries. If one of the agents is replying to a ticket, the team inbox shows you who’s replying. If you need help from another department, you can assign it to other team members. Team inboxes also allow emails from multiple addresses to land in the same inbox. There are additional features that come as part of the team inbox such as canned responses, insert solution articles quickly, and other such features that help you reduce your response time.
Though emails are a great way to answer customer questions, it can take a while before you can close a ticket. Live chat support speeds things up and helps you provide support in real time from within the helpdesk software. While you can’t be available online round the clock, the help desk tool should allow chat queries to be automatically converted to tickets. This ensures that none of your customers’ queries go unattended.
42% of customers contact a company for support through live chat! — Click to tweet
Live chat isn’t necessarily meant to handle support queries from existing customers. You can also use it to interact with visitors who come looking to know more about your product. These are sales opportunities in disguise. Wow your visitor and you’d have won a customer for life.
What’s quicker than live chat support? Phone support. Though phone calls require additional effort from your team, they help resolve customer queries on the fly. The advantage of phone support is that it lets your support team delve deeper into the issue as the customer is able to provide details instantly. However, similar to chat support, it is unlikely that your support team will be able to be online always. A good customer support software will allow you to integrate with voice-over-internet apps, log your phone calls as tickets, or simply include phone services within the software. Whichever the case, the help desk software should have the necessary phone support features that let you answer customer questions from within the software itself.
Forums work as a platform where you can enable customers to help one another. They are similar to community discussion websites such as Reddit or Quora except that it is specific to your product or service. When a customer posts questions on your forum, either you or your customers can respond to them with answers and tips.
One of our customers, Sparkol, had set up, customize, and manage their forum using Freshdesk. Here’s what we like about their help page and forum
An up-to-date knowledge base can deflect tickets up to 10%. — Click to tweet
A knowledge base is a self-service tool that customers can use to find information about your product. It’s something like a primary defense line against customer queries. It lets you answer frequently asked questions, publish information about your pricing, product features, or just about anything you want your users to know about your product.
And not just that! A knowledge base helps you optimize content for search engines.
Customers don’t waste time in taking to social when something is broken or awesome, which is instinctive these days. This puts your brand under a magnifying glass. What you say in response and how quickly you say it determines whether you can be a likable brand or product.
Now imagine if you let a customer complaint on social go unnoticed. It’s terrifying, isn’t it? A customer support software should support integrations with social channels so that all your Twitter, Facebook conversations land in your team inbox. Some advanced helpdesk software also allow you to monitor and track keywords that you can find conversations where people have missed tagging your company.
Mobile App Support
The world is inching towards mobile. Depending on your customer’s needs and the industry you belong in, it may be necessary that your support agents are equipped with the right tools to be available anytime and anywhere. A mobile app for a help desk software allows your support agents to answer customer tickets and queries on the go. A helpdesk’s mobile support tools let you add your knowledge base, respond to support forums, and provide support inside the mobile app. This makes support instant and delights your customers.
How do you know if your support team is making progress? What’s working and what’s not in support? You require data that will drive how you do support. For this, you need to get feedback from your customers using surveys that you can set up and send out in a flash of an eye.
The customer support software should also have inbuilt reporting features and analytics that provide enough and more information on how your support agents are performing, where your support is lagging, and what you can do to make support experience better for your customer.
Reports also show you ticket volume trends. This will help you take the guesswork out of your workflow planning. It will help you stay better staffed on days when the volume is high.
#4 Make a List of Helpdesk Software Options
Equipped with all the necessary information, you are now ready to search and make a list of options that will suit your needs. And by search, we mean looking for options using Google. Look through review sites such as G2 Crowd Ask around within your own network for recommendations. These people most likely have a first-hand experience using a customer support software. This might help you eliminate a few from the long list you made from your online search.
Here’s a quick tip — another great place to look for helpdesk options is online communities such as Quora. There are plenty of discussions happening every day on which helpdesk software is the best. Read through the threads to see which software has people talking.
#5 Sign up for a Trial of the Shortlisted Helpdesk Software
You have a list of customer support software that you are considering for your support. Great! Now what? It’s time to put them to the test. Trial the software to decide which one will suit your support requirements. Though you’d expect to access all the features of a software during its trial period, not all support software offer that as an option. We know how painful it makes the process for you. That’s why at Freshdesk, you can sign up for a trial of a plan that gives you access to all of our features.
Once you sign up for a trial, see what your feature requirements actually look like in the helpdesk tool. If something is impressing enough, invite a couple of your support agents to test it out themselves. After all, they are the ones who will heavily rely on the software.
If you aren’t one for sign-ups and trials, take a look at the features listed on their website or sign up for a demo video and see what they have to offer for your business. If you are not happy, strike the software off the list and start again with another one. Do this till you know you have the right customer support software.
A helpdesk software should not require help setting up! — Click to tweet
It’s good to get rid of the complex ones that take a lot of engineering help to get started. You need a software that is up and running even before you know it because customer queries cannot wait.
Try Freshdesk; We’re a Little Biased
We are a customer support software ourselves. We love our product and we are a wee bit biased about it. So we believe it should be included in your search for a helpdesk software.
No matter the size of your business, Freshdesk can do the heavy lifting for your support. And if easy to use or easy to set up is on your list of criteria, then we have news for you. Though Freshdesk comes with a bundle of powerful features, setting it up is easy breezy. We’d say the same if you are looking to switch from one helpdesk software or from email to Freshdesk.
Yes, all of this is true. If you don’t believe us yet, we recommend taking Freshdesk for a free spin.
Choosing the right support tool is pivotal to your support process and your support team. It’s that one software that your support agents’ efforts will be invested in and helps you delight your customers. Since there are plenty of options out there, it will take a good chunk of your time. So grab that cup of coffee already.
And if you have sorted and shortlisted a help desk software for your business previously, share your experiences here as comments. We and our readers would love to learn from them.