Customer service requests over email and phone declined 7 percent between 2016 and 2018. The decline was due, at least partly, to frustration with slow customer service. Business Insider Intelligence reports that 49 percent of customers like getting help through automated channels. That number is even higher for millennials (66 percent). Customer service software is the best way to meet the demand for fast customer assistance.
Customer service actually adds to the value of your product. Many customers (66 percent) will spend more if your company has excellent customer service.
Consumers are migrating online for the bulk of their purchases. As a result, purchasing errors and buyer’s remorse have become more common. It’s more important than ever to stay on top of eCommerce customer service trends.
A commitment to quality customer service is a constant challenge. Fortunately, there are many customer service software packages. These apps can make your job a lot easier.
What can customer service software do for you?
Well-designed customer service software should have the following benefits.
Increased accountability. Every contact is documented, in a customer service app. This allows management to monitor each agent’s performance.
Improved coordination. Integration with sales force automation systems is key. This allows for better coordination between the sales and customer service departments.
Better integration. The software should integrate with service dispatch as well as asset management. This allows agents to track stock at all times.
Improved infrastructure. Simple queries can be dealt with via customer self-help systems. More complex problems can be directed to agents.
Reduced times to resolve issues. This provides better customer satisfaction. In addition, it increases the number of queries each agent can handle.
Multi-channel service. Customers want to interact using a variety of channels. Customer service software can support queries through email, social media, live chat, helpdesk, and phone.
24/7 customer support. Part of the appeal of online shopping is that the store is open any time. Customers don’t want to wait until business hours to get help with their purchases.
Take back your time. Automation through customer service software relieves you of mind-numbing tasks. Use technology to sort tickets, route queries, manage queries, and create reports for you.
Data analysis. The data that your customer service app collects can help you understand trends in your business. An analysis of the data can show you problem areas. This can also point the way toward solutions.
Gather kudos from customers. Good customer service can turn a problem into a happy interaction. Your customer service app can give customers a chance to share this. You can create testimonials from your positive feedback.
A “Wow!” experience. These benefits aren’t valuable unless you offer your customer a great experience. You customer service should make them go, “Wow!”
5 Types of Customer Service Software
To cover all your bases, you’ll probably need a combination of software packages. These are the five main categories you need to consider:
Email support software
Offering email support to your customers is a must. You can allow customers to contact you either via a contact form on your website. Or you can use a public email address.
This poses multiple challenges for your agents:
• They have to deal with a potentially large volume of requests per day.
• Agents must respond to each customer’s questions quickly.
• They must not forget to reply to any one customer’s query.
• Managing multiple threaded conversations can be tricky.
It’s a good idea to have a separate email account for support requests.
Email support software can help you with:
• Managing different brands, products, or departments from a single account.
• Reports that help you track key support metrics. Plus, reports on agent performance, and customer satisfaction.
• Tagging queries.
• Triggering automation.
You know you’re getting it right if you can personalize every customer interaction.
Live chat software
Zendesk issues a Customer Service Benchmark report. A recent report found that live chat provides a customer satisfaction rate of 92 percent. This beats all other channels.
Live chat allows you to speak to your customers at the moment they need help. They don’t have to make a phone call. They don’t have to wait. This is powerful customer service.
A study by Econsultancy showed that customers preferred live chat to other channels. This was because they got their answers quickly and efficiently.
Live chat software can allow you to implement:
• Reactive handling of pre-sales enquiries.
• Proactive selling to hesitant buyers.
• Post-sales support.
To make the most of live chat, take time to study your chat transcripts. Are there issues raised through customer feedback that could be addressed?
Social media management software
It’s critical to give customers positive social customer care experiences. When you do, they are nearly 3 times more likely to recommend your brand. This was according to a study by NM Incite.
Customers expect brands to offer customer service on social media. They don’t care if you only use your Twitter for PR. Customers will often post on multiple social media channels to try to resolve their issue.
The problem with many eCommerce businesses is that different people run each channel. These people often have different agendas and different priorities. A customer skipping across channels could have different experiences. This causes confusion, damaging your brand image.
Social media management software can provide the following:
• Integration of all your social channels.
• Faster response times, through greater efficiency.
• Consistency of service across channels.
• Enhanced social listening.
Respond to and resolve complaints quickly. This will make a positive impact on your audience. The key is to be responsive and active on all your accounts. Forty-two percent of customers who send queries on Twitter expect a response within the hour.
Inbound phone support software
Providing quality phone support can be expensive. However, it offers important advantages:
• Clear communication. You will learn more from your customer during a phone conversation than via email.
• Building rapport. Talking directly with a prospect can build rapport. This can turn a first-time shopper into a long-term buyer.
• Building trust. Customers may want to talk to you before they buy. This is even more true for expensive items. They want to know they can trust you.
Inbound phone support software can help you in the following ways:
• Automatic Call Distribution (ACD). This allows you to create rules for distributing incoming calls. The rules could relate to the time of day, custom percentages, or agent skills.
• Interactive Voice Response (IVR). Pre-recorded messages can provide self-service information. This works well for queries that don’t need an agent.
• Live Call Monitoring. This allows managers to listen to calls in real time. It enables the manager to give advice to an agent mid-call. Managers can also “call barge.” This means to taking over a call if it needs special attention.
Helpdesk software allows for management of customer service activity. Helpdesks use a support ticket system. This can track customer interactions across many channels. Use one dashboard to track email, social media, live chat, and phone calls.
Helpdesk software has three main components:
• Ticket management. Customer support queries are gathered and assigned tickets. All tickets can be managed centrally. This also allows each ticket to be tracked and monitored in real time.
• Automation suite. Helpdesk coordinators can automatically direct questions. Customer queries can be matched with the agents best able to answer them. The software sends the coordinator notifications. If an agent doesn’t respond to a ticket, or it is takes too long to resolve, a manager can intervene.
• Reporting and Optimization. Gather and record data about critical aspects of your customer service operations. Get reports about workload, turnaround time, and resolution time can be . These metrics give a quick perspective to managers. In addition, they can be analyzed to optimize future performance.
What to consider when choosing a customer service software package
Here are the boxes to check as you look for great customer service software.
What channels do your customers prefer for connecting to you? Consider a customer service survey to gather data.
Ease of use
Customer service software that isn’t intuitive to use is of no service. If possible, start with a free trial. That way, you can experience the setup and interface before you commit.
Integration of customer service software with key business processes (e.g. sales and marketing)
You may want to use more than one piece of customer support software. Because of this, they should work well together. Apps that integrate with your CRM will be valuable in the long run.
When you run an eCommerce business, you aren’t tied to an office. Your customer service apps should provide easy remote access. This will let you respond on the go.
Mobile and voice assistant access
Your users need to be able to contact you through mobile. They will also want to reach out to you through voice assistants such as Alexa. Make sure your customer service software works well for mobile users.
Reliable tech support
When your customer support software crashes, your customer support operation crashes too. Choose a software platform that has rapid response. This will help you troubleshoot any problems that arise.
Ability to scale up
Switching customer service software platforms takes time that you can’t afford. Choose a platform that serves businesses from small to large. You want customer service apps that will continue to serve you as your business grows.
8 great customer service software solutions for eCommerce businesses
Customer service software can improve your business operations. At the same time, it can make your customers happier. There aren’t many things in life that are such a win-win.
There are many great customer service software solutions on the market. Choose one that has the features your business needs at a price that you can afford. You might end up using more than one customer support software app. It often takes multiple apps to meet all your customer service automation needs. Many of these apps integrate with one another.
In addition, choose a software company that is well-established. The newest customer service software solution may come with bells and whistles. However, if that startup folds, you may have to scramble. If this happens without notice, you could end up with a customer service crisis.
Here are eight options for great customer service software:
The helpdesk software company Zendesk was founded in 2007. This makes it a wise elder among customer service software apps. It has 100,000 paid customers, both large and small businesses. Zendesk obviously has a solid business model. It is not going away any time soon.
Pros: Zendesk is easy to set up and has great features. The company serves businesses of all sizes. Therefore, you can stay with Zendesk from startup to global conglomerate. Zendesk offers support in multiple languages. This is crucial if you want to reach global eCommerce markets. The company also offers good tech support.
Cons: Great customer service comes with a price tag to match. Zendesk can be expensive, especially if you need to add more features.
LiveAgent is a popular helpdesk customer service software app. It provides multichannel support. LiveChat integrates social media customer service with email and phone. You can start with a two-week free trial to see how you like the interface.
Pros: LiveAgent is quick to set up and easy to learn. Users of the app get robust customer support. You aren’t locked into a contract. You can purchase more or less support from LiveAgent. It is easy to change your plan as your business needs fluctuate. There are a host of features you can customize. In addition, LiveAgent is priced to fit your startup budget.
Cons: LiveAgent is still working out the kinks in its mobile app. It also might not integrate with the other business software systems you use. Be sure to check this before you choose LiveAgent.
“Our target niche/niche which can get the most value of the software is eCommerce SMB. ([That is] online stores, SaaS vendors, Phone companies). We think of customer service as our competitive advantage – this is what we do best.”
— David Cacik, Head of Marketing at LiveAgent
Another well-regarded helpdesk customer service software solution is Kayako. This helpdesk supports email, phone, and live chat customer support. It has been around even longer than Zendesk. Therefore, Kayako has had plenty of time to work out the kinks in its software.
Pros: You can access your dashboard from a cloud host or host yourself. This allows you to respond to customer messages wherever you are. There is a knowledge base tool that can answer many customer questions. This can save you valuable staff time. You can scale up as your business grows. And the pricing is affordable, with plans that start as low as $24.
Cons: To access Kayako’s most outstanding features, you’ll have to buy the most expensive plan. The interface isn’t the smoothest. In addition, customers have reported trouble receiving email queries.
“Kayako focuses on technology-enabled retailers. Where we really shine is providing digital-first retailers a support software that allows them to put great service and customer experience at their core.”
— Adam Rogers, Content Marketing Manager at Kayako
Phone calls are very old-school. You won’t catch a millennial actually talking on a smartphone. However, your customers may want to speak with a customer service agent. Talkdesk is a good solution, offering VOIP customer service software.
You can’t rely on phone as your only customer support channel. Therefore, consider integrating Talkdesk with Zendesk or Saleforce. Consider it part of your CRM package.
Pros: Talkdesk creates call log. The app makes it easy for you to find the customer call you’re looking for. You can have several lines feed into your Talkdesk account. This customer service software gets high marks for reliability. It is also easy to use.
Cons: Users report that the software can glitch, forcing you to restart. The call transcriptions are imperfect (as anyone who uses Siri or Hey Google has experienced). However, users did appreciate this feature. There have also been some complaints about Talkdesk’s own customer support.
5. Pure Chat
Pure Chat does not only provide live chat customer service. It also tracks your site visitors. This provides helpful information about the shoppers who visit your website. You don’t have to wait for visitors to ask a question – you can reach out to them. Pure Chat offers a free trial and a free base plan.
Pros: Pure Chat saves transcripts of your customer communications. The software creates a log so you can track your chat metrics. There are lots of customizable features. In addition, you can manage multiple chats in real time.
Cons: The pro plan is $99 per month. This can get pricey if it’s one of several customer service software solutions you use. In addition, Pure Chat only supports English. Therefore, this isn’t a good solution if your business is global.
“Pure Chat has more than 100,000 small business customers who love how simple our live chat software is to use. We made our tool with small business in mind and created mobile apps right off the bat. So, business owners who are on the go and strapped for time can offer amazing customer service from anywhere.”
— Arielle Hurst, Marketing Lead at Pure Chat
6. Sprout Social
Sprout Social is a social media customer service software platform. It supports interactions between brands and their customers. This platform provides more than customer service software. You might want to take advantage of the other Sprout Social features, too. But don’t discount is as a tool for social media customer support. You can check out Sprout Social with a free trial.
Pros: Sprout Social works well on mobile devices. It has CRM built right in. It provides a wealth of tools and flexible features. The dashboard is easy to use and you can create reports from the app.
Cons: You’ll have to buy the premium plan to access customer service support. It can get pricey if you need licenses for several customer service team members. And it excludes some popular social platforms, most notably YouTube.
“Forget phone, email, and live chat. Facebook, Twitter, and other networks are the new front lines for customer service questions.”
— Andrew Caravella, Vice President of Marketing at Sprout Social
Olark is a live chat customer support software. It has been around almost as long as live chat (since 2009). Fun fact: you can dress your chat icons up for different holidays. This is a plus if your eCommerce business is seasonal. You can highlight Christmas as well as other holidays.
Pros: Olark gets high marks for easy setup and use. You can design your own chat icon. Use Olark’s templates or pay extra for custom edits. It provides a feedback form. This can automate the collection of customer insights. Olark has a free plan and one paid plan, which isn’t expensive.
Cons: It doesn’t include a system for creating tickets. You’ll have to integrate with Zendesk or another CRM solution. Therefore, Olark doesn’t work as well as a standalone.
“Every eCommerce business should offer live chat. Consumers just expect it now. And if you’re not offering live chat, there’s a pretty strong chance you’re losing out on sales and new customers. And increasing the likelihood of churn. We believe live chat should be immediate (synchronous) and human. When a customer has a question, they shouldn’t have to wait in a queue for an answer. And they should expect to talk to a real human.”
— Karl Pawlewicz, Voice of Olark
8. Help Scout
Help Scout is email customer service software. It also supports live chat. The app helps you manage internal and external email interactions. In addition, it can streamline communications within large internal teams.
Pros: Help Scout brings the power of automation to your customer service emails. It can tag emails to go to the right department and create reports. Users love the Help Scout dashboard and customer support. It includes a traffic feature. This keeps multiple team members from sending responses to the same query.
Cons: Help Scout doesn’t have the wide array of features. Its features fall short of some other customer service apps. In addition, the subscription costs can add up if you have a lot of users.
“Absolutely you should talk to your customers through social channels and chat. But there’s no better place to tie all of those conversations together than email. It’s the most accessible, most flexible and well-understood medium. By integrating your other channels into something like Help Scout, you can start to really build great long-term relationships one-to-one.”
— Tim Thyne, Head of Sales and Success at Help Scout
What customer service software is right for your business?
There are some great software solutions recommended here. They’re all powerful tools. Each one can enhance the efficiency and results of your customer service. Whatever software you choose, remember that a human touch makes a difference.
Treat every customer as an individual. Every customer looks for an experience that’s personalized and meaningful. Offer them the human touch, and they’ll be happy, engaged, and coming back for more.