Sales

12 Customer Support Tools for an Unstoppable Service Desk

Equip your support desk with the best tools for live chats, service management, and customer communication, as recommended by 10+ experts.

Melissa King Melissa King on March 26, 2021 (last modified on March 23, 2021) • 15 minute read

When we asked customer support experts about their work, we discovered that many of them have small teams. Almost 60% of our respondents said they have fewer than 5 reps.

customer support team size survey results graph

The smaller the team you have at your support desk, the more important quality tools become. A versatile stack will lighten your workload so you can spend more time focusing on your customers. After all, customer service inquiries are a great opportunity to improve your business.

So, which of these tools are worth trying? The customer service professionals we consulted had 12 to recommend. Here’s the full list:

Live Chat Tools for Customer Support

Many customer service teams consider live chat a must-have in their support approach. About three-quarters of the experts we consulted use chat software in their stack.

customer support approach survey results

Plus, more than a third of survey participants told us that chat is their main channel for customer support.

main channel for customer support data graph

These responses line up with the number of chat programs respondents mentioned when we asked them about their favorite tools — 7 out of the 12 platforms mentioned to us were live chat software. If you want to switch to a chat-centric support approach or try a new option, consider these recommended tools.

Related: Live Chat vs. Chatbots: How to Start Effective Conversations (According to 26 Marketers)

1. Gist

Gist

Gist offers a full stack of customer communication tools such as live chat, email marketing, knowledge bases and meetings.

Bruce Hogan from SoftwarePundit highlighted the software’s chat tool when recommending Gist. “Gist makes it very easy to implement live chat on your website and has a backend to streamline ticket management. In addition, it has a free plan that is very feature-rich,” Hogan says.

Gist’s Support Suite package ranges in price from free to $499/month, with discounts available for small, early-stage startups. The free plan seems to offer plenty of solid features for small teams, including live chat and a team-wide inbox.

When the SoftwarePundit team started using Gist, they saw results right away. Hogan tells us, “We implemented Gist and immediately began seeing a few percent of website visitors engage our team with key questions. Helping them has led to an increase in website conversion.”

You can integrate Gist with Zapier and a variety of eCommerce, website, email, and social media software.

2. Drift

Drift

Drift is a chat platform focused on driving revenue and conversions through person-to-person and chatbot conversations. It includes personalization and targeted account services for focused communication.

Brandon Brown of Grin prefers Drift for its unique approaches to chat. “It provides us with a live chat box that pops up in the corner of our website and gives our customers an easy way to get the help they need. It’s very important to us to have a stellar support system for our customers, and Drift makes the process smoother,” Brown explains.

For Brown, Drift’s personalization, AI and analytics features are some of its strongest assets. Brown explains that Drift “provides us with user data and personalizes user experiences to have the best visit to our site possible. Drift chatbots are powered through artificial intelligence and are always learning and improving.”

The Drift website doesn’t share its monthly pricing, but the platform does have a free trial and a free plan. It has three paid plans and a discounted plan for early-stage startups.

Editor’s note: Need to keep an eye on your most important Drift KPIs? Connect Databox with Drift now.

3. ClickDesk

ClickDesk

ClickDesk provides live chat, video chat, social media conversation, and help desk capabilities for multi-channel customer communication.

“There are several different types of live chat software available in the market; however, I would suggest ClickDesk, which is a multi-channel live chat software,” says HomeTree’s Daniel Foley. According to Foley, “ClickDesk integrates directly with instant messaging (IM) platforms like Skype and Google Talk to offer seamless live chat, search, and phone features, as well as a social toolbar that allows clients to connect directly on your website.”

Foley also appreciates the platform’s comprehensiveness and ease of access. “ClickDesk also provides a social live chat service that incorporates social media, voice assistance, and a help desk into a single live chat service. Since the service is completely cloud-based, there’s no need for company owners to invest in new hardware or software,” Foley tells us.

Pricing for ClickDesk plans ranges from free for up to 10 users to $39.99 per month per agent. If you prefer a team-based plan, you can choose from three plans that go from $44.99/month to $349.99/month. This chat platform is one of the most affordable options mentioned by survey respondents.

ClickDesk has pretty advanced features for having a lower price. Jim Hildenbrand from Tiger Financial had plenty to say about ClickDesk, including its capabilities. According to Hildenbrand, ClickDesk “offers attractive chat themes that can be used on any type of company website. A variety of chat and ticket reports provide insights into the business and performance of agents. ClickDesk also offers advanced features such as chat message translations, the ability to send and receive files, typing alerts and chat conferences.”

Hildenbrand also pointed out that the ClickDesk Chrome extension supports a full list of features for easy access from anywhere.

4. Birdeye

Birdeye

Like Gist, Birdeye offers a suite of tools that includes customer chat. Marketed as an experience marketing platform, Birdeye offers a combination of customer service and marketing solutions, such as online listings, reviews, referrals, and surveys.

At Gilvydis Vein Clinic, Elizabeth Weatherby considers Birdeye’s chat its most valuable function. “Birdeye powers our customer chat box on our website, and allows customers to receive texts right to their phone when chatting with our customer support reps,” states Weatherby.

Here’s where Birdeye’s full platform comes in — the live chat feature can connect with Birdeye’s business texting capabilities to continue your conversation outside of your website. You can follow up on a request over text for a more convenient experience for your customer.

Birdeye helps the team at Gilvydis Vein Clinic keep patients satisfied. According to Weatherby, “Birdeye is extremely helpful for patients looking for more information quickly when scrolling through our website. It’s helped us to effectively satisfy more patients by getting them the info they need, when they need it.”

Since pricing varies by business, Birdeye does not mention exact plan prices on its website. The live chat and texting tools are part of its Interaction product, so you can buy that platform separate from its marketing-focused options.

5. Intercom

Intercom

Intercom’s chat tool strives to deliver conversational experiences through a messenger-based interface. It includes person-to-person and chatbot communication features for complicated and simple questions.

Carl Johnson from BestWinesOnline says, “We rely on Intercom! It’s quickly become one of our most important customer support tools. It helps us maintain close relationships with our customers. Some of the feedback from our customers is really valuable, and we rely on Intercom to capture that feedback and act on it.”

Johnson highlights Intercom’s features for solving common issues, mentioning, “Intercom helps us identify common problems and find solutions for them. This way, if customers complain about similar issues, we can solve them together without repeating a lot of the same work over and over again.”

Intercom’s chatbots and reply features also free up support desk time by automatically answering simple questions and allowing reps to address a request on their time.

Very small businesses can use Intercom starting from $59 or $119 a month depending on their number of users and people reached. Most other companies need to get a quote for precise pricing details.

While Intercom doesn’t share most of their prices upfront, Johnson thinks it has a good cost. “Intercom is extremely affordable – you pay per agent,” Johnson explains. “This way, we can easily scale up or down depending on our need for customer support. This is especially important for a company like ours that runs lots of sales and deals all year long.”

Editor’s note: Gain overview of your customers, wherever you are by connecting Intercom and Databox.

6. MobileMonkey

MobileMonkey

MobileMonkey is a multi-channel chat platform designed for customer support, marketing, and sales. Many of its features are geared toward sales and marketing, but they also work well in a customer service context.

If you communicate with customers on multiple platforms, MobileMonkey will save you time checking each channel individually through this global inbox. MobileMonkey’s chatbots also work across platforms to help you automate solutions for your customers.

MobileMonkey’s pricing starts with a free plan that lets you send up to 1,000 messages per month. Past that limit, you’ll need to pay between $21.75 to $374 per month depending on the capabilities and send limit you need.

7. LiveAgent

LiveAgent

LiveAgent overlaps live chat functionality with help desk management tools to deliver chat-focused organization.

Lee Grant from Wrangu recommends LiveAgent for its chat features. “LiveAgent is an omnichannel customer support platform and live chat is one of its main features. It helps you to connect with website users and merge all live chats into a single ticket,” Grant explains to us.

According to Grant, LiveAgent’s chat for your website “can be customized to suit your style.” They continue, “You may also integrate all messages (from live chat, email, and social media) into a single universal inbox.”

LiveAgent could be the right software for your customer support team if you organize your work around your live chat interactions. It has a free plan with a limited ticket history and a 14-day trial. The platform’s paid plans range from $15 per agent per month to $39 per agent per month.

Since it also works as a help desk management software, all LiveAgent plans include reporting capabilities.

Customer Service Management Tools

Your support desk needs a virtual home base — a management tool for your tickets, interactions and self-service content. These platforms also offer customer support metrics to help you improve your help desk operations and business as a whole.

Considering that the vast majority of the professionals who responded to our survey review their metrics at least once a month, having those numbers on hand is critical to maintaining a high-quality customer service experience.

customer service metrics review frequency data graph

The experts we consulted recommended 3 customer service management platforms to add to your stack. Each of these tools has unique strengths suited to different help desk operations.

Related: The 15 Most Important Customer Success Metrics for SaaS Companies

1. Zendesk

Zendesk

Zendesk offers both sales and customer service platforms. Its customer support tool has a comprehensive agent workspace with more than a thousand integrations for comprehensive help desk workflows.

At Visitor Queue, Nick Hollinger depends on Zendesk for every aspect of customer service. “Zendesk is the hub of our customer support. It runs our resource center, live chat, and ticketing system allowing for seamless customer support across all touchpoints. Along with our support team, it pretty much runs our customer support,” Hollinger explains.

So, if you’re looking for an all-in-one solution for your customer support team, Zendesk might fit the bill, especially with its robust add-ons. The apps in the Zendesk Marketplace include Zendesk-specific extensions and third-party integrations to streamline your workflow outside of its default features. This variety of add-ons allows you to use Zendesk as your base of operations while connecting it to other important tools in your stack.

Benjamin Sweeny reports that the ClydeBank Media team also gets great results from Zendesk: “At first, we started using it exclusively for customer issues, but we have stretched it to fit a bunch of pre-and post-purchase activities. The ticketing system is a great way to handle inbound purchase orders while creating a ‘paper trail’ of who touched which PO and when.”

It’s also worth pointing out that since Zendesk also has a sales CRM, you can get both products to manage your sales through the same software. Zendesk uses the same customer accounts in its customer service and sales platforms

Sweeny also brings up Zendesk’s usefulness as an all-in-one customer support tool. “We use it to manage customer requests during product launches, and of course as a way to handle customer service issues. The ability to set unique autoresponders based on the subject line has been really helpful in making the software work in multiple areas of our business,” they tell us.

Wondering about the price? Zendesk’s general plans range from $49 per agent per month to $99 per agent per month, with enterprise options available from $150 per agent per month to $215 per agent per month.

2. HubSpot Service Hub

HubSpot Service Hub

You might already use HubSpot for your marketing, but did you know that it also has a customer service platform? HubSpot Service Hub is a CRM-powered customer support tool.

Travis McGinnis from Vye leverages HubSpot Service Hub’s CRM, survey, and reporting features for data-based improvement. On top of HubSpot’s CRM sync, McGinnis integrates the software’s “Customer Feedback Survey, which is sent out anytime a ticket is closed. Customers are sent a 1-questions survey to rate their support on that ticket.”

Related: The Most Valuable Customer Service Interview Questions for Gathering Customer Feedback

McGinnis adds, “We also monitor agent response time to ensure we’re responding to issues in a timely manner by providing value and not creating friction. All of this data is rolled up into a Customer Report Dashboard that’s emailed out every week.”

With your data integrated across your service desk and CRM, you can track customer acquisition and retention metrics as they relate to your support activities.

Like HubSpot’s marketing software, HubSpot Service Hub has a free option and paid plans. Pricing for its paid plans ranges from $45/month to $1,200/month for businesses of all sizes.

Editor’s note: Databox has plenty of templates for HubSpot metrics, including HubSpot Support Hub. The HubSpot Service (Tickets Overview) Dashboard Template delivers a top-down view of your ticket metrics to keep you on top of your service desk’s performance.

HubSpot Service (Tickets Overview) Dashboard Template

3. Jira

Jira

Do your customer support and IT teams collaborate on tickets? Jira might be the customer support tool for your business.

Jira’s primary product is a DevOps software for agile management, so Jira Service Management integrates customer support into DevOps. As a result, IT and customer service professionals can work together on technical issues for faster solutions and more satisfied customers. You’ll find all of the customer support and DevOps information you’ll need in one place, as one of our survey respondents points out.

“We utilize Jira as the hub for supporting our clients,” says John Buglino from Optessa. “It’s the easiest way for our teams to field, track, and effectively respond to their needs. We provide 24/5 —  moving to 24/7 — support of our clients, so having this all funnel to one place is essential to our needs.”

You can use Jira for free if you have three or fewer agents and only need basic features. For more advanced functionality, you can pay $20 or $40 per agent per month for one of the advanced plans.

Jira Service Management integrates with other popular tools to optimize your cross-department operations. The Atlassian Marketplace has more than a thousand Jira apps to personalize your experience. Jira also has an API for custom integrations with your technology.

Editor’s note: Speaking of integrations, Jira metrics work with Databox. Try using the Jira Dashboard Template to measure your IT and support teams’ efficiency across your development cycle.

Jira Dashboard Template

Tools for Easier Customer Communication

Most of the support experts we surveyed work in industries that require them to work closely with customers to solve issues. The two biggest industries in our responses, technology, and marketing, have clients who need clear and detailed explanations of their products.

survey respondents profile graph

The following 2 tools simplify customer support by saving you time on explaining solutions and helping you communicate complicated ideas.

1. TextExpander

TextExpander

If you find yourself using the same phrases and providing the same answers over and over, TextExpander can lighten the load. This tool inserts custom snippets using text commands.

Robert O. Dow from Remarkable Land considers TextExpander their most important customer support tool. “With TextExpander, we can share text snippets across our team and then across nearly all devices, apps, and platforms. Whether it’s for SMS support, Facebook Messenger, email, or a host of other applications, we can consistently and quickly answer common questions,” Dow says.

Since TextExpander works as you type, you can combine your premade snippets with personalized communication. It’ll help you save time writing out common phrases while leaving room for a human touch.

TextExpander also has a variety of advanced features, such as automatically inserting the current date or pasting clipboard text into a snippet. Its Google Chrome extension lets you access its functions while working in your browser.

Keep in mind, however, that TextExpander doesn’t have a free plan — pricing starts at $3.33 per user per month. Fortunately, Dow says, “It’s also one of the few tools that immediately quantifies its value; you’ll pay for the cost of the subscription in no time!”

2. Vidyard

Vidyard

Sometimes, it’s much easier to show a customer how to do something instead of explaining it over chat. Vidyard lets you record your screen to demonstrate how your product or service works.

Vidyard can record your webcam, tab, or screen for up to an hour, giving you plenty of time to answer a customer’s question. It then allows you to send the video over email, social media, or another platform. Every video has a unique link to its location on Vidyard’s hosting platform.

Pricing for Vidyard starts with a free plan that already has unlimited video creation and uploads. If you need more advanced features, you can pay $15 a month for a single-user plan or $300 to $1250 a month for a business plan. These options include functions like password protection and CRM integration.

About the author
Melissa King
Melissa King Melissa King is a freelance writer who helps B2B SaaS companies spread the word about their products through engaging content. Outside of the content marketing world, she writes about video games. Check out her work at melissakingfreelance.com.

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