Failing to offer great customer services directly impacts customer satisfaction and retention rates. Superior products/services alone are not good enough in today’s competitive market. Excellent customer services and knowing who wants what is equally important in achieving success.
Modern technologies have enabled enterprises as well as SMBs to acquire and process customer data like never before. Gone are the days when only enterprises and large organizations had access to customer management solutions, mainly due to the cost factor.
SaaS and other methods of delivering software over the internet have bridged the gap between large and small businesses. Not only SaaS (Software as a Service) saves SMBs businesses from having to spend a fortune as upfront software cost, it also improves efficiency and streamlines processes. A customer services software can help businesses:
- Simplify and streamline the customer support
- Enhance customer-business relationships
- Boost team morale and improve collaboration
- Prioritize more effectively
- Centralize conversations
- Focus more on delivering great customer services instead of wasting most of the time on clerical work
The High Costs of Poor Customer Services
According to the Customers 2020 report that analyzed customers who experienced poor support services:
- 56% won’t trust the business again
- 52% will also share their bad experience with their peers/family/friends
- 54% will escalate the matter to a manager/supervisor
- A quarter of them would advise their family/friends not to buy from that company, while most of these dissatisfied customers are also likely to take revenge by posting negative reviews online
In addition to lost customers, the businesses failing to provide adequate customer services will also lose billions in revenue and earn a bad name online, mostly through the social media. Bad customer services lead to angry customers, which also affects employee morale and motivation.
Many customers opt for revealing the truth publicly instead of complaining directly to a business. That’s a dangerous thing, especially for budding businesses who are still in the growth stage.
Regardless of the type of a business, poor customer services will result in:
- Lower customer satisfaction and retention rates
- Loss of loyal customers and high churn rate
- Reputation loss
- Low employee morale and high turnover rates
- And ultimately a decrease in revenues
The 3 Rs
Mistakes can happen and there is no way of ensuring zero complaints. However, businesses should aim to transform service problems into opportunities to impress customers and stay proactive in context of customer services.
The 3 Rs i.e. responsibility, resolution and respect means taking responsibility of the mistake and ensuring a fast solution to win back customer’s loyalty. Things as little as a sorry note to additional discounts or vouchers can help turn a bad experience into a customer experience that ends well.
Delaying or ignoring a complaint/feedback altogether makes things worse. A quick resolution and respectful treatment of customers comes from trained and courteous customer services personnel using the right IT tools. Not only employees need to take into account what customers expect, they also need to train the CS representatives and choose a solution that makes the job easier for them.
Key Benefits of Using SaaS Customer Services/Management Solutions
Customer Communication Tracking
SaaS customer services/management systems minimize the chances of customer requests falling through the cracks. Manual systems make it difficult to keep count of unanswered queries/requests/complaints and track communications. SaaS CS systems automatically assign a unique reference number to each request, which are then assigned to the concerned CS representative.
This makes it super easy to search and track requests and view previous communications with the customer. CS representatives can pull up all the information they need for a great customer support in just a few clicks. No more headaches and guesswork related to finding stuff through keywords and email addresses.
Automated responses are a great way of confirming customers that their request has been received and someone is working on it. Without automated responses, customers might start wondering if you received their request or not and doubt the effectiveness of your CS team from the very beginning.
Customers understand that it’s not practically possible for businesses to solve their issues immediately. But they do expect an acknowledgement of their issues and need assurance that someone will work on them.
While automated responses might seem like a simple thing in the customer services workflow, according to a CS benchmark report that studied 1000 businesses:
- 62% don’t acknowledge customer requests at all!
- Only 10% businesses acknowledge customer requests by sending automated responses
- A staggering 97% businesses don’t follow up with customers to confirm if the earlier responses were satisfactory enough
- 90% businesses don’t acknowledge receiving customer emails
- Out of all the businesses that answer customer queries, only 20% fully answer their queries in the first attempt
- The average response time is around 12 hours, which usually means the next business day
More than 60% customers are even willing to pay more for getting better services, which proves that products/services alone are not the only deciding factors for customers. The aforementioned statistics might not be the latest, but they give a fair idea of how bad the situation is when it comes to acknowledging customer requests.
SaaS CS solutions help businesses effectively deal with such issues. Many CS systems have the ability to send personalized automated responses based on customer’s individual preferences and previous communications. Tailored responses are much better than canned responses as they boost engagement and show that a business really cares for its customers.
Reporting and Quantification of Customer Services Efforts
A CS management system allows businesses to easily measure and report on their CS efforts, which is something very difficult using spreadsheets and other manual methods. Modern SaaS CS systems keep everything neatly organized at one place, including queries, complaints, feedback and past communications. Customer service reports are just a few clicks away and provide actionable information through easy-to-understand trends and performance charts.
Request Routing and Assigning
Routing and assigning requests to the right person is pivotal in ensuring great customer services. SaaS CS systems ensure that requests get assigned to the relevant persons/departments every time, all the time. This which saves customers from the hassle of having to go back and forth and repeating the same steps.
For example, all requests that include the keywords ‘billing’, ‘payment’ and ‘accounts’ can be automatically routed to the accounting staff. Speedy and accurate routing means customers only have to contact a business once without having to keep forwarding information to different departments.
Less Hold Times, One-stop Hub for Customer Information
Contacting a business multiple times for the same issue is as frustrating as being on-hold for long periods of time (and according to a survey, less frustrating than dealing with impolite agents). The main reasons behind such long holds include CS representative’s inability to find all the information at one place.
It takes time to switch between different systems to find the relevant information and agents usually end up asking customers the same questions. Most SaaS systems support integration with CRMs and sales and marketing systems, providing agents and the management with a complete picture of customers, their preferences and past interactions.
When using a CS system, it does not really matter who is handling a request as everyone sees the same complete picture without having to put customers on long holds.
Time-Saving, More Efficient Workflows
It does not take much time to copy and paste email templates, which speeds up the CS workflow and help standardize thigs. Each CS representative chooses words differently and has his/her own way of communicating with the customers.
Well-written responses pulled from the CS system allows agents to respond quickly using the same tone, which leads to timely, standardized and quality responses.
Better Task Prioritization
It’s not possible to respond to and resolve all the issues immediately, while complaints/queries/feedback also have different levels of importance. Prioritizing things is critical in any business (and personal life), especially when it comes to handling customer requests. It’s not easy to prioritize when using spreadsheets or other manual methods.
A CS software allows you to prioritize requests based on different factors such as biggest spenders, most frequent customers and so on. Users can effortlessly set criteria to prioritize requests, while requests can also be prioritized if they have not been answered within a specified time frame.
Self-service Options, A Sense of 24/7 Support
Not all businesses can afford the cost of providing 24/7 support. Self-service options can rescue small and medium businesses and allow customers to help themselves 24/7. This can be done without allocating any resources usually needed to provide the usual 24/7 support.
Self-service portals allow customers to login anytime and view requests, search the knowledge base, ask questions and do things that do not require intervention of a CS representative. This gives customers the felling of getting 24/7 support and makes it possible to address their queries without having to wait for CS representatives.
Important Things to Consider when Choosing a Customer Services Software
Customer services solutions can be classified into different categories by functionality. Businesses who only need (or can afford) a ticketing system should focus their research on the functionality they need instead of paying extra for features they don’t need. Customer services software can broadly be classified into following by-functionality categories:
Ticketing system: email-based, mostly used by tech support and IT teams, consolidated data
Live-chat only: real-time support, chat routing and queuing, seamless integration with mobile apps and websites
Phone-only system: Mostly used by call centers, IVR-equipped, call transferring, routing and recording
Integrated system: comprehensive set of tools, combines different solutions into a single platform, mostly used by enterprises, large organizations and medium-sized businesses, includes systems mentioned above plus advanced functionalities such as self-service functionality, social media engagement and integration with other systems including CRMs and sales management systems
While enterprises have the resources needed for fully-integrated systems, small and medium businesses have to be careful with their financial decisions when it comes to SaaS solutions. SaaS subscriptions have become more affordable than ever, but SMBs still need to consider the financial implications of choosing a monthly subscription vs. annual subscription. It’s a good practice to confirm in advance any additional fees such as support, maintenance and renewals before signing up for any subscription.
Support and SLA
Customer support is essential when outsourcing any software solution, especially on a recurring basis. An SLA (Service Level Agreement) outlines the type of support you’ll get and how to proceed when issues arise. An SLA also covers what to do in incidents such as security breaches, drastic changes to processes and in the worst-case scenario complete service outage.
The CS representatives that have to operate the CS software are usually not tech savvy people. That’s why it’s important to choose a system that is user friendly and easy to learn. There is no shortage of SaaS CS solutions with low learning curve that also don’t compromise on robustness and advanced functionalities.
A business should be able to easily scale their systems as they grow. The scalability factor allows them to easily scale according to changing demands, which means they don’t have to waste time on data migration and learning new software as the customer base grows.
Integration with other systems such as CRMs allows businesses to make the most out of their existing IT investment when they already have a few business systems running. Most popular CS systems do support integration with other commonly used platforms. With everything else being equal, it’s always better to choose a solution that offers the best integration capabilities to future-proof your investment.
Security is of paramount importance when you are dealing with the customer data. Features such as role-based permissions, SSL encryption, two-factor authentication, Single Sign-On, password protection, user access controls etc. minimize the likelihood of unauthorized access of confidential data and also boost customer’s confidence.
Top 10 Customer Support Software
The intuitive and easy-to-use software is designed for businesses of all sizes, especially small and medium businesses. It’s robust features such as multi-channel support, smart automations and self-service portals and API functionalities help businesses customize the solution according to their own requirements.
Small businesses can take advantage of the Sprout plan that is available for free, comes with all the basic functionalities and allows them to easily scale as they grow. Depending on the features you need, price per agent per month ranges from $25 to $99.
2. Salesforce Essentials
Salesforce is a key player in the SaaS market and although a CRM software at its core, it can also serve as a CS system for small and medium businesses. The AI-equipped platform provides a 360-degree view of customers, productivity and agent performance. A maximum of 10 users/contracts are allowed when using Salesforce Essentials, while pricing starts from $25/agent/month (annual basis, monthly subscription costs $30/agent/month).
3. Vision Helpdesk
The AIO solution is user-friendly and includes email, ticketing and phone system as well as social media management. Other notable functionalities include helpdesk gamification, collaboration, workflow automation, ITSM modules and client management. Businesses also get the option of choosing between the SaaS or on-premises version of the software. Pricing varies between $10–40/agent/month, while the perpetual/one-time licenses costs between $200-$800 per agent.
4. Zoho SalesIQ
With built-in sales management and intelligence capabilities, Zoho SalesIQ can easily be integrated with a variety of other systems. A free plan is also available for individuals and startups who don’t need more than two seats and 100 chat sessions per month. Prices of paid plans range from $19-$129/month, which depend on the number of seats, features and the amount of storage required.
5. Wix Answers
Wix answers is suitable for SMBs that are already using the Wix site builder and don’t have the budget for a dedicated customer support system. Despite being a free solution, Wix Answers still manages to offer a comprehensive platform that includes a robust ticketing system and help desk. Although all the basic functionality comes at no cost, users have to pay a price for integrations and premium widgets.
The platform is a collection of different tools/modules, including ticket management, live chat and social media management. The basic plan costs $9/seat/month, while the advanced and all-inclusive plans cost $29 and $39/seat/month respectively.
7. ConnectWise Control
Designed keeping needs of technical assistance teams in mind, ConnectWise Control is cross-platform compatible and offers robust customization features. Pricing ranges from $19-$45/seat/month, while small businesses and individuals can benefit from the free Single Tech license.
Designed for service teams, LiveChat offers a complete suite of customization options and costs between $16 to $149/seat/month (annual billing). Service teams of many big-name companies including Ikea, McDonalds and Tesla use this integrated CS system to offer support and a fully personalized experience.
TeamSupport is another comprehensive solution for businesses of all sizes, but it’s pricing model makes it more suitable for medium and large businesses. The Support Desk plan is priced at $50/seat/month, while the Enterprise plan costs $65/seat/month.
Designed for large businesses and organizations, SysAid pricing is available by quote and depends on the number of seats and required functionalities. Quote-based pricing can be an advantage for businesses as they only have to pay for functionalities they actually need instead of paying for the whole package and not taking advantage of all the capabilities.
Great customer services require trained, courteous staff and the right tools to maximize efficiency. While the customer services principles have remained pretty much the same over time, the tools to achieve greatness have evolved and changed the way businesses interact with their customers.
Customer services software are designed to help businesses automate processes and equip the support staff with tools they need to provide speedy and quality customer services. SaaS solutions provide them with access to all the required information at one place, from virtually anywhere. This ultimately boosts customer loyalty and helps employees provide great services instead of spending most of their time in searching emails and joining together bits of information.