You work hard to get leads and customers in the door. It’s disappointing when a poor customer experience erases all that hard work and causes you to lose valuable business.
The challenges of providing outstanding customer service are many. And as a small business owner, chances are it’s overwhelming to keep track of and respond to customer inquiries in a timely, accurate and delightful way.
But as a small business owner, you know that customer support is important. You’re in good company. According to Tom Byun, GM of Small Business at LivePerson, a recent survey reports that customer service is the number one priority of small business owners.
There is no shortage of tools out there to try and help you streamline and manage your customer support workflow. That’s a good thing. But it can be pretty difficult to know just where to turn and what will work best for you. Who has time to sort through all the options?
Thankfully we do. Below are 10 solutions that you can put to use in quick work—and that will make you work a lot quicker (and efficiently). Any of them can be used on their own, or in conjunction with each other. Ultimately it’s about determining what approach will work best for you and sticking with it.
The result will be happier customers and happier bottom lines for you.
1. Freshdesk (all-in-one)
“Freshdesk is a cloud-based customer support platform that was founded with the mission of enabling companies of all sizes to provide great customer service.”
Features include, ticketing, team inbox, service level agreements, analytics and mobile apps.
Pricing: Free intro plan and 30-day free trial available.
2. Twitter (do-it-yourself)
Whether you are not yet ready to invest in full-scale customer service software, or you would like to expand the reach of your customer service efforts, Twitter offers your customers a simple and accessible way to communicate with your brand in real time. Many brands large and small use Twitter to create a better customer experience.
3. Liveperson (Chat)
Take customer connection to a whole new level: “LiveEngage identifies those more likely to need a chat and sends them a personalized invitation. Others who just need a quick and easy answer, for example, will see different types of engagements — such as banners, panels, toasters, etc. — to help them in the right direction.”
Features include multiple language support, an analytics dashboard and the ability to update and optimize on the fly.
Pricing: Free intro plan available, pricing starting at $10/month for multiple logins.
4. Helpjuice (knowledge base)
“Get fewer support emails & more happy customers. Helpjuice is easy-to-use knowledge base software that guarantees 50 percent less support emails and more happy customers.”
Features: External knowledge base for customers and internal knowledge base for your team, fast and intelligent search and completely customizable, advanced analytics.
Pricing: 14-day trial, with plans beginning at $199/month
5. Keeping (Gmail-based support)
By transforming your Gmail account into a helpdesk,Keeping “lets your team collaborate and save time while helping you deliver better customer support. No need to use a traditional help desk. Instead add customer support functionalities directly to your mailbox.”
Features: Collaborative emails, automatic answers for repetitive questions, customer support tracking and reporting, internal notes and assignments.
Pricing: Free 14-day trial, plans beginning at $15/month
6. Zingle (text-based)
Zingle is based on the idea that since “everyone texts, your business should too”.
Texting is popular because it’s fast and easy. Zingle helps customers access products or services without extra hassle and get faster responses – all improving customer satisfaction.
Features: Service tracking, custom messages and response times, date and time stamped confirmations.
Pricing: Plans start at $39/month
7. Survey Monkey (customer satisfaction survey)
“Get the feedback you need to keep your customers happy. From measuring satisfaction to capturing your Net Promoter Score, online surveys help you understand what you’re doing well - and what you’re need to improve.”
Surveys create an easy and interactive way to improve service and get critical feedback from the people who matter most – your customers.
Features: Survey templates, custom logo and branding, advanced logic, mobile app, data analysis and target market surveys.
Pricing: Free intro plan available, standard plans begin at $19/month
8. Muut (Community Forums)
Commenting and forums are embedded right on your site improve user engagement, garner more return visitors and foster a greater sense of community.
“Muut enables you to add commenting to your blog, online store and picture gallery, start a support channel on a dedicated page, while the forum aggregates all of the discussion. “
Features: Embeddable forums and commenting, single system aggregation, custom integration, mobile responsive and Google Analytics integration.
Pricing: Free intro plan, premium plans starting at $16/month
9. Google Voice (voicemail)
“Google Voice gives you one number for all your phones, voicemail as easy as email, free U.S. long distance and low rates on international calls”
For a small business owner on the go, the ability to effectively manage communications is vital to keeping customers happy. Google’s free service allows a small business without a full customer support team or fancy software keep customer calls under control and manage notifications, accessibility and response.
Features: Search and prioritize calls, use different rules and greetings for different contacts, share calls with your team, specify where and when to receive calls and receive email notifications of calls and text messages.
10. Basecamp (Project Management)
“Basecamp keeps people on same page so no matter what your role is, everyone works toward a common goal: finishing a project together.”
Basecamp is a project management system and at first glance it may not seem to have much to do with customer support. However, with a little outside-of-the-box thinking the software can be used to create to-do lists with clients for finalizing deliverables, ongoing maintenance, logging bugs or ongoing conversations and progress check-ins.
Features: Team and clients collaboration, consolidated communication, due dates, keyword filters, project catch up and file download.
Pricing: 60-day free trial, $20 – $150/month
No matter what tools you ultimately use, there is both art and science to great customer support. Check out these posts to learn more and keep your customers so happy they come back for more.
- How to manage customer support- video
- Creating Zombie Loyalists: Peter Shankman’s Secrets to Excellent Customer Service
- How to Improve Customer Support and Increase Sales
Special thanks to Jeanette LeBlanc for research and editorial assistance.
What's next? Join us for a special webinar on customer service with marketing expert Jay Baer and receive our free ebook, "Customer Service in a Digital World," as a thank you for registering.