A new era in customer service has arrived. The transformed landscape requires engagement like never previously seen, and customer service software is here to help. Spanning multiple channels, across both brick-and-click locations, customers want immediate answers to product questions, a swift resolution to their problems, and personalized brand interactions. Innovative perspectives and solutions are necessary to expertly navigate this altered, ever-evolving terrain.
According to a recent study, 73% of Americans will go out of their way for a better customer service experience, 75% will remain loyal to a brand that provides a personalized experience, and 52% will pay more if they know they will receive excellent service.
Not one single survey has ever indicated that customers wouldn’t pay more for great service, according to Forbes. In this particular digital age, the ability to offer the same level of service, across any channel, is paramount to long-term brand success. What consumers are looking for in a digital-first world is that feeling when your morning coffee barista greets you with a hearty hello and a warm smile, or when you get that email from your food delivery service giving you a free meal for continued loyalty. Compassionate customer service is central to meeting the needs of the modern consumer from any generation of shopper.
Feel free to explore at your own pace, starting with our table of contents:
- What Are the Benefits of Customer Service Software?
- Types of Customer Support Software
- What Are the Key Technology Components of Customer Service?
- How to Choose the Right Customer Service Software
- How to Measure the Effectiveness of Customer Service Performance
Customer service software and its various integrated tools can position brands of any size to stand out amongst competitors in the eyes of its most important asset: customers. Let’s explore the path to optimizing your brand with our 12 best software tools for 2022.
What Are the 12 Best CS Software Tools in 2022?
What Is Customer Service Software?
Customer service software encompasses a range of tools that gather, organize, manage, analyze, respond to, resolve, and report on, as well as unify all aspects of a brand’s customer support. High-quality software solutions and tools are versatile and can be used across industries such as healthcare, education, retail, e-commerce, and finance, as well as anything in-between, that necessitates customer communication. These tools can be curated and customized to achieve goals specific to your industry and business needs.
What Are the Benefits of Customer Service Software?
Customer service tools can transform customer service for companies of any size. Recent technological advancements in customer care have not only created a much-needed pathway for brands and customers to connect, but have also served to elevate the virtual service experience as a whole. Utilizing these tools enables faster, more efficient, personalized support while still imparting a brand-specific and customer-centric experience. Additionally, these tools are effective allies to your human support teams or individual employees, as they can take on the burden of more repetitive, basic requests and queries.
Customer service software, or CS software is not just for large-scale businesses. Properly selected and integrated software can not only boost efficiency for owners and any employees, but also help the small or medium business grow and thrive. And today, there are many options available for the more modest, independent budget.
Cutting-edge technology solutions designed specifically for the small business can provide important features to empower owners to streamline and manage their operation. These features can include, but are not limited to:
- Improve response times
- Personalize customer engagement
- Track employee performance
- Scale smartly
- Streamline self-service
- Enhance the agent experience
Types of Customer Support Software
Selecting customer service software can feel overwhelming and the software market is teeming with options, information and opinions. There are simple steps to discovering the right path for your brand. Take some stock, talk to your customer support teams, your marketing teams, your customers, and your employees. An excellent place to start is understanding where there are gaps in service or where your CS team can optimize a personalized experience for your customers.
Once you’ve identified those areas, researching a software tool won’t feel so overwhelming, as you’ll know which ones are best suited for addressing your specific needs. Below are key elements and improvements to think about implementing and integrating as they pertain to your company or brand.
- Customer Feedback Software: Utilizing this software provides the brand with an outside perspective, fosters trust and loyalty, facilitates action, boosts revenue, and helps identify strengths as well as any gaps in service.
- Cloud-Based Software: From inventory management to real-time reporting to cost-effect streamlining (great for the small business) to flexibility and scalability, cloud technology offers many solutions in one. While on-premises software limits customer support to certain physical locations, cloud-based software empowers businesses to access and perform essential customer support tasks from anywhere in the world. All the capabilities cloud computing is able to execute serve to improve and enhance CX.
- Automation: This type of technology is multi-faceted. Returns can be automatically processed, workflows can be developed and adjusted as needs change, and chatbots can provide quick and easy customer questions 24/7. An automated customer support solution allows technology to take care of certain tasks, freeing up employees to perform customer support interactions that require a more human interaction.
- Marketing Automation: This type of automation streamlines processes through fewer resources and helps cut operating costs. You can target your specific customers across multiple channels, gauge marketing campaign performance, and map the customer journey as well as ensure that journey is personalized.
- Coaching Software: Especially useful in our current remote and hybrid world, coaching software can be a powerful business ally. A coaching platform works to improve team performance, provide proactive feedback, develop employee training plans, track individual employee performance and perpetually improve coaching methods by surveying employees and assessing their performance.
What Are the Key Support Channels of Customer Service?
The arrival of the internet heralded a significant change in how we gathered, provided, and stored information. The internet also emphasized the need to adapt to technological advances as swiftly and as seamlessly as they were developed.
This also meant that businesses could now start filing and managing customer information in a digital format. With these advancements arrived the need to merge and unify said systems.
The customer relationship manager (CRM) is the hub that facilitates communication between the customer and the brand. The CRM houses a wide range of channels through which brands can manage customer support, enhancing not only standard customer service options but creating an immersive customer experience. Here are some of the most popular customer support methods that can be managed within a customer service CRM:
- Knowledge Base: Knowledge bases can boost success for two avenues: customers and staff. An internal knowledge base is home to information meant to be used by employees (i.e., staff training guides, tools and company policies). The external knowledge base contains all the content meant for users visiting the company website (i.e. FAQs, product manuals, videos) and it can interact with and respond to the user. It’s possible for a company to have only internal, only external, or a combination of both.
- Live Chat: This reactive feature enables agents or shop employees to respond to customers in real-time. The customer is able to communicate with a live agent, in any setting without the need to be talking on the telephone.
- Chatbot: Similar to live chat, a chatbot allows customers to utilize a chat function to receive customer support, but rather than chatting with a human support employee, a chatbot simulates and processes conversation based on common questions. Accessible from any device, automated chatbots allow customers to get instant answers to frequently asked questions without needing to speak to a human representative, freeing up employees to manage more nuanced support interactions.
- Email: Still one of the most popular support channels, emails can be sent at the customer’s convenience and from any device. Successfully integrating email support into a brand’s support system ensures equal attention is given to those who prefer a more traditional, yet effective method of communication.
- Phone Support: Empathy remains a top priority for most brands, and the phone continues to be a crucial space for customer support. The nuances of tone, inflection and emotion from both customer and agent can be a meaningful and pivotal aspect of the customer journey, fostering trust and loyalty. Additionally, agents are able to effectively handle and resolve complicated inquiries in one exchange.
- Messaging: Personal text messaging is the modern norm for communication, and businesses have entered the text space as another customer support mode. Connecting where consumers feel most comfortable—on their smartphones—through SMS messaging is a great, immediate way to deliver essential, personalized information such as order alerts and cart reminders, as well as answer important customer questions about products and purchases.
Current Trends for Customer Service Platforms
Exceptional customer service, achieved with the help of customer service software tools, creates a pathway for an excellent customer experience. An immersive and consistent experience for the customer allows them to understand the company values and helps them feel like they are a part of the brand. Technology can help facilitate exceptional CX in ways that foster customer retention, loyalty, excellent word-of-mouth, and customer connection. Central to achieving optimum CX is ensuring that you are delivering on consumers’ expectations. Here are CX trends to stay on top of:
Ensuring these attributes are integrated and delivered across all company channels will aid not only in meeting but also in surpassing customer expectations. Whether large or small, finding ways to positively differentiate your brand in 2022 will ensure you achieve continued success.
History Lesson: How Did Customer Service Evolve
While the way in which people now shop, eat, drink, and exercise is evolving, customer service has been around since even the earliest societies, which were in need of food, goods, and services to facilitate daily life. First, we bartered, then with the advent of currency, we began formally buying and selling. Fair prices, great service, and exceptional quality were as much a part of bartering, trading, and buying then as they are now.
- Personal Customer Service Calls
- Call Center
- The 1-800 Number
- Interactive Voice Response (IVR) Technology
- Customer Relationship Manager (CRM)
Each of these innovations helped companies shift from predominantly focusing on the product to welcoming the consumer into their brand culture and cultivating relationships that went beyond the singular purchase of a given item or service. Because the very nature of launching a business is to acquire customers, it stands that the customer should always be at the forefront of any brand strategy, regardless of the size of the business.
The Importance of Compassionate Customer Service and Truly Human CX
Top 12 Customer Service Software Tools for 2022
As recently as 2016, Forbes was reporting on the frustrating fallibility of siloed software and ineffective human support. The most pronounced issues with these earlier versions of either the AI-free or limited AI technology were two-fold: impersonal service and a siloed customer experience. However, in the last few years, and certainly in the last 24 months, refining and merging these siloed areas has been a priority
Today, brands are able to select from a range of customer service technologies and software. Whether your company is a large multinational brand or a local, independent business, there are tools and solutions available to enhance, streamline and effectively support your company.
- Five9: Provides cloud contact center software, allowing you to manage all inbound and outbound calls, facilitating the ability to create a personalized customer profile. Five9 builds expert software that is readily able to adapt as the needs of your company change.
Key Features: Advanced Call Routing, Flexible Architecture, Speech Recognition, Predictive Dialing
Price: $100 per seat (inbound, outbound & blended)
- UJET: A holistic platform for voice and chat channels, seamlessly able to integrate with your CRM. This software tool enables your service and sales teams to boost productivity by streamlining resolution times through highly personalized support.
Key Features: Digital and Voice Channels, Voice, Messaging, Virtual Agent, Contact Center Software Integrations, Remote Work
- Aircall: Building cloud-based phone systems for sales and support teams, Aircall provides the ability to manage all customer call communication in one place. The system allows a company to log calls and provide screen pop-ups that show previous call history details, as well as set up triggers and automate workflows.
Key Features: PowerDialer, IVR, Call Routing, Call Center Analytics, CTI Integration, Click to Dial
- Stella Connect: Ideal for remote teams, Stella Connect is a quality management, coaching and customer feedback platform. Built specifically for contact center teams and using advanced interaction AI, the platform integrates all systems across digital channels and touchpoints to connect with customers 24/7.
Key Features: Real-Time QA, Coaching, Medallia Text Analytics, CSAT, NPS, and CES, Service Recovery
Price: Free Trial
- RingCentral: A leading cloud communication platform that integrates critical phone, video conferencing, and messaging tools. Offering comprehensive communication solutions, RingCentral enables users to leverage a range of digital tools through one, easy platform.
Key Features: Messaging, Video, Phone, Fax, Phones and Headsets
Price: $19 per month
- Ada: With a mission to empower businesses to provide personalized CX at scale, Ada is a leading chatbot provider. The AI-powered platform enables non-technical support teams to automate customer inquiries, thereby boosting live agent productivity and lowering costs.
Key Features: Chatbots, Advanced Interaction, Intelligent Customer Guidance, Intelligent Action, Multilingual
- 8×8: A cloud-based, private branch exchange (PBX) phone system that combines messaging, video conferencing and audio calls. Offering seven plans, businesses can mix and match subscriptions in order to tailor the plan to meet the specific needs of the brand and support teams.
Key Features: AI Workflows, Team Chat, HD Screen Sharing, API and Embeddable Apps
Price: $15 per user, per month
- Klaviyo: An SMS and email marketing automation software that offers segmentation capabilities. A tool for growing your business, the platform helps e-commerce brands drive sales through targeted email, Facebook, and Instagram campaigns. From launch to a thriving brand, Klaviyo automatically scales to your business making it an ideal solution for companies of any size.
Key Features: E-commerce Automation, Integrations, Segmentation, Customer Profile, Digital Marketing Campaigns
- Simplr: A conversational experience platform for the NOW CX era. The company’s AI-enabled platform unites chatbots and human assistance to deliver instantly scalable premium pre-sale shopping assistance and customer support. The result for Simplr customers is best-in-class experiences throughout the consumer journey, increasing loyalty, satisfaction, and revenue.
Key Features: Chatbots and Automation, Human Cloud Network, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Real-Time Insights
Price: Customized (Per Resolution)
- Delighted: A self-service experience management platform, Delighted gathers real customer feedback for the purpose of optimizing your CX best practices. Using the Net Promoter System (NPR), Delighted sends out customer surveys to collect and analyze customer feedback.
Key Features: Survey Experience, Email Surveys, Web Surveys, SMS Surveys, Link Surveys, Survey Customization, Analysis and Reporting
- dialpad: A cloud-based communication and coaching system, dialpad utilizes powerful AI to deliver high-quality calling, video, and chat from a single application. Additionally, this all-in-one platform offers real-time coaching and is designed to seamlessly integrate with any work style.
Key Features: Team Messaging, Video Conferencing, AI-Powered Contact Center, Business Phone System
Price: $15 per month
- Shelf: An end-to-end knowledge automation platform that stores and indexes any type of content. From video to audio to pdfs, Shelf’s MerlinAI makes all of your content discoverable in any language you support. Shelf and MerlinAI power your omnichannel CRM with the entirety of your company’s knowledge.
Key Features: Knowledge Base, Knowledge Management, Integrated Knowledge, AI-Powered Search, AI Automation
Pricing: per user
How to Choose the Right Customer Service Software
The best way to determine which customer service software is best for your business is by asking yourself a set of clear questions. Once you’ve reviewed and assessed these questions, you can start researching companies based on the needs you’ve identified and the size of your brand. But along with a notepad and pen, keep that list of questions handy so you can ask similar questions of the different vendors you’re considering. We’ve compiled a shortlist of key questions to help.
- Based on my business size, what resources do I have to work with?
- What are my goals? (team coaching, social, live chat, knowledge base, chatbots)
- Am I overreaching with software goals or can I refine the list?
- Does the software have a mix of features?
- Is the software easy to implement?
- Does the software easily integrate with CRMs and our other existing technology and tools?
- What are the automation capabilities?
- What data insights will the software provide?
- What are the limitations of the software and how will they impact my customer support operations?
- What kind of support does the software company offer?
- What are my pricing options?
How to Scale Your Business With the Right Customer Service Software Tools
Businesses across every industry experience seasonal fluctuations. The capacity to accommodate growth along with the ability to scale with ease, free from system disruption, is an essential component for the success of any customer service department. In addition to seasonal shifts, a younger and/or smaller business should consider growth potential and select software that can cater to expansion.
How to Measure the Effectiveness of Customer Service Performance
How does a company actually define “great” customer service? How can a company determine the level of its service that translates in a tangible way on paper? Turns out there are multiple ways CS software can measure the performance of your CS team. Today’s customer service metrics are able to capture comprehensive information from a range of vantage points. Utilizing these metrics will help discern where your team and company are excelling as well as where there is room for improvement. These insights can not only empower a company to respond, but also identify areas where proactive steps can be taken.
Measurable customer service performance indicators empower businesses to make important business decisions toward company growth. CS and CX are never set-it-and-forget-it processes; rather, they need to be consistently improved to meet the ever-evolving needs of the modern customer. By utilizing collected customer service data, such as survey ratings, reviews, and returning customer purchases, companies can reevaluate their CX strategy to enhance customer loyalty and extend customer lifetime value, even transforming one-time purchasers into long-time brand advocates.
An Expanded Yet Focused Landscape for 2022
While the challenges and obstacles of the last two years have been monumental — certainly altering — the good news is that we’ve experienced how quickly businesses have been able to adapt. Placing the customer in the foreground has improved how businesses operate and how service is delivered. Kustomer is here to help your brand reach the next level.
Our customer service software delivers efficient, informative experiences with the tools and intelligence needed to satisfy today’s customers, and make customer service profitable. Moving into a fresh year with renewed energy is the ideal time to review and discern where your brand can augment and improve, with solutions designed to fortify and nourish your brand experience for both customers and support teams. Book a demo today.