7 Customer Support Tools to Enable a World-Class Team
The top customer support teams don’t have a secret sauce; they just have the right tools. To properly enable a world-class customer service organization, companies need to start with the right tech stack. The 7 customer support tools that an org needs to invest in are a ticketing system, a knowledge base, an internal chat platform, a CRM, external communications channels, automated self-service bots, and a CSAT/NPS feedback system.
As companies move from a customer service model based on deflection to a customer success model based on engagement, multi-channel support is table stakes. The key is to get customers answers quickly wherever they need them, without conflicting information or agent voices.
These tools enable that kind of personal interaction at scale while also helping agents and team leaders measure the strategy’s overall effectiveness.
The core component of any customer support stack is the ticketing system. It allows agents to log issues and the steps taken (both internally and externally) to resolve them. It might also capture many of the typical success metrics associated with customer interactions, such as response time and handle time.
Ticket routing systems should also allow customer service team leads to see when and what kinds of issues are coming in to identify trends, future updates to external FAQs or self-service chatbots, and help with team scheduling.
Knowledge base software
If a ticketing system is the core of the stack, then the knowledge base is the connective layer. By using one that integrates with all other customer service tools, information can be served up to agents in real-time, within the workflow. This allows them to answer questions with authority and confidence quickly. Ideally, your knowledge base should also provide the ability to link a particular KB article to a specific ticket, so that if the question or issue comes up again, an answer is immediately clear.
A well-kept knowledge base should also prevent conflicting information from going out, creating a unified brand front. Integration functionality ensures that the latest knowledge is pushed to reps in-workflow, removing confusion and enabling alignment for all team members, regardless of location, shift, or experience.
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Internal communications software
Unless your team is tiny (like… you’re the only one on it), internal communications platforms like Slack or Microsoft Teams are a must. Real-time chat amongst colleagues creates conversations that can lead to new processes and better answers (and make sure to update your knowledge base when you get them!). Email can also work, but it’s best to choose one as your primary internal communications channel to reduce confusion about where conversations should happen. Learn more about the role of messaging apps in your support stack.
Customer relationship management software
Customer relationship management (CRM) software allows your company to keep track of every interaction your brand has with any customer. This includes marketing emails they may have received and orders they’ve placed, as well as any support interactions they’ve had.
For SaaS companies, CRMs are a lifeline for the revenue team (sales, support, and marketing) to make sure they’re not overwhelming a customer with communication, as well as measuring things like intent to churn or contract. Consumer companies may use it as a way to decide who gets a specific discount offer, or tracking how many items a customer returns.
External support channels
Customers have to have a way to communicate with your team, and they’ve learned to expect multi-channel support. The days of the physical call center are numbered; now customer channels include live chat tools, email, and social media, as well as live phone support. Look for a platform that allows you to streamline all of the above, through things like cloud-based phone systems, customizable chat interfaces, reusable templates, shared inboxes, and social listening capabilities.
Like your knowledge base, your communications platform should include ticket-linking capabilities, so that repeat questions can be answered the same way, quickly, every time — regardless of which channel it’s coming through.
Self-service automation through the use of chatbots, FAQs, or help centers are the best way to cut down on the number of customer support tickets. They’re not about deflecting customers, but instead about reducing the number of repeat questions that have traditionally required live support.
Pre-filled information (from an existing knowledge base) in a self-serve option like a chatbot or help center empowers customers to solve problems quickly, creating a positive brand experience with no impact on a customer service org. This allows reps to spend time on more complex issues that do require a personal touch. See why Intercom's revenue teams rely on Guru.
One of the best ways to see if your overall customer experience strategy is succeeding is to get customer feedback. Currently, the main metrics are customer satisfaction (CSAT) and net promoter score (NPS).
CSAT gauges how happy the customer is with the interaction, and NPS is how likely the customer is to recommend a product. By relying strictly on handle time-type metrics, agents may be incentivized to simply close tickets or be brusque in customer interactions. CSAT and NPS surveys allow you to close the feedback loop and ensure that the customer is walking away from their issue happier than when they came into it.