Forging Connections in the Cloud: How SaaS Companies Can Leverage AI to Deliver a Superb Customer Experience

Written by Priya Balasubramanian  on   Apr 28, 2022

It is a digital world indeed, and one in which software, in its various forms, stands as a vital component of daily life. Also known as “on-demand” software, Software as a Service (SaaS) refers to a licensing and delivery model whereby software is licensed on a subscription basis and hosted centrally. A SaaS cloud-based service is accessible through an internet browser, rather than users needing to download and install software on a PC or business network.

Empowering businesses around the globe, SaaS platforms are widely adopted for their accessibility, compatibility, and operational management – whether that is for hosting company-wide meetings and webinars (Zoom), sending and analyzing engaging email campaigns (MailChimp), or even signing legal contracts (DocuSign).

Demand for SaaS-based software or services increased in recent years, as, with the rise of remote working, the COVID-19 pandemic encouraged the use of on-demand, scalable cloud models for businesses to achieve both cost efficiency and business continuity. With the increasing use of smartphones and app-based services, as well as the widespread adoption of the public and hybrid cloud, this burgeoning market is only predicted to grow – while the global size of the SaaS market stood at USD $144.17 billion in 2021, it is forecast to reach USD $703.19 billion by 2030. And with this incredible growth, comes competition and a threat of losing customers if their expectations are not met.

The Evolving SaaS Landscape and The Rising Role of Customer Experience

The scalability of cloud infrastructure has pushed the major pain points of scaling a business from technical issues to ones on the customer side, those related to customer satisfaction and engagement. In this fast-paced industry, creating loyal customers and reducing churn rates with continual subscriptions are top of mind for every SaaS leader.

In this highly competitive era, the SaaS business model requires a new approach to customer service and customer experience. B2B and B2C customers expect quick resolutions to their issues and if their expectations are not met, they are quick to churn to a competitor. Keeping customers happy has never been more important, or harder, which is why increasingly, SaaS companies are leveraging AI-powered virtual agents to automate repetitive interactions.

AI-powered virtual agents offer SaaS companies many benefits, including:

The ability to scale with the business, without the added headcount

With the SaaS model, how quickly a business is able to scale is no longer limited by needing to produce and ship physical goods, such as a company that sells bluetooth headphones.

So what is it limited by? It’s not the product, but it’s interactions with people; both those interested in purchasing a service as well as a company’s current customer base.

While increasing one’s outbound marketing spend can bring more potential customers into the top of the funnel, after that, businesses are limited throughout the rest of the process by both their number of employees and how much support they are able to provide. It isn’t just a question of money, and this is where we hit our first major bottleneck in scaling a SaaS business – it’s time – time to source, onboard and train the correct talent, and familiarize them with the service offerings. 

That’s where AI-first customer experience platforms such as Netomi’s customer service chatbot come in – playing a key role in saving valuable agent time that would otherwise be spent triaging client’s and prospect’s questions. Automation of repetitive queries allows them to instead focus their energy on those tasks that are of higher value, carry greater complexity and require more creativity and critical thinking – skills that are vital for members of today’s workforce to flex and hone.

“Technology makes your people more efficient and more effective. It lets you scale across all your customers. But most importantly, it lets you make sure that you’re putting your resources into the efforts that actually have an ROI.”

– Nick Mehta, CEO, Gainsight

Offer timely and proactive support to reduce churn and grow revenue 

Many SaaS companies offer multiple products, at multiple subscription tiers. AI-powered virtual agents can link to a CRM platform to understand the customer’s history and usage in order to up-sell specific features in the exact moment of relevance to encourage a customer to upgrade. It can also preemptively intervene if a customer is at risk of churning with offers, competitive differentiators or other incentives to keep a customer.

In remote and hybrid work environments, troubleshooting issues are bound to occur – and AI helps support teams and customers deal with these issues swiftly and efficiently.

How can SaaS companies take their support one step further – going above and beyond to deliver an excellent customer experience? Harnessing the power of AI, SaaS customer service can take a more proactive and predictive approach – rather than waiting until a customer reaches out with a query or request, what if customers were alerted to issues before they even become visible (such as: ‘We’re getting a lot of questions about this new feature. Let me show you how it works!’) What if such service, that which is preemptive, proactive and highly personalized, was provided in real-time, and at the exact moment of need? This is the power of AI-powered solutions.

Offer a personalized touch in a competitive market 

When it comes to the customer experience, AI is helping SaaS companies meet the levels of personalization that customers have come to desire and expect, and the expectations of SaaS customers are higher and becoming sophisticated and evolving. Research from Salesforce found that 52% of customers expect offers to always be personalized – this is up from 49% in 2019.

AI powered chatbots are able to tailor the interaction based on customer profile and behavior. Such a chatbot can demonstrate that it comprehends prior interactions and customer preferences – noting, for instance, that a customer has asked about subscription options for students in a past inquiry. Might they be interested in a company’s special offer for the upcoming new semester?

How SaaS Companies Can Leverage AI to Conquer New Heights

For SaaS companies, helping businesses and individuals maintain their productivity and thrive in today’s digital-first environment is the ultimate end goal. How can these companies successfully retain their customers, turn them into raving fans and help them to get the maximum value out of the SaaS solution, all while growing their own businesses? A little extra help from AI will make a big impact in this area, especially as demand for SaaS products only grows. In this fast-moving industry, it will be those businesses that integrate AI into their technology stack that will forge ahead, seamlessly scaling their operations while focusing on maintaining long-term relationships with their customers.

CX Leader Insights: Industry Musings & Trends from Chili Piper’s Gemma Cipriani-Espineira

Written by Amy Wallace  on   Apr 27, 2022

Customer experience (CX) is now more important than ever, and even the White House is taking note: in a move to fix federal customer experience, the Office of Management and Budget will conduct research to better comprehend how people wish to deal with the government at various critical points in their lives. Further proof: findings from an April 2022 survey by TELUS International found that nearly 60% of consumers said they would rather sit in a traffic jam than have a poor customer experience. How can companies be more customer-centric, and what sorts of tools and technologies can aid them along the way? We caught up with Gemma Cipriani-Espineira, Chief Customer Officer at meeting lifecycle automation platform Chili Piper, to discuss key challenges facing CX leaders today, empowering support agents, and how support teams can show their customers some love.

The Importance of Customer Experience Today

It all boils down to choice, and the myriad of options that are available today. “People have more choice than ever before, and are more conscious about who they are doing business with,” Gemma said.

Additionally, customer preferences and expectations are evolving along with the changing times, and, in today’s 24/7 and ‘always-on’ environment, expectations are high. Gemma pointed to the popularity of Uber and Amazon, major companies which have disrupted their markets in a significant way, both by doubling down on ease of doing business as well as speed of delivery. “Consumers, particularly those living in North America, expect that same easy, fast, and convenient service in their business engagements now,” she said. “What consumers are expecting is now what B2B buyers are expecting, they are judging all of their experiences back to the convenience of booking an Uber or ordering their groceries.”

Honing in on Interactions that Count

Chili Piper is passionate about its customers – so much so that the company recently rebranded its Customer Support department – which sits within the company’s Customer Success (CS) Group – to the all-new Department of ‘Customer Love.’ “Support teams are notoriously thought of as the last place that customers would want to go, and customers are typically only engaging with these teams because they have an issue and they need help,” Gemma explained. “We faced that reality head-on, acknowledging that any time a customer is reaching out to a customer support engineer, they are having a bad experience.”

The opportunity here is for the team to show their customers that they are loved – to offer them blazing fast service with resolutions that not only answer their questions, but also turn any negative experiences around. “If we can find other ways to service customers that they might not have even thought of originally, such as making another recommendation, we will do that,” she said. Emphasis is placed on giving agents more time to spend with customers, so they are not solely focused on closing Zendesk tickets, but actually feel empowered to better the customer experience. Can a customer be brought onto a customer advocacy program? Gifting tools are available to support engineers, for instance, to remedy any potentially negative customer experience.

One of the key challenges facing CX leaders and teams right now, especially in today’s predominately remote and distributed work environment, Gemma pointed out, is having meaningful moments with customers. Such moments are critical, yet are harder to replicate in the absence of face-to-face interactions.

“The biggest challenge for CX leaders is motivating members of their team to apply that same enthusiasm to all of those remote interactions that they’re having with their customers, giving them the space to ensure that they are coming into those remote interactions in the best prepared way, and that they are also holding onto that opportunity to stand out,” she emphasized. “The customer that you are speaking to could be dealing with a pet running loose or a child at home, there are many more distractions now than there were before!”

Essential Tools for CX Leaders

We at Netomi are all about harnessing a combination of tools and resources at our disposal, tools such as customer experience software that enable us to analyze all customer interactions and gather valuable insights so support teams can then take action on issues to increase customer loyalty and enhance the overall customer experience.

Gemma is a strong advocate for having a Customer Success system of action, one that highlights to CSM’s where there is customer risk, along with recommended actions to take, no matter where the customer is in their journey. It is important to harness a customer-facing support ticketing tool, such as Zendesk or Freshworks, a space where customers can not only access knowledge bases and other self-service options, but also raise their hand to reach technical support teams when assistance is needed. In addition to these, teams can then layer on tools that help with automation of tasks, such as Zapier (using Zapier, the Chili Piper team created 40 automations that automated 50,000 tasks for their support agents and saved 173 hours per month!), tools to communicate with customers, as well as tools that capture notes from customer conversations such as Gong.

A Proactive Approach to Customer Care

Today, we are seeing a shift from reactive customer service, towards one that is more proactive – identifying customer issues and making the first move to resolve them before they intensify. Taking a more proactive approach, Gemma noted, involves measuring those activities that team members are currently doing with customers, and also looking at where there are gaps in the process that would help make customers happier and drive adoption of services. It also involves using data to plug into customer success tools to direct teams to where there are risks before customers are raising their hand with concerns.

Situations in which support teams can demonstrate proactiveness may be: ‘we’ve noticed that your usage has dropped’, or ‘you purchased our product for a particular use case, and we have recently introduced an additional feature that helps with that use case.’

“It is all about proactively reaching out to the customer and anticipating things that could go wrong before they go wrong through a deeper understanding of the customer journey,” she said.

Taking care to maintain engaging conversations with customers in the digital age, and harnessing various tools to boost the experience for both support teams and their customers, are among the ingredients of a successful CX strategy.

Stay up-to-date on all things happening in the world of CX! Visit our library of previous and upcoming webinars to catch engaging conversations featuring speakers from the world’s most admired brands!

How Ticket Triage AI Can Revolutionize Customer Service

Written by Amy Wallace  on   Apr 26, 2022

Customer support tickets come in various shapes and forms, and from multiple channels – webforms, email, messaging and live chat. When a ticket enters a support team’s inbox, many companies triage it, tagging it based on the topic or urgency, and route it to the appropriate agent or team. This process helps streamline workflows, ensuring the right eyes are on the right ticket, and issues are resolved as quickly and accurately as possible.

A query related to a warranty on a recently purchased laptop computer may be tagged ‘warranty’, while a ticket received in French would be sent to a team member who speaks that language and is able to translate. Historically, this was a fairly manual and time-consuming process, but companies are now leveraging technologies such as AI to streamline ticket triaging.

In this article, we’ll share a bit of insider scoop on the technological transformation that is occurring behind-the-scenes including:

What is Ticket Triage AI?

In the world of AI, ticket triage refers to the automatic pre-processing of tickets by AI-powered virtual assistants. With a little help from this dynamic technology, tickets can be enriched with actionable insights, such as urgency/severity, and the category of the issue. By leveraging Natural Language Processing, these virtual assistants can grasp a customer’s true intent in order to properly prioritize tickets and route them to the right agent.

How Does Ticket Triage AI Work? 

However, modern AI platforms such as Netomi’s, are taking ticket triaging one step further. They can identify if there is information needed from a customer that has not yet been provided, and request that information before looping in a human agent. If a customer is inquiring about upgrades on an upcoming flight but hasn’t yet provided their flight confirmation number, for instance, an AI agent can ask for this background information. This ultimately means the human agent doesn’t need to spend as much time closing the ticket.

A second form of ticket triaging occurs when AI agents gather information and contextual data from back-end systems such as order management or CRM platforms on behalf of an agent. So, even if a virtual agent is not completely resolving a ticket, it can significantly reduce resolution time by doing a lot of the groundwork for agents. Like an investigative journalist, AI is first conducting research and gathering evidence prior to composing the story. This will all be collected prior to passing the ticket to a human agent, so that the agent will have the required information to make an informed decision.

A robust, well-trained AI can figure out what a customer is looking for when they first engage with the customer service department of a business, playing a key role in live human handoff, to dramatically accelerate response times. This is a critical step in the process – when it is not confident in its ability to understand a user’s intent, the Netomi AI takes the best course of action, escalating a customer to a human agent to minimize their frustration, rather than offer them an incorrect or irrelevant response.

With native integration into agent desks such as Zendesk and Gladly, the Netomi chatbot sits right within the platform to transfer chats to specific departments or agents. Once the intent is understood, the ticket would then be tagged for tracking purposes (such as refund or delivery status). The ticket may be prioritized based on certain customer attributes, such as the length of time for which the customer has been with a business, and the class to which they belong (if a customer is considered part of a VIP category, for instance, they would escalated directly to a human agent to receive specialized treatment).

Also on the agent side, as a fourth type of triage, AI offers support to preserve their overall sanity with sentiment routing. By monitoring agent conversations, AI agents are able to identify which human agent is having more difficult customers based on customer sentiment as well as the nature of the issue, while also taking into account factors such as the conversation length – is it dragging on for too long? The AI can then anticipate agent stress level and the micro-impact that closing a specific ticket will have on their immediate well-being, and reroute the ticket to a different agent if needed. This avoids situations in which one agent is consecutively assigned exasperated customers, which takes a great toll on their job satisfaction. Potential crisis, averted!

Additionally, with ‘Agent Assist’ or ‘Co-Pilot’ mode, suitable replies are recommended by the AI and help agents work faster, taking a bit of work off their plate. For instance, a customer reaches out to a support team via email to inquire about her order status. This request is then sent to an agent for review, along with a suggested response, which the agent could then accept and send, edit, or reject and compose their own response. This ‘review mode’ is like ‘semi-auto pilot mode,’ one in which the AI and the agent work in tandem.

Not all tickets are suited for automation, however – begin with automating the right kind of queries – those that are basic and repeatable, such as ‘what is your refund policy?’ A complicated issue such as ‘software failure’ might be classified as a ‘high priority issue,’ as it has a large impact on a large customer base, and would likely require some advanced technical expertise and assistance from a human agent with knowledge in this area.

What are the Benefits of Ticket Triaging?

A tremendous time saver, the ticket triage AI process is beneficial for both:

Customers, by offering speedy resolution times, for superior customer service.

Businesses, by enabling them to help their customer support teams. According to a 2022 report from Freshworks, 1 in 3 leaders believe that building new generation digital platforms to help customer-facing teams work better stands as a top priority, when it comes to digital investments. What’s more, features that allow for greater efficiency, like AI-based ticket classification and the automatic routing of incoming customer contacts to the right agent, can save agents up to 1.2 hours per day. That’s a lot of valuable time that can be saved!

Ticket Triage for Customer Support - Harry Rosen

Agents, by enabling them to work on more interesting and high-value tickets. Agents today are overworked, and many are feeling undervalued and a lack of empowerment – 74% of call center agents are at risk for burnout, and turnover rates sit between 30% and 45%, among the highest of any industry.

A 2022 Zendesk report revealed that only 15% of agents are extremely satisfied with their overall workloads. With AI helping to sift through, categorize and disperse tickets, agents are free to tackle other challenges and concentrate on tasks that require more creativity and critical thinking – skills and competencies which only a human can provide, and are oh-so-essential to hone.

How Can My Business Implement AI-based Ticket Triage?

AI-based ticket triage is a joint effort – it is a combination of people, tools and processes. By working with a trusted partner to automate a large part of the process, businesses can bring AI into the equation.

Ticket Triage Demo

As ticket volumes continue to increase, the answer lies in AI-powered solutions. With the right tools and processes in place, customer service departments can operate like well-oiled machines, streamlining their workflows while also improving the agent experience, and, in turn, the overall experience for their customers.  

Play, Support, Repeat: How Gaming Companies Can Design a Winning Customer Experience

Written by Omang Agarwal  on   Apr 19, 2022

The Importance of the Customer Experience (CX) in Gaming

Back in the year 2000, there were 3 major players in the gaming space worldwide. Today, there are over 55,000 gaming companies in the United States alone. The barrier to creating games has been lowered, thereby elevating the importance of customer experience to new heights.

To offer a sense of the sheer size and exponential growth of the gaming market, in 2021 it was valued at USD $198 billion, and, by 2027, it is expected to reach a value of USD $340 billion. Moreover, increasing adoption of smartphones, as well as the arrival of high bandwidth network connectivity such as 5G, have increased the demand of this booming market across the world even further.

Proactive and supportive customers, gamers are extremely loyal – to others in their community, and to the games they know and love. This strong sense of being part of a like-minded community and social element is what draws many to the pursuit, all while being afforded the freedom to take risks, progress towards set goals, and a chance to fail, while in a safe space.

For avid gamers, time is of the essence, and urgency is high – when an issue is disrupting gameplay, they expect quick and immediate responses, and if something goes awry, they will be quick to complain. For players who have spent countless hours constructing their characters and universes in World of Warcraft, if a technical glitch destroys all of this hard work and effort, they will be wanting help ASAP. If an in-game transaction to purchase an additional feature is not going through, and is time-sensitive, a gamer will likely not be pleased.

What’s more, outages and game lags can generate tens of thousands of support requests all within a short period of time, and things can exacerbate quickly. An example of this is September 2021’s widespread outages of Microsoft’s Xbox Network service, which affected thousands of users across the globe. Thousands of commenters chimed in, and many posted harsh comments related to the gaming company’s customer service.

Source: Twitter
Source: Twitter

When it comes to customer support in the industry, many gaming companies don’t think they have the adequate bandwidth or resources to provide continual player support, which encourages gamers to turn to other members of their online community (via comment boards, social media forums or Reddit) to troubleshoot their problems. However, gaming companies need to consistently monitor these external forums for complaints that may not be easily visible in their support queues. Such conversation threads can also quickly garner media attention that can both limit player participation and impact the reputation of a company/game.

Even though these community forums are popular, in many situations, gamers still want to interact with the publisher themselves via chat or email. By providing support on these private channels, gaming companies can have both more control of and awareness over issues, as well as improve customer satisfaction.

The answer here, one may think, is for companies to simply bolster their workforces so they are better equipped to handle increases in ticket volume that accompany a growing customer base. However, scaling a human-only support team is more expensive and trickier than ever, with 25% fewer agents than there were pre-pandemic due to cutbacks, staffers quitting and a lack of resources for agents to work from home. How can companies deliver more effortless and timely support, across channels?

Learn more about the importance of CX in gaming in Netomi’s ebook: Pleasing A Tough Crowd: Online Games and the New Imperative for Customer Experience!

Reimagining the Gaming Experience: An Gamer-Centric Approach to CX in Gaming

Customers today desire self-service options, many preferring to resolve their own issues without involving customer support agents – and gamers are no exception to this trend. Exiting their favorite game in order to conduct a web search or call a customer support number may very well be the last thing on player’s minds.

In today’s digital world, the solution is for gaming companies to harness digital tools to modernize how they deliver support, all the while keeping players in the game and engaged. Significantly elevating the player experience, in-game support offers just-in-time engagement and faster response times – no more wait times, and no need to leave the app. Additionally, for those games that earn money with in-game purchases, there is the potential for upselling (encouraging players to spend more, and upgrade with additional features), in the exact moment of relevance. Players are often quick to abandon games that fail to engage them, and higher retention makes for a more vibrant community, especially in multi-player games.

An in-game support experience also involves communication that is both synchronous communication (real-time) and asynchronous (time-lapsed- think of responding to a message after finishing an important project). Armed with these two messaging options, players can fluidly move between engaging in real-time, and leaving a conversation until they are re-engaged with a push or email notification, alerting them of a critical update or resolution.

For businesses today, providing customers with an omnichannel experience is critical – a seamless journey that enables a customer to interchange devices and fluidly move between channels, carrying context forward with every interaction.

In Netomi’s Customer Service Benchmark Report: Gaming, we found that, in our analysis of nearly 3,000 of the world’s top gaming companies, only 54% of them have an easily accessible email address. Additionally, of the companies that do have an email address, nearly 76% ignore simple customer service emails. As email stands as the preferred channel for customer service, for many, offering support over this channel is critical.

The Role of Chatbots & Conversational AI in Gaming

With modern AI that is continuously learning and improving the ways in which it responds to customer feedback and requests, these newer AI systems can provide assistance immediately to the gamer in the moment of need, thereby keeping them fully immersed in the experience.

A robust customer support strategy should follow such an approach, beginning with self-service knowledge bases and AI-powered chatbots that can tap into insights gleaned from questions and concerns brought up on popular forums such as Reddit. Upon identifying the customer’s intent, these bots can assist players by suggesting relevant articles from a knowledge base and in some cases summarizing only the most relevant info, encouraging self-service and offering gamers immediate help. Automation tools can then help with escalating issues from these channels into an instant messaging environment, in which players are able to chat directly with a support agent (human or virtual), to receive the assistance they need.

Offering always-on, always-available support, AI can respond to customers around the clock (which is extremely useful, as many gamers are known for their late-night gaming tendencies, and for publishers, as they reach a global customer base).

Automation of basic and repeatable player issues, such as modifying a subscription plan or directing gamers to the right forum, frees agents to focus on more complicated issues, such as bugs and system outages. Agents are free to spend more time with players, building rapport and sharing tips for better gameplay – serving as invaluable referees. With intelligent support ticket routing and analysis, complex issues are escalated to human agents, immediately.

Taking a proactive and predictive approach, an AI-powered chatbot can also update gamers on bugs and issues that they might encounter, recognizing when users are approaching key milestones and warning them that a certain aspect of the system is being fixed ahead of their game path. It would also leverage background information about unique player, device, and platform to update only those who might be affected. Then, as soon as a fix has been deployed, it can proactively communicate the update with each user that initially reached out.

Whether offered in-game or over channels such as email, it is clear that, in the world of gaming, customer support is falling short. As gaming only continues to grow, the opportunity for gaming companies to deliver excellent experiences is there. 

Tell Us How You Really Feel: The Frustrating Reality of Customer Support in 2022

Written by Can Ozdoruk  on   Apr 14, 2022

What are the most dreaded customer service calls to make? Do customers enjoy making small talk with support agents, or prefer to get straight to the point? We polled more than 1,200 consumers across the United States to get a pulse on how they are feeling today, when it comes to interacting with customer support teams. We discovered that, in the fast-paced world of today, customer expectations are not being met, frustrations are high, and patience is wearing thin. 

Download Netomi’s complete The State of Customer Service Report!

Our Top 5 Findings from The State of Customer Service Report 

  • Emotional outbursts are common: 14% of customers report having screamed at and 19% have sworn at a company’s representative, while, out of frustration, 61% of people have hung up the phone mid-conversation. This is true on both sides of the equation, as…
  • Stress is taking its toll on agents: 73% of consumers have had instances of an agent being rude to them, and 44% have experienced an agent grow agitated
  • The desire for instant gratification is real: 39% of consumers have less patience today than they did prior to the pandemic
  • Small talk is not necessary: Only 27% of respondents value situations when customer service agents engage in small talk when assisting them, while 73% find no value in such friendly banter, preferring agents to focus on the issue at hand
  • Many issues are left unresolved, after a single interaction: 65% of consumers have needed to follow up more than once to get their question resolved, and 25% of respondents reported needing to contact a company three or more times in order to resolve an issue

The bottom line: What does all of this signify?

As the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted consumer behaviors, preferences and expectations, businesses need to evolve amid the changing landscape to meet the needs of the modern consumer. In today’s fast-paced world, the pressure to deliver superior customer experiences is on, big time.

AI-powered chatbots can have an enormous impact on support organizations, and greatly elevate the experience of agents and the customers that they serve, by:

  • Swiftly resolving customers’ queries, across channels (such as email, chat, and SMS), for enhanced customer satisfaction and happiness
  • Surfacing relevant answers and links to the agents during support calls, transforming them from agents to super-agents
  • Automatically resolving repetitive, everyday tickets, offloading mundane work from agents and allowing them to concentrate more on complex tasks
  • Working around-the-clock with 24/7 availability, so there are no frustrating hold times for customers

What else do customers have to say? View more insights in Netomi’s The State of Customer Service Report!

The Top 11 Zendesk Alternatives

Written by Amy Wallace  on   Apr 7, 2022

Today, providing strong customer service is key – according to Zendesk’s CX Trends 2022 report, 72% of business leaders say that their organization views customer service as a critical business priority. Moreover, customers today are engaging more with service teams, with support requests – ranging from technical questions to assistance with a return – up 14%, in comparison to last year.

So, in order to deliver the best possible experience, it becomes essential to equip support teams with robust tools and resources, setting them up for ultimate success. To provide customers with a seamless, personalized, and connected experience, across all channels. When it comes to service desk platforms (aka agent desks) that help accomplish this feat of providing a best-in-class customer experience, there are no shortage options available.

If you are considering help desk software, you’ve likely heard of Zendesk.

What is Zendesk?

Zendesk is one of the most well-known and best help desk platforms in the market today. In a nutshell, Zendesk helps companies manage the entire experience for their customers and improve customer relationships – bringing all marketing and support functions together into one platform.

Zendesk also has a spunky side and is known for bold messaging. Take a look at how Zendesk describes themselves in their own words:

While Zendesk is an exceptional customer service solution, there are other options available, all with their own unique and sophisticated features. Here, we take a look at 11 alternatives to Zendesk.

How can you seamlessly introduce Netomi’s AI into your workforce? Get in touch with our team to learn more!

11 Top Zendesk Alternatives

  1. Freshdesk
  2. Gladly
  3. Salesforce Service Cloud
  4. HubSpot Service Hub
  5. Intercom
  6. Zoho Desk
  7. Front
  8. Groove
  9. Help Scout
  10. Kustomer
  11. LiveAgent

  1. Freshdesk
  2. Best Zendesk alternative for larger teams

     

    What makes Freshdesk one of the best Zendesk alternatives?

    Freshdesk helps businesses to deliver seamless customer service across digital and traditional channels, including email, chat, phone, and social media. Complete with a help widget and multilingual knowledge base that supports 42 languages, the platform lets businesses design a self-service experience for their customers, one in which they are free to help themselves.

    Freshdesk’s key features

    • Built for omnichannel support
    • Collaboration features that fuel teamwork and efficiency, including shared ownership of tickets and parent-child ticketing (splitting tickets into smaller tasks that respective teams can work on in parallel)
    • Open-source API to integrate powerful Freshdesk chatbot solutions
    • Analytics to measure improved efficiency, including team dashboards, custom, and curated reports, and customer satisfaction ratings
    • AI-powered automation to streamline workflows, such as scanning through tickets hourly to check if there’s a need for an update or an alert, and auto-assigning tickets to the right agents
    • Complete customization capabilities, including custom ticket forms, custom apps, and portal customization

  3. Gladly
  4. Best Zendesk alternative for retailers

     

    What makes Gladly one of the best Zendesk alternatives?

    With a strong emphasis on providing personal customer service, Gladly is a customer service platform that “treats customers like people, not tickets.” Its people-centered rather than ticket-centered approach means that all conversations, across all channels, are tied to customer profiles, in one single place. As voice, email, text, and chat are all built-in natively to the platform, agents can respond across all channels during a conversation from a single screen, while also having the historical context from a customer’s previous interactions.

    Gladly’s key features

    • ‘People match’ that pairs customers with the best “service hero” to assist them, based on their own unique situation, history, and needs
    • Open-source API to integrate powerful Gladly chatbot solutions
    • ‘Conversation timeline’ that stores customer communications across all channels in one lifelong conversation thread, and in one centralized view
    • Customer service analytics that offer cross-channel insights that make a true impact, such as action-oriented reports and data exports
    • Integrations with applications such as Shopify, Twitter, Messenger, and Netomi

  5. Salesforce Service Cloud
  6. Best for integrations with other tools

     

    What makes Salesforce Service Cloud one of the best Zendesk alternatives?

    Built on Salesforce Customer 360, Salesforce Service Cloud gives businesses a 360-degree view of their customers, allowing them to deliver smarter, faster, and more personalized service. The platform gives agents the tools to deliver an exceptional customer experience, enabling them to work faster and more productively, which, in turn, improves customer satisfaction and reduces costs.

    Salesforce Service Cloud’s key features

    • Open-source API to integrate powerful Salesforce chatbot solutions
    • An agent workspace that allows agents to seamlessly handle cases from one screen with an easy-to-use service console, affording them a unified view of every case detail and customer interaction
    • Omni-channel routing to deliver more efficient support by automatically routing cases to the best agent or team for the job, based on their skill set and availability
    • A point-and-click interface that enables teams to easily design and deploy automated processes, such as orchestrating workflows, creating and updating records, logging calls, and sending emails

  7. HubSpot Service Hub
  8. Best Zendesk alternative for teams that are already using HubSpot

     

    What makes HubSpot Service Hub one of the best Zendesk alternatives?

    Part of the HubSpot CRM platform, Service Hub includes conversational tools, help desk automation, customer feedback surveys, reporting, and more, to provide businesses with one unified view of each customer interaction. The comprehensive, end-to-end service allows for better customer service management and satisfied customers, at each stage of their journey.

    HubSpot Service Hub’s key features

    • Reporting dashboards that surface actionable data to improve customer service, highlighting the top service requests
    • A secure customer portal that empowers customers to gain ownership over their experience, and keeps ticket conversations between customers and reps flowing
    • Live chat that enables teams to assist customers on their website in real-time, automatically routing them to the right support agents
    • A shared inbox that connects team email, live chat, Facebook Messenger, and more to one universal inbox, so support teams are able to manage and reply to conversations in one place

  9. Intercom
  10. Best Zendesk alternative for early stage businesses

     

    What makes Intercom one of the best Zendesk alternatives?

    An all-in-one customer communications platform, and one that offers conversational support, conversational engagement and conversational marketing, Intercom’s comprehensive solution enables businesses to personalize all customer interactions, and deliver support that is personalized as well as proactive. Ideal for both large as well as growing businesses, under Intercom’s Early Stage Program, eligible startups receive advanced Intercom features and Early Stage Academy at a 95% discount.

    Intercom’s key features

    • Product tours that introduce customers to a company’s products, offering guided experiences that spotlight new features and drive adoption
    • Management tools, including a collaborative inbox, rules and automated workflows, and reporting tools to help teams be more efficient
    • Customer messaging that allows agents to communicate with customers across platforms, chat in real-time or follow up later, and help customers self-serve
    • Integration with 300+ apps, including Slack, WhatsApp and Google Analytics, to maximize customer experience and team efficiency

  11. Zoho Desk
  12. Best Zendesk alternative for sales-focused teams

     

    What makes Zoho Desk one of the best Zendesk alternatives?

    An omnichannel customer service solution, Zoho Desk works across verticals including telecom, hospitality and finance, catering to businesses of all sizes, from startups to enterprises. With actionable insights, ticket management and automation, Zoho Desk helps support teams stay on top of all aspects of their customer service efforts. Additionally, Radar, the company’s mobile app, allows teams to monitor ticket traffic and key support metrics, wherever they are.

    Zoho Desk’s key features

    • A multichannel ticketing system that collects support tickets from various channels (such as email and social media), and organizes them in a single interface
    • Zoho’s AI-powered assistant can identify the sentiment behind tickets, process incoming tickets, and assign them appropriate tags
    • Open-source API to integrate powerful Zoho chatbot solutions
    • Instant remote assistance with the Zoho Assist add-on that enables teams to provide cloud-based remote support from within Zoho Desk
    • Different ticket views that help agents automatically organize tickets based on priority, due time, status, or CRM status, and ‘ticket peek’ that shows a preview of every interaction that team members have had with the customer, as well as the ticket’s properties

  13. Front
  14. Best Zendesk alternative for companies that offer the majority of their customer support through email

    What makes Front one of the best Zendesk alternatives?

    Offering a hub for all things related to customer communication, Front combines the simplicity of email with the intelligence of a CRM. The platform’s intuitive design allows for smarter collaboration between teammates, so they can deliver unmatched and tailor-made service to their customers.

    Front’s key features

    • Custom workflows that automatically route, triage and escalate messages, and prioritize VIPs
    • A universal inbox that consolidates work all in one place, and each message gets a clear owner, so no customer requests fall through the cracks
    • In-depth analytics to track performance, customer satisfaction, and growth
    • 100+ integrations with apps such as Asana, Gmail, and Facebook, so teams can manage projects, consult their CRMs, and view all communication channels right in their inbox

  15. Groove
  16. Best Zendesk alternative for small businesses

    What makes Groove one of the best Zendesk alternatives?

    A shared inbox for small businesses seeking an alternative to Gmail, Groove provides a space for teams to organize all of their support emails in one place, route them to the right people, and get more work done as a team.

    Groove’s key features

    • Reporting functionalities, including team analytics, conversation insights, and performance metrics
    • A 24/7 smart, self-service knowledge base, that can be easily edited and designed to match a company’s brand, featuring insights such as most-searched terms, most-viewed articles, and article suggestions
    • Automations such as instant replies, rules and tags, to organize conversations and speed up workflows
    • Integrations with hundreds of apps, such as Slack, Shopify, and MailChimp

  17. Help Scout
  18. Best Zendesk alternative for growing businesses

     

    What makes Help Scout one of the best Zendesk alternatives?

    An all-in-one support platform, Help Scout is designed to help growing companies “turn customers into brand ambassadors.” Complete with an integrated knowledge base, 50+ integrations, in-app messaging and live chat, it helps keep support teams on the same page so they can focus on delivering a great customer experience. What’s more, with Help Scout’s free iOS and Android apps, teams can easily check their inboxes and reply to customers, while on the go.

    Help Scout’s key features

    • Workflows that automate repetitive tasks, keep response times low and act based on pre-set conditions (if one event takes place, what action should happen after?)
    • A single shared inbox that houses all support requests, allowing teams to collaborate with ease, and personalize conversations with customers
    • “Beacons” that can be placed on any page of a website or app, standing as an easy way for customers to flip through a knowledge base or reach out to a support team
    • Reports that do all of the heavy lifting, providing summaries of phone calls created, key chat metrics, trending topics among customers, and more

  19. Kustomer
  20. Best Zendesk alternative for teams looking for more native CRM capabilities in their helpdesk

     

    What makes Kustomer one of the best Zendesk alternatives?

    Kustomer brings together CRM, customer engagement, and helpdesk software into a single omnichannel platform. With a strong emphasis on omnichannel, the platform allows agents to view the entire experience and seamlessly switch between channels to meet customers where they are.

    Kustomer’s key features

    • Kustomer IQ’s AI capabilities contextualize conversations, generate predictive insights, and recommend next-best actions
    • The Kustomer Timeline – an easy-to-use agent workspace for managing customer conversations, displaying each customer journey in a chronological timeline view, including website visits, historical interactions, and purchase history
    • Integrations with various apps to unify CX operations, including Gmail, SurveyMonkey, and Instagram
    • Reporting and analytics features that enable teams to generate reports about conversations, team performance, and customer base

  21. LiveAgent
  22. Best Zendesk alternative for larger teams who have the need for the platform’s numerous support desk features

     

    What makes LiveAgent one of the best Zendesk alternatives?

    A pioneering customer service software established in 2006, LiveAgent was the first solution to offer both live chat and help desk capabilities. Its advanced help desk ticketing system integrates with numerous communication channels to provide customers with exceptional support, going “beyond an IT ticketing system.”

    LiveAgent’s key features

    • A comprehensive ticketing system that allows teams to handle all customer inquiries from one interface, complete with automated ticket distribution, time rules that prioritize tickets, and a ‘to solve’ button that reminds agents about incoming tickets
    • 15 live chat features, including proactive chat invitations, chat button animations, real-time typing view, and chat embedded tracking
    • A built-in call center with unlimited call recordings, internal calls and call routing
    • Social media integrations with platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, to save agents time by streamlining all customer interactions into a single, unified inbox

    Are you using Zendesk to its fullest potential?

    “Alone we are one, yet together we are stronger,” Alexandra da Silva Rodrigues, Radisson Hotel Group’s Strategical Advisor for Global Contact Centers, noted in a recent Netomi webinar. While Alexandra was referring to teams of call center agents, the same idea rings true when it comes to integration of systems and softwares. Because one platform alone can be powerful and make a true impact, but two combined? Now that’s a whole other story.

    This is why we work to bring together the best of machine and human intelligence. Netomi’s AI-powered Zendesk chatbot ​​works natively within the Zendesk Chat window and agent console, to resolve up to 80% of repeatable customer tickets within seconds with zero human effort. Issues that are sensitive, critical or high-risk are routed to human support agents. Netomi’s virtual agents are there to supplement and enhance live chat support teams, working alongside them to create the ultimate customer service team. Best of all, the seamless integration means that agents do not require any re-training, they need not master new tools.

    The possibilities for service desk platforms are endless, yet not all are the same. As your needs are unique to your team and your industry, it is important to select the one that fits your organization, and will deliver the most impact to your support team and your customers.

    How can a powerful AI-powered chatbot like Netomi’s integrate with your service desk solution? Send us a message to learn more!