The 8 Best Customer Service Tools to Aid in a Connected Customer Journey

Written by Amy Wallace  on   May 13, 2022

Today’s customer support professionals have a lot on their plates – from interacting directly with customers and managing a steady stream of support tickets, to creating and updating libraries of self-service content. All this, while under pressure to keep customer satisfaction high and resolution time low. Indeed, customer service is a joint effort – it is a combination of people, tools and processes to work in tandem to deliver first-rate customer experiences across many touchpoints.

This is why access to the right tools and resources can make a difference.

  • Customer service tools enable support teams to answer key questions such as:
  • How can the entire customer journey be seen from one single view, for customer service that is driven by context?
  • How can they work better as a team, to deliver effortless and immediate support across multiple channels?
  • With growing demands for personalization and rising support tickets, how can smaller teams do more, faster?

In a quest to help customer support teams explore new capabilities for their support operations, the Netomi team has done some research, from previous lists detailing the best live chat software, help desk software, customer experience tools and knowledge base software. Now, we present our selection of the 8 best customer service tools.

The Best Customer Service Tools in 2022

  1. Netomi
  2. Aircall
  3. Gorgias
  4. Kayako
  5. Nicereply
  6. Podium
  7. TeamSupport 
  8. Vivantio

1. Netomi

Best customer service tool for mid-sized to enterprise brands

Best Customer Service Tools - Netomi

What makes Netomi one of the best customer service tools of 2022?

An omnichannel AI platform for customer service, Netomi helps companies resolve over 80% of support tickets via email, chat, messaging, and voice. This helps agents focus on more complex tickets.

Netomi’s key features

  • A Clustering Engine that uses unsupervised learning to sift through and cluster historic support tickets, pinpointing repeatable scenarios that may be automated
  • Natural Language Understanding (NLU) to understand the underlying intent of customer inquiries, with the highest overall accuracy (85.17%) of any conversational AI platform, and the highest out-of-scope accuracy at 92.45%
  • An intuitive analytics dashboard that displays real-time performance data on key customer service metrics such as AI resolution rate and accuracy
  • A fully customizable chat widget that has many U/X tools like embedded customer forms, the ability to upload files and more
  • Native integration with all major agent desks such as Gladly, Zoho, Freshworks, Salesforce and Zendesk

2.Aircall

Best customer service tool for call center support

Best Customer Service Tools - Aircall

What makes Aircall one of the best customer service tools of 2022?

The “phone system for modern business,” Aircall’s inbound call center software is ideal for businesses both small and large, and is used by sales, IT & operations, and customer support teams. The result? A clear view of call activity and issues that are resolved as a team, for smarter customer conversations, and smoother support.

Aircall’s key features

  • Parallel calls, enabling agents to put current conversations on hold and simultaneously start a separate call with another customer
  • Custom filters to search and sort through categorized calls to find a certain conversation
  • Call Center Analytics, allowing teams to keep track of key call center metrics – such as wait time, missed call rate, and call volume – all in one place
  • Insight Cards, allowing agents to see more context behind each inbound call by pulling related data from other apps into view

3. Gorgias

Best customer service tool for eCommerce stores

Best Customer Service Tools - Gorgias

What makes Gorgias one of the best customer service tools of 2022?

A customer service platform built for eCommerce, Gorgias allows support teams to centralize all of their tickets in one place, to get the full customer picture, and offer faster support. The platform’s powerful integration with Shopify and Shopify Plus means that agents can view order details for a customer, and refund, cancel, and duplicate orders, all without leaving the helpdesk app.

Gorgias’ key features

  • Intents and sentiment detection that leverage customer intents, allowing teams to automate their workflows with precision, with sentiments that automatically detect how customers are feeling (are they angry, or in a rush)?
  • A customer sidebar that displays rich customer data right next to tickets, allowing support teams to choose the data they want to see, and pull in data from 65+ third-party apps
  • A self-service feature that allows teams to manage routine requests such as returns, cancellations or damaged items, to increase their efficiency, and provide customers with instant answers and full resolutions
  • Integration with Shopify, Shopify Plus, Magento, and BigCommerce, enabling teams to scale their support across stores, so they can manage every customer question, for all of their brands, in a single helpdesk

4. Kayako

Best customer service tool for SMBs looking for a fully integrated cloud-hosted help desk to immediately start supporting customers

Best Customer Service Tools - Kayako

What makes Kayako one of the best customer service tools of 2022?

Paving the way for “better conversations, a better customer experience,” Kayako’s helpdesk software comes equipped with powerful out-of-the-box functionality that makes it easy for customer service teams to manage requests and conversations that come through any channel. More than 131,000 customer agents use Kayako for customer support, ticketing software, eCommerce support, a shared inbox and internal help desk.

Kayako’s key features

  • Live chat software (included as a tool in Kayako’s help desk software), that is quick and easy to customize, and can be integrated into a business’ website, iOS and Android apps
  • A shared inbox that collects all support conversations in one place and makes it easy to collaborate with teammates
  • SingleView, which captures a customer’s entire journey, allowing teams to view customer activity at a glance, such as site visits, purchases, shipping history, previous customer service inquiries, and self-help searches
  • A self-service portal, to provide customers with the resources they need to help themselves, and Help Center Analytics to identify gaps and optimize portal content to meet customer needs

5. Nicereply

Best customer service tool for measuring CSAT 

What makes Nicereply one of the best customer service tools of 2022?

How satisfied are your customers? Nicereply makes it simple for support teams to measure customer satisfaction with easy-to-deploy surveys, customizable with multiple scales (such as stars, smiley faces, or 5 or 10 rating points), and one-click responses. The platform also allows teams to measure Customer Effort Scores to receive instant feedback, identify any friction points, and deliver an effortless experience. Moreover, the two metrics can be combined to get even more feedback. Additionally, Net Promoter Score measures customer loyalty, judging by a customer’s likelihood to recommend a product to others.

Nicereply’s key features

  • In-signature surveys, allowing agents to ask customers for feedback at the bottom of every email
  • Instant ratings that record customers’ answers as soon as they click the survey
  • Customer sync that automatically adds customer names based on the ticket ID, as customers often don’t share their names in feedback forms
  • Trend charts to Identify trends in CSAT, NPS and CES performance, as well as response volumes

6. Podium

Best customer service tool for local businesses seeking an all-in-one customer communication and payments platform

Best Customer Service Tools - Podium

What makes Podium one of the best customer service tools of 2022?

An all-in-one, and multi-product platform that is “modernizing the way local business gets done,” Podium combines web chat, online review generation, SMS (text) marketing and payment processing, all in one easy-to-use inbox.

Podium’s key features

  • Website chat to capture website leads, immediately taking the conversation to text so that customers can remain connected, on their terms
  • One inbox that is optimized for efficiency, allowing agents to bring every conversation and touchpoint – from chat to reviews to voicemail – into a single thread, and respond instantly over text
  • Podium Reviews, which makes it easy for customers to leave business reviews by sending them a direct link via text
  • Video chat, allowing agents to quickly move from text to video, all within a simple and familiar interface
  • Podium Text-To-Pay, a convenient way for customers to pay, and for businesses to collect payments via text

7. TeamSupport

Best customer service tool for B2B technology-enabled companies

Best Customer Service Tools - TeamSupport

What makes TeamSupport one of the best customer service tools of 2022?

Offering much more than effective ticket management, TeamSupport provides an omnichannel experience that facilitates internal team collaboration and streamlines customer support issues. Rather than a focus on each individual contact or ticket, emphasis is placed on streamlined collaboration among teams and built around the entire B2B customer.

TeamSupport’s key features

  • Phone-to-ticket integration with RingCentral, so when a customer calls a RingCentral-enabled support line for help, TeamSupport automatically surfaces the customer’s ticket history, service agreements and happiness index
  • Customer self-service software, offering a fully customizable customer hub that can be embedded in a website or stand alone with a custom URL
  • A help desk ticket management system, complete with ticket automation and workflows, ticket collision prevention, and and a powerful global search tool
  • Visual customer support such as VideoView, which allows agents make video recordings using their webcams to show customers features of technical products, or the steps to take to resolve an issue
  • Customer distress index that shows potentially at-risk customers

8. Vivantio

Best customer service tool for small and medium-sized growing B2B businesses seeking service optimization across all disciplines

Best Customer Service Tools - Vivantio

What makes Vivantio one of the best customer service tools of 2022?

Empowering teams, enabling operations and elevating the customer experience are the main highlights of this highly configurable service management system. Vivantio’s CRM brings all customer information into one centralized location, providing a 360 ° view of a business’ customer service operations, and making it simple to retrieve vital customer information.

Vivantio’s key features

  • A self-service portal, on which support teams can publish knowledge base articles, tutorials, manuals, and more. Customers can also log into the portal to track the progress of their tickets or service requests
  • A workflow designer that automates recurring processes within a business, removing the need for manual resources, such as scheduling backups, to the onboarding of new employees
  • FLEX Insights that provides first line support teams with help and advice on dealing with issues while they’re listening to the customer, supplying them with information regarding known outages, similar issues, knowledge base articles, guides, and support
  • Configuration Management Database (CMDB) that records the software, hardware, and services delivered to each customer

Delivering exceptional customer service is no easy feat – it involves multiple moving parts. And today, the onus is on businesses to double down on their CX efforts – a recent study from TELUS International found that nearly 60% of consumers said they would rather sit in a traffic jam than have a poor customer experience. Customer service tools can play a principal role in this practice, in a multitude of ways, and it is important for businesses to select the tool or suite of tools that can deliver the greatest impact to their support teams, and ultimately, their customers.

Best Customer Service Tools - Book Demo

How Customer Self-Service Can Help Your Business & Your Customers

Written by Amy Wallace  on   Mar 30, 2022

What is customer self-service?

“The best support ticket is the one that’s never created,” noted 1 Zendesk’s Elaine Atwell. There are times when help is needed, yet some things are easier to simply do by oneself, on one’s own terms. Plus, there also comes the self-satisfaction of striking a complex task off a list (I managed to fill out my tax forms)!

Customer self-service relates to exactly this – whereby customers are resolving their own issues, without assistance from support agents. Using the self-service options that are available to them, they can then research and troubleshoot 2 issues by themselves. Today, many want this degree of autonomy – 70% of respondents said they expect a company to have a self-service portal or content available to them, according to the CX Trends 2022 report. 3

Why is customer self-service important?

As mentioned above, many favor the ‘do-it-yourself’ option – people like to get instant help without waiting. Beneficial for all sides, customer self-service helps both:

  • Customers, by providing faster resolution times. Consider two scenarios: a customer waiting on hold for several hours to inquire about a cereal versus being directed to a detailed and comprehensive blog article about the product’s ingredients, which can be reviewed within minutes. Which is likely to be resolved more quickly? The presence of self-service can also foster a strong sense of community 4 – one in which customers answer one another’s questions and share tips, tricks, and best practices related to a company’s product offerings. Self-service options are also readily available day and night, so if a customer is suddenly locked out of their account during a late-night Netflix binge, no problem!
  • Businesses, by reducing support costs and ticket volume, freeing up agents and allowing them to concentrate on resolving more complex customer issues. Customer service teams benefit from not needing to handle cases that are similar and repetitive. With access and the ability to contribute to company-wide platforms such as knowledge bases (more on that to come later!), agents are empowered to keep information and knowledge fresh, updated and helpful.

Highlighting categorical shifts in customer service, such as the shift to remote work, research from Gartner revealed 5 that 59% of customers prefer to resolve their issues without contacting a customer service rep. Only 13% of customers, however, are contained successfully within self-service, as their resolution journey breaks down, underscoring the need for businesses to enhance their self-service offerings.

The Customer Self-Service Journey  – Original Source: Gartner                                   

How can my business implement customer self-service?

It is incumbent upon business leaders to coordinate the self-service journey all the way from search through to resolution – making it as seamless as possible for customers. The key, then, becomes to create effective self-service channels, and also to guide customers to the optimal channel. Customers, separate research from Gartner pointed out 6, often select the wrong channel for their resolution, which leads to channel switching, increased effort on the part of the customer, and lower customer loyalty. That is, a customer may peruse a quick-start manual for help getting the timer for their new oven set up, but need to contact a service rep to have them walk them through the actual issue they are facing.

Designing a customer self-service portal or system can be accomplished, but it involves lots of moving parts, and various aspects that must be considered. A strategy can include questions such as:

  • Is information easily discoverable, such as a prominent link to a help center on a website’s homepage, or a search bar that directs customers to the most relevant resources? This may involve harnessing search engine optimization (SEO) tactics, to create a clear pathway 5 to relevant customer service pages.
  • Is a company’s knowledge base or resources page proactively optimized, featuring the most relevant and helpful content? How often is the content refreshed?

Many businesses choose to work with trusted partners to implement customer self-service options.

How does customer self-service work & what are some essential tools for good customer self-service?

As the authors of Zendesk’s CX Trends Report noted 3, “Having a best-in-class customer service team isn’t possible without the right tools in place.” It is also essential for such tools to integrate – to work together in harmony, for one seamless customer experience.

A customer service chatbot

A critical component in the customer journey, an AI-powered customer service chatbot can:

  • Guide – guiding customers 7 to self-service resolution, throughout their journey on a website (Example: a chatbot that pops up on a website’s homepage upon a user’s first visit)
  • Anticipate – the chatbot can be pre-populated with common issues, which draws the customer’s attention and encourages them to engage in self-service
WestJet’s chatbot ‘Juliet’, powered by Netomi
  • Collect – gather key information about customer issues before routing them to assisted service (Example: gathering background information from the customer, such as the date of purchase and whether a return or a refund is being requested, and why)

Netomi’s AI-powered chatbot integrates with agent desks and other back-end systems, to personalize and contextualize responses to customers. With such native integration, businesses can fully automate repetitive customer queries (upwards of 80% of all tickets), and provide pertinent articles from a company’s knowledge base.

Escalation options

Some issues may carry more complexity or sensitivity, which is why it is always important to offer an escalation path to human agents, based on topic, customer profile, or instances when a customer asks to converse with one. A human agent may need to intervene if a customer is growing increasingly angry or frustrated, or if the AI is unable to comprehend a customer’s intent.

Knowledge bases

What if a system proactively detects what a user might enter into a search bar when they begin typing a query? Here lies the essence of knowledge bases. Serving as centralized hubs that house a company’s key resources all in one place, knowledge bases are ideal for customer self-service, as they allow customers to access information, such as how-to-articles and video tutorials.

Knowledge bases that are powered by AI, on the other hand, enable even faster service 8. Based on the context of an ongoing conversation, AI can also help with surfacing relevant knowledge to agents, information that is needed in that particular moment (if a customer is inquiring about sandal sizes, it is time to pull up the spring/summer catalog). AI can also ensure that a company’s knowledge base remains relevant – such as flagging content for review at regular intervals, leveraging machine learning to identify articles that require updated titles, fresh content, and better search labels, as well as suggest new content based on what customers are asking for in their support requests.

There are numerous knowledge base softwares on the market, tools specifically designed to help businesses create, organize, and manage their self-service content for their customers, as well as internal support teams (check out Netomi’s top 15 picks, as well as tips for selecting the right one)!

The customer self-service revolution

By deploying intelligent self-service that leverages machine learning to deliver the content that’s most relevant to the individual customer, businesses can help their customers become better and more efficient at resolving their own issues. When customers are empowered to help themselves, it leads to faster resolution times, and also reduces support costs and ticket volumes for companies.

Customer self service is not the future of customer service – it’s here now – it’s what customers desire and have come to expect. Businesses can benefit a lot from a system that works well for their team and their customers, but it must be carefully and thoughtfully deployed.


References 

  1. https://www.zendesk.com/blog/customer-self-service-guide-helping-customers-help/
  2. https://blog.hubspot.com/service/customer-self-service
  3. https://www.zendesk.com/customer-experience-trends/
  4. https://www.salesforce.com/resources/articles/customer-self-service-portals/?sfdc-redirect=519
  5. https://emtemp.gcom.cloud/ngw/globalassets/en/sales-service/documents/trends/2022_css_leadership_vision_ebook.pdf
  6. https://www.gartner.com/smarterwithgartner/customers-resolve-issues
  7. https://www.gartner.com/en/customer-service-support/trends/customer-service-experience
  8. https://www.zendesk.com/blog/three-ways-ai-powered-knowledge-base-changes-game/