With so many different customer service software solutions available, figuring out which is right for your small business is tough. You know you want software to help you respond effectively to your customers' needs to enhance their satisfaction and loyalty, but you need to figure out which software is best. In this article, I'll help you make your choice easier by sharing my insights on the best customer service software for small businesses to help you track, manage, prioritize, and resolve customer inquiries and provide an outstanding customer experience, at every touchpoint.
What is Customer Service Software for Small Business?
Customer service software for small businesses are cloud-based SaaS tools that help customer service teams manage support requests and other communications with customers. These tools are specifically designed to help SMBs streamline workflows, automate repetitive processes, route calls to appropriate agents, enhance communication as customer inquiries are escalated, and improve response times.
Using customer service software can help small businesses reduce overhead costs by eliminating the need for extensive customer service staff, while simultaneously improving the efficiency, speed, and consistency of responses. They also collect useful data on customer needs to help you provide better customer service overall.
Front is a customer service software that brings together your customer communications from various channels in one place. You can manage your email, live chat, and SMS conversations from the same platform, alleviating the need to be jumping between systems.
The software is helpful whether you have a team of one handling your customer comms or if you have multiple people responding to incoming requests. The shared inbox means that if you have several employees managing communications at once, or different people responding to inquiries day to day, everything is in a single shared space.
You can also use the software to automate certain parts of your communications management. Messages can be automatically categorized and routed to specific team members, speeding up the time to response and helping you provide a better, more personalized customer experience.
The software has over 100 native integrations with other apps, including WhatsApp, Dialpad, Twilio, Intercom, Facebook, Instagram, Slack, Twitter, Asana, HubSpot, Jira, and Salesforce, among others. An API is also available to build custom integrations with.
Pricing for Front starts at $19 per user, per month when billed annually, and a 7 day free trial is available.
Issuetrak is a ticketing software designed to manage and track issues, tickets, or cases across multiple channels, including email, webforms, and applications. Its capability to support businesses of various sizes and industries with omnichannel ticket submission positions it as a suitable solution for organizations aiming to centralize and manage customer support inquiries effectively.
I selected this tool because of its ability to transform incoming emails into issues in the system. The feature that allows this is email tokens, which work very similarly to when you import values from a web form. Issuetrak lets you set such tokens to the body of your email, and tell the Incoming Email processor to set or change the value of a field on an issue. The email processor reads and recognizes the tokens and knows to update the appropriate fields in Issuetrak to the new value indicated by the token’s parameters. And the best part is that it works on both new and existing issues.
Issuetrak can retrieve messages from Exchange, IMAP, POP3, or Office365 mailboxes and works like this. Once configured, Issuetrak logs into the mailbox and processes any messages in the Inbox folder that are unread. Then it analyzes the information to see if it's a new or existing issue. If it's new it can create the record, otherwise, it will search the subject line of each email message for special values that would indicate this message is a response to an existing issue. If there is a match, it will update the corresponding fields. Otherwise, it notifies the person designated to be in charge of errors so they can manually revise.
Pricing starts at $26 an agent a month and they offer a free 14-day trial.
Freshdesk offers users two customer service offerings: one is a help desk solution, and the other covers omnichannel support. The helpdesk solution helps your service team categorize and assign support tickets to the proper rep based on expertise or availability. The omnichannel support can help you manage queries efficiently through live chat, e-mail, and social ticketing. Freshdesk’s Agent Collision Detection feature helps to ensure multiple customer service reps don’t work on the same ticket accidentally.
Freshdesk’s built-in phone system allows you to receive calls from customers in over 30 different countries. The phone system has real-time analytics, feedback mechanism, customer and help desk satisfaction reports, and customized reports. This can help you establish call center operations in your business without a full-fledged phone system.
Freshdesk integrates with Zoom, Kanban Board, Shopify, Mailchimp, Slack, and Google Analytics.
Freshdesk’s support desk solution costs from $18/user/month when paying monthly and $15/user/month when paying annually. The support desk solution has a free plan for up to 10 users. Freshdesk’s omnichannel solution costs from $35/user/month when paying monthly and $29/user/month when paying annually. Both solutions offer a 14-day free trial.
Hiver is a customer service platform that integrates directly with Gmail, providing a helpdesk solution for managing customer support and inquiries. It is recognized as the best tool for Gmail-based customer support due to its comprehensive set of features that cater specifically to the Gmail environment, enabling businesses to handle customer interactions efficiently within a familiar workspace.
Hiver provides a Gmail-based customer service solution that focuses on email management, collaboration, analytics, automation, and multi-channel support. It is designed for teams using Google Workspace and aims to improve customer service, finance, IT, and operations. Key features include managing emails effectively, gaining insights with analytics, setting up automations, supporting multiple channels, and integrating with popular apps.
I selected Hiver due to its comprehensive features that cater to email management, collaboration, analytics, automation, and support across multiple channels. What differentiates Hiver is its deep integration with Google Workspace, offering tailored solutions for diverse business functions. I believe Hiver is the ideal tool for Gmail-based customer support because it enhances the functionality of Gmail through its collaborative inbox feature and compatibility with Google Groups, providing a robust platform for handling customer inquiries directly within Gmail.
Integrations include Aircall, Asana, Jira, Okta, QuickBooks, Salesforce, Slack, and WhatsApp. You can also connect Hiver to a paid Zapier account to unlock additional integrations.
Hiver's starting price for its Google Workspace products is from $7/user/month, which is for the Lite plan. This plan comes with a 7-day free trial. The Pro and Elite plans are priced higher, starting at $39 and $59 per user per month, respectively.
Zoho Desk is a help desk platform that provides customer service solutions for managers, agents, and customers. The platform includes marketing, sales, accounting, finance, HR, collaboration, e-mail, and business intelligence tools. The ticketing system on the platform can help you monitor whatever channels you use, such as chat, phone, e-mail, and social media. These features can save your customers’ time and improve their experiences by getting them in touch with the right person to receive assistance.
The AI in Zoho Desk, a.k.a. Zia, helps your business assign support tickets, identify issues in ticket traffic, and analyze customer sentiments. It can also share solutions from your knowledge base to help your customers without the need for a customer service rep. After chatting with your customers, if Zia doesn’t find a helpful solution, it can notify your customer service team to ensure you don’t leave the customer without the information they require.
Zoho Desk offers users several integrations to help expand their customer service capabilities. These integrations include Zoho Apps, such as Zoho CRM, Zoho Assist, and Zoho Bug Tracker, or third-party applications, such as RingCentral, Jira, Slack, Trello, and Salesforce.
Zoho Desk costs from $20/month when paid monthly or $14/month when paying yearly and offer a 15-day trial for each plan. They also offer a free subscription for up to three agents.
Hiver is a multi-channel helpdesk software that helps your customer service teams assign, track, and collaborate on customer e-mails. You can also run advanced automation and analytics from the Gmail interface. Customer service teams can learn to use Hiver quickly, saving you time from learning complex software. Hiver also provides live chat capabilities which allow your teams to engage with visitors on your website and provide real-time support from within Gmail.
Hiver provides powerful helpdesk features, such as e-mail tags for shared inboxes, e-mail templates, auto-assignment to distribute e-mails, and analytics to track vital customer service data. Your team members can receive notifications from the software when someone responds to an e-mail, which can help avoid conflicting and duplicate responses. The software also allows managers to set business hours and SLA and measure customer satisfaction by sending short surveys at the end of e-mails.
Hiver integrates with some third-party applications, such as Jira, Asana, Slack, and Zapier.
Hiver costs from $19/user/month when paying monthly and $15/user/month when paying annually. They also offer a 7-day free trial on all plans.
Talkdesk is a browser-based contact center platform that helps businesses build significant relationships with their customers. The software can help your teams customize call routing flows through a visual editor, which is beneficial if you’re a non-technical user. You can also customize experiences for your customers by forwarding calls according to customer data, interactive voice response selection, business hours, and customer service rep skills. The VoIP services offer 99.999% to 100% uptime, guaranteed through their service level agreement.
Talkdesk uses AI to help enhance the quality of your conversations with customers and allow you to address customers’ requirements quickly. The AI can do this through tools such as interaction analytics, customer self-service, and automated assistance. Team managers, supervisors, or quality control analysts can also use the information from the AI in the platform to review automated interaction scores, transcripts, and sentiment analysis to help train your customer service reps.
Talkdesk integrates with various popular third-party software, such as Zoom, Salesforce, and Microsoft Teams.
Talkdesk costs from $75/user/month.
Aircall is a cloud-based business phone platform that helps support teams have clear, efficient communications. Your team can add numbers from over 100 countries, scale your teams accordingly, and collect insights from real-time analytics. The skill-based routing and live call monitoring in Aircall can ensure your customers get the best support possible. As soon as the phone rings, your team members can see your customer’s name and previous interactions with insight cards to help you understand their needs before the conversation starts.
Aircall can help your customer service teams save time and avoid switching between systems by syncing call details to your helpdesk and CRM. Your reps can check customer account histories, review call recordings, and get an understanding of each conversation. You can also see which of your reps are on a call and who’s available at any moment, see why your business is missing calls, and identify longer than usual hold times. These details can help you make the necessary improvements to your customer service calls.
Aircall integrates with critical workflows and tools, such as HubSpot, Salesforce, ActiveCampaign, Freshdesk, and monday CRM.
Aircall costs from $40/user/month when paying monthly and $30/user/month when paying annually. They also offer a 7-day free trial.
HubSpot’s free service platform, or HubSpot Service Hub, tools collects all of your customer service details together to one platform to help support teams. The platform provides your business with essential customer service tools such as live chat, ticketing, team e-mail, shared inboxes, and ticket reports. If you’re a current user of HubSpot CRM, you can easily connect your data from HubSpot Service Hub to create an integrated customer management system.
HubSpot Service Hub also has VoIP functionality, which provides excellent call quality. You can use the VoIP feature to record call logs and extract analytics directly from the platform. The engagement and contact property data can help you and your team prioritize important calls by establishing a daily call queue. If you’re using the HubSpot CRM, your team can see the context of each call to help them provide the best customer service.
HubSpot’s free service tools integrate with many of the most popular applications you might already be using, such as SurveyMonkey, Jira, Intercom, Google Ads, and Outlook Calendar.
HubSpot’s free service tools are free to use with minimal features. As your business grows, you can transition to a paid account starting from $50/month when paying monthly or $45/month when paying annually.
GORGIAS provides high-end customer service tools to independent e-commerce brands. It helps your support team understand customer inquiries’ context before responding to any questions. The software can also track how your customer service efforts impact your store’s sales. This can help ensure your customers remain a significant part of your sales strategy.
GORGIAS’ offers macros and machine learning to provide predictive typing and personalized messaging based on your customer’s information and order history. The software uses these details to create chat templates, which allows your reps to do more work in a shorter amount of time. Macros can significantly improve workflows by minimizing human errors while sending information to customers, simplifying internal processes, and maintaining your brand in automation. You can also use macros to respond to customer queries through various rules and apply them to different ticket sections.
GORGIAS integrates with the top applications to maximize your helpdesks, such as Yotpo, Pipedream, Klaviyo, Aircall, Shopify, and RingCentral.
GORGIAS costs from $10/month for 50 tickets/month when paying monthly and offers a 7-day free trial. Extra tickets cost $0.40/ticket. When paying annually, GORGIAS costs from $50/month, and you get two free months with yearly billing.
Best for managing client interactions with digital workflows
Best for complete control over the customer journey
Best for scaling your customer service operations
Unify every aspect of your customer’s journey in a modern communication platform.
Make it easy to listen to customers and learn from each interaction online.
Add live chat capabilities on your website and talk with visitors in real-time.
Use visitor tracking and user timelines to equip your team with accurate customer data.
Organize customer information in a simple CRM interface and deliver personalized experiences.
Close more deals with a sales enablement tool designed by top sales representatives.
Measure and manage a complete customer lifecycle in one platform.
Design and implement customer journeys at scale efficiently.
Combine chatbot tools with live chat to provide excellent customer service.
Free open source helpdesk solution that allows customization to meet business requirements.
End-to-end small business management software to help put customers at the heart of your business.
You can also check out our top 10 overall customer service software recommendations if you are an SMB looking to scale soon or have outgrown your small business CRM already.
Selection Criteria For Customer Service Software For Small Business
Are you wondering how I choose the best customer service software for small businesses for this list? I'm happy to explain my methodology.
My process began by reviewing recent customer service software market data to get an overview of the key players in this space. I then created a long list popular small business customer service software systems and cross-referenced it to see which had the most positive user rankings.
Next, with my initial list in place, I then scoured each software’s website to make sure their platform covered all the basic features that a CX team would need to manage their processes from end-to-end.
Lastly, I used the selection criteria below to help me make my final choices. With these criteria as my framework, I was able to compare each small business customer service software to choose the tools that satisfy the business needs of SMBs and startups the most.
Here’s a summary of the evaluation and selection criteria I used to create this list:
User Interface (UI)
I chose software that’s easy to set up and navigate and increases the customer service team’s productivity. Software with a welcoming interface is more accessible for teams to use, so I look for software that’s intuitive to work with.
I looked for software with an easy learning curve throughout its onboarding process to decrease training time. Ease of use is important because your teams won't require additional support systems in order to perform vital customer service tasks.
I selected software that offers native integrations with popular third-party tools you’re already using. Key integrations I looked for include:
- Customer relationship management systems (CRM software)
- Help desk software or other internal ticketing systems
- Communication tools
- E-commerce platforms
- Marketing software
Some platforms also offer an API to help you create custom integrations, which is also a good option if you have an IT specialist or development team in-house.
Value for Price
For this list, my primary focus was to find customer service software with robust features that fit small business budgets. Some also offer a free trial, free subscription plan, or a paid plan specifically for small businesses, with the option to scale up and add more features later.
How can I choose the best customer service software for my needs?
As a small business, you might be wondering how to choose customer service software. Begin by looking at your current operations. Identify all your bottlenecks and areas you’d like to improve. These questions can help you narrow in on things:
- Are your service agents swamped with calls? Maybe it’s time to automate with a chatbot to take some of the load off.
- Are customer requests only arriving through one or two communication channels? Maybe expand into multichannel ticket management, which allows customers to connect via WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, email, and many other options.
- Does your customer base require a user friendly self-serve option? Maybe it’s time to build a knowledge base with helpful tutorials.
The tools on this list offer a host of features that can meet a variety of business needs. Once you determine yours, you’ll be able to find the right one for you.
I also recommend reading our 8-step software selection process for additional pointers to guide your selection process.
What key features are included in customer service software?
The list of tools that customer support software provides for small businesses, but there are some vital features that many should provide:
- Ticketing System: An organized ticketing system can help your team manage questions, conversations, and complaints into individual “tickets” which they can handle or assign to the proper team member.
- E-mail Management: With an all-in-one e-mail inbox, the conversations your team has with customers across various channels and departments and collect intake options in one location.
- Self-Service Portal: Sometimes, customers don’t require a service ticket or time with a customer service team member. In these cases, a self-service portal, or an FAQ section, can let customers find the information they need without setting up a meeting with a service rep.
- Live Communication: At a minimum, the live communication feature should have a live chatbot or contain video, phone, and webinar options. Real-time communication tools are vital and should also include integration options, phone, and video call logging, chat transcripts, and communication analytics.
- Customer Tracking and Reporting: This feature lets you measure and analyze your customer’s behavior, history, and service metrics to help your team monitor how many requests they receive, the number of tickets they open, when they manage them, and how happy customers are with the experience.
- Security and Compliance: Security is essential because of the amount of private customer and employee data that the software handles. These systems should have security features, such as role-based permissions and two-factor authentication.
- Customer Support: A software vendor that helps you provide support to your customers should also support your business. Software providers should provide some form of support, either based on the plan you sign for.
- Satisfaction Rating: Managers and team leaders should be able to monitor the customer service team’s ability to resolve issues to satisfy customers. Your software can help with this by sending a post-resolution survey, where customers can input their satisfaction levels in a questionnaire.
- Mobile Access: Many solutions may provide a mobile app, or the platform is responsive to mobile devices, to allow customer service team members to access the system and customer data.
- Collaboration: Working as a team on a challenging ticket is essential to making a customer happy, which means a customer service platform should provide collaboration tools. These tools can include communicating with other team members, creating user groups and group chats, sharing tasks and calendars, and co-building a knowledge base with resolved cases.
What are the benefits of customer service software?
Customer service software can offer numerous benefits to small businesses or startups looking to improve their operations. Some key benefits to note include:
- Streamlined communication: By centralizing all your customer communication channels into one place, your customer service reps will be able to track, prioritize, and respond to them quicker. Key communication channels to integrate include email, chat, phone, and social media.
- Improved customer satisfaction: Improving the speed and accuracy of your responses to customer queries will increase your consumer loyalty and customer satisfaction levels.
- Improved efficiency: You can use automation to remove or reduce repetitive tasks, reducing the time and resources required to handle customer queries.
- Better data management: Customer service software can help businesses collect and analyze customer data, allowing them to gain insights into customer behavior and preferences.
- Increased scalability: As your organization grows, your customer service software will grow with you, handling larger volumes of customer queries and requests as needed.
- Improved collaboration: Customer service software allows teams to work together more effectively by sharing information and tracking progress on customer issues.
Need a few more details to help you make your business case for investing in better customer service software? This article clearly explains the benefits of customer service software and why you need it.
More Customer Service Software Lists
Be sure to check out our other lists for more small business software solutions:
- Free Customer Service Software
- CRM For Small Business
- Customer Service Chat Software For Small Business
- Online Help Desk Software
- Call Queue Software
Final Thoughts on Customer Service Software
85% of consumers make their buying decisions because of the way a company treats its customers. So, excellent customer service management is crucial for small businesses regardless of their industry or niche.
It can be a tricky task to determine what customer service software best serves your needs. It’s essential to find software that meets your current needs and has the flexibility to cover future requirements, all while staying within your budget.
Do you have any experience using these tools? Or, do you have a customer service software you would recommend?
For now, if you’re looking for more information about customer experience management and digital experience management, subscribe to The CX Lead newsletter.