CS tools

By its very nature, handling customer service can feel like a frantic affair, where juggling incoming support requests and tracking all the moving pieces in a constantly shifting workflow can be overwhelming some days. Having the right tools can make life easier for your support team and boost your brand’s overall effectiveness at interacting with customers who reach out to you with questions or problems.

Your choice of work management tools and customer support platforms can have a big impact on your productivity, while also easing some of the strain that a busy week can put on your team’s morale. Here are a handful of recommended tools and platforms that you should consider for your customer service team to aid in their quest for maximum excellence.

Platform-Based Solutions

1) Zendesk

One of the leading customer support platforms, Zendesk is a cloud-based solution designed to streamline the process of communicating with customers, make it easier to track customer needs and juggle important related data, and gauge your team’s performance with valuable metrics that can help you fine-tune your operation. Even better: Zendesk is an all-in-one solution with features that cover all the bases, whether it’s email, chat, voice, or social.

Regardless of whether you’re fielding customer emails, tweets, Facebook posts, or other support requests, this powerful software funnels all of your customer conversations and interactions into one place, making it easy to track and respond to tickets without having a zillion windows and tabs open. From there, it enables quick communication between the different branches of your team, so you can solve your customers’ problems in a fast, efficient way. This also makes working on multiple tickets simultaneously a more fluid and natural process.

Each interaction with customers also provides metrics data and feedback, which is one of the reasons why Zendesk is so popular among big brands ranging from Disney and Rovio to Box and Roku.

French cosmetics and beauty brand L’Oréal finds that these built-in metrics enable the company to stay on top of every customer issue that arises, offering a bigger picture overview of their customer base’s needs and challenges gleaned from all of the support tickets. It also helps identify critical business trends and gauge response time to customer support requests.

Once you have a lot of useful customer data gathered, you can channel it into creating automated self-service help that can dramatically save time and energy for your team. By using Zendesk’s Help Center, unique gift retailer UncommonGoods was able to reduce email volume by 72 percent, which helped cut down on the number of agents tied up with ticket handling.

2) Desk.com

Another dynamic and popular platform for customer support, Desk.com is well suited for small startups or larger companies because it scales easily with your team’s size and overall needs. It’s a ticketing system that pulls support requests from social, email, and other websites, then consolidates it all into a single easy-to-use interface that your whole team can access. Beyond direct assistance, it also monitors team performance, gathers useful customer data and insights, and has features for setting up easy self-service.

3) Hootsuite

When more elaborate customer service solutions like Zendesk or Desk.com are more than your super small team needs, Hootsuite’s strong social tools and analytics are another option that can put a lot of power and great info into your hands. Great for tracking a large number of social accounts, making posts, and monitoring customer social connections in one place, Hootsuite is worth checking out for smaller social customer service teams or companies that aren’t as interested in all the extra bells and whistles offered by other platforms—though you’ll find some of those in this package, too.

Live Chat—Internal and External

4) Slack

Though it’s a relatively new tool aimed at improving and changing the way teams communicate, Slack is rapidly becoming a popular go-to for teams of all sorts and sizes. It’s been adopted by tons of companies and brands like Adobe, BuzzFeed, The New York Times, Medium, SoundCloud, and more—and with good reason.

Slack is a free team communication app that consolidates the chaos of many different forms of contact into one streamlined connection for your team. Email tends to also get clogged with lots of other messages and notification detritus, but when you just need direct communication with your team on different channels and topics, Slack is the way to go. It filters out the congestion of email, so you can chat only with the people at your company, which is a perfect tool for speeding up communication, encouraging collaboration, and boosting camaraderie across your team.

Conversations in Slack take place in channels, so you can break down your interactions by topic. A built-in search functionality makes it easy to hunt down important information posted by any team member in the feed, and Slack’s third-party app integration list is absolutely huge—you’ll find everything from Twitter, Dropbox, and Google Hangouts to GitHub, GoToMeeting, and Zendesk.

5) LiveHelpNow

Personalizing your customer service while providing speedy help to a customer with a simple question can be invaluable, and LiveHelpNow makes that quick, easy, and effective through live chat. This tool goes beyond simple live chat, however, offering quick knowledge base look-up functionality to speed the process along, email ticket management to make inbox juggling less painful, on-board analytics, and even call management features as well.

Voice Chat and Call Handling

6) Skype

For any company that works with remote team members, particularly if your customer service team is spread out all over the globe, Skype is a perfect way to stay in touch when you need more personal, direct contact with your agents. Skype’s mission of bringing people together through technology is an effective one, given the way its technology bridges the gap in invaluable ways for its users.

As a free tool, Skype’s simple functions can give you a lot of value for just about any use you could imagine. It’s perfect for one-on-one sessions or group meetings, whether you simply need an audio connection or require a full video chat. The built-in file sharing and collaboration features make it easy to send files while you’re chatting without breaking stride, and even the basic text chatting works great in a pinch.

The option to call mobile phones and landlines—at a cost—is handy too, though you can get a ton of mileage using free Skype to Skype calls and messaging at no charge. Sometimes face-to-face, in-person contact isn’t possible, which is when Skype can be a great alternative to connect with your remote team and colleagues.

7) DialogTech (formerly Ifbyphone)

Combining the benefits of both detailed call analytics and full call automation, DialogTech’s Voice360 platform lets you build a robust call handling system for your company while gathering critical information on the experience of each user who comes into contact with your brand. This voice-based marketing automation suite gives you complete control overand insight intoevery call. Plus, it’s bolstered by handy call scoring, routing, and management features for every size business.

8) Talkdesk

If you’re looking to create a call center for your company in a hurry and without any hassle, then Talkdesk is a smart choice for voice chat and call handling. This browser-based solution is simple to set up, and it gives anyone on your support team access to a fully featured voice and call handling suite from anywhere in the world, whether they’re in the office or on-the-go. Features like call recording, monitoring, analytics, and automation are also bolstered by one-click integration with Salesforce, Zendesk, Desk.com, and many other customer service platforms.

When it comes to ensuring your customers are getting the best possible support experience you can offer, selecting the right tools can have a big impact on your overall success. Anything that increases productivity, effectiveness, and satisfaction levels across your support team can help to create a win-win scenario for your brand and your valued customers.

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