Every year, businesses consider ways to provide increasing levels of customer service and reduce customer care costs. For many, lowering the turnover rate of agents is a priority.

After all, 93% of customers are likely to buy from companies with superior customer service. Consumers are willing to spend 17% more on companies that provide exceptional customer service.

Companies’ obsession with customer service quality is justified.

To shape up their customer service experience, companies need to examine the customer service trends spawned by buyers’ demand for faster and better assistance, coupled with their growing reliance on smart devices. After this assessment, companies should move to evaluate customer support solutions that can actualize their customer service goals.

Omnichannel presence: Consumers spend a lot of their time using multiple channels to research products and engage with sales and customer service representatives. Companies with omni-channel customer engagement strategies are likely to retain, on average, 89% of their customers compared to the 33% customer retention rate for weak omnichannel companies.

Social media engagement: Many companies already take support requests on social media. Statista finds that 47% of U.S. customers have a favorable view of brands that respond to customer service questions on social media. Social customer care is expected to grow in importance; however, businesses must ensure quick and effective responses to increase customer advocacy.

Fewer interactions: Consumers hate repeating themselves during customer service interactions. Agents should be able to view customers’ past service interactions, order history, sales data and other details in one place during a single interaction. This will save customers the effort to repeat themselves, and cut down long resolution times.

Always-on customers: Customers are open to interacting with 24/7 chatbots. Although chatbots aren’t evolved as yet to handle complex customer questions, they can answer basic questions quickly. They can also connect customers to an available live agent, or schedule a meeting with the appropriate point-person on customers’ behalf. As a first point of contact, chatbots go a long way in limiting customer frustration.

Feedback: The average survey response rate is 33%. Pop-up surveys are a popular way to collect customer feedback, providing businesses insights into service quality, agents’ performance and product satisfaction. Other than ratings, many companies also provide a feedback box for customers to add their remarks.

Remote work: Customer service agents can work from the comfort of their home, requiring only a computer to take customers’ audio and video call requests. A flexible work environment is good for retention, engagement (lower absenteeism) and performance. Companies that establish a foundation for remote work are better positioned to minimize operational disturbances stemming from pandemics or civil unrest.

The five best customer support software to take customer experience to the next level

A number of customer support software address customer service trends and consumers’ shift to a mobile-first mentality. The five solutions discussed below expand customer service possibilities, meriting a close look.

ProProfs Help Desk

Cloud-based customer service software ProProfs Help Desk integrates all customer-facing inboxes in one place to ensure that no customer request is missed and responses go out in a timely manner. A single view of customer requests also allows agents to more easily prioritize tickets and create canned responses to boost efficiency.

Customers can choose to access a self-service help center for instant information. Agents have an internal knowledge base to provide quick and effectively responses, resolving issues the first time they occur. The self-service option also reduces the instances of agents having to answer the same question again.

Customers can start a live chat with agents, who have the option to engage from their work desk or via the ProProfs mobile application. Real-time Net Promoter Score customer surveys track agent and group performance, helping companies take informed actionable steps to improve customer service quality.

Intercom

The customer support software is used by over 30,000 companies, including the likes of Sotheby’s, Y Combinator and Shopify.

Like ProProfs, Intercom offers social customer care as well as self-service and chat bots on website, mobile apps and within products, which is helpful for companies looking to integrate chat directly into their applications. The solution enables unified, omni-channel communication, allowing agents to interact with customers seamlessly between email and messenger app.

It is an accepted fact that customer context leads to better service. Agents can see the context for every conversation, including prior interactions and customer behavior data, such as the recent pages that customers have viewed.

By making customers’ most recent activities available on screen, Intercom enables agents to interact more effectively and reduce resolution times. Common customer support questions can also form a part of blog content strategy, addressing topics that matter most to buyers.

Intercom provides performance reports, telling managers what the top-performing messages and bots are, and where new people and conversations come from, creating a feedback loop to drive up the customer service experience.

Buffer

Customers expect speedy responses to their queries to businesses on social media. Popular social media management tool Buffer makes social customer support less challenging for users, supporting their goals of better service quality and more streamlined team workflows.

Users have a collaborative team inbox showing all support requests across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram from one place. Agents can channel conversations to the right team members for effective resolution of customer issues, shorter queues for faster responses, and equitable distribution of work. They have visibility into who else from the team is viewing a conversation, avoiding duplicate responses.

Buffer offers productivity-enhancing features such as saved replies to common questions, tracking conversations with tags and folders, and automating tagging, assigning conversations to team members, and other common tasks.

Whisbi

Whisbi is a conversational marketing platform that primarily works as a sales assistant and accelerator, but also offers a neat ‘broadcast for support’ customer service feature. Conversational marketing is a marketing approach where real-time, one-to-one conversations occur between customers and businesses across multiple channels, including websites, email, mobile, social media and collaboration platforms like Slack.

Whisbi’s conversational sales assistant qualifies web visitors and connects them to human agents, allowing experts to use their time productively for complex, sales-generating conversations. Its support feature focuses on personal interactions at scale via video broadcasts. Customers can watch a live broadcast and ask questions in real-time, which are displayed for the benefit of new arrivals on the website.

Users can set up a live FAQ broadcast within seconds and share the event link with audiences to initiate instant interactions. The ‘broadcast for support’ feature is useful when agents are experiencing large call volumes, and can be leveraged for internal communications, such as delivering keynote presentations from the CEO to all employees.

Quiq Messaging Platform

Sending and receiving text messages is faster than placing a voice call. Messaging has become a mainstay of daily communications, with WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger attracting over a billion users each, and Twitter claiming 330 million active daily users. Quiq brings the convenience and swiftness of messaging to customer service and sales engagement.

The Quiq platform allows businesses to integrate a number of messaging tools into their website and applications, including SMS/text messaging, Messenger, Twitter, Kik, Apple Messages, web chat and Google RBM. Users can also integrate messaging into their native mobile applications.

Agents can attend to multiple texts, serving more than one customer at a time, which is not possible for sales and support calls. The advantage of sending images and videos via messaging platforms helps build context quickly, supporting faster resolution times.

Texting with multiple customers or leads can become disorganized and chaotic in the absence of a simple and intelligent interface. Quiq offers a single desktop to manage multiple conversations and cross-channel responses to address repetitive questions effortlessly.

Real-time reports and dashboards provide insights into agent and team performance, along with the capability to export conversation data to third-party BI tools.

Customer service is a powerful differentiator

Exceptional customer support encourages brand loyalty. Customer experience is poised to overtake product and price as a key differentiator. Companies that implement the right customer support software and respond effectively to changing customer behaviors will win the customer experience game.

Read more: The Role of Customer Support Software in Successful SaaS Companies