“What should I look for when buying a customer support system for email?”
We hear this a lot. And while we may be biased, there are some features that any support system worth its salt should have--regardless of your industry or business size.
But the internet is a big place. As if launching and growing a business wasn’t enough of a challenge, entrepreneurs who want to expand their customer support email programs will find themselves navigating a sea of choices once they hit a Google search. With no real guidelines for navigating the differences, how can entrepreneurs determine which email ticketing program is the best fit for them?
To help you out, we’ve listed several non-negotiable features, regardless of your industry, that a good customer support system should have.
Even grandpa could set it up. 33% of consumers identified ease of use as a top factor in determining which software we choose. Ease of use is a top priority when it comes to business software, a feature that’s in shorter supply than it should be. Typically, consumer-centric software sees much better user design than business software. A non-intuitive interface is one of the main barriers to new software adoption, and that is something managers don’t want to deal with when it’s time to onboard staff, according to research by G2. We like to think we’ve mastered this--by far, one of the most consistent pieces of feedback customers gave us was that they loved how easy it was to set up and get started with SupportBee.
So, what makes a support program easy to set up? In just a few clicks you should be able to add users, import your data, and customize the interface to your liking. And of course, what good is a customer support system that itself doesn’t have excellent customer support? If it takes you more than a few minutes to locate everything you’d need on any given day, see what the provider’s support services are like.
Business owners should also look into how regularly a provider improves their user design and how they justify changes (are they being made in a vacuum as mere bells and whistles, or are they based on valuable crowdsourced input from users?). For example, we recently updated designs for comments based on customer feedback.
Take a look at how easy it is to get started with SupportBee.
It’s behind the scenes. From setting up a Wordpress website to creating an email marketing campaign with MailChimp, it’s hard to escape third-party branding, especially if you choose a discounted or free version. When it comes to customer support emails, the last thing a customer wants to see is a third-party logo--they want to know they are dealing with the business directly, and not feel like their issue is being outsourced to a company with less skin in the game.
That means your email ticketing system shouldn’t plaster its logo all over your support exchanges and should ideally be invisible--instead, you should be able to customize your email presentation exactly as you want it.
Here are some tips on how to leverage SupportBee’s API to customize your support inbox in a way that best reflects your business’ style.
It enables collaboration. A structured, scalable collaboration system is a must-have for growing businesses, and not just among your staff, but between you and your customers.
As a business grows, management will need multiple people to act as touch points in customer support--this can create new challenges around consistency and awareness. That’s why a shared inbox isn’t enough; make sure your email ticketing system has the right features to prevent emails from getting lost and limit the opportunity for misunderstandings. Shared inboxes should make it easy to collaborate on drafts before sending, and to communicate on the backend (which SupportBee offers through a built-in commenting feature).
Invite customers to collaborate, as well. Nobody wants to hand off their issue to someone they can’t see and just hope the problem gets solved. That’s why we made sure our support tickets are transparent to the customer, via our client portal; this allows them to see where they are in the resolution process. Additionally, good support systems will enable customers to answer their own questions where they can with a robust, easy-to-access FAQ structure.
It does a lot of the work for you. Time is of the essence when you’re trying to resolve a customer issue, and even more so when you’re trying to resolve several. The good news is that many of your customer queries are likely to be the same. To expedite your response rates, a good email ticketing system will provide pre-written snippets that make it easy to reply, essentially automating much of the work. And, make sure your program allows you to combine different snippets (you shouldn't be limited to using just one at a time, which is useful when a customer has multiple, simultaneous questions).
Look for other areas where the ticketing program can do the work for you. Knowledge Base, for example, can push FAQ content directly to your company’s website, saving owners from duplicating efforts. It also makes it easy to organize your content for optimal customer use.
It integrates well with other software. There’s stiff competition out there in the world of sales and marketing software, and often that results in systems refusing to speak to each other. The last thing you want is to find out your new support software doesn’t play well with your other go-to tech tools. A good support system will allow users to integrate with other providers where they need to, without being forced to choose one over the other--think of it as the PPO plan for support ticketing.
For example, let’s say you have been a long-time user of Google Groups for inbound customer inquiries, and want more features but don’t want to abandon regular use of Google Groups. Our clients can make Google Groups email available within SupportBee’s system, simply by adding an email to the list.
Our customers particularly enjoy SupportBee’s integration with Basecamp, which converts SupportBee tickets as discussions, or to-do items within Basecamp 3.0 (SupportBee also integrates with other versions, so make sure your customer support system will integrate with whatever version you’re currently working with).
Check out SupportBee’s list of third-party integrations, from CRM software to notification tools, as well as some useful shared inbox tools that will help you manage team emails.
The pricing makes sense. One of the reasons small businesses get a later start than they should on setting up a customer support system is because of the cost. Why should a three-person online business pay the same rates as, say, a large credit union? We don’t think that makes sense, which is why we offer two types of pricing for support (startup and enterprise). Essentially, we chose to base our fees on the number of collaborators, so that small businesses are paying small business prices.
Speaking of prices, any good software provider will have no problem offering a free trial--which is a great time to make sure your system checks all the boxes we listed above.
Finally, don’t choose a provider that locks you into a long-term commitment. Businesses, especially small businesses, see constantly-changing demand--so you’ll want the freedom to cancel at any time (and take your data with you).
We’re always up for hearing what your top priorities are in email ticket systems, so share your favorite features with us below!