We are always asked why we are developing another help desk software when the world is already filled with so many.
The short answer for this is: Everything out there is crappy.
The longer answer is:
Customer Support is the new marketing. Today, taking care of customer emails is as important as executing your product vision right. When that s how important support is, growing web businesses are stuck between two extreme choices when it comes to support tools. At one end there are complicated CRM-like systems with a Web2.0 skin made for retail giants like Walmart and at the other end is Gmail clumsily hacked to handle important customer mails. Gmail is a great Emailing software, not a support tool. Thus our choices are either one size too big or one size too small.
Gmail - Where does it fail you?
The first hurdle that you will face with Gmail is the lack of ownership or accountability. There is no efficient way to assign tickets to another person in the team or a fool-proof method to follow-up on an assigned ticket. One can hack the label feature for assignment, but it will not be reliable for the reason that there is no way to automatically notify the team member about the assignment. With such unreliable processes, there is a good chance that important customer mails fall through the cracks only to come up when customers kick up a fuss.
Also, brace yourself for those embarrassing moments when two of you reply to the same customer mail in two different ways because you forgot to CC the rest of your team!
The Support tool scenario today
Well, if you are considering a support tool, prepare to spend more time learning & fighting the tool than supporting your customers. Also, before you know you will even be attending webinars to get yourself to speed with the software.
As if all this is not enough, your customers will have to take the brunt too; they will have to put up with the loss of your human face. At every point, your customers get reminded how they are interacting with a software rather than the human behind it. What with the unfriendly subject lines like
Re: Case id: 4344 Your ticket is closed
or content like
Ouch! why can t your customers reply in-line. What s with those damn case ids! I still haven t met an agent or a customer that has used this.
The right-sized solution: SupportBee
In essence, you either have a friendly but inefficient gmail, or an intimidating and mostly-inefficient help desk s/w. As a business, if you don t have the right tool, you are bound to offer lousy support. Can you afford it? The perfect solution is something which is as simple and efficient as Gmail but more geared towards handling support. A powerful but simple solution that fades into the background and lets you do your job well - which is resolving customer issues.