How to Choose the Right Software for Customer Support

How to Choose the Right Customer Software for Support
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Find customer software that allows you to maximize your support efforts.

Choosing the right support software is the first step to tackle after scaling your customer support team or simply realizing you’ve outgrown email as your current support solution.

However, there is a ton of different support software out there. A ton.

Not only are the options pretty much endless, but every single help desk or support solution provider is obviously trying to put their product a step ahead of others.

This means that they all look good at first glance, and choosing just one can be a pretty intimidating task.

Today, we’re going to talk about the questions you should ask about yourself, your company and your support style that will help you choose the best support software for your needs, and what to do when you’ve established all of that.

The Process of Choosing Support Software

Choosing the tool for you might seem complicated, but if you approach it in a structured way and involve your team into the process, it’s going to be much easier⁠—and hopefully also fun and constructive.

Here’s what you need to do on a very high level:

1) Figure out what you need as a company

2) Talk to your team

3) Put together a list of options

4) Evaluate

5) Play around and choose one

Let’s go through all those steps in detail.

1) Figure Out What You Need

There are a few things you need to figure out about your company and team before you even lay a finger on any support tools out there.

The most important groups to think of when specifying your requirements are:

  • Your customers
  • Your support team
  • Your managers

There are several things to think of when it comes to all of those parties:

Your Customers

What do you want the support experience to be like for your customers?

  • How important is it to add your personal touch to support?
  • How much of an obstacle is it to have customers login to different portal to submit a support request?
  • How much self-service do you want to provide customers?

Your Team

What do you want the experience to be like for your support agents?

  • What tradeoffs are you willing to make between feature set and usability?
  • How much do they need to collaborate (how many agents do you have)?
  • How much automation do you need?

Your Managers

What do you want your managers to be able to do?

  • What are the consistent problems your managers are running into?
  • What sort of insights do they need in order to solve them? (For example, if customer satisfaction is down, then maybe it’s an issue of slow reply times?)

After you’ve taken all those needs into account, you should also think about the general state of your company as well as where it’s going⁠—and how fast.

Choosing a support tool is an important decision. Onboarding your team to a new solution requires time and effort, so you want to think about what’s next for your company.

Choose something that will keep you afloat for a long time to come.

Think about these things:

  • How will your needs change in a year?
  • How will your customers or target group change?
  • How fast is your team growing?
  • Do you think you will get to 150+ support agents one day?

After going through all of these questions, you should end up with a list of things that you definitely need. For example:

  • An option to create a knowledge base
  • Great collaboration features
  • Easy to use interface

Keep this essentials list as short as possible for easier evaluation.

Besides the essentials, you can also thing about the “nice-to-have” stuff that you could potentially use in the future to do something that will benefit you.

For example:

  • Analytics for in-depth support success reporting
  • Automations to make a growing team more efficient

And then you get crackin’.

2) Review With Your Team

After you’ve put together a basic overview of your needs and future plans, you should also have a chat with other people in the team.

The crucial people are obviously the ones who will be using the tool every day as well as those directly managing them.

However, having this discussion in an even bigger circle is great for unexpected but useful feedback and points, especially if you’ve cultivated an “everyone does support” culture in your company.

After having a chat with your team, your list of things you absolutely need as well as things you absolutely do not want will be complete and agreed on by everyone.

3) Put Together a List of Options

Now that you’ve had a discussion about what you actually need based on your team and support style specifically, it’s time to actually start looking at options.

The first step⁠—Google it. This is going to take you a while, so get some coffee.

Go through as many unbiased review sites and listicles as you can, and just write down names of support software providers⁠—don’t worry about diving deep into features quite yet.

After doing your own research, ask your own network for recommendations. The best advice always comes from people that have actual first hand experience using these tools.

Who knows, you might be able to eliminate some options from your big list straight away⁠—or add some.

However, be careful to not take these recommendations too seriously. The fact that a solution didn’t work out for another company, doesn’t mean it won’t for yours.

Communities are also a great way to get the info straight from the horse’s mouth⁠—and we’re not talking about Reddit.

Quora, for example, has a lot of discussions about the best help desk software out there⁠—just go through the threads and see what people have to say.

4) Evaluate and Eliminate

After getting to a list of the most promising solutions, go through them and see what features they offer.

You don’t even have to sign up just yet⁠—most serious providers have a list of features on their website or offer demo videos to show you what they have.

This will help you see which tools immediately have (or don’t have) the things you’ve established you need for your team.

Remove the options that don’t meet your criteria from your list. If the list is still long, you can also rely on your gut a little and get rid of the ones you feel are too complex, too expensive, or that you just don’t like the look of.

Remember, you’re not burning bridges here⁠—you can always come back to any of these, but your task right now is to come down to the absolute crème de la crème of customer support solutions based on your specific needs. Don’t worry about being ruthless.

Ideally, you will end up with 2-3 best candidates, and then you can get your hands dirty with actually trying them out.

We’re a Bit Biased

As a simple support software company, we’re obviously a bit biased about our solution and think it should be included in nearly any search for support software.

That being said, Groove isn’t for everyone. If you expect your team to have over 150 support agents in the near future or you have a complex workflow specific to your business, then we may not be the best fit.

But if you’re looking for easy-to-use software that gives you the powerful features you need without overwhelming you with bells and whistles you’ll never use, then you should definitely have us on that list to try out.

Which brings us to…

5) Try Them Out

Now that you have your top options, it’s time to sign up and see how you like actually using them.

Most awesome support software has a trial or a demo account you can use to get into it.

Play around with it to get a feel of how it works and what the features you’re looking for actually look like.

If something seems like a great fit, test it for real by importing your emails and make sure everything is being imported and working correctly.

Good? Invite your team and let them do the same, and then chat with them about what they liked and what they didn’t⁠—ideally you should have it all down in a collaborative document so people can comment on it.

Actually using a software can reveal some things that you might not like usability wise, and you should be ready for that happening.

Worry not, though⁠—if something doesn’t work out for you, just go back, choose something else and repeat until you find the right fit for you.

Pick Your Support Tool Well

Picking a support tool for your team is a big step. It’s the system that you and your team will ideally be using for years to come.

There are a lot of options out there, and going through all of them will take you a good chunk of effort.

However, don’t be afraid to be picky and take your time⁠—a tool that fits your needs perfectly is crucial for your support success and team’s productivity.

What’s your top priority when it comes to support software? Let us know in the comments!

Elen Veenpere
Elen Veenpere Elen is an alum of Groove's content marketing team. She’s passionate about typing, overly complicated spreadsheets, and drinking disgusting amounts of coffee.