Researching new software is exhausting and time-consuming—if you’re doing it wrong. Cut your decision time in half by avoiding these common mistakes.
I’ve worked at small businesses most of my career.
I mean really small businesses. The kind that weren’t using any real software when I first started. Or were using something they absolutely hated but were too swamped to find anything better.
My task at these jobs was to revamp the system. Find better tools to make our workflow more efficient. Look at the process as an outsider to find pain points and fix them.
After ten years and a handful of companies later, I want to expose some underlying assumptions that lead many small businesses to choose the wrong software.
6 ways to choose the wrong customer support platform
We’ve posted before about how to pick the right software. But, in my experience, the wrong stuff is usually more tangible.
And with so much content online about why each platform is great for whoever and whatever your business does, I thought it would be helpful to flip the perspective.
This list should help you make a more thoughtful, informed, and quicker decision when researching the best customer support platform for your business.
1. Blindly purchasing software because it’s the most well-known
Turns out, marketing works. It’s much easier to just go with the option everyone else seems to be using than to do the research yourself. If a company is a household name, it must be the best, right?
This is by far the biggest mistake I’ve seen small business owners make when purchasing customer support software. It leads to completely misaligned expectations. And frustration at every turn.
A 3-person support team should not justify using the same platform as a 300-person support organization just because those 300 people use it. What’s worse, these well-known products are often the most expensive on the market.
So while that enterprise-level company can afford to spend thousands of dollars on service tools, your small business needs to be much more practical.
Put the time into analyzing these popular products. They might work for you. But the problem lies in assuming it will without proper research.
2. Focusing strictly on quantity of features within the product
The bigger, the better. Or so it goes in many product decisions. Whichever product has the most “stuff” means it provides the most value.
High ROI seems inherent when you can get the most bang for your buck. Except when you’re focusing on the wrong bang.
If a bundle of advanced features doesn’t actually grow your business or improve your workflow, then there’s not much value in it. Many companies don’t even use all the features within their customer service software.
We have an entire email series devoted to educating customers on unused features. Most platforms do. Because most service agents don’t use all the features.
At companies I’ve worked for, I was brought in to do something the founder knew the software could do. But they never got around to it. By the time I got in, their inbox was in such disarray I had to spend months answering backlogged tickets before I could even set up that feature.
If your customer support platform doesn’t help you right out of the gate, then it doesn’t matter how many features it has. It’s not the right one for you.
3. Considering only current use cases for the platform
Short-sightedness stifles many business decisions. For growing businesses especially, a product must be able to grow with you.
Although you can’t predict the future, restricting your help desk software to only solve your current problems will hinder you down the line.
Focus on flexibility and adaptability:
- Are the features easy to adjust should you need to alter them in the future?
- Can you add on to the platform without completely changing your workflow?
- Will you need to pay to add more capabilities to the platform?
For most lean customer support teams, your current problem is simply responding to all your customers. You’ll want to start with auto-replies and canned replies to respond quicker without hiring more service reps.
In the future, you’ll want to add folders and rules to organize types of inquiries and respond more efficiently. Eventually, you’ll decide to create a knowledge base for proactive self-service. And then you’ll dig into reports to use customer data to optimize everything.
Make sure the platform-in-question has these basic features along with a product development roadmap filled with tools and upgrades you’ll be able to use in the future.
Your service hub should make all these building blocks clear. So you can immediately resolve your current issues while easily understanding your next steps.
Take note to understand any additional payments or adjustments you will need to make in the future so you’re not surprised (and frustrated) when the day comes.
4. Considering only future use cases for the platform
I rarely see customer support managers get stuck in this trap. But founders tend to be very future-focused. They see ten years down the road. The sales team has hit all their revenue goals. Growth is exponential. And they’re buying products that will fit that company.
Keep the dream alive—that’s what founders are supposed to do—but factor in your present day circumstances.
Remember that founder I worked with who bought software solely for what it could do? That’s a prime example of getting so lost in future scenarios that you fumble the present.
Basic customer needs must be met first. It’s Maslow’s Hierarchy redefined for customer support:
We get excited about the “future” of customer experience—live chat support, social media integrations, automation-based ticketing.
But to improve customer satisfaction right now, simply respond quickly and intelligently to each inquiry. Achieve that first. Then get creative.
5. Ignoring early warning signs and red flags
When you’re drowning under a flood of customer support tickets, it’s easy to grab the nearest lifevest without putting too much thought into it.
This rush forces you to overlook some very blatant issues:
- Confusing pricing plans
- Overwhelming features list
- Complicated help documents
- Unresponsive customer service team
I’ve seen founders go through this entire list and still move on with a product. They assume the software will eventually make sense as they use it. Or someone else on the team will “get it.”
These early warning signs signify a lack of simplicity and effective communication on the product’s end—not yours. Take these issues seriously.
As a founder, you may not be using your customer service platform everyday. But the best leaders have a basic understanding of their team’s tools. This allows you to speak knowledgeably about your support team’s workflow and offer practical solutions to their problems.
6. Not taking advantage of free trials
It’s no wonder every SaaS company offers a free trial of their software (Groove literally offers a 15-day free trial right now.) Because people rarely use them. At least not to their full extent.
You’ll get started and click around the platform. Then get back to something more pressing. You’ll decide it’s fine based on nothing more than a cursory glance.
Plus, when you start one free trial, you feel obligated to try another one. You need something to compare it to (which is true, you should compare!). But now you’re devoting even more time to this endeavor.
My advice is to set parameters around this process. Avoid getting stuck in analysis paralysis by trying no more than three different softwares. Timebox your research to one week and make this decision your top priority during this time.
Start by gathering information from the company’s website. Review their pricing plans, features list, help documents, and interact with their team. If all those aspects prove worthy, then start a free trial.
Trust me, it won’t be the case for most products—if you end up with three to compare it will be a lot.
Then simulate your day-to-day workflow with the free trial. Most customer support platforms allow you to send and receive your actual emails to the inbox during the free trial. Take the extra minute to set this up. Invite your teammates to collaborate with you on the platform. Interact with real customers and track actual problems.
Set realistic expectations and timeframes. After a week, you’ll be able to make an informed decision and easily move from trial to reality.
Notice all those hyperlinks above? I just laid out the path for you to evaluate Groove and start a free trial. See for yourself why Groove is beloved by over 11,000 people in the small business community.
Your customer support platform buying guide
Learn from the mistakes of my past colleagues. Start with the right software to avoid realizing you chose the wrong one down the line.
These six tips should lead you to the best customer support platform for your business.
The research process can be overwhelming. But when you keep it tangible, actionable, and accountable you can make a smarter decision in less time.
Set deadlines. Establish priorities. And avoid these common pitfalls to choose the best software for your team.