20 Best Customer Support Tools: Our Favorite Budget-Friendly and Scalable Solutions for Growing Teams

Our favorite tools for growing businesses looking to keep costs down and efficiency way up.

Our 2-person customer support team relies on over a dozen tools to serve 10,000+ users. Today, we’re sharing our list of the top 20 customer support tools for small teams.

In a previous job, I was constantly envious of the engineering team. They seemed to have an infinite set of tools with an ever-growing list of resources at their disposal.

As a customer service manager at a startup, I knew more tools could be the key to heightened productivity.

But I had no time to research it.

I was busy fielding support inquiries day and night.

Customers came first. And I never got to the second thing on my list…

Here’s a guide for all the overworked managers out there. I put together the top twenty customer support tools that will help lighten your load, get more done, and innovate your customer experience.

(P.S. Most of these customer service tools offer free or low-cost starter plans—I pointed them out below.)

Top 20 customer support tools for high-performing teams

My favorite thing about this list is that all these tools can (and should) be used together. I’ll show you how to integrate everything so you’re not wasting time bobbing from window to window.

So to start, the number one customer tool must be…

1. All-in-one helpdesk: Groove

We’re not ashamed to admit we love using our own helpdesk software.

In the customer support world, helpdesk software acts as your starter pack. It’s like that tool box your dad bought you for your first apartment. It includes a full set of basic tools, in addition to providing a “house” for all future tools to live.

A good helpdesk includes the basics:

  • Shared inbox for team collaboration
  • Management and organization for customer conversations
  • Automation capabilities
  • Reports on key metrics

Groove offers an all-in-one customer support helpdesk built with growing businesses in mind. The interface is easy to grasp—no prior customer service experience required. Anyone on the team can resolve customer issues and track feedback with ease.

Top Customer Support Tools: Groove's all-in-one helpdesk
Sign up for a free trial of Groove to set up your all-in-one helpdesk

Groove is a great starting point for most small businesses. You can optimize your day-to-day workflow using basic tools. Then simply add more advanced integrations as your business grows.

Price: Groove starts at $9 per user per month

2. Issue and bug tracking: Trello or Jira

Customer support teams cannot exist in a vacuum. That’s why I love using productivity tools for issue tracking to link the support staff with every other department or team member.

If you work in technology, the support team can create cards or tickets for new bugs and assign them to engineers or product managers. Same goes for feedback.

For those in e-commerce, productivity apps like Trello or Jira can help communicate inventory and price updates so support reps stay in the loop.

Groove integrates with both Trello and Jira so agents can seamlessly create new tickets or add to existing tickets without ever leaving the helpdesk.

Top Customer Support Tools: Trello or Jira for issue and bug tracking
Trello or Jira do wonders for tracking support issues, just make sure to connect them to your helpdesk for maximum efficiency

Price: Trello and Jira both offer free options for basic functionality

3. Phone system: JustCall

Phone support is the old standard of customer service. For companies that offer phone support, check out the simplicity of the cloud-based JustCall.

Having a reliable phone system ensures that customers can always reach you. Plus, you can connect it to your helpdesk to keep track of all conversations in one place.

Phone support might be the right option for your business if customers need immediate assistance or if you typically discuss sensitive information.

Customers expect omnichannel support though. Be sure to connect your phone service to your core helpdesk to tie customers’ phone calls to their emails and their social media messages and so on.

Price: Plans start at $20 per user per month

4. Social media support: Twitter & Facebook

Regardless of your social media marketing strategy, if you have an official business page, customers will find you here. And they will ask for help.

Rather than divert your customers to email or phone, connect Twitter and Facebook directly to your helpdesk as another support channel.

When customers message you on Facebook, it’ll immediately turn into a conversation in the inbox.

Top Customer Support Tools: Facebook or Twitter for social media support
Connect your social media messages to your helpdesk to keep everything in one place

This frees up your marketing team from having to respond to support questions on social media. And enables your support staff to resolve issues without ever leaving their central ticketing system.

Price: Both Twitter and Facebook are free to use

5. Knowledge base: Groove

A knowledge base is essentially an FAQ on overdrive. Businesses house instructions, tutorials, and guides within this organized database for customers to access.

As the goal of customer service shifts to prevent inquiries (rather than answer them en masse) knowledge bases, help centers, and self-service resources lie at the core of every great customer support strategy.

Top Customer Support Tools: Groove for knowledge base
Every Groove plan includes a knowledge base—get yours with a free trial

Unlike other customer support platforms, Groove includes a knowledge base with every plan. That’s how crucial we think this tool is for customer support.

Once you fill your knowledge base with content, the possibilities open up to share it via email or chat, use it as an internal training resource, and position it as a front-line resource.

Price: Groove starts at $9 per user per month

6. Live chat: Olark 

Live chat merges the immediacy of phone support with the convenience of email. It’s no wonder so many refer to it as the future of customer service.

Live chat requires some heavy lifting though. Not only do you need a full staff to handle conversation volume, but that staff needs to be knowledgeable, friendly, and quick to meet customer expectations.

Olark is one of the best known and most reliable service platforms for live chat specifically.

Price: Olark offers a free account with limited functionality, while the standard plan starts at $19 per agent per month

(Psst! We’re working on a live chat tool at Groove that will be included for free with every plan! Subscribe to our email list for updates.)

7. Support widget: Groove

A support widget is a small tab that you embed on your website to give customers immediate access to your knowledge base or support reps.

It looks like this:

Top Customer Support Tools: Groove for support widget

Widgets make it super easy for customers to get help on every page of your website. No need to scroll to find an FAQ link. Or to search the site for a “contact us” form. This little bubble packs a big CX punch.

The goals of a widget are to:

  • Nudge customers to use self-service resources,
  • Allow visitors to easily message to the support team, and
  • Enable them to start a live chat conversation.

A widget increases support visibility, customer engagement, and just about every other aspect of the customer experience.

Price: Groove starts at $9 per user per month

8. Support forum: Discourse

Support forums borrow the idea from well-known forums like Reddit or Quora. Online community message boards allow users of your product to find answers among themselves or ask niche questions.

Forums offer both self-service and branding opportunities. Customers create their own communities. And you can even rely on your most dedicated fans to answer questions for you.

Price: Discourse offers a free open source software option

9. CSAT survey: Groove

CSAT (customer satisfaction) surveys reveal customer happiness as it relates to a particular interaction. Use your helpdesk to include a survey at the bottom of each support email to gather results.

Top Customer Support Tools: Groove for CSAT surveys
CSAT is a free integration within Groove’s helpdesk—start your free trial to check it out

As customers select a rating, your customer support software should aggregate answers into a reporting dashboard. Managers can use this report to adjust messaging and increase customer happiness overtime.

Price: Groove starts at $9 per user per month

10. Email marketing software: Mailchimp

As the name implies, this is technically a marketing tool. But customer service teams should absolutely know how to use email marketing software for their own needs.

Send out proactive messaging about downtime or product updates to current customers. And connect this tool to your helpdesk to edit subscription status without leaving the inbox.

Top Customer Support Tools: Mailchimp for email marketing software

Price: Mailchimp offers a free plan

11. NPS survey: Delighted

An NPS (Net Promoter Score) survey measures a customer’s desire to recommend your product or service.

This survey ultimately reveals your entire business’ health metrics. But customer support teams can link survey platforms like Delighted to the helpdesk to get a full picture when talking to an individual customer.

Top Customer Support Tools: Delighted for NPS survey

Each time someone completes a survey, Groove’s Delighted integration creates an internal note with their score. An agent can respond to poor reviews (or good ones!) or simply reference the note whenever the customer writes in with a support request.

All this customer feedback will help you tailor your responses to better resolve issues.

Price: Delighted offers a free plan

12. CRM: Salesforce or Hubspot

A CRM (customer relationship management software) provides a system to organize all your customer data. You can build goals and track metrics like revenue, growth, and churn to improve profitability.

Since these same customers are emailing into your helpdesk day in and day out, connect your CRM to your inbox to enrich your interactions.

Top Customer Support Tools: Salesforce or Hubspot for CRM
Connect your CRM to your customer support platform for an optimal workflow

Not only will a CRM provide contextual data, like account and contact information. But you can also use this information to tailor your replies accordingly.


13. E-commerce purchasing history: Shopify

E-commerce platforms like Shopify become customer support tools as soon as you integrate them with your inbox.

In Groove, you can see details like total spend and recent orders. This helps support reps respond quicker and resolve issues with more information at hand.

Top Customer Support Tools: Shopify for ecommerce customer profile
A look at the Groove + Shopify integration—start a free trial to try it out with your team

Integrating Shopify into your customer service software allows support teams to see the full order history, pull in customer details and groups, and track questions, complaints, transactions, and fulfillments. You can even add multiple stores with each showing up in separate inboxes.

This prevents frustrating back-and-forths and reduces overall response time.

Whether or not you use Shopify, connect your e-commerce platform to your help desk solution to provide more context for each customer.

Price: Plans start at $29 per month

14. Incident communication: Statuspage

Run, don’t walk, to get yourself an incident communication tool. By the time you need it, it will be too late.

We use Statuspage to let customers know when the app is functioning as normal and when there’s scheduled or unscheduled downtime.

Top Customer Support Tools: Statuspage for incident communication
Our Statuspage page

We can push updates to Twitter in real time as well as add Statuspage links to our knowledge base and inbox to keep customers in the loop.

This saves a ton of time when responding to concerned customers during an outage. Plus the proactive efforts go a long way in keeping customers happy even during a crisis.

Price: Statuspage offers a free plan

15. Image capture and sharing: CloudApp

CloudApp is a video and image sharing platform that enables support teams to create screen recordings, screenshots, and markups to communicate with customers.

We use this tool to explain steps over email, in knowledge base articles, over video chat, and in blog posts.

Text can only take your customers so far. Leverage a tool like CloudApp to provide clear visuals to assist customers throughout their journey.

Price: CloudApp offers a free plan

16. Video hosting: Wistia 

We use Wistia to host our educational and promotional videos. This tool ensures proper video functionality and allows us to embed high quality videos throughout our site.

Clean UX and seamless video embedding guide our customers in the right direction, without ever needing to interact with an actual team member.

Price: Wistia offers a free plan

17. Instant messaging: Slack

Many small businesses and startups rely on Slack’s messaging mobile app. With channels, direct messaging, and its own set of apps, the platform houses the majority of communication within our company.

While a robust helpdesk allows you to exchange information with other support members without leaving the inbox, Slack opens the door to everyone else.

Voice customer issues or bugs to the team at large. Set up integrations to ping you if something goes horribly wrong or requires immediate attention.

Top Customer Support Tools: Slack for instant messaging
Our “customer support feed” channel in Slack integrates directly with our helpdesk

Price: Slack offers a free plan

18. File storage: G Suite

Believe it or not, some things actually can live outside of your helpdesk. For all those documents, we store them in Google’s G Suite.

This includes drafts of customer onboarding emails, spreadsheets to track revenue and growth, and PDFs or images.

By storing them in G Suite, we ensure every team member can access these resources. Should we need to roll back an initiative or swap out an image, the files are all easily accessible.

Price: G Suite pricing starts at $6 per user per month

19. Video calls: Zoom

Our customer success team uses video meetings to both entice potential customers and educate current ones. We rely on a dependable platform, without any audio or visual hiccups, to make a good impression. Zoom delivers for us.

Top Customer Support Tools: Zoom for video calls

Our customer success manager shares her screen, walks customers through the product, and builds relationships through the platform.

With easy-to-copy links for various meeting types, we simply add the URL to onboarding emails, meeting invites, and even email signatures, to allow customers to reach out at any time.

Price: Zoom offers a free plan

20. Scheduling assistance: Calendly 

We use Calendly to allow customers to easily put time on our calendars for a chat. This tool removes all the usual back-and-forth associated with scheduling.

Plus, you can set up confirmations and reminders to include meeting links, reference docs, or phone numbers.

Price: Calendly offers a free plan

Get started with these customer support tools today

Each of these tools, when used properly, will save you time, money, and stress. They require little effort to set up. The price is right. And they’ve been vetted by a formerly-overwhelmed customer support rep herself.

Pick one tool at a time to try with your team. Start by solving your immediate problems. Then, add tools to enhance productivity and creativity.

Tie everything back to your helpdesk to streamline your support efforts. (And I shamelessly encourage you to check out Groove if you’re looking for the right helpdesk!)

Continue to think of it as an actual toolbox. Don’t leave your hammer in a kitchen drawer. Don’t put the box of nails on a random shelf in the garage. You won’t be able to find them when you need them (or it’ll take you way longer than it should).

When each tool fits into or plays nicely with your helpdesk though, you’ll be able to expand your reach and grow your business with ease.

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