Your help desk should be your best employee. And the easiest to train. Unfortunately, the very thing businesses pick ticketing systems to deliver them from—complexity—is what many platforms deliver.
First things first, Groove sells help desk software. It’d be dishonest of us to pretend that’s not the goal of this page.
Still, choosing the best option isn’t about finding the tool with the biggest features list. It’s about finding the one that fits your business. How do you know if it’s the right choice?
Despite our bias, some help desk features should be non-negotiable. Let’s unpack them and see how everything stacks up…
Table of contents
Help desk software ticketing system: It’s about conversations
What is a help desk for customer service?
Help desk software is customer support ticketing technology—also known as, a help desk ticketing system—designed to solve customer-initiated requests. The right software manages, organizes, and helps resolve tickets.
Ironically, we don’t actually like the term “support ticket.” Even less do we like …
- “Customer service ticketing software”
- “Service management help desk solution”
- “Problem ticket management system”
Instead, our default language centers on customer conversations rather than service requests and customers, not end-users.
Technical language, however, can’t be avoided—think of it as a necessary evil.
Multi-channel inbox: Command central for online customer support
We live in a world where it’s possible to communicate with the same person via multiple channels at the same time. So, why would we expect this to be any different for customers contacting businesses?
They too are turning to multiple channels. Online, the five most popular channels include email, interactive chat, contact forms, Facebook, and Twitter:
This increase in the number of service contact points presents at least two unique challenges.
First, multiple versions of the same request can easily duplicate your support staff’s efforts. In fact, it can triplicate or quadruplicate their efforts. (I had to Google that last one; but it’s a real word.)
Second, it does your customer experience no favors and suddenly your business retention and loyalty plummets.
Instead, businesses need to consolidate all of these communication channels into a single location; one that can help your team manage and collaborate on multiple requests in one shared space.
Email, but better
Using email providers like Gmail or Outlook can be great for small businesses. As you grow, however, traditional inbox solutions become cumbersome and spotty.
Knowing who and when someone has responded to customer interactions, being able to tell at a glance exactly where the conversation is at—if it’s an ongoing investigation that needs to be escalated—and whether it’s been resolved is essentially impossible.
My guess is you already know that; so I won’t belabor the point.
Instead, let me offer a quick checklist. Whatever ticketing software you select, be sure that it lets you…
- Consolidate your most-popular channels into one inbox
- Track which channel was last used by the customer themselves
- Respond from within the inbox (support agents) but deliver their messages natively to that channel (customers)
Some customers just want to have a conversation with you right now. But expectations are high; they want an instant response. In a small team, this can be tricky to manage.
In our case, we’ve partnered with Olark to deliver an onsite chat experience that helps your team work smarter, not harder. How? By integrating it—via automation—within the inbox itself.
Whether you’re online or offline, messages will be sent through the chat widget on your website right into your natural workflow, where you can assign or record past conversations.
Customers can also use the search bar functionality in the chat window to find the appropriate knowledge base article for immediate answers.
Online contact forms are still a necessary channel for customers to reach out. As the third most-popular submission avenue, consider it a fallback for the hours your support team is not online to provide quick responses.
The key is to leverage your contact form with as much or as little information as you need to streamline it with your inbox.
Fairway Market, for example, has an incredibly detailed contact form — given the wide variety of stores, locations, and vendors they serve. Each element, particularly the dropdown menus, can be customized and delivered directly to the right agent or team:
In contrast, Parabo Press keeps its contact form straight and to the point:
Groove’s contact form is fully customizable and you’re able to upload attachments for further explanation. Once submitted, it will be sent straight to the shared inbox and assigned into the workflow for follow-up.
Your social media accounts aren’t just a way for you to market your products or build an audience, they’re also another communication channel.
Whether it’s a comment of praise, a piece of feedback or a question—they shouldn’t be ignored. Luckily, it’s easy to stay on top of the direct messages, comments and posts with integrations.
Groove’s Facebook integration allows you to reply to posts, comments, and direct messages directly from your Groove account.
The Groove Twitter integration helps you seamlessly manage your Twitter @mentions and direct messages in tandem with the rest of your help desk support.
What about real-time support? What I didn’t tell you was that the moment we step beyond the internet, one channel dominates the rest …
Real-time service portal: Phone support and call centers
“Operator: This call will be recorded for training purposes.”
With a 55% gap in phone to email, it turns out customers still like to pick up the phone.
Despite the towering preference, it’s highly likely most customers would cringe the moment they hear the words “call center” or “phone support.” Due to the history of businesses making poor outsourcing decisions, lack of customer service training and mismanaged teams in call centers—it’s no wonder.
But, this doesn’t mean offering or harnessing phone support should be toned down. If anything, you should be ramping it up; but in the right way.
Real-time support, just like the rest, need to be centralized within a single service desk. That’s why Groove’s phone integration allows you to track, manage, and record all of your phone conversations.
If something needs to be actioned from the call, you can create and assign tickets to the appropriate team member, which makes it easy to monitor until a resolution is reached.
Remedy the frustration felt by customers who have reached out via social media or another channel first. Don’t redirect them to a phone number only to ask them to repeat themselves again.
Once again, we’re right back to centralization. Ask any provider you’re considering, “Can we access customer information and previous conversations as well as place and respond to phone calls within your system?”
Customizable knowledge base: Self-service as the ‘frontline’
Providing a self-service portal reduces support volume and increases customer satisfaction. Customers genuinely want you to help them … help themselves.
Think of it as your own 24/7 frontline support system. You can offload the menial and repetitive task of answering common questions in the form of an in-depth knowledge base resource. Freeing up your support agent’s time to focus on providing high-value service.
First and foremost, you need to start with a base of questions to build the foundation of your knowledge base content.
The fancy word for this is “information hierarchy.” Put succinctly: Make first things first and keep the main things the main things:
For your knowledge base to truly enable self service, you need search visibility offsite.
Externally, this means optimizing every article just like you would any other piece of content. Hosting your knowledge base on your own domain matters; it helps your content show up in branded searches.
Onsite, people still search on your site similarly to how they would Google. So make sure your articles include keyword variants and autocompletes for common terms.
Multimedia asset management
Sometimes you need to show, not just say. Your knowledge base needs to go beyond written articles. Why? Visual materials are a powerful way to support what you’re trying to say and keep users engaged—especially if they are visual learners.
Adding videos, product screenshots, beautiful photography from places like Unsplash, gifs, suggested resources, and direct-to-human-support buttons should be included in ticket software:
Don’t add them in for the sake of it; they still need to add value to what you’re already trying to explain.
Automated ticket management: Without losing your humanity
As sterile as ticket management sounds, toss the word “automated” at the front of it and you’ve got the perfect recipe for an inhuman storm of robotic communication.
Still, customer service automation is a hinge in scaling your business’s ability to support.
Receiving a cold and impersonal automated email simply telling you: “your request has been received” is exactly why automation gets a bad name.
Sure, customers still want to know that their request has been received, but a bit more personalization can do wonders. Groove’s support settings for autoresponders allows you to personalize elements for the Mailbox, subject line, and customer’s name.
The next step is building out your value proposition in the auto-reply. Provide a link to your branded knowledge base, or just let them know when to expect a response.
More often than not, you’ll find that the customer is able to resolve their question by finding the answer on your website; they just need to be nudged in the right direction.
Canned replies can be a real time-saver and keep consistency of tone and language across multiple conversations.
Within Groove, you create canned replies by selecting an overarching group you or your team establish (Category), naming the individual reply (Template Name), and writing it in a way that will suit various (yet similar) versions of an FAQ.
There’s no need to spend valuable time doing tasks that can be easily automated.
At Groove, we call it the organization trifecta: tags, rules and folders.
Groove allows you to easily create tags based on your own terminology and identifiable colors. Next, you create rules and folders to automatically organize based on the tagging you assigned.
Rules are easy to set up, edit and manage in the backend. You can use rules to automatically assign conversations to a team or agent, change the status of a conversation, add star priority, add custom tags or set reminders to stay on top of conversations.
Performance metrics: Customer satisfaction and experience reporting
Take a deep dive (or high-level look) into the metrics behind your conversations, agent productivity, user satisfaction, happiness scores, and performance.
How else will you build and manage a high-performing customer service team?
Needless to say, there’s a lot of metrics and KPIs to keep track of. That’s why we try to major on average response time, average resolution time, and overall happiness.
These benchmarks give a detailed understanding of your team’s workload, how productive they are, how happy they are, and how well the company is working together.
Integrations: Existing business and IT service tools
Think about the business tools you couldn’t live without. Now imagine seamlessly communicating with those business tools in your daily workflows.
It’s a sexy thought.
That’s why we’re constantly adding to our repertoire of integrations. But if we could give you our top five, these are it:
JIRA and Github for IT support
With the GitHub integration, you can easily create GitHub issues directly from a conversation. Then, when the issue is updated in GitHub by your IT teams, you’ll get notified in Groove and you can even have the conversation re-opened.
Technical note: In the interest of full-disclosure, while numerous companies rely on Groove for ITSM (IT service management) as well as their IT ticketing system, we’re not ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) certified.
Shopify for e-commerce
The Shopify integration allows you to show customer information (order, billing and shipping details) right in the conversation sidebar, where it’s most useful for you and your team.
Trello for project management
With the Trello integration, you can easily create Trello cards directly from a conversation without ever leaving Groove. Or, link a conversation to an existing Trello card. Then when the card is updated in Trello, you will get notified in Groove and have the conversation re-opened.
Slack for internal communication
Slack’s integration alerts your team of any new tickets entering Groove, right from inside a Slack Channel. With the Slack integration installed, you can collaborate with your team on tickets in real time, or setup desktop notifications for incoming tickets.
Zapier for damn-near everything else
Using a tool like Zapier, you can integrate Groove with over 1000+ different apps. It’s the secret to delivering small gestures at scale. The best part about Zapier is that you can connect two or more apps to automate repetitive tasks without coding or relying on developers.
The opportunities of what you can do are near endless. You just need to choose the app you want Zapier to watch for new data and create a trigger event to continue setting up the workflow.
Service level agreements (SLAs): A warning
A service level agreement (or SLA) is a commitment between a service provider and its internal or external suppliers. Rather than defining how the service is delivered, an SLA is designed to explain how it should be measured.
An SLA is put in place to avoid any negative impact that can arise from deal pricing, quality of service delivery, and customer experience — especially if you’re moving from an on-premise e-commerce or IT help desk to a cloud-based platform — i.e., to a SaaS (software as service) tool.
Unfortunately, SLAs aren’t just hard to measure, they’re notoriously difficult to enforce. That’s why we provide an option for “trigger til X for a folder” but leave it up to our customers to determine if that falls into their SLA requirements and standards.
Does the best help desk exist? Short answer: Nope
Like we said at the beginning, it’s not about finding the service desk with all the bells and whistles. It’s about finding the one that is right for your business.
If you’ve made it this far, then you’ve had a chance to explore all that Groove has to offer (we did warn you this was a biased article afterall). But, you want to consider some alternatives.
Seeing as you’re most likely tossing up between the likes of Zendesk, Freshdesk, Freshservice, Zoho, and Helpscout, let’s keep the biased train rolling with Groove versus …
Sign up for some free trials and let the tools show you and your team how they can better help you help your customers.
Remember, help desk software is designed to be the heartbeat of your customer service operations. Like a healthy functioning human, the heartbeat is there to synchronize all of the operations so that your body can move, think, grow and repair itself.
If you find that, then you’re onto a winner.