You need to deliver a top-tier client experience if you want to stay competitive in 2021. But that takes a carefully curated set of tools. And selecting a tool for customer care is especially challenging, as the list of options grows almost every year.
In this post, we’ll unpack the value of a CRM for customer service and support and highlight a few great alternatives you can use to help your clients before, during, and after their purchase or engagement. Let’s get started.
CRMs or customer relationship management tools enable you to organize, store, and use customer information to build stronger relationships with your leads and customers. Using a CRM, you can collect data from lead capture forms, social channels, and inbound emails and organize it into customer profiles. These profiles can then be used to build a sales pipeline and send out targeted marketing campaigns that match the customer’s stage in the buyer’s journey.
In short, a CRM offers: Lead management, contact management, marketing automation, sales suites, and predictive analytics
Since CRM tools collect information about your customer base, they make it possible for you to tailor the customer experience to their needs and preferences. They also facilitate seamless, two-way communication with your clients via a variety of sales channels like email, live chat, social media, and more.
But the real question is: should you use a CRM for customer service and support?
Answer: it really depends on your business model and the specific customer service features and functionality you want. If you’re only looking for a few simple tools to keep in touch with customers - like live chat or a shared email inbox - a CRM might be all you need. But the more complex your customer support system is, the less capable a CRM platform becomes.
For instance, if your web designers need a way to track the time they spend on site maintenance requests, you’ll likely need more than a few simple customer support features.
Luckily, there are quite a few solutions out there you can either use instead of or pair with your CRM solution to create a positive customer experience. Let’s look at just a few here.
Note: we’ve limited our list of CRM alternatives to tools and resources that are primarily or exclusively designed for customer service and support.
The most obvious option for customer service software is a helpdesk ticketing system, as it’s designed to handle support tickets and promote communication between clients and customer service representatives on various issues.
With helpdesk software, tickets can be organized and grouped by topic or client. You can use the messaging features to chat with clients in a specific support ticket. You can even share documents in real-time to streamline customer interactions and simplify your support team’s workflow. Niche helpdesks like Sitechange, also offer a unique set of features for their users like retainer time tracking, website and webpage ticket grouping, and client portals.
These features make it easier to resolve customer issues, as all support tickets, emails, and other customer interactions are logged, organized, and dealt with in a single space.
Want to see a comparison of top helpdesk ticketing systems? Check out this post.
In addition to a helpdesk ticketing system, it’s useful to have a self-service platform that allows clients to resolve simple issues on their own. Not only does it give your team more time to focus on projects and tickets that need attention, but it gives clients the freedom to deal with problems immediately, rather than waiting in a queue.
With a knowledge base tool, you can give clients access to FAQs like pricing info, tutorials, troubleshooting walk-throughs, and more. And all of the information can be accessed in a single hub by typing keywords into an on-site search bar or scrolling through tagged categories.
It’s important to note that a knowledge base by itself isn’t sufficient, though. Your clients will still need a way to contact your team about issues they can’t resolve on their own. However, when paired with a helpdesk like Sitechange, they can increase your customer satisfaction.
While adopting omnichannel is generally overkill for many small businesses, web design agencies, and startups, there is value to helpdesks with all the bells and whistles. (Like Zendesk, Freshdesk, Salesforce, and HubSpot to name a few.) Not only do they enable large organizations to talk to customers on any channel, including phone calls, social media, live chat, and SMS messaging - but they also make it possible to keep all of that customer data synched in one place.
As a result, you don’t have to dig through separate messaging threads to keep up with each customer or start over each time a client reaches out to you. The conversation can just keep going and going.
In most cases, the answer is yes. Why? Because small businesses typically don’t need the omnichannel options available through the big-name CRM + helpdesk hybrids. Web design agencies have hyper-specific needs like retainer time tracking that CRMs can’t fill. And large businesses often have more requirements than many CRMs can offer.
Fortunately, with tools like helpdesk ticketing systems, knowledge bases, and omnichannel customer support software - you can build a stronger customer experience and boost customer retention.