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Best customer services software of 2019

(Image credit: Pixabay)
Best customer services software

Customer service has evolved from a sympathetic ear at the end of a telephone to a managed solution that attempts to match knowledge and experience with the specific problem to address.

A well-run customer service solution should remove the possibility of requests for help going without response, deliver an appropriate solution and achieve the best possible standards for the resources available.

Sometimes it’s not about fixing a problem without customer intervention but enabling people to create their own resolutions with the right information.

Here are the best products we’ve come across for building customer services solutions, across a wide range of service scenarios.

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(Image credit: Salesforce)

1. Salesforce Service Cloud

Another good use for a CRM

Customer account management
Web-based and mobile apps
Part of the Salesforce Customer 360 ecosystem
Might overwhelm anyone who hasn’t used the CRM

Salesforce is best known for its CRM solution, and it is an obvious progression to use the same core technology to deliver a customer services platform.

The Salesforce Service Cloud operates with similar objectives, namely customer relationship building, but driven via a ticket-based support model.

What marks this solution out is that it is designed for four entirely different support scenarios, covering those that are often used in different business sectors.

Foremost is the standard customer service profile, where customers support help using whatever channel they like (phone, email, chat, social media). Alongside that is a self-service solution, for those that like to find their own answers.

If the business involves field operations, Salesforce Service Cloud can manage that too.

And finally, if the customer services requirement is an internal one, employee service is also something that Salesforce offers.

In each of these situations, AI-powered contextual recommendations can be planned, reducing the overhead for support staff and providing Agents with the most relevant and timely information to resolve the issue.

For companies that already use the CRM product, Salesforce Service Cloud has the potential to seamlessly integrate with existing sales data for the best ongoing relationship management. 

The cost of Salesforce Service Cloud starts at $25 per user per month (billed annually).

(Image credit: Freshdesk)

2. Freshdesk

Sophisticated fundraising and donor management system

Multiple ticket options
Easy to use
Enterprise features are expensive
Lacks ITIL compliance

Freshdesk is a web-based helpdesk solution that can be learned quickly and deployed rapidly, making it ideal for new ventures and short projects.

Where it excels is in delivering a ticket-based solution where help can be provided either interactively or by email and managed within a team comprising of mixed skill level agents.

It includes a complete tracking system for all communications, status management tools and even smart bots to help customers quickly find answers without human intervention.

To help both customers and support staff, it includes the facility to build a support FAQ. This knowledgebase can be used as a reference by agents and directly by those looking for support. The investment time creating FAQ contents can reduce workloads significantly, and Freshdesk has a dedicated solution for creating and maintaining support documents. 

Overall, unless you are interested in ITIL compliant IT support, Freshdesk offers a solid platform to build a helpdesk solution and keep it running smoothly.

Exactly what features you have will depend on the plan you have, but all come with ticketing, team collaboration, the knowledge base, ticket trend reporting and social ticketing.

Although, compared with others, it isn’t the cheapest option.

(Image credit: QualityUnit)

3. LiveAgent

Not another boring help desk software product

Highly user-friendly
Excellent integrations
Pricey for small businesses

LiveAgent fits into the same slot as many web-based ticketing systems that are used for customer support and the associated Knowledge base creation tools.

It uses a merged narrative model where all communications with the customer are presented to the agent as a unified conversation, irrespective of the channels used.

This blended call centre solution has sophisticated rule-based escalation, live chat, scripting, call logging and recording.

And, it includes analytical analysis to gauge service standards and avoid customer satisfaction issues.

What customers like about LiveAgent are the integrations that allow it to work alongside other business tools. These include workflow solution like Zapier, tracking with Google Analytics, email marketing with MailChimp, eCommerce with numerous packages, CRM, CMS, and social media via Facebook and Twitter.

They also enjoy how scaleable LiveAgent is, progressing from a small number of agents to a massive support centre on the same platform. Huawei uses this product to give you an impression of how large an operation it can handle.

The only negative aspect to LiveAgent is that for a smaller operation it can be expensive. Live chat isn’t included in the basic product and requires the all-inclusive tier costing $39 per agent per month.

(Image credit: TeamSupport)

4. TeamSupport

Optimised for B2B

Rich content emails
Easy to get started
Integrates with Salesforce
Database searches can be slow

Not every customer services solution involves dealing with the public, and TeamSupport was built with B2B customers in mind.

As you might expect, it’s a ticketing system build around a customer database, but it provides a highly customisable environment that’s ideal for businesses that need to communicate smoothly.

All the usual things are included; SLAs, task controls, reporting, metrics, and full omnichannel start points.

Providing a service for another business needs to be monitored and adapted, based on the types of service that have been requested and the resource available. And, TeamSupport has the reporting tools to provide the insight needed to make those changes smoothly and maintain the quality of the service.

Customers are provided with an easy to understand self-service portal that quickly tells them the status of a service request, and when it is likely to be resolved.

While most customers for this product are very happy with it, some have complained that the limited functionality in the mobile app needs to be expanded. And, a few others would like quicker ticketing search solution.

TeamSupport offers two plans; Enterprise and Support Desk. Neither are cheap, but you can pay monthly or annually.

(Image credit: Kayako)

5. Kayako

A customer-focused helpdesk tool

Conversation centric
Easy to use
600+ integrations with Zapier
Enterprise features are expensive
No ITIL compliant

Like so many service systems, Kayako is a web-based helpdesk platform that you can access using a browser from almost any computing platform.

Alongside the web interface, Kayako also has mobile platform apps that allow the same customer supporting activity to take place on a phone or tablet when away from the office.

This multi-pronged approach is designed to make the customer the priority, not the support staff. Its objective is to provide a highly personalised and tailored solution where the customer doesn’t feel like they are a ticket number.

One interesting different with Kayako is that it supports both customer services agents and collaborators, who may be experts in a specific area or can research answers for a busy agent.

The system support SLA (Service Level Agreement) rules that can be applied on a per customer or group basis and tracks the quality of service with a satisfaction survey at the end of the support cycle. 

Kayako is a slick and elegant solution that is designed to grow from a basic ticket tracking system into something more sophisticated with time. However, it has got more expensive in the past few years.

Its feature set is very similar to Freshdesk, a cheaper option that includes more functionality for the money.