Hiver help desk review

Can you really manage your whole help desk from Gmail?

Website screenshot for Hiver
(Image: © Hiver)

TechRadar Verdict

Hiver lets you set up your help desk entirely from within Gmail. It's reasonably priced and intuitive to use, provided you want to trust more of your customer data to Google.


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    Competitive Pricing

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    Easy setup

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    Mobile Apps


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    Data protection concerns

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Hiver touts itself as the world's first Gmail-based help desk software. In other words, you can use it entirely from Google Workspace without installing any unnecessary extra software. In theory, this means minimal fuss with setup and virtually a zero learning curve, provided you can trust your data to the gods of Google. Read on to find out if Hiver delivers on its claims.

Hiver: Plans and Pricing

Hiver has three main pricing plans for 'customer service' as it's called. The 'Lite' tier costs $15 per user per month if paying annually or $19 per user if you pay month to month. The plan supports up to 10 agents over two shared email inboxes.

Users have unlimited access to email templates and tags. You can also set up live chat, your own knowledge base, WhatsApp channel, and shared contacts. Other perks include collaboration on tickets, with 'collision' support to make sure two agents aren't working on the same matter unknowingly. Hiver also offers dedicated mobile apps for both Android and iOS.

The 'Pro' plan is supposedly Hiver's most popular, costing $39 per user per month if paying annually or $49 per user if paying monthly. It includes all of the above, along with unlimited users, plus more emphasis on SLAs and cloud analytics. For instance, you can view SLA reports and even alerts if the SLA is violated. The 'Pro' plan also supports QuickBooks integration and scheduled data exports. Subscribers to this tier can also receive assistance from Harvey, Hiver's AI bot.

The 'Elite' plan costs $59 per user per month if paying annually or $69 per user if paying month to month. Hiver describes this tier as delivering custom access control, round-robin assignments, and an uptime SLA for delivering customer delight.

Even if the price isn't particularly delightful, you may enjoy the warning system for potential SLA breaches, as well as skill-based auto assignment of tasks. Subscribers to this plan also receive help with making their data HIPAA compliant. 

If you have over 50 'seats' Hiver encourages you to get in touch for a custom quote. You can also sign up for a seven-day free trial of any plan without providing credit card details. This means you can sample any of Hiver's features without committing yourself financially. 

Hiver pricing

(Image credit: Hiver)

Hiver: Features

Hiver's chief selling point is that it works as a help desk right from your email. This means if your team has a shared inbox, it can turn emails into 'actionable tasks' as the features page puts it. Messages can be tagged and/or prioritized by users. They can even tag other users in notes to help collaborate on issues.

Analytics are another important aspect of Hiver's functionality. The platform claims that more than 10,000 teams track key metrics to improve performance with Hiver. The solution lets businesses track and analyze conversations, users, tags, and CSAT metrics for informed decision-making. You can also generate custom reports for tailored analysis, identify bottlenecks and earmark high (and low) performers. 

Not ignoring the tech hype cycle of the moment, Hiver integrates AI into its platform. Hiver promises that this functionality can be employed to summarize emails, deliver email template suggestions, and auto-close conversations if they don't require manual input. Hiver also has a number of statistics to prove the productivity benefits of using its AI bot. For instance, the help desk solution claims that 60% of customer service agents have already seen the benefits of using AI in customer service and 44% believe AI is quite accurate in resolving queries.

Hiver also supports sharing of emails with teammates and other departments via permalinks. Just as with sharing a Google document, you can easily add and remove editing rights to individual users.

Another great perk of switching to Hiver is the fact that the company offers dedicated mobile apps, so your agents can stay connected when away from the office. These are available for both Android and iOS devices. 

And Hiver is also no slouch when it comes to integrations. These include a number of popular business tools, such as project management tool Asana, communication heavyweight Slack, and one of the best CRM software solutions around, Salesforce.

The demo is probably the easiest way of getting to grips with the many features that Hiver offers and you only need to provide a few simple details, such as an email address and phone number, to get first-hand experience with the platform. 


Hiver in use

(Image credit: Hiver)

Hiver: Interface

Given that it sits inside Gmail itself, it might be most helpful to think of Hiver as an upgrade to your Google Workspace. Certainly in their video tour showcasing the UI, much is made of how snugly features fit into Gmail, such as being able to provide support to customers through various channels like WhatsApp. You can also use the existing 'Activity' pane in emails to assign and track support queries. 

On the plus side if you and your team are already familiar with Gmail and are happy to use the interface this will mean virtually zero time spent in getting to grips with it. In fact, Hiver fares well against the competition when it comes to its UI.  Its interface is intuitive and easy to navigate.

Hiver has also dedicated a page to its workflow management, which makes it easy to visualize tasks assigned to your team by displaying all active conversations in your shared inbox. You can also filter conversations, such as by team member, with just one mouse click.   

Despite its strengths, Hiver's interface may not seem quite so familiar to individuals who aren't big Gmail users. For teams that are more comfortable using Microsoft Outlook or any of the many other email providers out there, there could be some teething problems.

Hiver security

(Image credit: Hiver)

Hiver: Security

Hiver maintains a dedicated 'Security Center' on its website. Given that it sits on top of Gmail, we were pleased to see it answered one of the first questions we had right away: the company doesn't store your emails on its servers, instead leaving that to Google. It does, however, store some metadata like email subjects.

When it comes to processing email data, the company claims the 'raw' data is stored temporarily and subject to encryption until it's synced across Gmail accounts, after which it's deleted permanently.

Hiver also claims to undergo regular external security audits. All its data is hosted by AWS (Amazon Web Services) in the USA. This means the company's data centers benefit from all the protections Amazon provides such as 24/7 security and fire suppression systems. 

All of Hiver's servers use network firewalls and all data transmission to or from Hiver happens over a 128-bit SSL-encrypted connection. The hiver application endpoints are TLS/SSL only and score a rating of “A+” rating on SSL Labs tests.

Unsurprisingly, Hiver uses Google SSO (Single Sign On) to access the app and users can revoke Hiver's access to their G Suite at any time.

The company has been working hard to be compliant with GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) but therein lies the catch:  in 2019, Google was fined for breaching the GDPR. 

The tech giant has recently made some changes to make its Chrome browser more data-protection compliant but the fact remains that Google's business model revolves around serving up targeted ads. This begs the question of whether moving your help desk to Google will allow your organization to comply with local data protection laws. 

Hiver support

(Image credit: Hiver)

Hiver: Support

Hiver has a dedicated Help Center, with helpful guides on topics like setting up your email account and integrating a WhatsApp channel into Gmail. 

The Resource Center also contains some benchmark reports and a couple of e-books on topics like using Gmail as a help desk. As helpful as these are, the resources available seem quite spartan compared to other help desk providers we've reviewed. There is a wide range of articles that can help with your Hiver queries, including around topics like the latest CX trends and a detailed comparison guide.

No matter which pricing plan you choose, all users receive onboarding support and 24/7 assistance via email and live chat. Only subscribers to the most expensive 'Elite' plan receive priority support, however, which includes callbacks and your own 'Success Manager'. 

Hiver: Final verdict

'Hiver' is actually the French word for 'Winter'. We wonder if the owners know this, as the platform could be the 'Winter of your discontent' if you're already using Google Workspace within your organization and want to set up a help desk quickly and smoothly.

Leveraging an existing platform to manage tickets makes perfect sense, especially if you can include extra features like live chat and assigning tasks to other users. The pricing plan also starts from a very reasonable $15 per agent per month.

The biggest conundrum you'll face as a business owner is if you want to trust yet more of your organization's client information to Google, as they don't have the best record for data protection. However, there's a reason why they are trusted by so many.  If you still have your doubts, why not sign up for Hiver's free trial and see whether this help desk solution meets the needs of your organization?

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Nate Drake is a tech journalist specializing in cybersecurity and retro tech. He broke out from his cubicle at Apple 6 years ago and now spends his days sipping Earl Grey tea & writing elegant copy.

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