6 Must-Have Features for a Customer Service Solution
To say the customer service department is the backbone of the company is not a stretch. No customers equals no money — and no money means no business. For this reason, whether in-person or online, customer questions, complaints and feedback need to be addressed with both speed and consideration.
Customer service software isn’t flashy, loud or new to the scene; it’s more so the quiet performer in the business software segment. With a laser-like focus on customer relations, the tool has grown beyond the glorified email inbox that it once was. Solutions such as Zendesk, Kana and Desk.com by Salesforce have evolved to become multifaceted tools in the customer support agent’s tool belt. Covering a spectrum of inbound and outbound channels, these solutions have nestled their way into the day-to-day operations of enterprise corporations and SMBs alike — and for good reason. According to an American Express Survey in 2011, 7 in 10 Americans said they were willing to spend more with companies they believe provide excellent customer service.
At Business-Software.com, we thoroughly understand the value of customer service software and have compiled some of the most important features for a customer service solution from our Top 10 Customer Service Software Report below:
1. Intelligent Routing
When contacting the support team, each customer is routed to the appropriate agent based on criteria such as caller priority or agent skill. This information is either captured from the customer through their caller ID or in a quick and automated series of questions at the beginning of the communication.
Intelligent routing saves the time of both the customer and your support staff, automatically directing the communication to the appropriate personnel. Although it may not be noticed, customers are especially grateful for this feature, as they don’t leave the experience feeling as though they were juggled around the organization.
2. Case Management
The case management feature allows companies to expedite the resolution of customer issues and concerns by assigning, managing and routing support cases. Case management functionality grows customer support from a shared inbox to a high-functioning, collaborative, multi-channel hub of inbound and outbound communications.
With intelligent routing and the ability to assign tickets to support agents, the process for customer service resolution becomes streamlined and far more efficient than ever before. What’s more, the chances of tickets going missing or being stalled for extended periods of time are diminished as the visibility and automation of the process increases.
3. Self-Service Portal
Many customer service platforms offer integrated self-service portals. Within these portals, customers can create their own support tickets, search the knowledge base for resolution or make changes to their account. Many companies now offer community forums or FAQ pages as a part of their self-service portals, which can take some of the pressure off of their in-house support teams.
Self-service portals can go one of two ways in a support setting: they can be a valuable resource that allows customers to quickly navigate the system to resolve their issue, or a hassle that ends up feeling like a waste of their time. A great customer service application uses the self-service portal in conjunction with superior service, not as a replacement.
4. Knowledge Management
Knowledge management within a customer service application allows companies to organize and publish information in regard to their product, segment or industry. This information can be shared with support agents, sales teams, other employees and even the customers.
The knowledge management system houses the information in a format that’s easy to navigate, which allows users of any level to find the appropriate material quickly and without hassle.
5. Multi-Channel Support
As the feature name implies, multi-channel support functionality meets the needs of various customers by offering support via telephone, chat, email, social media and discussion forums. Most customer service solutions that offer multi-channel support will compile the incoming requests into one centralized hub, making the case management easier for support teams.
Fifteen years ago, multi-channel support would mean telephone and maybe email. Yet in a world where communication is available at our fingertips 24/7, brands are only a tweet away. Being able to collectively gather the feedback, questions or concerns from customers across traditional and social platforms allows companies to reach and resolve more issues than ever before.
6. Reporting and Analytics
There’s always room for improvement, especially in customer service. The tool that will help close the gap is the reporting and analytics set within your selected solution. Whether it’s communication volume after product launches, a repetitive concern of customers or tracking performance of support staff, the analytics tools give unquestionable insight into the inner workings of various departments.
Utilizing the data collected by the software can allow companies to alter troublesome areas that plague the customer support staff. Reporting and analytics functionality is absolutely essential to further grow an organization, especially in terms of enhancing the customer and user experience.
So there you have it, six of the most important features to look for in your next customer service software application. When seeking out solutions, try to visit company websites, as many offer free trial versions. A data sheet and list of key features may make the platform sound like your knight in shining armor, but if the tool can’t meet your needs in regard to speed or handling in real life, it’s better to have learned before purchasing. Last, but certainly not least, check out your short list’s technical support plans. You, more than anyone, know that while you may hope to never need it — you’ll want a good offering when something goes awry.
To get a jump-start on your research for the perfect software solution, be sure to download our Top 10 Customer Service Software Report.
[Photo courtesy of Freerange Stock.]