8 Best Customer Service Software for Small Business in 2023
This article is part of a larger series on Customer Service.
Customer service software lets businesses store customer data and resolve requests in the same system. These products can be a standalone solution or a specific module within customer relationship management (CRM) software. The best customer service platforms offer agents essential tools, like ticket management, at a reasonable price while maintaining strong product usability scores. Based on our evaluation of dozens of providers, the eight best customer service software for small business include:
- Best overall: Freshdesk
- Excellent free ticket management tools: LiveAgent
- Great payment processing capabilities: HubSpot Service Hub
- Most cost-friendly solution: Zoho Desk
- Solid features for managing service agents: Zendesk
- Best simple customer database: Really Simple Systems
- Ideal for ecommerce customer service: Gorgias
- Best for app customization: Appy Pie
Best Customer Service Software Compared
Price per User*
Our Rating out of 5
$45 (two users)
$10 (up to 50 tickets)**
$16 per app
*Based on annual billing; monthly billing is also available for slightly higher rates.
**Starting plan doesn’t allow annual billing.
Pro tip: Navigating customer service and help desk products can be tricky with all the providers in this space. Luckily, we’ve created a guide on how to choose help desk software so you can identify the features and costs you’ll need to consider to select the best solution. You could also take our quiz below to find out which customer service software works best for you.
Which customer service software is best for you?
Freshdesk: Best Customer Service Software for Small Business Overall
- Free plan comes with 10 users and a solid arsenal of service features
- Lots of native integration options to expand use cases into IT help desk and technology service operations
- Strong product usability ratings despite all the advanced features
- AI tools can be costly
- Service level agreement (SLA) tracking features aren’t available for free
- Customer surveys aren’t available until Pro plan
- You need free customer support tools: Freshdesk also happens to take the crown as the best free customer service software. The features are available for up to 10 users—giving them capabilities like ticket management, canned response, task tracking, basic workflow automations, live chat engagement, and social media support through Twitter and Facebook at no cost.
- You are an IT management company: IT help desk services and managed service providers (MSPs), in particular, can get more value from Freshdesk than other customer service software products on this list. Users can integrate Freshdesk with Freshservice, native software for managing IT assets, and customer technical issues. This lets teams receive IT service tickets from the Freshdesk platform, where they can also oversee resolution processes.
- You want low-cost AI in your customer support software: Artificial intelligence (AI) is useful for receiving suggestions on how to improve service and automating communication with customers. While Freshdesk offers these capabilities, users must subscribe to the expensive Enterprise plan for $79 per user, monthly.
- Alternative: Zoho Desk begins offering AI capabilities for $40 per user, monthly.
- You need free SLA management capabilities: SLA must be monitored to ensure support and product uptimes meet contract requirements. Unfortunately, Freshdesk does not begin offering SLA tracking, escalation, and violation notifications until the paid plans.
- Alternative: Zoho Desk begins offering free SLA monitoring for tickets on its Free plan.
Freshdesk Pricing Plan & Overview*
Freshdesk has four service products: the Support Desk, Contact Center, Omnichannel Suite, and Customer Success system. The Support Desk offers ticket management, self-service resources, and activity reporting. The Contact Center has an integrated call center with a built-in phone, queue, and call transfer. The Omnichannel Suite has communication through live chat, email, phone, text, and artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot for customer support. The Customer Success Module handles retention and account management tasks.
- $0 for up to 10 agents
- Ticket management with email ticketing, ticket merging, support activity tracking, and the ability to set priorities and statuses of customer tickets
- Stored canned responses for customer inquiries
- Ticket tagging with the option to store notes in tickets
- Task management and to-do list
- Automated workflows that run on a newly created ticket
- Knowledge base management for customers to access resources
- Live chat help widget on the website with embeddable contact form and solution articles
- Social media support through Twitter and Facebook
- Customer support collaboration on tickets through native integration with Freshconnect
- Dashboard reporting with ticket volume trends
- Contact and company data management
- Mobile Freshdesk app
- Multiple shared customer service inboxes with in-app notifications
- Ability to split tickets, sort conversations, and do time tracking on ticket resolutions
- Agent collision detection with one-touch resolution scenarios, such as offering a refund with one click
- Help desk gamification tools
- Cloud telephony integrations
- Task reminder notifications
- Custom ticket views
- Time and event-triggered workflow automations
- SLA management that adds business rules to certain tickets
- Automated suggestions for knowledge base resources with advanced article filtering
- Multiple live chat widgets on website
- Service for customers through WhatsApp integration
- Native integration with Freshservice for IT management
- In-depth reporting with time sheet summaries
- Ticket templates
- Custom objects plus customizable customer satisfaction surveys
- Ability to add images from knowledge resources as attachments to tickets for customer support
- Average ticket handling time tracking
- Session replays that let you see ticket resolutions from the customer’s point of view
- Canned forms which lets agents quickly collect required information using premade forms
- Round-robin ticket assignment with load balancing
- SLA reminders plus escalation emails if there’s an SLA violation
- SLA organization based on products, groups, and company levels
- Article templates with advanced bulk actions to alter many articles at once
- Knowledge base analytics
- Customer journey and frustration tracking
- Linked tickets, parent-child ticketing, and shared ownership of tickets
- Agent and group performance reporting plus satisfaction survey reporting
- Advanced ticket scoping which gives agents customizable access to tickets depending on its scope or group
- Custom objects analytics
- Skilled-based ticket assignment with agent shifts
- Flexible hierarchy sorting of knowledge base resources
- Quick approval workflows to finalize knowledge articles after final review
- Freddy AI bot to assist customers through email and live chat, suggest knowledge articles and canned responses, and detecting social signals that need urgent response
*Pricing is based on annual billing on a per-user monthly breakdown; monthly billing is also available for a higher cost. Pricing also refers to the Support desk module, which includes ticketing and Contact Center in one. Freshdesk offers a 21-day free trial.
Our Expert Opinion
Freshdesk is the ultimate solution combining cost-friendliness, advanced features, and an excellent user experience in one platform. Even its free plan is more sophisticated than many other customer service software providers on this list. While it has many industry use cases, the major standout was its ability to double as an IT help desk tool through native integration with Freshservice. We also liked Freshdesk’s multi-range communication options through phone, email, chat, text, and AI chatbot.
Need more insights? Check out our in-depth Freshdesk review to see if it’s right for your business.
LiveAgent: Best Free Ticket Management Tools
- Free plan offers robust ticket management features and gamification
- Scalable paid plans
- Low-cost customer satisfaction surveys
- Poor ratings for product ease of use
- Expensive SLA features
- Customer service performance and activity reporting isn’t available until Medium Business plan
- You need robust ticketing for free: LiveChat stands out with its free plan that includes all ticket management capabilities. Users can track history, split and merge tickets, add tags and notes, customize ticket fields, attach files, perform mass actions, and deploy ticket satisfaction surveys after resolution, all at no cost.
- You want to boost service performance through gamification: Customer service teams can use LiveAgent to maximize performance through the product’s built-in gamification tools. This lets managers assign badges, rewards, and experience levels, create performance leaderboards, and provide recognition to agents for fast and quality customer responses in a game-like setting.
- You need a simple customer service system: LiveChat offers tons of modules and tools for teams to provide exceptional service to their customers. Unfortunately, LiveChat falls short in the product usability category as users find the platform tough to operate and set up a new system.
- Alternative: Freshsales, HubSpot Service Hub, and Really Simple Systems stand out as highly intuitive service products.
- You want a cost-friendly method to monitor service operations: One of the strange downsides of LiveAgent is the reporting features. Users cannot generate any reports or obtain a dashboard overview of customer service activity and performance until the Medium business plan.
- Alternative: Freshdesk and HubSpot Service Hub are the best alternatives for free performance and activity reporting.
LiveAgent Pricing Plan & Overview*
- $0 for up to three departments
- Ability to set up a self-service portal with a knowledge base, frequently asked questions (FAQ) page, and community forum
- One contact form
- Ticketing from incoming and outgoing emails
- Live chat support channel with automated welcome message and file sharing over chat
- Ticket management with ticket merge, splits, tags, filtering, notes, and the option to create internal tickets
- Ticket transferring
- Option to place business hours for service availability
- Contacts and group segmentation based on customer attributes
- Custom email templates
- Customer service gamification tools
- Slack notifications for tickets and customer responses
- Integration with Viber, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for additional $39 per month
- Ticket history tracking for an unlimited duration
- Up to 10 departments
- Stored canned responses for automated customer assistance
- Ability to send chat transcripts to customers
- Chat satisfaction surveys
- Custom rule and time-based workflow automations
- Third-party integrations
- Proactive chat invitations that invite website visitors to engage with service reps
- Customer feedback buttons on website
- Video conferencing calls
- Up to 20 unique departments
- Real-time website visitor monitoring
- Built-in call center with call queuing, recordings, and transfer
- Time tracking for ticket resolution
- Analytics overview along with performance, channel, and ticket tag reporting for individual agents and departments
- Agent ratings tracking based on customer approvals
- Agent call and chat availability tracking plus ticket load monitoring
- SLA rule setting, tracking, and automated notifications
- Integration with WhatsApp
- Custom roles that tailor data and module permissions based on job
- Ability to manage multiple knowledge bases for an additional $19 per month, per account
- Custom role setting within departments
- Comprehensive product support, onboarding services, and a dedicated account manager
*Pricing is based on annual billing on a per-user monthly breakdown; monthly billing is also available for a higher cost. LiveAgent offers a 30-day free trial on paid plans.
Our Expert Opinion
LiveAgent’s primary value is the advanced ticketing available on the Free plan. Users can use this customer service product for gamification, multi-channel customer engagement, and automating ticket management workflows. Overall, LiveAgent makes up for its poor usability ratings by offering businesses cost-friendly subscription plans and robust team collaboration tools. It also makes its mark with its solid customer surveying capabilities, which are accessible for free.
Intrigued by LiveAgent’s features? We invite you to our LiveAgent review for full details on its capabilities and pricing.
HubSpot Service Hub: Best for Handling Payment Inquiries
- Free plan for unlimited users includes conversational bots, ticket management, and canned responses
- Software provides robust workflow automation and automated communication tools plus payment processing tools
- Strong platform usability ratings all around
- Only one ticket pipeline available on the Free plan
- Relatively expensive telephonic capabilities
- SLA management requires Professional plan
- You want to manage customer payments: One of the unique features HubSpot Service offers is the payment processing capabilities. This not only allows users to send invoices and collect payments through the software via Stripe or automated clearing house (ACH), but also issue refunds and receipts to customers. That particular tool is a simple one-click action directly from the payment record, which does not add processing fees for refunds.
- You need a free, easy-to-use customer service software: HubSpot is well-known for its product simplicity—offering a simple CRM, content management system (CMS), marketing platform, and yes, customer service software. It also provides one of the best overall free customer service products that supports unlimited users, ticket management, canned responses, and a conversational bot for ticket creation and meeting scheduling.
- Your startup sells multiple product lines: Despite HubSpot’s brilliant free plan, the ticket management capabilities are limited to one pipeline. This is not ideal for startups that might sell multiple product lines, such as software and professional implementation services, and utilize different customer service processes for each one.
- Alternative: LiveAgent is the best alternative that has ticket management on the Free plan, as well as options to oversee up to three departments and subsequent ticketing processes.
- You need low-cost SLA management tools: SLA management is crucial to staying within the bounds of your contact expectations. Unfortunately, HubSpot has one of the most expensive SLA features on this list.
- Alternative: We recommend Zoho Desk for low-cost SLA tracking, which starts offering SLA-tracking customer support tools on its free plan.
HubSpot Service Hub Pricing Plan & Overview*
- $0 for unlimited users
- Team email and inbox
- Facebook Messenger integration for sending and receiving customer support messages
- Meeting scheduler
- One ticket pipeline for ticket management
- Conversational bots for basic lead qualification, ticket creation, and meeting scheduling
- Live chat communication
- Up to five stored documents per account
- HubSpot mobile app
- Up to three reporting dashboards
- Up to five canned responses
- Up to five email templates plus email scheduling and contact list segmentation
- $45 (up to two users)
- Two ticket pipeline for ticket management
- Up to 5,000 stored documents per account
- 10 reporting dashboards
- 5,000 canned responses
- One HubSpot provided phone number with 500 minutes of calling
- Simple ticket automaton
- Payment processing through Stripe integration and ACH payments
- Support for up to five unique currencies
- $450 (up to five users)
- 15 ticket pipeline for ticket management
- Conversational bots with custom logic and branching to automate conversations
- 25 reporting dashboards
- 3,000 minutes of calling
- Sequences for automated email outreach or follow-up
- Duplicate data management
- 300 workflows for automating ticket status changes, sending repetitive emails, and adding tasks to help customers
- Customer self-service portal creator
- Product library
- Video messaging
- Custom reporting with service analytics
- SLA management
- Automated ticket routing
- Customer feedback surveys
- On-demand video hosting within knowledge base
- Teams and goal management
- Call transcription tracking with coaching review and comments on conversations
- $1,200 (up to 10 users)
- 50 ticket pipeline for ticket management
- 50 reporting dashboards
- 12,000 minutes of calling
- 1,000 automated workflows
- Custom objects and goals
- Recurring revenue tracking
- Hierarchical team management based on region, level, business unit, or brand
*Pricing is based on annual billing on a per-month breakdown; monthly billing is also available for a higher cost. HubSpot offers a 14-day free trial on paid plans.
Our Expert Opinion
Based on our evaluation, HubSpot Service Hub could have been awarded numerous best use-case scenarios. For instance, it has the most advanced workflow automation, the best free customer support platform, and possibly even the simplest to operate. We felt, however, that payment processing, which is useful and easy to operate, stood out the most compared to the competitors. Any service team that issues refunds can easily do so by investing in HubSpot.
HubSpot’s service tools pair nicely with its other native tools for sales, marketing, and content management. Check out our HubSpot Service Hub review to see if it’s right for your business.
Zoho Desk: Best Low-cost Tools
- Free and cost-friendly options for business at all stages
- Free option includes ticket tracking, basic SLA management, and internal knowledge base
- Omnichannel support options through email, phone, live chat, messaging apps, and social media
- Poor usability ratings for setting up and navigating the customer service system
- Live chat support channels aren’t available until Enterprise plan
- Expensive AI features
- You’re seeking the most cost-friendly customer service software: Like its native Zoho CRM product, Zoho Desk is a highly cost-effective and scalable option. Businesses of all sizes find that at least one of the five plans, including a free-forever option, will suit their feature needs and user requirements. None of the paid plans will break the bank, with pricing ranging from just $7 to $40 per user, monthly.
- You want to support customers using all communication channels: Zoho stands out for its multi-range engagement options. Teams can receive tickets and resolve customer issues through all channels, including email, phone, web forms, social media messaging, instant messaging apps, and live chat.
- You want low-cost live chat support channels: One of the anomalies of Zoho Desk is the live chat communication channel, something typically included in a customer service platform’s lower-tiered plans, isn’t available until the Enterprise plan for $40 per user, monthly.
- Alternative: LiveAgent and Freshdesk are two alternatives with free live chat support tools.
- You need a simple interface to navigate service tools: Zoho Desk can perform many customer service and communication functions. That said, its interface tends to be clunky because of the complex menu buttons and navigation options.
- Alternative: HubSpot has the cleanest interface of all the customer service products and is especially simple for new users to navigate.
Zoho Desk Pricing Plan & Overview*
- $0 for up to three users
- Email-to-ticket creation with ticket collaboration through commenting and private conversations
- Ability to mark tickets as spam and track ticket history, resolution notes, and tag tickets
- Ticket list and peak views
- Advanced ticket search
- Email, self-service help center, and web form widget support channels
- Automated help desk notifications for ticket progress plus up to two macro automations
- Priority-based SLA tracking
- Custom email templates, tabs, and form fields
- Knowledge base help center for agents
- Contact and account management with dedicated record owners and notes tracking
- Mobile Zoho Desk app
- $7 for up to five users
- Customer happiness tracking and satisfaction ratings
- Option to add ticket solution as a knowledge base article and receive suggested knowledge base articles for customer support
- Ticket merging, splitting, and cloning
- Customer ticket timelines and read/unread tracking on tickets
- Ticket table views
- Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram support channels
- One workflow automation per module for only the ticket management system
- Automatic ticket assignment using basic criteria
- Default priority-based SLA management with multi-level escalations that automatically reroute tickets to higher authorities or other teams based on preset rules
- Business hours and holiday setting for help desk
- Custom ticket views, data fields, and status grouping
- Accounts and contacts record merging
- Customer happiness, ticket status, and service desk overview dashboards
- Time tracking on tickets
- Snippets and canned response with email templates
- Work mode setting that views tickets based on time, priority, and setting
- Five workflow automations per module with time-based triggers
- Team collaboration on tickets with user updates and team feeds
- Community forum management
- Instant messaging support channels through WhatsApp, Telegram, and Wechat
- Up to four unique SLAs
- Public knowledge base for customers
- Contact and account record deduplication
- Task management on tickets
- Product-based ticket tracking with dedicated owners and record associations with contacts and accounts
- Ticket stage tracking
- Custom dashboards with response and resolution tracking, knowledge base metrics, and customer interactions tracking on forums
- Native integration to Zoho products like Analytics, Projects, Zoho CRM, and Inventory
- Internal approvals on ticket requests
- Team ownership and sharing of tickets
- Gamescope integration for help desk gamification
- Agent collision detection with chat and reply avoidance to prevent multiple agents on one ticket
- Telephone integration to the help desk for placing, receiving, logging, recording, and transferring phone calls
- Round robin ticket assignment based on load balancing
- Customer-specific SLA management
- Help desk team management with multi-department case tracking and product-specific product handling
- Ticket templates
- Multilingual knowledge base
- Events management and calling from Zoho Desk
- Auto time tracking and activity tracking for agents
- Call reporting, SLA dashboards, and telephone availability tracking for agents
- Live chat support channel from website
- Custom automated workflows from other Zoho apps plus scheduled, recurring automations
- Agent skills tracking with skilled-based ticket assignment
- Contract management for SLA
- AI Zia tool for automatically sharing knowledge base resources with customers, making customer sentiment predictions, auto tagging tickets, detecting anomalous ticket trends, and engaging customers
- Customer live chat through ASAP channel
- Multi-branded help center
- Zia-powered dashboard for AI insights and reports
*Pricing is based on annual billing on a per-user monthly breakdown; monthly billing is also available for a higher cost. Zoho Desk offers a 15-day free trial.
Our Expert Opinion
It’s clear that Zoho Desk is the most cost-effective product on this list, no matter which plan you’re subscribed to. What isn’t initially obvious is how robust the customer service platform is. Between its built-in tools, third-party integrations, and native software connections, Zoho Desk can handle everything. Users can manage all types of ticketing functions, SLA requirements, collaboration efforts, and use the system as a centralized communication source for every channel imaginable.
Zoho Desk is one of the finest options for customer service software for small businesses. See if it’s right for you by checking out our Zoho Desk review.
Zendesk: Best for Managing Service Agent Staff
- Unique features for managing customer service staff
- Solid ticketing automation and SLA management tools
- Low-cost social media, email, and live chat support tools
- No free plan
- Not considered an intuitive system for operating the features
- Expensive features for obtaining customer feedback
- You want to manage your agent workforce: One of the intriguing aspects of Zendesk customer service software is its unique tools for overseeing reps and operational change. It has an agent workspace with a one-page overview of tickets and tasks across channels. There’s also a staff management system providing users with knowledge, resources, and features for handling staff scheduling and capacity planning based on ticket volume.
- You need to deploy tons of service automation: Similar to its CRM counterpart, Zendesk offers software automation within its product. Users can configure trigger automations to assign tasks, create tickets, or send emails based on status changes or time-based triggers. There are also conditional automated notifications and responses based on SLA requirements with contracts, and macro tools for automatically sending predefined responses to commonly asked questions.
- You need free customer service tools: Zendesk for service is one of the few products that does not have a set free-forever plan—just a free trial and a six-month free option for startups.
- Alternative: HubSpot, LiveAgent, and Freshsales are some of our favorite options for free customer service software for small businesses.
- You want a low-cost solution for obtaining feedback: Zendesk offers tools to obtain customer satisfaction ratings and feedback. Those capabilities, however, are not available until the Professional plan for $49 per user, per month.
- Alternative: Zoho Desk offers customer satisfaction surveys and feedback for $7 per user, monthly.
Zendesk Pricing Plan & Overview*
- Email, Facebook, and Twitter support channels plus an online website widget
- Mobile Zendesk App
- Single-view agent workspace for centralized conversation tracking
- Essentials card that shows crucial customer data for ticket resolution plus interaction history
- Contact grouping by organization
- Custom data fields and view
- File attachment on tickets
- Ticket conversation routing to agents based on agent status and capacity
- Premade and canned customer support responses
- Custom workflow automaton based on ticket status changes and time-based triggers
- Agent staff management for supplying knowledge resources to service reps
- Real-time analytics and performance dashboards
- Over 1,000 third-party integration options
- Customer satisfaction ratings and follow-up surveys
- Custom agent statuses
- Automated ticket sharing
- Automating conversation routing based on agent status, capacity, and ticket priority
- SLA management
- Defined business hours for support availability
- Live agent activity dashboard
- Ability to integrate private customized applications to Zendesk
- Contextual workspaces that implement macros and ticket forms specific to ticket types
- Multiple ticket forms
- Conditional ticket fields that show only relevant information to a service agent
- Guided ticket management which auto-sets to-do lists based on ticket priority and status to help agents see what they should complete next
- Business rules analysis for evaluating automation usage in ticket management
- Custom agent roles and permissions
- Customizable views for live agent activity dashboard
- Custom objects
*Pricing is based on annual billing on a per-user monthly breakdown; monthly billing is available for a higher cost. Cost is also reflective of the Zendesk Support plans. Suite options that combine advanced features are also available for higher costs. Zendesk offers a 14-day free trial for paid plans, and startups get free access to the plans for six months.
Our Expert Opinion
Compared to the other providers on this list, Zendesk has particular use cases as it is not ideal for businesses needing a free plan, simple interface, or robust communication features. We liked the emphasis put on staff management, helping service department managers prevent burnout among their teams through proper capacity and agent status planning. Zendesk is also great for automating a support operation, reporting and analyzing performance, and handling ticket SLAs.
Be sure to check out our Zendesk review for in-depth details on product features, integrations, and pricing.
Really Simple Systems: Best Simple Contact Database
- Free option and scalable paid plans
- Highly acclaimed for product simplicity and usability
- Unlimited customer contact storage on Free plan
- Customer support features require a paid add-on only available on Professional and Enterprise plans
- Email integration not available for free
- Service Desk add-on lacks advanced features like AI chatbots and payment processing
- You need a simple customer database: Really Simple Systems is one of the best contact management systems for teams to manage customer data. Users can store an unlimited number of records for free, and use the database to track customer contact details, associated tasks and events, documents, and related records or hierarchical relationships. This particular module is intuitive to navigate and operate—offering a minimal learning curve for new users.
- You want to track customer locations: One standout feature of Really Simple Systems is the geolocations and integration with Google Maps. Businesses that frequently visit their customers in person can store contact locations in the CRM and customer database system for directions or to send gifts to their favorite clients.
- You want case management built into your CRM: Really Simple Systems is primarily a CRM used for sales activities. Additionally, the provider requires a paid add-on for access to the case management and customer support features.
- Alternative: HubSpot is the best option for having a CRM and service module in one platform. While users can subscribe to a Sales CRM and Service Hub individually, they can also purchase a customizable suite of HubSpot software modules consisting of marketing, sales, service, and content management hubs.
- You need low-cost customer support capabilities: Really Simple Systems doesn’t only require an add-on for ticketing and customer service features, it also requires users to be on either the Professional or Enterprise plans starting at $33 per user, monthly.
- Alternative: Zoho Desk is our pick for the best cost-friendly customer service software.
Really Simple Systems Pricing Plan & Overview*
Really Simple Systems lets users temporarily access the paid plans with a 14-day free trial. Additionally, the product’s customer service features require a paid add-on to the CRM for $50 per month, only available for the Professional and Enterprise plans. There’s also a Simple Marketing add-on for $25 per month, and an Advanced Marketing add-on for $50 per month. The Enterprise plan automatically includes the Simple Marketing and Service Desk add-ons.
- $0 for up to two users
- Unlimited contact management with linked accounts, documents, tasks, and one-page views
- Up to 100 company records
- Pipeline management with sales stages and probability weightings for forecasts
- Product lines
- Integrated calendar with opportunity and task events
- Listing and forecast reports
- Task assignment
- Custom fields, tables, dropdown lists, and pages
- Geolocations of contacts and customers with Google Maps
- 1,000 company records
- Email integration with Gmail and Outlook
- Integration with Zapier, accounting software, and the ability for developers to create application programming interfaces (API) connections
- 5,000 company records
- 20 workflow automations
- Voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) phone integrations
- Service Desk add-on (optional for $50 per month) for case management, SLA management, case level rankings, reporting, and case creation from webforms and emails
- Advanced and scheduled reporting
- Unlimited company records
- Custom reporting charts
- Workflow automation with scheduled workflows and branching using conditional logic
- Includes Simple Marketing add-on for campaign management, stored email templates, email design tools, and email list and segmentation management
- Includes Service Desk CRM add-on
*Pricing is based on annual billing on a monthly per-user breakdown; monthly billing is also available for a higher cost.
Our Expert Opinion
While we certainly don’t like how you must pay for an add-on to get case management features, there are valid use cases for Really Simple Systems. Its easy-to-use contact database separates it from the rest, especially as it allows unlimited upload of contact records for free. There’s also something to be said about its Google Maps integration for users to store customer locations, as many businesses still utilize in-person meetings and traditional engagement methods.
Really Simple Systems is a simple solution to organize customer data and manage support functions. See if it’s the best fit for your business in our Really Simple Systems review.
Gorgias: Best for Ecommerce Businesses
- Most features, including automation and ticket management, are available on the Starter plan
- Integrates with ecommerce tools like Shopify, BigCommerce, and Magento and allows multi-store management
- Highly scalable as plans are dictated mostly by ticket volume
- Expensive revenue reporting features
- Self-service resources for customers and support automation requires paid add-on
- Telephone and text features require an add-on and subscription to the Basic plan
- You are an ecommerce business: Gorgias stands out for its integrations with major ecommerce platforms like Shopify, BigCommerce, and Magento. Users can oversee multiple online stores within Gorgias. They can also complete many service functions from the platform, like creating tickets, receiving orders, communicating with customers, issuing product refunds, and sending order and order cancellation confirmations.
- You want a scalable ticket management solution: One of the unique things about Gorgias is that most of the features are available on the Starter plan, and pricing is mostly based on the number of managed tickets per month. This helps with a smooth scaling process as teams can upgrade plans as their business grows and need to handle more ticketing requests.
- You want omnichannel support options automatically included: Gorgias does have a range of communication channels included in the product. However, engagement and ticket-creation sources like telephone and text messaging require a paid add-on.
- Alternative: Freshdesk has the best omnichannel communication options in which most are included for free or on the Growth plan for just $15 per user, monthly.
- You need combined CRM and customer service software: Gorgias is exclusively a customer service tool that doesn’t have traditional CRM features or native integration to a CRM.
- Alternative: HubSpot is the best option for combining CRM and customer support systems into one product.
Gorgias Pricing Plan & Overview*
Gorgias pricing is based exclusively on the number of monthly tickets processed. There are also three optional add-ons to the paid plans. First is the automation add-on for creating self-service answers for customers, which is an additional $150 per month. Next, the voice add-on lets you create tickets from phone calls from the system for an additional $50 monthly. Finally, the short message service (SMS) add-on allows you to create tickets from texts for $50 monthly.
- $10 (up to three users)
- Up to 50 tickets per month
- Ecommerce integration with Shopify
- Unlimited online stores
- Live chat, WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram support channels and ticket creation sources
- Access to 94 third-party integration options
- Rule and trigger-based automation with workflow templates plus macros
- Buying intent and customer sentiment detection
- Option to purchase Automation add-on for auto-responders and self-service resource creation tools like a help center and FAQ page
- Customer satisfaction surveys
- Customer service performance tracking
- 300 tickets per month
- BigCommerce integration
- Option to purchase voice add-on for receiving calls from the system and creating tickets from conversations
- Option to purchase short message service (SMS) add-on for sending texts from the system and creating tickets from messages
- Up to 150 active integrations with third-party apps
- Team management with user permission setting
- 2,000 tickets per month
- Magento integration
- Revenue statistics tracking
- 5,000 tickets per month
- Twitter customer support channel and ticket creation source
- Custom pricing based on ticket volume
- Complete platform customization based on ticket, automaton, user, and integration needs
*Pricing is based on annual billing on per month breakdown; monthly billing is also available for a higher cost. Gorgias offers a 7-day free trial.
**Monthly billing only
Our Expert Opinion
Based on our evaluation, Gorgias offers an easy-to-use, robust customer service solution for businesses of all sizes. We appreciate its unique pricing model that structures its costs based on monthly tickets created—ideal for those deep into the scaling process. We also liked the ecommerce-focused integrations and features, as well as low-cost support channels commonly used for online retailers like live chat, Facebook, and Instagram.
Pro tip: Online retailers benefit from obtaining buyer data and profile analytics to help market their other products to their customers. Our full guide on customer intelligence will tell you everything you need to know about collecting customer data for insights to help drive better decision-making.
Appy Pie: Best for System Customization
- Primarily a low-code app development tool for businesses to create a customer service system to meet their needs
- Not that expensive considering you can create any type of mobile or web application, and connect third-party apps to it
- Easy to create self-service resources and a customer mobile app
- No free plan
- Not a traditional service system—requires users to create their own app from scratch
- Does not offer any way to add telephonic support options
- You need to fully customize your service tools: Appy Pie isn’t a service platform, but a tool that lets you create applications for business use or to sell. Teams can develop their own help desk software that meets design and feature requirements. The system lets you build databases, automated workflows for ticket assignment and SLA tracking, and communication channels to receive cases and engage customers on email, chat, or social media.
- You want to give your customers a mobile self-service platform: Appy Pie allows you to create web and mobile applications. Users can create knowledge base resources like tutorials, FAQ pages, and community forums for customers to have self-service options. Businesses can use this platform to create a mobile app for their customers to monitor account activity, pay bills, receive notifications, and access resources without a rep.
- You want a traditional customer service or CRM platform: Depending on the circumstances, it might not be ideal for a small business to customize its own customer service software from scratch—making Appy Pie a poor option as it’s an app designer tool.
- Alternative: Freshdesk is a traditional option ranked as the best customer service software overall.
- You need free support tools: Because of this product’s sophistication in which users can add nearly all the same support features as the other service tools on this list, Appy Pie does not offer any free plan.
- Alternative: HubSpot Service Hub, LiveAgent, and Freshdesk are our favorite free options.
Appy Pie Pricing Plan & Overview*
- Unlimited app bandwidth and hosting capacity
- Unlimited app editing
- Up to 5,000 notifications to users per month
- Up to 500 app downloads per month
- Built-in analytics and integration with Google Analytics
- App distribution on Google Play
- Access to premium features to include in a customer app such as a data directory, event tracker, ecommerce tools, messenger system, polling and surveying, social networking, and timesheets
- Up to 10,000 notifications to users per month
- Up to 1,000 app downloads per month
- Up to 25,000 notifications to users per month
- Up to 2,000 app downloads per month
- App distribution on Google Play and Apple App Store
- Contact for pricing
- Built-in Active Directory
- Dedicated account manager
- Custom data retention
*Pricing is based on annual billing on a per created application, per month breakdown. Appy Pie also offers a seven-day free trial.
Our Expert Opinion
Appy Pie is an interesting alternative solution for overseeing customer support operations. While it does take lots of front-end work, we like how easy it is to use, and how robust the application design tools are. Once created and integrated with all the desired third-party systems, your Appy Pie app can become a comprehensive help desk software. It offers customer data storage, ticket tracking, workflow and SLA automation and performance reporting, collaboration features, outreach tools, and the ability to gather customer feedback.
How We Evaluated the Best Customer Service Platform for Small Business
To determine the best customer service software, we evaluated the specific features relevant to assisting with customer requests and providing quality support. A ticket management system with a trackable case waiting queue, for instance, is crucial to facilitating an efficient support operation. We also looked at other critical product attributes, including price, customer support, and general software capabilities such as a mobile application and a customizable system interface.
The tabs below offer insight into our evaluation process of the best small business customer service software:
25% of Overall Score
We examined overall features essential to any business software system, regardless of its primary use case, such as sales, marketing, or customer service. For instance, third-party integration options allow service agents to expand their customer support system to other functional needs and data workflows. We also wanted to see the providers offer a wide range of system customization options, solid activity reporting and analytics tools, and a robust mobile application to handle customer cases on the go.
20% of Overall Score
20% of Overall Score
20% of Overall Score
15% of Overall Score
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is customer service software?
Customer service software is a system that lets businesses manage customer inquiries and support or help desk operations. It’ll have modules specific to tracking cases and engaging with customers through multiple channels, like live chat, email, phone, instant message, and social media. While this kind of software can be a standalone, specialty product, many providers either include customer service features in their CRM system or offer a separate native product to connect with their CRM.
What should I look for when evaluating customer service software?
When looking for customer service software, ensure the products meet your feature, budgetary, and usability requirements. Each provider has strengths and weaknesses—making some better suited for you than others. At a minimum, your support software should fall within your budget and provide a solid user experience. It should also have features like ticket management to receive and track cases, multiple communication channels, and offer integrations with your favorite business tools.
Is customer service software the same as a CRM system?
The quick answer is sometimes. Customer service products often double as a CRM system by offering ticket management tools within the CRM. Also, many CRM providers offer native customer service software for seamless integration to connect data and workflows between systems.
Customer service software helps teams manage inquiries and engage customers through channels like email, phone, live chat, and social media. While Freshdesk is our pick for the best customer support system overall, other products could better fit your business depending on features or product attribute needs. LiveAgent, for example, stands out for its free and robust ticketing management capabilities, while Zoho Desk is the most cost-friendly option.