Customer service software allows businesses to resolve and respond to customer issues and questions. Customer support software features like chat, knowledge base, and ticketing allow you to handle inquiries and issues more efficiently. We evaluated several options based on ease of use, affordability, and customer service specific features and came up with the top six.
Top 6 Customer Service Software Options in 2019
How We Evaluated Customer Support Software
Customer support software provides tools for the purpose of resolving and responding to customer issues and questions. These products typically include functionality to help you stay on top of incoming service requests, though the best also include chat or a knowledge base to ensure that agents are providing customers with prompt attention and equipped to provide ready answers to common questions. To find the top six, our criteria were ease of use, affordability, and customer service specific features like ticket management, self-service, and analytics.
We used the criteria below to identify the top six customer service software options:
- Affordability: We looked at customer support software that small business owners could afford.
- Ease of use: The best options should be easy to use and include options requiring little-to-no technical expertise.
- Customer service-specific features: We included options with customer support specific features that facilitate communication―chat, phone, social media, and so on―to help track issues like ticketing and case management, along with a self-service knowledge base.
- Reporting & analytics: Reporting and analytics tools were considered as they are important in tracking customer support metrics.
- Customer support: We looked at the level of customer support each provider offers to their clients.
- Integrations: The ability to integrate with customer relationship management (CRM) software and similar tools is important as customer service is one of many points of customer interaction and having access to information from different software can help resolve customer issues.
- Trial options: Being able to try the software to see if it’s right for you is important before investing money. We looked at options offering free plans and free trials.
- Data security: Data security is important when dealing with customer records, so we looked at how providers handle data security.
Based on these criteria, we’ve determined that Freshdesk is the overall best customer support software. It offers customer service specific features like ticket management, self-serve options like knowledge base, and reporting to help track support performance. It’s easy to use, affordably priced, and even has a free option. It’s also part of an ecosystem of customer interaction and relationship management tools for complete customer support.
Best Overall Customer Service Software: Freshdesk
Freshdesk is customer support software with interactive features that you can start using for free and paid plans starting at $15 per month. It offers ticket creation and tracking, the ability to create self-service tools like a knowledge base, automation, and collision detection. Plus, being part of the Freshworks ecosystem gives you access to interaction and relationship management products like Freshsales Caller and Freshchat, making it a great option for most businesses.
Freshdesk pricing is small business-friendly and includes a free forever plan that comes with basic support. Paid plans that are most suitable for small to medium-sized businesses range from $15/person, per month, to $29/person, per month.
Freshdesk Tiered Features
Note: Freshdesk has two additional tiers priced at $49 and $109/user, per month, designed for larger organizations.
Sprout allows you to begin offering support via help desk to your customers without spending any money. Features include email and social ticketing to track and handle issues and a knowledge base so customers can find answers on their own. It also offers team collaboration tools that allow for working together to solve customer issues. Canned responses, which save time and protect your business from miscommunications, are also available.
This free plan is right for businesses just starting to offer customer service or a help desk for their customers. It’s a scalable transition from email-based support and allows you to be more efficient with canned responses or ticket communication templates. Businesses should use this plan if help desk features like automation, collision detection that alerts you to multiple agents working on the same ticket or issue or if customer satisfaction surveys are not needed.
If you’re ready for automation where you create rules for categorizing and prioritizing tickets automatically, this plan is right for you. Additionally, this tier offers advanced reporting so that you can spot trends in support issues, the number of support tickets created, and your ability to resolve them. These tools allow you to anticipate customer challenges and create a plan to solve them quickly.
This mid-tier plan is right for businesses that have expanded beyond a few agents and could use intel on the types of issues that come up. It’s also great for companies wanting to be more efficient and automate repetitive aspects of the ticketing and resolution process. At just $15 per month, per agent, it’s also a budget-friendly option for small businesses.
The Garden tier is ideal if you’re looking for insights into customer service performance. With this plan, you’re able to pull reports and even get “session replays” with Freshmarketer, Freshworks’ marketing tool, where you can view customer actions that led up to generating a ticket. You can also get feedback from your customers by sending customer satisfaction surveys. With insights from these tools, your agents can do their jobs more effectively.
Entrepreneurs who take a more strategic approach to identify problems and customer issues and correcting them could benefit from this plan. Information gathered from customer satisfaction surveys can be used to address product or service issues proactively, and It’s still affordable at less than $30 per month, per user.
How Freshdesk Handles Data Security
Freshdesk is General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)-compliant, which supports its clients’ compliance with this European Union (EU) regulation. It also has enterprise-grade security features and undergoes comprehensive audits of its networks, systems, and regulatory compliance, which helps to protect its products and platform. Amazon Web Services (AWS) is its hosting partner where customer data is housed, offering additional high levels of security.
What Freshdesk Is Missing
Freshdesk is missing phone features that include short message service (SMS) messaging capabilities. As mobile use continues to grow, this feature could prove to be crucial. Freshdesk is also missing a built-in phone. If this is important, you can always sign up for Freshcaller or Freshsales, which are Freshworks products with a built-in phone and low cost of entry.
What Users Think About Freshdesk
Freshdesk has positive reviews because of its ease of use, comprehensive feature set, and affordability. Dislikes are few and cover things like wanting features to work a certain way that may be more beneficial to specific needs.
Where to Find Freshdesk
Small businesses with teams benefit from Freshdesk because of tools like collision detection and collaboration features. It’s affordably priced with a free plan, so you can find it in budget-conscious small businesses as well. Give Freshdesk a try with a free trial.
Best Standalone Customer Support Software: Live Agent
LiveAgent is software that focuses only on customer support, unlike other tools reviewed offering features or have other products beyond customer support. It includes help desk software, ticketing, call center software, and live chat. This customer service software is great for businesses that only need customer support features and want to manage their marketing and other business functions separately.
Pricing for LiveAgent ranges from $15/person, per month, to $39/person, per month. Unlike many competitors in this space, there is no free plan. However, there is an opportunity to try the product with a 14-day free trial.
LiveAgent Tiered Features
The Ticket plan is a customer service starter plan offering the ability to create tickets from emails. This plan also includes robust self-service tools allowing you to create a knowledge base, customer forum, and frequently asked questions (FAQs) section. This plan also includes a mobile app for support teams on the go.
This plan is ideal for business owners just getting started with customer support and wanting to transition away from handling queries and issues via emails. It’s affordably priced at $15 per month, per person, making it accessible for small business owners. Having this type of software is great for tracking and resolving customer issues.
The next tier, Ticket+Chat, includes all of the features in the Ticket plan as well as live chat, feedback management, visitor monitoring, and multibrand support. The live chat features allow you to communicate in real-time with your customers and resolve their issues or answer their questions right away.
Ticket+Chat is great for businesses needing a ticketing system and wanting to answer customer questions or resolve issues right away using chat. It’s affordably priced at $29/person, per month. The live chat feature provides a better customer experience, allowing your customers to interact with you and get the help they need. This feature is similar to the chat tools offered by the other providers featured here.
Starting at $39 per month per user, the All-Inclusive tier includes everything in the first two tiers plus additional features like a cloud-based call center and advanced social media tools. It also includes advanced reports and gamification tools to offer more customer service insights and to motivate team members to resolve issues quickly with gamification.
This plan is best for business owners who want to make calls within their customer support platform and for those who want to gain a better understanding of their support performance. It’s also great for businesses wanting to use gamification for improving performance.
How LiveAgent Handles Data Security
LiveAgent takes many security measures, including being GDPR compliant, which supports its customers’ compliance as well. It has an intelligent built-in spam filter to prevent unwanted messages from reaching customers. LiveAgent also encrypts communication between your browser and LiveAgent to protect the privacy of conversations. As a client, you can ban internet protocol (IP) addresses or specify IP visitors’ addresses you want accessing your system.
What LiveAgent Is Missing
LiveAgent is missing nonsupport related features like marketing and project management tools, which can be important for having more relevant and contextual conversations or that can drive customers to contact you for support. If this is important, a customer engagement platform like Zoho CRM Plus or a product created by a company with an ecosystem of tools like Freshdesk may be a better fit.
What Users Think About LiveAgent
Users find LiveAgent’s price point reasonable given all the customer support tools you get access to. They also find the features easy to use and beneficial to their businesses. Most of the dislikes were due to limited ability to customize the system to a specific business’ needs.
Where to Find LiveAgent
LiveAgent is a great option for small to medium-sized business owners needing a separate customer support tool to supplement their existing, preferred CRM or for those who would otherwise like to keep customer service interactions separate from their sales and marketing. If you’d like to give it a try, sign-up for a free trial.
Best for Customer Support, Social Management & Analytics: Zoho CRM Plus
Zoho CRM Plus offers a variety of products that can support the entire customer experience, helping you build relationships, engage on social media, and utilize analytics. In this bundle, there’s a CRM, an analytics tool, a help desk, live chat functionality, and social media tools. There are also team collaboration features to help teams resolve tickets as a group. This bundle is ideal for teams looking for multifaceted customer management plus advanced reporting.
Zoho CRM Plus Pricing
Prices begin at $50 per month, per agent, for this bundled package. While it lacks complicated pricing tiers, it has everything you need to build relationships and service customers. Considering all the tools you’re getting in one package, Zoho CRM Plus is a great value for money.
Zoho CRM Plus Ease of Use
Businesses using Zoho CRM Plus say it’s easy to use and does not require technical skills. It’s also easy to add to other Zoho products as needed for expanding interaction and support capabilities.
Zoho CRM Plus Core Features
Some of the primary features in this bundle include Zoho Desk (help desk), Zoho Social, Zoho Project (project management), Zoho Analytics, collaboration tools, and sales management features. Unlike software solely focused on customer support like LiveAgent, Zoho CRM Plus goes beyond just allowing you to handle support issues.
Tools like ticket management allow you to generate and track support tickets from a variety of channels. You can also develop a knowledge base to categorize and organize your content so that customers can find answers to their questions on their own. This frees up your support agents’ time to focus on the most important issues. In addition to ticket management, communication tools like chat are also supported.
Sales & Marketing Activity & Automation
The sales and marketing tools include workflow rules and being able to capture social media interactions. Tools in this category also include event tracking and the ability to log call notes. You’re also able to manage deals, leads, and interactions on social media. Marketing features let you set up email and other campaigns. Workflow automation tools allow you to establish workflow rules.
Opportunity Management, Reporting & Analytics
Zoho gives users the ability to create and manage tasks, events, call logs, and notes and link them to your opportunities. Users can attach documents, see file versions, and share folders, which can make it easier to manage documents related to opportunities. Reporting and analytics are also available, allowing you to create dashboards and providing important information to help you make decisions.
Social media tools let you manage interactions on social media, perform social monitoring, and manage support issues that arise on social channels. These tools are important for being able to communicate with your customers on platforms they’re comfortable with.
How Zoho CRM Plus Handles Data Security
Like Freshdesk and LiveAgent, Zoho CRM Plus is GDPR-compliant. Clients’ data is stored in data centers with physical security with security guards and video monitoring, available 24/7/365. It also has several security certifications like ISO/ IEC 27001, and SOC 2. It also restricts who has access to data centers to people with the highest levels of clearance.
What Zoho CRM Plus Is Missing
Zoho CRM Plus is missing a built-in phone. It offers phone dialer integration but does not offer this feature as built-in functionality. If this is important, getting Freshdesk along with Freshsales or Freshcaller may be a better alternative.
What Users Think About Zoho CRM Plus
Users like the fact that the software is very comprehensive, offering a variety of tools. However, some users complain about the system not being as customizable as they would like or not integrating with tools they currently use. For more information on reviews, see our Zoho user reviews page.
Where to Find Zoho CRM Plus
Zoho CRM Plus is used by small-to-medium-sized businesses (SMBs) who value the customer experience and want a unified platform to help manage it. For more information about how Zoho CRM Plus can meet your customer experience and support needs, sign up for a free trial.
Best Customer Service Software With Project Management: Agile CRM
Agile CRM offers customer service features like a help desk, knowledge base, canned responses, and reporting. This product also provides tools to help you give project status updates and to communicate tasks and due dates. There are free and paid plans starting at $8.99/user, per month, making this a good option for businesses wanting to combine customer service and project management in the same platform.
Agile CRM Pricing
Pricing starts at $8.99 and goes up to $47.99/user per month. If you have 10 or fewer users, a free plan is also available that has fewer features, but still includes project management, help desk, and basic marketing tools.
Agile CRM Tiered Features
The Free plan offers project and task management features in addition to core CRM functionality like contact and lead management. This plan is great for businesses just starting out with plans to scale and grow. If you have 10 or fewer team members, and you need the ability to grow into marketing available in the paid plans and project management, this would be a great plan for your business.
This plan is best for small business owners on a budget wanting to use a free CRM that they can grow into that includes project management tools. It’s particularly ideal for small organizations with 10 or fewer users with a small customer support or help desk team.
The Starter plan includes everything in the free plan and offers an expanded number of contacts, two-way email integration, three plug-ins & integrations, contact-level analytics, and a landing page builder. It’s affordably priced coming in at $8.99/person, per month.
Marketing automation, social monitoring, and knowledge base tools that enable you to offer content-based support are included in this plan. Tools like web engagement are also offered so that you can extend real-time relevant offers to your website visitors. This plan is great for companies that want to support self-service options by offering a knowledge base and for those who want to manage marketing activities and support in one platform.
Features like mobile marketing, custom deal tracks, and two-way telephony through a third party are available in the Regular plan. Mobile marketing enables you to create mobile campaigns to communicate with customers about support issues or marketing campaigns. Project management features allow you to stay on top of projects and communicate status.
Pricing for the Regular plan starts at $29.99 per month, per user. It’s great for companies that want to incorporate mobile marketing into their outreach strategy and want two-way telephony features.
In addition to everything in the Regular plan, the Enterprise plan offers a dedicated account representative and coaching for onboarding. This is an ideal plan for those who want more hands-on support as they get their customer support platform established.
Prices start at $47.99 per month, per user. Onboard coaching available in this plan can increase adoption rates and decrease new hire ramp-up time, which can pay for itself. This plan is great for growing companies that want to streamline their onboarding process, reducing the time to get your customer support and engagement solution up and running.
How Agile CRM Handles Data Security
Agile CRM is GDPR-compliant, which means it complies with data protection and privacy rules outlined in this act. It’s also committed to staying on top of and implementing any changes to the act.
What Agile CRM Is Missing
Agile CRM offers two-way telephony features through third-party providers, so it is missing a built-in phone. If you don’t want to go through the steps of signing up and installing a third-party phone solution, Freshdesk may be a better option for you. Intelligent call routing where calls are routed to the right sales or support individual is another feature that’s missing. If this is important, LiveAgent or Freshcaller/Freshdesk would be better options.
What Users Think About Agile CRM
Users like that Agile CRM is easy to use and priced affordably. The negative reviews for this product were around glitches or features users felt could have been built out more. For user reviews, see our Agile CRM reviews article.
Where to Find Agile CRM
Businesses looking for a CRM with comprehensive customer service features that can give their customer service teams an edge over the competition while being affordable are the ones using Agile CRM. You’ll find companies on a budget with teams using this product. You can try it out for free for up to 10 users.
Best for Transaction & Order Management: Apptivo
Apptivo is best for businesses wanting to offer customer support yet manage orders and products. Apptivo offers a variety of tools to help manage the entire customer experience with a free plan and paid plans starting at $8 per month. The mobile app also makes managing tasks and customer service issues related to shipping from your phone easy. It’s great for product-based small business service teams needing advanced order insights.
Apptivo offers a free starter plan for up to three users while non-Enterprise pricing levels go up to $20 per month, per user. Compared to Zoho CRM Plus, which is $50 per month, per user, it’s much more affordable, even at the top tier. There’s a 30-day free trial to try it to see if this app is right for you.
Apptivo Tiered Features
The starter plan is free and includes up to three users. You can also set up and manage a help desk with features like ticket or case management, knowledge base, and customer support portal. It has basic features like lead and contact management, opportunity management, standard reporting, and activity management. It also has invoicing and purchase order management features.
This plan is ideal for business owners who want to manage most aspects of their business in one place, from sales to support, and it’s great for businesses with sales and support employees on the go. If you upgrade to one of the paid plans, you’ll have access to the features on your mobile device with Apptivo’s mobile app.
Affordably priced at $8 per month, per user, the Premium plan offers additional features like workflows, the ability to create multiple pipelines, contract management, and email integration. It also offers custom reporting and dashboards to help you gain important insights into your business like what orders have shipped and which still need processing.
Business owners responsible for sales, customer support activities, and contracts are the ideal users of the Premium plan. Like Agile, Apptivo also offers the ability to manage projects and customer support issues within its app. However, you must upgrade this plan to access those features if you have more than three users. Meanwhile, Agile CRM offers project management for up to 10 users with its free plan, making it a better option if that is your primary interest.
Starting at $20 per month, per user, the Ultimate plan features territory management. It also offers a dedicated account manager and an increased level of file storage capacity. This plan also gives you the ability to send a larger number of bulk emails.
This plan is best for business owners or sales managers who manage territory-based sales teams with its territory management features. Being able to manage a territory-based team from the field through a mobile app can help maximize sales across various geographies. You’re also able to stay on top of support issues while you’re on the go.
How Apptivo Handles Data Security
Apptivo has many security-related certifications such as SSAE18 SO2 Type II certified, EU privacy shield-compliant, and GDPR compliance. It also has security and privacy policies verified and reviewed by its internal security staff and by third parties to make sure they are being followed. To protect your data further, it has data recovery capabilities and offers data encryption.
What Apptivo Is Missing
The free plan doesn’t give you access to the mobile app unless you upgrade to a paid plan. If having the mobile app is important, consider spending the $8 per month, per user, to gain access to the mobile app. The free version is also limited to only three users vs 10 users with Agile CRM.
What Users Think About Apptivo
Users find Apptivo’s price point very attractive. Most of the dislikes were due to a few experiences of the system being a bit slow and occasional small bugs. Check out our Apptivo review article.
Where to Find Apptivo
You can find Apptivo in the hands of busy managers and business owners on the go. If you are a mobile business owner or manager who could benefit from a 360-degree view of your customer or prospect even while you’re on the go, sign up for a 30-day free trial of Apptivo.
Best for Customer Service, Online Stores & Collaboration: Bitrix24
Bitrix24 offers customer support tools, the ability to create online stores, and internal collaboration features. Customer support features include a contact center where you can support customers via email, phone, or social media. Marketing tools include landing pages, email campaigns, and online stores. There’s also a built-in phone and team collaboration features like group chat, making it ideal for online businesses with sales and support teams.
Bitrix24’s free plan is for up to 12 users and includes up to 5GB of online storage. Paid plans start at $69 per month for six users for the Plus Plan and go up to $99 per month for 50 users. There’s also unlimited call recording available in the paid plans.
Bitrix24 Tiered Features
Bitrix24’s Free plan, which supports 12 users, offers a variety of features, including a help desk and contact management center. Also, this plan supports one online store that small business owners can use to sell products. Bitrix24’s marketing tools are more robust than Zendesk’s campaign management tools, which only include email and SMS channels. There’s also a built-in phone with recording capabilities and use chat for team collaboration.
This plan is great for small businesses with teams just starting out with no budget. It saves you from the need to purchase a separate business phone and help desk that you can use to support and track customer issues.
The Plus plan builds on the Free plan offering more storage, from 5GB to 24GB of online hosted storage. You’re also able to record more calls with the built-in phone, from 100 to unlimited call recording. Pricing starts at $69 per month and includes six users. The number of websites you can build increases from one to 10, which expands your marketing capabilities. The number of online stores remains the same.
This plan is great for growing team-based businesses that need more websites and more online hosted space. On a per-user basis, pricing is more affordable than Zendesk, coming in at slightly less than $12 per user. This works out well if you’re working with a small team of six.
The Standard plan builds on the Plus plan expanding its number of users to 50 and the amount of online storage to 100GB. Call recording is expanded to an unlimited number of records. You can also create up to 10 online stores and 10 websites. Prices in this tier start at $99 per month, which comes to about $2 per person.
This plan is great for medium-sized businesses with no more than 50 users that plan to manage sales and marketing interactions along with customer support. The 10 online stores allow you to create a variety of stores to sell different categories of products. Unlimited call recording allows you to keep and refer back to calls with customers, which allows you to offer a better customer experience.
How Bitrix24 Handles Data Security
Bitrix24 is GDPR-compliant. It also uses AWS for data hosting. Its certifications and compliance categories include Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), ISO27001, SOC 123, and several others. Because many of its customers access their data remotely, it makes it safer to access in public places through a secure socket layer (SSL) connection. It also has backup and recovery of your data.
What Bitrix24 Is Missing
Bitrix24 is missing the ability to create a knowledge base so that customers have the opportunity to find information on their own. This could prove to be important if your customers are asking the same questions repeatedly and providing answers is becoming more time-consuming. If this is important, Zendesk Guide may be a great add on if you like all the other aspects of Bitrix24.
What Users Think About Bitrix24
Users like Bitrix24 because it’s easy to use, has robust features, offers a free option, and has affordable paid options. Dislikes revolve around its mobile app having limited capabilities. For more information on user reviews, check out our Bitrix24 review article.
Where to Find Bitrix24
Bitrix24 is great for small businesses with teams that may be just starting out or on a tight budget. It’s also suitable for teams wanting to provide customer support, marketing, and sales management all from one platform. If you’re interested in a CRM with these features, try Bitrix24 for free.
Bottom Line: Best Customer Service Software
Customer service software helps you retain customers by answering their questions and resolving their issues quickly and efficiently. If you don’t respond right away, you risk losing a customer to the competition. As a result, tools like live chat, phone systems, ticketing, and knowledge base solutions have become more critical for businesses of all sizes.
Service teams work best when they have access to the full scope of a customer’s engagement with a brand. Freshdesk is a great option, not only because of its easy-to-navigate user interface and ticketing system but because of how well it works with other relationship management products like its CRM and call center products. Best of all, it is free to get started.