A service CRM is a type of customer relationship management (CRM) tool that focuses on improving the quality of your customer service activities to increase retention and satisfaction. It allows you to communicate through multiple channels, build a unified team, and create a centralized database for all your interactions with your customers. It is typically part of an integrated CRM system that also covers sales and marketing activities.
This article discusses how small businesses benefit from using service CRM tools in detail. You’ll also learn how to differentiate its functions from sales and marketing CRMs, when to use a service CRM, and which providers offer the best features.
Service CRM vs Sales CRM vs Marketing CRM
While CRMs benefit every client-facing team within an organization, they are primarily designed to serve three main business areas: service, sales, and marketing. Each area has distinct features and tools. Many of the best CRM providers offer a combination of two or three functions.
You can learn more about general capabilities and examples of top providers in our more general article on the basics of CRM software.
Benefits of Using a Service CRM
Service CRMs provide tools that help you tackle your customer service needs at scale. It gives a comprehensive, accurate view of the quality of the service you provide to your clients. It also generates data on the performance of your agents and how they contribute to your overall customer service rating. Below are some key benefits to expect when using service CRMs:
Provides a 360-degree View of Your Customers
Service CRMs store your customers’ profiles and track your communication logs and interactions with each of them. This provides you with complete customer details and conversation history, and eliminates the need for your customers to repeat their concerns every time they reach out to your team because your agents can easily refer to previous call notes.
Centralizes Customer Communications
A service CRM enables you to manage various customer communication channels in a unified dashboard, so you don’t have to toggle between different messaging platforms. This ensures no messages or notes are missed and that all inquiries are addressed.
Improves Your Customer Service Agents’ Performance
Service CRMs generate customer service reports, allowing you to evaluate the quality of customer support your agents provide. These include assessing how they address customer queries, how fast they answer questions, and the number of inquiries they can resolve in a given time.
Increases Overall Customer Satisfaction & Retention
Using a service CRM provides an accurate measurement of the overall customer satisfaction based on their ratings and feedback regarding how their issues were handled. Having access to both positive and negative customer feedback offers insights on what best practices to keep and what to eliminate. Ultimately, these steps contribute to improving overall customer satisfaction and retention rates.
Provides Opportunities for Upselling & Cross-selling
Over time, service CRMs allow you to enrich your customers’ profiles and life cycle data based on insights from their historical activities, including purchases, preferences, and feedback. This gives you the chance to identify buying trends and behaviors, and allows you to anticipate their needs—providing opportunities to upsell or cross-sell.
Who Can Benefit From Using Service CRMs
A Service CRM’s main purpose is to equip users with the appropriate tools to coordinate with customers and help them answer queries or resolve issues. Below are specific members of your team whose roles can be made easier by using these tools.
- Customer service representatives: Agents and representatives tasked with answering customer service calls and queries will benefit from seeing all communication details in a centralized platform.
- Customer service supervisors: Managers who oversee a group of customer service representatives will be able to easily assess the quality of support that their agents provide to their customers, as well as identify areas for improvement. They can do this by extracting reports on customer feedback for each agent, which customers can provide after having their queries addressed.
- Customer success managers: Their role is to ensure that customers receive high satisfaction from their purchases—with the goal of converting them to long-time, loyal customers. Purchase and feedback history reports give customer success managers insights into other types of products or services the customer might be interested in.
Pro tip: If your business belongs to a particular industry requiring specialized customer service, it is ideal to subscribe to industry-specific CRMs that provide tools to serve your customers better.
Essential Service CRM Tools
An excellent service CRM must offer a 360-degree view of all customer interactions so you can deliver the most personalized service and support possible. It should include their complete customer profile and previous interactions, such as queries, complaints, and purchases. Below are some samples of essential service CRM tools business owners should look for when deciding which CRM to choose.
Contact & Customer Management Features
Robust service CRMs offer users an overall view of their customers’ profiles, including complete personal data, contact details, and business information. It must include all historical data about a customer, including communications, queries and complaints, purchases, and website behavior. It should also have the capacity to find available public profiles of your customers online, based on their emails, such as their LinkedIn account.
Omnichannel Communication Tools
Service CRMs allow users to have multiple communication touchpoints with their customers from various platforms, such as email, live chat, and phone. A great service CRM integrates with messaging tools of various social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Some software can also integrate with other messaging services, such as WhatsApp, Viber, and Telegram.
In-app Telephony Features
Many service CRMs enable users to make phone calls straight from the app and record call logs and notes, capturing essential information from customer conversations. In-app telephone systems also let managers listen in on calls—allowing them to observe and coach their team on how to improve the quality of service they provide to customers. Read our article about the best CRMs with call center features to make the best choice for your business.
A Unified Inbox & Help Desk Platform
Most service CRMs provide users with one centralized platform to manage all customer service emails, chats, and tickets. This enables any available agent to take on a pending case with access to information from previous conversations with other team members. It also helps expedite case resolutions and prevents agents from missing important information about a customer.
Customer Satisfaction Reports & Analysis
Some service CRMs offer a view of the overall performance of your customer service activities, including the number of inquiries, cases solved, average response times, and customer satisfaction ratings. This allows you to see various areas of your customer service activities and pinpoint what your team is doing well, and which areas they can improve on.
Best Service CRMs
There are many CRMs for small businesses that provide features and functionalities to help improve and streamline your customer service activities. Below we share some of our top picks and their features for customer service.
Bitrix24 provides various communication touchpoints for your customers, including Telegram, Facebook, Instagram, Viber, and WhatsApp. It allows you to route chats to any available agent to ensure quick response times. It offers tools that let your customers rate live chats and for supervisors to rate agent conversations. Bitrix24 also lets you generate reports on the number of inquiries, average response time, and customer ratings.
Some of the customer service features of Bitrix24—including social media integrations with Telegram, Facebook, and Instagram, as well as live chat—are included in its free plan. Users who need access to more advanced features like Viber and WhatsApp integrations, an in-app phone, and customer satisfaction ratings can subscribe to paid plans starting at $35 per month for five users (annual contract).
Check out our Bitrix24 review to learn more about the customer service tools of this software.
Freshsales provides various messaging channel integrations, such as SMS, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Apple Business Chat. Its in-app telephone feature allows you to make calls straight from your CRM, auto-route calls to available agents, and record conversations for training purposes. Its widget app enables you to auto-route incoming messages to different sales reps based on topic expertise and pre-save common replies.
Customer service features in Freshsales’ free plan include a chat widget, team inbox, and in-app telephone. Users who want advanced features like SMS and Facebook messenger integration should consider subscribing to its paid plans starting at $15 per user, per month (billed annually).
Check out our Freshsales review to learn more about the customer service features of this software.
HubSpot Service Hub
HubSpot’s Service Hub, which can be purchased on top of its free CRM, offers a wide range of customer service tools, such as chatbots, team email, canned snippets, and email templates. It provides various customer service-related reports, such as tickets closed reports, agent rep productivity reports, and time-to-close reports. Depending on the plan chosen, users can make calls straight from the app that range from 15 minutes to 33 hours.
HubSpot’s free CRM offers limited customer service features, including a shared inbox, live chat, 15 minutes of phone calls, and canned snippets. Users who want to access more advanced features, such as closed tickets reports and agency productivity reports, can subscribe to paid plans that start at $45 per month for two users.
Check out our HubSpot CRM review to learn more about the customer service offerings of this provider.
Service CRMs provide tools to keep track of your customer communications, build their profiles over time, and understand their purchasing behavior better. Maximizing its use will have positive impacts on your overall business because it helps increase customer satisfaction and foster team communication. Having satisfied customers is one the most important assets you’ll have—they become repeat buyers and are often some of your best brand ambassadors.