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Buyers Guide: How to choose the best customer service software

Company

The Team at CallMiner

December 02, 2021

Customer service
Customer service

Omnichannel customer service software simplifies the process of handling customer queries and answering questions on a regular basis. Contact centers that operate at a high level always leverage some form of customer service software that can accommodate their needs and empower busy agents to be more effective and perform better.

Here, we'll explain how you can find and choose the best possible omnichannel customer service software for your business. Plus, we'll give you plenty of great tips and best practices for buying and using the software within your organization.

Customer service software buyers guide

The best approach to purchasing software to support core business processes such as customer service is to answer a few simple, self-directed questions regarding your needs and long-term goals. Here are a few excellent questions to ask:

  • How simple will implementation be?
  • How important are integrations?
  • How is data managed?
  • Is compliance an issue?
  • Who will be using this?

Share these questions with other members of your team to ensure you are all on the same page before you commit to a single solution. It also helps to have a good idea of what features tend to matter most for customer service software to be useful and effective. Here are a few salient ones to consider:

Customer query tracking functionality

The above can help you to enhance your company's contact center customer experience by acquiring the right customer service software. The tips and best practices covered below should take you even further.

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Expert customer service software buying tips

1. Choose software that can support omnichannel customer service. “Delivering seamless omnichannel customer service is the holy grail for support organizations today. As the technology landscape continues to evolve, customers expect to engage with companies on any channel – phone, chat, email, SMS, social, and web – and to hop between channels as they please. Companies that offer superior omnichannel customer support have a definite competitive advantage. Research found that companies with the strongest omnichannel customer service can retain an average of 89% of their customers, while companies with weak omnichannel support retain only 33%.” - , CallMiner; Twitter: @CallMiner

2. Look for software that is simple to use. "Some customer service software can be really confusing. The whole idea behind this type of software is to make your life easier. Make sure to read user reviews and try to find software that is easy to navigate. Look for the words ‘wizard,’ ‘drag and drop,’ and ‘automatic.’ These key words will make using any kind of customer service software simpler." - How to Choose Customer Support Software, R-Tools Technology; Twitter: @RTT_Inc

3. Prioritize top-notch support. "When you have an issue, you don’t want to waste precious hours straightening it out yourself. Look for a CX company that offers white-glove service that is considered best in class." - How to choose the best customer experience management software for your business, Delighted; Twitter: @delighted

4. Look for true omnichannel solutions. "Use a contact center solution that connects with other important customer service software in your business (like your CRM or sales app). This way, you can funnel customer questions coming from every channel (phone, email, and social media) to one place." - 5 tips to build a world-class B2B customer service (with real examples), RingCentral; Twitter: @ringcentral

5. Opt for solutions that offer chat functionality. "Customers expect service to be available when they need it, regardless of the hour. Technologies such as chatbots and live chat enable companies to provide an immediate response after-hours." - How Technology Improves Customer Service Communication, Grammarly; Twitter: @grammarly

6. Choose solutions that leverage machine learning to assist agents more efficiently. "So employing the machine learning and chatbots for your customers is not a bad idea, but it’s not the first thing you should do. We have to first focus on empowering the team, empowering the agents, empowering our workforce to be successful. And the machine learning can have a huge impact there. And when we’re successful at that, then we can go and look at enhancing our customer experiences and finding automation there." - Dan Gingiss, Why Can’t Customer Service Technology Be Simpler?, DanGingiss.com; Twitter: @dgingiss

7. Try robotic process automation to streamline mundane tasks. "One popular customer service technology trend is to introduce Robotic Process Automation (RPA). This is a form of business process automation technology based on AI that can bring greater efficiency by allowing customer service teams to manage their back-office operations and the large volumes of repetitive and rules-based processes." - Liad Churchill, 7 New Technologies to Improve Customer Service in 2021, TechSee; Twitter: @techsee_me

8. Look for autonomous bot options to process large amounts of simple queries. "Many organizations within the industry have discovered the benefits of AI-driven intelligent automation in recent months as bots have batch processed and communicated refunds for canceled flights or hotel rooms. This, in turn, has freed up live agents to focus on adding value in other areas." - Martin Wilkinson-Brown, Following Coronavirus, How Can You Leverage Technology to Enhance Customer Experience?, Sitel; Twitter: @Sitel_WorldWide

9. Choose solutions that leverage social media channels efficiently to reach customers where they are. "Through sharing blog posts, webinars, infographics, how-to videos, and more, companies can connect with their customers in a way that customers prefer, without being too pushy. It allows customers to come to you, which is the best way to acquire and retain your customer base." - Larry Alton, , MyCustomer; Twitter: @MyCustomer

10. Go for customer relationship management tools to take your customer service efforts further. "There is nothing more frustrating than calling a business to find they have no records of your last contact with them. Customer relationship management software provides sophisticated data-gathering tools so reps can instantaneously have information about each of their customers.  This encourages a seamless interaction between a business and its customers, boosting customer loyalty." - Megan Totka, 4 Ways to Improve Customer Service Through Technology, Small Business Trends; Twitter: @smallbiztrends

11. Go for solutions that offer real-time communication capabilities such as video chat. "Video chat or live chat is the right way to guide the customer with his queries and help him to walk through the services and provide accurate information via real-time support. Including real-time support to the customer service trends of your company will benefit you in many ways." - Snigdha Patel, Top 10 Customer Service Technology Trends to Follow in 2021, REVE Chat; Twitter: @REVEChat

12. Seek out software that actively engages all important parties in serving the customer directly. "A customer engagement hub (CEH) is an architectural framework that ties multiple systems together to engage customers optimally. It enables proactive and reactive communication as well as personalized, contextual customer engagement, using humans, artificial agents or sensors, across all interaction channels. For example, it can reach and connect all departments to synchronize marketing, sales and customer service processes." - Gloria Omale, 5 Trends Drive the Gartner Hype Cycle for Customer Service and Support Technologies, Gartner; Twitter: @Gartner_inc

13. Opt for omnichannel software built to handle mobile communication as well. "Many companies also provide customers the option to text them using their cellphones. This is much faster than sending an email and waiting days for a reply. Within minutes, customers can have their questions answered, book appointments or make purchases. With several options to communicate with companies, customers are able to solve their problems quicker." - Anam Ahmed, How Does Technology Improve Customer Service?, Bizfluent

14. Adopt solutions that incorporate knowledge management tools. "This category comprises technologies that are used to identify, create, review, publish, and maintain multimedia content, including video, that allows customer service agents to answer customers’ questions and allows customers to find answers to their questions via Web self-service. These technologies include knowledge management, video, and customer communities." - Kate Leggett, What Is Customer Service Technology?, Forrester; Twitter: @forrester

15. Seek out solutions that leverage NLP and sentiment analysis to inform agents' decisions in real-time. "Natural language processing and sentiment analysis tools can prepare agents to respond more rapidly and accurately to requests, supplanting static non-responsive tools of the past." - Roberto Torres, How CIOs can shape post-pandemic customer service tech, CIO Dive; Twitter: @CIOdive

Customer service software best practices

16. Prioritize obtaining feedback from customers to incorporate insights into marketing efforts. "Getting customer feedback after every interaction is crucial for the startup’s customer service quality and overall success. The thing is, such feedback not only shows what customer service agents are good at and what should be improved. It can also be a source of insights for sales reps since it helps them detect opportunities for upselling and cross-selling." - Anastasiya Haiduk, 5 Actionable Customer Service Insights for Your Startup, ScienceSoft; Twitter: @ScienceSoft

17. Use social intelligence solutions to keep tabs of conversations involving your company and customers. "If you’re not paying attention to what customers are saying about your business online, you are missing key opportunities. Reaching out to customers who mention your company, be it in a good or bad context, allows you to preemptively address their needs and increases customer satisfaction." - Collin Couey, 6 Tips to Shift from Reactive to Proactive Customer Service, Software Advice; Twitter: @softwareadvice

18. Use bots and automation to route customer queries more intelligently. "Before speaking to a live representative, a direct message conversation with a bot can help narrow down your issue, allowing you to speak with an expert on the matter. This will save both you and the company time as it will get you to someone who can solve your problem instantly." - 7 Ways Technology Will Affect Customer Service, Little Gate Publishing; Twitter: @LittlegatePubli

19. Leverage customer support software and the data it provides to develop long-term relationships with your customers. "But, in order for your customers to like you, you need to get to know them. You need to invest in the long-term relationship (also known as relationship marketing), because when you understand who they are, you are able to deliver a personalized experience across the entire customer journey." - Toma Kulbytė, 37 Customer Experience Statistics You Need to Know for 2021, SuperOffice; Twitter: @SuperOfficeAS

20. Balance automation with appropriate human interaction. "Nearly half of U.S. and U.K. survey respondents stated that having an opportunity to speak to a human agent is a make-or-break factor in ensuring a satisfactory customer service interaction, while more than one-quarter of these respondents were disappointed by a brand because they were unable to reach a human agent." - Steven Petruk, Elevating customer service in 2021, ClickZ; Twitter: @ClickZ

21. Plan for data integration and big-picture analysis. "Online retailers and advertisers were pioneers in understanding the value of data collection and analysis, but every organization has mountains of transaction data that can be mined to improve the customer experience. But it's not enough to aggregate a mishmash of structured and unstructured information into a data lake. Machine learning and predictive analysis requires a complete understanding of the customer. That means transaction records should also map onto a single data structure that includes auxiliary customer information from other systems like CRM, BPM, third-party consumer marketing services and customer satisfaction surveys and metrics." - Kurt Marko, Using Big Data And Machine Learning To Enrich Customer Experiences, Forbes; Twitter: @Forbes

22. Use a CRM solution to keep all conversations in context. "Customers feel frustrated whenever they have to repeat themselves or believe that customer service lacks the knowledge about their issue. By unifying customer information with a CRM, customer service reps gain the context and ability to resolve inquiries in a single interaction." - Steven MacDonald, 5 Ways to Deliver Excellent Customer Service (With Examples), SuperOffice; Twitter: @SuperOfficeAS

23. Bolster customer satisfaction with automated hold time notifications and a call-back queue. "Inform them. Technology can let customers know how long they’ll be on hold, which will help ease irritation. And if a voicemail scenario is unavoidable, make sure to return calls. Customers might be frustrated when they cannot get through to you straightaway, but they’ll be even more frustrated if they leave a message and you never bother to call back." - Adrian Swinscoe, 4 Ways Technology Can Improve Customer Service, BizTech Magazine; Twitter: @BizTechMagazine 24. Measure the results you get with software, or better yet, choose software that measures itself. "No matter which service technology you choose, it should include a way to quantitatively measure its success. Without that, there's no way to prove if the added software is being effective." - Michael Redbord, 14 Ways Technology Will Affect the Future of Customer Service, HubSpot; Twitter: @HubSpot

25. Leverage frequently asked questions to accommodate self-serving customers. "Another small business customer service idea that is fairly easy to implement is adding a FAQ section to your site. Provide answers to the questions you get asked often, and this will save both you and your customers time in the long run." - How to Use Technology to Improve Customer Service, FORA Financial; Twitter: @forafinancial

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