customer service management

By Anastasia Nenova · Updated November 10, 2022

A startup is only as good as its clients and without them, a startup cannot survive. With that in mind, it's so important for startups to have systems in place to manage customer service and keep their clients happy.

Customer service management (CSM) is a system that helps you do just that. In this blog post, we will discuss what CSM is, and how it can benefit your startup by boosting client retention rates!

What is Customer Service Management?

Customer service management is the process of managing customer service interactions to ensure a positive experience for the customer. This includes everything from handling customer complaints to providing customer support.

Customer service management can be a challenge, but it is essential for keeping customers happy and ensuring repeat business. 

There are a few key things to keep in mind when managing customer service interactions. First, it is important to be patient and understanding.

Customers may be angry or upset, and it is important to listen to their concerns and resolve the issue in a calm and efficient manner. Second, it is important to be knowledgeable about the product or service.

Customers will have questions, and it is important to be able to provide accurate and helpful information. 

Finally, it is important to follow up with customers after the interaction. This helps to ensure that they are satisfied with the resolution and that they will continue to do business with the company in the future.

Customer service management is a critical part of any business, and it is important to get it right.

Benefits of Great Customer Service Management

Better understanding of your customers

Customer service management enables you to gather, store, and work with important data based on customer interactions. You can retain and access any information you need, including their preferred methods of communication and other specifics to help you better understand your customers and exceed their expectations.

Better customer retention

When you meet customer needs and further support them, in addition to providing excellent products and services, they are more likely to return to do business with you - resulting in long-term customer loyalty.

Increased productivity

When your customer service agents have access to all customer information, it's simpler for them to offer prompt and efficient help - saving time and coming closer to customer success.

Customer service management streamlines the process overall and cuts down on the time spent looking for information.

Increased security

Customer service management can gather information about what customers have consented to (related to customer service activities) in addition to retaining their basic contact information.

With this approach, you can ensure that you're abiding by all applicable laws and security policies while also protecting customer data.

10 Best Customer Service Software for Startups

Intercom

Overview

Customer service management and communication is made simple with Intercom.

Intercom empowers over 4,000 web and mobile businesses to see and communicate with their customers. They send time- or behavior-triggered in-app messages and tailored emails.

Through customized, behavior-driven email and in-app messaging, Intercom makes it simple to personally communicate with the individuals using your product or service while meeting customer expectations.

Top Features

  • Intercom Messenger (chat widget)
  • Custom Bots
  • Team inbox
  • Advanced support automation
  • Lead routing
  • Lead generation add-on
  • Conversation performance and analytics
  • Knowledge base
  • User and visitor data repository

Pricing

Intercom Pricing

Intercom has four plans:

  • Start: $59 per month
  • Grow: $119 per month
  • Accelerate: $499 per month
  • Scale: Vary from $499 to $999 per month

The Scale plan includes Salesforce integration, complex workflows, custom bots, and 10 seats.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Well designed and user friendly
  • Supports bots, live chat, and product tours
  • Options to create custom chatbots
  • Robust API and many integrations

Cons

  • Significantly flawed pricing model: expensive, unpredictable, and non-flexible
  • Add-on services are overpriced
  • Poor customer service
  • Limited to your website only
  • Integration with your CRM and user database is a long and complicated process

Product Rating Summary

Easy to use platform with a variety of features, however the CRM is limited to your website only- which is inconvenient. Paired with its overpriced pricing model and poor customer service, there are better options to choose from.

If the pricing doesn't bother you, (or lack of customer service) and you don't mind being limited to your own website - then give Intercom a go. 

overall 

5/5

Ease of Use

Features

Support

Price

Zendesk

Overview

Zendesk is a customer support platform developed to improve communication between businesses and their customers.

Organizations in 140 countries utilize Zendesk, which has more than 50,000 client accounts, and offers customer service in more than 40 languages.

Zendesk is a straightforward platform to achieve customer success. It enables businesses to scale with self-service alternatives, deliver excellent customer service, and stand out with proactive engagement.

Customer relationships become more significant, more personal, and more fruitful as a result, and all at a lower cost.

Top Features

  • Community forums
  • Automation
  • Ticket routing
  • Live chat software
  • API
  • Tracking and reporting
  • Self-service portal
  • Native integrations
  • Knowledge base
  • Real-time chat monitoring and conversion tracking
  • Accessible by mobile device

Pricing

Zendesk personal Pricing
Zendesk enterprise Pricing

Zendesk offers a 30-day trial FREE of charge. The free trial includes a community of customer experience leaders, a growing network, and access to tailored resources.

Zendesk has five plans, including their Free trial:

  • Free trial: 30 days
  • Suite Team: $49 per user per month
  • Suite Growth: $79 per user per month
  • Suite Professional: $99 per user per month
  • Suite Enterprise: $150 per user per month

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Seamless integration with Zendesk products
  • SDK to customize chat window
  • Analytics
  • Free plan and reasonable pricing
  • Apps available on desktop and mobile
  • Customer service teams available 24 hours a day, 5 days a week
  • Flexible and scalable payment plans
  • Free 30-day trial

Cons

  • Outdated look and feel
  • Very few integrations available
  • Need to integrate AI-powered bots into Chat via API
  • Not a useful product unless you’re on Professional or Enterprise plans

Product Rating Summary

Overall, Zendesk is an excellent CRM software platform, with affordable plans, and a free 30-day trial. However, some of the features are restricted to certain pricing plans.

Their customer service support is of a high standard and is available 5 days a week and 24 hours a day. 

overall 

5/5

Ease of Use

Features

Support

Price

Help Scout

Overview

Many aspects of Help Scout are similar to those of other help desk services, and it also offers a personalized customer experience, much like a regular email.

Customers don't have to waste time navigating a large ticket portal or worry about login information to have their issues resolved.

When a request comes in, Help Scout's inbox (which each user shares with the team) enables collaboration for support.

It simultaneously removes the complexity that other help desk solutions typically bring and simplifies team cooperation and email response. It seamlessly connects with other business systems and apps.

Top Features

  • Uses one centralized tool to manage email and live chat 
  • Enables you to build a customizable help center with Docs
  • Database of canned responses by saved replies
  • Agent-focused features, for instance, collision detection 
  • Enables you to create a curated customer experience with customer profiles
  • Comes loaded with pre-built reports

Pricing

Help Scout annual pricing
Help Scout monthly Pricing

Help Scout has three payment plans:

  • Standard Plan: $20 or $25 per month per user (depending on if you pay annually or monthly)
  • Plus Plan: $40 or $50 per month per user (depending on if you pay annually or monthly)
  • Pro Plan: $65 per month per user, or if paying yearly they will quote you accordingly. Either way, you need to contact Help Scout when choosing this plan

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Affordable pricing
  • Invisible to customers
  • Many free integrations
  • Reporting
  • Organizes email in a conducive way to improve customer service
  • Great service

Cons

  • Limited features
  • Price per user for Standard plan
  • Docs are an additional cost of $20 per month

Product Rating Summary

Help Scout is an affordable CRM system and it comes with many free integrations. However, there's an additional cost for Docs, and features are quite limited.

If you're just starting out with CRMs, Help Scout is a good option to start off with.

overall 

5/5

Ease of Use

Features

Support

Price

Freshdesk

Overview

Any small or mid-sized business that needs a fully functional assistance or support department without the associated fees can benefit from Freshdesk.

Freshdesk offers a free subscription with an infinite number of users, making it ideal for startups and freelancers.

By automating time-consuming tasks like sorting through requests and assigning tickets, Freshdesk offers a means to speed up customer service support.

This solution aids companies looking to cut man-hours hours while allowing personnel to concentrate only on the most crucial tasks.

Top Features

  • SLA management
  • Ticket support on multiple channels and ticket merging
  • Activity logs
  • Team inbox
  • Canned responses
  • Smart notifications
  • Custom ticket views
  • Collaborative ticketing
  • AI-powered ticketing
  • Field service ticketing
  • Affordable plans
  • Multilingual 
  • Mobile apps
  • Triggers

Pricing

Freshdesk Pricing

Freshdesk has a wide variety of plans for Support Desk and Omnichannel. Their free plans offer the basic features, while their popular Enterprise and Pro plans offer greater features.

Support Desk has four payment plans, including the Free plan: 

  • Support Desk Plan: Free
  • Support Desk Growth: $15 per user per month
  • Support Desk Pro: $49 per user per month
  • Support Desk Enterprise: $79 per user per month

Omnichannel has 3 payment plans:

  • Omnichannel Growth: $29 per user per month
  • Omnichannel Pro: $59 per user per month
  • Omnichannel Enterprise: $99 per user per month

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • 21-day free trial of premium membership 
  • Paid plans start at $15 per user per month
  • Automate acquisitions with sales and support bots
  • Omnichannel options: can be used on web chat, mobile applications, WhatsApp for Business, Apple Business Chat, LINE, and Facebook Messenger
  • Machine learning automation
  • Streamline customer conversations in one place
  • Team collaboration tools: Team Huddle, Shared Ownership, Linked Tickets, and Parent-Child Ticketing

Cons

  • Complete loss of tech stack flexibility
  • Limited number of integrations
  • Bugs and ongoing client issues
  • Overall quality

Product Rating Summary

Freshdesk is reasonably priced, although it's limited in terms of integrations. Their free plan is limited in terms of features, so it's better to opt for one of the paid plans. It's a good CRM system overall.

overall 

5/5

Ease of Use

Features

Support

Price

Zoho Desk

Overview

The award-winning, context-aware support desk software, Zoho Desk. Advanced multi-stakeholder process management, multichannel capabilities, embeddable self-service, a strong AI assistant, and all the tools and context your teams require to provide first-rate customer care are all included in Zoho Desk.

Years of expertise in developing, installing, maintaining, and supporting on-premises and cloud software are brought to the table by Zoho. 3 users are included in the free plan so you can get your business off the ground.

Top Features

  • Ticket management
  • Cloud platform
  • Reports and dashboards
  • Time tracking
  • Mobile capabilities 
  • API
  • CRM and Social Media Integration
  • Dashboards
  • Leaderboards
  • Email marketing 
  • White Label
  • Widgets
  • Analytics
  • Multi-Language Support

Pricing

Zoho Desk monthly Pricing
Zoho Desk yearly Pricing

Zoho subscriptions are super easy and convenient. The platform offers a pay-as-you-go service- there are no setup fees or contracts. In addition, Zoho offers discounts to non-profit organizations.

There's even a free sandbox environment where you can test out all the features before proceeding with your purchase. The best part is, the trial run doesn't require any credit card information.

Zoho Desk has four payment plans, including the Free plan:

  • Free plan: $0 and includes one user and 20 subscriptions.
  • Basic plan: $49 or $59 per month per user (depending on if you pay annually or monthly) and includes three users and 500 customers
  • Standard plan: $99 or $119 per month per user (depending on if you pay annually or monthly) and includes five users and 2000 customers
  • Professional plan: $249 or $299 per month per user (depending on if you pay annually or monthly) and includes ten users and 5000 customers 

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Excellent price
  • 14-day free trial
  • Highly configurable
  • Tight integration with other Zoho products
  • Huge list of features

Cons

  • Somewhat complex to customize and use 
  • Some advanced features only available at higher pricing tiers
  • Stodgy user interface

Product Rating Summary

In conclusion, Zoho Desk is a practical help desk solution with flexible pricing. However, some of its features are only available at higher pricing tiers.

With a focus on small to medium-sized businesses, Zoho Desk stands out from its competitors thanks to its usability, affordability, and reporting capabilities.

overall 

5/5

Ease of Use

Features

Support

Price

HubSpot

Overview

With the help of HubSpot's CRM, growth-oriented companies can enhance their connections with leads and customers.

The program seeks to make it simple to align team strategy and increase conversion by leveraging the power of skillfully designed sales, marketing, customer support, content management, and operational capabilities. 

In order to provide a user experience that is personalized for teams' working styles, users can connect with over 875 integration apps, APIs, and solutions partners using the software. HubSpot is promoted as the ultimate scaling solution for organizations of all sizes, from small start-ups to large enterprises.

Top Features

  • HubSpot Conversations chat widget
  • Instant reply bot
  • Qualify leads bot
  • Book meetings bot
  • Support bot
  • HubSpot Conversations for teams
  • Conversation routing
  • Triggers
  • Shared inbox
  • Tracking user data
  • Mobile applications
  • Knowledge base

Pricing

HubSpot Pricing
HubSpot Pricing

HubSpot has 4 payment plans, including the Free plan:

  • Starts free
  • Starter Plan: $50 per month per user
  • Professional Plan: $400 per month per 5 users
  • Enterprise Plan: $1200 per month per 10 users

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Seamless integration with HubSpot
  • Multi-language content creation
  • 24/7 security monitoring and threat detection
  • Easy to use user interface
  • Unified inbox
  • HubSpot Integrations and API
  • ABM tools and automation

Cons

  • Can be quite costly
  • Limited number of features
  • Easy to miss conversations
  • No chat broadcasting
  • No AI, NLP, or NLU
  • Limited marketing channels
  • No keyword recognition
  • Analytics not available for HubSpot chatbot
  • Page targeting options
  • Messages cannot be used in different chatflows

Product Rating Summary

HubSpot is one of the most trustworthy and effective inbound marketing automation tools around. Along with its free CRM, HubSpot also provides a comprehensive suite of software for marketing, sales, and CRM.

HubSpot assists businesses in becoming top-tier marketers by assisting them in generating more leads, traffic, and conversions. All of this is necessary for businesses to succeed.

overall 

5/5

Ease of Use

Features

Support

Price

LiveAgent

Overview

The best way to deliver first-rate customer service is through a LiveAgent help desk. You can link every help channel thanks to the 175+ support capabilities that are available.

LiveAgent is accessible in 39 languages and both as a self-hosted or SaaS license.

To ensure fast response times and to fulfill regional legal requirements (for EU in particular), server infrastructure is situated in the USA, UK, and Japan.

Top Features

  • Ticket routing
  • Tracking and reporting
  • Live chat software
  • API
  • Self-service portal
  • Community forums
  • Automation
  • Native integrations
  • Knowledge base

Pricing

LiveAgent Pricing

LiveAgent offers 4 different plans, including the Free plan. However, the Free plan has some limitations. The most popular plan is the All-Inclusive plan with chat, ticketing, and over 180 features.

  • Free plan
  • Ticket: $15 per user per month
  • Ticket + Chat: $29 per user per month
  • All-Inclusive: $49 per user per month

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Software is easy to implement
  • The pricing is reasonable
  • There's quick development of new features
  • Offers the ability to self-host behind the firewall
  • Self-service setup is very useful

Cons

  • Its mobile app interface could use some improvements
  • More integrations with business systems could be supported by the software

Product Rating Summary

For businesses that want to combine phone, email, and live chat customer support, LiveAgent is a top-notch helpdesk program.

The paid plans aren't ridiculously expensive, and the free plan is well equipped and may be sufficient for small businesses.

Furthermore, LiveAgent does a fantastic job of automatically routing tickets between teams and assisting your support employees in maintaining consistency when handling a high volume of customer requests.

overall 

5/5

Ease of Use

Features

Support