Illustration by Bronwyn Gruet

The 9 Best Front Alternatives for Customer Support Teams

If you’re using a shared Gmail or Outlook mailbox for support, a shared inbox tool can improve your agent and customer experience significantly.

But because there are so many shared inbox tools on the market — many with very similar functionality — it can be hard to decide which tool is right for your team.

That said, there are a few popular shared inbox choices. One prominent newcomer is Front. Though they’ve been around since 2014, they’ve seen significant growth over the last few years.

Below, we cover who Front is useful for, explain why you might be interested in a different solution, and offer nine Front alternatives to check out.

Front: Advantages and disadvantages

Front helps teams of all types — support, marketing, and sales — manage communications. It offers major features like a universal inbox, plus collaboration tools like internal notes. A few different automation features are also available, though they are limited to higher-cost plans.

Front’s biggest differentiator from the competition is the ability to use a personal email address within their software. Having that added personal touch is a great feature for certain teams, though others may prefer to present a unified voice by having everyone respond from one central email address (e.g., support@).

Though Front is a great tool, there are some limitations with the product. First, it’s primarily a shared inbox tool. You can’t use it to provide chat support or to create a knowledge base unless you pay for add-ons, which can make scaling your support more difficult.

Another disadvantage is the cost. Front’s base plan is very competitively priced, but it has a cap of 10 agents and doesn’t include some basic, key features like analytics (it’s only available on their $49/agent and $99/agent per month plans), which is a big hindrance in understanding your customers’ and business’s needs.

For example, without reporting capabilities, you’re not able to see when your highest ticket volumes are or the most common issues customers contact you about — and you won’t have the ability to understand individual and team performance.

What that all adds up to is that Front may work well for a period of time, but eventually many support teams outgrow their offering. Since switching tools isn’t the simplest task, some teams may find it better to look for a long-term solution.

The 9 best Front alternatives for support teams

Front makes a solid product, but it may not be the right fit for every team. If you’re thinking you may need a different solution, we’ve put together a list of nine Front alternatives to consider.

1. Help Scout

Best for support teams at growing businesses.

Help Scout was built specifically to help teams deliver great customer service, and all of its features are designed with that goal in mind.

In addition to a shared inbox, you can use Help Scout to build a knowledge base with Docs, provide live chat support through Beacon, and deliver proactive support using Messages, making it easy to scale as your team and support demands grow.

Help Scout’s reporting features give you access to pre-built dashboards that allow you to better understand team performance, see where you’re excelling, and identify areas for improvement. And Workflows let you automate routine tasks to improve team productivity.

Best of all, the features above are included on Help Scout’s Standard plan — which is the same price as Front’s base plan — at no additional cost and with no contract required. So if you’re looking for a support platform that addresses your current and future needs, Help Scout’s certainly one to consider.

Price: Starting at $20/user per month.

2. Google Collaborative Inbox

Best free shared inbox tool.

If you’re just starting your support efforts and are already using Gmail as your email provider, Google Collaborative Inbox could be a good first step. It’s a free tool that lets your team all work out of a shared mailbox.

It is not the most advanced offering, but it does help streamline some of the support process and make customer conversations more transparent to your entire team. It can also help you start to better understand exactly where your gaps in support are and what may need to be addressed further.

Price: Free, though it does require a Google Business account.

3. Hiver

Best for email-only support.

For teams using Gmail but finding they want a little more functionality than Google Collaborative Inbox offers, Hiver could be a great option. It allows you to continue using a Gmail address but gives access to some more advanced features like internal notes, light automation, and the ability to assign tickets to different agents.

Though it is a great shared inbox, some basic features like analytics are only offered on their higher-cost plans. Also, there isn’t the ability to expand beyond a shared inbox. So if you’ll eventually need more support functionality, you’ll have to switch platforms or pay for additional tools.

Price: Starting at $12/user per month.

4. Kayako

Best for IT support.

Similar to Help Scout, Kayako offers a full support platform. Not only do they include a shared inbox, they also allow the ability to build out a knowledge base and offer live chat. They also offer automation features and macros, though those are limited to their higher-cost plans.

Integrations with other tools and team features like internal notes and collision detection — a feature to prevent duplicate work — round out their top features. They also have some features for IT support.

Price: Starting at $15/agent per month.

5. Missive

Best for teams looking for project management capabilities.

For teams looking for a multifunction support and project management tool, Missive could be a good option. It’s basically a blend of a shared inbox, live chat, and project management software. You can also manage social media messages, though not all social media platforms are included (Twitter is an additional charge).

It may seem like a bit of a hodgepodge on the surface, but there is good support functionality, and the ability to do things like create and assign tasks can improve team collaboration. They also have some basic automations and integrations you can use to improve productivity.

Price: Starting at $10/month per user.

6. SharedInbox

Best for Slack power users.

If you’re a team of Slack power users, SharedInbox may be a great solution for you. Their tool allows you to manage and respond to customer requests directly from Slack. Basically, you create Slack channels for different email domains (support, sales, etc.), and customers send in requests from a support site.

Though it’s a bit of a different process on the front end, after the customer sends their initial message, the interaction happens in email just as it normally would. You can even set up things like autoreplies and custom email signatures.

Price: Starting at $5/month for one connected account.

7. Drag

Best for teams looking for a cross-functional tool.

If you’ve ever wished your shared inbox functioned like a kanban board, then Drag is the tool for you. Similar to Hiver, it connects with a Gmail account, but the interface allows you to sort tickets on a kanban board for easy organization and team transparency.

Similar to other offerings on the list, there are some automation and team collaboration features, as well as some project management functionality included. It can fill multiple team needs, but the downside is it’s not totally support-focused and is lacking live, proactive, and self-service support tools.

Price: Starting at $8/user per month.

8. Trengo

Best for teams offering support across a multitude of channels.

It seems every day there’s a new support channel customers want to contact you from. Some want to text you, others want to @ you on social media, and some still prefer talking on the phone. When you start adding in all those channels, managing customer conversations can get tricky fast.

Trengo built a platform that allows you to manage all those channels in one place. It should be noted, though, that not all channels are included by default — several require an additional cost. Also, they lack additional support functionality, such as the ability to build a knowledge base.

Price: Starting at $15/agent per month.

9. Crisp

Best for teams wanting to improve cross-team collaboration.

Similar to some other offerings on the list, Crisp is a combination tool that’s not 100% focused on support, but it does have shared inbox capabilities. They also have some CRM functionality, as well as the ability to create in-app messages.

Though lack of focus on one key area could be difficult, Crisp could also help bring multiple teams together by housing their efforts all in one place. It also gives further transparency across teams, so everyone stays in the loop.

Price: Starting at $25/website per month (4 seats included).

Making a final decision

For some companies, Front is the perfect option. If you’re a team looking to use personal email addresses to interact with customers, you may well be one of them. However, if you envision expanding your support offerings in the future, Front may not be what’s best suited for your team.

Before you decide on investing in any support software, do your best to fully understand your current and future needs. Also, don’t shy away from doing a trial or two to get an idea of what different options have to offer; an informed decision is usually the best one!

Jesse Short
Jesse Short

After spending a few years working as a support agent, Jesse made the switch to writing full-time. He works as a Content Writer at Help Scout, hoping to help improve the agent and customer experience.

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