Help Scout Works Best When

To get a job done efficiently (or at least more easily), you need the right tool.

For example, you could use a butter knife to tighten a screw. While this might work in a pinch, a screwdriver would be much more effective and less likely to damage the screw, the knife, or the taste of your PB&J sandwich once you’re done building that cabinet. 

As a member of the support team here at Help Scout, I work with new and prospective customers in the queue each day, and it’s taught me a lot about who benefits the most from a tool like Help Scout. While you’re the only one who can decide if Help Scout is the right tool for you, here’s the advice I would give someone deciding if Help Scout is a good fit for their support team.

Help Scout works best when…

You support your customers using a shared email.

Our shared inbox is meant to be used with a shared, customer-facing email address. Think of,, or addresses rather than 

If you’re using personal email to talk with your customers, you’re going to run into issues at Help Scout. Why? Because Help Scout works by receiving support requests that are automatically forwarded from your email account, so email lands in your provider inbox first (Gmail or Outlook, for example) and is then sent over to Help Scout. 

If you connect your personal work email address to Help Scout, that means that along with the customer facing email that you’d hope to handle in Help Scout, we’re also going to receive all those internal emails between you and your teammates as well. You don’t want those internal emails landing in a shared inbox where any of your coworkers could read or reply to them.

Your customer-facing team is two or more people. 

If you’re a solo-prenuer or a one person support team, save your money! A regular old Gmail inbox is likely all you need for now. We’re here for you when you’re ready to scale things up. 

But if you’ve got a team with two or more people supporting customers, there are a lot of things you are going to find useful in Help Scout. A few features that our own support team leans on heavily are:

  • Internal notes: We use notes to document our troubleshooting process, which is great for future training and sharing knowledge on a remote team. We also use the @mentions feature, which allows you to ping another user or team in a note on a conversation and send them a notification without having to assign it to them. The @mentions are great for asking a teammate a question or leaving feedback!

  • Teams: We use Teams to bring other departments into our support queue. For example, we’ve got a separate Team for our marketing and sales folks. We also use Teams to support feature releases or specialized areas of support where a smaller subset of our support team will work on specialized conversations together outside of the everyday “unassigned” queue. 

  • Reporting: We have seven different types of reports to follow in Help Scout. These reports help our leadership team understand our team’s productivity, and we look at these together each month. Personally, I also use the user report every day to keep track of my own productivity and make sure I’m hitting all of my own key performance indicators. 

You want to centralize your support function.

We often see customers struggling with situations like this: “Our support team uses Gmail for email and a separate tool for live chat, our sales team is using HubSpot, our customer-facing documentation lives in yet another tool, there’s no reporting, and we don’t have any visibility into what the team is working on day to day.”

We don’t want that disjointed experience for anyone! Help Scout can be your single source of truth and bring your team together to support customers in one place. A few of my favorite features are:

  • Our Docs feature which allows you to create customer-facing documentation and create internal docs to serve as your own internal wiki. 

  • Our embeddable widget called Beacon which allows you to offer live chat, a contact form, proactive Messages, and access self-serve options like Docs. 

  • For those times when you do need information that lives in an external tool, you can take advantage of our 100+ seamless integrations with popular apps like HubSpot, Jira, and Shopify. 

Help Scout might not be a fit if… 

You want to use Help Scout for email hosting. 

If you’re just getting your business started, you might not have a custom email address yet. We aren’t able to host your email services here at Help Scout, so you’ll need to create your custom email address in a traditional email provider (like Gmail, Outlook, AWS, etc.) before you can use a tool like Help Scout. 

Help Scout works by receiving support requests that are automatically forwarded from your email account. In order to use a web based support tool like ours, you’ll need to have your email hosted elsewhere as a first step.

You’re looking for an internal communications tool. 

Help Scout is meant to be used for customer-facing communications. We’re the tool you use to support your customers, vendors, partners or other external stakeholders. If you’re looking for internal email or internal instant messaging, a better tool would be something like Slack or Microsoft Teams. While it may be possible to use Help Scout for internal communications, we wouldn’t recommend using Help Scout to solve this problem. 

You aren’t already supporting customers.

We have an amazing startup plan, which allows you to use our product for free for six full months! However, something we see all too often is that folks will sign up for the startup plan before they’re ready and then not use their free Help Scout account until month five (or sometimes not at all!). If your product is just getting off the ground, perhaps wait a month or two so that you can gauge what kind of volume your team will need to support.

We want you to use Help Scout to support your customers when you’re ready, but there are a lot of bells and whistles within a tool like Help Scout (or any shared inbox) that are probably overkill for lower volume setups. We want to give you as much value as we possibly can — don’t spend money when you don’t need to!

If you’re still feeling unsure about if Help Scout is the right fit, come join us for a live class! Members of our Help Scout support team (myself included) give live classes three times a week where we walk through the product together. During these classes you can ask questions and get an overview of Help Scout’s features and functionality.  

There is no absolute best product out there, only what is best for you and your team at this moment. Our goal is to help you delight your customers, no matter which tool you choose. 

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