Customer support has become a multifaceted discipline.
Not only are support professionals tasked with interacting directly with customers, they’re also creating self-service content, sending out large-scale communications, and helping customers connect with one another to create peer-to-peer knowledge sharing communities.
Managing all those different responsibilities is made much easier and more efficient with access to the right tools and resources. But with all the possibilities, it can be hard to know where to start when searching for your support stack.
To help make things a little easier, we’ve put together a list of 17 customer service tools — and some bonus resources — to help you create the best support team possible. Whether you’re just starting out or are a seasoned pro, there’s something on this list that can help improve your performance.
Customer service tools
The following five customer service tools will help your team better manage your support queue:
- Help Scout
- HubSpot Service Hub
- Salesforce Serice Cloud
1. Help Scout
Since customer support is a multifaceted discipline, it’s helpful to have a multifaceted tool. Help Scout gives you access to a shared inbox, knowledge base software, live chat, and more. It’s a complete customer service platform.
Features like workflows and saved replies help save your team time by automating manual tasks. Self-service tools like Beacon empower customers to find answers on their own and reduce support volumes for your team.
Robust reporting gives insight into the areas where you’re excelling — and where you have room for improvement — all adding up to a better overall customer and agent experience.
Price: Starting at $20/agent per month.
As their name suggests, LiveAgent started out with a focus on live support channels — primarily chat. Over the years they’ve developed more tools, creating a multi-channel customer support product.
They have an omnichannel inbox where you can see customer conversations from a plethora of channels. If you take a high volume of calls, you’re able to set up an IVR system. They also offer a number of reporting options to better understand team performance and some automations and integrations to improve productivity.
We should note that many of the features mentioned above aren’t available on their more basic plans.
Price: Starting at $15/agent per month.
HubSpot is well known in marketing and sales circles for their CRM and other software tools. In the last few years they’ve expanded their offering to include customer service software called HubSpot Service Hub.
Service Hub includes a number of basic customer service tools like a shared inbox, a knowledge base builder, and live chat software. You also get access to some collaboration tools like internal notes and some basic automation capabilities.
It’s most powerful if you’re using other HubSpot products, as it integrates seamlessly with the rest of their software offerings. However, if you’re not using any other HubSpot products, there are other options on the market that are a bit more comprehensive for a similar price.
Price: Free plan available. Paid plans starting at $45/ month.
Zendesk is a customer support platform that includes a variety of tools like a shared inbox, a knowledge base builder, chatbot software, and a number of other tools. They were originally focused solely on support but have since started creating solutions for sales, too.
Zendesk’s support offering is split into two general plan types: foundational support and Zendesk suite. The foundational support plans include a shared inbox and some basic collaboration tools, but they don’t include a knowledge base builder or live chat. For those and other advanced features, you need to sign up for their higher-cost suite plans.
The suite plans include things like automation capabilities, productivity tools like internal notes, and even more advanced features like a chatbot. All those features are impressive, but they do take a while to set up. If you’re looking to get started quickly, Zendesk may not be the right solution for you.
Price: Starting at $19/agent per month.
Help Scout vs. Zendesk
Customers rank Help Scout's support tools higher than Zendesk in nearly every category — and it's just a fraction of the price.Compare side-by-side
Similar to HubSpot, Salesforce is best known for their CRM product. However, they have offered different iterations of customer service software for quite some time. Service Cloud is their current offering, and it’s an omnichannel support tool.
You’re able to handle email, phone, and chat requests all within the platform. You can also automate certain manual tasks with AI-powered workflows, like conversation routing to save your team time. If you’re using another Salesforce product, you’re able to see that information in Service Cloud and even update records directly.
Again, similar to HubSpot, the true value with Service Cloud is being able to connect with the rest of your Salesforce tools. However, if you’re not a current Salesforce user or planning to make the switch, there are probably more competitive solutions for your support team.
Price: Starting at $25/user per month.
Customer communication tools
Just as there are multiple types of support you can provide, there are also multiple ways to share support information. Some customers are more visual learners and want video walkthroughs while others prefer status updates and self-service tools to get up to date with issues.
Addressing all those different needs and learning styles is made much easier when you have dedicated tools for the job. Here are a variety of customer communication tools you can use to meet people where they are.
Sometimes there’s a large-scale issue that requires quick communication to a lot of customers. With StatusPage, you’re able to update your status easily and efficiently.
You can provide updates on your product as a whole or by individual feature. Customers can also see what your average uptime is, as well as see past incidents to further improve confidence in your team and product.
Including images in a response can bring an additional level of clarity that words alone often can’t. A tool like CloudApp allows you to take high-quality screenshots and screencasts to provide that additional context to your customers.
You’re also able to mark up screenshots with text and images to provide further clarity. Each image or video generates a link, meaning you no longer have to upload files to customer conversations, making the whole process that much simpler and faster.
They also have an easy-to-use GIF maker to create short loop videos for instances when you need more than a picture.
With Loom, you can create videos that are embedded onto other screens to provide crystal-clear support for complex issues. You can navigate around the screen during the video, which makes it easy to point out exactly where a customer may need to look to solve a problem.
A link is created for each video, which makes sharing quick and painless. You can also see when and how much of your video someone has viewed, both of which can be useful in a support interaction.
You can think of Wistia like a supercharged YouTube but with some specific benefits for support. Many businesses — ourselves included — use Wistia to add video content to knowledge base articles. It’s great because, similar to Loom, you’re able to get analytics like total views and length of time someone watched a video.
Those insights can tip you off to how effective your content is. You’re also able to add in chapters to let viewers easily navigate to the parts of your video most relevant to them, saving them time and energy, all while delivering the information they need most.
10. Sprout Social
Some companies have a decent amount of support requests coming through social media channels. If that’s you, then a dedicated social media tool might make sense.
With Sprout Social, you can manage customer requests from all your social channels in one place. And for teams with dedicated support social profiles, Sprout lets you schedule posts to make overall social media management much easier.
Tribe is a tool that helps you empower peer-to-peer knowledge sharing by creating your very own online community. Basically, you’re creating a message board of sorts where customers can post and respond to each others’ inquiries.
As anyone working in support knows, there are certain customers who are almost as well-versed in your product as you are, making them an incredible resource. With a tool like Tribe, customers get access to that resource, giving them another avenue to get assistance when they need it most.
Company communication and project management
Since customer support sits in the middle of so many different departments, there’s a huge need for great communication tools.
Some of the tools below are focused more on direct communication, whereas others are mainly used for project management purposes, but they are all centered around internal communication.
As remote work and distributed teams have become more common, so has the need for a tool that allows asynchronous communication. The tool of choice for many companies is Slack.
With Slack, you’re able to exchange messages one-to-one or in group channels that people choose to join. It’s a great way to cut down on the amount of emails you send and receive. In fact, we use Slack for most of our team communication here at Help Scout.
We know how powerful a good knowledge base can be for customers, so why not create something similar for internal use? Slab is a multifunctional tool that works as an internal wiki and project management tool.
It’s great for centralizing team information like org charts and general contact information, and as a project management tool, Slab lets you create checklists, build kanban boards, and assign tasks to project collaborators.
Though asynchronous communication has its upsides, some conversations need to happen in real time, and Zoom is a great tool for those occasions. You can do voice-only or video calls, and Zoom works equally well for one-to-one and group chats.
We like to use Zoom for one-on-ones and team meetings. We also use it for company meetings and webinars since lots of people can dial in to a call without degrading the quality. Further, you can record meetings, so if someone can’t attend live, they’re able to get caught up on their own time.
You can think of Pitch like a super-charged, web-based version of PowerPoint. With Pitch you can create beautiful presentations or proposals to effectively communicate your ideas.
However, the real differentiators are their collaboration features like comments, reactions, and even the ability to do live meetings in the tool to edit together in real time. We tend to use Pitch to present project ideas or give performance updates.
Though you could report bugs in any number of places, having a dedicated tool helps keep track of them to reduce duplicate work and keep everyone in the loop on what’s happening with a bug. JIRA is the tool we — and many other teams — use to do that.
You’re able to group incidents, update the status of a bug, and even ping people directly if you need a response quickly. JIRA has a lot of additional functionality beyond just bug reporting, but it’s the most common use for support teams.
17. Google Workspace
A handful of the tools on this list — Zoom, Pitch, and Slack — are basically paid versions of Google tools. They do have additional functionality and are more robust in general, but if you’re a new team or more budget-conscious, Google’s suite of tools can work in place of the paid tools we mentioned.
You can create an internal knowledge base of sorts using Google Docs. If you need to chat in real time, Google Hangouts is an option. Google Slides lets you create PowerPoint-style presentations. Best of all, they come at no additional cost.
Community groups and resources for customer support
Here are some extra resources for those who want to invest a little more time and energy into their career development.
Support Driven is actually a few different things: They have a job board dedicated to support-type jobs (more on that below), and they also have a Slack community for those looking to engage with other professionals. They even host a conference most years for those who want to connect in-person with other support folks.
It’s a great resource for those who are new to the field and long-time support veterans alike. We strongly encourage anyone working in support to check them out.
Press 1 For Nick is a relatively new podcast focused on customer service and customer experience. They release new episodes weekly, discussing support stories, lessons learned, and best practices you can use to make your own customer support even better.
If you come across an episode with a particularly salient message or experience, consider sending it out to your team and setting up a time to discuss it as a group. Not only is it a good chance for group learning, but it’s also a great way to connect outside of the day to day.
Similar to Press 1 For Nick, Experience This! is a podcast focused on customer success. The hosts are two long-time support professionals with a lot of great insights to share from their own experiences.
Outside of best practices and other support learnings, they also share stories from listeners and cover topics around self-care and general best practices for communicating with customers.
Customer support job resources
The most important resource any support team has is its people, but finding good talent can be difficult. Below are some different job boards you can utilize when looking for your next new hire. Or, if you’re a job-seeker looking for a new opportunity, these could all be great starting points.
Hire Tech Ladies is a members-only service connecting women and non-binary folks in tech to companies that want to hire them. It’s free to post a job, pending approval and a direct-line email address to the hiring manager.
POCIT Jobs is a site dedicated to people of color working in tech. It costs $199 to post a position for 30 days, and they also distribute the post to their over 15,000 newsletter subscribers and 50K social media followers. On top of that, you’re able to proactively search and connect with candidates who have profiles on their site.
The Support Driven job board exclusively posts customer support jobs. They list both remote and co-located opportunities. It’s $250 for a 45-day featured job post, or $150 for a 30-day standard job post. If you’re a job seeker, join the email list to have new job postings sent to you.
As the name suggests, Remote.co is focused on remote positions. They also have a job board section specifically for customer service-related work. It’s $179 for 30 days with a discount for multiple job posts (helpful if your remote company is hiring in other departments). Job seekers can sign up to have new job posts emailed to them.
Similar to Remote.co, We Work Remotely is focused on remote positions. They also have a section of their job board dedicated to customer support and customer success jobs. It’s $200 to post a job for 30 days.
Customer support books
With all the online media available these days, it’s sometimes easy to forget that one of the best resources any professional has access to is books. Below is a list of six support books we think everyone working in the field could benefit from reading.
If you’re wanting an even more in-depth book list, you can check out our list of the 27 best customer service books.
This book is part autobiography of Zappos founder Tony Hsieh’s life and part blueprint of how to create a customer-centric culture at any company. It’s become a must-read for most anyone working in customer support.
This is much more of a “how to” book, in which the authors posit that every decision you make can either move you closer to customers or further from them. In essence, it’s a challenge to take the path less travelled and to make a commitment to backing up your words with actions.
A big part of delivering exceptional service comes down to your ability to clearly articulate ideas and information. The Art of Explanation gives practical tips and advice anyone can use to present ideas clearly, coherently, and effectively.
This book focuses on teaching repeatable practices and processes to ensure a consistently high level of service. In order to do that, the author offers seven different strategies readers can use to create a culture of excellence in their organizations.
Sometimes the biggest hurdle to delivering great service is internal strife. All teams have their issues, and this bestseller deftly describes five common issues teams face in detail and offers advice on how to overcome them.
This book changed the way our own Mat Patterson viewed and practiced customer support. It distills great customer service into four fairly simple steps that anyone can implement in any interaction.
Working with the best support tools
Customer service is a tough job, but it’s made easier with access to the right tools and resources. Be sure to audit your needs regularly and fill the gaps when necessary with some of the helpful tools above. When you do, everyone involved will be set up for success.