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 19 customer service tools to help you create the best support experience possible. Whether you’re just starting out or are a seasoned pro, there’s something on this list that can help improve your performance.
What are the different types of customer service tools?
Before we dive into the list, let’s take a quick look at the types of tools that customer support teams tend to use on a regular basis.
Ticketing system/help desk
Ticketing systems or help desks are software platforms used by support teams to communicate with customers and track incoming requests. They typically bring multiple channels into one shared inbox that can be accessed by the entire team.
The following channels are often managed through a single help desk, though stand-alone products for specific channels also exist:
Email: Email is good for non-urgent issues or for requests that may require follow-up.
Phone: Phone support is great for issues that need to be handled in real time or for requests that are delicate and can benefit from a more personalized interaction.
Live chat: Chat lends itself to issues that can be resolved quickly without a lot of back and forth.
Social media: Some help desks support the management of customer requests placed on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Stand-alone social media support platforms will also offer the ability to manage and schedule content.
A knowledge base is a collection of useful information — documentation, how-tos, answers to FAQs, etc. — that make it easy for people to find answers to their problems without needing to ask for help.
Companies use knowledge bases both internally and externally, and knowledge base software is often included as part of a help desk, but stand-alone tools exist as well.
Great for companies with an avid online fan base, community forums give customers a place to chat. Beyond general discussion, forums offer the opportunity for customers to crowdsource answers to any issues they may be experiencing.
When outages occur, it’s important to find a way to provide regular status updates to your customers. Incident management software provides features like an online portal where people can check the status of your services and get up-to-date info when an issue has occurred.
Video and image capture software
While most operating systems come with a native way to capture screenshots or create a screen recording, dedicated software comes with features that make your images and videos easier to share, store, and track.
Though text-based help articles are great, adding video to your knowledge base can make your content more accessible. Since videos can take up a lot of storage space, you will need to pick a hosting platform. This can be something free, like YouTube, or teams may choose a paid platform that comes with extra features like analytics and editing capabilities.
When customers write in with an issue that turns out to be a software bug, you’ll need to have a way to escalate them to the correct team for review and resolution. Most development teams will have their own tracking system in place, so you’ll just need to make sure that members of your support team have access to the software. You may also want to investigate whether your development team’s tool can integrate with your help desk.
To make sure that the customer voice is never lost in the shuffle, it’s important for support teams to give regular cross-company updates. This process is made easier with good presentation software that will allow you to create well-designed decks quickly.
Whether you’re walking a customer through your product’s onboarding process or hopping on a call with teammates to troubleshoot a bug, video conferencing software is a must for customer service teams. Look for software that provides the ability to screen share and record meetings for those who can’t attend.
The 19 best customer service tools for every support team
Ready to get started? Here are 19 tools that are guaranteed to help your team deliver amazing customer support.
HubSpot Service Hub
Salesforce Service Cloud
Bettermode (formerly Tribe)
1. Help Scout
Best customer service tool for small businesses.
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: Free trial available. Plans start at $20/user per month.
Best customer service tool for live chat.
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.
One thing to note is that many of the features mentioned above aren’t available on their more basic plans.
Price: Free trial available. Plans start at $15/agent per month.
Best free customer service tool.
HubSpot is well known in marketing and sales circles for its 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.
Price: Free plan available. Paid plans start at $45 per month (includes two users).
Best customer service tool for enterprise companies that provide phone support.
Zendesk’s support offering is split into two general plan types: foundational support and Zendesk suite. The foundational support plans only include a shared inbox and some basic collaboration tools, but the suite plans support additional channels like voice, live chat, and self-service.
While email and live chat support are pretty common amongst help desks, voice is often handled through a third-party tool. Zendesk Talk is built right into the agent workspace and allows agents to place calls directly from a ticket. The system is capable of recording calls and documenting the recordings and transcripts within a ticket for later review. Depending on the plan, teams can also utilize IVR features to route calls to specific agents or let customers request a callback.
In addition to voice support, Zendesk’s suite plans include features such as automation capabilities, productivity tools like internal notes, and even more advanced features like a chatbot. Zendesk’s functionality is quite impressive; however, given the complexity of implementation, it’s best suited for enterprise companies.
Price: Free trial available. Suite plans start at $49/agent per month.
Best customer service tool for teams that use Salesforce.
Similar to HubSpot, Salesforce is best known for its 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 of Service Cloud is being able to connect with the rest of your Salesforce tools.
Price: Free trial available. Plans start at $25/user per month.
Best social media customer service tool.
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. For teams with dedicated support social profiles, Sprout lets you schedule content so that you don’t have to log into each platform to post.
Price: Free trial available. Plans start at $249 per month.
Best customer service tool for teams that need a stand-alone knowledge base.
If your company only needs a knowledge base, then a stand-alone tool like KnowledgeOwl could be a helpful addition to your tech stack. The platform lets teams create customizable knowledge bases with the help of a WYSIWYG editor.
The tool is equipped with user roles and permissions, making it appropriate for internal or external use. For those interested in proactive support, you can allow users access to articles throughout your website or application using the software’s contextual help widget. The widget also includes a contact form for moments when your customers require additional help.
A few other notable features of KnowledgeOwl are its versioning, export, and file hosting abilities. These features are often missing from knowledge base software included with help desks, or if they are available, they come at a premium cost.
Price: Free trial available. Plans start at $79 per month.
8. Bettermode (formerly Tribe)
Best customer service tool for building an online community.
Bettermode (formerly 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 Bettermode, customers get access to that resource, giving them another avenue to get assistance when they need it most.
The price point for Bettermode can be pretty steep for smaller businesses, but it might be useful for larger companies whose online community requires a robust platform.
Price: Plans start at $599 per month.
Best customer service tool for teams focused on self-service.
If your company’s support strategy is centered around self-service, ForumBee is an interesting tool to look into. The platform offers both community forums and knowledge base capabilities, giving your customers the opportunity to quickly access important information on their own, while still offering a space for direct communication with your company and other customers.
The software comes with event calendars, user profiles, private messaging, integrations, and reporting dashboards to help you monitor user engagement.
Given that Forumbee supports both public and private implementations of their product, the platform could also be an ideal choice for creating an internal knowledge base and community for employees.
Price: Free trial available. Plans start at $250 per month.
Best customer service tool for incident communication.
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.
Price: Free plan available. Paid plans start at $29 per month.
Best customer service tool for capturing screenshots and screencasts.
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 faster.
They also have an easy-to-use GIF maker to create short loop videos for instances when you need more than a picture.
Price: Free plan available. Team plans start at $8/user per month.
Best customer service tool for video walkthroughs.
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.
Price: Free plan available. Paid plans start at $12.50/creator per month.
Best customer service tool for adding video to your knowledge base.
You can think of Wistia as 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 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.
Price: Free trial available. Plans start at $19 per month.
Best internal customer service tool.
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 number of emails you send and receive. Outside of general communication, Slack is a great place for companies to manage IT and other internal support requests.
Beyond internal communication, many support platforms like Help Scout and Zendesk integrate with Slack. Slack channels can receive notifications when a conversation is created, updated, replied to, or closed. This can be especially helpful for smaller teams where folks outside of customer support may need visibility into customer communications.
Price: Free plan available. Paid plans start at $7.25/user per month.
Best customer service tool for creating an internal knowledge base.
We know how powerful a good knowledge base can be for customers, so why not create something similar for internal use? Slab is a tool designed to help companies centralize their knowledge.
It’s great for information like org charts, employee handbooks, and general contact information. Teams can also store notes from meetings, record operating procedures, and even use it as a project management tool. Slab lets you create checklists and assign tasks to project collaborators, and it allows teams to work on the same document simultaneously.
Slab’s pricing is quite reasonable compared to other internal knowledge base solutions. They offer a free plan for up to 10 users, which, despite being limited in features, still might be a good choice for smaller teams.
Price: Free plan available. Paid plans start at $6.67/user per month.
Best customer service tool for video conferencing.
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 into 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.
Price: Free plan available. Paid plans start at $149.90/user per year.
Best customer service tool for presentations.
You can think of Pitch as 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.
Price: Free plan available. Paid plans start at $8/member per month.
Best customer service tool for bug reporting.
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. 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.
Price: Free plan available. Paid plans start at $7.75/user per month.
19. Google Workspace
Best customer service tool for team collaboration.
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 some of the 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, and Google Sheets is great for spreadsheets.
Price: Free trial available. Plans start at $6/user per month.
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.