Ana Khlystova
Nov 15, 2019 | 18 min read

To be completely honest, customer service is such a wide notion that it’s quite difficult to see which tools count as customer service tools and which don’t.

I remember the times when you had to call companies and talk to them on the phone whenever you had any problem or question. And talking was the best-case scenario.

More often than not, you were routed to some interactive voice response system, which asked you some pre-recorded questions while you had to choose between several options. Usually, we ended up with nothing even remotely helpful.

That was the kind of customer support you could get not as long as 20 years ago. (I guess many companies still use such customer service software these days.)

Call center memes

Fast-forward to the present day, and customers have messengers, social media, help centers for self-help. They can call, write, send letters, complain all over social media, and whatnot. What a time to be alive!

But, what if you’re on the other end of this spectrum? What if you’re running a business and want to provide the best customer service you’re capable of?

It’s pretty simple — you need a reliable customer service system. Since there are hundreds of those on the market these days, this guide’s sole aim is to compile a detailed customer service software comparison in one place so that you can make an informed decision.

If you’re evaluating customer service software for your business, why don’t you try HelpCrunch? It offers live chat, knowledge base, shared inbox, email automation, and popups features in one package. Just create an account with HelpCrunch, it’s free for 14 days.

What are customer service tools?

So yeah, customer support software comes in all shapes and sizes. 

The most common and convenient way to describe and categorize support tools is to divide them by communication channels. There are five most popular channels that customers use for contacting businesses and getting assistance from them — live chat, email, social media, phone, and self-service centers

You’d think it will make five corresponding types of customer service tools, but there are actually six of them:

1. All-in-one customer service software covers all of the above-mentioned channels in one omnichannel software. You won’t need a separate tool for live chat, emails, phone calls as every customer request is going to land into a unified dashboard where you can manage them in a single browser tab.

2. Live chat customer service software encompasses real-time messengers that you can install on your website or app. Live chat will appear in the form of a small button so that customers can click them, open a live chat window, and connect with a support agent right away to help resolve your issues. The whole experience with live chat software is much like using WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger.

3. Help desk customer service software is mainly associated with emails (though it’s not exclusively so). Customers can contact a business via email, but instead of answering to them from Gmail, businesses can use help desk software. This way, all emails land into this specialized help desk software where it’s way more convenient to track, tag, and manage huge loads of emails.

4. Social media customer service tools help businesses track all their mentions across all social media and respond to them as fast as possible. Strictly speaking, these tools fall into the marketing category rather than customer service. But in a broader sense, customer service, marketing and sales are all parts of customer communication, that is why it can be difficult sometimes to distinguish between them.

5. Call center customer service software provides you with all the necessary features to manage incoming calls from customers more effectively and keep them all in one database. People usually like call center customer service for its immediacy, but companies often fail to provide it on a decent level.

6. Knowledge base customer service tools are made for creating portals with pre-made answers to customers’ common questions. To a certain degree, knowledge base software solutions are similar to classic content management systems like WordPress. They usually give you a text editor where you can create and publish articles plus a few useful enhancements.

So, which customer service tool is for you? 

The answer to this question depends on your goals and objectives.

Call centers require more people and resources. You have to hire enough operators to answer calls immediately and avoid keeping people on hold for too long. Moreover, younger generations are less eager to make phone calls in general. According to Business Insider, 59% of consumers would rather go through additional channels to contact customer service than use their voice to communicate.

On the other hand, live chat service is way easier on your budget, since one agent can operate 5-6 chats simultaneously. Forbes reports that 51% of customers also prefer to live chat because it allows them to multitask. But live chat also implies real-time communication and, hence, requires an immediate reaction from your support team.

Knowledge base software for customer service allows you to create articles once and save much time and resources. Customers also expect businesses to provide self-service portals of some kind. So it’s a win-win situation for all, except that knowledge bases can’t completely substitute human help when it comes to unique and complex issues.

Quote:

In a lot of cases, if your customers need to have human contact, you’ve already failed them.

Document360

Old-fashioned help desk customer service management software is easier to keep up with since customers don’t expect immediate reaction via email. However, keep in mind that long response time can be frustrating and usually leads to much lower customer satisfaction rates.

All this only brings us to an obvious conclusion: if you want to be successful and beat your competition, you can’t concentrate on one channel and ignore the rest. 

Users want to access a knowledge base and address issues on their own. They also want to contact you immediately if they can’t find a proper answer. Since they want things to be done immediately, you should make your customer support available 24/7 with the help of offline forms, chatbots, etc.

So, where does it bring us? The best customer support software is the one that covers all these tasks in one place. Luckily, theres’s an answer to this requirement — all-in-one solutions.

All-in-one customer service software

So, let’s begin with the best customer service software for all-in-one communication and proceed to stand-alone solutions for each channel.

1. HelpCrunch

  • Features: live chat, help desk, knowledge base, email marketing, popups
  • Pricing: from $15/mo/team member
  • G2 rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4.7 / 5
HelpCrunch customer service software

HelpCrunch is your ultimate all-in-one customer support tool. It’s one of the best customer service software, offering live chat, knowledge base, ticketing, email automation for marketing and sales. Basically, you won’t have to leave its dashboard for communicating with customers ever.

Picture this: every single message from a customer, be it via email or chat, lands into the HelpCrunch dashboard as a separate conversation (aka ‘ticket’). It gets assigned to a certain customer support agent or department. Support reps can re-assign, tag, add private notes, send canned responses, and send email follow-ups on the go.

The HelpCrunch Knowledge Base comes with a simple and intuitive editor and SEO-settings to help your self-service articles get indexed by Google. You can add the knowledge base to the chat widget so that customers can find their answers right off the bat.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, though. HelpCrunch also offers numerous features for shooting automated chat messages to your website visitors and encouraging them to start a conversation. SaaS businesses will enjoy targeted in-app messaging.

The Standard ‘Live chat’ pricing plan for $15 includes live chat, ticketing, knowledge base, pop-ups and unlimited contacts. And for $29/mo/team member, you get email features to follow up on leads and retain existing customers. All in all, HelpCrunch is the best customer service software for providing support that will raise customer satisfaction, retention and sales instantly.

2. Intercom

  • Features: live chat, help desk, knowledge base, product tours, chatbots, email marketing
  • Pricing: from $59/mo
  • G2 rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4.4 / 5
Intercom customer service software

Intercom is a known reliable customer service system. They’ve been consistently building their extensive set of tools to cover every customer support need. At the same time, the company’s main focus has shifted towards sales features in recent years.

Intercom’s most famous feature is their Messenger (aka live chat). You can add different apps to the Intercom Messenger. It is a powerful tool for customer communication as well as showcasing company news, blog posts, knowledge base articles, etc. Their chatbot is also one of the most sophisticated and well-developed on the market. 

However, Intercom’s pricing is their greatest setback. Not only are their prices higher than the market average, but they also charge additionally for active contacts, bots, product tours, etc. That is why the platform is more suitable for enterprises willing to pay a lot for their customer service software.

3. Crisp

  • Features: live chat, help desk, knowledge base, chatbot
  • Pricing: from $25/mo, free plan available
  • G2 rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4.4 / 5
Crisp customer service software

Crisp is the best customer service software if you’re looking for something like Intercom, but not as expensive and flashy. Their live chat, knowledge base, and ticketing features are great on their own and integrate well with each other. This customer service tool is also very dynamic and constantly adds new features and improves existing ones.

Crisp’s pricing is quite pleasant, too. The tool offers a free limited plan for 2 agent seats, while their paid subscriptions start from $25/website for 4 seats. But be aware that knowledge base, chatbot, integrations, and other enticing features are only available on the $95/mo subscription.

Overall, the whole customer care tool looks promising. But some users complain that their customer support and sales team is very misleading. Apparently, Crisp likes promising too much and not delivering on their promises in time. Honestly, I think it’s okay for a small upcoming company, but their potential leads should be aware of this and take Crisp’s words with a grain of salt.

4. Help Scout 

  • Features: live chat, help desk, knowledge base
  • Pricing: from $25/mo/user
  • G2 rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4.3 / 5
Help Scout customer service software

When you sign up for Help Scout customer service software, you actually get something they call a mailbox. The Standard $25/mo plan gives you 3 mailboxes on top of live chat and knowledge base features. It simply means that you can connect 3 email addresses to your HelpScout account and receive emails from all of them in one dashboard.

All in all, HelpScout is a nice and simple customer support tool. They offer live chat with a knowledge base integration so that your customers can easily switch between these two tabs and contact your customer service team only if they haven’t found the answer in your help center.

5. Zendesk 

  • Features: help desk, live chat, knowledge base, cloud call center
  • Pricing: from $25/mo
  • G2 rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4.2 / 5
Zendesk customer service software

Zendesk is probably one of the best customer service software if we talk about the number of features it offers. The thing is, they are also one of the oldest tools on the market, which sometimes can show in their UX/UI or overall performance. 

The tool started off as a ticketing system and added the live chat feature later on by purchasing a third-party solution. That’s why their live chat may seem a little outdated and disconnected all the while other numerous tools aren’t that well integrated with each other.

The ticketing is great, though. They really invest in it, so I don’t think you will find a help desk solution as developed and feature-rich as Zendesk. If ticketing is the primary way you do customer support at your company, it can be a great choice for you.

In terms of prices, the company offers seven all-in-one plans for customer support and three additional packages for sales. Basic solution for help desk, live chat, social media, and knowledge base support costs from $59/mo per agent. A simpler plan for communication with customers via email, Facebook, and Twitter is more affordable at $25/mo per agent.

6. Drift

  • Features: live chat, help desk, knowledge base, chatbots
  • Pricing: free plan available
  • G2 rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4.3 / 5
Drift customer service software

Drift is a great robust all-in-one solution focusing on sales and marketing features like chatbots, calendars, or conversational landing pages. 

You can use the free version for their basic customer service software, though. For $0, you get a live chat widget and one agent seat. However, their other subscriptions are much more costly — from $400/mo for extended live chat and chatbots to $1500/mo for account-based marketing, personalized playbooks, and other fancy stuff.

7. LiveAgent

  • Features: live chat, help desk, knowledge base, cloud call center
  • Pricing: from $15/mo
  • G2 rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4.5 / 5
LiveAgent customer service software

LiveAgent’s main focus is also on their ticketing features with live chat playing a secondary role. I guess that is why their basic ‘Ticket’ subscription plan offers only help desk and knowledge base channels. You can get it for $15/mo/agent.

If you want to use LiveAgent as a true all-in-one customer service system software, you’ll have to pay $39/agent/month for live chat, help desk, knowledge base and call center tools. 

My impression is that all these tools are quite well-integrated and reliable, even if sometimes their design decisions may seem outdated. But then again, the very idea of ticket-based customer service is pretty outdated on its own.

Which brings us to the next category…

Live chat customer service tools 

Live chat software for customer support is on the rise right now, more and more with each passing day. Customer service is becoming faster, and people aren’t eager to wait days or even hours. They expect an immediate answer whenever they need help, and live chat is the only way to rise to those expectations.

8. LiveChat

  • Features: live chat, help desk
  • Pricing: $19/mo/seat
  • G2 rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4.5 / 5
LiveChat customer service software

LiveChat is the best customer service software for live chat powered by basic help desk features. This simply means that you can create tickets and respond to people via email as well. 

It can be a great choice if you’re looking for something simple with all the necessary live chat features like automated greetings, saved responses, and chat forms. One distinguishing feature from LiveChat is their message sneak peek, which allows your support agents to see what customers are typing before they send their message.

The basic subscription costs from $19/mo per agent. The more advanced features like unlimited chat history, detailed reports, SMS integration are available on the $50/mo plan.

9. Olark

  • Features: live chat
  • Pricing: $19/mo/seat
  • G2 rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4.3 / 5
Olark customer service software

Olark has one single feature and, correspondingly, they offer one subscription plan with the full functionality. It costs from $19/mo/agent.

In a nutshell, Olark’s live chat is simple, intuitive, and user-friendly, although it feels like it lacks some customization options. In terms of functionality, it has everything a modern online customer support tool should have: chatforms, file sharing, customer data as well as the ability to send automated and targeted chat messages.

However, there’s a downside, too. Such important customer service software features as chat unbranding or chat localizations are only available at additional cost.

10. Chatra

  • Features: live chat, help desk, chatbot
  • Pricing: from $19/mo/agent, free plan available
  • G2 rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4.2 / 5
Chatra customer service software

The pleasant thing about this customer service software is that Chatra offers a free subscription plan with unlimited chats and chat history for one agent seat. So, if you’re a small business looking for a simple live chat solution, the tool may be a good starting point.

If you’re interested in something more advanced, go with their paid subscription. It costs $19/mo/agent and includes some nice extra features like a chatbot, targeted chat messages, group chats for several support agents, detailed customer data, and operating hours.

11. Pure Chat

  • Features: live chat
  • Pricing: from $49/mo/agent, free plan available
  • G2 rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4.4 / 5
PureChat customer service software

Pure Chat offers pretty feature-rich customer service software for live chat. For $49/month, you get 4 agent seats and some advanced features like visitor tracking and full widget customization with chat unbranding. 

If you’re interested in getting SMS notifications about new chats, Pure Chat can send them to you — up to 100 on the $49 plan and 1000 on the $99 subscription. I guess that is interesting, but quite useless given that best customer service software solutions usually have full-fledged mobile apps. All in all, the solution is quite simple with nothing extra to offer.

12. ClickDesk

  • Features: live chat, help desk
  • Pricing: from $14,99/mo,  free plan available
  • G2 rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 3.9 / 5
ClickDesk customer service software

Though ClickDesk’s live chat may seem a little outdated in terms of UX/UI, their toolset is worth mentioning here. They have a free subscription plan that includes 10 agent seats, audio calls, 30 chats, and 25 tickets per month. Yes, 30 chats in total. So, I guess if you have more than 30 customers, ClickDesk’s free plan is not the best choice.

Their most basic paid subscription costs $14.99 per month and it will allow you to have unlimited chats. But if you’re here for ClickDesk’s video chat feature, you’ll have to pay at least $24.99 per month for the ‘Pro’ plan. It will also include post-chat surveys, chat history, and reports.

All in all, it looks like ClickDesk is not the best customer service software for a modern stylish company, but it does offer all the necessary features at an affordable price.

13. Acquire

  • Features: live chat, video and audio calls, knowledge base, chatbot
  • Pricing: from $300/mo
  • G2 rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4.3 / 5
Acquire customer service software

Acquire’s most outstanding feature is its co-browsing tool which allows your support agents to see and interact with your customers’ screens in real time. Naturally, this can accelerate your support performance dramatically.

Other customer service tools offered by Acquire include live chat, video and audio calls, SMS. All these features are available on their basic pricing plan for $300/month. And for as much as $950/month, you can add to them a knowledge base. Please note that not only are these prices monstrous, they are also specified only for annual subscriptions.

Help desk customer service software 

In my opinion, traditional help desk tools are becoming a thing of the past. Bigger companies like Zendesk have understood this long ago and changed their business model to become all-in-one solutions.

Still, there are some companies that don’t want or can’t afford to provide real-time live chat support, that’s why they turn to good old ticketing systems. Let’s talk about the best customer service software solutions for help desk now:

14. Freshdesk

  • Features: help desk, knowledge base
  • Pricing: from $19/mo/agent, free plan available
  • G2 rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4.4 / 5
Freshdesk customer service software

The curious thing about Freshdesk is that it’s not a help desk tool in the traditional sense. Company owners perfectly understand that the market’s evolving and they have to add modern customer service channels to their toolset. However, they sell them separately. 

So, you can purchase their Freshchat for chat, Freshcaller for call center software, Freshsales for CRM, and Freshdesk for help desk. The latter is their most known toolset and main Zendesk competitor in the help desk area.

Freshdesk offers a ticketing and knowledge base customer service system for $19/mo/agent. There are other subscription plans, too, but they differ only by different ticketing and security features like knowledge base localizations, custom roles, or HIPAA compliance. There’s also a free subscription plan available.

15. HappyFox

  • Features: help desk, knowledge base
  • Pricing: from $39/mo/agent
  • G2 rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4.5 / 5
HappyFox customer service software

Just like Freshworks with all their disconnected packages of tools for customer service, HappyFox also offers live chat as a separate product. Help desk is their main selling point, though.

You know that the company is pretty ambitious if they call their most basic plan ‘Mighty’. So, what do you get with the ‘Mighty’ subscription for $39/mo/agent? It includes a knowledge base, unlimited tickets, and canned actions (macros). The more advanced plan you choose, the more ticketing and security features you get.

16. AzureDesk 

  • Features: help desk, knowledge base
  • Pricing: $30/mo/user
  • G2 rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4.6 / 5
AzureDesk customer service software

AzureDesk has only one subscription plan. On this plan, you get unlimited mailboxes (email addresses), a knowledge base, and all collaboration and reporting features like private notes and tags.

Many AzureDesk’s reviews emphasize that the tool is super easy to use and not overloaded with redundant features. So, if you’re looking for a simple help desk solution for basic customer support needs, you may like this one.

Knowledge base tools

If you don’t have time or resources for a full-fledged customer service team, you should at least create a self-help center on your website. For the most basic version, you wouldn’t even need anything other than WordPress and its knowledge base plugins.

But if you want to take your help center game to the next level, you better choose top customer service software for it.

17. Helpjuice

  • Features: knowledge base
  • Pricing: from $120/month
  • G2 rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4.4 / 5
Helpjuice customer service software

Helpjuice is probably the most known stand-alone knowledge base tool. And the most expensive one, I suppose. They have four subscription plans that range from $120/mo to $369/mo. So, what does Helpjuice offer for such a price? 

Their text editor has all the customization and collaboration features your support team may need. Multiple people can work on the same article, and all changes will be saved. 

The knowledge base reports are very detailed and informative: you can see how many people read your self-help center, which articles perform better, which authors write more helpful content and what your visitors search for in general.

At last, you can choose whether you want your knowledge base to be public and accessible to everybody or private.

18. HelpSite

  • Features: knowledge base
  • Pricing: from $14,99/mo, free plan available
  • G2 rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 5.0 / 5
Helpsite customer service software

Don’t be afraid, knowledge base customer service software doesn’t have to cost a fortune. For instance, HelpSite’s prices start at $14,99/mo, and there’s also a free plan for 25 articles available.

HelpSite’s text editor has all basic customization editing options, but the tool is limited in terms of customization. Your knowledge base will look like a list of clickable FAQs, that’s it. However, you can apply custom CSS and HTML if you subscribe to the $49.99/mo plan. 

All in all, it’s nothing extra, but enough to create a simple self-help site at a low cost.

19. Document360

  • Features: knowledge base
  • Pricing: from $59/mo/project
  • G2 rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4.7 / 5
Document360 customer service software

Document360 is the best customer service software for advanced knowledge base management. Their knowledge base is organized in the form of tree view navigation: all the categories are located on the left side and can have assigned emojis for a better visual arrangement.

Basically, you get unlimited articles on all subscription plans, the difference is mainly about your team’s size, backups, analytics, and storage facility. The ‘Startup’ plan allows only 2 team accounts and 1 knowledge base version. On the ‘Business’ plan, you will be able to restore documents from 30 days ago, while the $359 ‘Enterprise’ plan will give you access to backups from 90 days ago. 

Call center customer service software 

A quick disclaimer first. In the following section, I’m going to list only cloud call center tools. I’m aware that there are also on-premise hardware solutions, but honestly, I don’t have enough expertise in them. And why on earth would you want to choose something so outdated and difficult to maintain?

20. Aircall

  • Features: call center
  • Pricing: from $30/mo/user if billed annually
  • G2 rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4.3 / 5
Aircall customer service software

Aircall is the best customer service software that helps your team consolidate phone support activities under one elegant dashboard. You can easily monitor how many calls are being made, how many of them are answered (or dropped), and how each member of the team performs. 

Aircall users get access to advanced features like call routing, conferencing and automatic responses that guide callers to the correct member of the team. But the real advantage of Aircall is how easy it is to integrate it with other tools on your stack, from a CRM like HubSpot to Slack.

The basic pricing plan costs $30/mo/user, but be aware that they only specify prices for annual subscriptions on their website. In other news, it seems like Aircall is the only call center tool that reveals its prices. Other tools hide them for some reason.

21. Talkdesk

  • Features: call center
  • Pricing: unknown
  • G2 rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4.4 / 5
Talkdesk customer service software

TalkDesk is an online customer service tool for a contact center. It helps your team make customer support experience smoother by automatically setting up and recording calls, storing your notes and integrating with your existing ticketing system. 

It also features a set of robust reporting tools that enables you to detect agent statuses in real-time and access historical metrics like wait time, call duration or percentage of inbound calls answered below your target threshold.

22. Five9

  • Features: call center
  • Pricing: unknown
  • G2 rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 3.9 / 5
Five9 customer service software

Five9 is another cloud contact center provider that helps your support team optimize their performance. The platform automatically routes customers to agents and predicts demand to help your team operate efficiently.

Customer support agents can take advantage of Five9’s various predictive dialer modes. Users can set up the platform to intelligently fetch customer information for review before the call, automatically dial the next contact when an agent becomes available, and more.

Social media customer service tools

Social media tools traditionally belong to marketing rather than customer service. But if you don’t have any other channel for customers to get in touch with you, then you should pay particular attention to social media requests and mentions.

Here are some of best customer service software solutions for social media management:

23. Mention

  • Features: social media management
  • Pricing: from $29/mo, free plan available
  • G2 rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4.3 / 5
Mention customer service software

Mention is great not only for monitoring and managing your social media accounts, but also for tracking all your brand’s mentions across the web.

You can publish posts on social media and track web mentions on all subscription plans including the free one. The only peculiar thing is that Facebook tracking is only available on the $450/mo ‘Enterprise’ plan. Other than that, the differences between Mention’s subscriptions are mainly about the number of social accounts, mentions and alerts.

24. Buffer

  • Features: social media management
  • Pricing: from $15/mo/user, free plan available
  • G2 rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4.3 / 5
Buffer customer service software

Buffer offers at least six subscription plans divided by the number of social channels and scheduled posts. The basic packages are most suitable for social media customer service as it allows you to respond to social conversations across Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. However, they only allow a single user to access the dashboard and publish from it. 

The cheapest ‘Pro’ subscription costs $15/mo/user. It includes 8 social channels and 100 scheduled posts per channel. For $99/mo/user, you can add up to 6 users to your account.

25. Sprout Social

  • Features: social media management
  • Pricing: from $99/mo/user
  • G2 rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4.3 / 5
Sproutsocial customer service software

Sprout Social’s pricing is not particularly friendly if you’re only going to use their software for customer service. The cheapest ‘Standard’ subscription costs $99/mo/user. For this price, you’ll be able to manage up to 5 social media profiles, schedule and publish posts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin, and get access to some basic social CRM.

Sure, it allows you to manage social media, but at what cost?

Bottom line

To be completely honest, it’s not really your choice which customer service channel you want to cover. Customers want them all. They will message you via chat, send emails, mention you on their social media profiles, and call you if nothing else works.

That’s why the best customer service software is the one that covers all these channels and even more. Once you try an all-in-one solution like HelpCrunch, you would never want to turn to numerous disconnected customer care tools again. So, try it!

Read also

One comment

  1. Amazing article!! Thanks for sharing the list of the best customer service software. I want to suggest one more software for adding to this list named CXInfinity. Please review it and add it to your list.

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