One of the most critical elements of most businesses is its customer service, and, consequently, its choice of customer service help desk software.
Unfriendly, unintelligent or slow support is long remembered, and it has a lasting effect on a company’s reputation. Typically, the cheaper places have the most frustrating support.
The problem is that dedicated support is an expensive proposition. While the world of domains is largely automated and quite straightforward, the hosting side of things is extremely time consuming. I am consistently barraged with email configuration issues, complaints about short periods of inaccessibility, CMS bugs, general questions and some odd problems that only seem to happen to one or two clients – whether or not I’m even hosting their websites!
In many instances, the time I spend helping a client pinpoint one little issue often unique to their accounts or home ISP set up, far outweighs the miniscule margins made on hosting. We can only stress knowledge bases and DIY initiative so much, and of course, if somebody needs help, I want to help them.
The challenge for Mother.Domains is that we want to offer the best possible prices for our products without ever being regarded as “cheap”. We desire our customer service experience to be exceptional and personal, while acknowledging the reality that, as a start up, we can’t allocate a substantial amount of our budget to training and paying support personnel.
This is where one can turn a problem into an opportunity.
The right software and culture can make all the difference, so we set out to find how would accomplish everything we wanted, under a reasonable budget.
CLOUD SOLUTIONS FOR CUSTOMER SERVICE
In this growing, thriving age of cloud-based applications, intriguing solutions for customer service help desk software have emerged. Zendesk was the first such program that caught my attention, soon after I discovered Freshdesk, and looking a little deeper I found GrooveHQ.
Common feature sets include:
- Emails that trigger threaded support tickets
- “Canned” responses, to quickly select and populate common answers to regular issues, saving time
- Integrated knowledge base
- Automation that sends alerts when certain conditions are met or not met, such as the time to respond to issues, and assigning to specific agents, departments or categories
- Plus various extra features
Most services charge per user, making a company with a lot of users a potentially expensive endeavor.
I compared the full feature sets to see what each offered, checked pricing for its offered and upgraded packages, and soon removed Zendesk on account of it offering less core features, in a more complicated package, yet was the most expensive option.
Freshdesk was initially the most appealing based on its extensive feature set, but the more I looked into GrooveHQ, the more I was attracted to its simple, email-based / ticket-free support approach, its authority blog content, and that it felt more real and organic as a company.
Freshdesk spares no expense in marketing, and their retargeting campaign ensured most websites I visited reminded me of Freshdesk existence.
I love clean, modern websites and interfaces, and Freshdesk has the best of the lot. It made it easier to navigate through information, and features were graphically well-presented.
Freshdesk is geared for companies with an International focus, as the real power in their higher end packages related to multiple SLAs and business hours, as well as language conversion.
Their one killer feature nobody else can touch is their integrated phone system. All calls through a choice of a basic or advanced virtual receptionist, with customisable robot message boxes, or upload your own messages and background music.
Something a little more organic-feeling, GrooveHQ’s appeal is that they have learned the hard way, through trial, error and invaluable customer feedback, and used that to shape the direction of their offerings.
Particularly cool about Groove is that they’ve blogged about their learnings every step of the way, and their CEO, Alex Turnbull, is actively involved in content contributions and even personal customer support responses.
They have a rootsy feel, but lack a little in interface and the reliability of features.
I was engaged in conversations with Alex for a short period while evaluating GrooveHQ, when I ran into a contradiction in their, “free for life”, statement somewhere on their website, and he stopped responding at some point. This was definitely a negative.
We also could have used WHMCS’ built in ticketing system for free, but it comes without several advanced features, such as Freshdesk’s phone.
THE DECISION – SELECTING A CUSTOMER SERVICE HELP DESK
A year in the making, for our Mother.Domains customer service help desk software, we decided on….
The features that could not be matched anywhere else were the ultimate factors:
- Freshdesk phone support. Having a local number and that awesome interactive voice response system has no peers. We’ve piped our 1800 number (from Sonetel) to the Freshdesk Melbourne number and mailbox, and now all our calls can happen using VOIP. Any calls or messages can be instantly turned into tickets. Winner.
- Cleaner, more attractive interface. Freshdesk looks better and works better. It’s easier to navigate. It looks more modern. Groove’s style is a little bit older and less flexible to edit.
- Multiple business hours and SLAs. Mother.Domains will be spread throughout the world by the end of the year, operating in numerous countries and markets. The ability to serve local customers better, and being able to support the legal requirements, is a huge benefit.
- The Freshdesk App is useful – I can manage support calls and tickets on the road, even in transit.
- Integrated Game Mechanics – This will be incredibly fun and motivational when we have enough agents to use it.
- Finally… Freshdesk’s support is a little better. They’re a little overbearing at first, but if you know what you’re doing, they are there when you need it. GrooveHQ’s Turnbull didn’t respond to several of my emails, particularly one where we discussed the flippant “free for ever” package that apparently wasn’t necessarily so at the time.
We’re not thrilled with the pricing structure. We want the Garden package for the integrated Live Chat, the multiple time zone business hours and advanced CSS customisation, but it becomes expensive when you start adding multiple agents all over the world, so we will have to be smarter with agent accounts and rotate them around time zones. I would prefer a base price based on the features in the package, and then a smaller extra charge per agent, same across all packages.
That said, we are loving our Freshdesk experience. It has already served us very well through the trickiest and most stressful of times, and it held up excellently.
We’re excited using Freshbooks through our launch and into the future, as we remain committed to providing the best quality customer service within our means.