For many of us, the thought of using spreadsheets and email to manage customer support and trouble ticketing is unimaginable. But surprisingly there are smaller organizations still chained to the spreadsheet, email exchange and Post-It note when it comes to managing customer support.
When there are so many ticket management solutions, features and functionalities to offer, this doesn’t seem to make sense – until you consider that there are hundreds of options out there. With too much to choose from, confusion on the part of the uninitiated is a major contributing factor towards doing nothing, according to a recent research by Software Advice, a customer service solutions consulting firm.
Their report, based on a survey of 385 randomly selected small to mid-sized companies provides insight into what finally drives them to look for customer and service support (CSS) software and which features they most often prioritize when they are ready to make a purchase.
Over half of the sample (52%) were graduating directly from basic, manual methods. Others needed to make a change from software that lacked CSS functionality. Only 14% were looking to upgrade from existing CSS software.
Jay Ivey, market researcher at Software Advice, observed, “There are a lot of small businesses out there who are drowning in support requests. They know they’re falling behind because they’re not taking advantage of the technology, but they aren’t sure about what’s out there on the market—whether there are really SMB-focused products that are affordable and accessible enough for their organization, and whether these products can truly benefit their business.”
“According to our data,” Ivey added, “effectively resolving customer queries is becoming a big competitive differentiator; so these numbers suggest that a lot of small businesses out there are falling behind because they’re not taking advantage of technology. And with so many simple, affordable cloud-based CSS software solutions on the market, there’s really no good excuse.”
Customer (Complaints) as King
Nearly two thirds of respondents (64%) said they needed software to improve the way they managed customer complaints, saying that customer inquiries were falling through the cracks, or that a perception of poor service had directly cost them business. Conversely, only 29% of those seeking to upgrade their existing CSS software said they had difficulties in handling customer complaints. Their motivation for purchase was primarily to add specific CSS features.
Top-requested CSS Features
Heading the list of required features in new software purchases was trouble ticket management, followed by (in order of priority): reporting/analytics; interaction history; automated routing; self-service; escalation management; alerts; knowledge management; multi-channel ticketing; call center integration; live chat; mobile; and surveys. It would be interesting to see how this list of priorities might change after the user organizations gain some experience with their selected software.
Other interesting conclusions from this sample group were that buyers overwhelmingly wanted web-based software (66%), but only slightly (51%) preferred standalone CSS solutions over a CSS functionality included in an integrated suite like CRM.
For companies who are embarking on the purchasing process for the first time, our best advice is:
1) Make a list of the features and functionality that are essential to your organization
2) Winnow down a shortlist based on factors like price, ease of use, and customer support
3) Take a trial run of your top choices, using the free demo software on most sites
4) Ask your peers, making sure that you’re comparing like with like
5) Enjoy the new-found freedom from forgotten call backs, delayed resolution and lost time!