Skip to main content

Article 6 min read

Choosing a customer service solution for your startup

First time shopping for a solution that will help you improve your small businesses' customer service experience? Here are a few important features you may be overlooking.

By Sarah Olson , Senior Associate, Content Marketing, @seolson5

Last updated August 21, 2023

Nearly half of startup leaders we surveyed for the Startups CX Benchmark Report 2020 said they are actively looking for a customer service solution.

Our survey found the main challenges business leaders wanted to solve with customer service software were:

  • More customer inquiries

  • Increasing operating costs

  • New product or service launch

If any of these sound like you, then read on for tips to help you find a wide range of solutions that align with your goals, your culture, and of course, your budget..

Most important features in customer service software for small businesses

Below is a chart showing how startups ranked common customer service software features, such as price, ease of use, scalability and support channels offered. These small business leaders ranked these features by priority.

It is not surprising that price was a top consideration for startups, who often have small budgets and big ambitions. Other top priorities included ease of use and sales CRM capabilities.

But if you are making the decision solely based on price, it will show. It helps to strike a balance between your team’s needs (price, ease of use, etc.) and the kind of experience you want your customers to have (self service help centre, live chat, etc.)

Interestingly, many of the features correlated with faster startup growth ranked lower on the list. The most successful startups in our benchmark were more likely to invest in features such as self service help centres and omnichannel support, and they just might be the secret to success.Read on to learn more about the most important features you do not want to overlook.

3 important customer service tools you may be overlooking

As a growing startup, this may be your first time shopping for a customer service solution.

If you are new to this experience, it can be really overwhelming trying to find the best customer service software for your small business. There is no easy answer, but we want to help by shining a light on a few important features that companies big and small tend to overlook:

1. Omnichannel support

Omnichannel was one of the features startup founders ranked as lower priority, but it might be worth closer consideration.

Here is why: Unicorns and fast-growing startups were much more likely to invest in omnichannel service than their slower-growth counterparts. This suggests that prioritising omnichannel could give you a competitive edge.

Unicorns were 37% more likely to offer omnichannel support

The power of an omnichannel approach is that it allows you to provide a consistent, seamless experience on any service channel, whether you are starting with just a few trusted channels or you are scaling up to a true omnichannel experience. Here are a few benefits of omnichannel customer service:

  • Meet your customers where they are, even Instagram DMs, and manage interactions from a single agent workspace
  • Switch between channels without losing customer context or asking customers to repeat themselves (an all too common problem)

  • Add or remove service channels as customer preferences inevitably change over time

2. Self service help centre

Sometimes good customer support means helping customers help themselves..

Research shows that 69% of customers want to resolve as many issues as possible on their own, and 63% always or almost always start their search on a company’s website.

69% of customers want to resolve as many issues as possible on their own

Especially now in the midst of COVID-19, knowledge is power. Providing a self service help centre gives customers greater control over their experience, and at the same time, it lightens the workload for your support team. According to our startups benchmark, companies that went on to become unicorns were more likely to embrace self service, adopting it 61% faster than other startups in their first year. They were also more likely to have features like online help centres and community forums in place by year two. So, what makes a good help centre? Here are a few examples of brands doing it right.

3. Agent interface

Empowering your support team to do their best work is critical.

According to Gartner research, 86% of CX leaders said employee engagement is essential in delivering CX improvements.

86% of CX leaders said employee engagement is essential to improve CX

Here is an example: Showpo, an Australian-based clothing retailer, switched from Freshdesk to Zendesk because Freshdesk’s multiple interfaces were confusing for agents. They were scrambling to access tools and data across multiple browser tabs, resulting in longer reply and resolution times.

Now with Zendesk’s unified agent workspace, their first reply time for chats is just 26 seconds.

Illustration of a stopwatch with arms and legs

How CX software can increase productivity

Your customer service software should simplify tasks, not create more of them.

To be able to handle more customer inquiries without driving up costs, you need a tool that can consolidate your customer conversations, apps and data in a single, streamlined solution. Here are a few software features you should look for that can help boost productivity:

  • Intuitive workflow management
    You need a system that is powerful enough to automate routine customer correspondence at scale. Building out email templates and workflows will save you valuable time and effort, increase accuracy, and create a more consistent customer experience.
  • Apps and integrations
    It helps when you can integrate your favourite apps into your support desk software, such as Slack for internal communication or Qualtrics for customer surveys. That way your agents can collaborate and share information without toggling between multiple tools.
  • Artificial intelligence (AI)
    When demand for support is high, like many companies experienced in the wake of COVID-19, chatbots can do some of the work for you by surfacing relevant answers from your knowledge base. This allows your agents to focus on the most complex or urgent issues while maintaining high satisfaction for customers with simple questions.

Invest wisely

When choosing CX software, it is important to think about it as more than just a cost – it is an investment. It can also be a revenue driver when you tap into customer data and give agents the ability to personalise service to the customer, cross sell, and increase their lifetime value. We like to say that CX is everyone’s job, and that is definitely true when you are a growing startup. You are deciding what kind of experience you want your customers to have and determining what you need to make it happen. There is no right or wrong answer, but here is our advice:

  • Put customer satisfaction first, but not at the expense of your agents

  • Stay true to what makes your brand shine

  • Be helpful, always

We want to help startups with the cost of their CX investment. Eligible startups can get 6 months of Zendesk for free and join a growing community of startup founders and CX leaders.

Learn more about Zendesk for Startups.

Related stories

3 min read

Default triggers explained

Triggers are business rules that are automatically executed in response to certain events that have occurred…


How upgrading and maintaining software can improve productivity

We all know that we should keep our apps and devices up to date. From adding…

5 min read

Zendesk Dashboards make data work for you

A data-driven approach to decision-making helps businesses make the right decisions. But understanding your data can…

3 min read

What is a ticketing system? (+3 ways companies use them)

Want to avoid getting overwhelmed by support tickets? Use ticketing systems to manage the influx and provide your customers with timely responses.