Article | 5 min read

Choosing a customer service solution for your startup

First time shopping for a CX solution? We'll tell you about a few important features you may be overlooking.

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

Last updated August 1, 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.

These are the top reasons they cited for needing customer service software:

  • More customer inquiries
  • Increasing operating costs
  • New product or service launch

If any of these sounds like you, then read on for tips to help you find a solution that aligns with your goals, your culture, and of course, your budget.

Customer service software features ranked by startups

Below is a chart showing how startups ranked common customer service software features, such as price, ease of use, scalability, and support channels offered.

It’s 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’re 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 center, 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 centers and omnichannel support, and they just might be the secret to success.

Read on to learn more about the most important features you don’t want to overlook.

3 important features you may be overlooking

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

If you’re new to this experience, it can be really overwhelming to decide which features to prioritize. There’s 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’s why: Unicorns and fast-growing startups were much more likely to invest in omnichannel service than they’re slower-growth counterparts. This suggests that prioritizing 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’re starting with just a few trusted channels or you’re 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 center

Sometimes good customer service 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 center 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 centers and community forums in place by year two.

So, what makes a good help center? Here are a few examples of brands doing it right.

Zendesk for Startups

Eligible startups can get six months of Zendesk for free and join a growing community of startup founders and CX leaders.

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’s 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’s 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 favorite apps into your support 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’s important to think about it as more than just a cost–it’s an investment. It can also be a revenue driver when you tap into customer data and give agents the ability to personalize service to the customer, cross sell, and increase their lifetime value.

We like to say that CX is everyone’s job, and that’s definitely true when you’re a growing startup. You’re deciding what kind of experience you want your customers to have and determining what you need to make it happen.

There’s no right or wrong answer, but here’s our advice:

  • Put your customers first, but not at the expense of your agents
  • Stay true to what makes your brand shine
  • Be helpful, always

Zendesk for Startups

Eligible startups can get six months of Zendesk for free and join a growing community of startup founders and CX leaders.

Zendesk for Startups

Eligible startups can get six months of Zendesk for free and join a growing community of startup founders and CX leaders.

Apply now