What Customer Service Software Buyers Look Like

February 17, 2015

Each year Software Advice speaks with thousands of small business professionals that are seeking customer service solutions. Recently, they analyzed a random sample of 385 small businesses to find out the most common reasons for customers wanting new customer service and support (CSS) software, as well as the features that they prioritize when making a purchase. Here’s a summary of their findings with all the most important conclusions picked out.


In Brief


The key findings were that:
• Only 14 percent of potential buyers actually used dedicated CSS software. The others used manual methods like email.
• Small businesses that bought CSS software for the first time were likely to say that they struggled with managing complaints.
• 90 percent of buyer wanted basic trouble ticket management, while 36 percent were also seeking reporting features.


Let’s take a more in-depth look.


Current Methods


Most buyers in the sample were using manual methods for their customer support functions, including spreadsheets, email managers, or even physical paper while they communicated with customers through phone and email. Managing customer complaints is becoming such an important part of being competitive; this data indicates that some small businesses have a long ways to go when it comes to improving customer service. Other buyers were using software that lacked dedicated CSS features, or using software designed for other purposes (like call centers). Fourteen percent were using CCS and seeking an upgrade.


Struggling With Service


Another major conclusion from this study is that many first-time buyers are struggling to handle their customer support. Almost two-thirds cited a need to better manage customer complaints as a reason for seeking new software; some worried that customers were slipping through the cracks or that they were losing business.


Seeking Features


Almost all buyers are seeking basic trouble ticket management; 90 percent were looking for the ability to generate and manage a trouble ticket queue. Others were also seeking analytics software or self-service functionality.


A thin majority wanted a standalone solution that was focused only on customer service, as opposed to an integrated suite. This is probably because many small firms don’t have the time or resources to devote to a full range of specialized software, and would rather only buy what they need. Many, however, were seeking a full range of products such as call center software or consumer information gathering systems, which suggests that small businesses are starting to take advantage of the full range of customer software solutions.


Web-based Solutions


Almost two out of every three businesses wanted web-based software, with only one percent asking for software that needed to be installed locally. This is consistent with other research that indicates buyers are leaning towards cloud-based solutions, since web deployment drastically reduces costs and increases flexibility.


Demographic Characteristics


Demographically, most of the buyers they spoke with represented small IT or software companies, at over 38 percent. Ten percent were manufacturers, and the rest were a diverse range of industries such as banking or transportation. The sample was limited to businesses earning under $ 100 million each year, with 29 percent earning less than 1 million and 32 percent earning between 1 and 5 million.


So, there’s an overview of the types of companies seeking CCS (Help Desk) software, as well as the kind of software they want.

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