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eCommerce Customer Support - Helpdesks and Live Chats (2019 edition)

Keeping your hard earned customers happy will be a huge part of whether your eCommerce business is successful – and providing excellent customer support is key. To this end, there are a host of tried and tested helpdesk and live chat systems out there which are designed to make your life easier. Do you need to use these? Well, they’re not absolutely essential.

But customers do expect outstanding service and these are specially designed platforms which keep an entire customer’s support history including email threads (normally called ‘tickets’) in one place. Plus, they tend to offer extras such as a knowledge base where you can add frequently asked questions and answers, all in an easily searchable and accessible fashion.

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You might find as your eCommerce store expands and your Gmail inbox fills up that a dedicated piece of helpdesk software is what’s required to keep your house in order. You really don’t want to have important customer questions mixed in with the rest of your emails. It’s a recipe for missed communications and annoyed buyers.

The other advantage to using a system like this is that by sending all customer support questions to one centralized location you can outsource the customer support area to other members of your team, or even outside your business entirely, by hiring an external agent.

Saved replies and assigning tickets

You can also use saved replies to quickly answer common questions. Typically you can also assign tickets to other members of the team or have the system do this for you automatically. So marketing questions can be sent to one person, but tech or product queries to another.

Taking immediate support to another level, Live Chat is becoming more frequent within eCommerce. If you can tolerate the disruptions it can cause, they can be a great tool to answer basic questions which might be preventing a sale.

Helpdesk Software

Help Scout

HelpScout
Help Scout

This has become one of the most popular helpdesk tools in the world, and for good reason. Help Scout has a beautifully designed web interface and encourages truly personalized responses so interacting with it feels more like talking to a friend than a helpdesk. It uses ‘Mailboxes’ to keep things organized across multiple brands and categories. You can write private notes on a ticket to collaborate with other members of your team on a particular problem.

One especially useful feature is ‘collision detection’ which warns you if another team member is currently writing a reply to a message you’re already answering.

With satisfaction ratings, integrations with the likes of HubSpot and SalesForce, it’s really a complete helpdesk solution, wrapped up in one very attractively designed package. Definitely one to consider.

Is there a free plan?

No. The cheapest plan is their “Basic” option for $12 per user per month.


Zendesk

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Zendesk is probably the daddy of all helpdesk systems and offers a complete package of solutions including chat, guides and even call center software. Used by the likes of AirBnB, Tesco, Uber and Slack, it’s got some of the biggest names on board with its platform.

Their helpdesk part, just called “Support” is a purposefully simple system to track, prioritize, and reply to customer support queries. With pre-defined ticket responses and a customer search history it’s easy to use. Its analytics are excellent also, with performance reports and dashboards and its simple to evaluate your customer’s satisfaction levels. An all round excellent product, but perhaps more suited to medium-large businesses than small startups.

Is there a free plan?

No. The most basic plan is $5 a month which covers one agent.


Gorgias

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Gorgias has arrived on the scene from a bang and has become the 3rd most popular helpdesk solution from seemingly nowhere. It’s Shopify-specific, so not for any WooCommerce or BigCommerce stores and heavily emphasizes automation.

By using data pulled from your installed Shopify apps with rules you create, the platform claims that up to 30% of tickets can be automatically responded to. It includes live chat with an interesting angle of asking the customer first, and triggering advice based upon a cart’s contents. By guiding them through the checkout, the platform is predicting a higher rate of conversions, and happier customers.

With data-rich macros enabling personalized messages to customers, as well as extensive revenue statistics based upon interaction with the platform, this is one to take a close look at if you’re running a Shopify store.

Is there a free plan?

No. The cheapest plan is $50 a month, billed yearly. It does include unlimited agents but covers only 500 tickets per month. It’s an extra $12 for each additional 100 tickets.


Re:amaze

Re:amaze
Re:amaze

Reamaze in an interesting solution which combines email, social media, mobile and chat conversations, all into one place. It has a live dashboard so that you can see all of your visitors on your site at any one time, and you can initiate chats with them through the system.

Reamaze also features an embeddable FAQs or help centre section so you can seamlessly include it on your own site without visitors having to be directed to a different domain.

The service also includes a host of features including satisfaction surveys, quick answers, reporting, workflows and automated chatbots.

Is there a free plan?

No. The most basic Re:amaze plan is $20 a month for one agent.


Freshdesk

Freshdesk
Freshdesk

Firstly a disclaimer, we use Freshdesk here at CommerceGurus, so I probably am a bit biased when it comes to this. But Freshdesk is also used by some of the largest companies in the world including American Express, DHL and HP for their customer support.

It’s a system designed for collaboration. It converts every email into a ticket, so there’s no switching between multiple tools – it’s all in one place. The interface is clean and minimal and it’s easy to assign tickets to other staff members, or work together on solving an issue.

With features such as collison detection, canned responses and the ability to merge tickets into one, Freshdesk has everything you’d need in a helpdesk system.

Is there a free plan?

Yes. Freshdesk offers an excellent free “Sprout” option for startups. This includes unlimited agents and a knowledge base facility. A fantastic offering.

Live Chat Services

To take support to another level you may want to look at adding a live chat service to your eCommerce store. These are five of the most popular options.

Zendesk Chat (formerly Zopim)

Zopim
Zendesk Chat

Zopim was acquired by Zendesk for $30m back in 2014, and it’s now fully integrated into their platform under the moniker, “Chat”. They say that customers are three times more likely to complete a sale if you reach out to them via a chat. By proactively engaging customers it also helps reduce cart abandonment and increase conversions.

Is there a free plan?

Yes. Zendesk offer a “Lite” plan which offers one concurrent chat, a chat rating, and a 30-day chat history.


Olark

Olark
Olark

Thus is a popular chat solution which includes design customization options that allow you to match the chat box colors to your own brand. There are automation rules included which allow you to engage more customers and speed up your workflow. You can also build custom chat forms and create your own fields which is great if the products you’re offering are quite specific and getting extra detail would help with the reply.

Is there a free plan?

Yes. Hidden away on their pricing page there is a small link to a free plan. It is capped at 20 chats per month so isn’t very practical. The standard plan starts at $17 a month, billed monthly.


LiveChat

LiveChat
LiveChat

Like the other services, LiveChat allows you to approach customers already on your site. You get a grade instantly at the end of each chat. This provides a gentle persuader to continuously improve the quality of support each time. In one case study, by plasticprinters.com, the marketing manager states that adding LiveChat has led to an increase of $65,000 worth of additional business each month.

Is there a free plan?

No. LiveChat’s “Starter” plan is the cheapest at $16 a month.


tawk.to

tawk.to
tawk.to

You can add tawk (nice name) with one line of javascript to your site, it’s very easy to get started. You can monitor visitors in real time, answer chats from your mobile and proactively engage your visitors with triggers.

Is there a free plan?

Yes. Remarkably, tawk.to is completely free. There is no premium version, all features are included in a single, free offering. They make money by offering you the ability to hire chat agents if you don’t want to answer chat questions yourself.


Chatra

Chatra
Chatra

Around 68% of carts end up abandoned. Chatra makes the simple, but effective point that asking, “Hey, can we help with anything?” can have a huge impact on whether a customer completes a sale. It stores email addresses for queries when you are not there, and say that 72% of visitors prefer to receive customer support in this fashion. It includes much of the same features as other chat services, including automation, multi-language support and an excellent mobile app.

Is there a free plan?

Yes. Chatra offers a free plan for one agent. You can even have unlimited concurrent chats, so speak to any number of visitors at the same time. The free offering even offers offline messaging and a multilingual option.

Did I miss anything?

Now, I’d like to hear from you. Which of the helpdesk and live chat services listed above is your favourite? Or maybe I missed a great customer support service which should have been included. Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below right now.

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