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The Top Five Customer Service Software Options

Hubspot Logo

Hubspot

Best customer service software

4.8 4.8 Stars
  • Comprehensive service package bundles
  • Save up to 5,000 snippets and 5,000 templates
  • Shared, single mailbox
Hubspot is well known for its comprehensive business bundles. It’s an industry leader in the e-commerce management space, and has over 150,000 customers across 120 countries.

  • Starting price: $27 a month (on bundled plans for 2 agents maximum)

  • Ease of use: Moderate

  • Multi-box support: Yes

  • Knowledge base and reference capabilities: via saved snippets and templates

  • Demo or free trial: 30 days

  • Average overall cost comparison: Moderate to high



Hubspot’s single inbox style offers near-unlimited integrations to keep all customer communications in one place.

Hubspot continues to lead the industry with comprehensive bundles to support all areas of business — especially customer service. For the sake of this review, I evaluated the Starter CRM Suite package, from $27 per month.

The software offers one of the most inclusive dashboard designs out of all of the tools I evaluated, giving your team a single, centralized format to view messages from all company channels. This intuitive interface allows you to surf assigned, closed, and sent messages in a single-click view.

The customer support provided by Hubspot is a contributing factor to its rank, offering 24/7 phone and email support, as well as 24/7 access to chat assistance with a global team of reps. This is great for business owners who want the full marketing suite of services but may need a little extra help onboarding.

Hubspot’s strongest selling points are its consistency, ease of use, and comprehensive design with each of its packages and services. Business owners can unlock even more cost-effective benefits by going with a bundled option over the standalone service packages.

It’s bolstered by a template and snippet service. I noted the option to create 10,000+ saved responses, as well as its user-friendly design and unlimited support. This all contributes to a shortened learning curve. Business owners will be able to quickly launch and execute — saving you time and opportunities.

Who is Hubspot best for?

Hubspot truly is the “unicorn tool” that’s great for everyone. However, my testing and experience have shown that those who could get the most cost-effective use would be mid- to large businesses and corporate enterprises.

Hubspot offers helpful Chatflow options to harness the power of automation in your most common responses.

Recent upgrades to Hubspot

While Hubspot’s latest developmental updates occurred in 2021, the site continues to be enhanced via micro fixes for customer experience benefit and connectivity. The site’s recent changes may propel you toward a more Zero Trust approach with authentication points and offering more enhanced data analytics.

These softer updates occurred twice in September 2022 alone, leading me to believe that Hubspot will continue to update its interface to serve the needs of its base.

Hubspot pricing

Hubspot is a bit more expensive than competing customer service options, but with good reason. The bundle price kit that I evaluated didn’t offer customer service support exclusively — it had a full library of tools to grow and scale your business over key areas of operation.

Hubspot pros and cons

Pros

  • Popular choice
  • Comprehensive bundled packages for business growth and scalability
  • Integrated mailbox for expedited customer support

Cons

  • More expensive than other options
  • Starter paid bundle only covers 2 team members

    Summary

    • Pricing
      • $27 a month (on bundled plans for 2 agents maximum)
    • Ease of use
      Moderate
    • Multi-box support
      Yes
    • Demo or free trial
      30 days
    • Average overall cost comparison
      Moderate to high
    Features
    • Comprehensive service package bundles
    • Save up to 5,000 snippets and 5,000 templates
    • Shared, single mailbox
    Groove Logo

    Groove

    Best customer service tool for startups

    4.5 4.5 Stars
    • Tools such as “anti-collision” protection, private notes, and assignments
    • Easy-to-access knowledge base
    • Simple integration capability for site and app chat tools included in the site’s native dashboard
    This is best for brands that need a truly seamless customer experience, and that have an extensive team of agents. Groove’s built-in efficiency tools and anti-duplicity are some of its main benefits, offering business owners the illusion of an entirely synchronous team at a consumer-facing level.

    • Starting price: $12/month (per user)

    • Ease of use: High

    • Multi-Box support: Yes

    • Knowledge base and reference capabilities: Yes

    • Demo or free trial: 30 days

    • Average overall cost comparison: Low


    Groove’s sleek design promotes uninterrupted, focused work — easily connecting customer service team members to whatever box they need. 

    I was impressed by Groove’s sleek, minimalistic design that promotes distraction-free customer support in a single, centralized interface for incoming inquiries. Neatly separated into email and chat boxes, your team can delegate, manage, and execute out of Groove’s easy-to-use dashboard design.

    Groove’s packages begin at $12 per month per user. It offers graduated pricing perks, such as multiple mailboxes, rule creation, application programming interface (API) access, and integration with top e-commerce tools like Salesforce and Hubspot. It’s also impressively scalable, suiting the needs of small and midsize businesses up to global brands and enterprises.

    I appreciate the service’s segmentation and multiple mailbox features, which make it easy to support many brands. That can be helpful to serial entrepreneurs and rapidly expanding business owners. It also offers simple data import for effortless integration and transfer.

    Who is Groove best for?

    Due to its library of easily scalable perks and sub-services, I believe that Groove is best for midsize businesses, offering the most benefits for the price compared with other tools on this list. You can enjoy multiple mailboxes, API and integration opportunities, and rule workflow functionality for a fraction of the price compared with other list options.

    Groove’s knowledge base is far more in-depth than other options, which is great for rapidly scaling businesses. 

    Recent upgrades

    Groove is one of the most consistently updated service options, which offers great promise of potential for business owners looking to optimize their processes. Some of the most notable updates I’ve seen are the live chat feature to connect with clients on your site(s), and the launch of iOS and Android apps for easy mobile management.

    Groove pricing

    I was pleasantly surprised to see Groove’s current price point — $12 a month per person. This is incredibly affordable for the suite of services included. You also won’t see a major price jump per seat as your business grows and scales, as the highest cost you’ll pay (without a custom enterprise plan) is $30 a month per seat.

    Groove pros and cons

    Pros

    • Sleek, inclusive, and minimal design structure for more efficient function
    • Affordable and scalable packages with discounts for startups, and price points are still ideal for rapidly growing businesses of any size
    • API and integration options with top e-commerce tools, such as Jira, Salesforce, and Hubspot for comprehensive benefits

    Cons

    • Users report more heavy delays in inbound email sync compared with other services
    • Rapid updates may pose additional learning curves and require additional “refreshes.”

      Summary

      • Pricing
        • $12/month (per user)
      • Ease of use
        High
      • Multi-box support
        Yes
      • Demo or free trial
        30 days
      • Average overall cost comparison
        Low
      Features
      • Tools such as “anti-collision” protection, private notes, and assignments
      • Easy-to-access knowledge base
      • Simple integration capability for site and app chat tools included in the site’s native dashboard
      LiveAgent Logo

      LiveAgent

      Best concierge customer service tool

      4.2 4.2 Stars
      • Both call and chat center management capabilities included in base price
      • Internal- and external-facing knowledge bases
      • 24/7 customer support via chat, email, phone, or socials/portal, and white-glove onboarding experience
      LiveAgent is used by top brands, including Forbes, NASCAR, and many more. This is for good reason, as the app offers 300+ integration opportunities and ticketing features for large-scale and global brands. It was the first software to combine live chat and help desk capabilities when it launched in 2006.

      • Starting price: $15 a month (per user)

      • Ease of use: Moderate

      • Multi-box support: Yes

      • Knowledge base and reference capabilities: Yes

      • Demo or free trial: 14 days

      • Average overall cost comparison: Low


      Agents can easily search their busy mailboxes with LiveAgent’s convenient filter system

      LiveAgent has made a splash in the customer service software market since its launch in 2006. It’s been picked up by some of the biggest names in the industry. It’s one of the most comprehensive choices due to its multiservice call and chat management functionality.

      The depth of LiveAgent’s service is impressive for its low per month, per agent cost. For just $15 a month per agent, you can make use of 300+ features and integration opportunities in the native interface. For this price, I got access to internal and external knowledge management tools, advanced reporting, and pairing with some of the top platforms in e-commerce, such as Shopify, Salesforce, Squarespace, Mailchimp, and WordPress.

      The native CRM (customer resource management) functionality and automated routing are some of the top perks I explored with this service, as well as its support for more advanced types of calls: transfers, interactive voice response (IVR), and video calls — on top of its chat and email management tools.

      One of the best parts of the service is that you can connect as many inboxes as you want, thanks to the unlimited support for third-party email systems.

      Who is LiveAgent best for?

      I believe that LiveAgent is best for larger businesses and full-scale, global enterprises. The depth of service you receive for the price is one of the most competitive on this list, allowing you to easily grow and scale your customer service offerings. Smaller businesses may also benefit, but may not need the range of services the tool offers.

      Live Agent has an easy-to-reference dashboard for management at a glance and easy optimization. 

      Recent upgrades

      The LiveAgent changelog shows regular improvements and fixes, occurring approximately once per week. This service also continues to roll out larger-scale platform changes, such as the recent addition of intuitive newsletter email templates for more comprehensive marketing. I look forward to seeing how the platform continues to meet the needs of e-commerce business owners.

      LiveAgent pricing

      LiveAgent is one of the best deals on this list, with prices starting at $15 per month, per seat. This price is competitive given the wide range of services available and allows you to easily scale your customer service offerings. You can also try the “Forever Free” version. It offers basic chat, phone number, email links, and basic customer portal and reporting features.

      LiveAgent pros and cons

      Pros

      • Concierge, white-glove onboarding experience, and 24/7 multichannel customer support
      • Advanced, at-a-glance reporting for more efficient execution
      • API and integration opportunities

      Cons

      • Less intuitive and harder to learn than other available options
      • Users report mixed experiences with the spam filter and available embedding options, leading to technical challenges

        Summary

        • Pricing
          • $15 a month (per user)
        • Ease of use
          Moderate
        • Multi-box support
          Yes
        • Demo or free trial
          14 days
        • Average overall cost comparison
          Low
        Features
        • Both call and chat center management capabilities included in base price
        • Internal- and external-facing knowledge bases
        • 24/7 customer support via chat, email, phone, or socials/portal, and white-glove onboarding experience
        Help Scout Logo

        Help Scout

        Best tool for small businesses

        4.0 4.0 Stars
        • Assignments and private notes per message
        • Knowledge base functionality
        • API and 50+ integration opportunities, custom reports, and automated workflows
        Help Scout is renowned for its commitment to sleek, centralized experiences through the platform service. It’s consistently won G2’s Best ROI Award due to its comprehensive customer service approach and interdepartmental management.

        • Starting price: $20 a month (per user)

        • Ease of use: High

        • Multi-box support: No

        • Knowledge base and reference capabilities: Yes

        • Demo or free trial: 15 days

        • Average overall cost comparison: Moderate


        The inboxes allow for easy navigation, assignment, and management.

        Help Scout is an award-winning customer service tool that I found to be incredibly easy to use and simple in design. It’s one of the only tools on this list with no real learning curve and a nearly endless potential for customization and optimization, thanks to its easy API access and integration partnerships with top services and tools.

        Help Scout’s base plan comes out to $20 a month per seat, slightly higher than competitors such as Groove and LiveAgent. However, while not as comprehensive as Hubspot, it does offer advanced functionality in automation, workflows, and reporting.

        Beyond your regular customer service management tools, it offers light CRM tracking and management by mailbox, conveniently housed under the “Customers” tab. It also allows for an easy interdepartmental function, allowing you to search and assign work by tags, team, or specific members.

        Who is Help Scout best for?

        I believe that Help Scout would be ideal for small businesses that are on a rapid growth track. It has all the tools you need to scale (such as integration opportunities, automation, and knowledge management) without the “clunky” learning curve that a service like HubSpot requires.

        Help Scout’s easy reporting dashboard gives you the key metrics you need to optimize your processes — avoiding the cluttered look of other service dashboards. 

        Recent upgrades 

        Help Scout releases updates and enhancements on a near-quarterly basis, which you can read about on its blog or within your dashboard. The March 2022 release included iOS app enhancements, dynamic first name capability, and referral program rewards. I’m excited to see how the platform continues to improve.

        Help Scout pricing

        Help Scout is one of the pricier options on this list with a total cost of $20 a month per seat on the base plan. But it does offer lighter complimentary functionality, enhanced automation options, knowledge management, and workflow capabilities, making it a higher value than other lower-priced tools.

        Help Scout pros and cons

        Pros

        • Simple interface has little to no learning curve
        • More dense automation and workflow support for easier operational management
        • API and 50+ integration opportunities to tailor your experience

        Cons

        • CRM functionality, while present, is not as extensive as other platforms.
        • May require use of different integrations to reach advanced functionality levels for bigger brands

          Summary

          • Pricing
            • $20 a month (per user)
          • Ease of use
            High
          • Multi-box support
            No
          • Demo or free trial
            15 days
          • Average overall cost comparison
            Moderate
          Features
          • Assignments and private notes per message
          • Knowledge base functionality
          • API and 50+ integration opportunities, custom reports, and automated workflows
          Zendesk Logo

          ZenDesk

          Best customer service tool for enterprises

          4.0 4.0 Stars
          • Up to 50+ AI-powered answers for messaging across web, mobile, and social channels
          • Proprietary ticketing system is perfectly suited to large-scale organizations
          • API and 1,000+ apps and integrations that are pre-built and ready for wide-scale implementation
          Rated No. 1 Digital Customer Service Tool by Gartner, Zendesk is a solid option for e-commerce business owners. The platform is used by some of the top brands, including Mailchimp, Uber, and Stanley Black & Decker. While widely used by enterprise clients, startups can get great benefits too — and use Zendesk free for up to six months.

          • Starting price: $49 a month (per user)

          • Ease of use: Moderate

          • Multi-box support: Yes

          • Knowledge base and reference capabilities: Yes

          • Demo or free trial: 30 days

          • Average overall cost comparison: High


          Zendesk’s ticketing system is designed to preserve productivity and encourage resolution for large-scale organizations and enterprises. 

          Zendesk is the platform of choice for global businesses and enterprises who are ready to take their customer service experiences to the next level.

          It has unique ticketing systems and industry-leading capabilities for automation and workflow setups. I like that you can manage multi-channel messages through a single centralized interface, conveniently structured with optimized tools to delegate and execute.

          Although the platform fee is significantly higher than the others on this list (starting at $49 a month per seat), you can enjoy advanced functionality. For example, it has 1,000+ pre-built app and integration opportunities, robust API support, and assisted onboarding processes to avoid lost time during the transition period.

          While this tool is best for larger businesses and enterprise brands, I believe that small businesses can enjoy additional benefits as long as they have time for the learning curve. Zendesk offers free service for six months for qualified startup brands, which provides additional support for businesses on a budget.

          Who is Zendesk best for?

          Large businesses and global brands can get the most out of Zendesk. While the functionality can be beneficial for many business types and structures, the depth of service and range of knowledge required could lead to longer implementation times and slowdowns without the proper infrastructure in place.

          When you first launch with Zendesk, you can expect assisted onboarding processes, self-help modules, and more tools to streamline your transition. 

          Recent upgrades

          Zendesk has recently launched a large number of updates targeting user experience and messaging, incorporating new avenues of integration that are suited to mid- and large-size enterprises. Other notable updates include new views and insights for your datasets and messaging dashboards, as well as ticket insights to better prepare your agents.

          Zendesk pricing

          Zendesk comes with a heavier price tag, with inclusive plans beginning at $49 a month per seat. While it may be more expensive for the functionality included when compared with tools such as Groove, it’s a great choice for enterprises that require more complex ticketing and sorting systems for a larger customer base.

          Zendesk pros and cons

          Pros

          • Adequate infrastructure to appeal to businesses with a wide customer base
          • Extensive API and integration library (1,000+ pre-built options) for optimized function
          • Email, voice, SMS, and live chat functions to appeal to multichannel needs

          Cons

          • More expensive with potentially fewer inclusions when compared with bundled services such as Hubspot
          • Complex dashboard and setup process may cause longer learning curves (despite setup assistance)

            Summary

            • Pricing
              • $49 a month (per user)
            • Ease of use
              Moderate
            • Multi-box support
              Yes
            • Demo or free trial
              30 days
            • Average overall cost comparison
              High
            Features
            • Up to 50+ AI-powered answers for messaging across web, mobile, and social channels
            • Proprietary ticketing system is perfectly suited to large-scale organizations
            • API and 1,000+ apps and integrations that are pre-built and ready for wide-scale implementation

            How I Tested Customer Service Software

            I thoroughly examined and experienced each customer service software option by signing up for the base business plan. I then compared my experience across key metrics that would directly impact your success: price, reliability, ease of use, and implementation. 

            I also explored the perks provided within each plan to be sure it would keep your business as competitive as possible.

            I understand that it’s important to pick customer service software that you can trust. That’s why I presented the products in an unbiased, strategic, and transparent way, giving you direct insight into the cost-benefit analysis and potential costs you’ll run into along the way. 

            As I test these customer service tools, I launch fake customer tickets and open up my own knowledge bases (for external and internal use). I also evaluate the quality of the customer service options available to business owners. This helps determine the overall quality of the tool, and if it deserves a spot on my list of top tools. 

            Every customer service tool has been chosen based on its overall quality and potential for businesses in all seasons of development and growth. Based on the criteria listed above, I’m confident that I’ve reviewed the best customer service tools to suit your business’s needs.