Justifying the costs of customer service must be one of the most common topics discussed in CX management meetings: “Let’s reduce support expenses… but increase customer satisfaction.”
But we were curious. How big of an expense is customer service, really? More precisely, we wanted to know how much money quality-oriented teams spend on their support software solutions.
So, we headed over to the G2 Stack database and analyzed the support stacks of some of the industry-leading customer service teams. The first thing we found out was unexpected, to say the least.
Quantity over quality
Customer satisfaction is affected by numerous variables from response times to the agent’s tone of voice to the final resolution. In an ideal world, businesses would nail their support goals in quantity – responding to as many tickets as possible in as little time as possible – as well as quality – by delivering delightful customer experiences with every interaction.
In reality, however, support teams have limited resources and can’t do it all. We looked into how much money support teams spend on increasing the efficiency of their interactions through helpdesk solutions, collecting customer feedback, and doing internal quality reviews. Here’s what we found out.
Though the majority of businesses are convinced that they need to work on their support quality, they are not using the necessary tools to help them in this quest.
So, the next time you are defending your customer service budget, see if it aligns with your goals and execs’ expectations. If you promise to improve customer service quality, make sure you have the tools to really pull it off.
To get a better picture of quality-oriented support teams’ budgets and tools, we shifted our focus from all customer service teams to only those that use some kind of internal quality tool. This helped us segment out companies that are already investing more resources into versatile CX strategies. In our opinion, these are companies that we could all learn from.
We categorized the tools that quality-oriented businesses use and calculated the cost of a support team’s toolkit.
Here’s the magical equation behind the software budgets of industry-leading customer service teams:$128 helpdesk + $27 customer feedback tools + $29 support QA = $184 per agent per month
Based on this information, we can roughly say that the optimal support software budget is structured like this:
- 70% of software costs come from helpdesk solutions. About half of the companies we looked at use a single helpdesk software solution and the other half combines up to five different tools. For example, some teams hire an additional chat solution or a separate customer success tool besides their main helpdesk software.
- 30% of the support budget goes into collecting customer feedback. The majority of those tools help teams conduct CSAT, NPS, and other surveys. Other solutions we see in this category deal with creating customer experiences through data analysis and user behavior.
- 30% of expenses are dedicated to support QA tools – that’s what sets some of the top-performing support teams apart from the rest of the market. Soundcloud, Chargebee, and Doodle are some of the companies that use internal conversation reviews and agent feedback to improve their support quality.
The key learning from this equation is that quality-oriented businesses maintain a good balance between internal and external feedback. You need to listen to what your customers are saying, but you should also have your own quality standards in place to deliver consistent and high-quality customer experiences.
As it turns out, this will be reflected in your support budget as well.
The tools they use
Obviously, we weren’t interested in just numbers and budget lines. We also wanted to know what the most popular support tools used by industry-leading customer service teams are. Here are the results.
Other noteworthy tools used by industry leaders:
- Intercom, Help Scout, Talkdesk, Kayako, Kustomer are the most popular helpdesk solutions after Zendesk,
- Olark, LiveChat, and SnapEngage are the most used applications dedicated to chat solutions,
- Klaus is a conversation review and support QA tool that helps you improve your service quality through agent feedback,
- Nicereply is one of the most popular CSAT, NPS, CES survey tools that provides valuable insights and data analysis, followed by GetFeedback, UserVoice, and Delighted,
- Wootric combines feedback surveys with customer journey analytics and expectations management;
- SurveyMonkey, Typeform, and FormSite are some of the most widely used survey-building tools,
- Usabilla (by SurveyMonkey) has also received a warm welcome in the CX community.
It’s also interesting to note that the amount of money dedicated to customer service tools varies a lot. The biggest budget we’ve seen spent per agent is $600 per month, while some teams operate with about $85 per team member.
Keeping costs under control while creating the best possible value through customer service is a challenge that most managers have to deal with. Use the Quality Equation described above as an example of how successful support teams structure their budgets. Hopefully, this will help you create a well-balanced support budget that needs no further justifications.