Research Shows Service Software as Crucial Strategic Investment

These days, customer service is the fertile plain for lasting growth. Planting the right seeds here will very likely result in a hearty year-round harvest in sales and customer satisfaction.

Craig Borowski, customer service researcher for reviews and comparisons hub Software Advice, labels our times “exciting for being involved in the customer service industry”, since now, and more than ever, “companies are looking to improved customer service and improved customer experience as key competitive differentiators.”

In fact globalization has dramatically changed and evidently limited companies' possible moves to outdo the competition. Vast masses of vendors and providers of all sorts have, as Borowski puts it, “flattened out” cost differentiators globally. The internet and social media have sparked and canalised customer opinion and inevitably also their anger. Companies are spurred on to find new ways and emerge into a field that they had long treated shabbily. As for that matter, customers used to be easily shielded off on what for long was the first rampart of any modern company: the hotline.

The End of “Dialogue Simulation”

German journalist and author, Sascha Lobo, had predicted new turns in customer service two years ago in the SPIEGEL magazine as a result of a “collective self-defence” that customers had been forced into. Accordingly, he believed that “the sheer power of the interconnected public could eventually lead previous dialogue simulation between company and customer to become an actually target- aimed event, abandoning hotline-reality for real support and care”. He might have just been exactly right with this pithy assumption, by now the numbers to cement his point have been delivered.

For their 2015 survey, Software Advice questioned 218 companies about their use of software for customer service. The numbers provided by Craig Borowski and his team highlight just how much companies today are willing to invest in target-orientated support and decent customer service. It transpired that out of all solutions Help Desk currently seems to be the go-to-software.

Have companies finally recognized the value of great customer service?

Out of companies with plans to change their help desk software investment plans this year, the survey found that a stunning 84% “are planning for an increase in new automated options.” The following chart shows how the shares are split between significant decrease and significant increase of investments.

circle diagram showing projected help desk software investments 2015 vs. 2014

Within the 84% of increase we see that nearly 70% are planning a moderate increase while 16% want to invest a significantly higher sum. Subsequently, only a small number (17%) are expecting to reduce their dedication to Help Desk software at all. Now, does this mean that companies have generally altered their minds and accepted the importance of each and every customer's opinion? What's safe to say is that they have whole-heartedly embraced the potential boosts in sales that happy customers offer.

Companies now are finally willing to adapt to all of the preferences their customers have

I will not to make any pretence of the potential revenue being the driving force behind any measurable increase in companies' customer service expenditures. Smiles on the other end of the line might be a side benefit not captured in Software Advice's survey. In spite of this clear causality, customers, as a result, could finally receive the privilege of having all their preferences considered and served.

From what the companies told Software Advice we get that for 45% the main reason to invest in Help Desk Software is their desire to add new features. This number unveils how these companies are increasing efforts to please their customers not only in their most dominant wishes throughout a bigger group but to also adapt to every customer individually. This comes with a personal customer support that is able to cater their needs flexibly.

circle diagram showing top reasons for increasing investment in help desk software

Help Desk Software Is Preferred by Growing Businesses

Even negative numbers support the trend.

Looking at the chart above and the one following, it's obvious that Help Desk is preferred by companies that are growing or about to do so. Department growth serves as the reason to turn to Help Desk software for 40% of companies. This delivers clear evidence of how companies believe in these solutions as a great answer to their issues dealing with growing numbers of customers. Also, out of 218 companies surveyed by Software Advice, 24% named company downsizing as their initial cause to reduce their expends for Help Desk Software. Furthermore, even those numbers highlighting companies' abandoning of this customer service type supports its general welcome among companies, with the top reason being lack of need for a new software, including the option that those companies are already using cloud-based Help Desks.

circle diagram showing top reasons for decreasing investment in help desk software

The new importance of good customer service is not limited to a single industry but spread across all kinds of them.

Another central finding of SA's survey is that live chat by now has grown to be one of the most used features in Help Desk software. It has reached spot number three with 45% of questioned companies describing live chat as their most used feature in Help Desk software. Only two major and rather fundamental functions of customer service, namely ticket management and reporting analytics, have been named the top feature more often.

bar graph showing frequently used help desk software functionality

Rise In Efficiency Is Sparked by Help Desk Software

Generally, Help Desk software is seeing an overall rise in usage and throughout nine departments, it has been rated as having a positive or very positive impact. In seven out of nine fields it was seen as a positive addition for more than 90% of questioned people (image below). The “worst” (20% negative vs. 79% positive) reviews have appeared in the time needed for training staff in usage of the new software. A tiny but considerable indicator for the importance of ease-of-use in these solutions.

bar graph showing impact of help desk software on department performance

If we take a look at the market shares of Help Desk software providers, we see a clear leader in Zendesk, whose huge initial and following fundings have surely helped a great deal to catapult them to the top (41%) with a comfortable distance to the chasing pack. Just these days, Freshdesk proclaimed the pursuit . The following players are rather even in their market share and could inspire each other in their competition.

circle diagram showing market share of the biggest help desk software companies

The figures show how much of a vital and promising field customer service still is. Also, the peak of possibilities in terms of customer adaptation and revenue options does not seem to have peaked yet. 2015 is another interesting year for Help Desk software.