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Customer Service Tools: Zendesk, Desk.com, Freshdesk, etc.: What's your experience?

Things are going well atArithmetic, the skincare company I launched to help adults with acne, and it's time for us to upgrade to pro tool to manage customer service.

But I don't see a clear winner for e-commerce stores (mine is hosted by Shopify). In addition to support requests via e-mail, we're getting a few phone calls.

In a Quora thread, the head of customer service at Asana suggested Desk.com for its ease of use and social media integration. Desk also claims it's used by a lot of other companies I respect.

The same has been said about Zendesk, though quite a few online users say Zendesk is clunky, un-intuitive, and requires a lot of clicks to accomplish basic tasks.

But I'm drawn to Zendesk's pricing model and Zendesk Voice, their call center tool, which sounds like an inexpensive way for us to get started managing customer calls.

Desk.com and Freshdesk integrate with a call center tool called TalkDesk, which looks cool but doesn't seem to be gaining much momentum since it came out of 500 Startups in 2011.

Does anyone have any experience with customer service and call center tools? Any suggestions?

12 Replies

Jake Carlson
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Jake Carlson Entrepreneur • Advisor
Software Development Manager at Oracle
Zendesk is pretty good but does take some getting used to. I agree it's a little un-intuitive at first

How many support personnel do you have and how many support requests do you get a day? How involved are the requests?
Jonathan Barronville
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Jonathan Barronville Entrepreneur
Software Engineer at npm, Inc.
@Andy Bosselman:

For customer service, I recommend Snappy ( http://besnappy.com ), hands-down!
It's a service from Userscape (http://userscape.com ), which also builds the awesome HelpSpot service ( http://helpspot.com ), and they've been around '04.
I've used Snappy in combination with Trello for freelancing/contracting purposes and it works wonders!
I've also helped a couple clients move to it, and so far, they've only had great things to say.
Last but not least, it's built by folks many of us respect in the development community, such as Taylor Otwell (the lead developer of Snappy), who happens to be the creator of Laravel ( http://laravel.com ), the best (subjective) and most popular (fact) PHP framework out right now.

I'd love to hear what others are using!

Good luck!

- Jonathan
Joseph Galarneau
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Joseph Galarneau Entrepreneur • Advisor
Founder and CEO at Mezzobit, creating transparency and control for Internet data
I've used Zendesk since launching over the summer and like the combination of help desk functions as well as the ability to build a knowledgebase and forum for self-service user support. I do agree that the administrative interface is a bit wonky, but I think it provides good value.
Jesse Gibbs
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Jesse Gibbs Entrepreneur
Proven Head Of Product | Helping Companies Translate Their Business Goals to Reality
I've had pretty good success using Zendesk at my last two companies, each of which has a team of 3-5 support people dealing with a few hundred tickets per day. The setup time is minimal and it's quick to get started with the basic features. If you are dealing with a lot of tickets, the macros and automation are nice power features.

The 'Starter' plan pricing ($2/agent/month, up to 3 people) is great for early stage companies.
Cheng-Chien Kuo
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Cheng-Chien Kuo Entrepreneur
Co-Founder / VP of Engineering at RetSKU
I'd recommend User Voice. For the customer service features, User Voice is similar to others. But what I like about them is a feature that allows users to do feature suggestions and feature voting. To me, it helps shorten the user feedback loop and can get user input without conducting user surveys.
Ryan Schilling
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Ryan Schilling Entrepreneur
Vice President at Caring.com
Hi Andy, I'm running an 80 seat call center currently and have been in your position several times. I've used desk.com and am currently using zendesk. Honestly, neither are great products. We'll probably end up building something. Another colleague is using an email solution called matrix. I don't know what your call volume will be but that should be the determining factor for your call center software solution. We're using five9 but takes a lot of work. For just getting started I've heard ringcentral is a pretty cool choice and I've wanted to try them. Stay away from contractual and insidesales. Give me a call if I can be of further help. [removed to protect privacy] Best, Ryan
Karthik Hariharan
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Karthik Hariharan Entrepreneur • Advisor
Engineering Manager at Desk.com
Desk and Zendesk are really geared for larger support orgs and there's a considerable amount of ramp up time with either one to get started. It may be worth it, depending on many customer support requests you're dealing with. Both are great for multiple channels of requests (Social Media, Email, Phone).

Both products can scale up with you fairly easily but require you to go "all in" with the products initially to really see the value. Also they aren't cheap for a bootstrapped or pre-funding operation.

For startups and smaller installations, I have heard good things about HelpScout. HelpScout focuses on email only (no phone or social media) but for many startups, that covers it. Even for our customers at Desk, email is still the strongest channel by a longshot.
Andy Bosselman
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Andy Bosselman Entrepreneur
Founder at Arithmetic
I liked Ryan'sassessment ofZendesk vs Desk.com:"Honestly, neither are great products." They're not bad products, either. (As a Shopify user, I've come to expect amazing UX and ease of use - I need to lower my expectations when it comesto other services.)

Zendesk offers a free year of service to startups (here). That, and the ability to add a toll-free number, sold me.

I've been trying it out with the guy who is helping me with service requests. It's wonky, especially the phone stuff. But we can pass tickets between the two of us. And unresolved tickets don't get lost in anyone's inbox. Now that we're set up, that's worth a lot.
Raphael Londner
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Raphael Londner Entrepreneur
Developer Advocate

I personally think HelpScout is overhyped, especially it only offers a KB feature through a (paid) plug-in, but I haven't tried it so it's just my impression (they certainly do good marketing though!)

I use Freshdesk Blossom plan ($19/m/agent) which is cheaper than the Zendesk Regular plan (the first one to provide domain mapping, such as http://support.mycompany.com )

I haven't had too much problem getting used to Freshdesk and they've made some good UIimprovements overtime (such as sending a response AND setting the ticket status at the same time - probably something Zendesk does too). I also keep the impression that I struggled a bit with ZD when I used their trial a while ago.

We alsouse Grasshopper,but I don't know if/how it works for a call center (I guess theyprobably have an offer for that too).

Joe Mellin
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Joe Mellin Entrepreneur
View My Learnings
My favorite for anything SAAS is Intercom

The best part about it is it ties conditional emails into a ticketing tool. Makes it way more proactive than normal help desks.
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