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Customer support is more business-critical than ever. But in today’s fast-paced world, your customer support can only be as effective as the technology that underpins it.
Study after study shows that the vast majority of support teams are unhappy with their current customer support tech stacks. A recent Forrester Consulting study commissioned by Intercom, Drive Conversational Experiences For A Future-Ready Customer Support Strategy, revealed that 54% of teams can’t personalize support with their tech stack and 50% waste time jumping between tools.
Juggling outdated, disjointed tools is a recipe for team burnout, customer dissatisfaction, and ultimately, churn. With a modern conversational support solution, you can combine proactive, self-serve, and human support capabilities, so your team can get ahead of known problems with targeted messages, automatically answer repetitive queries with bots, and quickly resolve complex issues with automation and a human touch.
Powered by a modern business messenger, it scales your ability to answer more questions from more customers without increasing headcount, budget, or hours logged. It also integrates with other tools in your business’s tech stack so you can work seamlessly with other customer-facing teams – like marketing, sales, and product – to help, delight, and retain customers all from one inbox.
Below, we’ll share everything you need to future-proof your tech stack for the new conversational support era. You’ll learn the ingredients of a winning modern support tech stack and the key ways to optimize your stack through a proven framework. Let’s dive in.
Strategy first, technology second
The benefits of future-proofing your customer support tech stack for the new conversational support era are clear. But many support teams – especially those in the enterprise space – worry that “ripping and replacing” their tech stack will be costly: time-wise, cognitively, and financially.
“Adopting the right strategy will help you scale your personalized support without scaling your costs”
A carefully considered strategy can help you simplify the process and hone in on the conversational support essentials that will move the needle on your business’s bottom line. Adopting the right strategy will help you scale your personalized support without scaling your costs, which will have the knock-on effect of increasing your customer satisfaction (CSAT) and customer retention. It can also shift the outdated business perception of your support team from a “cost center” to a core value driver.
“The real value support software offers is in the approach it enables and how it impacts the customer and team experience”
But here’s the thing: a toolset is not a strategy. Sure, you can compare different software packages by their features, but that’s like marrying someone based on their dating profile. The real value support software offers is in the approach it enables and how it impacts the customer and team experience. So before you begin searching for specific tools, define your goals upfront. Here’s an example of key goals and metrics to consider.
Future-proof your support tech stack with the Conversational Support Funnel
Once you’re clear on your goals, a solid framework can help you pinpoint the exact tools and capabilities your team needs to succeed. With Intercom’s Conversational Support Funnel framework, meeting and exceeding modern customers’ expectations, increasing your team’s efficiency, and moving the needle on your business’s bottom line all go hand in hand. To achieve this seemingly elusive balance, it connects these three support layers and core capabilities:
- Proactive support that helps you get ahead of known problems before they reach your team using outbound messages, product tours, and mobile carousels.
- Self-serve support that resolves simple, repetitive queries through automated bots and contextual help content.
- Human support that empowers your team to resolve complex and VIP issues seamlessly with apps and automated workflows.
With the funnel, no matter how much your conversation volume grows or which resources you have on hand, you can still excel and provide customers with the fast, personal support they deserve. All without burning out your team or budget.
Alone, each layer of the funnel is powerful, but creating a connected support strategy with a flexible, all-in-one conversational support solution will help your team future-proof your tech stack and gain a true competitive edge. In the following sections, we’ll show you how to optimize and modernize your support tech stack through the lens of the Conversational Support Funnel framework.
Lay the right foundations with a powerful all-in-one conversational support tool
Future-proofing your support tech stack to meet both business objectives and the needs of modern customers starts with laying the right foundations. You need an all-in-one conversational support tool at the base of your tech stack to power each layer of the funnel and the ability to integrate with your favorite tools to enhance your team’s capabilities as your business grows.
“Your team will have all of the personalized customer data they need across a range of tools – all in one inbox”
Once your team is free from the shackles of constant tab and context switching, they’ll have more time to better support and satisfy your customers. And they’ll have all of the personalized customer data they need across a range of tools – all in one inbox.
Ingredients of a great conversational support tool
At a minimum, here’s what your conversational support tool should include:
- The ability to send targeted proactive messages so your team can preemptively resolve issues ahead of time.
- An integrated knowledge base and chatbots so you can empower your customers to self-serve and get instant answers.
- A team inbox to help you set up the right efficient workflows and work seamlessly with other teams.
- The ability to integrate with other tools in your tech stack.
- A solid API you can build on top of as your team grows and their needs evolve.
- The ability to report on your team’s success and gather meaningful insights that improve your support.
Top conversational support tools
The first step is to lay the right foundation with an all-in-one conversational support tool that powers each layer of the funnel. Obviously we’re a little biased 😉 so here are five top conversational support tools as reported by the world’s largest and most trusted marketplace, G2:
Intercom is an all-in-one Customer Communications Platform that empowers you to build better customer relationships through personalized, messenger-based experiences across the entire customer journey. It includes:
- Live chat
- Proactive messaging
- Integrated knowledge base
- Team Inbox
- Integrations and Messenger apps
- Reporting and AI-powered conversational insights
HubSpot’s Service Hub brings all your customer service data and channels together in one place, and helps scale your support through automation and self-service.
Podium’s Interaction Management platform uses messaging to make it convenient to interact with your leads, customers, and team at every customer touchpoint.
Front brings email and apps together in a collaborative customer communication platform and drives business impact by scaling the natural conversations that create customers for life.
Zendesk’s Support Suite lets you have conversations with customers on any channel, while keeping all interactions and relevant context in one place for your agents.
Enhance your team’s capabilities with connected integrations
As cutting-edge as most conversational support software is, it’s unlikely that your tool will do everything your business needs. This is especially true as your customer base grows and your team’s needs evolve accordingly. So it’s important to choose a solution that’s flexible and that will integrate seamlessly with other tools in your tech stack. If you’re looking for inspiration, here are some of our favorite apps that will supercharge and enhance each layer of the funnel.
Top proactive support tools to integrate with
Integrating your conversational support solution with the right proactive support apps can help you better understand your customers’ needs and empower your team to preemptively resolve more known issues ahead of time.
Surveys and qualitative feedback: Typeform
Quantitative data is meaningful. But it won’t help you fully understand all of the context behind your customers’ pain points. Often, you’ll be left with questions like: “Why do they have these issues?”, “How do they feel?”, and “Where are the stumbling blocks?” Typeform connects with Intercom to empower your team to quickly gather key qualitative data from customers in the Intercom Messenger.
For an even more personal touch, you can send customers video surveys with VideoAsk. Then, armed with eye-opening customer insights, you’ll know the exact questions to address in your proactive messages and the precise words to use (yes – your customers’ words).
NPS, CSAT, and CES surveys: InMoment
In today’s customer-centric world, listening to and responding to voice-of-the-customer feedback will give your proactive support a competitive edge. InMoment helps your team to keep an ongoing pulse on how your customers feel about your product or service so you can proactively drive retention, engagement, and advocacy.
You can connect InMoment with Intercom to empower your team to send NPS, CSAT, and CES surveys directly in the Messenger at relevant moments in your customers’ journey. For example, when customers close a conversation or use a specific feature, you can check in to see how they feel. You can also proactively follow up with detractors to resolve their issues or reach out to happy customers to turn them into brand advocates and retain them for life.
Improving the quality of your proactive support hinges on gathering meaningful insights. Analytics tool Heap connects with Intercom to analyze how effective your messages are at driving key actions in your product and improving long-term customer retention.
Your team can view graphs, funnels, retention curves, and other visualizations to answer meaningful questions like: “Do customers start conversations more often on certain pages than others?” and “Which messages are most effective?” Then, brimming with these insights, you can improve your proactive messages, inform your product roadmap, and more.
Proactive notifications: Article Inserter (built by Intercom)
Answering the same repetitive queries over and over again can be draining for your support team and a misuse of their time and expertise. Even when these questions are covered in your knowledge base, not all of your customers will want to abandon the page they’re on to find an answer to their query.
To protect your support team’s inbox and help your customers get faster resolutions, you can integrate the Article Inserter app with the Messenger. Then, your team can proactively deliver relevant help articles via an outbound message at key moments when customers appear to be struggling, like when they’re stuck on your shipping page.
Business intelligence: Prodsight
As your conversation volume grows, it can be harder to see which issues your customers are struggling with most and what feature requests are most important to them. Business intelligence tool Prodsight connects with Intercom to surface the most critical topics you should be tracking, help you identify underlying issues, and provide an automated sentiment analysis for every message so you can understand how customers feel about certain topics or features. These insights empower your team to create more valuable proactive support messages and proactively inform your product roadmap.
Screen capture and digital experience intelligence: FullStory
Ever felt the frustration of a cryptic support ticket or a poor feedback rating submitted without comment? Digital experience intelligence platform FullStory integrates with Intercom to show you exactly what happens when a customer visits your site or app, and how to proactively improve their experience. You can also send proactive outbound messages to your customers in real time to help them preemptively resolve issues when they’re experiencing friction on your site or in your app.
Product feedback: Productboard
Your support team knows your customers’ pain points, questions, and desires better than anyone else in your company. They’re in a unique position to partner with your product team to help proactively improve your product roadmap.
You can connect the Productboard app with Intercom to capture valuable product feedback in Intercom conversations and send it to a centralized repository. From there, your product team can categorize interesting insights to understand what customers really need, prioritize what to build next, and ensure it gets built in the right way.
Top self-serve support tools to integrate with
The right self-serve support apps can empower your customers to help themselves and resolve their own queries right inside your business messenger, without ever leaving your website or product.
Issue tracking: Statuspage
No matter how diligent your business is, day-to-day issues can occur with your product or service that can affect your customers, like product outages and website downtime. But these mission-critical issues don’t have to frustrate your customers and wipe out your team’s entire day.
Instead, you can connect the Statuspage app with Intercom to proactively surface critical outage information in the Intercom Messenger. Customers can also subscribe to automatically receive proactive status updates via email or text so they don’t need to constantly check in with your team – significantly reducing your inbound conversation volume.
Knowledge base: Article Search (built by Intercom)
Modern customers are busy with a capital B. They won’t always have time to search and sift through a knowledge base to find the answers they need. Connecting the Article Search app with Intercom gives a new home to your help center right inside the Intercom Messenger.
This empowers your customers to search and view articles anywhere on your site or in your app so they can help themselves without having to start a conversation with your support team. As a result, your support team will be freed up to tackle the more complex support queries that truly impact your business.
E-commerce order tracking: Shopify
“When is my order going to arrive?” “Why is my delivery late?” Answering simple, repetitive queries like these can feel like Groundhog Day for your support team. Asking these questions is no fun for your customers either – study after study reveals that many customers would rather self-serve than talk to a support rep at all.
If you work for an e-commerce store, you can connect the Shopify app with Intercom to empower your customers to self-serve and check their order status right inside the Messenger, without ever having to reach out to your team. It’s a win-win!
Top human support tools to integrate with
The right human support apps supercharge your team’s efficiency and make it seamless to work with key teams in your organization, like sales, marketing, and engineering, so you can deliver an even more personal, efficient conversational experience for your customers.
When a sales-ready conversation – like a billing query from a high-value prospect – pops into the Intercom Inbox, you’ll want to ensure a seamless transition from your support to your sales team. Instead of copying and pasting details into your sales CRM, you can connect Salesforce with Intercom to empower your team to easily create leads and route them to your sales team or individual reps.
Once a lead or customer is logged in Salesforce, both your support and sales teams will have all of the data they need – like the status, opportunity stage, and account owner – to better support, nurture, and upsell prospects.
Issue tracking and management: Jira
When a customer spots a bug or website error, their first port of call will often be your support team. Ditch the copying and pasting between tools and pinging your engineering team to help out. Instead, connect issue tracking software Jira with Intercom to empower your team to create Jira feature requests and bug reports in the Intercom Inbox.
When a Jira issue is created, it will automatically be linked to the relevant conversation, so your engineering team gets the full context they need to resolve the issue. Your support team will also get live updates when the status of an issue changes, so you can let your customer know as soon as the bug is resolved.
Cloud-based phone support: Aircall
No chatbot can help calm an angry customer quite like your support team can. Some complex conversations, like tricky troubleshooting issues, emotionally-charged complaints, and VIP issues may require a quick call with a customer to smooth out the details.
In cases like these, you want to ensure a seamless transition from chat to call. Cloud-based phone support tool Aircall connects with Intercom to empower your agents to make a call right from the Intercom Messenger. Call activity also gets logged directly in the Inbox so you can keep track of every interaction with ease, like when a customer leaves a voicemail or when they last answered a call from your team.
Subscription payment and management: Stripe
When a customer wants to change or upgrade their subscription plan, they’ll often reach out to your trusted support team. Forget logging into multiple platforms to find payment details or to adjust a customer’s plan. Instead, you can connect Stripe with Intercom to ensure a seamless end-to-end payment process.
Your team can initiate subscription upgrades and accept secure payments via the Messenger, which empowers them to boost trial and upgrade conversions with ease. They can also view Stripe data – like what subscription a customer is on, the date they signed up, and the last time they reached out to your team – all in one Inbox.
Social media: Twitter
Switching tabs and checking for messages across multiple tools is a huge time sink for your support team. Social media platform Twitter connects with Intercom to automatically route your Twitter messages right into the Inbox.
Instead of your team spending large chunks of their day frequently checking social media channels, they can read, manage, and respond to Twitter messages all from one Inbox. They can also track all of your customer data in one place, giving you a clear picture of your customer base.
“Are you sure you’re on the right page?” “What can you see?” “Can you share a screenshot?” When high-priority customers report critical issues or have pressing queries, getting on the same page shouldn’t require a time-consuming, back-and-forth question marathon.
Make the troubleshooting process more streamlined and personal by connecting RemoteHQ with Intercom. Your team will be able to escalate an Intercom chat into a live co-browsing session where they can control your product and web pages hand in hand with that customer to resolve their issue interactively.
Bonus: Top automation tools to integrate with
Need to set up a very complex or custom workflow? Integrating your conversational support solution with the right automation tools helps streamline and supercharge your support operations behind the scenes to ramp up your team’s efficiency and eliminate time-consuming, manual tasks.
Zapier lets you connect Intercom to the apps you use every day to automate manual actions and save time. You can connect any of the 1,000+ integrated apps on Zapier together to make your own custom automations.
With Automate.io, you can connect Intercom to your marketing and sales platforms, project management and collaboration apps, and more. It’s easy to set up a simple one-to-one integration, or a workflow spanning across multiple apps in minutes – without any technical help.
Work for an enterprise or fast-growing company? The Tray platform empowers you to easily integrate your entire cloud stack with Intercom and build powerful, flexible automated workflows with no engineering resources.
Future-proof your customer support tech stack for the modern era
The message is clear: now is the time to future-proof your customer support tech stack and stay ahead of the conversational curve. Juggling multiple, disconnected tools is no longer good enough. Download the complete guide to see how and why the customer support landscape is changing, get the top strategies fueling customer-centric companies like Stripe, HubSpot, and Zapier, and so much more. 👇