Choosing the best customer success tools for 2020

Geoffrey Keating on November 16th 2020

A robust customer success program is practically a recipe for growth. When you provide your customers with the support they need to achieve their desired outcome, your success and theirs go hand in hand.

Supported by the right customer success tools, you and your team will be able to predict churn, reach out to customers at just the right time, improve retention, increase new sales and upsells, and a lot more. Taking care of all these tasks is a lot of work, though. And how your team goes about them will change as your business grows.

Choosing the right customer success tool isn’t enough. You need to select your tools with an eye for your larger “customer success stack,” which will grow, shrink, and adapt to the ever-changing needs of your customers. 

To get started on this way of thinking about customer success, we decided to round up a few tools, which we’ve split into different categories of tactics.

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Live chat and support

It’s important to meet your customers where they are, whether that’s on your website or in your product. Live chat tools have become one of the most relied on tools for interacting with customers when they need it.

This reliance is for good reason because, according to a 2013 study by Econsultancy, live chat has the highest level of satisfaction for any customer service channel. Here are a few options for live chat and live support customer success tools:

Drift

Drift is a live chat tool that can go on your website or within your product. Its focus is on sales and revenue generation, but it does have customer success capabilities.

Drift is great for:

Intercom

Intercom is a live chat tool that focuses on the whole customer lifecycle, not just sales. It also has quite a few other conversational marketing capabilities, like mobile messaging and product tours for onboarding. If you need help choosing between Intercom and Drift, here is an in-depth comparison from HelpCrunch.

Intercom is great for:

Ramen

Ramen is a live chat app that focuses on delivering customer surveys and posing the right questions at the right time. It overlaps a bit with the following section on customer health and feedback. It’s a good choice if you need a tool that’s a mix of both worlds—live chat and customer feedback.

Ramen is great for:

Other live chat and support customer success tools

  • Kustomer is a CRM with a focus on facilitating live chat.

  • Aircall is a call center system for live customer support.

Customer health and feedback

Collecting, understanding, and acting on customer feedback is vital for businesses, big and small. Customer success managers have a responsibility to proactively collect customer feedback and make it available to the rest of the company. Here are some tools that’ll help you do just that:

Freshsuccess (formerly Natero)

Freshsuccess, known as Natero before it was acquired and rebranded last year by Freshworks, is a platform for tracking customer health scores and managing users. Its main differentiator is its ability to apply machine learning to the data you collect on customer health.

Freshsuccess is great for:

Promoter.io

Promoter.io is a Net Promoter System® (NPS) survey provider that helps with tracking customer health. It focuses on diving deep into responses and segmenting them into groups using tags.

Promoter.io is great for:

Wootric

Wootric delivers NPS and customer feedback surveys to your customers and helps you analyze the results. It focuses on more than just NPS and provides customer satisfaction (CSAT) and customer effect score (CES) scores.

Wootric is great for:

  • Companies that need survey responses beyond just NPS scores.

  • Teams that intend to use the data collected for future machine learning tasks and predictive analysis.

  • Companies that want more than just the customer success teams to use the response data.

Other customer health and feedback tools

  • SatisMeter is an NPS survey provider.

  • UserVoice helps track down user feedback.

  • Beamer notifies users of changes and solicits feedback.

  • Refiner delivers micro-surveys.

  • Retently measures multiple customer experience metrics using surveys.

  • UserLeap is customer feedback software that focuses on mobile devices.

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Analytics

To improve customer experience and retention, you need to understand how, exactly, your users interact with your product and website. There’s a whole suite of options that’ll help you track events and collect data on customer behavior. Which one you choose depends on how you intend to use that data to improve your product.

Heap

Heap is a product analytics platform that automatically collects customer engagement and behavior data on your website and in your product. Instead of tracking events, Heap’s differentiator is automatically capturing real-time data with what it calls “autocapture.”

Heap is great for:

Kissmetrics

Kissmetrics is a product and marketing analytics tool for websites and in-product. Its focus is on SaaS and eCommerce businesses while positioning itself as an alternative to the likes of Google Analytics.

Kissmetrics is great for:

  • Large companies that have the money to invest. Its SaaS pricing and eCommerce pricing are comparable, with the eCommerce package offering a few more surveys per month.

  • SaaS and eCommerce companies.

  • Customer success teams that are closely integrated with the marketing team.

Mixpanel

Mixpanel is a product analytics platform with deep reporting and data analysis features. It made its name by making it easier to measure what people are doing in your app on iOS, Android, and the web.

Mixpanel is great for:

  • Companies of all sizes. It has a free starter account and is relatively cheap after that.

  • Customer success teams that are looking to dive super deep into the data.

  • Product-first companies.

Others

  • Interana is a product analytics platform.

  • Windsor is a dashboard for user data.

Churn-stoppers

Preventing churn is one of the primary duties for customer success teams because it’s not enough to grow fast; you need to focus on retaining the customers you attract. Here are two customer success tools specifically designed to help you address customer churn.

ChurnZero

ChurnZero does NPS and customer health surveys, then makes that data available for automated messaging designed to prevent churn. You can send actionable insights to Slack, automate tasks, and trigger in-app customer communications to keep customers who are at risk of churn happy.

ChurnZero is great for:

  • Growing SaaS businesses.

  • Customer success teams that need a robust tool to track customer health and do something about it.

  • Companies looking to get multiple teams aligned around reducing churn.

Churn Buster

Churn Buster is a failed payments recovery platform used to address passive churn. It flags accounts that are likely to miss a payment, so you can proactively address the issue.

Churn Buster is great for:

  • Companies looking for easy wins to close the gap from their churn.

  • Customer success teams looking to create drip campaigns and reminders to pay fees or update payment methods.

  • Companies that need an additional tool to prevent churn.

Helpdesks and one-stop shops

Besides the specialist tools we’ve listed so far, you have a few options for larger platforms, customer relationship management (CRM) tools, and helpdesks that function as one-stop shops for all your customer success needs.

Zendesk

Zendesk, which started as a helpdesk and knowledge base software, has grown into a much larger one-stop shop for customer success. Its focus is still on customer support, but it has been building an ecosystem that includes sales and custom CRM tools.

Zendesk is great for:

HubSpot

HubSpot is a web and content-focused CRM that has grown to include an entire suite of marketing, sales, and customer success tools. It made its name defining inbound marketing, and most of its tools center on what HubSpot calls “inbound methodology.”

HubSpot is great for:

  • Small to mid-sized companies looking for total customization.

  • Customer success teams that work closely with sales and marketing.

  • Customer success teams looking to stitch together their live chat tool, emails, etc.

ClientSuccess

ClientSuccess is a SaaS-focused customer success platform whose focus is on helping you define, build, and control the customer journey. It contains many of the features we’ve covered so far, including a proprietary customer health score called “SuccessScore™” and a strategy for measuring customer journey efficiency called "SuccessCycles™.”

ClientSuccess is great for:

  • Growing SaaS companies that need a full suite and dedicated platform for customer success.

  • Companies that need direct visibility for leadership, from department leads to CEOs.

  • Customer success teams that work relatively independently from other teams.

Gainsight

Gainsight is a product-focused customer success platform and one of the heavyweights in the industry. It’s a huge platform with many tools and is used by companies such as Salesforce, GE, Tableau, and Cisco.

Gainsight is great for:

  • Companies that know exactly what they want. Gainsight has packaged options.

  • Enterprise-level companies looking for an all-in-one platform.

  • Teams looking for churn prevention at the enterprise level.

Vitally

Vitally is a B2B SaaS customer success platform that facilitates NPS surveys, subscription/trial analysis, segmentation, and more. We at Segment use Vitally, and we can vouch for its growth-tailored approach to customer success.

Vitally is great for:

  • Mid to large-sized B2B SaaS businesses.

  • Customer success teams that need direct insight into the behavior of their users across the customer journey.

  • Companies looking to make customer success data available across many teams.

Others

  • CustomerSuccessBox is a customer success platform for B2B Sass businesses.

  • Custify is a B2B SaaS customer success platform focused on a 360 view of the customer.

  • Strikedeck is a customer success platform that helps teams actively manage customer relationships.

  • Help Scout is a help desk and help desk management software that facilitates the processing of support tickets.

  • Planhat is a helpdesk that focuses on automatically pooling support tickets into groups.

  • Totango is a “Customer OS” that monitors customer behavior and has a help desk.

Building a customer success tech stack

With the right tools, your customer success team can adapt their workflow to any challenge, from small, predictable shifts in the industry to seismic impacts from the likes of COVID-19. Good retention, at its core, provides stability, and the tools you use to ensure that stability are vital to your future growth.

That said, customer success tools work best in tandem with a stack of other tools, including a customer data platform like Segment. If you’d like to explore your options for leveraging customer data to improve retention, start a free trial of Segment today.

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