Best Customer Success Software in 2021

by Adarsh Raj Bhatt
man wearing blue crew-neck shirt

What is Customer Success Software?

Your dream has finally come true! You and your team have worked hard to launch your startup and are ready to let the world experience your incredible product or service. As the founder, you are feeling immense pride, excitement and maybe just a hint of nervousness. Why?

The question is:

Are your customers satisfied?

In other words:

Has your "incredible product or service" succeeded in fulfilling your customers' needs?

You might believe that it has, but what if that’s not the case? You run the risk of losing customers if they’re dissatisfied -- and that's a terrifying possibility! However, using effective customer success software will help you eliminate this risk. In essence, customer success software enables you to offer products/services that meet your customers' needs. The software centralizes and manages their real-time data, maximizing customer retention, and improving brand loyalty.

Why Use Customer Success Software?

Your startup's success is inextricably linked to the success of your customers. Consumers who succeed using your product/service will continue to use it, and your venture will succeed.

This is what Customer Success (CS) is all about at its basics: making sure that your customers get the results they want when using your product/service. Of course, doing so necessitates the strategic use of people, procedures, and most significantly, data. 

How are you able to continually refine your product/service if you don't know how, why and where your customers are actually using it?

Key benefits of customer success software:

  • Enhance customer retention
  • Identify opportunities for cross-selling and up-selling
  • Reduce the churn rate
  • Target consumers better
  • Accurate customer behavior prediction

A customer success tool is an application that includes built-in features such as key performance indicators, service management, client and resource management, and works with third-party systems such as CRMs and emails. The beauty of these systems is that they can perform all of these intricate functions but are still user-friendly.

What should you look for when choosing vendors in this space?

Communication platforms and support channels

If your startup's customer success teams can't communicate with people who are using your product or service, they likely won't be able to maintain an account efficiently or create customer engagement. 

Your CSMs (Customer Success Management) can achieve a clear understanding of who is actually buying or subscribing by integrating customer data such as key contacts, clients, and senior management within startups with details on how frequently your startup has engaged with clients and/or consumers.

It is easier for your startup's CMSs to create productive relationships with your customers if they have access to key user statistics.

Customer success can be an actual 'Customer Success Team' or in an early-stage startup this might even include members of your product, engineering, and founding team as a way to receive feedback and service your customers in the best possible way.

Accurate Reporting 

Customer data is priceless because your startup can use it to make decisions in the best interest of its customers.

The more information that your CSM team has to work with, the more potential your startup can have in the future. to plan for growth in all areas -- product improvements, accounting, marketing, etc.

360-degree view of customer lifespan 

Your CSM software

should give you and your team a full picture of the customer lifecycle. 

Why does this matter?

Your CSMs would be set up for success from the start if they can identify, handle, and evaluate your approach towards driving success throughout the customer lifecycle. 

You should be able to recognize where customers are in their journey at any given time -- from initial onboarding to renewal.

Health scoring and churn risk analytics

Depending on the kind of data gathered, the right CSM software will provide you with a customer health score. 

How can you actually use this?

This customer health score will help teams determine who is at risk, which would help you minimize churn more effectively. You'll be able to monitor how well these weighted scores are determined with the best CSM tools.

Your CSMs can achieve a clear understanding of who is actually buying or subscribing by integrating customer data such as key contacts, clients, and senior management within startups with details on how frequently your startup has engaged.

CSMs can't create productive relationships with those they're responsible for developing and nurturing without having access to key user statistics.

Support documentation

Your CSM platform must accurately document interactions with your employees, calculate sales invoices, keep track of different requests (or help desk tickets) from your support department, and store other data that paint an accurate image of the customer's journey.

Best Customer Success Software in 2021

Freshsuccess by Freshworks

Description: Freshsuccess helps software and subscription startups minimize churn, increase expansion, and strengthen customer relationships.

Best for B2B Customer Success teams.

Pricing:

  • Estate (Ideal for dedicated success teams): $ 79 per user, per month, billed annually, or $95 per user, per month, billed monthly + Platform $499 per month, billed annually, or $625 per month, billed monthly
  • Forest (Built for the enterprise): $129 billed annually per user, per month, or $150 per user, per month, billed monthly + Platform $749 per month, billed annually or $950 per month, billed monthly

Evaluation of Key Criteria: 

  • 360 view of customer lifespan: See user activity, support tickets, communications, billing information, and more — all in one place.
  • Customer Health: Freshsuccess continuously evaluates account health so you can focus on the right customers at the right time.
  • Churn Analytics: Freshsuccess churn reports make analyzing churn easy.
  • Communication: Schedule personalized email campaigns or automatically trigger messages based on customer behavior and lifecycle events.
  • Accurate Reporting: Get clear visibility into product adoption, customer engagement, and your own Customer Success processes.
  • Integrations: Integrate detailed customer information from leading CRM systems like Salesforce, Hubspot, etc.

Pros

  • Support and implementation teams are superb.
  • Reporting is very robust.
  • Customizability and flexibility in integrations, metrics, and dimensions make this a highly useful platform.

Cons

  • It's a slightly complex platform, meaning it can be hard to find what you're looking for if you don't know where to look.

Intercom

Description: Helps you achieve stronger customer relationships that are great for startups.

Best for: All startup sizes, since Intercom has over 30,000 paying customers all over the globe, including larger startups like New Relic, Sotheby's, and Shopify, and smaller startups like Airtable and Coda.

Pricing: Eligible startups can get advanced Intercom features from just $65 per month for up to one year.

For very early-stage startups:

  • Chat (Start Basic live chat and outbound messaging): from $59 per month
  • Grow (Chat, targeted email, and self-service support): from $119 per month

Evaluation of Key Criteria: 

  • 360 view of customer lifespan: From marketing automation to analytics and more, link your tools to orchestrate personalized customer journeys.
  • Accurate Reporting: Whether you use their out-of-the-box reports, customize your own, or use the APIs and apps, you can measure exactly what’s important to your startup with maximum flexibility.
  • Communication: Give customers personal touchpoints with your brand through the familiar medium of messaging.
  • Customer Health: Engage segments based on who they are, where they are, and what actions they have — or haven’t — taken.
  • Integrations: Whether it's apps for NPS, CSAT, phone, or more, connect to the tools you use to deliver personal and scalable support. Hubspot and Github integrations available.

Pros: 

  • The chat system is very easy to install.
  • Their engagement tracking for users and subsequent emails and in-app message sending systems are very sophisticated.

Cons: 

  • Customer service has room for improvement.
  • The implementation of how a custom bot should fire based on button click is not optimal.

Hubspot Service Hub

Description: Service Hub brings all your customer service data and channels together in one place, and helps scale your support through automation and self-service. 

Best for: Startups  of all sizes

Pricing

Free and premium plans that grow with you. Editions starting at:

  • $0 per month (Free)
  • $45 per month (Starter)
  • $360 per month (Professional)
  • $1,200 per month (Enterprise)

Evaluation of key criteria:

  • Communication: Includes conversational tools. Helps customers on your website in real time. Automatically routes users to the right people on your services team, and builds better relationships through contextual conversations.
  • Support channels: Help desk automation. Converts frequently asked questions into a searchable library of help articles, videos, and documentation
  • Integrations: 750 custom integrations on the App Marketplace. From JIRA to SurveyMonkey to Facebook Messenger, it’s easy to connect HubSpot to your service team’s favorite tools in just a few clicks. 
  • Communication: Connects team email, live chat, Facebook Messenger, and more to one universal inbox so your whole team has the visibility to manage and reply to conversations in one place.
  • Customer Analytics: Get the context you need to help customers succeed. Automatically track customer details and interactions with your startup.

Pros:

  • Ease of setup
  • Seamless integration with pre-existing HubSpot Apps i.e. sales, marketing, etc. which is useful in getting a true 360 degree view of customers

Cons:

  • Higher price to get started with more sophisticated routing and support technology, which could be overkill for some startups

Front

Description:  Front helps you personally ensure every customer’s desired outcome without sacrificing customer experience.

Best for: Any team that relies on email to get work done both internally and externally.

Pricing

  • Starter (For growing startups with under 10 teammates): $19 per user, per month, billed annually.
  • Prime (For professional teams up to 50 teammates): $49 per user, per month, billed annually.
  • Enterprise (For large-scale startups that require streamlined administration and centralized controls): $99 per user, per month, billed annually.

Evaluation of Key Criteria: 

  • Communication: Builds automatic workflows to sort new messages, routes them to the right person, and responds on time.
  • Integrations: Access Salesforce, Asana, and 50+ apps directly from your inbox to stop context switching and keep data in sync.
  • Customer Analytics: Connects your homegrown customer database and tools you rely on to access the information your startup needs to thrive.
  • Churn rate: Get insight into team, individual, and customer messaging so you can make confident, informed decisions and minimize churn. 

Pros: 

  • The snooze function is great as it lets you work on what is important and delay less time-sensitive actions, helping you keep a clean and organized inbox.
  • The sharing capabilities are useful when working with multiple members of a team.

Cons: 

  • Commenting doesn't translate across all threads.
  • Emails sent, deleted, or archived natively in Gmail do not always sync with Front inbox.

GrooveHQ

Description: Groove’s all-in-one customer service platform empowers teams to deliver fast, personal, high-quality support to reduce costs and generate more sales.

Best for: Mostly geared towards small- and medium-sized startups between 1-200 employees in B2C/B2B Software, eCommerce, web development/design agencies, online services, and entrepreneurs. 

Pricing:

  • Starter (Perfect for small teams): $12 per user, per month
  • Plus (Ideal for growing teams): $20 per user, per month
  • Pro (Best value for larger teams):  $35 per user, per month
  • Company (Made for the enterprise): Get a customized quote from Groove

Evaluation of Key Criteria:

  • Communication: No matter how you talk with your customers (email, social media, chat, or the phone), easily keep track of it all on the intuitive dashboard.
  • Customer Analytics: See what your customers are looking for and if they are able to find it.
  • Support Channels: GrooveHQ’s automation gets rid of the busywork so you can pay more attention to your customers.
  • Integrations: 40+ integrations including HubSpot, JIRA, Salesforce, Github, etc.

Pros

  • Well-organized and sleek interface
  • Good search-friendly knowledge base

Cons

  • Limited functionality compared to larger service providers (which may be enough for an early stage startup but that needs to be evaluated)
  • The UI can be slow at times.

 Customer Successbox

Description: Helps startups acquire, onboard, upsell, and retain customers forever.

Pricing: Starting from $499 per month. Offers a free trial. 

Best for: B2B SaaS startups

Evaluation of Key Criteria: 

  • Integrations: Sync data from your favorite SaaS apps like Zendesk, Stripe, Intercom, Chargebee, etc. 
  • 360-degree view of customer lifespan: Customer SuccessBox advanced onboarding playbook monitors product adoption automatically and moves the account forward in the onboarding journey.
  • Customer Health: Monitor account health, get actionable risk alerts in real time.
  • Churn Analytics: Understand who needs hand-holding, when and why, and get ahead of churn.
  • Communication: Get all customer communication in one place. You get the ability to send emails, make calls, and manage tasks from inside the customer success platform. 

Pros:

  • User-friendly
  • Multiple customized dashboards available.

Cons

  • Unable to "cc" internal employees while on email.

We can help!

At AbstractOps, we help early-stage founders streamline and automate regulatory and legal ops, HR, and finance so you can focus on what matters most — your business.

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