Providing your customers with a great experience can make or break their loyalty, which has a huge impact on your bottom line. One great way to improve your customer experience is to invest in customer experience software.
But you might not have the budget to buy expensive software right out of the gate. Our analysis of what help desk software costs found that vendors usually charge at least $1,000 for ten or more users. Help desk software has some overlapping functionality with customer service software and customer experience software.
Our survey of help desk software buyers found that annual spending tends to be concentrated in the $1-1,000 range.
But not every business can afford to spend money on software. Since you want to help your customers without taking out a loan, it will help if you have access to some open source or free customer experience software packages. We’ve selected software with a range of different objectives and ranked our favorites below:
FreshDesk’s introductory video might subtly suggest that they’re going to save you from the brink of suicide. Hopefully your situation’s a little better than that. But if you still struggle to find affordable customer management, you’ll find that FreshDesk’s features, functionality, and friendliness to beginners make it an obvious choice for anyone starting out in customer experience management.
- High-quality, 24/7 customer service. It’s a must-have for anyone starting out with their first customer experience software so as to cure the inevitable hiccups
- Easy ticket management and prioritization
- Affordable and intuitive pricing scales
- Some reviewers (like SmallBizTrends) have reported slow load times on the Web version.
Users at Capterra are more than happy with FreshDesk, calling it superior, simple, intuitive—and the sensible pricing structure makes it a priority for any small business on a budget.
Aimed at the B2B crowd, TeamSupport has a solid rating from a high volume of reviews here at Capterra—and for good reason. TeamSupport is highly organized, proficient with a number of customer service features, and makes the complicated problems of a variety of customer tickets easy to navigate.
- Ideal collaboration tools for larger companies
- Highly-scalable pricing system
- Highly-rated customer support
- Effective integration to programs like Outlook
- Not ideal for small companies with individual customers
The negatives of TeamSupport are few and far between, giving it a solid track record of success with many Capterra reviewers. It’s better suited for fostering collaboration in large companies, but the pricing structure makes sense even for growing B2B companies.
Maybe you’re more the “help those who help themselves” businessperson. If so, Whatfix offers an alternative to the customer service experience by nipping any future problems in the bud: create how-to guides and answers to common customer questions so you don’t have to deal with them in the future.
- Easy and intuitive to create guides—a big-time need for some services
- Works for a number of applications, from employee training to customer guides
- Multiple features, including documentation, video training guides, and live interaction
- It does what it does, and nothing else. “customer experience” support is helpful but limited
- Gets pricey after the free trial
Whatfix solves a problem for specific businesses, but its high cost after the free trial won’t justify the expense if you don’t truly need to create guides and documentation for your customers. Many businesses, do, however, and find that Whatfix is the absolute easiest way to accomplish that without smashing their laptops.
Ignore the befuddling “we put the ‘I’ in CRM” tagline and try to see what Sugar is trying to say: the individual is the most important part of CRM. Sugar puts its money where its mouth is, making the software open source and emphasizing a great relationship between your company and individual customers from the sales funnel on through the CRM phase.
- APIs, documents, and resources are to be found in abundance, including a free “University”
- Strong “Sugar support”
- Customer-friendly affordability
- Easy integration with services like VoIP
- Not completely intuitive for beginners
Most of the “cons” you’ll find with Sugar are small complaints; because it’s open source, bugs are constantly fixed. Since it’s highly affordable, Sugar should be considered one of the first options for anyone interested in a serious CRM that tracks customers and puts a system in place for dealing with these customers from the sale through customer support.
We’re a sucker for a pun. Luckily, SuiteCRM (funnily enough, an alternative to SugarCRM; no word yet on SaltyCRM) makes for a quality CRM as well, offering something similar to SugarCRM but without the cost.
- Very similar to SugarCRM, including high levels of compatibility
- Intuitive/responsive user interface
- Plenty of customization available
- If you have a little money, why not SugarCRM?
Although Open Source software makes the likes of SuiteCRM possible, some people find that the open source price of SuiteCRM—or lack thereof—is a major advantage. Others would prefer something closer to the original SugarCRM source. The right decision rests in your pockets.
3. vTiger CRM
It might sound a little like Derek Zoolander’s latest pose, but vTiger CRM offers plenty of functionality, including going above and beyond CRM into issues like inventory tracking, sales, and marketing. Consider it a “one-size-fits-all” for small businesses looking to get their CRM off the ground.
- Intuitive enough for beginners
- Automated workflows across the range of inventory, sales, marketing, and CRM
- Very little training required for employee use
- Very reasonable pricing system
- Not a great addition for companies with automated sales processes already in place
Because many of vTiger’s issues are resolved quickly with new versions, many of the complaints over the years have vanished, leaving in their wake a popular and dynamic CRM system. Its uses are best applied for companies with little-to-no CRM infrastructure already in place.
Which is Right For You?
Free trials, open source, pricing scales, different customer relationship strategies—we covered a lot of ground here today, and anyone familiar with school knows that means one thing: homework. You’ll have to do the picking and decide which strategy is right for your business.
Sorry about that. We can’t make the ultimate customer experience software purchase (or free download) decision for you, but we did point you in the direction of some highly-rated free customer experience software. Next you’ll have to evaluate which is best for your company—and ultimately, for your customers.
Looking for Customer Experience software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Customer Experience software solutions.