Help Desk Software is awesome. But while all products have their own unique features, not every tool will offer everything you need. For example, in our report on default satisfaction options from eight popular help desks, we found that very few helpdesks offered any variation from the standard good/bad survey. In order to measure other metrics (like Net Promoter Score or Customer Effort Score) you would need to integrate the help desk with a tool specifically for surveys.
There are tons of reasons to use integrations to expand your help desk software’s capabilities. They range from embracing new channels, to better survey options, to analytical tools. Zendesk alone has over 500 apps in it’s marketplace. (Here are five great ones to try today.) I mean, they even have a Chuck Norris App.
With so many options out there, it’s important to know what you should be looking for when choosing your next integration. In this article, we break down the four most important things to evaluate. To make it easy, just remember to SPEC: is the integration Scalable, Portable, Exportable and Contextual?
It might work today, but will it meet your needs in the future? Implementing integrations can be a big project, so you want to reduce the number of times you need to migrate due to growth. For example, if you’re implementing a new phone app you might want to look at cost per minute, adding additional lines or whether it provides the right analytics to manage a growing team’s availability.
How can you know what you’ll need in the future? Throw away the crystal ball and start looking at your team’s upcoming priorities. You can also benchmark against other companies in the same industry. Chatting with other support team managers will help you understand what challenges they’ve faced while growing – and what you might need to deal with in the future.
Think about what your support team will look like in a year. What new functionality will you need at double your current size? A more expensive all-in-one integration might save money in the end. What breaks when you start adding more channels, more agents and more volume? Planning for the future will help save you time as you grow.
If you do need to migrate tools, integrations or help desks in the future, how much data will you be able to move? Portability is the ability of software to run on multiple platforms or versions with minimal modification. If the integration isn’t portable, you’ll lose continuity.
For example, Nicereply keeps survey information in the same format regardless of what help desk you’re using. This means that even if you migrate from Zendesk to Help Scout, you’ll still have all of the data you need to analyze customer satisfaction over the long term. If you had to switch integrations, you might lose your historical data.
When evaluating portability, keep an eye out for “proprietary data formats.” Open source apps tend to be easier to migrate between Help Desks that locked down proprietary systems. Another signal of portability is an open API. This will allow you to build connections between the integration and your own products, even if you change help desks in the future.
Once you start using an integration, is your information trapped in it forever? There’s many reasons why you might want to export data – from moving to a new system, to creating a backup, to performing external analysis.
Access to your data is incredibly important. Keeping a copy of data outside third parties ensures you’ll always have ownership over it. For example, imagine the company building the integration shuts down. What happens to your data? Is it gone forever? That’s a lot of history and effort down the drain.
During the evaluation process of a new integration, ask for examples of exports. They should be readily available, easy to work with, and contain all of the data collected. If not, you no longer have full control or access to your data. Confirm exportability before launching the integration, so you don’t get stuck later.
If the integration is creating data points (like satisfaction scores, messages or tags), you’ll want to be able to compare it with data from the native help desk. Integrations should provide contextual information.
What does contextual information look like? It’s all about how the data is structured. If you have integrated your Help Desk with an ecommerce platform, you’ll likely be dealing with Order Numbers or Shipping IDs. If the integration is tight, you’ll be able to link the order numbers to a ticket ID and pull out information about First Reply Time, satisfaction scores, agents involved, etc from the Help Desk or the ecommerce platform. If the information isn’t contextual, the data will be locked in one program or another. Comparing them then becomes an acrobatic act of Excel spreadsheets and copy pasting.
A big part of improving customer experience is analyzing data. If you’re collecting Customer Effort Score data, at the minimum you’ll need to know which ticket each score is affiliated with. Your analysis gets easier the more context you have – customer name, product area, etc. Evaluating how deep the integration is will tell you how much context is saved through the integration. More context = more information = smarter decisions.
Besides using SPEC to evaluate integrations, customer reviews (like those on Capterra) can be helpful. Look for customers that have the same needs as you to get the most related knowledge. Putting in the work to choose Scalable, Portable, Exportable and Contextual integrations will save you a ton of pain down the road. Because when we’re working with software, we all want it to just… work!
Do you have other methods for reviewing and choosing the best integrations? Let us know in the comments below!
Looking for Help Desk software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Help Desk software solutions.