What’s Your Support Stack?

Emily Triplett Lentz | August 18, 2016

When designing your support ecosystem, you’ll face the choice between omnichannel and multi-channel support tools — either an all-in-one framework, or a stack of multiple tools that each focus on specific features.

Sure, you can find “omnichannel” tools that purport to solve all your support team’s needs: We’re a help desk! That integrates with social media! But wait, there’s more … we’re also your company’s phone support solution! It slices; it dices! Did we mention chat? Also makes julienne fries!

The one-and-done temptation of an omnichannel support tool can be hard to resist, when startup costs initially appear lower and you’ve eliminated the need to make tedious choices among other more specialized tools. The reality is that since no two companies are alike, it’s practically impossible to find a one-size-fits-all, customer support solution. And even if you do, you may find yourself locked into an increasingly expensive system whose features lag behind what standalone tools can offer. Most teams are better off choosing a help desk, then building a custom multi-channel support stack around it.

Our own support team, for example, obviously uses Help Scout for customer conversations and our knowledge base. But since Help Scout was built to be a component (a key component, but still a component) in multi-channel support stacks by design, we rely on other tools too:

“I can do the majority of my job with just a single Help Scout tab open,” says team lead Justin Seymour. “All the other tools are certainly part of the pie, but they’re much smaller pieces that help me get things done.” That got us thinking: What are the tools that help support teams at other companies get things done? We spoke with five Help Scout customers about why they’ve chosen the tools in their stack.

Basecamp’s support team uses a powerful internal tool called Dash that allows them to move quickly through their Twitter queue and connect to customers via phone. It also tracks data like CSAT scores, email logs and traceroutes.

It probably goes without saying that the Basecamp team uses Basecamp — for asynchronous discussions, group chat, file storage and so on. Here are the rest of support team member Joan Stewart’s go-to tools:

Cozy is a Portland, Oregon-based company that aims to simplify the housing rental process for both landlords and renters. Their support team, led by Katie Harlow, switched to Help Scout earlier this year. Here’s what else they use to keep their customers happy:

London-based Loco2 consolidates and simplifies the booking process for trains in Europe — they use Help Scout’s help desk tool, as well as Docs for their knowledge base. Support team member (or “train geek,” as they’re called) Catherine Bodry, who works remotely from Anchorage, Alaska, says her team also uses:

TrakInvest is a Singapore-based startup whose platform allows amateur traders to practice buying and selling stock using virtual cash. The TrakInvest support team uses an internal dashboard that helps them analyze user details, behaviors and other performance indicators. Their favorite support channel tool? The telephone. “We get in touch with our customers and speak to them and collate pertinent feedback,” says support team member Udai Panicker. It’s “old school but highly effective.” The team rounds out its “support ecosystem” with the following tools:

Trello’s awesome support team uses (what else) Trello for high-level planning, organization and tracking feature requests. In addition to several custom internal tools, here’s what the rest of their support stack looks like, according to team lead Ben McCormack:

What’s your support stack? Join the conversation in the comments below!

If you enjoyed this post, check out 9 Tips to Improve Your Customer Support Game.

About the author: Emily Triplett Lentz is on the Growth team at Help Scout, the invisible help desk that helps you build a company your customers love with more human, more helpful customer support tools.