What are the tools and resources every customer support professional needs to deepen their knowledge, grow their skillsets and careers, and connect with likeminded professionals?
It can be difficult to find and choose the customer support tools that work best for your team, and the resources that will help you and your team grow, when the firefighting (and constantly-evolving) nature of the work can sometimes silo you from the community at large.
But there’s no need to go it alone! We’ve put together the ultimate list of customer support tools and resources for support professionals to build on their knowledge and connect with others in the field.
The customer support tools you need to do your job will depend a lot on your company, the products and services you provide, and the support channels you’ve chosen to best assist your customers. Our own support team 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:
Customer Support Management
1. Help Desk software: this is where your customer support team lives and works all day, every day. Here’s an honest (and unbiased) guide to picking the best help desk software for your team.
2. Respond: Buffer’s social media support tool. Their tagging tracks things the same way we do in Help Scout and monitors for both mentions and keywords, like ‘Help Scout’ or '@helpscout.'
3. StatusPage: a super-easy way to communicate swiftly with customers about status issues and events.
4. CloudApp: for screenshots and screencasts. “I'd be lost without it!” says team member Kelly Herring. “I also use it for images in our Docs articles.”
5. Wistia: the video host we use for our “getting started” videos, demos and other tutorials. The stats allow us to see where viewers stop watching, how many people watch all the way through, and what they rewatch because it might be confusing.”
Company Communication & Project Management
6. Trello: We use Trello to report and track bugs, feedback from customers, and manage projects.
10. Zoom: the video meeting software we use for our demos and webinars.
11. Basecamp: daily updates including bugs, new support documents, and general news from the support team.
If you’re wondering which tools other successful support teams use to do their jobs, check out this inside look at the tools companies such as Basecamp, Cozy, Loco2, and Trello have chosen for their custom, multi-channel support stacks. Also, Respond by Buffer offers a well-curated roundup of customer support tools.
Community groups and resources for customer support
12. “Support support groups”: Consultant and former GitHub support VP Sonya Green recommends finding (or creating your own) “support support group” — a small group of other support professionals across different companies with whom you can compare notes and help one another and your respective teams learn and grow. “A huge power-up for me was hearing about those at companies with scaling problems beyond what I had,” Green says. “I got to see the road ahead — bumps I could start to predict, or extrapolate on what I learned to come up with better ideas.”
13. Support Driven: If you’re not prepared to start your own “support support group,” you might consider joining this organization, which hosts a semi-annual conference, blog, newsletter, job board, and Slack chat with channels dedicated to local meetups, relevant reading material, and support in general. It’s an incredible resource for anyone wanting to start or further a career in support.
14. Support Ops: This great crew hosts a weekly podcast, publishes a newsletter, and offers a couple free support guides on their site. (Bonus: their “following” page on Twitter is a who’s who of support pros. There’s a lot to be learned by following the same folks!)
Customer support conferences and meetups
16. Elevate Summit: Formerly UserConf, this was the first conference geared exclusively toward modern customer support professionals.
17. SupConf: The semi-annual customer support conference put on by the Support Driven community.
18. Local support meetups: Support Driven also encourages its members to set up local, in-person meetups; you can see if there’s one in your community by browsing the channels in their Slack chat. Or try searching Meetup.com for “customer support” or “customer service” to find like-minded support peeps in your area, such as this meetup in Sydney, Australia.
Customer support-related reads
19. The 27 Best Customer Service Books: Looking to bulk up on your customer service know-how? This roundup is a great place to start.
20. Status Page: StatusPage curates a weekly roundup of the best recent support-related reads. We’re big fans.
21. The Helpful Newsletter: Userchamp curates this excellent weekly support/product newsletter.
Customer support job sites
Whether you’re hiring for your support team or looking for a customer support gig, co-located or remote, there are several good places to start before you resort to the bigger, more general job search sites.
23. Support Driven Jobs: is exclusive to jobs in customer support, both remote and co-located. It’s $150 to post a job for 30 days or $250 to post it for 45 days, plus a special highlight on the page. Join the email list to have new job postings sent to you.
24. We Work Remotely: is a comprehensive remote-jobs-only site, created by the folks at Basecamp/writers of Remote, and it has a section dedicated to customer support. It’s $200 to post a job for 30 days.
25. Remote.co: also has a job board section for customer service-related work. It’s $179 for 30 days with a discount for multiple job posts (helpful if your remote company is hiring in other departments). Job seekers can sign up to have new job posts emailed to them.
26. Remote OK: lists customer support work among its non-technical job listings. It also lets searchers filter for the highest-paying jobs. Posts cost $200 a pop and are syndicated to other sites, so posting here may have you sifting through hundreds of applicants.
29. Hire Tech Ladies: is a members-only service connecting women and non-binary folks in tech to companies who want to hire them. It’s free to post a job, pending approval and a direct-line email address to the hiring manager.
A word on self care
While support is a demanding profession that requires you to take care of yourself and advocate for your needs, it’s on the team and the company to ensure customer support pros have the tools and resources they need to keep caring for customers.
Yet the burden of avoiding burnout should be on team structure, not on individuals.
Good companies might try setting a minimum number of vacation days, allowing flexible schedules, or carefully defining benefits so that there is no question about how and when to use them. Your team should feel as comfortable using all their benefits as they do handing over their health insurance card at the doctor’s office.
Make sure your customer support team has the resources it needs. Create opportunities for them to speak up, get feedback, learn from experience, talk with leadership, and alleviate frustrations the healthy way.
Any go-to customer support tools or resources you couldn’t do your job without? Share them in the comments below!