We live in an age of abundant choices – it's easier and more common than ever for customers to switch services.
The number one differentiator that can prevent your customers from turning to your competitors (and even attract new customers!) is customer experience (CX).
Research estimates that companies in the U.S. alone lost $1.6 trillion from customers switching because of poor CX, and that has likely mushroomed in the last year as a result of an increase of online shopping.
To prevent customer churn you’ll want to implement a proactive customer experience management (CXM) strategy, and make sure that your CX and customer service approach is the best and most powerful for your type of business.
CXM is the constant companywide practice whose goal is to maximize positive customer experience throughout the entirety of their interactions with your brand.
In this guide we are going to go through the best customer experience software out there so that you are informed and ready to empower your company with the right software.
Customer experience software encompasses any software that seeks to get the most out of your company’s customer experiment management (CXM) approach.
The end goal of having the best possible CXM is to increase brand loyalty and thereby retain customers and create a following likely to speak positively about your product or service
So, with this in mind, we want to find the best possible customer experience software for your specific brand. These are important questions to consider before making your purchase:
We considered these same questions and generated a category-based explanation of the best CX software solutions available.
We’ve broken down each software offering’s strengths and weaknesses based on the following four categories:
Here’s our reasoning and what will be considered within each:
Is the product designed for small businesses taking their first foray into CXM, or for larger enterprise businesses who need to onboard thousands of customer and employee profiles immediately?
We have separated businesses into three categories: small business, mid-market, and enterprise by the following criteria:
This is a biggie – you know your employees (and your company) best, and need software that will maximize their efforts, not frustrate them and leave them needing tech support.
In this category we will rank usability with regards to UI (user interface) and onboarding difficulty (how much training is required to become proficient at the software).
A sister category of market type, but equally important. We will list the top three industries currently using the software (telecom, accounting, whatever they may be) and, when applicable, point out what features makes it specifically suited to those fields.
Here we will look into each service’s price (usually per agent/month) and break down their free, premium, ultra-premium (or comparable) options.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at what’s out there.
Here are our favorite CX tools to revolutionize your approach to CXM:
With industry-leading automation and text analysis capability, MonkeyLearn’s customer experience AI is capable of delivering the most precise, accurate customer insight possible.
Paired with real-time data visualization of the Monkeylearn Studio (see below), and a customizable API that can plug-and-play with your business software, or synergize with other CXM programs, Monkeylearn is able to adapt to any CXM demand.
Market Type: All. Monkeylearn’s text analysis AI was specifically designed to be able to make analyzing large archives of text data easier, and less manpower-intensive – the AI is able to comb through all types of data at scale and learn from itself while doing so.
So, whether you want to get a lot of insight out of a small to medium data set, or draw insight and numbers from a massive archive of reviews, MonkeyLearn’s engine is more than capable.
Usability: Easy-to-use API, and educationally focused. Keeping in mind that not everyone knows how to implement AI learning, MonkeyLearn offers demos, webinars, and at-the-ready customer support for support teams looking to integrate our AI. Additionally, making our API as easy to use with other software is a priority, so we provide an open, comprehensive API library in addition to our other support.
Industry Specialization: Anyone with customer response data. The strength of MonkeyLearn’s AI lies in its teachability – it is fully customizable, allowing you to sort your data in whatever manner you see fit. Not sure where to start? Discover Templates. They are pre-populated with text analysis models and tailored to analyze specific data types, allowing you to drill down into your data with the maximum accuracy.
Pricing: Custom. A variety of plans are available, from full-suite and data viz to more barebones, single integration options. Schedule a demo today and see what works best for your business.
The gold-standard of CXM tools for tech companies, Zendesk excels because of its power, customizability, and sleek UI.
Market Type: All. The majority of Zendesk’s clients are mid-market or small businesses, but it is also a leader in CXM at the enterprise scale. They don’t slouch when it comes to start ups either, offering a customizable API and a six-month free trial for qualifying small businesses.
Usability: Complex, customizable interface, support teams available. Because it is built to be customizable and scalable, the power and capacity of Zendesk can be overwhelming for new adopters. That’s why they have a training and certification program as well as internal help desk integration to help onboard your employees to their platform.
Industry Specialization: Mainly used by software and internet companies. G2 data shows that around 36% of Zendesk’s customers come from Computer Software, Internet and IT, with a very high 16% being Computer Software companies. But, it’s customizable nature makes it a great choice for any business.
Price: Pricey, but adjustable. Zendesk has plans for all three business sizes: It’s small business oriented, foundational support with limited features starts at $19 per agent/month, and it’s full suite options range from $49 to $150 per agent/month and beyond.
There are free trials available at any price point, as well as the free-for qualifying-start-ups option above.
Developed to improve CXM in the incredibly competitive telecom industry, ResponseTek for Telco by Zephyrtel is CXM improvement software specialized for its industry, but with hopes to expand further due to the broader applications of its comprehensive ‘Listening Platform’.
Market Type: Mid-market to enterprise. With a listening model originally developed by ZephyrTel for telecom companies with large customer bases, Responsetek is built to handle a ton of customers. Additionally, its ‘Listening Platform’ is built to also monitor social media channels in real-time so you can respond quickly to any negative attention and otherwise monitor what is being said about your brand online.
Usability: Average, gathers a lot of data. This service gathers both Voice of Customer (VoC) and Voice of Employee data and displays in a UI it calls its ‘Listening Lab’. But, it doesn’t offer much onboarding support or internal help desk integration.
Industry Specialization: Telecom. If you’re a telecom company in need of a CXM solution, look no further – ResponseTek was originally intended for you and should be exactly what you are looking for.
Heralded as THE customer experience improvement software for marketers, Hubspot excels at customer activity tracking, allowing you to see exactly how they interact with your website, and able to churn out reports that your team members and stakeholders will be able to understand.
Market Type: Small business, but scalable. The vast majority of Hubspot’s reviewers are small businesses, even in proportion to its competitors. However, its utility is scalable as it boasts enterprise-level feedback support, which many of its rivals don’t.
Usability: Great. Emphasis on cross-team communication and mobile integration. Hubspot is on it’s game ease-of-use wise with connected team email, live chat, and Facebook Messenger. It also boasts a mobile app for on-the-go marketers.
Industry Specialization: Tech, but unique Marketing and Finance specialization. A fair share of the tech (Computer Software, Internet, and IT) pie is eaten up by Hubspot, but it has an outsized market presence with Marketers and Financial Institutions.
Price: Pricey for higher-end features. While its ‘Starter’ package only runs $45/month, its ‘Professional’ and ‘Enterprise’ models, with greatly expanded features, run $360 and $1200/month, respectively. Check out its pricing plans here (there are free trials and demos at every tier).
Adobe Experience Manager’s answer to CXM provides us with our first example of a great software pair CXM option. Businesses of all sizes already lean heavily on Adobe Suite products for digital marketing and thus adding Adobe Experience Manager (formerly Adobe CQ) makes sense as it would integrate easily with the rest of their software.
This software is cloud-native and enhances its CXM system with ‘digital asset management’ (DAM) system meant to save you time by standardizing your content (video, image, pdf, audio) thereby improving its ability to be distributed at scale.
Market Type: Enterprise, but some Adobe-centric small and mid-market. Supremely popular due to compatibility amongst large companies, but an option for any business that heavily uses the Adobe Suite.
Usability: Customer-oriented. This is a system designed to deliver efficiently to a large customer base, but is not designed to be programmable by front-end developers. It’s plug and play, not customizable.
Industry Specialization: Digital Marketing. If your company does digital marketing using Adobe software, this service will work for you regardless of industry.
Price: Part of package service. Adobe Experience Manager comes as part of Adobe Experience Cloud which promises scalability, price-wise, for mid-market to enterprise businesses per a consultation with Adobe.
For the highest-end tech when it comes to customer intelligence and customer tracking SAS is your answer – their services can provide more advanced and detailed web analytics than Google Analytics.
SAS Customer Intelligence 360’s Customer Intelligence 350 suite offers the best in customer tracking using advanced analytics (such as propensity analysis, meaning measuring what type of customers are likely to perform a given action, and when they are likely to do so) to generate exhaustive data reports.
Market Type: Enterprise. This software is highly capable of taking on large data sets for enterprise level, and has received high ratings for its ability to do so, but might not be the most appropriate for smaller companies dipping their toes into CXM for the first time.
Usability: For businesses with CX teams. This isn’t the type of software designed for every employee at your company. Rather, it is designed for trained CXM professionals to get the absolute most out of big data.
Industry Specialization: Data-driven big business. From Big Four accounting firms like Deloitte, to tech giants like Cisco, SAS partners with big names with big data challenges across the board.
Price: Custom pricing. SAS offers free demos, wherein a representative of theirs will explain what a custom SAS fit would look like for your company, including a price estimate, upon request here.
Salesforce Cloud 360 emphasizes the service side of CXM by offering a platform with built-in omnichannel (meaning all customer interactions in one place) customer service and call center support.
Market Type: All. Salesforce enjoys a pretty even market share across all three sizes of business, which indicates good scalability and reasonable value for cost.
Usability: Below average UI, above average infrastructure. Some users complain about Salesforce’s UI compared to other CXM software offerings, but their software is regarded as reliable and capable of serving a variety of customer bases.
Industry Specialization: All. Salesforce has diverse clients from tech (Asana), to clothing (Adidas), and even has a significant number of healthcare clients.
Price: Pricey - market size match. They offer a $25 per user/month ‘Essentials’ plan for teams of 10 and under, a $75 per agent/month ‘Professional plan for teams of any size, and a $150 per agent/month fully customizable ‘Enterprise’ plan, and finally a $300 per agent/month plan that boasts ‘unlimited CRM power’ - explore these options here.
Freshdesk offers a free basic version of it’s software for unlimited agents and has received very positive reviews across the board from its adopters, so you can see why they are well loved by small businesses and continue to attract more.
Market Size: Small business. Start-ups and small businesses make up more than half of Freshdesk’s business, enjoying it’s pricing and emphasis on onboarding for CXM beginners, but Freshdesk has continued to expand its functionality with more comprehensive, omnichannel plans aimed at bigger business.
Usability: Built to teach CXM. Though not the most powerful CXM suite, Freshdesk has a lauded ‘Solutions’ section with CXM how-to’s and product tutorials to bring employees of any tech literacy level up to speed. Their ‘Resources’ section complements this with video tutorials, webinars, and their ‘Freshworks Academy’, a crash course in CXM designed to teach entire teams to use the software.
Industry Specialization: All. If CXM is a priority for your small business, Freshdesk is a great place to start, whatever your product may be.
Price: Free basic tools, then scaling. As you can see from the above pricing, Freshdesk offers a couple offers beyond its free model, with options for three sizes of small to mid-market businesses. It also offers an enterprise option and even more pricey omnichannel models – click here to browse all of their offerings.
In order to provide a great customer experience, it is important to gather employee feedback and optimize your teams from within. SurveyMonkey generates, distributes, and analyzes employee feedback so that you can better your business from the inside out.
Market Size: All. SurveyMonkey’s use is spread evenly across market sizes.
Usability: UI not designed for customer use, but effective. While some find the UI to be somewhat bland, the software behind it is solid and user-friendly.
Industry Specialization: All. Use is spread more evenly across all industries.
Price: Lower than comprehensive CXM. Prices range from $25/mo to $99/mo, although it should be noted that this is a fairly limited option compared to other, comprehensive CXM software. There are also custom priced ‘targeted response’ plans that SurveyMonkey will tailor to your business needs – check it all out here.
As the #1 rated Business Messenger, Intercom bridges the gap between Slack and Facebook Messenger by bringing business optimized messaging to your customer base.
Market Size: Small business. 66% of Intercom’s clients are small businesses who enjoy its unique feel and specialized nature.
Usability: Specialized. This is a customizable messenger, not a holistic CXM service.
Industry Specialization: Tech, but also broader applications. While popular primarily amongst cutting edge tech start ups, Intercom has broader application for companies with customer loyalty programs in need of a new instant messaging service.
Price: Options for small businesses. Intercom knows its client base and offers customized options for both small and ‘very small’ businesses.
Market Size: Mid-Market. Delighted is designed for mid-market and small business use.
Usability: Versatile. Bridging the gap between expansive CRM suite software and survey focused products, Delighted strikes a happy medium between both worlds.
Industry Specialization: Varied. While it shares a similar number of tech clients as other products, businesses in varied industries give it a go because of its free to use base product.
Pricing: Excellent free model. Delighted has one of the most, if not the most, expansive free basic software of any of the brands here – and it's not a trial. Check it out, as well as their other pricing options, here.
Genesys Cloud is the best solution for businesses looking for independent cloud integration and call center-focused and customer service-focused CXM.
Market Size: Mid-market to enterprise. Large businesses turn to Genesys because it is 1) Cloud native (adapted for cloud independent of other cloud services), 2) Omnichannel (voice, instant message, and email CXM capable), and because it 3) Offers a full suite of tools (datavis – see above, survey management, etc).
Usability: Adaptable to employee needs. Genesys Cloud is easy to use and hands-free – it runs in the background seamlessly, and, when needed, is fairly intuitive with co-browsing and in-app messaging functionality.
Industry Specialization: Finance, accounting, and insurance. With its top client bases lying not in the tech fields, you know Genesys’s software is conscientious of user onboarding and intuitive to all levels of tech-fluency.
Pricing: Mid-market targeted. Genesys’s basic plans run from $49/mo to $140/mo, but they set themselves apart by offering per-hour pricing plans if desired – check all their options out today
Because effective customer experience management will make or break businesses in the years to come, we understand the importance of finding the right fit, CXM tools for your business.
Trying to integrate CXM software that ends up being a poor fit can feel like flushing money down the drain – not only in product cost, but because of employee retraining cost when you do find the software for you.
This guide aimed to breakdown each piece of software with regards not only to what it is best at, but by what companies are currently using it – and by doing so hoped to help you make the right pick, the first time.
Take a significant step towards better CX. Schedule a demo and see for yourself how MonkeyLearn can add value to any CXM approach today.
June 16th, 2021