5. Testing customer support platforms to choose the best one

5. Testing customer support platforms to choose the best one
By Diana Potter | On Aug 25, 2021
4 min read
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This is the final post in our 5-part series about making a support platform move. If you’re just joining in, check out our previous posts:

  1. Three signals that your team needs a customer support platform
  2. Four signs that it’s time to upgrade your customer support platform
  3. Making the business case for a customer support platform investment
  4. How to figure out your support needs and shortlist the right platforms

You’re finally at the moment you’ve been planning for. You’ve talked to your stakeholders, prioritized the features that are most important to your team, and have a shortlist of platforms to test.

Until now, the next step was where things used to get particularly complicated. You’d sign up for demos and trials, talk to salespeople, and use a spreadsheet to manually check off and rate the features in your prioritized list. If a trial was available, you’d want to add your own sample data, set up customers and tickets, and invite your stakeholders to test the platforms with you. Keep in mind that you’d be doing this in several different environments, either simultaneously or one after another, and trying to keep track of it all with a spreadsheet.

Now, with TestBox, you can expect a much more streamlined process. TestBox provides a single environment where you and your stakeholders can do your testing with data, use cases, and common routings already set up. It offers guided walkthroughs and tips on each platform and lets you record your findings and generate reports — saving you weeks, if not months, of time and effort.

Sign up for a free TestBox account

If you haven’t already, the first thing to do is sign up for a free TestBox account. During the onboarding process, we’ll ask you which platforms are on your shortlist and set up your sandbox environment so you can test them side by side.

We currently support Zendesk, Freshdesk, and HubSpot, with Help Scout and Dixa coming soon. We’re adding new platforms all the time so if there’s a platform you want to test but it’s not available, get in touch and let us know.

Test your shortlisted platforms in TestBox

If this is your first time using TestBox, I highly recommend you read Let’s talk about TestBox in a nutshell. This post offers a quick summary of all the TestBox features and how to use them. For example, you can learn how to switch between software products in TestBox, add notes, and view pre-configured use cases.

Next, it’s time to dive into testing.

Try things out on each of your shortlisted platforms. Get a feel for changing settings, viewing and replying to tickets, and working with other users — all the things you’ll need to do day-to-day in your new platform. Ask your stakeholders to provide details of their impressions and explain their ratings. Because you can add notes and rate features directly in TestBox, you won’t need a spreadsheet to keep track of everything.

Check your Notebook and see how you’ve rated the various features in each platform. You can also use the open field section of the Notebook to add additional notes.

Note that in a future TestBox update, you’ll be able to add and rate your own custom use cases so your testing matches your real-world scenario as closely as possible.

Narrow it down — which are your top two?

Sometimes there’s a clear winner and you can stop there. But if you’re undecided, take the top two platforms and have a conversation with your stakeholders. What does everyone think? Do they have a preference? You might also ask your stakeholders to vote and have them explain their choice. Make sure none of their reasons conflict with the overall project or each others’ needs. What about other non-feature requirements, such as pricing, great support, an account manager, and security/data compliance?

If you still can’t identify a clear winner, do some further testing. There are probably specific areas of contention, so have all your stakeholders focus on those areas in your top two products. This can help break any ties or point the team toward the best fit for your needs.

At this point, you may also find it helpful to talk to the salespeople from your top platforms. In TestBox, you can click the “Ready to buy” button and request to be introduced to specific vendors. (Don’t worry, clicking this button just triggers an introduction between you and the vendors – it doesn’t automatically confirm a purchase.) You want to have a good idea of any incentives or discounts they’re offering. If two platforms are neck and neck but one is significantly more affordable, that may help sway you one way or the other.

Make your decision

It’s decision time. Take this last chance to weigh the features, the price, the overall experience, your future wants and vision for the software, and the stakeholder votes. Make the best decision you can. No matter what, any platform that made it to this final round should have everything you need and most of what you want.

You’ll need to write up your decision, including the costs, to present to your management. This might require some further back and forth with your chosen platform’s sales team to better capture what the pricing looks like or further conversations with your stakeholders.

When it’s time to present, having two or three of your stakeholders join you can be a powerful way to show that this new tool will benefit people in different functions across the company. The stakeholders can also back you up if management has any specific questions or concerns.

Celebrate — and start planning the implementation

After you’ve got management on board, you’re done. The choice is made and it’s time to celebrate!

It’s also time to start the process of setting up the new platform. This might be something you hire out or you could choose to do it in-house, depending on the complexity of the implementation. You’ll have to configure the new platform to meet your needs and if you’re switching platforms, you’ll have to create a migration plan.

You have a lot ahead of you but take a deep breath. This first part is over and you have your solution. Enjoy your accomplishment and stay tuned for future posts. In the meantime, you can also find out more about each platform’s implementation offerings. If you’re looking for implementation support, TestBox can also help point you in the right direction.

Diana Potter

Diana is a support, success, and experience leader. She’s currently the Head of Customer Experience for Qwilr and previously led customer departments for a number of leading companies. When she’s not writing or helping customers you’ll find her off in the woods taking photos or curled up with a book.

TestBox empowers you to have a self-serve, customer-led experience so you can buy new software and feel confident that you made the right choice. Currently focused on Customer Support, TestBox allows you to test out Zendesk, Freshdesk, HubSpot, Dixa, and other products side-by-side. It takes a matter of minutes to sign up and take these products for a test drive. Find out more at TestBox.com or follow on LinkedIn.

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