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What’s the best customer support platform for eCommerce companies?
Gorgias vs Zendesk vs Kustomer vs HelpScout vs Intercom vs Reamaze vs Freshdesk vs Gladly
Get your CSAT above 4.9, your tickets per order below 5%, and never get another WISMO ticket again with this guide. Okay, now that we’ve lost all those who don’t care about CX let's dive in.
Founded in 2015, Gorgias is a relative newcomer to the space, but it has quickly come to dominate among DTC brands. And for good reason. Gorgias was built from the ground up for eCommerce companies. Its integration with Shopify (our recommended eCommerce platform) is the best in the industry, its automations allow agents to quickly work through tickets, and its interface is one of the most user friendly. Many software companies like to say that their tool is ‘plug and play’, but Gorgias is one where that’s actually true.
Gorgias was built from the ground up for eCommerce businesses and is the most user friendly customer support solution.
If your company is getting less than 100 tickets a week, we think Gmail is fine, and the founder should be answering the tickets. There’s no better way to learn about your customers, product, and business than responding to customer support tickets. If there are issues, customers will let you know. Customers want to know where an ingredient is sourced from? Respond to the ticket and update your FAQ page. Customers are getting the wrong item? Respond to the ticket, and hound your 3PL. Each ticket can lead to immediate actions to improve your business.
When the number of tickets scales beyond 100 or so, we recommend bringing on a dedicated CX resource. We think that person could also reasonably be using Gmail to respond to tickets. When the customer support function grows beyond a single person, then we recommend that a company transitions from Gmail to a dedicated support platform. Let’s do some ballpark math: if the average person can answer roughly 8 tickets an hour, that’s 64 a day, and 320 a week. When the company starts to generate more than 320 or so tickets a week, it will require multiple people using the same Gmail account. Things go downhill fast when that happens, and it’s likely time to bring in a dedicated customer support platform.
What we like about Gorgias:
Installation & ramp up
It is easy to install and ramp up on the Gorgias platform. Gorgias typically takes about a week to install and doesn’t need development resources like Zendesk might require. Zendesk is feature rich, but there is a steeper learning curve than Gorgias. Because of the intuitive UI, users of Gorgias reported shorter ‘nesting periods’ (the amount of time it takes an agent to fully ramp up on the tool and role). Users commented that maximizing the value of ZenDesk often required an administrator type role similar to those common with a tool like Netsuite. More things are possible with Zendesk, but they require technical people to do custom configurations. Gorgias works out of the box – no administrator needed.
Gorgias has a best-in-class Shopify integration (our recommended eCommerce platform). You are able to edit Shopify orders and refund payments directly from the platform (with one major drawback – see what we don’t like below). The entire customer order history will also display in the right-hand pane. Speaking with a high LTV customer who has spent over $1k with your business? Know that immediately with Gorgias.
Gorgias makes it easy to create rules to respond to tickets. Responding to WISMO tickets (Where is my order) is easy with automated WHEN THEN rules. E.g., when a customer asks where their order is then send a link to shipping tracking information. Gorgias users felt that the tool had better out-of-the-box automation features than competitors like Zendesk especially for eCommerce businesses.
One goal of a strategic customer experience function should be to get fewer tickets. One of the best ways to reduce the number of tickets is to empower customers to answer their own question. Gorgias has a knowledge base feature that allows companies to build white labeled robust FAQ pages that are on brand and allow customers to easily find answers to their questions (example from Krave Beauty). We believe Gorgias used to charge for this feature, but now it is available at no extra cost. The ease of navigating a Gorgias designed FAQ page vs an in-house HTML version is night and day, and companies should see a drop in the number of tickets per order when they implement this feature.
Customer support for Gorgias
Gorgias has a very responsive customer support team. We were surprised to find that many competitors selling a customer support platform had poor customer support (Zendesk’s customer support was described as ‘downright dystopian’ by one user). Like most tools, the level and amount of support from Gorgias will scale with the size of your company.
What we don’t like about Gorgias:
Gorgias is not without its flaws.
‘Flat’ tagging / ‘Parent child’ tagging
With Gorgias you can only tag tickets with a primary dimension and are unable to include secondary dimensions out-of-the-box. E.g., a customer returns an item and an agent tags the ticket with ‘return’ there isn’t a secondary tag option to say the return happened because the size was wrong. Platforms like ZenDesk allow this multi-dimensional tagging. Keep in mind that customization often requires developer support on ZenDesk. Workarounds on Gorgias are to create a tag structure that includes the primary and secondary dimension in a single tag e.g, ‘return-sizing’ for a return that happened due to incorrect sizing.
Gorgias reporting and analytics are generally useful, but for certain customer experience metrics like tickets per order, users will need to pull data from Gorgias and Shopify into a Google sheets dashboard or data platform like Looker.
The primary data structure in Gorgias is around tickets. If the same customer reaches out via email and text, two separate tickets will be created. Other platforms like Gladly or Kustomer are built around the customer and all interactions will be combined into a single customer view. The ticket view can be especially problematic for companies who offer phone support. In this case, a customer might be reaching out who has already emailed the company and a rep won’t have time to check Gorgias for past interactions with the customer.
Gorgias has the tightest integration with Shopify, but some users found the order editing capability within the platform challenging. It’s easy to modify the Shopify order directly from the Gorgias platform, but when this is done, the changes to the order show up in the Shopify Order timeline as ‘Gorgias API’ changes. Gorgias users can’t be linked to Shopify users (without custom code). This makes it difficult to audit Shopify order timelines to understand which agent did what.
Phone support solution
Gorgias markets an out-of-the-box phone support solution for companies, however, Gorgias users complained that the phone support solution was not very robust. Their phone solution offering lacks many of the basic features that phone support tools typically have (e.g., an IVR system (Interactive Voice Response) to automatically gather information from customers and route calls). Gorgias users typically integrate Aircall to offer phone support or the more advanced but also more expensive alternative TalkDesk.
Unlike other platforms that charge per seat, Gorgias charges per billable ticket. A billable ticket is a ticket that is responded to by either an agent or a rule. If the original response leads to reply messages with the customer, the additional replies are not counted as additional billable tickets unless the reply occurs outside of a 5-day window. Plans start at $10/month for 50 tickets/month and scale to $900/month for 5,000 tickets/month. Automation that doesn’t require any agent involvement starts at an additional $30/month and voice and SMS are sold as add-ons and run $30 and $20 per month respectively. As always, whisper 'Head West' at checkout for a special discount.
Zendesk – Founded in 2007, Zendesk has been around the longest of the customer support tools, and has become the 800 pound Gorilla of the customer support world. While it is feature rich, it is less intuitive than a tool like Gorgias and requires more development resources to set up and optimize. Users described Zendesk as a large enterprise tool with lots of tech debt and various functions kluged on. If you happen to be doing business for the government and restricted by FedRAMP approved SaaS, then Zendesk is your only solution right now.
Kustomer – Kustomer structures its data differently than Gorgias. The key difference is that Kustomer is centered around the customer whereas Gorgias is centered around the ticket. Kustomer will unify all tickets created by a customer into a single view. Kustomer has a mix of tech and DTC clients. One advantage primarily used by tech clients is the ease of pulling in third-party data to the platform through ‘Klasses’. It was acquired by Meta (Facebook) in February of 2022, and we are monitoring the impact that will have. There is legitimate concern among DTCs of providing Meta even more data than they already collect. The product itself has improved massively but still lags Gorgias from an ease of use perspective and doesn’t allow ad commenting.
Gladly – Gladly is similar to Kustomer in that it offers a customer centered data structure, but Gladly is more focused on DTC clients. Gladly lags Gorgias in its Shopify integration and out-of-the-box functionality.
Intercom – Intercom’s client list is impressive but mostly focused on technology companies and lacks the tight integrations with Shopify.
Reamaze – Purchased by GoDaddy in 2021, Reamaze has similar eCommerce focus and UI to Gorgias and is well known for their live chat feature. They have pay per seat pricing vs Gorgias per billable ticket pricing. However, their automations lag our recommended. tool
Help Scout – Lacks some of the features of Gorgias (SMS and Instagram / Facebook integrations) and uses pay per seat pricing.
Freshdesk – Not as tight of an integration with Shopify but offers field service support if your company offers in person installation or maintenance (unlikely).
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