Choosing a customer engagement software solution can be daunting. But you’re not alone — we’ve compiled this checklist of things to consider when evaluating different providers to help you stay on track.
By keeping this list in sight during research — or using it to ask your vendor questions during a sales pitch — you will be able to avoid hidden drawbacks and make an informed decision about which customer engagement solution is right for your company.
Here’s a quick glance at the things to consider in the checklist:
- Getting to Know the Vendor
- Customizing Your Software
- Evaluating Scalability
- Judging Resources and Support Availability
- Comparing Plans and Pricing
- Reviewing Implementation Options
- Judging Ease of Use
- Checking Integration Capacities
- Advanced Reporting Options
- Guaranteeing Software Protections
- Reviewing Security Standards
- Checking Multichannel Capabilities
- Testing Mobile Functionality
- Additional Considerations for Live Chat Software
- Additional Considerations for CRM Solutions
- Additional Considerations for Marketing Automation Tools
- Additional Considerations for Social Media Software
Getting to Know the Vendor
- Does the vendor have experience in your industry?
- Does the vendor have a reputation as a quality provider?
- Do past and current users speak favorably about this vendor? (Check online reviews for this information.)
- Does the vendor have case studies of companies like yours who’ve used their software?
- Does the vendor have a stable financial status and financial stability? (You can check this using services like Dun and Bradstreet.)
Customizing Your Software
- Will the vendor allow you to create custom reports?
- Does the vendor offer custom templates?
- Does the vendor offer dashboard customization?
- Will the vendor provide tools for custom knowledge management within your organization?
- Will the vendor support deep customer database customization, including custom lead and contact management?
- Will the vendor allow you to target custom groups/industries/visitors?
- Does the vendor support custom functions that go beyond traditional sales/marketing/customer service?
- Does the vendor offer tools to personalize customer interactions?
- Can this software grow with your company? (Will it continue to fit your needs as you grow into a larger organization?)
- Does the software have caps or restrictions that would cause you to be overcharged or limit activity until your account is upgraded?
- Is the vendor working on developing new functions and features that will take your business into the future?
- Will your team have the opportunity to contribute to the product roadmap of the support tool by submitting ideas to the vendor? (For example, with UserVoice.)
Judging Resources and Support Availability
- Will the vendor provide 24/7 support?
- Will the vendor provide instant support for urgent issues, for example by phone or live chat instead of email or ticketing?
- Does the vendor offer phone and chat support as an alternative to back-and-forth ticketing or email?
- Will upgrades, updates, and services be included in the maintenance package that comes with your plan of choice for this vendor?
- Does the vendor offer an in-house consultation for use or purchase?
- Will the vendor provide support for advanced implementation or configuration needs?
- Will the vendor take care of service engagements, or will your team have to contract an outsourced third-party?
- Will the vendor provide onboarding with the proper structure, training, and resources that your team needs to succeed?
- Will the vendor provide a robust knowledge base for self-education and training, including blog posts, white papers, eBooks, and multimedia content?
- Will the vendor provide your team with ongoing support at the level that you need, including providing a dedicated account manager for your organization and support team?
Comparing Plans and Pricing
- Does this vendor offer a payment plan that fits your needs? (Consider cost, user limits or minimums, contract duration, etc.)
- Will this vendor’s payment plan enable rather than restrict your engagement? (Consider limits, monthly caps, etc.)
- Do this vendor’s terms compare favorably to those of the competition?
- Does the cost-benefit of this vendor’s product make it worth the investment?
- Is this vendor willing to negotiate a pricing plan that will fit the needs of your enterprise organization?
Reviewing Implementation Options
- Does the vendor provide cloud-based deployment?
- Does the vendor provide multiple deployment options, such as on-premises deployment should you require it?
- Is the product compatible with your primary operating system?
- Will the implementation costs be more affordable than the implementation costs of other vendors?
Judging Ease of Use
- Will your employees be able to adapt quickly to the system and with minimal training?
- Will your team be able to build workflows and customize the software without the help of an outside partner?
- Will your organization have a low-effort experience when implementing this engagement tool?
Checking Integration Capacities
- Does the vendor have an existing and growing API system to best integrate with other technologies?
- Will the vendor support integrations with your current channels?
- Will the vendor support integrations with live chat, social media, and knowledge base solutions to help you create a frictionless omnichannel customer experience?
- Will the vendor support integrations with leading CRM or marketing automation solutions that will amplify your lead management, scoring, and nurturing capabilities?
- Are the vendor’s existing integration capabilities known to be smooth and seamless?
- Can this system pull data from one app to another?
- Will the integrations that you need be included in the plan that you want from this vendor?
- Does this vendor have a developer community to help with apps or integrations?
Advanced Reporting Options
- Will the vendor provide a robust reporting platform?
- Will reports be included in your plan of choice, or will they come at an extra cost?
- Can reports be automatically generated?
- Does the vendor support multiple viewing options for reports?
- Does the vendor have reporting options that surpass those of their competitors?
- Does the vendor have sufficient reporting options to allow you to continuously improve your service over time?
Guaranteeing Software Protections
- Will the vendor provide automatic data backups and point-in-time snapshots to protect against data loss?
- Will the vendor offer protection against system failure or interruption due to scheduled maintenance?
- Will the vendor guarantee sustained uptime for their product?
Reviewing Security Standards
- Is the vendor PCI DSS compliant?
- Is the vendor ISO 27001 compliant?
- Does the engagement tool offer TLS or SSL data encryption?
- Will the vendor allow IP restrictions?
- Will the vendor provide 24/7 service monitoring?
Checking Multichannel Capabilities
- With this vendor, will your company be able to meet customers through multiple channels and touchpoints? (In other words, will this vendor contribute to your omnichannel strategy?)
Testing Mobile Functionality
- Will the vendor offer IOS and Android versions of its apps to ensure that your employees can access the system from any device?
- Does the software solution have a mobile and tablet-friendly design?
- Are the touchpoints that this software provides, such as landing pages (marketing software), chat windows and buttons (live chat software), and knowledge base articles (help desk software) mobile friendly?
- If your software is both employee and customer-facing, can both groups of users access a mobile-friendly experience?
Additional Considerations for Live Chat Software
- Does the live chat provider offer a Chatbot or AI with its own reporting system?
- Does the live chat provider offer a built-in knowledge base in the chat window?
- Does the live chat provider offer advanced chat window and button customization options so that you can design your chat to match your brand aesthetic?
- Does the live chat provider offer built-in auto chat translation and other features to assist customers across the world?
- Does the live chat provider offer Facebook and Twitter integrations that allow agents to handle social media and live chat queries in the same console?
- Does the live chat provider collect data on website visitors regardless of whether or not they initiate a chat session?
- Can the live chat provider use CRM integrations to recognize visitors who are already in your CRM system?
- Does the live chat provider offer advanced help functions such as screen sharing and co-browsing to help customers with more complicated issues?
- Does the live chat provider offer advanced chat features like audio and video chat?
- Does the live chat provider provide different levels of permissions, for example by allowing admins and agents to have access to different software functions?
- Does the live chat provider allow admins to monitor and control the quality of outgoing chats with features such as real-time chat supervision and instant access to chat transcripts?
- Does the live chat provider connect management with agent metrics to optimize workflow and agent efficiency?
- Does the live chat tool allow admins to set chat routing rules that can help prioritize higher level clients and get website visitors to the proper agent right away?
- Does the live chat provider allow the use of a pre-chat form to save time on chats and improve automated routing capabilities?
- Does the live chat provider make it easy for customers to submit their feedback via post-chat surveys after their support interaction?
- Does the live chat provider have the necessary lead segmentation and automated proactive chat capabilities for you to successfully use live chat as a sales tool?
Additional Considerations for CRM Solutions
- Does the CRM software vendor allow you to build your contact database automatically using information submitted via web forms?
- Does the CRM software vendor allow sales forecasting and real-time performance tracking?
- Does the CRM software vendor have social media and email integrations?
- Does the CRM software vendor offer a self-service customer portal where customers can pay invoices, view support tickets, and collaborate with your company?
- Does the CRM software vendor offer time tracking to keep track of the hours that team members are putting in?
- Does the CRM software vendor allow businesses to create custom fields to enter any specialized information not covered by the system’s default fields?
- Does the CRM software vendor allow businesses to create custom projects that have been tailored to clients, products, or services?
- Does the CRM software vendor allow you to track the progress of a project in real-time?
- Does the CRM software vendor have flexible filtering functions? (What about robust search functions?)
- Can the CRM software vendor automatically generate and send you a range of detailed reports?
Additional Considerations for Marketing Automation Tools
- Does the marketing automation vendor allow you to automatically send and track large batches of emails?
- Does the marketing automation vendor allow you to track and report on deliveries, opens, and clicks?
- Does the marketing automation vendor allow you to build attractive landing pages, emails and more using ready templates?
- Does the marketing automation vendor allow you to build forms to collect visitor info?
- Does the marketing automation vendor let you test web content, social ads, and emails to see how effective they are?
- Does the marketing automation vendor allow you to display ads based on lead segmentation?
- Does the marketing automation vendor provide easy access to SEO analysis?
- Does the marketing automation vendor allow you to run multichannel campaigns?
- Does the marketing automation vendor have social activity integration to help you increase social engagement?
- Does the marketing automation vendor offer advertising integrations to help you incorporate personalized digital ads into your customer outreach?
- Does the marketing automation provide multi-touch reporting, so that you can see every campaign that contributed to closing a deal?
Additional Considerations for Social Media Software
- Does the social media software vendor offer real-time notifications?
- Does the social media software vendor allow you to manage multiple social media accounts from a single dashboard?
- Does the social media software vendor have social monitoring and listening functions?
- Does the social media software vendor provide analytics that measure the effectiveness of a campaign?
- Does the social media software vendor provide insight into consumer sentiment?
- Does the social media software vendor track trending Twitter hashtags to help you join in on the discussion and maximize your user reach?
- Does the social media software vendor allow posting automation to multiple channels?
- Does the social media software vendor have bulk publishing capabilities?
- Does the social media software vendor allow you to set up social contests and sweepstakes easily with templates?
- Does the social media software vendor allow companies to identify and connect with important influencers?
It can be hard to choose a piece of customer engagement software. But with a little bit of patience and research, we know you will find the best engagement solution for your business.
If you still feel like you need help deciding on the software for you, here are some additional tips:
- Write down your primary goals for the customer engagement software. Writing your goals at the start of your search helps you keep them at top of mind even as you’re learning about other goals that can be achieved with a piece of software. This helps you ensure that you’re not won over by secondary goals, and that the piece of software you choose meets all of your core requirements.
- Rank and prioritize features and functionality. We often find ourselves drawn to different parts of different solutions. While you can’t Frankenstein together the software of your dreams, you can rank your favorite features to help you decide what’s most important. Putting features into a ‘must-have’ versus ‘nice-to-have’ categorization can also be useful.
- Get stakeholder collaboration. Get your stakeholders to collaborate with you when deciding which features, functionality, and products seem most promising. Remember that your software needs to meet the needs of all stakeholders — implementing a piece of software that fails to deliver on someone else’s key criteria can be disastrous.
Free Download: Everything You Need to Know About Customer Engagement Software
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