8 Best CRMs for Service Businesses in 2023
It’s no secret that tracking customer information is kind of a big deal.
Letting important details slip through the cracks hampers your ability to make effective sales and wastes valuable marketing efforts. Failing to understand and cater to customer needs after the sale ticks them off.
That’s why it’s so important to have a central system to track all your critical customer information. This is best done by using an effective CRM that can help businesses grow and scale.
So what’s the difference between a CRM for service business operations and a basic sales CRM?
A customer relationship management tool dedicated to service businesses ensures you keep the customer happy after you close the deal. Too often, companies look no further than the sale, forgetting that customer satisfaction is almost as important as generating leads and deals.
That can be a costly mistake.
Why? Because “companies that excel at the customer experience grow revenues 4-8 percent above their market,” says Bain & Company. They say “a superior experience earns stronger loyalty, turning customers into promoters with a lifetime value six to 14 times that of detractors.”
Many factors contribute to this, such as the power of upselling/cross-selling and the expense of onboarding clients and customers. The bottom line is if you can keep hold of those hard-earned customers, you’ll see greater revenue overall.
So, which are the best CRM for the service industry and service business? Let’s get started.
What Is a Service CRM and How Does It Work?
The main objective of a CRM for the service industry is to help companies support customers in a better way. Therefore, the true benefits of a service CRM will come after the sale, operating as an all-in-one order management and self-service portal.
In other words, a service CRM should be your go-to tool every time a customer needs support. It will help you:
- Provide multiple channels of contact between you and the customer, such as phone support, email or chatbot
- Manage contact information so you can get back to the customer in a timely fashion with the answer to their problems (assuming you can’t address them right away)
- Collate customer support documents to help you resolve issues more quickly, ideally with decision-making trees to speed customer service teams along
These are critical contact management tools, combining customer data with your ability to support them, ideally in real time.
While many sales CRMs have some of this functionality, most of them don’t include a robust start-to-finish service management tool suite. That’s why it’s so important to stay up to date with the latest, most comprehensive small business CRMs.
But first, why should you even care?
Looking for ways to improve your contracting business? Explore our recommended CRM software for contractors in the contracting sector.
6 Benefits of CRM Software for the Service Business
The main benefits of a service management CRM are aimed at giving sales, marketing, and customer service teams everything they need to help customers and provide exceptional customer satisfaction. CRMs will almost always provide these basic functions:
- Store contact data
- Track every contact, from phone to email to chat, on desktop cloud-based CRM software and inside apps
- Automate case management for everyone on the support team
- Support API technology so your customer relationship management software can talk to your other critical programs
In addition to those, service CRMs really prove their value with the following benefits.
1. Real-Time Overview of Support Queries
Looking for faster case management and greater customer satisfaction? Of course you are. You can’t do that without a dedicated customer success team – and a CRM to pull the data together and help manage their efforts.
With a service-focused CRM, you can view all support quieries in one place – along with sales contacts, marketing interactions, and more.
2. Increased Customer Retention
Although some people balk at the pricing of a comprehensive sales-to-service CRM, they forget the cost of losing customers they’ve already onboarded. Remember, existing customers are worth more than prospects:
“Acquiring a new customer can cost five times more than retaining an existing customer,” explains OutboundEngine.
Moreover, “The success rate of selling to a customer you already have is 60-70 percent, while the success rate of selling to a new customer is 5-20 percent.”
If you care about profitability, you need to keep customers around for the long haul. That’s where a service CRM comes in.
3. Faster Turnaround for Customer Interactions
When you have easy access to customer data, they don’t have to wait as long to get the answers they want. When a customer asks a question, you can easily access all other interactions they've had to get the insights you need to deliver answers--fast.
That leads to greater satisfaction, happier users and better reviews. Say goodbye to unhappy customer interactions and hello to more word-of-mouth marketing.
4. Comprehensive Customer Support Knowledge Base
Not sure how to help the customer? No worries; a service CRM offers a full knowledge base of templated resources as well as ones you add yourself – all in one place.
This gives support team members the info they need to serve customers efficiently and completely.
5. Improved Customer Loyalty
A CRM helps keep communication open. It’ll enable you to provide customer support in a timely manner, and keep customers up to date and knowledgeable about your product with automatic drip messaging.
You can even set reminders for customer success teams to check in at certain times, making sure your clients are making the most of your product. This kind of personalized support makes customers feel cared for, and helps them stick around longer.
6. Complete Viewable History of Customer Lifecycle
It’s not enough merely to see the data created when they called or emailed; though. For a truly respectful and effective customer experience, you need as much information as possible. A service CRM will keep all the details from every interaction all in one place, so you can see it any time.
8 Best Service CRM Solutions for Customer Service
All right, you’re convinced of the importance of customer service in CRM. You know that customer relationship management must extend through the purchase period and right on through to the end of the customer journey, which ranges from right after the sale to … hopefully … forever.
That’s where great service business CRMs come in. Let’s take a look at the top eight.
1. Close CRM
As an industry-leading CRM platform, Close is one of the best tools for tracking customer engagement and business processes. It helps sales reps resolve customer issues after they make a purchase, provides documentation and answers to FAQs, and provides robust help desk functionality.
However, there are plenty of steps necessary to get customers to the purchase phase. For that reason, this CRM offers lots of other benefits as well.
The Close customer resource management environment provides complete marketing, sales, and service coverage, helping you manage every stage of the customer journey.
One of the significant advantages of Close is that it now has a mobile app (iOS), enabling you to stay connected and access your CRM tools on the go. From forecasting to marketing automation, spreadsheets and templates, follow-up call and email scripts, and more, you’ll never have to look elsewhere for CRM tools.
Close's Workflows reduce the manual effort involved in lead handling, offering steps for assigning leads, orchestrating outbound communication via email, SMS, calls, and creating follow-up tasks. Workflows run until completion or until a contact responds, ensuring efficient lead nurturing. You can even trigger Workflows based on specific filter criteria, streamlining lead assignment and communication for increased efficiency.
With the Close's mobile app, you can also efficiently work and stay organized even when you are away from your desk, making it easier to engage with your customers anytime, anywhere.
Here's an example of sales pipeline view on Close's mobile app:
Close is also quite affordable, at only $99 per month, billed annually (includes 3 users).
Close offers such a wealth of services that it’s hard to pin down a con. However, Close does not have a free version, which is something some other CRM services do offer.
That said, Close’s low-cost per-user price means that it’s pretty accessible to anyone who wants to use it. Plus, with a 14-day free trial, prospective users have plenty of time to decide whether they want to give it a go for real.
2. HubSpot CRM
Chances are you’ve heard of HubSpot. As pioneers in the digital marketing space, they have much to say on the topics of inbound and outbound marketing. They also create and purvey amazing reports on the state of sales today. Given such a knowledge base, it’s no surprise they offer a decent product.
For new businesses and startups looking to try a CRM for free, HubSpot is a good way to go. Their complimentary tools include ticketing, email, live chat, calling and more. If you’d like to try a service for a few months without a credit card and see if you can pull in some new customers, HubSpot could do the trick.
The free version is very limited. There is no automation, pipelines are simple to the extreme and enterprises most likely won’t find all the functionality they’re looking for. To get those features, you’ll need to pay a base rate of at least $45 per month.
3. Agile CRM
Another popular choice is Agile, which bills itself as an affordable all-in-one CRM solution.
This cloud-based software, unlike some others, does cover every aspect of the buyer journey, from marketing and sales through service. That, in addition to plenty of integration functionality, makes it a good choice for starting out with a CRM. It’s also free up to 10 users, making it ideal for service companies on a budget.
While the cost is unbeatable, Agile’s user interface and functionality leave something to be desired. It’s not that easy to customize, and while its automation services are numerous, they can prove pretty confusing for new users. You might not have to pay with money, but prepare to pay with your time if you choose Agile.
4. Freshdesk by Freshworks
Freshdesk is an adaptive CRM system, using the power of AI to help you make smarter decisions and engage more effectively with your customers.
Here is another platform you might want to try if you’re strapped for cash. In addition to a free option up to 10 users, Freshdesk also offers a 21-day free trial on the paid options.
One of the most common complaints about Freshdesk is that, while the functionality promised is good, it works too slowly to get the job done. That, combined with relegating some of the most important service functions to higher-paid versions, means it might not be the best bet for a professional team.
5. Creatio Service
Creatio Service is a dedicated customer service management solution, which is a double-edged sword. Because of its niche expertise, it is one of the best solutions for service. However, for that same reason, it’s not a great solution for people who also want sales and marketing incorporated in their CRM.
Creatio helps you put all your customer data in one place, so service representatives can quickly locate all the necessary information to provide an excellent experience. It's pretty easy to use and also offers a no-code platform, which many service providers prefer.
Because Creatio does not offer marketing or sales services, you should plan to deal with lots of integrations and multiple CRMs if you use Creatio. Also, it’s one of the spendier CRMs, starting at $45 per user, per month.
If you’re looking for a tried-and-true product, Salesforce is a good option. It’s been around for more than a decade, boasts well-vetted applications, and is popular with its users. With it, you can keep contact info organized, manage leads, gain insights and more.
Like Close, Salesforce is only $25 per month, per user. If your biggest concern is cost and/or you only want to try it on a team member or two without having to deal with group packages, Salesforce might fit the bill.
However, unlike Close, this price tag provides pretty bare-bones functionality. Its integrations are limited and it does not provide much in the way of reporting at that rate.
The main selling point of Salesforce is how incredibly comprehensive it is, but you cannot get that functionality without paying top dollar – which is in the hundreds of dollars range.
Additionally, the customization options can be overwhelming for some users.
If you're a small business owner, Salesforce may not be the best fit for your needs. Learn about alternative CRM platforms that may better suit your budget and goals in this article.
Much like the options above, the goal of Zendesk is to help you serve customers more easily by collecting all their information in one place. This makes it easier to manage tickets, answer questions and keep them happy post-purchase.
Users routinely report that Zendesk is fast and reliable. They rarely have outages or slow load times, and what functionality they do offer happens quickly and efficiently. They also offer an iPhone app, making it easy for you to stay connected and respond to customer requests on the go.
Their “foundational support” plan starts at only $19, but that is a bare-bones service package. You’ll have to pay separately for sales functionality from Zendesk, so it’s not a very cost-effective choice unless you already have resources sunk into Zendesk.
Maximizer is another option for sales teams that want full functionality in all their activities.
This CRM helps salespeople track their leads, keep details organized and close more deals. It specializes in taking a data-based approach to sales. They also offer a full suite of third-party tools to extend the fuctionality. Most reviews say it is super easy to use and makes it easy to map the customer journey from start to finish.
Maximizer doesn’t put a huge emphasis on service, which can get you into trouble if you’re not careful. Plus, their base edition is $55 a month, per user.
Service CRM Vs. Sales CRM System
As we touched on briefly above, the sales and service aspects of customer relationship management are different. To wit:
- A sales CRM helps you generate new leads and prospects, guides them through the decision-making period, enables marketing and helps you close the deal.
- A service CRM comes into play after they sign on the dotted line, giving you tools to help clients and customers make the best use of your offerings over the long haul.
Before you go thinking that you’ll need a separate sales and service CRM, though, hold on. The truth is, if you find the right CRM tools, you can run your sales management and customer service all in one place.
That means that for each customer, you can track their information from the moment of initial lead generation, all the way through the sales pipeline to post-purchase. At that point, your main job is to keep them happy while using your product or service, while subtly upselling, cross-selling and encouraging their loyalty.
Enter Close, an all-in-one CRM toolkit. Combined CRMs are as effective at using chatbots as email marketing. We help you connect with new prospects and deepen your relationship with old customers.
In Summary: Service Business CRMs
If you work in the service industry, you need a CRM that helps you deliver the best possible customer experience. That’s not to say that all industries don’t need service CRMs, because really they do. It’s just especially critical for those providing an ongoing service.
No ugly transitions. No lost contact information. No “please bear with us while we mishandle your private deets eighteen different ways because we seriously do not have our s*** together.”
Which, we can proudly advertise, is something we’ve never had to say at Close. Our industry-leading CRM combines both sales and service seamlessly, so there's no transition necessary before and after purchase. It’s better for the customer, sales teams, sales managers, and your company as a whole.
Ready to provide better customer service and improve customer satisfaction? Try us for free for 14 days.