For small + mid-size teams looking for a truly customer-focused help desk, shared inbox, and live site chat.
Our Unfiltered Thoughts
Help Scout can be best described as a customer-centric tool. They have done an incredible job at building somewhat of a community around their software. For example, when I see a company is using Help Scout (on either the website chat or email response), I have an immediate reaction of feeling that they care deeply about customer support and will have equally caring support reps.
I'm also part of their "Support Driven" Slack community as well and am regularly seeing teams of all sizes (big and small) actually switching over to Help Scout from Zendesk, Intercom, and Front, amongst others.
Features & Differentiation
They have a nice implementation of live chat in their product, as it's actually thoughtful (and further customer-focused). How you might ask? Expectations matching. For one, you have to mindfully to mark yourself as "available", and if you aren't actively in Help Scout for a long enough period of time, it will automatically mark you as "away" (wait that's a feature...? hold on, let me explain).
There's nothing worse than having a "live chat" on your website that gives the impression that you'll get an immediate response, but in reality, you just get a bot that asks for your email address because "the team is away". It's a bad expectation mismatch. Help Scout doesn't allow this to happen.
They have more of an "email first" approach, with a "we might be live though" as a secondary. So when the live chat shows on your website, you can be sure that there's actually a human on the other end. Great expectation matching, which as a small team, I appreciate a lot. Now take that, versus Intercom, which simply upon seeing the logo, you and everyone else expects to speak to someone immediately, and if you aren't on the other end, they get frustrated - you're set up to lose versus surprise and delight (which is what Help Scout constantly allows for). If you're a small or mid-size team, why not set yourself up for success and delight out of the box?
One of the areas that got me obsessed with Help Scout many years back was their robust workflows functionality. You can set up either automatic or manual workflows. Automatic is great when you can set up some type of consistent trigger, like when a due date is today and the conversation is active or pending, then mark it active, set the priority custom field to P1, and add the tag "due":
Pair this with the API and you can trigger some pretty powerful workflows both inside and outside of Help Scout. Just be careful with that "Apply to Previous" option, we've totally made some pretty big mistakes by accidentally having it enabled with a broad trigger. 😅
The manual trigger functionality can be used for easily triggering many different things to happen with the click of a button. For example, set up a manual workflow for "snooze" and set it to add the tag "snooze", change the status to "pending", and set the due date to a week from now. There's no shortage of things that can be done here.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Help Scout has gone a human-centric approach to AI (unsurprisingly, as it's true to brand). What they've done is things like, automatic summarization of chat threads. So if you're jumping in and out of threads and collaborating with team members on a daily basis, it'll help you get back up to speed, without having to read the entire conversation thread:
We for one appreciate how Help Scout has handled their approach to AI, as when comparing Help Scout to Intercom for example, Intercom tries to rope in AI at every corner, in chat, and trying to automate conversation threads. While this is cool in theory, it does feel a bit like we're back in the "you must first talk to a bot before talking to a human" time period, which still is a bit frustrating. I'm sure Help Scout will do more in this area as AI continues to evolve in time.
Help Scout also has some pretty cool AI assist features coming to the actual compose window, pulling the likes of ChatGPT directly where you're actually responding to messages:
All-in-all, we know that Help Scout will have an excellent customer service-focused approach to any future iterations to their AI capabilities. Help Scout AI Assist actually reminds us a lot of the new AI functionality recently rolled out by Superhuman actually—funny enough, Superhuman actually uses Help Scout as their helpdesk software solution.
User Interface (UI)
Help Scout has had a pretty similar UI for the past 6–7 years, it wasn't until just recently that they started investing heavily into modernizing the conversation view (which is where you're likely to spend the majority of your time).
To that, they did a good job with it—feeling similar to other modern help desk tools:
We don't have any major complaints aside from just wishing they would also modernize the main dashboard, along with some tweaks to the new conversation view to allow it to take up more vertical screen real estate when typing longer messages. To that end, you start feeling a bit cramped, because they want you to be able to still scroll up and view the prior conversation. That said, the team is hyper aware of this, and have even shared with us some internal mock-ups on how this could be remedied. 👀
Important note: the UI shown above is as part of an opt-in only alpha/beta group that we're in, so if you were to sign up today, it'd look slightly different from the above (for now).
User Experience (UX)
Help Scout does most all of the things you'd like a help desk to do for you. From saved snippets, to internal notes, and more. When it comes down to the micro-experiences when using the software, Help Scout does not let you down. It has features like "Collision Detection" to prevent you and a team member from replying at the same time:
In addition to that, you can actually see the emails that your team members are writing, and even jump in to edit them on their behalf if you need to make some tweaks before sending it off. Help Scout is truly a collaborative Help Desk.
They also regularly auto-save messages as you type them, so if your internet cuts out or browser crashes mid response, you'll be totally fine 👌
The updated mailbox and editor also includes a super powerful "/" feature, similar to that of Slack, which allows you to type anything—quickly pulling out an emoji, saved reply, text formatting, or even switching to a note—no keyboard shortcut memorization required:
But on the keyboard shortcut front, they have that too. Press "S" then "C" to quickly close out a conversation and move to the next one. "W" to show all your workflows. Pretty much everything is accessible via a keyboard shortcut which makes navigating Help Scout a breeze.
API & Integrations
Their API is also super flexible! They also have a great Zapier integration which is always appreciated, it is just a bit limited at times in the trigger functionality especially, so you might want to use their webhook functionality instead for trigger events.
We've managed to do a lot with it though, check out the video below to see how we've integrated Help Scout with Asana and Copper.
They do have a native integration with Slack though that we love, pulling in a quick preview of new conversations, with the ability to set a separate channel per mailbox, allowing you to truly prioritize messages:
Pair this with a tool like Dispatch and you can do some incredibly powerful notification/mark as read rules within your and your team's Slack inbox. For example, one of your team members only want to be notified in Slack channels when they're @mentioned inside of a Help Scout note? That can be done. How about marking all channel messages as "read" unless the customer email domain contains xyz.com, you can do that too. Dispatch paired with Help Scout + Slack is amazing.
I feel they are so close to being great in this area, a real B+ experience. The thing is, the app is a bit buggy from time to time. You can accomplish most of what you'd like to do on-the-go, the thing is, it's missing some core features like the "workflows" functionality. This means, if you rely heavily on workflows when using Help Scout, you're going to be a bit frustrated when on mobile. I'll admit, I've definitely visited the desktop app on my phone every now-and-again to run a quick workflow 😅
On the plus side, the have an iOS and Android app, and both have similar feature-parity. It really just needs that final 20% added to the mobile app to make it great. They have said that they are planning a pretty big re-architecture of the mobile app once the new mailbox (screenshot above) gets publicly launched—mobile comes next!
If you want to hear more of our thoughts about Help Scout and how they stack up against their competitors, check out this post.
Are you a customer-centric organization? Does the idea of automated and templated emails sending to your customers/clients give you pause? If so, Help Scout has you covered.
They enable you to service your customers, without just treating them as a number (unlike that of Zendesk vs Help Scout).
We absolutely love Help Scout, use them ourselves, for hours a day at times—Be sure that if they didn't have an absolutely delightful experience and team, you'd be hearing from us!
There is currently no promo code for this app but we are close partners, so if you use the link above to visit the site and then let their team know that Efficient App sent you, you may just get a little something... extra 😉
There is currently no promo code for this app—we'll update it here if that changes in the future!
Get a free $50 credit + we are close partners, so if you use the link above to visit the site and then let their team know that Efficient App sent you, you may just get a little something... extra 😉
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