7 Top-Rated Affordable Customer Service Software

By: Barkha Bali on May 1, 2024

With customers prioritizing timely query resolutions, personalized interactions, and consistent support experiences across different channels, customer service professionals must meet these expectations while managing a growing volume of inquiries across channels. Fortunately, customer service solutions enable support managers and their teams to manage and optimize interactions, track queries, route tickets, and reduce manual workload with automation.

Due to the range of options available at various prices, every business can purchase customer service software regardless of size or budget. But how do you identify software that offers the best value for your budget?

This article lists seven top-rated affordable customer service software solutions based on verified user reviews and pricing found on vendor websites. Per our research, we’ve considered products with base plans priced less than $34 per month as affordable software and arranged them in ascending order of their prices.

We’ve grouped these products into two categories: dedicated customer service software and customer relation management (CRM) suite with customer service capabilities. Regardless of the category, all products offer the core features of customer service software: knowledge base management, multi-channel communication, and support ticket management.

What is a base software plan?

A base plan is the most affordable pricing tier offered by a software provider. Besides having the lowest price, base plans provide access to all core software features. However, they may have limitations compared to higher-tier plans in terms of the available functionality, storage capacity, number of user seats, support options, etc.

We selected products for this article based on their average ratings between April 2022 - April 2024, which may differ from their current overall average ratings.

1. LiveAgent

LiveAgent is a dedicated customer service platform with a universal inbox to manage incoming requests across multiple channels, such as call centers, email, live chat, contact forms, and social media. You can store customer tickets and chat transcripts within the software and access past tickets, conversations, and call recordings. LiveAgent lets you merge multiple tickets with the same issue or split a ticket with multiple requests and assign them to different agents. Your customer service agents can quickly respond to frequently asked customer queries with predetermined text responses. The software also allows blocking or restricting access to live chat and the customer portal for unwanted users or IP addresses.

Its base plan supports three contact forms, three email accounts, two live chat buttons, and unlimited ticket history. Upgrading to its premium plan gives you access to up to 50 contact forms and 150 email accounts. You also get advanced features, including a feedback button, video call functionality, and chat satisfaction surveys.

Base plan features:*

  • Agent notes to tickets: Enable customer service agents to add internal notes or remarks to specific tickets. These notes are not visible to customers but help agents share information, updates, or instructions regarding an issue or inquiry.

  • Customer portal: Provide customers with a centralized platform to interact with the support team, submit support tickets, track the status of their inquiries, view past interactions, and access knowledge base articles or FAQs for self-help solutions.

  • “To solve” button/label: Use the “to solve” button/label to prioritize tickets that have been unanswered for a long time or have strict deadlines or service level agreements (SLAs). This feature helps agents focus on resolving critical issues quickly and ensures no customer request gets overlooked.

Starting price: $9 per agent per month

Cost to upgrade: $29 per agent per month

Billing cycle: Annual

Customer support options: Call, live chat, contact form, chatbot, and knowledge base

Who should consider LiveAgent?

Customer service managers wanting to implement more self-service options to improve customer experience could consider LiveAgent. It offers a portal where customers can find answers to their queries independently through a knowledge base or FAQs, reducing reliance on contacting support agents. This offers convenience and faster resolution for simple issues. Using this feature, customers can track the status of their tickets and view past interactions, providing transparency and reducing frustration from wondering about the progress of their issue. This portal can deflect simple inquiries by offering self-service options, freeing up agents to focus on more complex issues.

LiveAgent

LiveAgent

4.68 out of 5 stars

1585 reviews

2. Gorgias

Gorgias is a dedicated customer service platform designed for eCommerce businesses. Like LiveAgent, Gorgias lets you combine different support channels (email, chat, social media, phone, etc.) into a unified dashboard. You can manage customer interactions from this dashboard and refund, update, cancel, or approve product return requests. Gorgias leverages artificial intelligence (AI) to automate tasks and answer customer questions. It enables you to build custom conversation flows to provide customers with actionable insights and recommendations. You can create pre-written response templates for FAQs and chat responses. The tool also automatically sends personalized emails informing customers about their ticket status. 

Its base plan supports up to three user seats, 50 monthly billable tickets, and unlimited multi-stores. Upgrading to a premium plan gives you access to up to 500 user seats, unlimited billable tickets, advanced revenue statistics, a dedicated success manager, and priority live chat support.

Base plan features:*

  • Intent and sentiment detection: Leverage natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning (ML) algorithms to identify the purpose or objective behind a customer's message and determine the sentiment expressed (positive, negative, or neutral).

  • Satisfaction survey: Send automated surveys or feedback forms to customers via email or within the support ticketing system, asking them to rate their support experience and provide additional comments or suggestions for improvement.

  • Article recommendation: Use machine learning to analyze inquiries and suggest knowledge-based articles most likely to address the customer's issue, improving response times.

Starting price: $10 per month (50 tickets)

Cost to upgrade: $60 per month (600 tickets)

Billing cycle: Monthly

Customer support options: Email and help center

Who should consider Gorgias?

Ecommerce customer service managers prioritizing sentiment analysis to enhance ticket resolution efficiency could consider Gorgias. The software leverages NLP and ML algorithms to identify the purpose (e.g., complaint, request for information) and sentiment behind customer messages. This empowers agents to categorize issues, prioritize urgent matters, and route complex inquiries to specialists. Based on the sentiment, agents can tailor their approach—for instance, prioritize empathy and problem-solving for frustrated customers. Gorgias also facilitates targeted satisfaction surveys, allowing managers to gather specific feedback for improvement. This data helps identify areas of strength and weakness, allowing managers to make data-driven decisions to improve support processes and agent training.

Gorgias

Gorgias

4.7 out of 5 stars

111 reviews

Pro tip

Identify the core features you need for your customer service operations, such as ticket management, knowledge base, live chat, and reporting. By focusing on essential features and creating a checklist based on your specific business needs, you can avoid paying for unnecessary bells and whistles, keeping costs down.

3. EngageBay CRM

EngageBay is a CRM suite with a dedicated help desk and live chat module called Service Bay. Using its unified dashboard, you can track and prioritize customer issues, assign them to specific agents or teams, and monitor resolution status. The software lets you add private notes or comments on specific customer tickets to record additional information and insights. EngageBay provides a 360-degree view of customer interactions across various touchpoints, such as email, calls, and support tickets, enabling personalized support. You can turn on desktop notifications to stay updated on new ticket assignments, customer replies, or upcoming deadlines, prompting timely actions.

Its base plan allows up to 10 ticket views, groups, and canned responses. However, if you upgrade to the premium plan, you get up to 50 ticket views and canned responses. You can also access advanced features, such as workflow automation, push notifications, and role management.

Base plan features:*

  • Ticket views: Create multiple views, such as pending, unassigned, unsolved, and recently updated tickets, to monitor and prioritize customer queries. You can also modify predefined views to suit your business needs.

  • Ticket macros: Use prebuilt macros or actions to respond to support requests. These macros work on ‘if/then’ conditions. For example, if a particular tag is added to a ticket, then the ticket status is changed from normal to priority. You can modify the conditions and their corresponding actions for automation.

  • Group management: Group your customer support agents by skill (billing, technical, etc.) or department (sales, marketing, customer service, etc.) to ensure that tickets get directed to the most qualified team.

Starting price: $12.74 per user per month

Cost to upgrade: $55.24 per user per month

Billing cycle: Biennial

Customer support options: Email, call, chat, and knowledge base

Who should consider EngageBay CRM?

EngageBay CRM could be a good fit for businesses looking for a platform that combines marketing, sales, and customer support capabilities. This combination helps create a unified customer journey that enhances customer satisfaction. For instance, when a customer fills out a form on the website, their information is automatically added to the built-in CRM. Marketing and sales teams could use this information for personalized outreach, while support teams could access customer data and purchase history to answer any questions. EngageBay also helps users create macros that automatically generate replies to FAQs or basic troubleshooting steps, saving agents time to handle issues that require personalized attention.

EngageBay CRM

EngageBay CRM

4.66 out of 5 stars

721 reviews

4. Faveo Helpdesk

As a dedicated customer service solution, Faveo Helpdesk uses skill-based routing to assign agent tickets based on their skills, expertise, or qualifications, ensuring customer inquiries get directed to the most suitable agent or team member. The tool lets you create and organize a centralized knowledge base, including articles around common questions or issues. This knowledge base can be shared with customers, helping them resolve their issues independently. Its collision detection feature alerts agents if another agent is already working on or has responded to a particular ticket, reducing redundancy in support experience. You can also automate repetitive tasks and processes, such as ticket routing, assignment, and status updates.

Its base plan includes omnichannel integration, in-depth reports, canned responses, SLA reminders, and escalation management. Upgrading to a premium plan gives you access to more advanced features, such as asset, problem, and contract management.

Base plan features:*

  • Robin-round (sequential) routing: Leverage the robin-round routing technique that distributes incoming tickets or inquiries among available agents sequentially. This ensures an even workload distribution among team members, preventing over- and under-allocation.

  • SLA process management: Define the timeframe within which you aim to respond to and resolve customer tickets. This feature helps you set and track adherence to service-level agreement (SLA) policies for different ticket priorities or categories (e.g., faster response times for critical issues).

  • Custom reports and dashboards: Create tailored reports and dashboards to monitor key performance indicators (KPIs) and track support metrics, such as ticket volume, resolution times, customer satisfaction scores, and agent performance.

Starting price: $14 per user per month

Cost to upgrade: $28 per user per month

Billing cycle: Annual

Customer support options: Call, chat, and knowledge base

Who should consider Faveo Helpdesk?

Customer service teams struggling with agent burnout or inconsistent response times could consider Faveo Helpdesk. This software employs skill-based and robin-round routing techniques to ensure incoming tickets or inquiries are distributed sequentially among available agents. Robin-round routing ensures an even workload, preventing situations where some agents are overloaded while others are idle. This helps maintain consistent response times for customer inquiries, leading to a better customer experience and avoiding frustration from long wait times.

Faveo Helpdesk

Faveo Helpdesk

4.48 out of 5 stars

98 reviews

Pro tip

Look for a software solution that scales with your business not only in terms of the number of users but also the complexity and volume of customer interactions it can handle. Consider platforms that offer flexible pricing plans based on your business growth trajectory. This way, you can start small and expand as your customer service needs grow without incurring upfront costs.

5. Zoho Desk

Zoho Desk is another dedicated customer service solution on our list. It lets you gather customer requests and inquiries from multiple sources (such as email, chat, phone, social media, self-service, forums, and forms) and combine them on a unified dashboard. You can pre-define rules to automate ticket assignments based on agents’ expertise, department, or availability. Zoho Desk lets you convert emails into tickets, add private comments to internal teams within a particular ticket, and mark tickets as spam. The software provides self-service portals for customers to submit tickets and find answers to FAQs. You can customize pre-installed reports to track ticket resolution time, customer satisfaction rate, and agent productivity.

Its base plan supports up to five agents and lets you add up to five web forms and 20 tags per ticket. Upgrading to a premium plan gives you access to advanced features, such as sentiment analysis, guided conversations, and live chat support. With the premium plan, you can create up to 20 web forms per department and add up to 50 tags per ticket.

Base plan features:*

  • Web forms: Collect customer inquiries and feedback using embeddable web forms. You can customize the appearance of form fields to match your brand’s identity and auto-convert web forms to tickets.

  • Multi-level escalations: Define multiple escalation levels based on the urgency or complexity of the ticket. If a ticket remains unresolved or unattended for a certain period, this feature automatically escalates it to higher levels of support or management.

  • Response editor with rich text support: Let your customer service agents compose personalized responses tailored to each customer's needs. With rich text support, agents can customize the appearance of their responses by adding formatting elements such as bold, italic, underline, bullet points, numbered lists, font styles, colors, and hyperlinks.  

Starting price: $14 per user per month

Cost to upgrade: $23 per user per month

Billing cycle: Annual

Customer support options: Email, call, and knowledge base

Who should consider Zoho Desk?

Customer service managers seeking to elevate the quality of customer interactions through personalized and professional communication should consider Zoho Desk. Its response editor feature with rich text support allows agents to create visually appealing and well-structured responses, enhancing customer communication's overall professionalism and clarity. Formatting options such as bolding key points or underlining important information can help agents emphasize specific details within their responses. This feature can save time by reducing the need for back-and-forth clarification with customers.

Zoho Desk

Zoho Desk

4.51 out of 5 stars

2152 reviews

6. Freshdesk

Freshdesk is also a dedicated customer service software that lets you record the number of tickets received, resolved, and unresolved in an hour, day, week, month, and year to understand the flow of customer inquiries and better allocate resources. Freshdesk automatically converts incoming emails into tickets for efficient tracking, monitoring, and addressing. Its ticket field suggester automatically suggests ticket fields to categorize, prioritize, and route incoming tickets. The tool offers a knowledge base that answers all the FAQs so your customers can resolve common issues independently. Freshdesk allows you to collect customer feedback through satisfaction surveys embedded within the ticket or via email.

Freshdesk’s base plan lets you create a custom email server and multiple ticket views. You get 24x5 phone support and 24x7 email support. Upgrading to its premium plans gives you access to advanced customer segmentation, canned forms, multilingual knowledge base, IP restriction, and skill-based ticket routing features.

Base plan features:*

  • Automation: Automate follow-ups, escalations, and other tasks using specific time and event-based triggers to perform any action. For instance, you can create a rule that automatically sends a follow-up email to the customer if a ticket hasn't received a response within a certain timeframe.

  • Collision detection: Prevent multiple agents from working on the same ticket using the agent collision detection feature. The feature displays the names of those agents who are viewing and addressing queries, ensuring that others do not open a ticket already being worked on.

  • Service level agreement (SLA) management: Define and track SLAs for your customer support tickets, including the timeframe within which you aim to initially respond to a customer inquiry (e.g., email, phone call) and the timeframe within which you aim to resolve a customer issue.

Starting price: $15 per user per month

Cost to upgrade: $49 per user per month

Billing cycle: Annual

Customer support options: Call, email, and knowledge base

Who should consider Freshdesk?

Customer service teams looking to improve their support efficiency and transparency can benefit from Freshdesk's SLA management feature. Freshdesk helps define and track SLAs for different types of customer inquiries. This creates clear expectations regarding ticket response and resolution timeframes for both agents and customers, reducing frustration and simplifying workflows. Moreover, Freshdesk's SLA features enable managers to track agent performance against established targets, identifying areas for improvement and training opportunities.

Freshdesk

Freshdesk

4.51 out of 5 stars

3286 reviews

7. HubSpot Service Hub

Lastly, we have HubSpot Service Hub. This dedicated customer service tool consolidates multiple communication channels into a shared inbox, such as team email, live chat, and Facebook Messenger. Service agents can collaborate on incoming messages and inquiries from various channels within the shared inbox. HubSpot lets you customize and define ticket pipelines, including new, assigned, in progress, pending, and resolved stages. These pipelines enable support teams to track the status of each ticket, prioritize tasks, and ensure timely resolutions. HubSpot has a meeting tool that integrates with your existing calendar systems, such as Google Calendar or Outlook Calendar, enabling customers to book appointments based on agent availability. Customers can also specify their requirements and choose a suitable time within the scheduler.

Its base plan supports one shared inbox and two ticket pipelines per account. You get a maximum of 10 reporting dashboards and email and in-app chat support. With a premium plan, you get up to 100 inboxes and 15 ticket pipelines per account, 25 dashboards, and additional phone support. Premium plans also cover advanced 1:1 video messaging, post-chat feedback surveys, and custom reporting features.

Base plan features:*

  • Live chat: Engage with customers in real time through a chat interface embedded in your website or app. The live chat feature helps agents instantly answer customer questions and provide support.

  • Calling SDK: Let software developers integrate calling functionality into your software using a set of tools and documentation, aka software development kit (SDK), provided by HubSpot. Integrated calling helps customer service agents make and receive calls without switching between different tools or platforms.

  • Email health reporting: Generate email health reports that provide insights on the performance and effectiveness of email communications from your business to customers. These insights include email deliverability rates, open rates, click-through rates, bounce rates, and unsubscribe rates.

Starting price: $15 per user per month

Cost to upgrade: $800 per month (3 users)

Billing cycle: Annual

Customer support options: Live chat, email, and knowledge base

Who should consider HubSpot Service Hub?

Customer service managers looking to optimize communication strategies to improve customer satisfaction could consider HubSpot Service Hub. Its meeting scheduler enables customers to view and book appointments based on agent availability, simplifying the booking process and enhancing customer convenience. HubSpot’s email health reports offer actionable insights into email performance, enabling users to identify and address spam-filtering issues while tracking open and click-through rates and monitoring bounce rates. Additionally, Service Hub eliminates the need for separate phone systems with built-in SDK calling functionality, giving agents a central platform to track and manage all interactions.

HubSpot Service Hub

HubSpot Service Hub

4.45 out of 5 stars

157 reviews

Pro tip

Take advantage of free trials and demos from customer service software providers. During the trial period, involve key stakeholders from different departments to gather diverse perspectives on the software's functionality, user interface, ease of use, and compatibility with your existing systems. This allows you to test the software thoroughly before committing, ensuring it meets your organization's requirements and budget constraints.

Top 5 customer service software features users rate as highly critical

All the products listed in this article include the features mentioned below. To identify these, we asked users to rate, on a scale of “low importance” to “critical,” how important different features are for customer support software. The features showcased are those that the highest percentage of reviewers rated as “highly important” or “critical” over the past two years (as of April 16, 2024).

Feature name

Criticality rating (%)

Description

Support ticket management

84.20%

Track and prioritize customer inquiries and issues by organizing them into tickets. Each ticket includes the customer's contact information, issue description, status, priority level, and assigned agents or teams responsible for resolution. 

Real-time notifications

83.02%

Enable instant communication and alerts regarding important events or updates within the platform. These notifications can include new ticket submissions, updates on ticket statuses, agent assignments, customer replies, and other critical information. 

Contact management

82.95%

Centralize and organize customer contact information within the software. This includes storing names, email addresses, phone numbers, and other relevant information. Contact management also includes features for categorizing contacts, adding tags or labels for segmentation, and maintaining customer profiles. 

Multi-channel communications

78.01%

Interact with customers across multiple channels, such as email, phone, live chat, and social media, from within the customer service software. This feature consolidates communications into a single interface, allowing agents to manage inquiries from different channels.

Email management

76.58%

Manage incoming and outgoing email communications related to customer support. This includes email ticketing, automated email routing, threading to consolidate related messages, and integration with email clients for seamless communication.

How much does customer service software cost?

Customer service software solutions can cost as low as $9 per month or up to $180+ per month, depending on various factors—features, number of users, infrastructure requirements, customer service type, business size, training availability, deployment options, integrations, and storage. Most customer service solutions typically include the following pricing plans:

  • Free trials: Range from seven to 30 days and give users access to either all or limited features of the software. These no-cost trial plans are ideal for customer service teams that wish to try out a tool before purchasing it.

  • Free versions: Offer perpetual access to limited software features. These free plans are ideal for small businesses or individuals on a budget.

  • Entry-level plans: Start at $9 per month and offer access to standard features. These are suitable for small businesses or customer service teams with basic feature requirements, such as support ticket management, real-time notifications, and basic reporting.

  • Mid-tier plans: Range from $15 to $89 per month and offer advanced features such as unlimited support tickets, multi-channel communications, customer interaction records, contact management, and advanced reporting. These are suitable for businesses that have outgrown entry-level customer service solutions but don’t require the full range of functionality offered by enterprise-level tools.

  • High-end plans: Cost more than $180 per month and offer a range of advanced features, including unlimited access to entry-level and mid-tier features, a CRM solution, project management, marketing automation, priority customer support, and integrations with third-party systems. These are suitable for large businesses with multiple customer service teams and departments and extensive customization needs.

Hidden costs associated with customer service software

Besides the software license, additional costs can include:

  • Training expenses: Initial training for new users and ongoing training for updates or new features can lead to additional costs.

  • Data migration costs: Migrating data from your existing system to the new tool may require expert assistance, adding to the software implementation cost.

  • Software upgrades: Additional costs may be incurred for software upgrades to access the latest customer service features and security patches.

Frequently asked questions when selecting affordable customer service software 

Here are some questions to ask customer service software providers before making a final purchase:

  • Are there any limitations on the number of users or support tickets?

Base plans often have restrictions, such as limited features or capped allowances for users and support tickets. Some providers may charge extra fees for additional team members. Understanding these limitations helps determine if the software can adequately support your team size without incurring unexpected costs. Moreover, being aware of any limitations on support tickets ensures your customer service team can effectively manage and respond to customer inquiries within the constraints of the base plan.

  • What are the security measures in the base plan to protect customer data?

Inquire about the security features of the base plan to protect sensitive customer information. Look for robust encryption protocols (e.g., AES-256 encryption), granular access controls, regular data backups, and adherence to industry compliance standards—such as the General Data Protection and Regulation (GDPR) and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). These measures help mitigate security risks and safeguard customer data against unauthorized access or breaches.

  • What are the available support options for software users?

When evaluating customer service software, inquire about the availability of email support, live chat, phone support, and self-service resources, such as knowledge bases or community forums. Additionally, ask if the software vendor offers dedicated account managers for personalized assistance and guidance. Clarifying response times for each support channel helps manage expectations regarding when assistance will be available, ensuring timely resolution of issues and uninterrupted operations for your business.


Methodology

To be considered for this list, products had to:

  • Feature in Software Advice’s 2024 FrontRunners report for customer service software.

  • Include support ticket management, multi-channel communication, and knowledge base management as the core features.

  • Meet our market definition for customer service software: “Customer service software enables an organization to manage and track customer relationships and support services. From trouble ticket tracking to complaint resolution reporting, customer service software solutions allow organizations to manage and assess the quality of their interactions with customers. Customer service applications also assist in the management and distribution of an internal knowledge base, providing customer service representatives with the information necessary to resolve customer complaints.”

  • For all the 25 products included in the FrontRunners report, we assessed the monthly subscription price of the base plans and found the average price to be $34—we considered only products with publicly available pricing information. We then shortlisted products with a monthly base price lower than $34 for this article.

*Our research team identified these features from vendor websites (as of April 16, 2024) based on their analysis of what users find valuable in or expect from customer service software. This list is not exhaustive. For additional features, refer to the vendor’s website.

Products evaluated for the pricing calculation were taken from Software Advice’s customer service software directory. The pricing ranges exclude freemium versions of the products. The features highlighted were identified based on their relevance and the percentage of products in the Software Advice directory that offer them. Only products with publicly available pricing information, as of April 16, 2024, were considered for the pricing calculation.

Editorial independence: We select and rank products based on an objective methodology developed by our research team. While some vendors may pay us when they receive web traffic or leads, this has no influence on our methodology.