Customer support software can help keep your client services team aligned, residents happy, and board members retaining your services for the long run. With so many different client services software available in the market, what solution is best for you? In this blog article, we will cover the different software platforms in the market and how they address the most important features.
If you’re short on time and just want to get the highlights of this post, be sure to check out the summary section below.
What types of customer support software platforms are available?
1) Generic software
In this article, we will cover two leading generic customer support platforms, Zendesk and Zoho Desk.
Zoho Desk is a support platform that provides multi-department support and ticket management, knowledge base, telephone support, analytics, and more.
Zendesk is a multi-channel support platform that provides ticket management, knowledge base, community forums, and analytics.
2) Industry-catered software
These solutions are specifically built for HOA’s, condos, and property management companies. Today we will be covering our customer support software, Pilera.
Pilera offers customer support software solutions such as customer support management, activity tracking, knowledge base, troubleshooting, resident portals and notifications, document management, and more.
What should you consider when searching customer support software?
There are a number of features to consider when selecting the right customer support software for your HOA management company. Each factor is critical to keeping your team aligned and saving them time as well as delivering the best customer experience your residents deserve. These factors include setup and onboarding, tracking customer issues, self-service capabilities, reporting, resolving resident issues, pricing, and integrations. In this article, we’ll discuss how each customer support software addresses these factors.
1) Setup and Onboarding
When looking for a solution, it’s important to consider how easy setting up your support inbox is. The easier it is to set up a platform from the get-go, the easier it will be to manage data in it going forward. Is the solution an out-of-the-box system that you can onboard your staff quickly with or does it require significant customization to make it work for you?
Depending on the plan chosen, you can set up your communities as departments in Zoho. In their enterprise plan, customers can set up to 50 departments in Zoho. Customers can then set up custom fields and automated workflows for each department which can be powerful. Therefore, it will take careful planning on your part and extensive staff training for it to successfully operate.
A generic solution such as Zendesk will require you or your IT team to add and manage your residents individually in the software. Setting them up as companies could be used as a replacement for communities. Zendesk is very versatile with custom fields but setting it up for your industry can take some time. The custom fields will also require consistent upkeep so that everything runs smoothly.
Pilera’s customer support tool works right out of the box for the property management industry once the communities have been set up. The onboarding team at Pilera works with each new client to set up their communities and provide their staff with training to get started. Once set up, each community will have its own dedicated support inbox where you can manage all inbound resident requests, assign them to a manager, post comments, track every action taken on a ticket, and generate reports.
2) Organizing and tracking customer issues
As a community manager, you’re regularly fielding resident calls about a leak in their unit or a question about their account balance. It’s important to be able to organize these issues at a property, resident, and community level for future reference.
Zoho works great for industries that are concerned about tracking interactions with individual customers or companies. As a company in the property and community management industry, you may find it lacking in the ability to track unit-based activity. When residents move out of the unit, the interaction will stay at the customer level and not the unit level.
Just like Zoho, Zendesk caters to a larger demographic of companies that are concerned about tracking interactions at an individual customer level. You would need to configure your tickets to track activity at a unit level manually.
As a unit-based system, Pilera makes it easy for you to track activity at a unit, occupant, and community level. As residents move in and out of the unit, managers can view every activity from that unit and how it was resolved.
3) Self-service – knowledge base, resident access, and email notifications
In today’s digital age, residents expect to receive up-to-the-minute updates and information on their community. The self-service portal you provide to residents should empower them to get connected, find answers, and keep track of their unit.
Zoho Desk offers a customer portal where your residents can log in to submit support tickets, view the status, respond to you, and find answers through a knowledge base. When you send a reply, they will receive an email notification.
Zendesk also offers a customer portal where your residents can log in to submit support tickets, view the status, respond to you, find answers through a knowledge base, and post to a community forum. When you send a reply, they will receive an email notification. Since each community has its own Zendesk account, your residents may need to have different logins to access multiple units they own in different communities.
Through Pilera, residents can access all of their important community information in one place. Firstly, residents can submit support tickets, receive email notifications, view the status, and respond to you. Secondly, they can find answers through a searchable knowledge base. You can restrict the permissions of the knowledge base by the manager, owner, or tenant. Thirdly, if residents own more than one unit in different communities, they can view all information with just one login!
In addition, residents can also access the following in Pilera:
- Financial ledger and balance.
- The ability to pay HOA dues, fees, or apartment rents online.
- Submit work orders and architectural change requests.
- View violations and activity logs associated with their unit.
- View communications, documents, events.
- Submit forms and surveys.
4) Multi-community reporting
Understanding the health of your company’s client services activities is vital to making important business decisions. Your customer support platform should make it easy to bring data together from all your communities to answer these vital questions:
- Which communities create the most amount of work for your team?
- Can you justify a price increase to your service?
- Are your staff members overwhelmed with work? Can they benefit from more training?
- Where do you need to shift staff workload across all the communities they manage?
- Do you need to hire another community manager?
Since each community would have its own support inbox in Zendesk, the process to create multi-community reports would be manual. Managers would need to run an individual report for each community and then combine them together into a portfolio report.
If management companies purchase Zoho’s Enterprise plan which includes 50 departments, they can access global reports. Through these reports, management companies can understand how much work each department/community generates and how they can improve workload for better performance.
Whether you manage 10 communities or 100 communities, you can access your portfolio’s reports in one place with Pilera. Powerful filters such as community, assignee, status, category, and date ranges make it easy to drill down on important information without becoming overwhelmed. You can then generate professional-looking reports from the search results or specific tickets you select. Through these reports, you can identify which communities are generating the most work and how to shift workload so your staff is most productive.
5) Resolving resident account issues
When residents call in to ask questions about their accounts, it’s important for you to have visibility into the issue so you can best help them. That’s where troubleshooting features come in. Immediately see what your customer sees, in the moment or on your own time. You’ll be able to resolve their issue quicker and keep them happy.
During our research, we could not find a troubleshooting feature for Zendesk. It would be handled through traditional methods such as talking to the customer on the phone, by chat, or by email.
Customer support teams can help resolve an issue remotely through a platform called Assist. This allows you to remotely access the resident’s device to help them with an issue. Since troubleshooting is done in real-time and when the resident is available, you may not be able to look into the issue on your own time. Zoho Assist’s monthly subscription starts at $12 per manager.
The “Pretender” feature in Pilera allows managers to troubleshoot a resident account issue without needing to remotely access a resident’s device. This means that managers can troubleshoot issues during their off-hours or when they have free time so they can save time for their residents. The manager sees exactly what the resident sees on their account, reducing the time to resolve an issue. Additionally, the “Pretender” feature is available to customers with any Pilera subscription at no extra cost.
Zendesk charges by the number of agents that require login access. Zendesk’s pricing starts at $59/month per agent* that logs into the system and can be assigned support tickets. To prevent spending too much money, you may end up restricting the number of managers who can access this data.
Just like Zendesk, Zoho Desk charges per the number of agents that require login access. Depending on the plan, prices can range from $20-50 per additional manager.* While this pricing structure is great for smaller companies, you may still end up restricting the number of managers who can access this data.
Pilera has no limit on the number of support staff that can log into the software. This provides a collaborative environment so managers and residents can work together to provide the best possible service. This is done through value-based pricing where management companies pay as little as $0.05 per property/unit they manage.
Integrations help to connect two data sources together and improve workflow. For management companies, integrations between an accounting system and a customer support platform help to give you an out-of-the-box solution you can start using immediately.
Zoho Desk and Zendesk
Zoho Desk and Zendesk integrate with thousands of other third-party tools such as project management, support call management, chat, analytics, and more. Some integrations are free, while others charge a monthly amount. Currently, both platforms do not integrate with property management accounting software.
Unlike Zoho Desk and Zendesk, Pilera integrates with many industry-leading accounting platforms in the property management industry such as VMS, Caliber, TOPS, Jenark, and Asyst to name a few. Through the accounting integration, resident contact information is synced back and forth.
Pilera also has a suite of management tools all work together. An integrated HOA management tool helps to unify your entire organization under a single platform. It provides a single source of truth for all the work you do. It’s also a single shared resource for all of your staff members to log in and access vital community data. Pilera increases the productivity of your staff with one connected HOA management solution.
Pilera also integrates with its own suite of tools:
- Communication – Send automated email, text, and phone calls in one click with dynamic distribution groups.
- Maintenance – Streamline your maintenance process with resident submitted tickets, automated notifications, ticket assignment, vendor tracking, and more.
- Resident Portal – Provide your residents with a secure, central login to access important information and connect with their community.
- Board+ – Increase accountability and help the board improve compliance with tasks, violations, and ACRs.
- Condo & Rental – Track vehicles, pets, insurance, leases, and more.
- Websites – Secure and mobile-friendly websites to keep your residents informed.
- Customer Support Features: Multi-department support, ticket management, knowledge base, telephone support, analytics, and more.
- Caters to industries that are mostly concerned about individual customers, so managers would need to manually add units and residents. When residents move in and out, managers will need to manually update the contact information.
- Zoho Desk is customizable and powerful once set up, and would require careful planning and extensive staff training to be successful.
- Robust remote troubleshooting software called Assist which requires the resident to be available during the remote session.
- Pricing: Ranges from $14-40/agent/month depending on the plan and how many departments you want.
- Customer Support Features: Multichannel support, ticket management, knowledge base, community forums, and analytics.
- Zendesk is customizable and powerful once set up with their custom fields and workflows.
- Communities could be set up as customers, however managers or their IT team would need to manually add units and residents to the system as well as manage the upkeep of the data.
- Pricing: Ranges from $59-199/agent/month depending on the plan chosen.
- Customer Support Features: Portfolio management and reporting, support Management, unit and occupant activity tracking, knowledge base, troubleshooting, and analytics.
- Built for the HOA and property management industry, managers can track activity at the property, resident, and community-level.
- Comprises of a full HOA management solution to manage communications, work orders, ACRs, customer support, online payments, documents, board portals, and more.
- Pilera has an integration with property and HOA managemement specific accounting solutions which help to keep data consistent and reduce manual errors in resident contact information.
- Pricing: Starts at $0.05/unit/month with no limitations on the number of managers who can log into Pilera.
Build better communities with Pilera’s client services software
With many products available in the market, it’s important to know which tools will help your company get the most NOI. Generic tools such as Zoho Desk and Zendesk are powerful once you spend time setting them up and training your team. Since they have a larger demographic, they mostly track activity by the customer level. An HOA tool like Pilera has locations built into the system so that you can easily track customer activities at a person, unit, and community level with the ability to pull in all your portfolio data into one consolidated report. Since an HOA customer support tool is a component of management software, there’s an additional benefit of organizing all of your company’s work into one platform. To learn how Pilera’s HOA customer support tool can help you deliver better resident experiences, contact Pilera at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Case Study: Professional Association Services, Inc. (PAS)
The California-based management company, Professional Association Services, Inc. (PAS) delivered stronger customer experiences with Pilera and increased communications to residents by 200%. Read about their success story here!
*These are the prices listed on the company’s website at the time of this writing.