Best CRM for Customer Service in 2020

Man in call centre delivering customer service

By Rob Binns | Senior Writer | Updated: 10 July 2020

We’ve researched, ranked, and rated the six best customer service CRM software solutions for UK businesses. Find yours today, and compare tailored quotes from suppliers


Salesforce logo whiteZendesk logo whiteFreshworks logo whiteHubSpot logo white newZoho logo whiteDynamics 365 logo white
Customer service CRM supplierSalesforceZendeskFreshdeskHubSpotZohoDynamics 365
Starting price*£20£5£11£33.60£10£39
Highest price*£240£149£75£990£40£75
Issue management capabilities£
Customer interaction trackingX
Customer loyalty tracking£XXX
Customer history
Compare customer service CRM quotes

* Per user, per month


We’ve all been there. Stuck on hold, getting bounced from one customer service agent to another, trying to resolve an issue. When you finally do get to speak to a real person, they’re clueless to your situation, and you have to explain everything again.

It’s bad customer service, and you don’t want it happening at your business.

Enter customer service CRM (customer relationship management) software. With it, you’ll turn your agents into lean, mean service machines. No more spreadsheets, no more notebooks, and no more data silos – just a system that unifies communication across your email, social media, and phone channels, and helps you prioritise, organise, and handle customer service issues with aplomb.

But which CRM is the right fit for your business? We’ve researched, rated, and ranked six leading customer service CRM providers in the UK to answer that very question for you. With a team of independent researchers, we assessed each CRM provider across four key metrics, as well as four features crucial to the smooth running of your service team. Which supplier came out on top?

Let’s find out.


Best customer service CRM for UK businesses

According to our research, the best CRM for customer service teams is Salesforce Service Cloud. Comprising the rest of the top six is Zendesk Support, Freshworks CRM’s Freshdesk, HubSpot Service Hub, Zoho, and Dynamics 365 for Customer Service.

The best customer service CRM software comes from:

  1. Salesforce Service Cloud
  2. Zendesk Support
  3. Freshdesk
  4. HubSpot Service Hub
  5. Zoho
  6. Dynamics 365 for Customer Service

But before you dive into our research and rankings of the best CRM software for UK customer service teams, why not compare CRM software quotes with us? Simply provide us with a few details about your business, and you’ll receive quotes tailored to the size and unique needs of your customer service team, for free.


1. Salesforce Service Cloud

As our top CRM pick for customer service, Salesforce (somewhat predictably) cleans up across the board for customer approval ratings, features, and help and support. And, while it scores slightly lower on price – its expensive premium plans see to that – its basic plan should still be accessible for most small businesses.

As well as topping our list of the best sales CRM software, Salesforce also bosses our rankings for customer service CRM. Built on the pioneering Salesforce Customer Success Platform, Service Cloud is an industry-leading customer engagement tool for businesses of all sizes. From streamlining key processes to creating automated workflows, Salesforce Service Cloud frees your team up to do what they do best – provide world-beating customer service.

Starting price£20 per user, per month
Highest price£240 per user, per month
Customer supportLive chat, phone (24/7), email, knowledge centre
Data storage limitN/A
Contact limitN/A
Free trial?30-day free trial

Salesforce Service Cloud for customer service: feature analysis

We investigated whether each supplier offers the five following features that are important for customer service CRMs, and how well it can do them.

Issue management capabilities? Salesforce boasts strong case and issue management functionalities across all plans. 

Upgrading to Salesforce’s more expensive tiers (i.e. Enterprise or Unlimited) provides advanced issue management functionality, including case re-routing and case milestone tracking. All plans enable quick, seamless communication between your customer service agents.

Customer interaction tracking? Yes.

Customer loyalty tracking? Yes.

Customer history? Yes. Salesforce Service Cloud’s ‘Field Tracking History’ capability allows you to track any field changes to accounts, cases, and service contracts over the last 18 months. This ensures that you keep your finger on the pulse regarding any changes in your customers’ situations or details, and can react accordingly.

To find out more about what these features do – and how they can benefit your business – jump to our section titled ‘How CRM can improve customer service‘ below.

We rated all six customer service CRM providers on their ability to deliver the four features above. For more information about what these features are – and why they're so essential to the smooth running of your customer service team – head to our section ‘How can CRM improve customer service‘ below.

Pros:

  • 24/7 phone-based support available
  • Case re-routing and case milestone tracking included as standard
  • No data storage or contact limits

X Cons:

  • Can be complicated to set up and use, and onboarding support is recommended

Curious to find out more about how Salesforce can elevate your business to new heights? Read our Salesforce CRM review now.


2. Zendesk Support

A classy customer service CRM tailored to the needs of small teams, Zendesk Support soars in the metrics of both help and support and price, and boasts a strong weighted customer approval score of 85%.

With seamless social media and channel integration, a slick ticket prioritisation tool, and a multilingual interface that allows agents to work in their own language, Zendesk Support is a top pick for customer service teams. It’s great value, too, with packages starting from a mere £5 per user, per month, and plenty of data storage thrown in.

Starting price£5 per user, per month
Highest price£149 per user, per month
Customer supportLive chat, phone, email, knowledge centre
Data storage limit30MB to 200MB per agent (data), 500MB to 10GB per agent (files); dependent on plan
Contact limitN/A
Free trial?Free 30-day trial

Zendesk Support for customer service: feature analysis

Issue management capabilities? Included as part of Zendesk’s ticketing system.

Customer interaction tracking? Yes, across all plans.

Customer loyalty tracking? Yes – Zendesk allows you to generate NPS surveys to gauge customer engagement with and loyalty to your brand.

Customer history? Yes.

Pros:

  • Offers over 500 integrations via Zendesk Marketplace
  • ‘Guided mode’ feature lines up tickets for your staff to work through, helping prevent task ‘cherry-picking’

X Cons:

  • As with most customer service CRM software, you’ll have to shell out more for the premium features

3. Freshdesk

Freshdesk (from Freshworks CRM) is our joint-top customer service CRM pick for price, but its limited features prevent it from reaching the heady heights of our list’s summit. Freshdesk still boasts a strong customer approval score, though, and its help and support is among the best we found.

Though Freshdesk doesn’t boast as many features as Salesforce, it’s much more accessible in terms of pricing (which starts at £11 per user, per month). It’s also one of the most fun customer service CRM systems to use. You can create tickets in a flash, easily prioritise conversations by urgency or date, and organise support requests by the channel they came in from. It’s no wonder its customers love it so much!

Starting price£11 per user, per month (when billed annually – expect to pay 30 to 40% more on a monthly plan) (free version available)
Highest price£75 per user, per month (when billed annually – expect to pay 30 to 40% more on a monthly plan)
Customer supportLive chat (24/5), phone (24/5), email, knowledge centre
Data storage limitN/A
Contact limitN/A
Free trial?Free version and 21-day free trial available

Freshdesk for customer service: feature analysis

Issue management capabilities? Freshdesk enables excellent issue management across all plans. Key highlights include its priority setting feature, split ticket functionality, and (for those on the Garden plan up) the ability to create customised satisfaction surveys to monitor progress against your customer service goals.

We particularly love ‘Freddy', Freshdesk's AI-powered solution to managing customer success, and ideal for tackling your ever-growing list of repetitive, mundane tasks. The productivity-boosting bot comes with Freshdesk's ‘Forest' plan (£75 per user, per month), which provides 3,000 ‘Freddy sessions'.

Each session equals one use of the bot (one email send, or 24 hours of chat replies). When you max out, an extra 1,000 sessions will cost you $100 (£77). Not to be confused with ‘Freddo', of the delicious, chocolatey variety – but just as good at keeping people happy!

Customer interaction tracking? Yes, across all plans – even its free one!

Customer loyalty tracking? Freshdesk’s Garden plan and above enable you to integrate your CRM with Survey Monkey – letting you capture overall customer loyalty and track NPS scores.

Customer history? Yes.

Pros:

  • Sports an excellent free plan, with features spread out across all pricing tiers
  • Solid customer support, with round-the-clock service included as standard

X Cons:

  • You’ll pay up to 40% more to be billed monthly
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4. HubSpot Service Hub

Though HubSpot excels in its CRM offerings for sales and marketing teams, its customer service-focussed software doesn’t quite hit those same lofty heights. Hamstrung by a more limited range of features and a hefty price tag, HubSpot’s Service Hub is redeemed by wonderful help and support, and superlative customer approval ratings.

Many customer service CRM providers do automation well, but HubSpot Service Cloud takes it to a new level entirely. Its conversational bots do the talking for you, while a live chat feature enables you to work out issues in real-time, via your website. What’s more, HubSpot’s a pleasure to use – its stripped-back, modern look and feel makes it easy to get to grips with, and there’s phone-based support if you get stuck.

Starting price£33.60 (when billed annually – expect to pay around 25% more on a monthly plan) (free version available)

Are you a startup? You might be eligible for 90% off, with HubSpot’s ‘HubSpot for Startups’ program.

Highest price£990 (10 user minimum)
Customer supportLive chat, phone, email, knowledge centre
Data storage limitN/A
Contact limitN/A
Free trial?Free version

HubSpot Service Hub for customer service: feature analysis

Issue management capabilities? Yes – these are included as part of HubSpot’s ticketing system. With this feature, you can record, organise, and track all of your customers' issues from a single dashboard, which is accessible to your entire team via the cloud.

Customer interaction tracking? No.

Customer loyalty tracking? No, but Service Hub’s Professional and Enterprise plans allow you to run NPS surveys to calculate overall customer loyalty.

Customer history? Yes.

What do we mean by ‘the cloud'? Head to our guide to the best cloud-based CRM for small businesses to find out.

Pros:

  • Offers intelligent in-built reporting tools for measuring performance
  • Laudable customer support

X Cons:

  • Expensive upper pricing tier
  • No customer loyalty or interaction tracking
Did You Know?

HubSpot also ranks highly on our list of the best CRM systems for small businesses. Why not take a look?


5. Zoho

A poor customer score, so-so features, and help and support ratings that lie at the wrong end of the spectrum are offset by Zoho’s biggest selling point – it’s really, really cheap!

As with its products for sales and marketing teams, Zoho’s customer service CRM lacks the same depth of features as the Salesforces and HubSpots of this world. However, Zoho makes up for its shortcomings with a low starting price of just £10 per user, per month, an intuitive interface, and a generous free version. Sure, you won’t get much in the way of customer service analytics here – but for all the basic stuff, Zoho should suffice.

Starting price£10 per user, per month (free version available)
Highest price£40 per user, per month
Customer supportLive chat, phone, email, knowledge centre
Data storage5,000 records (10MB) to 5,000,000 records (10GB)
Contact limitDepends on the type of correspondence
Free trial?Free version available

Zoho for customer service: feature analysis

Issue management capabilities? Yes. Zoho even allows you to create solutions whereby the system tracks issues automatically, and uses the customer’s initial query to populate the relevant fields when replying.

Customer interaction tracking? Yes.

Customer loyalty tracking? No.

Customer history? Yes.

Pros:

  • Boasts an interface that’s as easy to use as it is on the wallet
  • Purchasing an annual subscription gets you a 20% discount

X Cons:

  • No customer loyalty tracking
  • Too simplistic for the customer service demands of larger teams

6. Dynamics 365 for Customer Service

Bringing up the rear is Microsoft’s own answer to the CRM needs of customer service teams. Though much more affordable than its solutions for sales and marketing, this saving is reflected in Dynamics 365 for Customer Service’s scaled back list of features, and indifferent help and support.

Normally renowned for its big data, analytics-focussed approach to CRM, Dynamics 365’s offering for customer service teams is surprisingly light on features. There’s no loyalty tracking capability, while the interface – tough to use and void of visual flair – ails from an ironic lack of dynamism. Still, it’s cheap. And, if you’re a Microsoft lover looking for a way into a system that’s normally beyond the budgets of most businesses, Dynamics 365 for Customer Service might just be the software for you.

Starting price$50 (£39) per user, per month
Highest price$95 (£75) per user, per month
Customer supportPhone, email, knowledge centre
Data storage limitN/A
Contact limit100,000 cases per month
Free trial?Free trial available

Dynamics 365 for customer service: feature analysis

Issue management capabilities? Yes, and all basic case management features are included. Among our favourites are case re-routing, and the ability to convert service issues into knowledge articles.

Customer interaction tracking? Yes.

Customer loyalty tracking? No. Dynamics 365 for Customer Service currently offers no way of keeping tabs of individual loyalty to your brand. 

Customer history? Yes.

Pros:

  • Cloud-based, but with on-premise options available
  • Reasonable pricing range

X Cons:

  • No live chat support
  • No customer loyalty tracking capability

How can CRM improve customer service?

In addition to the basics (customer support, price, contact limit, and whether there’s a free trial), the best customer service CRM providers below are ranked by their ability to perform the following four crucial functions:

Handily, these functions also serve as an excellent example of how CRM can improve your business’ customer service. Let’s take a look.

Issue management capabilities

When customer service issues arise – and no business is perfect, so rest assured they will – you’ve got to respond with speed and professionalism.

And, with customer service CRM, you can. CRM software allows you to create ‘tickets’, with which you can record, organise, and track any issues that have been reported to your team. Using a simple drag-and-drop queue, you can keep tabs on the status of each issue, and easily spot links between different cases.

You can also prioritise issues, and assign team members to specific ones – thus increasing the accountability of your team, and ensuring that cases are resolved with greater efficiency.

Customer interaction tracking

As with CRM for sales and marketing – where tracking customer interactions helps you sell to them – CRM for customer service allows you to monitor how and where your client base is interacting with your brand.

Is that through social media? Do your customers prefer to get in touch via email, or would they rather pick up the phone and give you a call? Tracking your customers’ interactions with your brand helps you understand their preferences, and empowers you to tailor how you deliver your service going forward.

Customer loyalty tracking

Acquiring new customers is all well and good… but the real business is in retaining them.

It’s cheaper, for one. Plus, statistics show that your probability of converting an existing customer is around 60% to 70% – with new customers, that figure is as low as 5%.

Given this, engendering customer loyalty to your brand and services becomes even more crucial – as does being able to accurately track it.

CRM allows you to gain invaluable insights into your business, courtesy of your customers themselves. From directly within the CRM, you can reach out to your client base with surveys and feedback requests, allowing you to better understand your business’ NPS (Net Promoter Score), and how it’s impacting on your bottom line.

Customer history

A key benefit of customer service CRM is being able to build up a rich, detailed history of each interaction you have with your customers. 

Having a comprehensive record of what conversations you’ve had – and whether they took place via phone, email, or social media – allows you to better understand the customer, and where they are in their journey with your business.

Plus, when your team grows beyond a certain size, having a customer history database isn’t just a plus – it’s a necessity. When one service agent picks up the phone, it won’t always be the same one that the caller dealt with last time – so it’s important that they have all the info they need to handle the new enquiry, right at their fingertips.


Next steps

Though we’ve ranked these six customer service CRM suppliers based on their features, help and support, customer approval ratings, and price, there’s still more research to do to find the right system for you. 

And ultimately, the system you choose will be defined by the unique requirements and restrictions of your own business.

Bargain hunter? Go for Zendesk Support, or – at a stretch – Zoho.

Hung up on the aesthetics? HubSpot Service Hub is your best bet, while Freshdesk also provides a high level of usability with fewer costs.

Dynamics 365 is for the hardcore Microsoft fans only, while Salesforce Service Cloud, as our top pick, is recommended for all.

Remember, which customer service CRM is best for you always comes down to the bespoke needs of your team. And that, in turn, is why we always take your needs into account when you use our free quote-finding service.

Simply tell us what CRM features you want, how many people it’s for, and what (if any) contact management software you’re already using. We’ll do the rest, and you’ll be contacted with tailored quotes from leading CRM software suppliers. It’s that easy!


How we analyse and rate CRM software providers

At Expert Market, it’s our aim to provide you with the most accurate, up-to-date, and transparent product and service reviews possible. So, to help you better understand the best CRM software options out there, we’ve conducted in-depth, extensive research into the CRM software market and its top companies.

Here’s how we did it:

Independent researchers

We worked with three independent researchers to rate eight different CRM systems over a total of 40+ hours. This included five separate varieties of CRM software, as well as more than 61 specific features. Using a bespoke, industry-style algorithm, we rated each provider across four key metrics.

Ratings

  • Help and support: we assessed the level of customer support (such as email, phone, or live chat), as well as its availability (24/7, or weekdays only?), to provide a weighted score for each CRM supplier.
  • Affordability: our affordability algorithm took into account the cost of CRM ownership over 12 months – based on the average buyer – as well as factors such as free trials and money-back guarantees.
  • Features: we assessed each supplier on five specific features per type of CRM. We then weighted these scores, and translated them into a point value system. This allowed us to form accurate ratings for each CRM provider, broken down by the industry it best serves.
  • Customer approval: we assigned each provider a ‘customer score’, which involved seeking opinions from within the community, as well as feeding data aggregated from online sources into a unique algorithm. This allowed us to calculate overall customer approval scores for each CRM supplier, in real time.

survey

We take the integrity of our research seriously. If you’ve got any questions at all about our research process, feel free to get in touch with Rob, our CRM specialist, at rob.binns@expertmarket.co.uk.

Rob Binns Expert Market
Rob Binns Senior Writer

Rob writes mainly about the payments industry, but also brings to the table industry-specific knowledge of CRM software, business loans, fulfilment, and invoice finance. When not exasperating his editor with bad puns, he can be found relaxing in a sunny (socially-distanced) corner, with a beer and a battered copy of Dostoevsky.

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