Our three biggest challenges with Help Scout

Our three biggest challenges with Help Scout
By Pedals | On Dec 16, 2021
4 min read

In our last post, we shared our four favorite Help Scout features. This week we’re looking at the things we found more challenging when we were setting up our test environment. Keep in mind that we’re most familiar with the Plus and Company tiers of Help Scout, both of which have the entire feature set. If you’re using the Standard tier, you’ll find that it doesn’t include Custom Fields, Teams, or Salesforce (and other features). See the Help Scout website for a full list of the features available in each tier.

If you’re new to the TestBox blog, we’ve been sharing features we love and those we’ve found more challenging in popular customer support platforms—and offering some workarounds to overcome their limitations. You can find some of the other posts in this series here:

Let’s get back to Help Scout and the things we struggled with.

In this article:

1. No built-in SLAs

The first thing to note is that Help Scout has no built-in SLA feature — something we consider to be a necessity in any customer service organization. Instead, Help Scout suggests tracking the aging of conversations using a combination of different features to create an SLA-like experience.

We recommend: 

We added tags to track conversations that had nearly reached an SLA threshold or had already crossed one so that we could easily identify them. This required setting up workflows for SLAs and setting the workflows to run in the appropriate order. Unfortunately, this isn’t a perfect solution, because workflows can only run once per conversation.

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2. Limited automations for large organizations

While Help Scout’s automation system is quite versatile and can be used for many use cases, it quickly becomes difficult to manage for a large organization. Automatic workflows only run once per conversation (not per thread). This is a serious drawback when you consider that conversations can be revived by customers at any time.

We recommend:

As a workaround, we used a conversation lock to force a new conversation to be created if interactions (such as the customer reopening the conversation) occurred after a specified number of days.

We also tried using tags and custom fields to layer workflows — where one workflow would depend on another (e.g., only triggering overdue conversations if a tag for “nearing due” conversations exists). However, this required creating a flowchart of all possible scenarios (only possible when there’s limited complexity) and careful planning.

3. No email deflection

Lastly, Help Scout does not have a built-in way to automatically deflect emails to relevant knowledge base articles. While it’s possible to choose Self Service mode in Beacon, which will first show visitors your most popular help articles before showing any contact options, or to use Content Suggestions to display specific help articles, there is no way to deflect inbound emails.

We recommend:

For us, we wanted to make sure that we can save agents time when they’re answering really common queries. We set up individual workflows for frequently asked questions with saved responses. For example: The following workflow sends an email to the customer if the customer’s email contains the words ‘billing plan’.

If you’re curious to see this use case in action and give Help Scout a spin, you can sign up for TestBox and try out Help Scout with this use case preconfigured for you.

In conclusion

While we loved Help Scout’s refreshingly human approach to support, we did think these three limitations — no built-in SLAs, limited automations, and no email deflection — might be challenging for many organizations. A further drawback for those providing multi-channel support (like voice) is that you’ll have to rely on integrations, which is always an added level of complication. That said, overall, we think Help Scout is well suited for small support teams using email and chat. In this case, it wins for its elegance and simplicity.

If you're not sold, learn about the top Help Scout alternatives.

Sam's Face

Pedals is a beloved member of the TestBox team whose entire goal in life is to author amazingly helpful blog posts and to cameo on every piece of TestBox swag.

TestBox empowers you to have a self-serve, customer-led experience so you can buy new software and feel confident that you made the right choice. Currently focused on Customer Support, TestBox allows you to test out Zendesk, Freshdesk, HubSpot, Dixa, and other products side-by-side. It takes a matter of minutes to sign up and take these products for a test drive. Find out more at TestBox.com or follow on LinkedIn.