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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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