Purchasing a customer service platform is a critical investment for your business. As your sales, marketing and customer success teams seek the right tools to meet shared retention and revenue expansion goals, customers increasingly expect immediate response times, contextual service and self-service options for a cohesive and memorable experience that fosters mutual growth. And not all platforms can meet both needs.
Service platforms enable collaboration between teams and power better customer experiences with accessible data and connected tools. While many platforms in the market share some essential capabilities and tools, they offer different approaches. We’ve provided an overview of some top platforms in the market — HubSpot Service Hub, Freshdesk and Salesforce Service Cloud — to make the distinctions clear and help you make the right decision for your business.
Top Considerations for Choosing a Service Platform
With so many service platforms to choose from, informed decision-making can be daunting. However, the process is more manageable if you know what questions to ask to find a tailored solution that works for all your business stakeholders. We break those exploratory questions down into categories, which we’ve listed below:
- How does this system integrate with your CRM and other customer acquisition and service tools?
- If the system is not tied to your CRM, what integrations do your teams need?
- What does platform and integration maintenance look like in-house and with the provider?
Training and Support
- Does the platform have an ecosystem of experts capable of service delivery?
- What training resources does the platform have for you and your team?
- How can administrators and individual users get support, and from whom?
Scale and Performance
- How can this system scale with your business? How does it support your growing teams?
- What KPIs do service teams and leaders need to see for performance management, company reporting and employee coaching?
Scale and Performance
- How do your cross-functional teams like to communicate with one another and leadership?
- How do your customers like to communicate with you?
- Do the platform’s communication tools meet those needs, or have integration functionality to integrate with your existing tools?
- Companies that offer omnichannel methods to connect often see better results. How does the system track the following:
- Inbound / Outbound Calling
- Live Chat
- Chat Bots
- Customer Support Forms
- Feedback Surveys (to identify evangelists or customers who could use additional attention)
Time to Value
- Do you have immediate needs that can be solved by the service platform?
- What does a typical implementation look like for relevant service providers?
- Are you partnered with a firm that knows the right implementation playbooks?
Key Differences Between Service Platform Providers
HubSpot Service Hub, Freshdesk and Salesforce Service Cloud are among the top players in the service platform space. Here we compare these top-rated providers to help you choose the right platform for your growing business by walking you through key differences in pricing, subscription model UX, and expected business outcomes.
HubSpot Service Hub VS Freshdesk
Freshdesk by Freshworks offers tools for marketing, sales and support teams to support customer engagement.
The Main Difference: CRM Functionality
Freshdesk lacks CRM functionality, which results in gaps around cross-departmental alignment. All data functionality must be done via API between sales, marketing and sales applications, adding unnecessary technical debt that HubSpot is built to mitigate. Sales enablement capabilities are also limited within Freshdesk; the platform does not support phone calls and imposes chatbot limits, even on its enterprise customers. The platform also lacks a Knowledge Base functionality (HubSpot Service Hub includes the feature as part of its Starter package). However, Freshdesk does have the advantage of integrated timesheets — a feature that HubSpot Service Hub currently lacks.
HubSpot offers various service and subscription tiers, allowing businesses to choose the level of functionality and support they need as they scale. Freshdesk approaches the market with less flexibility in its pricing model, pressing its enterprise tier to businesses that may not need that level of support at their current stage of growth.
Business Outcomes and Usability
Freshdesk’s limited user seats may introduce potential operational silos to your teams. When it comes to product usability, Freshdesk is part of the Freshworks family of solutions and can easily integrate with those products. However, customization options are limited across all solutions and the capabilities of each vary significantly relative to HubSpot’s comprehensive functionality suite and natural integration with its Marketing, Sales and CMS solutions.
Both HubSpot and Freshdesk offer 24x7 support. However, HubSpot offers an entire suite of training options, including in-person support, live online support, webinars, documentation and video! Freshdesk doesn’t offer in-person services and lacks integrated Knowledge Base functionality.
Additionally, HubSpot has one of the fastest-growing, most sophisticated partner ecosystems in the market. From net-new implementation to ongoing managed services and optimization, Elite partners like New Breed bring a level of technical expertise that ensures buyers get the most from their Service Hub subscription and help you get set up for a scalable approach to customer service.
HubSpot Service Hub VS Salesforce Service Cloud
Year after year, HubSpot and Salesforce are rated the top service platforms in the industry. Both providers support sales, marketing and customer success teams with flexible solutions that scale with your business. However, the differences begin when you look at each platform’s approach to services, including ease of use and user adoption.
The Main Differences: Time to Value and Flexibility
Time to value is a critical aspect of implementing a service platform. Users meet a barrier here with Salesforce; platform implementation can take anywhere from 6 to 9 months, and users often report challenges with UX and experience a learning curve as they use the platform. Other challenges include lack of flexibility with integrations, little routing and API call difficulty.
HubSpot Service Hub enables flexible customization of all tools without the added complexity, allowing businesses to scale up without months of custom back and front end development. HubSpot also offers a flexible data structure that enables fast and user-friendly custom implementations.
The main pricing difference lies in how the two providers approach ‘seats’. Salesforce Service Cloud has four tiers: Essentials, Professional, Enterprise and Unlimited; and they charge for every user, including required paid add-ons for visibility features. Shared inboxes, leadership visibility into reporting, and other marketing and sales team alignment tools all cost extra. Plus, the Service Cloud pricing structure does not allow for trials and includes complex pricing with 6–12 months closing time and over 40 line items.
On the other hand, HubSpot lets you start without paying per user for the first 2 in Starter, 5 in Professional and 10 in Enterprise. With Salesforce Service Cloud, you have to pay per user from the start. Additionally, HubSpot Service Hub’s powerful features are included on day one, as opposed to Salesforce’s ‘add-on’ approach, and the freemium tier allows you to test out the tools prior to committing, unlike Salesforce.
Business Outcomes and Usability
Salesforce is a powerful tool, with comprehensive reporting that’s endlessly customizable. However, this type of customization can take months to implement and requires extensive training to master. Additionally, the ease of use in many of HubSpot Service Hub’s reporting features make leadership reporting far easier and faster for stakeholders at every level.
HubSpot provides an excellent user experience that's optimized for day-to-day team and customer workflows, making Service Hub a user-friendly platform for both admins and end-users. But beyond its intuitive intra-app design, Service Hub's connectivity with the rest of HubSpot's growth stack drives the real business outcomes. In addition, rep adoption, data quality and visibility, and advanced automation are often cited as key user-friendly benefits for HubSpot customers.
Salesforce often requires users to take on custom, dev-heavy paths to integrating new solutions or receiving product support. Companies must also purchase Salesforce administrator seats to handle these capabilities in-house. HubSpot, in the meantime, provides free training programs and support so that end users can easily get started, and, like Salesforce, comes with a growing ecosystem of implementation experts and managed service providers.
Why these differences matter
Understanding the strengths and weaknesses here is key to securing the right platform for your business. Ultimately, HubSpot Service Hub allows customer teams and leaders to do more with less. With key service features in one place (like custom surveys, knowledge base, ticket dashboard and more) Service Hub helps create deeper bonds with customers and effectively transforms your customer-facing teams into a revenue expansion unit.
As Service Hub knocks down operational silos between marketing, sales and service, users can see the full lifecycle of their customers — every interaction with content, each demo or sales conversation, and all escalation tickets and survey results.
The differences between these platforms matter because they have an impact on your bottom-line growth. When viewed by leaders as merely a cost center, your service teams and underlying platforms will play that role over time. As the front lines of customer expansion (and powered by a platform built to do just that), these teams become another key channel as you grow.
Omnichannel access, personalization and ongoing reporting to improve performance make for the best customer experience. HubSpot’s features enable omnichannel support, customize context to various audiences and allow you to partition and report on support rep productivity. By empowering you to review the performance and effectiveness of your Knowledge Base resources, HubSpot fosters ongoing improvements in customer experience and outcomes.
Flexibility, scalability and integration are critical to growth across the full customer lifecycle. If you choose a platform with a powerful back end that doesn't focus on customers, your business will suffer. And even the most impressive CX won't effectively delight your customers if the team behind them doesn't have the right tools to do their jobs.
HubSpot takes care of those needs — that’s why Service Hub is our pick for top service platform software. Powerful capabilities and the seamless integration with the rest of the HubSpot growth suite make Service Hub the clear choice for startups, enterprises and everything in between.
Carolyn Peterson is New Breed's HubSpot Partnership Manager. Carolyn is passionate about knocking down operational silos and driving value across HubSpot's Growth Suite.