The single biggest complaint I’ve had about the social software game is that most companies offer their software for a somewhat reasonable price until they get venture funding. They’re then told by their investors they must focus on enterprise clients — you know, the ones who will pay ridiculous amounts of money for something that should cost a few bucks — and eschew the little guy.
“There’s no money in supporting small business,” they say.
Brand Embassy is actually pulling a fast one on the social media software market with its new product offering and pricing structure. The social customer service software solution — essentially social media management tool build for customer service rather than promotions and marketing — unveiled price points today that give much of the tool’s features for as low as $39 per month.
And the feature set is pretty mature. Brand Embassy has been solving the social customer service puzzle for larger companies to date, but listened to many a small or medium business say they could use the software, but couldn’t afford it. So they’re making a version of it accessible, price-wise.
For the record, Brand Embassy has the main components you would expect out of a social media management tool — inbox/dashboard, multiple user and task assignment functionality, the ability to publish and schedule content (an up-sell feature) and so on. It has a nice analytics and reporting suite as well, but one that is certainly more powerful for the customer service professional rather than the marketing focused ones.
The big differences in Brand Embassy from other social management tools — besides the price point — is the focus on customer service. Threaded conversations can be visualized by topic, user information is pulled into the tool so you know everything that can be known about who you’re chatting with, including previous communications with the company and the like.
But they go a bit further in their deluxe versions (most of the functionality can be had for $129.00 per month) and offer some nice add-ons like:
- An average response time feed that can be published to your Twitter and Facebook headers (as seen here)
- Email and live chat integration into the tool — all customer service can take place in one tool
- Goal and KPI inputs for reporting to track what is prescribed as important to you, not the industry standard
- Customer service reporting by team and individual using the tool, like average response time, average time to solution and the like
- Manual sentiment scoring which seems like a non-feature, but is nice when you realize automated sentiment scoring is problematic
When you compare Brand Embassy to similar social customer service software tools, like SparkCentral — a customer service favorite of mine — it has a few bells and whistles they don’t, but misses a few they have. Yet, the price point and new offering that is small business friendly is a big differentiator. Unless they’ve changed something in the last year, SparkCentral will cost you a few hundred dollars a month, minimum.
So, if you’re a small or medium business without a big software budget and customer service is a a focus or a minimal need for you on the social web, check Brand Embassy out. It’s got a nice tool for a nice price.