ThriveDesk Review – Support Desk, Live Chat, and Community

In this article i’m gonna be giving you my review of some new software that just came out called thrive desk and before we get into it no thrive desk is not related to thrive cart it is no relation to thrive themes i think they just use the thrive moniker because they assume it makes us want to give them money all right so what is thrive desk well it’s support software its competitors are going to be the established players like help scout intercom and zendesk can it hold up to those competitors well just bluntly not quite not yet but in this video i’m going to tell you what i do like about thrive desk and there are definitely some things that i think it has going for it and some things that it needs to work on some areas where it needs to improve that way you can decide if this is a good investment for your business all right so first of all let’s establish what exactly thrive desk is going to do for you because it’s actually a fairly elaborate application we’ve got three primary features you’ve got a shared inbox which is kind of your typical support desk setup we’ll get into a lot more about what that does for you and any shortcomings it may have in
a second the next feature is live chat so the live chat feature is going to put a little bubble on your website people can engage with it and then if you have any agents online to be able to interact with people in real time on your site and then the final feature kind of seems like a wild card it doesn’t really seem connected to the support thrive desk you know platform that idea and what it is is an online community so you know you can think about a facebook group that’s not on facebook you don’t have to send your customers to a social network i think that’s a great idea i’m not really sure the implementation is quite there yet for thrive desk all right so we’re going to break down the video into four parts i’ll be talking about that shared inbox i’ll be talking about live chat i’ll be talking about the community and then finally we’ll wrap things up with some of your questions that you left on the facebook group as well as my closing thoughts alright let’s get into it the first feature of thrive desk is the

shared inbox if you’re not familiar with the concept of a shared inbox it allows you to use a standard email address something like sales at yourdomain.com or support yourdomain.com and then customers can email that kind of general email address and all of your sales or support staff can work collaboratively to make sure that the tickets get answered in a short amount of time hopefully knock on wood now a shared inbox is really helpful for anyone who does business online from e-commerce to selling software or even doing coaching or online courses i’d actually recommend that you go with some kind of shared inbox as soon as you start selling things online even if you’re working solo because a shared inbox can be just a huge way that you can win back your time as soon as you can afford to hire that first you know contractor or employee if you can add them to the shared inbox they’ll have instant access to the entire history of all of your
customer interactions so they’ll be able to pick up without you having to necessarily go through and explain each customer’s circumstances they can just see every interaction that you’ve had and that is really the main strength of a shared inbox but what about thrive desk how is their implementation of the shared inbox concept is it good is it bad well let’s start off with some of the things i really like about thrive desk shared inbox first of all the setup was easy and they do email forwarding the right way by validating dkim and dmarc that way your deliverability should be quite high and you won’t end up in the spam box nothing is gonna make your business look worse than if your support emails end up in spam it’s gonna make you look shady whether or not you’re above board next let’s talk about some of the common features that help desks typically have and talk about how thrive desk does for these first of all you can assign messages to team members right so you can add multiple team members when tickets come in you can assign them to specific people to handle them thrive

desk does this just fine you can also get notifications when a new ticket is created or an existing ticket is updated you can do this through email updates or browser notifications i think this was done quite well also it’s very easy to send a canned reply there’s a little icon you simply click it choose the canned reply you want and it will go into your email so the idea here is that if you are sending a lot of support replies for a specific topic maybe people have trouble with a certain feature you can save that reply choose the can response and it will simply you know allow you to save a lot of time so you don’t have to type everything out each time you can also have internal notes so if you have a question about something you want to ask someone else on your team you can easily leave a note that your customer can’t see and you can get help from other members on your team without having to go out of the platform and ask them on something like slack next we can set up auto replies when someone emails a certain inbox so the idea here is someone sends in a support request and you automatically reply to
them and give them some kind of idea of how long it’s going to take to hear from a real human now there’s no real automation here so as an example i just sent an email into one password yesterday it was regarding a specific topic in fact it has to do with my euro router i got my subscription for one password through that well the one password support system was able to see oh okay this is about eero let me give them a kind of canned response for common things people write to us about regarding ero and they let me know that if that didn’t answer my question someone from their support team would be following up later and then a few hours later i actually got a reply from a human now the thrive desk system isn’t quite that elaborate unfortunately you just get the one generic reply anybody who emails support or sales is going to get the same response back i’d love to see them beef up that feature but at least that it’s there so you can set those you know ideas with your customers hey it’s going to take us one business
day to get back to you they’ll know that their email actually was received and i think that is the most important part optionally you can also include satisfaction ratings when you reply to a customer you’ll be able to add some smiley faces and they can choose whether or not they were happy with the response or the service that they’ve provided i think as a nice little bonus touch they’ve allow you to change all of the language on the landing pages for the satisfaction rating so they click the the button to leave the response you can actually change that language entirely so it’s up to you whether you want to translate it into your own language or if you just want to update the language to match with your company you know branding how you like to address your customers you can easily customize all of that i already mentioned that you can add more users to your team so you can have obviously collaborative features it’s very easy to set this up and they have a pretty well thought out permission system so that you can set certain roles to different people they’ll be able to have access to only specific inboxes i think the feature set here is flexible but it’s not
overwhelming i’ve seen other platforms where they give you almost too much granular control and it seems a little bit too tedious to check every single box i think the system here is done pretty tastefully finally let’s talk integrations thrive desk integrates with some of the more popular platforms for online businesses especially if you’re using the wordpress ecosystem so we’re talking about easy digital downloads envato fluent crm slack and woocommerce you can kind of see that the developers probably have a background in selling things on wordpress and they were probably trying to make this to be a platform for other people who sold on wordpress if you’re outside of the wordpress ecosystem you can still create your own integration using webhooks but it’s a little bit disappointing that there’s no native integration with something like shopify or teachable or really any of the major sas platforms now i understand that they’re probably going for more of a self-hosted you know idea here but the weird paradox is that this platform is not self-hosted thrive
desk itself is a sas so it would be a lot more appealing to me if i had the option to actually self-host this maybe you know run it alongside wordpress on you know a server so that i could actually manage everything myself that way if thrive desk has trouble picking up steam i know that i can at least migrate to a new platform in the future on my own timeline so we’ve kind of transitioned into some of the cons of the help desk software here let’s just continue saying some more negative things about it first of all there’s no social integration so i think it would be really great to be able to use this as not only a shared inbox but a unified inbox so we could connect up you know facebook instagram twitter youtube and have all of the comments and messages kind of coming into the same platform that would be really nice in my opinion it’s just not really where the product seems to be going additionally there’s no sms integration so if you want to have your customers text you thrive desk is not how you’re going to be able to
keep track of those and respond to them i know for a lot of business owners they are on the go and so using a mobile app to respond to support requests is necessary it’s not really optional anymore and unfortunately there’s no mobile app for thrive desk and on top of that the mobile site doesn’t load properly for me on my iphone i simply couldn’t even get the interface to you know give me any sort of semblance of a usable look overall the design is fairly nice it’s got some good fit and finish to it but there are still some rough patches for example there’s the satisfaction bubbles that i mentioned earlier when you’re asking people to comment on how the experience was well if i’m going through the setup it has this weird extra space next to them and then editing it is tricky when i start deleting them another bubble is created it’s just kind of weird i can eventually finagle things in order to get them to go away completely but there’s no way to add them back if i accidentally delete them and then save it so it’s just kind of one of those nerve-wracking situations with software you don’t want
to break it completely now there’s also as another example of some rough edges there’s this button for a tutorial on notifications if you’re having problems getting the notifications to show up it says click this button and when i click it i’m just taken back to the main page when i examine the url it doesn’t go anywhere so they’ve got links that don’t work they’ve got some weird little design flaws and that’s because it’s a new application it does have some rough edges all right let’s talk about feature number two which is the chat bot now or excuse me the the live chat it’s not a bot in order to set this up you have to create what they call an assistant assistant is not a bot it seems like it’s going to be a bot in the future but it’s not right now it’s an assistant are you confused yet let me step you through how all this works so in the interface you create a new assistant and then you tell it what inbox you want the chats to go to so remember those shared inboxes we just talked about well you can have multiple inboxes in one account you might have one for sales one for support
so on and so forth so if you want to have people chat for support it could be on a dedicated page on your website you would create an assistant and then pipe those chats into the support inbox now if no one’s online none of your agents are available well that assistant turns into a contact form people fill out the contact form and it just creates a regular support ticket that you can answer later all right that’s all well and good here is where they make you think that it’s probably going to turn into more of a chatbot in the future because they do mention that a document site can display help articles inside of the assistant however the document site or the knowledge base feature of thrive desk doesn’t exist yet and there’s no way to connect those documents right now so if you’re using some kind of external document site i don’t see any way to do that from my end i maybe i haven’t figured it out but it doesn’t look like that feature exists so as soon as the knowledge base exists in thrive desk you
can imagine then they will update the assistant and then we’re getting a lot closer to bot functionality where hopefully you’d be able to recommend specific articles based on concerns that your customers have and that would cut down on your support requests greatly so look forward to that but it doesn’t exist right now setting up an assistant is fairly easy you get to design the widget and change all the text however you like i do appreciate that there’s a live preview so that as you’re updating things you can be sure you’re changing what you’re actually think you’re changing next up you get to change your live chat settings this is going to be things like enabling chat when agents are online i think that’s a great feature but it would be even better if you could establish business hours so that those automatically turn on and off i guess it’s almost as good just to have your agent sign off at a certain time but i think it’s fairly standard practice to have business hours included in a help desk hopefully that gets added in the future after you’ve got your assistant looking the way you like and
using the language that you prefer you simply grab a little bit of code here and paste it into your website and it looks pretty great in my opinion very professional very simple looks a lot like something you’d see on a higher end application i don’t have a lot of cons to say about the live chat the one missed opportunity that i can see is that there’s no option for an inline form for your support desk i think if they were going to have this feature it would be included here because we’ve already got a contact form that’s built into the assistant i would love to be able to put a form on my website have people be able to submit directly from that form and go right into thrive desk if you want to do this as is you’re just going to need to use a separate form builder and have it email your support desk whatever email address you set up the last feature to talk about is the community now the idea of the community the way that thrive desk is positioning it is basically like a facebook group or an internet forum of old the idea is that you can get your community off of a

social platform and host it on a website with your own domain it’ll be a subdomain but you know it’s better than sending people off to facebook right now this feature could be really great but it’s definitely the least polish in thrive desk in fact it really leaves a bit of a sour taste in my mouth for an otherwise well thought out product when you think about it a community is really kind of a weird thing to include in a support software and it really seems a little out of place when you’re considering a live chat and a unified inbox but i do think it can make a lot of sense if they implement it correctly in my opinion now more on that in a second first of all here is what i like about the community features it’s super easy to set up you just add discussion topics they call them channels and you can begin to organize conversations straight away the design is very simple and familiar to be frank it looks a lot like facebook you add your logo and your colors you’re ready to go
you can also easily link back to your main website or any other relevant links that you want to add right on the main interface users can upvote topics so you could use this as kind of a quasi feature request platform as well next up i really like that you can add your own custom domain but i do want to explain this a little bit because it was confusing to me when i first used it so when you create a community you need to choose a subdomain of the thrivedesk.com domain right so this made me think okay i don’t really have a custom domain here i have a thrive desk subdomain they’re using that name wrong but once i actually got into the community when you’re inside of that kind of standalone app that’s where you can set up your own custom domain so that does two things for me it straightens out the idea that they got it wrong you can use your own custom domain but it really clarifies for me that the community features are really a standalone platform they’re not at all

connected like we have the assistant and the shared inbox were connected they were you know obviously very related the community itself is siloed off and i think that is one of the problems we’ll talk about in a second but before we do that i have to finish off with the last positive thing i have to say and that’s that you can make the community public or private so if you want to restrict it to just customers you can do that if you want to have it open to the public so people can see ask questions about your product uh before purchasing you can definitely do that as well all right let’s just get into the cons i’ve got kind of a long list of things i don’t like so much about the community features first of all very simple thing here i can’t find a way to turn off the powered by thrive desk text maybe there’s an option for it maybe it’ll be added later i don’t see it the idea was to have a white labeled community it’s not white labeled if it says powered by thrive desk it doesn’t really matter to me but i know it matters to a lot of you folks so i need to point that out next there’s no way to embed things you
can’t have attachments you can’t have gifs if you post a link to a youtube video you don’t get a nice preview if you try to upload a gif or link to a giphy page it just shows the url they’re really missing an opportunity here to add those kind of standard social interactions next this is what i was just talking about a second ago they really missed a great opportunity to integrate this into the help desk i think the idea that users could submit tickets right from the community is a very strong one you could have a section that allows for private information to be hidden from everyone but administrators you know there’s like maybe a separate field like enter your password here or you know upload private screenshots so that no one else can see them then you could take those replies in the community and turn them right into canned responses inside of your help desk be very very useful as tickets come in to send people to threads inside of your community where they can actually get help from other members of your community that way you need less staff that’s the idea of
having a community around a product is that everybody who’s using the product can kind of help each other out get more involved in the product and feel more passionate about it but they just decided to keep them completely separate and to me that is a pretty big fail next up there’s really no moderation features i think that is a pretty big shortfall i’m thinking about discourse here and their moderation features and community trust systems set the standard when it comes to this type of software it’s built in it’s there from day one and users are trained as they become acquainted with the community exactly what to expect in terms of politeness and the types of questions and content that is acceptable that’s not a primary feature or a main concern of the thrive desk community feature so i’m a little skeptical about growing it past say five or six hundred people where you start to really notice more of the you know malicious or not appropriate content start to show up and finally the last negative thing i have to say about

the community is just i’m a little concerned i’m concerned about the server load i’m already receiving some error messages when trying to do things like set up an account i ran into a lot of trouble where it would kind of cycle through an error message and then i’d reload i think a normal person would probably just give up instead of actually creating an account with a community i fought through it because i was the administrator and i wanted to review this product and i eventually got it working but it was probably three or four errors all the way through the account setup process where i was getting errors now running community software tends to be server intensive if they’re planning on running you know hundreds or thousands of communities on their servers that could get very very expensive and very costly so i’m just skeptical about how this can scale that’s just i don’t have any evidence that they can’t do it maybe they’ve got it all figured out but that’s one thing i’m a little bit cautious about so before we wrap up with my final thoughts i wanted to answer some of your

questions from over in the facebook group i posted uh the deal there and got some comments i thought i’d just go through them and kind of address any concerns that you guys might have so first of all we’ve got michael here he says that time registration is his main concern he basically wants to have a way for tickets to be able to charge customers and i will say there is no implementation of that so the idea would be like uh you know i could have some kind of time tracking built into my support replies so okay this support request took me 30 minutes so i’m going to bill that person you know 30 or something like that it’s a cool idea although there’s no built-in functionality for that right now at all i haven’t heard them say anything about it either so i i definitely understand what he’s trying to do but i don’t think this is the right product brandon here mentions that uh he sees something about automations and integrations but he couldn’t really see it when he tested out the trial the idea with the automations and the integrations are gonna be so that if you have uh let’s say a woocommerce website and someone