What’s up, everyone? It’s Dave. Here. In this video, I’m going to be giving you my review of some new software that just came out called Thrivedesk. 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. Alright, so what is thrive? Desk. Well, it’s support software.
Its competitors are going to be the established players, like Helpscout, Intercom, and and Desk. 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 platform, that idea.
And what it is, is an online community. So 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 a 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. All right, 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 your domain.com or support at your domain.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 ecommerce 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 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 DMark.
That way, your deliverability should be quite high and you won’t end up in the spam box. Nothing is going to make your business look worse than if your support emails end up in spam. It’s going to make you look shady whether or not you’re above board. Next, let’s talk about some of the common features that helpdesks 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 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, 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, okay, this is about Ero. 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 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 provided. I think as a nice little bonus touch, they’ve allowed you to change all of the language on the landing pages for the satisfaction rating. So they click 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 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, easy digital downloads. Vato 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 SaaS platforms. Now, I understand that they’re probably going for more of a self hosted 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 run it alongside WordPress on 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 helpdesk 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 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 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 these 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 racking 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. So 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 chatbot now or excuse me, 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 chat bot 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. 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 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 the 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 sub domain, but 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 Thrivedesk.
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 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 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 labels. 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 gifts. 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 Gify 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. There’s like maybe a separate field, like enter your password here or 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.
It’d 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 600 people, where you start to really notice more of the 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 the 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 hundreds or thousands of communities on their servers, that could get very expensive and very costly. So I’m just skeptical about how this can scale.
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 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 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 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 $30 or something like that.
The 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 definitely understand what he’s trying to do, but I don’t think this is the right product. Brandon here mentions that 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 going to be so that if you have, let’s say, a WooCommerce website and someone purchases something on WooCommerce, that data is automatically pulled into the customer history inside of your help desk so you can see everything that they’ve purchased or returned or other inquiries that they’ve had come through via those integrations.
So the same thing would go for easy digital downloads or for Envato or whatever. The other integrations were fluent CRM, so on and so forth. So that is really the idea with the integrations and I think there may be needing to be beefed up a little bit. I would like to see more mainstream ones. Really.
It’s kind of WordPress focused right now as I mentioned earlier on, but that’s the general idea. Jeremy mentions here that he was testing out customer support on their website using Opera, which has a built in ad blocker, and all he saw was a white block until he disabled the ad blocker. I’ve actually run into that specifically not with this software, but with other tools I’ve been reviewing having an ad blocker on and then the tool just doesn’t function properly. For me, that’s a total deal breaker. And it’s not my fault for running the ad blocker, it’s the software applications fault for not even displaying a warning saying hey, we’re trying to load something here but we can’t.
So that’s something that developers need to test, they need to make sure that their applications work when people are using fairly common ad blocking applications. I mean, it’s built right into routers these days, so you got to expect that people are going to be using those types of features. Milan here writes about a bot feature, buddy, doesn’t know if it’s already implemented and actually Developer response here that the chatbot is due in quarter two of next year. So we’re looking pretty far out there for those features. I mentioned earlier in this video.
It’d be interesting to see how that all pans out. Jonathan says that he’s interested mainly in the community aspects, but that appears to be very limited. I agree Jonathan, it is extremely limited. It needs to be beefed up quite a bit to be competitive and really very useful in my opinion. So here’s my final thoughts for Thrive Desk.
If it were just a shared inbox, a live chat and then adding a knowledge base, I think it would be a much stronger product than what it currently is. To me, the Community features actually hold it back. They’re very bare bones and they’re too disconnected from the rest of the application. It makes it feel like the Community features were just an afterthought, like it’s an attempt to go after a trending product market. Even if that was not the case, I think the knowledge base feature, which is not available yet, is much more important to scaling support.
You want to be able to link people off to thorough knowledge based documents. That way you don’t have to rely on canned responses, which can really only include so much information. You can’t include images, and you’re just not doing that with canned responses. You want to link people to knowledge based articles. But like I’ve said throughout this video, it’s not all bad.
The shared inbox is very usable. The live chat is sleek, super easy to get online. Overall, I think the UI is very strong and pleasing to look at. I think they could refine the menu structure a little bit. I find that there’s lots of times where I can do things in two clicks that really feel like they should just take one, so on and so forth.
You could just trim that down a little bit, think about the actual user application, how we’re getting around, and then reorganize things I think would make this whole thing seem a lot more professional. So should you consider Thrive Desk at this point? Well, it depends. It depends on how you handle support. Do you receive a lot of email support or are people messaging you all around the web?
If you’re getting a lot of support requests on Twitter and Facebook, remember, Thrive Desk doesn’t do any of that just yet. It’s a shared email inbox. It’s not a unified inbox. So I think that is probably the deciding factor for most businesses. Whether or not this is going to be a reasonable fit, I would not recommend it right now.
Going for the Community features, I think what they should do for the Community is focus on making it more connected with the shared inbox and then adding the knowledge base in, tying all of those together so that you can make community threads inside of the knowledge base, edit them like a wiki. That can make this whole feature very strong because then your support requests are going to be using the language of your actual customers and it’ll be a lot easier to address their real concerns. If you want to grab a copy of Thrive Desk, my link is in the description. I am an affiliate, so clicking that link before making a purchase supports this channel so I can make more reviews like this one. Obviously, this was not a sponsored review.
I have lots of good and bad things to say about Thrive desk, so I hope you appreciate my frankness and my honesty throughout the review. You can find more about me on social media. I’ve got links down below. You can also sign up for my Fleeq Weekly newsletter. Goes out every Friday.
I’ve been away for a couple of weeks. We had some COVID in the family and some other issues going on, so we’re all healthy now and we’re back to making videos. Don’t forget to like and subscribe. Check out one of my other videos and thanks for watching. I’ll see you in the next one.