Given that so many things are done on the internet nowadays, it figures that people are also going online to get help with issues they are encountering. Accordingly, there is now a plethora of help desk software solutions squarely aimed at helping businesses manage increasing numbers of customers seeking solutions to their problems via email, social media, live chat, and other electronic channels.
In this article, you will learn what help desk software is and how it can help your business. It also discusses the features you should look for in a help desk solution, plus you will learn about eight of the most popular ones available today.
What Is Help Desk Software?
Help desk software is a ‘software as a service’ (commonly called SaaS) tool for handling support inquiries. The inquiries can be from external clients, or they can be internal service desk requests from your employees.
Depending on the help desk type, typical features may include a ticketing system, a shared mailbox, live chat, a knowledge base, self-service, etc.
Help desk software helps to consolidate all your customer support activities into one tool, thereby streamlining your operations and allowing you to offer excellent customer experience.
Help Desk Software Benefits
Adopting help desk software can bring many advantages to businesses, including:
- Helping save time and money by resolving common issues quickly and efficiently, often without human intervention.
- Provide a more streamlined and efficient customer service experience, thereby improving customer satisfaction.
- Improve internal communication by providing a central place for businesses to track and resolve customer service issues and allowing service agents to collaborate.
- Helping track and resolve customer service issues more efficiently.
Categories of Help Desk Software
There are three types of help desk software: cloud-based, self-hosted, and open-source.
Cloud-based (or web) help desks are proprietary software solutions hosted online via the software vendor’s website or application. This is the most popular method of creating help desks as the software is continually maintained and updated by the developer, plus no installation is required.
Conversely, self-hosted (where the software sits on your servers) and open-source software (which has developer-accessible code) are generally only used by large organizations with dedicated IT teams and large customization and maintenance budgets.
Things To Consider When Looking for a Help Desk Solution
When looking for suitable help desk software for your business, there are a few things you should be aware of:
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1. The Purpose of Your Help Desk
Will your help desk be assisting internal staff members or external clients with IT (information technology) or other technical issues? Or will it be dealing with customer (internal or external) queries?
The purpose of your help desk and the people it will be helping all have a bearing on the software you choose. For example, features of technical help desks often feature a ticketing system to prioritize and keep track of service desk requests. In contrast, customer support help desks usually have shared inboxes, collaboration features, and workflow tools.
2. Ease of Use
Your help desk software needs to be easy to set up and intuitive to use to minimize the need for user training.
3. Developer’s Customer Support
No matter how intuitive a software solution is, chances are the time will come when you need assistance from the developer with issues that may arise with it.
Therefore, choose a product from a company that offers solid customer support.
4. Robust Collaboration, Automation, and Productivity Tools
Having a solid set of collaboration, automation, and productivity tools allows your teams to interact and work efficiently, thereby streamlining workflows. This means agents can focus on addressing customer’s issues quickly and efficiently, therefore keeping them happy.
5. Reporting and Analytics Tools
These are essential for monitoring how well your customer support and help desk efforts are performing. Having that kind of information at hand will enable you to identify what is working well and pinpoint areas needing improvement.
6. Multi-Channel Support
Multi-channel support allows you to accept customer requests through electronic channels such as email, live chat, social media, telephone, or text messaging. This will enable you to offer channels best suited to your customers, thereby offering them the best possible experience.
7. Self-Service Tools
Automated self-service tools allow customers to quickly fix common issues themselves without interacting directly with your agents. For example, forgotten password resets are often done on a self-serve basis.
Having the facility to integrate with other software applications can enhance the feature set of your customer service system, thereby further streamlining your business.
Hopefully, your business will grow, and it makes sense if your help desk team and the software it uses can easily grow with it.
8 Suggested Help Desk Software Solutions
Below are eight of the most popular help desk software packages available for 2023. The list includes both free and premium options, so you should be able to find a package that fits your company’s needs and budget.
Please note features do vary considerably between each. Therefore, be sure to have a clear idea of what you want from your help desk solution as that will allow you to pinpoint the most appropriate package for your business.
Zendesk is a top-rated customer support platform that virtually everyone has heard of. They provide a robust, multi-channel support solution with all the features you’re likely to need across various communication channels, including email, voice, SMS, and live chat.
Depending on whether you opt for Zendesk’s Sales or Service solution, expect to get features such as AI-generated answers, a ticketing system, trackable emails, appointment setting with calendar integration, automated workflows, analytics, and more. Of course, actual features depend on which plan you opt for, with the more expensive ones boasting everything.
Overall, the feature set of Zendesk means there isn’t much it can’t do. However, its main downfall is it is somewhat complicated to set up and use. That means you will be spending a fair amount of time, energy, and resources getting up and running. However, once it is, it will be a great asset to your business.
Two sets of Zendesk plans are available:
- Zendesk for Sales, priced at $19 – $99 per month
- Zendesk for Service, which costs $49 – $99 per month
In both cases, the prices are for an annual commitment. Furthermore, free trials of all plans are available.
Jira Service Management
Perhaps better known for their collaboration tool, Trello, Atlassian also brings us the cloud-based Jira Service Management software.
Being a solution targeted at internal IT teams, Jira Service Management includes features like conversational ticketing, various workflows, incident management and post-mortems, SLA and asset management, a self-service portal, detailed analytics and reports, etc.
To ensure the smooth running of projects, users can set up custom workflows and create forms. What’s more, it is possible to assign tasks with individual statuses so that all personnel involved know what actions they need to take to close out an issue quickly.
If you are a small business new to help desks, the great news is Jira Service Management has a free plan. Of course, it has some limitations compared to the paid plans, such as a three-agent limit, but it has plenty of features to give you a great introduction to the world of service desk software.
Of course, upgrading to a paid plan brings more features. These start at $20 per agent per month, while annual plans cost from $600 per year for three agents. Full details of what each plan includes can be found on the Atlassian’s pricing page.
Zoho is well known for its CRM tool, but did you know they also offer an omnichannel customer support solution, Zoho Desk?
The Zoho Desk software includes everything you’d expect from customer support software, such as a knowledge base, shared inbox, ticket management, self-service portal, workflows, etc.
Furthermore, Zoho Desk also boasts some advanced features, including artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities that allow you to automate conversations, analyze customer sentiments, spot problems in tickets, and more. And, of course, Zoho Desk works perfectly with all other Zoho software.
Please note that the more advanced features only come with the higher-priced plans.
Like Jira Service Management, Zoho Desk also offers a limited free plan for up to three agents.
Paid plans start from $20 per agent per month, while the most expensive plan costs $50 per agent per month. Discounts are given for annual subscriptions, plus a free 15-day trial is available.
SysAid help desk software is a powerful and versatile tool to help your organization manage its IT support operations more effectively.
The SysAid software offers many features and tools to help you track and resolve IT support issues. Those include a ticketing system, knowledge base, analytics, etc.
SysAid’s other key features include a self-service portal that allows employees to deal with simple requests without needing to interact directly with IT service personnel, plus asset management tools to control all your hardware and software assets.
Unfortunately, SysAid does not publish the prices of its products, so you will need to contact them directly for further information.
ThriveDesk powers exceptional customer experiences for growing businesses. Through smart shared inboxes, customizable live chat, and self-service portals, teams handle 2x the tickets while delivering personalized support across multiple channels.
The AI-powered Assistant chatbot instantly answers common questions, while branded live chats connect customers to agents.
Integrations with eCommerce platforms like WooCommerce streamline order management into the workflow. For WordPress users, the integrated portal (WPPortal) further improves customer experience.
With real-time reporting and CRM connections, ThriveDesk gives a complete customer view to set informed goals. Blending automation with human support, this affordable all-in-one platform transforms modern customer experiences – letting small and mid-sized companies punch above their weight.
ThriveDesk offers three distinct paid plans: Starter, Plus, and Enterprise. All three have annual and monthly payment options.
The Starter plan is priced at $25 per month with 4 seats with 2 mailboxes, while the Plus plan is available at $85 per month with 10 seats with 5 mailboxes. For Enterprise pricing, ThriveDesk offers $25 per seat per month with unlimited mailboxes and knowledge base.
Notably, for those interested in exploring ThriveDesk’s capabilities before making a commitment, the platform provides a complimentary 14-day trial.
Help Scout is an excellent option for businesses that need help desk software with a good range of features. Therefore, expect to find robust ticketing and live chat tools, shared inboxes, a knowledge base, and detailed analytics.
One particularly cool feature of Help Scout is the software creates profiles for customers that interacted with it through the live chat. These customer profiles include data such as the company, role, and previous interactions (if any). What’s more, the profiles are editable, thereby ensuring all data can be kept updated.
Help Scout also has mobile apps (iOS and Android) that allow service personnel to receive notifications and address issues while away from their desks.
If you’re looking for robust help desk software to help manage your customer support, Help Scout is worth considering.
Help Scout is premium only software that costs $20 – $60 per user per month based on an annual commitment. Monthly subscriptions are also available, starting from $25 per month.
If you’d like to try Help Scout before purchasing, a free 15-day trial is available on all plans.
Freshdesk is a comprehensive and user-friendly help desk software package ideally suited to larger teams, such as call centers.
Alongside the usual help desk features like shared inboxes, a knowledge base, live chat, etc. Freshdesk also offers email, chat, and voice bots to help automate issue resolution, thereby relieving pressure on your team.
Optional field service management allows you to add your field-based personnel to Freshdesk via iOS and Android apps, thereby extending your customer service and help desk capabilities.
Best of all, Freshdesk offers a free plan to get you started. This covers up to ten help desk agents and gives you email and social ticketing tools, a knowledge base, ticket trend reporting, and collaboration features, all for free.
I have already mentioned the free Freshdesk plan, which offers a perfect introduction to the software and the world of help desks.
Paid plans offer more features and cost $18 – $95 per month per agent. Committing to an annual subscription reduces the cost to $15 – $79 depending on the plan selected. All paid plans are available with a 21-day free trial.
The bots cost $75 for 1k sessions per month (although the most expensive plan includes 5k sessions,) and the field service management option costs $15 per field employee per month.
If you’d like to try Help Scout before purchasing, a free 15-day trial is available on all plans.
HelpDesk enables businesses to manage customer support requests via a ticketing system. It provides a central location for tracking and managing all customer support requests, making it easier to provide timely and efficient resolution of problems.
HelpDesk also includes features like team collaboration tools, automated workflows to handle repetitive tasks, and analytics to monitor how your customer service efforts are performing. In addition, personalization options to help with brand recognition include customizable emails and feedback request messages, custom domain connections, and individual signatures for each agent.
HelpDesk offers a free “Viewer” account. However, that has limited features and only allows viewers to browse and read tickets but not action them. That’s rather useless. Fortunately, however, the paid plans offer excellent value.
Three paid HelpDesk plans are available: Starter, Team, and Enterprise.
Starter costs $5 per agent per month, and Team is $24. Those prices reduce to $4 and $19 per agent per month if you commit to an annual subscription. Enterprise prices are only available by contacting the developer.
All HelpDesk plans come with a free 14-day trial.
Salesforce Service Cloud
Salesforce is a cloud-based software company well known for its CRM (customer relationship management) solutions. Service Cloud is their contribution to the help desk software market.
Targeted more toward established enterprises than start-ups, Salesforce Service Cloud offers all the features you expect from a professional platform. For example, you get knowledge management, workflows, self-service portals, and call center management, plus it includes AI-powered automation, all designed to reduce the load on your service team.
Furthermore, while this solution helps you deal with external customer issues, it also has features for handling employee queries directed at your HR and IT departments. Field service personnel are not overlooked, either, as the software includes tools to increase their on- and offline productivity.
Of course, Salesforce Service Cloud integrates seamlessly with all other Salesforce software, including the CRM. That makes this an extremely powerful solution for streamlining and automating your business operations.
Salesforce does not publish the prices of any of its software solutions. Therefore, you will need to contact them directly for further information.
What’s Your Favorite Help Desk Software?
Hopefully, this article has shown you what help desk software is, how it can benefit your business, and the features to look for when investing in it.
As with any software, choosing a help desk solution is a decision that should not be rushed. You need to consider the immediate and longer term needs of your business and service teams – only then should you start looking at which solutions can help you fulfill those needs.
Are you already using help desk software? If so, are you using one of the ones suggested in this article or something different? And if not, are you thinking of investing in one soon?
If you are interested in help desk plugins, be sure to read the WPLift article “11 Best WordPress Help Desk Plugins in 2021.” And if you are simply looking for automated chatbots, “8 Best AI Chatbots Software for Your Site in 2022: 24/7 Customer Service Without Additional Staff” is also worth checking out.