Help Desks

What is a help desk software?

Help Desk Software holds as a general term for apps and systems that help businesses to deal with customer requests and technical queries.

These tools enhance support team performance. In particular, service reps can track and respond to questions or fix issues within a reasonable time, store the history of communication and transactions, record phone conversations, and store other information for further usage in support, sales, or marketing.

In simple English: this software helps to minimize the time to answer a customer or a team member request, and at the same time – maximize the satisfaction with your response or solution.

Most of the popular help desk platforms deliver a whole suite of features and work as multi-channel portals. Quite often that portal includes ticketing system, email, instant messaging, and phone support, and integrated social networks (usually Facebook and Twitter.) The feature set comprises company and customer data management, workflow automation, gamification mechanisms, reporting, and sometimes AI-powered bots.

Top 7 Help Desk Platforms

The list of the 7 best help desk software collected is based on the user reviews on Capterra, GetApp, TrustRadius, G2 Crowd, and Software Advice.

Showing all 7 results

# 1

Freshdesk

Our Score: |

(7 Users Reviews)

Price From

$0/mo

Available on
Works with
HP, Henkel, Panasonic, American Express, Decathlon.
Special Deal

Save up to 25% with the yearly subscription

Pros
  • Easy to implement and use
  • Has a freemium plan to get the feel of a system
  • Offers gamification mechanisms to add healthy competition to the work process
  • Automation rules are spot on.
  • Enables support in many languages and time zones
  • Allows seeing what customers do on your website and where they hit snags
  • Effortless integration with social channels
  • Ability to discuss a ticket with your team members in an internal chat.
Cons
  • Key features like chatbots, integrations and survey are available in higher-tier plans.
  • The built-in reports are simple, so you will have to create custom reports.
  • Freshdesk offers very few options for importing tickets from other platforms.

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# 2

Help Scout

Our Score: |

(6 Users Reviews)

Price From

$20/mo

Available on
Works with
Trello, Pocket, Buffer, Tradesy, Grubhub, Tuft & Needle
Special Deal

20% off on annual subscriptions

Pros
  • Comes with a free 15-day trial
  • Offers out-the-box live chat dubbed Beacon
  • Makes very easy to loop in co-workers and collaborate on a ticket
  • Clutter-free user interface
  • Perfect if you mostly service customers via email
  • Provides HIPAA compliance (in Plus and Company plans)
  • Integrates with JIRA, Salesforce, HubSpot and Slack
  • Strongly suited for personalization and optimal individual performance
  • Comes with a built-in knowledge base solution
Cons
  • You will need to pay extra to integrate social and phone
  • Custom fields are not available in the cheapest plan
  • Only two levels of organization in Docs sites, inability to group content into more subfolders
  • Focused primarily on email, tracking other channels isn’t as easy.

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# 3

HubSpot Service Hub

Our Score: |

(5 Users Reviews)

Price From

$0/mo

Available on
Works with
Storylead, InVision, Wistia, Colt, Subaru, Suzuki, Casio.
Special Deal

20% off on Annual Plan

Pros
  • The user interface is straightforward and clutter-free
  • Works perfectly with Sales and Marketing HubSpot products
  • Comes with a live chat in a free plan
  • Ability to create chat flows in a free plan
  • The free version is pretty robust and provides all basic help desk features
  • Ability to preview tickets to get an overview of the issue
  • Ability to choose between a list and board view of the tickets
Cons
  • It’s more of an addition to other HubSpot services than a viable help desk
  • All essential features available in paid plan (starting at $400/5 users/month)
  • The choice of apps on the marketplace is limited.

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# 4

Kayako

Our Score: |

(5 Users Reviews)

Price From

$15/mo

Available on
Works with
Peugeot, MTV, Sega, FedEx, Acer, Warner Brothers, Toshiba.
Pros
  • Ability to try any pricing plan for 14 days free of charge
  • Modern and intuitive design
  • Support channels include: email, live chat, Facebook and Twitter
  • Growth and Scale plans include 5 and 10 Collaborators (agents with limited rights) accordingly
  • Comes with a built-in knowledge base which can be branded and customized
  • Ability to localize your knowledge base content
  • Real-time visitor tracking which shows all actions a customer did on your website
  • All support channels in a single interface
  • Plenty of customization options
Cons
  • Integrations are provided via Zapier, which requires a monthly subscription if you have many complex integrations.
  • Requires time and effort to implement the software
  • Some essential features are available in higher-tier plans
  • The cost of the software might be steep for some companies

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# 5

LiveAgent

Our Score: |

(5 Users Reviews)

Price From

$15/mo

Available on
Works with
AIrbus, BMW, eSky, Yamaha, Huawei, Orange.
Special Deal

Discount for Edu & NGO

Pros
  • Ability to test the product for free during 14 days
  • Comes in cloud and on-premise editions
  • Holistic solution for managing multiple support channels
  • API and Integration are available for all pricing plans
  • Ability to create a knowledge base without having to buy a third-party solution
  • Offers a good set of features for a low price
  • Ability to personalize agent’s dashboard
Cons
  • Social channels available in the most expensive plan
  • The design is outdated
  • The cost can be prohibitive to smaller companies that don't have extra budget allocated for live chat

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# 6

Zendesk

Our Score: |

(6 Users Reviews)

Price From

$5/mo

Available on
Works with
Vimeo, Squarespace, Automattic, Daniel Wellington, TESCO, Mailchimp, Wrike, OLX
Special Deal

Discounts up to 33% for annual plans

Pros
  • Zendesk Support and Sell come with a free 14-day trial
  • Enables multi channel support via email, phone, social and self-service
  • Zendesk Chat, Guide, Talk and Explore come with a freemium plan.
  • Ability to easily upgrade when you need more features
  • All products are easy to set-up and start using
  • You can purchase customer support products in a suite and separately
  • Zendesk has a very active community if you need advice or best practices
  • Has a well documented API and offers a great number of ready-made integrations.
  • Ability to localize the admin interface in over 40 languages
Cons
  • Important features like surveys, integrations and routing are available for higher-tier plans
  • To get good reporting, you will need to purchase a professional license of Explore ($9 per agent/monthly)
  • It may take some time and learning to get everything perfectly tailored.
  • You need to have multiple tabs open to work with different Zendesk products.

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# 7

Zoho Desk

Our Score: |

(4 Users Reviews)

Price From

$0/mo

Available on
Works with
Mercedes-Benz, McAfee, Bancolombia, Kirsten & Associates, TATA, Jaguar, Rogers
Special Deal

Discounts up to 33% for annual plans

Pros
  • Zoho Desk has a free 15-day trial
  • There’s a free edition of the help desk
  • Fast and easy to implement
  • Seamlessly integrates and works great with other Zoho products
  • Neat and intuitive interface
  • Out-of-the-box knowledge base starting from the cheapest plan
  • Social and community channels included in the low-tier plan
  • Facilitates company-wide collaboration
  • Ability to auto-assign tickets (in Professional and Enterprise)
Cons
  • Can be overwhelming and take some time to learn all the functions and where to find them
  • Live chat and the built-in chatbot are available in the most expensive pricing plan ($35/agent/month)
  • Limited out of the box integrations available with other software
  • The API is limited
  • The capabilities of the free edition are very limited

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How Does Help Desk Software Work?

Generally, many of the help desk platforms work with the tickets. So, the average ticket lifecycle will give you an understanding of how the software works.

  • A customer submits a request to your customer support department. Depending on the functionality, the software can turn messages from all channels you use into tickets. That means that customer’s email, phone call, live chat or social network message will be saved as a ticket.
  • Support service team gets a notification on the new tickets by email, push-notification or text message. It depends on what options help desk vendor supports.
  • The support agent is assigned to the ticket or takes the ticket over. That aspect depends on the workflow settings.
  • The customer and support agent communicate. All the interaction takes place inside the web or mobile app. If there is a need, the ticket can be redirected to another agent for a further escalation.
  • Once the customer got the answer or had the issue fixed, the support agent closes the ticket.

Some help desk platforms support the option of posting the (edited) ticket to the knowledge base for further reference.

Standard and Extended Functionality

Typically, help desk software has three primary functions: ticketing system, communication channel, and reporting tool. However, competition and business requirements have made this list longer. Currently, among the key features, you can find:

  • Multi-channel support. The help desk platforms direct the customer inquiries from email, phone calls, chats, social media, self-service portal and customer community to a single place (i.e., inbox.) Thus, some vendors include all the channels, while others offer each channel as a separate add-on or integration option.
  • Ticket management. This option organizes all customer inquiries into tickets and helps to track them until resolvement. Usually, the help desk platform shows the status and support agent assigned to the ticket to avoid any collisions or duplications.
  • Self-service. Here are available internal or external (or both) knowledge base, customer portal, and community. Often here also belongs the FAQ section. The common and repetitive questions are described there for the sake of support reps time on complex and urgent requests. And this is a big plus for 24/7 customer support.
  • Automation. The must-have option that proves its value by advancing the workflow. Once the corresponding conditions are set, the routine and repetitive tasks become automated. For instance, your customers Messages get converted into tickets, and tickets in their turn receive an urgency status and get assigned to the support agents. All this contributes to a faster issue resolving.
  • Dashboards. The overall view of the tickets statuses and other data (i.e., new tickets, incoming calls, sending chat messages, and the like) helps to be aware of the workflow. Here managers also can find the details on support agents performance, response time, resolution rates per day, week, or quarter.
  • Reporting. This option allows to get a visual representation of customer inquiries, top questions and issues, buying trends, and audience demographics. These details are vital for sales and marketing performance improvement.
  • SLA. The service level agreement policy helps to regulate and tells the deadline for a ticket resolution: a customer knows how long to wait, and the support agent how much time is allotted.
  • CSAT. Customer satisfaction survey option is the simplest way to measure customer satisfaction with a purchase or businesses. Usually, they are run right away after the interaction to define whether the interaction with a support agent was effective.

The higher price tiers of help desk vendors provide the advanced features for impactful performance. Here is a short-list of such functionality.

  • Advanced analytics that comes with more options for visualization data and report customization. That allows to get more diverse information on the performance and customized the collected metrics to the unique goals of your business.
  • Ticket routing enhances the responding and issues resolving as the tickets assigned to the specific team or agent, as well as the tickets from a certain company can be directed to the responsible agent.
  • Advanced tags and notes to enhance the search and categorizing the tickets.
  • The integration with private and public apps to boost productivity rates.
  • Branding and customization options to make a support portal coherent with the website.
  • Contact management or built-in CRM functionality to deliver the context while dealing with the customer issue.
  • AI-powered chatbots or automation to deal with the repetitive questions, monitoring the social networks for brand mentions, and the like.
  • Developer sandbox for testing the customized workflows and improvements without influencing the customers and support agents in real time.

6 Types of Help Desk Software

A help desk software is quite often used for defining service management, IT request management, and issue tracking. Yet, this software presented in different platforms and can meet the requirements of various industries or solve specific problems.

There can be at least four types of help desk software:

  • remotely hosted platforms
    • a web platform is hosted online and bought on a subscription basis. This type of help desk platform is easy in scaling, maintained and upgraded by a vendor
    • a SaaS solution is cloud-based and built for easy scaling. The limitations for space, users, tickets or bandwidth loads depends on the price plan you bought from a vendor
  • software for external and internal use
    • a help desk platform may serve as a support solution for your end customers who buy your products or services. It enhances the resolving general customer inquiries and IT related issues too. In most cases, this type of help desk software can integrate with call centers, sales force and marketing automation
    • an internal help desk platform supports company staff and internal customers. Quite often, this software deals with IT concerns, human resources management, and the like
  • solutions for SMBs and enterprise
    • a help desk software for small businesses usually has a smart toolset that includes multiple inboxes or multi-channel portal, basic automation and reporting
    • a platform for enterprises is more flexible and customizable. The functionality is more varied and public apps integration is supported. Often, such help desk software supports multiple products, SLAs and branding

Benefits Driven by Help Desk Platforms

As they say: features tell, benefits sell. So let’s take a look at the short list of benefits that help desk solution may bring you.

Benefit 1
The platform will help support agent team to handle a bigger volume of tickets a day (in comparison to the number they managed without this software.) As a rule, help desk apps got ticket management and customization, triage and prioritization options what improves the efficiency and speed of your customer service.

Benefit 2
Customer requests can be collected from multiple channels. That means you can deal with tickets based on the metrics you have set up (i.e., keyword usage, social network, tickets converted from phone calls or live chat conversations, and the like.)

Benefit 3
Native mobile apps for Android and iOS devices are offered by many help desk vendors. The seamless service either on a desktop or on the mobile device really matters in terms of speed and quality. Nowadays customers expect prompt responses and this option helps you to meet that requirement.

Benefit 4
The importance of the reporting can’t be underestimated. The statistics and data on ticket volume, closed and overdue issues, response time, support agent productivity, and many other metrics bring the insights that directly impact on the advancement of business performance.

Benefit 5
The help desk software provides a support team with the contextual information about a customer and the problem get a personalized solution. In the same manner, the automation, canned responses, and AI contribute to faster response delivery.

Disadvantages of Help Desk Software

Sadly but there are also negative factors to consider. Here is a list of possible (and in most cases timely) disadvantages of help desk platforms:

Disadvantage 1
The quality of the knowledge base might be lower than you expected or the software can lack the option of integration of the existing knowledge base. Some help desk platforms enable the AI-powered bot that suggest the quick answers to a customer before the ticket got submitted, others don’t offer such an option.

Disadvantage 2
The UI of the platform and learning curve is rather doubtful, but still may become an obstacle for some teams. On the other hand, many vendors offer customer support only for high-priced plans. So you may end up searching for an answer in their knowledge base.

Disadvantage 3
The implementation of help desk software is expected to improve service quality. That means that this platform should cooperate with other departments (sales, marketing, IT, and the like) to advance the fast issue solving and bring market insights. Yet, the problem arises when the other teams look at this software only as a customer support tool.

Disadvantage 4
The workflow on the help desk software may differ from the way you work in the mailbox or old platform (if you migrated to a new one.) Get ready to encounter snags and set up all the automations and tools that would make your current solution natural.

Disadvantage 5
The implementation of the help desk platform should be a well-thought step. To fit your budget, you should count the licenses price along with the other aspects such as the price for integration of other apps you use, data servers location, phone numbers payment, and the like.

The Latest Trends in Help Desk Software

The changes and advancements take place in the help desk market and bring innovations worse to note and notice. The next few years will route the customer support apps into the extended usage of social media, mobile access, and artificial intelligence. Currently, the most popular trends are multi-channel support, chatbots, ITIL adherence, mobile compatibility, social network support, and gamification.

Multi-channel support means not only driving the messages from various communication channels but also using them to respond to customers. It becomes a common practice to get a request from a social network (or knowledge base, or live chat message), to follow it up via email, and provide the problem fix via phone call. The mentioned channels can be mixed and juggled in different combinations. Modern help desk platforms can simultaneously track email, live chat, calls, and other communication points from a single customer.

Chatbots and AI-powered live chats keep on proving their value to customer support service. These tools address common and repetitive questions. Along with the AI improvements, the chatbots give more human-like responses and handle some tasks instead of support agents.

ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) is a service framework widely used by IT management organizations. This set may include various checklists, processes, and tasks. The help desk platforms are divided into two types: those which follow the ITIL’s guidelines (i.e., Freshservice, Jira Service Desk, Zendesk, and others) and those which don’t follow. In case, your organization adheres to the ITIL framework, you should pay attention to help desk software that supports ITIL management.

Mobile compatibility turns out to be a must-have as internet access via mobile devices keeps growing. So many of your customers expect that they can reach your brand out via mobile phone, be ready to meet this expectation.

Social network support via Facebook or Twitter has become a common practice as many customers turn to it as a first touch spot. That’s why many help desk vendors offer built-in integration with these social networks and give one more channel to support agents.

Gamification mechanisms are more often applied to the support agents’ routine. The arcades or badges, or leaderboards create a healthy competition and boost the motivation and interest in jobs.

Do You Need a Help Desk Platform?

The critical starting point is to define whether you need a help desk tool. The ultimate goal of this software is to streamline communication. The additional advantages are saving time, contributing to the productivity rise, and detecting the weak spots in the workflow. Ask yourself:

  • Do I want to develop long-term relationships with customers and ensure that they are satisfied?
  • Do I want to get all messages into a single place before responding and fixing issues?
  • Do I need to provide support agents with the context on every customer for better service?
  • Do I need to track the conversations to improve sales and marketing input into the business strategy?
  • Do I want to get an easy search for the tickets or issues?
  • Do I need a help desk platform for advancing my in-house communication?

If you got at least three “Yes, I do.” answers, then you probably should start looking for help desk software.

How to Choose Help Desk Software?

It comes as no surprise that you should start with defining your business requirements to the software functionality, and then go down to look for the most suitable one. There are many reviews and comparisons out there on the web. As well, you can visit the vendor’s website or get in touch with them to ask about the desired functionality and stack them up to your requirements list.

Pay attention to the next aspects:

  • run a free trial or ask the vendor for a demo. That will help you to test the service in action and discover weak spots before the purchase. However, check the feature package available in that trial or demo. It may differ from the feature set your budget allows
  • check how data are managed
    • contacts
    • tickets
    • users (agents)
    • self-service (knowledge base and/or portal)
    • notes, tags, and automations
    • integration capabilities
  • how does UI look and work
    • a comprehensive menu
    • commands correspond to the actual functions
    • actions can be canceled
  • how can the performance be tracked
    • tickets, support loads, agent performance metrics
    • workflows, tags, and notes
    • CSAT surveys

In case, you evaluate the software reviews, take your time to read a few expressions about the help desk platform that got on your list. Be sure to look at both positive and negative experiences shared. Here are a few tips that will come in handy.

  1. What does a positive review state? Is it a general promo that says that “the software is awesome?” What types of clients leave the reviews? Are they startups, SMBs, or large businesses? In what field do they work?
  2. What is the position of a reviewer? (Does he or she really uses this software on a daily basis?) What does the review say about team satisfaction with the platform? Do they scale it up or consider scaling down? What about the downtime, updates, and bug fixing, and the like?
  3. In the negative review, don’t pay attention to the reviewer’s emotions. But look for the problem they wanted to solve and how this help desk software dealt with it.

The vendor credibility and reputation play a vital role in the selection of the help desk software. The features and positive reviews can circle around the web, however, you should look at such details as:

  • the company history
  • the platform uptime and updates
  • subscription policies and check for any specific contract requirements
  • support and training opportunities
  • refund for the downtime or if you aren’t satisfied with the product performance
  • data security regulations, SSL technologies, and sensitive data encryption and storage

According to the Market Search Report on the industry-specific help desk software market 2019-2025, the leaders are the following vendors:

Freshservice is a service desk and IT service management platform. Within the significant features are the ticketing system, CMDB, asset discovery, and a knowledge base. The options represented as the release, change, problem, incident, asset, project, and vendor management.

Salesforce Service Cloud is a customer support platform designed for businesses who seek deep customization options. Service Cloud is quite complicated when it comes to setting it up. However, it’s a powerful tool that procides reporting and collaboration tools, case auto-assignment and activity tracking, email optimization, and Einstein activity capturing.

Zendesk is a cloud-hosted help desk software for small businesses and large organizations. The major features are multi-channel support, ticket management and automated workflow, multi-branding and customization, self-service portal and knowledge base, robust reporting and advanced analytics, and extensive integration capabilities.

Zoho Desk helps to manage tickets, detect trends and patterns, improve team collaboration, empower self-service options. Among the principal features are ticket management, agent productivity, social media support and call center, reporting and self-service tools, and integration capabilities.

TeamSupport comes as a customer support suite for the B2B industry. It also claims that the functionality complies to meet the requirements of both small and large businesses. The prominent features are ticket automation, live chat, reporting, SLA, a knowledge base, community portal, internal chat, and integrations (CRMs, business intelligence tools, Facebook.)

JitBit HelpDesk can be used in cloud and on-premise targeted to large companies and enterprises. The platform offers multi-channel and self-service support, ticket management, SLA, customization, and automation of the workflow. The service also adheres to the ITSM collaboration and documentation.

LiveAgent is a live chat and help desk platform that gained popularity among the small and mid-sized e-commerce businesses. The solution can be used in the cloud or run on-premise. The platform delivers robust ticket management options, email and phone support, ITIL management, SLA, live chat, external and internal self-service, reporting, and integration capabilities.

xSellco Helpdesk is software designed to meet e-Commerce business requirements to customer service. It has ticket, feedback, channel, and help desk management. The platform supports customizable templates, tracking tools, barcode scanning, real-time reporting, and visual analytics.

ManageEngine ServiceDesk Plus is a platform to meet IT requests of small, mid-sized, and large enterprises. It enables help desk, asset, IT project, and change management, as well as custom, pre-defined, and scheduled reports, self-service options, ticket management, integration capabilities, and many other features.

SysAid is an ITSM ITIL-Based Solution that offers a help desk option, as well as ticket management and advanced routing, asset and problem management, SSO, remote control, collaboration, monitoring, REST and SOAP API, third-party integrations, and self-service support tools.

Samanage is a cloud-based ITSM and asset management software. The major functionality covers the IT help desk, inventory, contract, and service management. Also, it enables software licenses and hardware warranty management. Samanage adheres to ITIL requirements and offers self-service options.

AzureDesk is a help desk platform for small and mid-sized businesses. It delivers multi-channel support, self-service options, integration with social networks, reporting tools, ticket and feedback management.

Kayako is a help desk and ticketing system that can be run on-premise or in the cloud. The solution provides ticket and contact management, workflow automation, SLA, customization of reports, branding, and fields, reporting tools, social networks integration, and API access.