Help Desk Software
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Help Desk Software TrustMap
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What is Help Desk Software?
Help Desk software organizes and automates customer support processes. Other names for Help Desk software include:
Customer service software
Service desk software
Customer support software
No matter what it’s called, this form of software has the same goal. It creates a single point of contact for users to connect with a company. When customers cannot solve a problem, they can easily reach out for support and for self-help knowledge.
Some help desk solutions offer both self-service and ticketing for support personnel. Others focus on either a knowledge center or a ticketing center.
Most help desk software integrates with live chat software and call center software. (Alternatively, some customer service suites offer these capabilities built-in.) Most will also integrate with related platforms, like a CRM.
Integration makes the software more functional and information more accessible, contributing to a smoother experience for the support agent and for the customer requesting help.
The ticketing system is the most important part of help desk software. Customers use a portal to create a support ticket. The ticket is then submitted to the right person or department.
With a project management approach, help desk software lets users track, prioritize, and route tickets. This process can be automated or directed manually, often with collaboration across departments.
Multi-channel support uses the same ticketing system across multiple channels. This includes live chat, email, web forms and phone, and may also include social or other channels. The system integrates the progress of a ticket into a single interface, regardless of where the issue originated.
Based on user feedback in reviews, there are certain things to keep in mind. Look for these features as you’re determining whether a ticketing system is right for your use case:
Customer ticket fields
Billing based on support usage
Differentiated support for various accounts
Self Help Knowledge Base
Help desk software often lets teams create self-help resources. This helps customers to answer questions on their own, without submitting a ticket. This is known as a self-help knowledge base.
Sometimes this is in addition to a ticketing system, and sometimes it stands alone. A knowledge base can take different forms, including:
Discussion boards and forums
Pop-up tips & recommendations
Customers can often solve their problem using these resources. This means fewer support tickets and more efficient work for support agents. Many help desk tools also include the ability to create an internal knowledge base that can help agents answer questions more quickly and accurately.
Platforms like Zendesk and Desk.com include both self-help and ticketing options. Other tools, like Parature, are point solutions for a self-help knowledge base. Knowledge base point solutions let users create and share self-help knowledge with customers and support agents.
Social support integrates your help desk with social media platforms to bring a new level of service to customer support. This integration allows social monitoring, issue tracking, and engagement. Examples of products that enable social support include Freshdesk, Zoho Support and HappyFox.
Social support tools help agents communicate directly on social media. As customers ask questions or share complaints on social media, agents can respond faster and more publicly. Usually, agents can respond to Tweets or Facebook posts within the help desk interface. This helps keep social media support organized alongside other support channels. Even without a ticket, social media communications are an important way to interact with customers.
Help Desk Software Features & Capabilities
Ticket & Case Management
The core of most help desk solutions is the ticketing system. Common features for ticketing and case management include:
Ticket creation - Allows users and agents to enter new support requests.
Ticket response - Allows agents to follow up with customers. This often includes automated responses.
Workflow/Escalation - The ability to route tickets to appropriate support personnel.
Documentation and collaboration - Agents can attach files and notes to tickets, maintaining a record of every interaction.
Service Level Agreement Management
Many help desk products support self-help options on top of ticketing. These community resources can take pressure off of agents by facilitating self-service. Features around self-help and community include:
Forum functionality for customer discussion.
A searchable knowledge base.
Public Q&A for the benefit of other customers.
Internal knowledge base to help agents answer support questions.
- Surveys and polls, for customers to submit ideas and leave feedback.
Most help desk solutions enable communication via multiple channels. Multi-channel features give easier access to support for customers. Multi-channel communication also creates a more convenient platform for agents. Common multi-channel features include:
A customer portal for users to submit tickets and access self-help resources.
Live chat within a software product or on a company website.
Phone support. This includes call recording, contact database, Interactive Voice Response, call routing, and call scripting.
Social integration with platforms like Facebook and Twitter. This often includes “social listening” tools for brand activity monitoring and reporting.
Help Desk Software ComparisonTo compare different help desk tools, consider these factors for each product offering:
Number of agents: Keep in mind the size of your team, and for any planned additions when purchasing help desk software. A majority of help desk tools are subscription-based and billed per agent. Please see our Pricing Information section below for more details into how this may affect your budget.
Analytics, not just reporting: There are lot of metrics that go into managing customer support ranging from SLAs to CSAT. You could do the work of calculating these yourself, but leading help desk software takes analytics like these off your plate with automatically curated dashboards.
Integrations: Integrations are of the utmost importance in today's software-centric workdays. While some Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software support help desk features, you may still want a standalone help desk tool. However, you will also want this tool to be able to communicate with other software you use to manage your customer data and interactions. While Open API is becoming more common, it saves your team time when a particular tool has built-in integrations with software you're already using.
Start a Help Desk software comparison
Help desk software is usually priced as per agent per month. This means the price grows the more support agents the organization needs. Vendors typically offer a discount for annual billing. It is also usual to find multiple editions, with price dependent on features.
For the typical subscription model (per agent per month), pricing starts at under $10 for basic features. Subscriptions can run up to $200 per agent per month for a more enterprise level of service.
Some small vendors provide software to other small companies. As a result, some packages are priced differently than normal. These pricing models include a one-time license purchase and a volume-based subscription model.
Some ‘freemium’ packages are available, such as Freshdesk for small businesses. Companies can use basic features for a limited number of agents without paying anything. Then they can add more features or more agents when they grow. These may work well for startups or small companies that just need the essentials.
The Zendesk Support suite is a cloud-based customer support software built for better customer relationships. Designed to improve customer satisfaction and to support customers on any channel: text SMS, web, mobile app, phone, email, social media. The vendor states more than 200,…
ConnectWise Manage is a business management platform for companies that sell, service, and support technology. The platform is cloud-based and integrates automation, help desk and customer service, sales, marketing, project management, and business analytics. It is the hub of the…
LiveAgent is a help desk software designed to help users bring personalization to customer interactions. LiveAgent presents an omnichannel universal inbox, real-time live chat, built-in call center, and a customer service portal. The vendor states users can increase productivity…
Intercom is a contextual messaging system that supports live engagement with customers via text, chat, or email. It also supports triggered emails, customer segmentation and analysis, as well as integrations with MailChimp and Salesforce, and further extensibility via APIs and webhooks.…
Spiceworks offers a set of free tools for IT network management and help desk support ticketing. The inventory management system essentially provides comprehensive device information for asset management. The Spiceworks Network Monitor provides information on observed IT for problem…
Oracle Service Cloud is the help desk and customer experience management platform from Oracle. The technology was developed and supported by RightNow Technologies as RightNow CX for cloud-based call center automation, until that company's acquisition by Oracle in 2011 for about $1.…
Jira Service Management (formerly Jira Service Desk, now including features from the former Mindville Insight, acquired by Atlassian in June 2020) is a service desk software that is purpose-built for IT, service, and support teams. The software provides everything IT and support…
Freshdesk is a SaaS based customer support software for businesses of all sizes. The vendor's value proposition is that Freshdesk is priced affordably, and is free forever for any number of agents. There are four other plans available that come with a whole lot of features. The…
SysAid is the flagship ITSM and IT help desk software from SysAid Technologies, which offers a rather wide swath of features, supporting asset management (HAM and SAM), remote control, and rich reporting tools.
Salesforce Service Cloud provides companies with a call center-like view that enables them to create and track cases coming in, and automatically route and escalate what’s important. The Salesforce CRM-powered customer portal provides customers the ability to track their own cases,…
TeamSupport is customer support software built for B2B software and technology companies. The solution offers ticket management, a customer and contact database, reporting and analytics, multi-channel support, built-in collaboration tools, and many native integrations.
Freshservice is a cloud-based service desk and IT service management (ITSM) solution that currently serves more than 10,000 SMB, mid-market, and enterprise customers worldwide.
LiveChat serves as a customer service platform with live chat support, help desk and web analytics functionalities, with the goal of allowing users to provide 24/7 support to customers. The core feature of the software is its chat tool, where both service and sales team can answer…
Kustomer is a customer service CRM platform built for managing high support volume by optimizing experiences throughout the customer service journey. The vendor states that Kustomer helps brands resolve conversations on all digital channels by automating 40% of interactions via self-…
Kayako is a help desk / ticketing product and is available is both SaaS and on-premise configurations. Is is built in PHP and uses my SQL. The product competes with HelpSpot, ZohoSupport, Freshdesk and Zendesk. The Kayako Engage edition may be deployed as a live chat system without…
Help Scout is help desk software. The vendor’s value proposition is that that their solution reduces time spent on training users because Help Scout is simple to use and set up and scales like any enterprise product. This solution includes multiple mailboxes to support as many email…
SolarWinds Web Help Desk is ticketing and IT asset management software. It is designed to simplify help desk management. This solution includes built-in ticketing management, asset management, change management, and knowledge base capabilities.
Agiloft's Flexible Service Desk Suite includes the elements needed to manage a complex service desk: Internal Help Desk, External Customer Support, Change Management, Asset Management, RMA Management, and complete ITIL/ITSM capability. According to the vendor, these fully integrated…
Brand Embassy is now part of NICE inContact CXone (acquired May 2019).Brand Embassy is social customer service software designed to help companies with high volume social customer service prioritize and automate the customer experience. Incoming requests and mentions from social…
Parature was a self-service customer support platform providing a self-service knowledge base to connect with customers across multiple channels, including email, the web, chat or social media. The company was acquired by Microsoft in January 2014 and reached EOL in 2017. Former…
Frequently Asked Questions
While Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software and Help Desk Software are similar, they are not the same, and work best actually when they integrate with one another.
Use CRM software for managing and maintaining customer data that can help you use your Help Desk software more effectively (name, purchase history, preferences, support history, etc.).
Use Help Desk software when you want to have a system for customers to submit questions which are then responded to and then stored. While some CRM platforms have built-in help desk features, it is less common for help desk software to function as a complete CRM.