The support tech stack has undergone a significant shift since the early 2000s. The backbone of a support organization today is having one of the best help desk software solutions. In today’s business environment, a help desk is a powerful platform that streamlines the entire support process.
In this post, we’re going to dive deep into the these solutions, exploring why companies of all sizes need a help desk, what to look for in a help desk platform, the top 11 best help desk software, how much it costs and much more.
What is a help desk?
A help desk (or service desk) is case management software that helps companies receive, assign, resolve and analyze customer service tickets or queries from internal audiences (IT or HR). A mission control system of sorts, help desk software pulls in conversations from various digital channels, including: ticket management, customer interaction, live chat, email, social platforms, voice, etc. into a single platform. Help desk software has a wide range of tools for agents to quickly and accurately access profile data, capture context, analyze sentiment, and shortcuts and templates to reply easily.
Help desk platforms often combine self-service tools like Knowledge Bases as well as AI and human agents working together in real-time to provide efficient support.
Why should companies use a help desk?
Help desk solutions and ticketing systems are instrumental in providing top-notch support and can directly impact customer satisfaction. Help desk software also helps to maintain agent happiness by empowering them with everything they need at their fingertips and even automating many processes.
Companies of all sizes can benefit from a help desk system: whether offering support to external customers or internal audiences (i.e. IT or HR support). There are platforms designed for small teams (less than 20 agents), average size teams (~50 agents), and large enterprise and distributed teams (10,000+ agents).
While the benefits of leveraging help desk software are vast, we’ve rounded up the 7 core benefits in 2021.
Top 7 Benefits of Help Desks
- Improved customer satisfaction
- A single source of truth
- Improved agent experience
- Intelligent routing
- Heightened scalability
- Sophisticated analytics
Customers today demand quick, effortless resolutions to their issues and hate having to repeat themselves. Help desk software streamlines the support journey, providing the ability for agents to easily review previous interactions, access customer profile data to personalize the interaction and close tickets faster.
Help desks provide one centralized record of cross-channel support tickets which can be tracked, reviewed and analyzed at any time. This also opens the door for advanced analytics on the issues customers are facing and even flag emerging issues that the company can get in front of.
Help desk software has a lot of AI at work behind the scenes. Chatbots act as the first line of defense interacting with customers to automatically resolve highly repeatable tickets. They can recommend responses to agents or even coach agents in real-time. The most advanced help desk platforms use a combination of human and machine intelligence.
Attrition for customer support agents is one of the highest (with turnover rates between 30-40%), which leads to significant hiring, training and onboarding costs. Tools like help desk platforms make an agent’s job easier. Automation tools that eliminate the mundane work and make jobs more fulfilling.
Help desk platforms can route tickets to specific agents based on availability, expertise or seniority. Routing can also be based on profile attributes. This provides a better end-user experience by reducing the passing off of a customer from one agent to another.
When you’re up and running on a modern help desk platform, you can easily scale to new channels and manage spikes in tickets during times of hyper-growth. Help desk platforms eliminate teams sharing a single inbox which can lead to delays, duplicate agent work and reduced productivity.
Modern help desk platforms have rich data and reporting so you can track response time, average handle time, first response rate and other key customer service KPIs.
Do small businesses need to use a help desk?
Every company that prioritizes their customer experience should consider a help desk, even small businesses. Even for small teams with 5 agents or less, there are tons of benefits.
Regardless of the size of your company, customer service is important to attract and build customer relationships. Consider these customer service statistics:
- 95% of consumers cite customer service as important in their choice of and loyalty to a brand
- Customers expect to receive service through any channel and on any device, with 59% of respondents having used multiple channels to get questions answered
- 66% of US online adults said that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good online customer experience
Arming your agents with the tools to drive efficiency can ensure no duplicate work is done, tickets are prioritized and addressed in the most pressing order, and customer satisfaction is not compromised.
How much does help desk software cost?
You can find both free and paid subscriptions for most help desk software. Features and the number of agents in the free models are typically limited, and once you’re in a paid model, more agent seats are allotted and advanced tools and functionality are available. There are often plans aimed at small businesses to enterprise users.
Zendesk, for instance, starts at $49 per month per agent and goes up to $215 per month per agent with the most functionality (published costs at the time of publication).
There is a growing number of options when it comes to help desk software – from both established players like Salesforce and Zendesk and newer entrants like Gladly. A quick look on GetApp, an online review platform for software, shows over 70 companies in the category. Here’s our list of the best help desk software in 2021.
The 11 best help desk platforms
- Best help desk software for omnichannel: Zendesk
What makes Zendesk one of the best help desks of 2021?
Zendesk is perhaps the most robust and flexible help desk platform. It’s used by over 160,000 companies including large enterprises like Expedia, Tesco and Vodafone. While it works on any channel (email, chat, voice, and even social messaging apps like Facebook, WhatsApp, Apple Business Chat and more), all the interactions and relevant context are kept in a single, dynamic dashboard. Integrating a top-performing Zendesk chatbot can make your help desk even more powerful. The platform is completely customizable and is designed to help companies quickly close tickets. The company reports that it increases customer satisfaction by 25% and agent productivity by 30% at any scale.
Real Testimonials: What customers have to say about Zendesk’s help desk
“Zеndеsk hеlрs yоu іmрrоvе yоur соmmunісatіоns еvеrywhеrе and еvеry mоmеnt.”
- Sophisticated ticketing system and automated routing
- Omnichannel experience and support – including real-time chat and email
- Advanced reporting & analytics
- Knowledge Base
- Automation and chatbots
- TIcket collaboration
- SLA Management
- Alerts / Escalation
Hear how AI can improve the customer experience in this webinar featuring Greg Dreyfus from Zendesk.
What makes Salesforce Service Cloud one of the best help desks of 2021?
Salesforce is the leading customer relationship management (CRM) platform used by businesses to manage customer data, connect across a variety of channels and streamline customer support. The company’s Service Cloud automates service processes, streamlines workflows, and surfaces key articles to elevate agent productivity. The platform boasts many of the same features as the other help desk platforms on this list, but in addition to being a leading platform itself, the company has thousands of apps and integrations in the Salesforce AppExchange that extend the power of Salesforce. Whether you’re looking for customized surveys, AI-powered Salesforce chatbots, agent routing and productivity.
“Service Cloud – the platform for success and customer centricity”
- Ticketing and automatic routing
- Reporting and analytics dashboard
- SLA management and routing
- Knowledge base management
- Omnichannel: voice, email, live chat, social media
What makes Gladly one of the best help desks of 2021?
Gladly talks about its “radically personal service.” The help desk is designed to provide the ultimate customer experience that “treats customers like people, not tickets.” The platform provides this personalization by enabling a single lifelong customer conversation across all channels. The customer’s context is carried forward, regardless of the channel on which they reach out. This customer-centric mindset turns customer service teams into revenue-generating machines by providing agents with tools that can increase contact center generated revenue by up to 10%.
Although the platform is used by companies across industries, Gladly has a ton of experience with retailers like Crate & Barrel, Ugg, Warby Parker, Ulta Beauty and Ralph Lauren.
Drew Chamberlain, Director of Customer Experience for JOANN recounts that “’In less than a month we’d cut our email backlog by 93% and our email response times by 70%—it’s all thanks to how simple and efficient Gladly is to use.”
- Customer profiles with saved preferences, purchase history, attributes and relationships
- Conversation timeline
- Intelligent routing
- Native knowledge base
- Contextual engagement
- Intelligent routing and seamless escalation
- Task management and collaboration tools
- Omnichannel – native voice, email, text, chat, and more tools
Hear how support teams benefit from smart automation in this webinar featuring Mike McCarron from Gladly.
What makes Freshdesk one of the best help desks of 2021?
Freshdesk converts requests coming in via email, web, phone, chat, and social into tickets, and unifies ticket resolution across channels. Additionally, Freshdesk lets you automate workflows, provide self-service, manage SLAs, and measure metrics, so you can stay on top of all things customer support. Highly repeatable questions can be replied to in a single keystroke with templated responses. Integrating a Freshdesk chatbot into the help desk might allow you to unlock 80% or higher automation rates.
While the company has over 150,000 customers of all sizes, it is the gold standard for help desk offerings aimed at smaller businesses, according to PC Magazine.
- Ticket creation
- SLA Management
- Reporting and analytics
Get 5 strategies for successful customer service automation in this webinar featuring Rajiv Ramanan from Freshworks.
What makes Zoho one of the best help desks of 2021?
“In its own words, Zoho Desk is a “straightforward help desk for a great price.”
The Zoho cloud-based platform has an incredible list of features like automatic localization and automated ticket routing, and supports many of the top channels. The best part? It’s very competitive in pricing with a free tier and paid plans starting at $12/agent for a month. To provide additional value to agents, many companies like Megabus deploy a Zoho chatbot.
- Multi-channel, including email, social, chat and telephony
- Sentiment analysis
- Auto-tagging of tickets
- Knowledge base management
- Ticket assignment and routing
- Immediate escalations and alerts
- SLA management
- Multi-brand help center
What makes InvGate Service Desk one of the best help desks of 2021?
Enterprise Service Management is the extension of IT Service Management (ITSM) principles and capabilities to other areas of an organization, such as Human Resources, facilities, finance, legal, sales and marketing. InvGate Service Desk is a help desk software commonly used by IT and other areas of large and medium organizations, with a clear ticket management interface, smart workflows, and knowledge base capabilities. It can also be integrated with InvGate’s Asset Management software.
- Ticket Management
- Knowledge Base
- Workflows and automation
- Self-service portal
- Ticket collaboration
- IT Asset Management integrations
What makes Sprinklr one of the best help desks of 2021?
Social media has emerged as a core support channel in recent years. The Sprinklr platform is a robust social media experience platform, Unified CXM, that spans marketing, ads, engagement and care. Sprinklr scales across 35+ digital channels.
With consumers increasingly turning to platforms like Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and others for support, a big part of today’s social media management is customer service. Sprinklr’s Modern Care product is a unified agent desk that includes features like guided workflows, 360-degree customer profiling and CSAT prediction. The company’s AI identifies customer intent and sentiment; automatically creates support cases; and routes them to the right agent with the right information.
If you have a big presence on social media and need a unified place to listen, triage, engage and analyze social conversations, Sprinklr is the perfect choice. Brands that use Sprinklr include Choice Hotels, AAA and Cisco.
- Social Analytics
- Social Engagement
- Sentiment Analysis
- Influencer Identification
- CSAT Prediction
- AI Routing
- Conversational AI
- Quality Alerts
What makes PeopleSoft one of the best help desks of 2021?
Oracle’s PeopleSoft Enterprise HelpDesk leverages real-time enterprise data to provide faster, more accurate internal support, maximize employee productivity, monitor service performance, and control service costs. The platform allows agents to view a 360-degree view of the employee to provide the most accurate solution. Tickets are routed to the agent with the best knowledge of a subject and offers productivity tools like quick codes that populate the category, specialty type, and details fields of a ticket.
- Skills-based routing
- central repository of diagnostic tools
- Shortcut data entry
- Self-service tools
What makes ServiceNow one of the best help desks of 2021?
ServiceNow is a platform-as-a-service provider of IT service applications. The company provides a range of pre-built ITSM products to automate and manage numerous IT enterprise services. Using the single software you can automate processes and create custom applications to meet all your IT service needs.
- Drag & Drop
- Compliance management
- Data visualization
- Workflow management
- Alerts / escalations
- Data mapping and visualization
- Configurable Workflows
What makes Hubspot Service Hub one of the best help desks of 2021?
If you use the Hubspot CRM, the Service Hub is a great solution. While it does offer paid plans, the free plan has unlimited users and significantly more features than other free plans. With the Service Hub, customer service data and channels are brought together into a single platform.
Key features include
- Comprehensive Ticketing
- Live chat
- Conversations inbox to offer transparency for the entire team
- Detailed reports on closed tickets, agent productivity, and time-to-close
- Email templates
- integrations with Gmail, Outlook, Facebook Messenger, and other programs, including mobile apps
- Snippets – or reusable answers to most commonly asked questions
What makes Happyfox one of the best help desks of 2021?
Easy to use and “practical,” HappyFox provides multi-channel support for customer requests coming from email, web, phone and social media. Although it lacks some integration capabilities as the other platforms, HappyFox integrates with business applications for accounting, customer feedback, CRM and commerce.
- Ticket creation and automated routing
- Alerts and escalation
- Knowledge base management
- Ticket collaboration
- SLA management
AI Chatbot Integration: A must-have feature for any help desk platform
Getting set up on a help desk platform is essential for any modern day support team. Integrating with AI-powered chatbots can extend the power of the platforms, and help to further improve the customer experience, boost agent productivity and reduce costs.
Netomi, for instance, has out-of-the-box integrations with Zendesk, Freshdesk, Gladly, Salesforce, Zoho and Sprinklr, amongst others. Netomi brings its powerful AI chatbots natively into the agent experience. With these integrations, Netomi’s AI chatbots work alongside human agents seamlessly and can benefit a customer service team in many ways:
- Automatically resolving mundane, repetitive tickets enabling human agents to focus on higher-level tasks
- Triaging tickets by gathering information from customers and back-end systems before escalating to human agents
- Drafting responses for an agent to quickly approve, edit or reject
- Scaling support across every digital channel – email, chat, messaging, social, as well as SMS customer service – without increasing headcount
- Providing 24/7/365 coverage
- Reducing customer service costs by optimizing human agent resources
- Increasing customer satisfaction by reducing resolution time
Customer service becomes a competitive differentiator
When support teams have the right technology behind them, agents are able to work better and faster, and meet the demands of today’s modern consumer. Increasingly, companies are competing on customer service, as much as price and product.
Without top-of-the-line help desk software, and layering powerful tools like AI chatbots to elevate the experience, it’s hard for support teams to measure up to the experience of customer-centric organizations that prioritize the customer experience and invest in the proper tools.