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, help desk software is a powerful platform that streamlines the entire support process.
In this post, we’re going to dive deep into these solutions. We’ll explore why companies of all sizes need a help desk, what to look for in a help desk platform, how much it costs, which options on the market today rank among the best help desk softwares, and much more, including:
- What is a help desk?
- Why should companies use a help desk?
- The top benefits of help desks
- Do small businesses need to use a help desk?
- How much does help desk software cost?
- The 12 best help desk platforms
- Service desk chatbot integration
- Customer service becomes a competitive differentiator
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). As a kind of mission control system, help desk software pulls in conversations from various communication channels, including: incident management, 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 provide shortcuts and templates to help customer service reps reply easily.
Help desk platforms often combine customer 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.
Automating processes through smart service desk tools will leave your customer service agents free to handle more complex issues.
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 2023.
Top 7 Benefits of Help Desks
Improved customer satisfaction
Customers today demand quick, effortless resolutions to their issues and hate having to repeat themselves. The best help desk softwares streamline the support journey, providing the ability for agents to easily review previous interactions, access customer profile data to personalize the interaction and close help desk tickets faster.
2. A single source of truth
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. Help desks can also flag emerging issues that the company can get in front of.
Help desk software has a lot of AI at work behind the scenes. Service desk chatbot tools 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.
4. Improved agent experience
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 AI platforms make an agent’s job easier. Automation tools that eliminate the mundane work and make jobs more fulfilling.
5. Intelligent routing
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.
6. Heightened scalability
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.
7. Sophisticated analytics
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 in leveraging the best help desk software for your organization’s size and needs.
Size should be one of your primary considerations when selecting help desk software for your organization, as enterprise help desk software is going to have a much different experience compared to software designed for a smaller business.
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.
Several options on our help desk software list are designed with smaller businesses in mind.
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. 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 on the help desk software list – from both established players like Salesforce and Zendesk to newer Zendesk alternatives like Gladly. A quick look on GetApp, an online review platform for software, shows over 70 companies in the category. Read on for our top 12 help desk software list for this year.
The 13 best help desk platforms
|Rank||Help Desk||Rating (Out of 5 Stars)|
|2.||Salesforce Service Cloud||5|
|7.||InvGate Service Desk||4.5|
|9.||PeopleSoft Enterprise Helpdesk||4.4|
|11.||Hubspot Service Hub||4.3|
- Best help desk software for omnichannel: Zendesk
What makes Zendesk one of the best help desks of 2023?
Zendesk is perhaps the most robust and flexible service 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 service desk chatbot options
- Ticket collaboration
- SLA Management
- Alerts / Escalation
What makes Salesforce Service Cloud one of the best help desks of 2023?
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 service desk tools as the other help desk platforms on this list, but also 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.
- 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 2023?
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 personalized customer service 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 2023?
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
What makes Zoho one of the best help desks of 2023?
“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.
- Omnichannel, 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 Hiver one of the best help desks of 2023?
As the world’s first Gmail-based helpdesk, Hiver is the best fit for all types of business verticals, as it is extremely easy to adapt. With Hiver, support agents are able to collaborate and act on support queries, automate workflows, and track support metrics – all within Gmail. This means that it is not necessary for support reps to switch tabs while working on a customer query – ensuring timely resolution and an excellent customer experience.
- Works within Gmail
- Quick, seamless internal collaboration through Email notes (without using CCs and forwards)
- Automation of specific workflows and repetitive tasks
- Advanced analytics to track key support metrics such as first response time and average resolution time
What makes InvGate Service Desk one of the best help desks of 2023?
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 to expand the capabilities of this software’s service desk tools.
- 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 2023?
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 on our help desk software list. Brands that use Sprinklr include hospitality brands Choice Hotels and AAA – many of which pair this platform with a travel chatbot. Cisco is also a known brand using their solutions, giving further credibility for this platform as one of the best help desk software options for enterprise teams.
- 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 2023?
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. This product also offers productivity tools like quick codes that populate the category, specialty type, and details fields of a ticket. This is easily one of the best enterprise help desk software solutions on our list because it can scale quickly and provide support to a large group of agents.
- Skills-based routing
- Central repository of diagnostic tools
- Shortcut data entry
- Self-service tools
What makes ServiceNow one of the best help desks of 2023?
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 this single software, you can automate processes and create custom applications to meet all your IT service needs. This makes ServiceNow the best software for help desks in the IT field in our top help desk software list.
- 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 2023?
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. HubSpot’s Service Hub is one of the more expensive options on our top help desk software list, but it is worth the price.
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 2023?
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 in comparison to the other help desk software 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
What makes Kustomer one of the best help desks of 2023?
Kustomer has made its mark as a customer service and support platform that prioritizes seamless communication and a holistic approach to customer data. As a powerful help desk tool, Kustomer has a strong focus on project management, enabling businesses to efficiently handle complex customer inquiries, coordinate team efforts, and stay organized in high-pressure situations.
Kustomer’s project management features stand out among other help desk platforms, allowing support teams to collaborate and manage tasks effectively. Users can create tasks, assign them to team members, set deadlines, and monitor progress all within the platform. Kustomer’s platform is also designed to consolidate customer data and communication history, ensuring that support agents have a comprehensive view of each customer’s needs and experiences.
Key features include
- Task creation and assignment
- Deadline tracking and progress monitoring
- Collaborative workspace for support teams
- Unified customer data and communication history
- Real-time updates and notifications
- Omnichannel support: voice, email, live chat, social media
- Integration with popular CRM systems
Service Desk Chatbot Integration with AI: 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 an AI-powered service desk chatbot 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 service desk chatbot works 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
- Service desk chatbot tools can provide 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 and service desk chatbot 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 customer service tools like AI service desk chatbot tools 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.
Want to learn more about how AI and the best service desk chatbot can transform customer service operations? Watch our featured on-demand webinar featuring Zendesk.
For more information on customer service, visit:
- The 15 Best Knowledge Base Software Platforms
- The Best Chatbot for a Website in 2023 and Beyond [Review and Key Features]
- The 9 Best Live Chat Software for Connecting in Real-Time
- How a SaaS Chatbot Can Reduce Churn Rates
- Companies Using Chatbots for Customer Service
Frequently Asked Questions
Is A Help Desk A CRM?
While help desk and CRM (customer relationship management) systems share some similarities, they serve distinct purposes and should not be considered interchangeable.
A help desk system is primarily focused on managing, organizing, and resolving customer support requests or tickets. It streamlines the process of handling customer inquiries and issues by providing tools for communication, ticket tracking, and knowledge management. Help desk systems aim to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of customer support teams, ensuring a timely and satisfactory resolution of customer problems.
On the other hand, a CRM system is designed to manage and optimize all aspects of a company’s interactions with customers and potential customers. It encompasses a wide range of functions, such as sales, marketing, and customer service, allowing businesses to better understand and cater to their customers’ needs. CRM systems typically provide tools for tracking customer data, segmenting customers, managing leads and sales pipelines, automating marketing campaigns, and more.
In summary, while help desk systems are focused on customer support and issue resolution, CRM systems are more comprehensive solutions that encompass multiple aspects of customer relationships. Some CRM platforms may include help desk features, but they serve a broader range of functions aimed at managing and nurturing customer relationships throughout the entire customer journey.
What’s The Difference Between A Help Desk And A Service Desk?
The terms “help desk” and “service desk” are often used interchangeably, but they refer to distinct concepts within the IT service management (ITSM) framework. The primary differences between the two lie in their scope, functions, and overall objectives.
- Scope: A help desk is typically focused on providing IT support to end-users and addressing their specific technical issues or requests. It serves as the first point of contact for users experiencing technical difficulties.
- Functions: Help desk functions include handling incidents, troubleshooting problems, and providing solutions or workarounds to resolve user issues.
- Objective: The main goal of a help desk is to offer efficient and effective technical support to end-users, ensuring minimal disruption to their work and a satisfactory resolution of their problems.
- Scope: A service desk has a broader scope, encompassing all aspects of IT service management. It serves as a single point of contact between an organization’s IT department and its users, covering not only technical support but also other IT-related services.
- Functions: In addition to incident management, a service desk handles service requests, change management, problem management, and other ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) processes. It provides a more holistic approach to managing the entire IT service lifecycle.
- Objective: The primary objective of a service desk is to ensure the delivery of high-quality, efficient IT services that align with the organization’s goals and needs. This includes both resolving technical issues and proactively managing IT services to minimize disruptions and optimize performance.
In summary, while both help desks and service desks provide support to end-users, a help desk is primarily focused on addressing technical issues, whereas a service desk encompasses a broader range of IT service management functions and aims to deliver comprehensive IT services in line with organizational objectives.
What Are The Different Kinds Of Help Desks?
Help desks can be categorized based on various factors, such as their size, scope, and the nature of the support they provide. Here are some common types of help desks:
Internal Help Desk: An internal help desk serves the employees within an organization, addressing their technical issues and IT-related requests. This type of help desk is typically found in medium to large-sized companies with dedicated IT support teams.
External Help Desk: An external help desk provides support to customers or clients outside the organization. This type of help desk is commonly seen in businesses that offer software, hardware, or other technology products and services to customers.
Level-based Help Desk: Help desks can also be categorized based on the level of support they provide. There are usually three levels of support:
Level 1: This is the first point of contact for end-users, handling basic issues and frequently asked questions. If the issue cannot be resolved at this level, it is escalated to the next level.
Level 2: This level of support deals with more complex issues that require deeper technical knowledge or troubleshooting skills. Support agents at this level may work closely with Level 1 agents to identify the root cause of the problem.
Level 3: This is the highest level of support, typically involving experts or specialists in specific areas. Issues escalated to Level 3 often require advanced troubleshooting, research, or collaboration with other teams within the organization.
ITIL-based Help Desk: ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) is a set of best practices for IT service management. An ITIL-based help desk follows these guidelines and processes to deliver efficient and effective IT support. This type of help desk is focused on aligning IT services with business goals and improving overall service quality.
Virtual Help Desk: A virtual help desk leverages remote support agents or teams to provide customer support. This type of help desk can be cost-effective and provide 24/7 support to customers or employees, regardless of their location.
Outsourced Help Desk: In this model, an organization contracts a third-party service provider to manage their help desk operations. This approach can be advantageous for smaller businesses that lack the resources to maintain a dedicated in-house support team.
These are some common types of help desks, and each has its own advantages and drawbacks depending on the organization’s needs, size, and resources.