Successful companies soon realize that growth brings a new set of challenges. For example, how do you provide excellent customer support at scale? You need to find ways to boost your agents’ productivity while sustaining high service levels.
The right help desk ticketing tool will unify your customer conversations while turning customer service into an engine for growth. Use our list of the ten best help desk tools and best practices to begin the journey to excellent, scalable customer service.
What is help desk software?
Help desk software provides a unified platform for managing your customer communications. With a shared view of every customer and contact, your support teams can see who has asked for help and why. The right agent, armed with the right information, can respond quickly to resolve the customer’s issues.
Beyond customers’ immediate needs, help desk software drives organizational improvements. Monitoring and reporting tools, for example, give customer service managers the data they need to improve agent performance. In addition, your customer service database becomes a resource for customer-driven decision-making.
Why does your business need help desk ticketing software?
Delightful customer experiences start by being where the customer wants you to be, whether by email, chat, or even on the phone. Agents in your call center need to see customers’ email exchanges. But you don’t want customers stuck in support silos. Omni-channel help desk tools unify these conversations so your teams can see every way customers interact with your business.
Support productivity is another benefit of the best help desk tools. For example, many systems provide self-service capabilities like knowledge bases or chatbots. Letting customers help themselves reduces call volume so agents can focus on other customers.
Communications tools and integrations with other systems can turn your help desk ticketing software into a source of growth. For instance, product teams can mine support tickets to improve features that customers struggle with.
Choosing help desk software for small teams
Growing companies use help desk ticketing tools to magnify the effectiveness of small support teams. You will want to choose a solution with the most appropriate features for where your company is right now.
But don’t let solving today’s challenge blind you to tomorrow’s. The best help desk tools are the ones that will scale with your company’s growth.
What features are most important?
Service providers have to scale their solutions to meet the needs of startups and large enterprises alike. Don’t be overwhelmed by the range of options. Instead, focus on these six core features.
Ease of use. Nothing frustrates customers more than waiting for agents to fumble through ticket management software. The agents don’t like it much either. Consider how easy learning and using the help desk software will be for your agents.
Omni-channel support. Make sure the candidate solutions will support your company’s existing communications channels — and any channels you may adopt in the future. The software should unify a customer’s emails, chats, and phone calls about the same issue so agents can access ticket history instantly.
Knowledge base. Many customers would rather figure things out themselves than contact support. A well-maintained knowledge base lets them find the answers they need. Your help desk software should include tools that populate a knowledge base with troubleshooting tips and explanations for common issues.
Classification and metrics. By centralizing your support records, your help desk software enhances business performance. Detailed metrics let you monitor service level agreements (SLAs) as well as individual agent performance. Stakeholders can leverage rich metadata like categories and tags to research support trends.
Automation, integration, and collaboration. The right help desk tool will offer productivity-enhancing features. Automation tools instantly boost service team productivity by freeing agents from repetitive tasks. Integrations link service call data with customer relationship management (CRM) and other internal systems. And collaboration tools break down barriers between your service teams.
Who should be involved with the decision?
Your company’s choice of help desk software affects far more than your support teams. You need input from every stakeholder to ensure your decision will maximize the return on investment.
Of course, the core team will come from the service organization. They have the expertise — and the vested interest — in choosing a solution that works for them. An executive sponsor to advocate for the project is essential. Customer service managers will evaluate reporting tools and judge each solution’s fit to business goals. Finally, the voice of your customer service agents must be in the mix.
Other stakeholders should also contribute. Representatives from the product, sales, marketing, and other teams can provide valuable insights into how they may use support data.
10 Best Help Desk Software
You’ll find dozens of applications promising to solve your customer support challenges. Some deliver complete solutions; others focus on specific functions. These ten help desk ticketing tools provide the most comprehensive and scalable options for growing companies.
These SaaS platforms offer various business services, including help desk systems. If you already use a platform’s other services, then the ease of integration makes their help desk tools a logical choice.
Halp is a great tool for internal IT help desks and small customer-facing support teams. Optimized for use with Slack or Microsoft Teams, Halp turns any message into a support ticket. Integrations with Zendesk and other help desk software in this list make it easier to transition as your business scales.
In addition to its core functions, this unified help desk service supports voice-over-IP calls, live chat, conversational chatbots, and secure customer portals. A free plan lets you try basic services across HubSpot’s product lines.
Although its pricing is higher than other options, Salesforce Service Cloud integrates seamlessly with its CRM software. If your go-to-market strategy requires enterprise-class CRM, then it makes sense to round it out with Salesforce Service Cloud.
4) Zoho Desk
Zoho’s CRM is more affordable and easier to maintain than Salesforce, so it’s a popular choice for small and medium businesses. At the same time, Zoho Desk includes advanced features like AI chatbots and workflow automation to let small teams punch above their weight.
Help desk specialists
As you build your technology stack, you may prefer the help desk solution whose features align with your growth strategy. These companies focus on help desk software and related services.
This multi-channel ticketing management solution unifies customer conversations within a user interface designed for collaboration. Freshdesk’s pricing is very affordable. You can try the full suite of features with a 21-day free trial. A free plan supports up to ten agents.
Gorgias optimizes its help desk software for e-commerce merchants. Social media integrations — including Facebook and Instagram — let Gorgias users deliver pre-sales support. Integrations with Shopify and other e-commerce platforms give post-sales support agents instant access to customer information and order histories.
If any of these help desk solutions seem like overkill for your business, then take a look at Hiver. This solution adds shared Gmail inboxes, multi-channel support, automation tools, and other customer service features to Google Workspace.
Intercom is all about automations that deliver instant solutions and make agents more productive. AI-powered chatbots, conversation analysis, inbox scripts, workflow automation, and other tools let you resolve more customer issues in less time.
LiveAgent’s ticketing system lets small teams offer big-league support. A universal inbox consolidates customer engagement across email, social media, and other channels. LiveAgent also gives you self-service options like knowledge bases and forums.
The most widely-recognized name in customer support, Zendesk offers a suite of services for everyone from startups to large enterprises. More than 88,000 small businesses use Zendesk to support customers in every industry.
Best Practices for Using Help Desk Ticketing Software
With the right help desk software, you can elevate your SLAs and support business growth. These five best practices will let you make the most of your help desk investment.
Plan for success. Before evaluating help desk candidates, figure out what your support team is doing right, what needs to change, and where customer service needs to be in the future.
Use these criteria to choose the right solution and deploy it in ways that will scale with your company’s growth.
Train for day one. Your agents must be up-to-speed the minute the software goes live, so develop training programs for every agent, whether on-site or remote. Don’t assume that training will be enough. Use your help desk software as a resource for supporting your support team.
Sustain your knowledge base. Simplify your customers’ experience by letting them answer their own questions. Your knowledge base needs to go beyond basic FAQs. Use your help desk software to identify solutions that turn your knowledge base into a self-help resource.
Automate the routine. The more repetitive tasks you can hand to your help desk software, the more time agents have to support customers. Constantly evaluate your support workflows to identify automation opportunities.
Measure what matters. Take advantage of your system’s reporting tools to continuously enhance customer service performance. Monitor ticket volumes, track response times, and explore calls by category to find opportunities for improvement.