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The Best Help Desk Software for 2021

By Andrew Martins,
business.com Writer
| Updated
Nov 20, 2020

The right help desk software makes it easier for your customer support or IT team to track and resolve issues. We researched the top providers on the market to pick the best help desk software for different business needs.
Best for Internal IT
Robust features
More than 1,000 integrations
Trackable ticket status for user
Best for Mobile
Android and iOS support
Collision detection tools
Affordable pricing structure
Best for Small Business
Omnichannel communication
Intuitive interface
Strong security measures
Best Free Software
Rich features for a free program
Easy-to-use cloud dashboard
Support for multiple SLA setups
The right help desk software makes it easier for your customer support or IT team to track and resolve issues. We researched the top providers on the market to pick the best help desk software for different business needs.

Whether your small business regularly fields customer service requests from your consumer base or needs speedy internal tech support, a good help desk software solution can help you manage those issues before they become unwieldy for your team. To help you choose the right help desk solution, we examined 30 different options in aspects such as price, services, features and integrations. We compared and contrasted the various platforms before paring them down to the single best options for four different use cases.

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How We Decided
Our team spends weeks evaluating dozens of business solutions to identify the best options. To stay current, our research is regularly updated.
30
Considered
14
Researched
4
Selected

Compare Our Best Picks

  Kayako Jira Service Desk Freshdesk Raiseaticket
On-premises or SaaS Both Both SaaS SaaS
Integration Yes – relies on Zapier for 600+ apps Yes – supports 1,000+ apps and Atlassian products Yes – has a dedicated marketplace No
Mobile app Android only; browser support iOS and Android iOS and Android No mobile app; browser support only
Live chat Yes – included Yes – included Yes – chatbot function costs extra No

Our Reviews

Jira: Best for Internal IT

Highly configurable workflows allow you to track tickets and provide status updates.
More than 1,000 integration options are available.
Its prices are higher than those of other vendors in this space.

In the space of help desk solutions, Atlassian's Jira platform is one of the most highly rated and respected offerings. Though this solution could have fit in nearly any use case we threw at it, we feel its comprehensive features and in-depth focus on support lends itself well to the complex matter of internal IT support.

Pricing

Jira's pricing structure follows along with the rest of the help desk space, charging a monthly per-user fee. There are four distinct service tiers, the cost and feature set growing with each subsequent tier. Price estimates on the company's website are based on the number of agents who will use the service, so you should know that piece of data before looking into the service. For our purposes here, we opted for a team of five agents that will be billed monthly.

For support teams of up to three agents, Jira's Service Management tier is available for free. The next tier up is Standard, which has a price of $20 per agent per month. The Premium service tier has a $40 monthly per-user price tag and is designed for "organizations scaling high-velocity ITSM." The final service tier is Enterprise, though that option requires a conversation with the Atlassian sales team, since it takes a custom approach to better serve large companies.

In every tier but the free one, Jira can support up to 5,000 agents per site. Enterprise is the only service tier that can handle an unlimited number of sites; the others only support one.

Jira offers a seven-day free trial period. It also offers a discount if you pay for an entire year upfront. For example, you'd pay $1,000 for a year of the Standard tier, resulting in a $200 savings over the monthly cost. For the Premium service tier, you would pay $2,000 upfront but save $400 in the process.

Features

Jira is fully stacked with features. Whatever functions you need in an internal IT support solution, Jira likely has what you're looking for. These are just some of the features you can expect to find from the service:

Email-to-ticket support

Jira can turn help-request emails into tickets for your support team to address. The platform does this by monitoring a specific inbox for queries from your employees. If an applicable message comes through, it will scrape the message for keywords and place them in the appropriate fields. Though it's not technically an omnichannel platform, Jira says on its website that it has social media integration to "extend service channels."

Automated ticket assignment

If your support team is broken up into specific proficiencies, or you have one person on staff who's an expert on a certain topic, you can set up automation rules to ensure tickets that fit certain criteria go directly to the right person.

Internal ticket tracking

The ability to track a ticket's progress is incredibly important. Jira does this whether you're using the service for internal IT, customer-facing support, or both. Through the platform, users can have permissions and role-based capabilities to set, view, edit, share and act on requests to fit your support team's needs. Tickets can also be linked across teams to involve the right people.

User ticket tracking

In addition to internal ticket tracking, Jira allows the employee or customer who filed the request to stay up to date with the ticket's progress. Status updates and notifications can be configured to make sure the person who filed the request knows how much longer they have to wait for a response or resolution.

SLA status information

Consistency with your company's service-level agreement is important to create a streamlined and efficient support structure. Jira allows you to set custom SLA goals to fit your company's guidelines and business hours.

IT asset tracking

Your internal IT support team needs to keep track of tech assets within the company. They can do that more easily through the Jira platform.

Live chat and mobile support

The immediacy afforded through Jira's live chat and mobile app support can be an instant boon for your support team. Mobile apps are supported on Android and iOS devices.

Reports

Default reports include breakdowns of workload, SLAs, customer satisfaction and deflected requests. Through configurable dashboards, you can highlight the daily information you need while keeping an eye on real-time queue updates to see that you're working on the right thing at the right time. All reports can be exported for external stakeholders.

Security measures

Jira is compliant with ISO/IEC, SOC 2, PCI DSS, CSA STAR, HIPAA and GDPR security protocols. It also supports an encrypted connection for better security.

Ease of Use

Jira is one of the most popular solutions not only for its robust feature set, but also because of how easy its dashboard is to use. Everything you need is easily located through colorful menus, and information gathered through the ticket is recognizable at a glance. Built to provide "high-velocity support," Jira can make the support pipeline more accessible to everyone using the service.

Drawbacks

In our research of Jira, it was hard to find much to complain about. We did note that its pricing is a little higher than its competitors' prices for similar plan levels. This may be a case of "you get what you pay for," since it has so many features, but those features might be more than your team needs or your budget can justify. If you're looking for a cheap, simple internal IT service without a lot of bells and whistles, Jira may not be for you. This platform strives to be comprehensive, and simpler solutions (priced accordingly) are available elsewhere.

If you were considering Jira for its ability to work as a server-based platform, your time to adopt it for that reason is coming to an end in February. After that, Jira's Service Management solution will only be available as a SaaS or data center product.

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Freshdesk: Best for Mobile

An intuitive interface allows you to set automation rules.
Its mobIle app for iOS and Android enables on-the-go customer support.
Field service management costs extra.

Today's workplace is constantly changing, so the ability to take the help desk on the road is a major boon to many small businesses. We found Freshdesk by Freshworks to be the best option for that purpose, thanks to its free mobile application, intuitive interface and omnichannel support.

Pricing

Like other help desk software, Freshdesk is priced by month and number of users, with the option to pay either monthly or annually, and splits its prices into different service tiers. The following prices are based on annual billing figures:

  • Sprout: This version can support unlimited agents but is relatively limited in the features it offers compared to the other service tiers.

  • Blossom: $15 per agent per month. This tier has everything in Sprout as well as automations, collision detection, SLA management and mobile support.

  • Garden: $35 per agent per month. This tier includes everything in the Blossom plan as well as time-tracking capabilities, performance reports and multilingual knowledge base support.

  • Estate: $49 per agent per month. This tier offers everything in the previous plans along with custom roles, round-robin ticket routing and dynamic ticket forms.

  • Forest: $99 per agent per month. This enterprise-level service tier provides everything in the lower tiers as well as skill-based routing, agent shifts, IP whitelisting and HIPAA compliance.

Freshdesk offers a 21-day free trial period for all of these plans.

Features

These are some of the key features we found in our examination of Freshdesk:

Omnichannel support

Freshdesk can pull customer queries from various sources, including social media, email and live chat. This type of support can boost customer interaction and gives them more avenues for support.

Collision detection

To reduce confusion, Freshdesk lets support team members know when someone else is looking at a ticket and preparing to respond.

Auto-assign and ticket tags

Automation is a huge help in handling a series of customer issues. After you set the criteria, Freshdesk automatically assigns tickets to the right help desk technician and applies certain ticket tags based on information it gathers from the customer.

Mobile support

Freshdesk has mobile apps for both Android and iOS devices, allowing your team to read and manage customer requests anywhere. Though more robust field service management tools cost extra, Freshdesk's mobile apps are certainly a help in this area.

Security

Freshdesk supports security measures like SSL certificates, single sign-on and IP/network restrictions. HIPAA compliance is only available at the enterprise-level Forest tier.

Ease of Use

Freshdesk uses an easy-to-understand dashboard that looks similar to an email inbox or blog. Each major function is kept on the left-hand side in a column, while all related tickets and corresponding customer information, tags and categories are located on the right.

It's easy to invite other agents into a ticket through Freshconnect, where they can add private notes to the ticket for later viewing. Thanks to built-in automation tools, Freshdesk makes it easy for tickets to be sent to the right people and properly categorized and prioritized.

We don't think it would take the average user very long to understand how Freshdesk works.

Drawbacks

Though Freshdesk is a great service for mobile help desks, special features like automatic live chat and field service management cost an additional fee to implement. The latter feature is of particular importance to companies looking for a mobile help desk solution, since it includes a scheduling dashboard, time-tracking capabilities, a map view of where your employees in the field are located, and offline availability. This add-on alone costs $29 a month per field employee.

Also, if you operate a small healthcare facility, you'll have to look elsewhere unless you're willing to shell out for the highest service tier, because it's the only level with HIPAA compliance.

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Kayako: Best for Small Business

Kayako includes omnichannel support, live chat and automated ticket routing.
Contextualized customer information lets support staff be more personable.
The price is a little higher than you'd pay for some other options.

Small businesses have many great options for help desk solutions, but Kayako edged out the competition in our search for the best. It's an intuitive piece of help desk software that can be implemented either on-premises or in the cloud. We were impressed with its robust feature set, omnichannel support and strong security measures. While competitors with more name recognition charge extra for some features, Kayako is our best pick for small businesses because each tier is a more complete package for a single price.

Pricing

Like most of today's software-based services, Kayako bases its pricing on three service tiers, with a different set of features in each.

  • The lowest service tier, Inbox, is aimed at small teams that want a shared email, chat and social inbox. Whereas most companies would skimp on the features at this low service tier, we were surprised to see that features like live chat and email support, a mobile SDK, collision prevention, and assignment automation rules were included for $15 per agent per month.

  • The next tier, Growth, caters to slightly larger support teams. It includes everything in the Inbox tier, as well as access to more powerful automation features; custom views, fields, forms and reports; multi-brand and multi-language support; and advanced help center customization. This tier, which costs $30 per agent per month, allows up to five free collaborators, who can use the system to leave internal notes but can't directly interact with customers.

  • For larger companies or teams, the Scale tier comes with everything in Growth, while also including advanced workflow customization, shared organizations, custom security policies and Salesforce integration, among other features. Coming in at $60 per agent per month, this tier allows for 10 free collaborators.

In case none of these tiers fit your needs, Kayako offers an Enterprise service plan that starts at $100 per agent per month. There is a free 14-day trial for each service tier.

Features

In our research, we found that Kayako has one of the largest feature sets out of the vendors we examined. The following are some of its particularly valuable features for small businesses.

Internal ticket tracking

As your support team handles tickets, it's important to be able to see their progress at a glance. With Kayako, support agents can track past conversations and activities, as well as a user's visiting habits, searches and past purchases. Through the interface, agents can see the status of a message, when the person on the other end has read the message, and when they're typing out a response in real time. As custom smart boxes are created, conversations can be instantly categorized, making it easier to track tickets.

Ticket collision detection

If your agent has brought someone else into the ticket to assist, there's always a chance that both people will try to reply to the customer at the same time, leading to embarrassing or confusing situations. Kayako prevents this by letting the agents see when the other is viewing and responding to the customer.

Live chat

Live chat service for your customers is a great function that many vendors either ignore or charge extra for. That's why Kayako's baked-in live chat service is worth mentioning. It's customizable to fit your branding and included in the monthly fee.

Self-help knowledge base

You can give customers the option to bypass your support team and find answers on their own, as Kayako facilitates the creation of a fleshed-out, multilingual knowledge base. This feature lets customers access support articles and curated answers to find solutions at any time of day. This not only empowers your customers but also frees up resources for your support staff, since they won't have to address as many repetitive issues.

Support for an internal help desk

Kayako can support your employees as well as your customers. Internal channels can be created to help the people working alongside your support team. The interface works the same way as the customer-facing one, with similar tools for automation, canned responses and support forms.

Hundreds of integrations

Thanks to the use of Zapier and its support for hundreds of third-party applications, Kayako can integrate with countless other pieces of business software without the need for confusing code.

Ease of Use

If you're familiar with Microsoft Outlook, Gmail or even a content management system like WordPress, Kayako's interface is pretty self-explanatory. When a conversation or ticket is opened, it immediately displays contextual information. You can easily see how the person's past interactions with support went and what they were doing on your site before they opened the conversation. The dashboard pulls conversations into the queue regardless of where they're coming from, and it all happens in real time.

On the right-hand side of the screen are the more sensitive pieces of the customer's data, including their email address, phone number and what time it is in their current location. Naturally, Kayako only gathers that information if the customer offers it, but the agent can also add those details manually. If you have multiple agents sitting in on the same conversation, you can even check their status on the issue, including who's actually viewing the conversation and who's actively typing in it. Thanks to different SLA settings, you can also see on the same screen how much time you have left to reply before you fall out of compliance with your company's policies.

Overall, we were impressed by the immediacy of information that Kayako's interface conveys.

Drawbacks

Though we were impressed with Kayako's feature set and ease of use, one thing stood out as a detraction – the price. Compared to some of its competitors, Kayako's prices are a little high. While it's hard to compare service plans, given how widely they vary in features, we found other companies whose lowest tier cost as little as $5 per agent per month. While those low costs came at a severe cut to the available features, it's worth noting that you can find cheaper services than Kayako if you're not looking for anything too fancy.

The other downside is the availability of Kayako's customer service. Though our email interaction with the company was fine, it's based in the U.K. and India, so it can be hard to catch the support agents during their business hours. You can reach the company on Twitter as well, but its main support apparatus seems to be a knowledge base. This hands-off service method may be fine for some, but frustrating for others. It's also a little frustrating that the live chat on the Kayako website is for sales only. That's a missed support opportunity, for sure.

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Raiseaticket: Best Free Software

Raiseaticket offers basic help desk features, like self-service support and real-time notifications, at no charge.
You can create custom SLAs for different customers within certain business hours.
Since this is a free solution, this software doesn't have all the features a support team might want.

If you're still debating whether help desk software is necessary for your small business, or you don't want to spend money on a comprehensive service, then you should consider using the Raiseaticket. Raiseaticket is a cloud-based option with several useful features for no cost, winning our choice for the best free help desk software.

Pricing

Raiseaticket is a completely free service. Though most of the free services we've examined offer paid service tiers or expensive add-ons, there's none of that with this software. The only restriction it sets is a yearly limit of 12,000 tickets.

Features

Free options on the internet tend to go light on features, so we were surprised at the number of options on Raiseaticket's platform. With omnichannel support, time management tools and special ticket features, its feature set packs quite a punch. These are some of its bells and whistles that we didn't expect to find in a zero-cost solution:

Team and agent management

If you have different teams of support agents tasked with handling different aspects of your business, or specific agents who are proficient in different areas, Raiseaticket allows administrators to assign tickets directly to the right people for the issue. Tickets can be routed by skills or groups and then escalated accordingly.

Multiple SLA configurations

Service-level agreements are a promise between your business and a client. By setting customer expectations for how quickly your support team will resolve any issues in the Raiseaticket software, you can make sure your agents stay on task to address concerns in a timely manner.

Real-time notifications

Agents, customers and support administrators get real-time notifications for certain tickets. These automatic notifications are triggered by certain events, like when a new ticket is opened or a new message comes in. Your support team can receive the message in real time over email or through a connected web portal, though Raiseaticket also supports notifications through Slack and Microsoft Teams.

Knowledge base

Over time, you can use the tickets your team has resolved in Raiseaticket to construct a knowledge base full of articles, how-tos and examples that your customers can use to find solutions on their own. Nearly every premium service touts this feature, so we were surprised to see it available for free.

Compliance

As a web-based service, Raiseaticket is compliant with GDPR and oriented for ITSM. Since Raiseaticket follows those industry standards, you can rest easy knowing your help desk software won't run afoul of existing guidelines.

Ease of Use

For a free service, Raiseaticket's dashboard is easy to use. On the main page, you can view a listing of all the available tickets, open a ticket, or view reports, existing articles, and frequently asked questions to help solve issues.

The dashboard provides a convenient overview of tickets, letting you select only the tickets assigned to a particular agent, see how many tickets have been designated as resolved or unresolved, and see what unresolved tickets have a pending status. Time-sensitive tickets are also easy to find; you can view overdue tickets as well as tickets that are due for completion either today or tomorrow. Agents can view tickets of a certain designated group or ones that fit a specific date range.

Custom reports can be scheduled to run at certain times and generated through the dashboard. Under the reports tab, you can create and export graphics as Excel files or send the data by email.

Other functionality on the dashboard is simple to use and understand. Though the dashboard may not be as flashy as other solutions on the market, we found the Raiseaticket system easy to learn.

Drawbacks

Though we were pleasantly surprised with what Raiseaticket has to offer as a free service, it clearly has some limitations. Of particular note is the absence of certain key features. Live chat, third-party integrations, social media support and mobile apps were glaringly missing. Though this would disqualify vendors for other use cases, some cuts are necessary to provide a free service, and those omissions might not matter to you if your priority is a free solution.

A major issue we found is the way Raiseaticket conducts its own customer service. If you have an immediate need for assistance from the company's support team, you'll have to rely on email or fill out a web form, since the company does not have live chat or a phone number to call.

You're beholden to any company's schedule when asking for support, but Raiseaticket is based in Malta and India, so its business hours are likely different from yours. It does offer setup and agent guides as well as a FAQs page, but if those resources aren't enough of a help for your issue, then you will have to reach out to the company on its terms.

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Cost of Help Desk Software

Like nearly every online service on the market, help desk software solutions offer a range of service plans with tiered pricing. Typically, a higher price comes with more features and customer support. When looking for a help desk platform for your small business, you must weigh the price of your preferred tier against your budget, since the vendors charge on a recurring (monthly or annual) basis.

To determine how much a help desk platform will cost your company, you also need to know how many agents will be using the service at any given time. Nearly every company we examined partly bases its regular costs on the number of people who will use the software. The more agents need to use the platform, the higher the price. A small support staff will pay less than large companies with massive customer bases and internal support structures. Add-ons also increase the overall costs, since some vendors offer things like a fully automated chat box.

When researching various options, we found that paying for a service annually can save you some money. Annually billed prices range from $5 to $70 per agent per month for the lowest tiers; the highest tiers ranged from $19 to $250 per agent per month. Once you get to enterprise-level service tiers, most companies require you to contact their sales team to receive a custom solution (with a price tag to match).

Buying Guide

What is help desk software?

Help desk software is a digital hub that employees can use to receive, organize and address customer-facing or internal problems that crop up. As customers or employees experience an issue, they can reach out to your support team through the help desk software. Once a conversation starts between the support team and the person who needs help, a ticket is created, and the interaction is logged.

Once a ticket is entered into the system, either manually by an agent or through an automated function, the help desk system can help support agents tag and categorize it for proper filing. As the conversation continues, your agent could forward the ticket to someone else with more knowledge of the issue at hand. Over time, the tickets will note past interactions between the individual and your support staff, as well as past inquiries, where they were on the website before they reached out for help, and what the current issue entails. Such details help your support staff understand if the current issue is a recurring one and see the steps taken to address the problem in the past.

How does help desk software work?

As either an on-premises or cloud-hosted solution, help desk software acts as an intermediary of sorts between the customer or end user and your support staff. From request to resolution, good help desk software makes support conversations easier to delegate, track and resolve.

When a question or concern comes in through email, social media, live chat or any other supported method, the system creates a ticket for that message. Most platforms will then automatically send that message to the appropriate team member, who is notified so they can handle the request. The ensuing interaction can take place in different ways, such as over live chat, email, social media or the phone. As the situation is investigated and follow-up messages are sent, the system keeps track of the entire process.

Once resolved, the ticket stays in the system as a categorized piece of data. If the same person reaches out to the support team again, most help desk solutions can pull up their past interactions with your team to give the current support agent some context. The active support agent can add tags and affix notes to the ticket for further details on the situation. If the problem is widespread enough or the solution would be useful to more than one person, many platforms allow you to use tickets as the basis for other customer service features, such as knowledge base articles and frequently asked questions.

Ultimately, good help desk software streamlines your support team's responsibilities. If your small business is getting questions at a faster pace than your team can handle, this software can perform a sort of help desk triage by prioritizing the most pressing issues, categorizing them and sending them along to the right support staff member. Faster ticket responses and resolutions result in happier customers and less burdened staff members.

The importance of help desk software

At its most basic, help desk software makes it easier for your support staff to handle problems experienced by customers or internal employees. Using a ticket management system, help desk software lets your support agents keep track of how an issue is being resolved. That constant tracking helps reduce customer wait times, leading to a more positive customer experience and engendering stronger connections with those customers. Meanwhile, if your support team deals more with internal IT issues, a similar platform can track your technological assets and assist with network management.

After some time using a help desk program, you will gain access to in-depth reports that highlight how your company is handling customer service requests. By analyzing this data, you can learn where your support team's proficiencies lie and where they need improvement. This kind of data can help inform important decisions that not only benefit the bottom line, but create an environment where your agents know what they need to do to be successful.

How to choose the right help desk software

When choosing a help desk software platform for your small business, you might notice that many solutions look similar on a surface level, but there are plenty of features that exist in some platforms and are absent from others. The key to choosing the right help desk solution for your business is to consider what you need, what your monthly budget allows, and how many members of your support staff will need access to the system.

If your small business has a strong social media presence that attracts messages and engagement from your customers, you'll want software that can easily integrate with those platforms. If you're looking for an internal help desk to streamline your IT support team's operations, you'll likely need to find software that can handle things like asset management and remote troubleshooting.

Whatever the use case for your company, a help desk solution will benefit your small business if your support staff can properly use it. Many solutions rely on intuitive web interfaces to function. Gauge your staff's general tech savvy, and consider how much training you want to commit to learning the program before you decide on one.

Features

From the logistical benefits alone, help desk software can be an immediate force multiplier for your support team. With that in mind, a service's features can be just as important a consideration as the price. Only you know what your small business needs to streamline its customer or internal support processes. These are some of the more common and important help desk software features:

Easy-to-use interface

Technology today is all about ease of use, and that should be no different when you seek out a help desk solution. Multiple people will likely depend on this service to do their jobs. The easier it is to quickly learn and implement into their daily responsibilities, the sooner the system's efficiencies can take hold. By spending less time getting people acclimated to the help desk software itself, your support team can focus on providing the assistance they were hired to perform.

Message-to-ticket conversion

There is a glut of communication methods available, from live chat widgets on your website to the 280-character text field of a tweet. Whereas most help desk solutions used to focus on creating help tickets out of emails received in a specific inbox, today's services can pull important ticket information from tweets, Facebook messages, Slack DMs, SMS messages and more. Omnichannel message-to-ticket conversion is an important feature to ensure you can respond to your customers' needs, no matter how they prefer to get in touch with your company.

Automatic ticket assignment

Automation takes many forms in the help desk space, but one of the most effective is ticket assignment. When you set up your help desk software, some platforms will allow you to set automation rules. By selecting keywords and attaching them to a specific support agent, you can ensure that support tickets dealing with certain topics go directly to the person best suited to tackle the problem.

Keyword-based prioritization

Some of your customers' issues are more pressing than others. If you want to make sure that the dire situations get addressed before the less worrisome ones, some help desk solutions can automatically set priority levels for each ticket. Much like with other automated features, you can designate certain keywords as triggers to prioritize a ticket. When timing is of the essence, this helps support agents quickly locate and fix the problem.

Self-service

Most help desk software facilitates productive conversation between a support agent and someone who needs assistance. But what if the person who wants your company's help doesn't want to talk to anyone? That's where the self-service portal comes in. When you integrate your help desk software with a new or existing knowledge base or customer forum, your customers can access some form of support on a 24/7 basis. A self-service portal not only makes things easier for the customer, but it also can cut down on the number of active tickets your support team has to process each day.

Integrations

Running a modern small business means relying on multiple software platforms to handle everything from taxes and payroll to customer relationship management and GPS fleet tracking. Since you are likely already juggling many different programs, it's always helpful when a new solution can integrate with your existing ones. Many help desk platforms are able to play nice with some of today's more popular business software solutions, giving support agents access to even more important data that could help with a customer's situation.

In-depth reporting tools

Data is important to any small business. A good help desk platform can collect, quantify and chart data relating to your support team's performance. Data points like wait times, the time it takes to resolve issues and results from customer surveys can help your company adjust any problem areas while praising areas where your support team excels. Armed with the right data, you can make informed decisions to empower your support team.

Frequently Asked Questions About Help Desk Software

What criteria should you use to determine the best help desk software?

The answer is subjective. Your company is unique, so you should look at the questions your customers regularly ask and how frequently you get support requests so you can determine what features and automation options (such as keyword-triggered priority levels, ticket tracking, and categorization) would help with productivity, how many team members need access to the software, and how many tickets you need the software to handle.

How can help desk software help your business's bottom line?

Help desk software can improve your company's bottom line by streamlining repetitive processes. Your support team repeats a lot of the same actions each day. By implementing a help desk platform, you can automate repetitive tasks, leading your team to take a customer service ticket from "received" to "closed" more efficiently. By doing that, you improve the customer experience, increasing the likelihood of a return customer. If time is money, then help desk software can save your company a lot of money.

Who should be involved in choosing the best help desk software for your team?

That depends on your company culture and on how many people are normally involved in financial decisions for your business, but it's a good idea to include the head of your IT or customer support team in the decision-making process. They'll be able to determine how easy the proposed software will be for your agents to use and what features would be most helpful to them.

What do the top-rated help desk software packages have in common?

In our research, we found that the most enticing help desk software packages include plenty of integrations with popular business software, support for service-level agreements, useful automated functions and strong security measures.

How does help desk software improve your help desk performance?

Without some form of help desk software, it's easy for service requests and customer issues to get lost in the mix of email inboxes and social media messages. Once the process of addressing those problems begins, it's also easy to lose your place or be left unaware of how many problems have actually been resolved. With good help desk software, everyone on the support team will be able

Community Expert Insight

To better understand which help desk solutions small business owners rely on, we reached out to the general entrepreneurial community to see what they like about the platforms they use.

One of the biggest players in the scene, according to our research, is Zoho Desk, which received high marks in our research but was edged out because its 24-hour, five-day customer service – which is less than some other vendors offer – is behind a paywall. Still, James Boatwright, CEO of Code Galaxy, said his company uses the service for its affordable pricing and its feature set.

"Our small business chose the competitively priced Zoho Desk because the Enterprise edition was $25 per user per month," he told business.com. "Some of its handy features include VoIP and social media integration, support for multiple brands in the customer portal, data analysis of advanced SLAs, report scheduling, custom ticket templates, and live chat support – and, importantly, [it] seamlessly integrates with our other apps."

The popular Zendesk platform would have been a strong candidate for a best pick had it not kept common features behind an additional paywall. For DebtHammer CEO Jake Hill, the decision to move from Zendesk to Jira hinged on the latter's more extensive features. "We used Zendesk previously but moved to Jira because there was more support for customization and more options for automation."

Jira also received praise from Ravi Parikh, CEO of RoverPass Campground Management Software. The platform's flexible, multipurpose ticket management system was a major selling point for his company.

"We use Jira for general support tickets, as well as a means of reporting bugs in our management software," Parikh said. "Jira makes it easy to separate out these tickets so the appropriate employees can handle them. In addition to providing a record of support interactions, it lets us easily escalate tickets with all of the necessary information so the customer's issue can be resolved as quickly as possible."

While most respondents said they wanted feature-rich help desk software, Jonathan Newar, CEO of Captain Experiences, said his company wanted a more "baseline" platform without the bells and whistles. To that end, his company relies on Freshdesk, which can be as robust or simple as you need.

"My need is mainly internal, so I keep things simple," Newar said. "I need the help desk to route a trouble ticket, modify and close it, and keep a record of it. For me, Freshdesk was the way to go because it's intuitive and customizable. It meets all our needs and leaves room for growth as well."

Methodology

To find the best help desk software solutions for small businesses, we spent hours researching the market's top providers. The following is an explanation of our research efforts and the criteria we used to determine a program's viability as a best pick.

Locating the best services

To find the best help desk solutions, we compiled a list of reputable vendors we were already familiar with, then expanded that list to include companies we found by consulting other online review lists and customer feedback.

Choosing the best services

Of the initial 30 solutions we listed, 14 advanced to the next round: Atera, atSpoke, Capacity CoPilot, Cayzu, Freshdesk, Groove HQ, Help Scout, Hiver, Jira Service Desk, Jitbit Help Desk, Kayako, Raiseaticket, Zendesk and Zoho Desk. Some of these companies fit multiple use cases, while others are more specialized.

Researching each service

After whittling down the field to the most promising candidates, we researched each one thoroughly by digging into its features, watching online tutorials and how-to videos, reading customer testimonials, and getting our hands on free trials and demos. We culled the herd based on those experiences.

Deciding our best picks

We determined our best picks by considering many factors. We based our findings mainly on features, pricing, ease of use, customizability, automation options and security. We also considered some specific factors for different use cases.

Andrew Martins
Andrew Martins,
business.com Writer
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I am a former newspaper editor who has transitioned to strictly cover the business world for business.com and Business News Daily. I am a four-time New Jersey Press Award winner and prior to joining my current team, I was the editor of six weekly newspapers that covered multiple counties in the state.
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