What is Help Desk Software? The Complete Guide

What is help desk software, and how do you know if your business needs it?

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Sometimes referred to as “help desk software”, help desk tools are a form of customer experience and customer service technology, designed to help companies support their clients. Help desk solutions offer a host of features intended to deliver context and insight into the customer journey, from tracking tools and reporting systems to automated workflows.

With a help desk solution, companies can set themselves apart from the competition by putting user experience first in everything they do. Often, help desk software integrates with and works alongside other essential tools for customer experience, like CRM and contact center technology.

Here’s your all-access guide to the help desk, and why it might be necessary for your business.

What is a Help Desk?

Simply put, a help desk is a piece of software used to unify and enhance the customer experience strategy in any business landscape. These tools come with a range of features depending on which service you choose, but the capabilities of a help desk are always focused on improving team efficiency, and delighting customers.

Today, when customers consider experience to be the most important differentiating factor for any business, help desks are considered to be one of the most important tools in delighting your target audience. A help desk in the modern world will usually be a cloud-based service offered as a SaaS solution, but it is possible to find other forms of software too.

In its simplest form, help desks can accept requests from customers coming through email, phone, and messaging apps, and create tickets which track the progress of customer support. Most tools will also support teams in responding to customer tickets with messaging and communication tools.

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What are the Features of a Help Desk Service?

The features of a help desk can often vary depending on how much you’re willing to spend, and what kind of technology you’re investing in. While there are variations between each app, some of the most common features of a robust help desk include:

  • Omnichannel support: Omnichannel support means ensuring your team members can connect with customers and track conversations across multiple channels, from email and SMS to social media, web portals, chat, and phone calls.
  • Customization: It often helps to be able to customize your help desk environment with a custom URL for your client portal, and branding to help showcase your business.
  • Ticket management: Ticket management is one of the most common features of any help desk. A good help desk tool should allow your agents to view all of your customer queries in one interface, and automate the routing of tickets to the correct agents.
  • Analytics: In-depth analytics are a must-have for your help-desk software, as they’ll be able to give you an insight into important performance details and customer experience metrics. You should be able to track everything from CSAT for customer satisfaction, to First Contact Resolution on an easy-to-follow dashboard.
  • Automation: Automation is becoming an increasingly essential part of most help desks. Automation in your software can allow for everything from sending out-of-office autoresponders to clients when they try to reach your agents, to providing agents with automatic suggestions on how to solve common problems.
  • Integrations: The best help desk software needs to work seamlessly with the tools your teams already use. Integrations may be necessary for everything from collaboration tools like Slack, to ecommerce apps like Shopify.
  • Self-service: Today’s customers are increasingly looking for opportunities to solve their own problems with the assistance of self-service features. FAQs, tutorials, and even chat bots will help you to offer the self-service option.
  • Collaborative tools: Collaboration tools allowing teams to work together on complex support issues can be extremely useful. Look for help desks with chat functionality, file sharing, video meetings, and similar tools.
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What is the Purpose of a Help Desk?

A help desk is exactly what it sounds like – a virtual software solution built to aid those who need it. Most customer-facing teams in today’s fast-paced digital landscape will have several people interacting with clients across a range of channels at the same time to maintain a positive customer experience.

Unfortunately, when customer service happens across multiple email accounts and tools, it’s difficult to keep track of conversations, and determine which problems have been solved. Help desk software helps to bring all of the interactions between your support team and customers into the same place.

This all-in-one environment makes it easier to cross-reference and track information about each customer, for a more relevant and consistent experience. Help desks can also make it easier to organize and sort through customer requests, categorize the flow of service tickets to your support system, and assign the correct tickets to the agents with the right training or knowledge.

With a help desk software solution, business leaders can keep your ticket system clean and orderly, provide agents with relevant data about each customer, and track the status of service request in terms of duration and ticket ownership.

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What are the Benefits of a Help Desk?

A help desk is a tool for strengthening customer experiences and brand loyalty. Today’s consumers are looking for quick and reliable support from every organization they interact with, and a help desk allows you to adhere to those expectations.

Help desks have a host of performance benefits associated with them, but some of the most significant advantages of this technology will usually include:

A Unified Workplace

Increasingly, customer service is becoming an omnichannel practice distributed across a range of channels, from live chat and email to phone and SMS messaging. Customers now expect an omnichannel experience with a consistent level of support across every platform. However, delivering this consistency with a range of different apps can be complex.

A help desk environment allows you to unify all of your support channels into a single environment. This makes it easier to create a more seamless omnichannel experience, and ensure customers don’t have to repeat their issue when moving from one channel to another.

Improved Team Management and Productivity

A help desk can support your customer service team by ensuring they have access to all the information they need in one environment, but it can also empower teams in other ways too. With a help-desk system, you can automate mundane tasks like ticket assignment, and ensure that the right people are sent to the correct agents the first time around.

You can support your team members with out-of-office autoresponders for their email address, and build internal knowledgebases within your help desk where agents can share resources and insights, as well as tracking information about the business. Some help desks even come with collaboration tools to keep teams connected.

Most importantly, these tools also allow business leaders to prioritize certain tickets based on important metrics, and assign them to the correct employees immediately.

Faster More Powerful Support

Around 80% of today’s customers say they want quicker responses from companies. This is true across all channels. If your team members are constantly switching between apps trying to track important customer information, they’ll struggle to deliver a fast and meaningful experience.

With a help desk system to aggregate customer interactions into a single screen, it’s much easier to provide rapid support to clients. Properly functioning tools in the help desk can even help you to identify trends in product and service issues faster, so you can conduct investigations into the issues demanding the most attention in any moment.

Improved Insights into Customers and Teams

A help desk’s aligned environment doesn’t just make teams more productive; it also helps with giving business leaders and teams a more streamlined overview of important metrics and information. A help desk tool can collect valuable information about customers, making it easier for business leaders to understand the customer journey and what factors influence satisfaction.

As streamlined landscape for customer/agent interactions also makes it easier to gain insights into team performance. You’ll be able to conveniently track the volume, type and resolution rate of resolution requests across your business ecosystem, and set benchmarks for your performance goals.

Opening the Door for Innovation

Used correctly, a help desk could even be the ideal tool for unlocking new levels of innovation in your business. You can use this technology to track important information about when your most likely to see peaks in demand for customer service, and which channels your customers are most likely to use.

These insights show you where you should be spending your money to get the best results from your CX investments. With a help desk tool, you can also implement new methods of service, like self-service solutions, complete with insightful FAQs, tutorials, and guides.

Your help desk technology can even pave the way for the creation of powerful AI bots and virtual assistants, ready to help you run your service strategy.

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How to Choose the Best Help Desk Environment

There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy for choosing an effective help desk. Like most modern technology investments, there are dozens of great help desks on the market today, and the right one for you will depend on what you’re trying to accomplish in your business.

A few questions to ask when assessing your help desk options include:

  • What is my budget? The cost of your help desk can range all the way from free services to expensive tools, depending on your needs. You’ll likely have a budget allocated for this tool, so ask yourself how much you’re willing to spend realistically. Remember, free help desk tools usually have some significant limitations you’ll need to be aware of.
  • What features does my company need? Help desk solutions can come with a range of extra features besides simple ticket management and organization capabilities. If you need access to things like a live chatbot builder or in-depth analytics, you’ll need to keep these things in mind when exploring your options.
  • Is it easy to use? The ideal help desk solution should be simple enough for team members to access and understand. The harder it is to grasp the functionality of your help desk, the more likely it is you’ll have issues with adoption. Remember, for mobile and on the move employees, your help-desk will also need to be app-ready.
  • What support is available? A good help desk software provider should be able to offer excellent customer support. Avoid a vendor offering email support only, as this could indicate you’re not able to get the fast solutions to problems you’ll be looking for with your technology. Chat and phone support are often essential.
  • Do I need any integrations? Integrations are often important for help desk tools, because you’ll be using them alongside a wide range of additional services, such as contact centre applications, CRM technology, and video conferencing tools. The more flexible your help desk technology is, the better.
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Which Help Desks Should You Try?

Help desk ticketing systems and service desk solutions come in a range of shapes and sizes. There are IT help desk tools, intended to provide IT support directly to the people in your organization. There are also customer service help desks which deliver IT service and guidance to your clients.

Choosing the right help desk can be complex, but there are some great options out there, such as:

Freshdesk

An excellent tool for both service management and ticketing, Freshdesk ensures you can reach your SLAs with automated notifications, self-service, and advanced analytics. The ecosystem will help you to keep track of customer data and customer questions, integrate with your call center, and provide collaboration tools for your teams to stay connected.

With Freshdesk, you can improve the rate at which you handle desk tickets by up to 25%, with private notes and internal chat to support your help desk agents along the way. This help desk management tool also comes with a free version for unlimited agents.

Paid packages start at $15 per month, but you’ll need at least the $49 per month package for an omnichannel service experience.

Pros 👍

  • Excellent tools for ITSM and help desk support
  • AI integrations and bots available
  • Self-service portal included
  • Collaboration tools for your help desk team
  • Lots of analytics and reporting tools
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HubSpot Service Hub

Part of the comprehensive range of tools built to streamline marketing and support, the HubSpot service hub will ensure you can improve your service level in no time. This comprehensive support solution comes with everything from knowledge management to a complete help desk ticketing system, with routing for a range of rules.

HubSpot’s solution provides access to a range of free capabilities, including a free CRM, where you can track relationships with your target audience, and check how technical support is influencing customer lifetime value. Some features offered by HubSpot are even free to access.

If you want the complete functionality of the HubSpot ecosystem, you’ll need to pay for a monthly subscription starting at $45 per month.

Pros 👍

  • Integrates well with other tools
  • Comprehensive range of service, sales, and marketing features
  • Convenient analytics and reporting features
  • Free features for comprehensive beginner support
  • Multiple modes of data collection
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Zendesk

One of the most popular tools for companies seeking a single point of contact and a service for managing support tickets, Zendesk can help with managing all kinds of support requests. One of the most popular solutions around, Zendesk can integrate with your existing tools, and give you a comprehensive SaaS environment for real-time contact management.

Zendesk is great for ticket escalation and tracking, with plenty of useful insights available within the analytics environment. This service also comes with chat tools so you can reach out to your end users in the method they prefer.

There are plenty of pricing packages to choose from with Zendesk, starting at around £39 per month depending on the features you need. The cheapest option includes voice, live chat, email ticketing, and SMS support.

Pros 👍

  • Wide range of tools for improving customer satisfaction
  • Collaboration tools already built-in
  • Great for tracking SLA metrics
  • Self-service portal included
  • Automation features included
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Choosing the best Help Desk

With so many types of help desk to choose from, including on-premises tools, and IT service solutions, it can be difficult to determine what kind of technology you need straight away. However, getting to know the basics of how help desk technology works will give you a good starting point.

The more you know about the help desk and how it can benefit your business, the more easily you’ll be able to sort through potential software options to find the solution best-suited to you.

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