In today’s hypercompetitive business world, it’s imperative to build a brand that truly is customer-centric.
No longer can you put up a signpost, sell a mediocre product, and hope that you’ll get away with it.
There are online review sites, trust badges, testimonials, and a whole set of other controls that keep a check on bad apples. Plus, in nearly every vertical, there are other companies knocking at your door to steal your customers if you don’t exceed expectations.
The importance of customer-centricity especially plays true for Internet-based businesses. In fact, companies such as Zappos and Amazon have built their business models on the backs of putting the customer first. Consider this quote from the founder of Zappos:
“Customer service shouldn’t be a department, it should be the whole company.”Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos
On a practical level, how do you start moving towards customer-centricity?
First off, it starts with the tools and software you decide to use at your business. And one of the best and most trusted tools at your disposal is a reliable and powerful help desk software.
In this article, we’ll walk you through the best help desk software available on the market — including the pricing and features of each tool.
What is help desk software?
Help desk software is a system that helps a customer-facing team organize, prioritize, respond to, and analyze customer queries, questions, issues, and more.
Most companies will use a software tool for live chat or as a CRM — but there’s a big advantage to having a system of some sort to route and respond to customer inquiries.
What are some common features of great help desk software tools?
- Shared inbox
- Automation rules and smart routing
- An easy-to-setup help center
- Top-notch customer service
Overall, an effective help desk software helps streamline your communication, reduce your time to contact and improve your customer satisfaction.
The 9 Best Help Desk Software Tools
- HubSpot Help Desk Software
- Salesforce Service Cloud
- HelpDesk by LiveChat
1. HubSpot Help Desk Software
As a provider of a suite of marketing, sales, and support software, HubSpot provides a powerful solution that any business can use to run their help desk. Plus, if you’re already in the HubSpot ecosystem, choosing to adopt their tool is a no-brainer!
How does their tool compare to the other help desk software providers?
First off, they start by providing one central dashboard that any member of the team can view. This helps provide transparency to the whole organization of what common issues and questions customers are commonly escalating to your team.
On this centralized dashboard page, you can also assign tickets to members of the support team using manual tagging — or if you’re wanting to unlock the full power of the software, try out rules & automation to help distribute tickets to the right stakeholders automagically.
Let’s say that Greg, a member of your Customer Success team, specializes in handling customer billing inquiries. You can set rule-based automation to route messages to a specific inbox for Greg. It’s more efficient for Greg — plus, it’s beneficial for the efficiency of your whole team.
Starts free; $50/month for Starter plan; $400/month for Professional plan; $1200/month for Enterprise plan
2. Zendesk Support
Zendesk proclaims to be “more than just a help desk software.” Like many of the other tools on this list, they provide full-service customer service and engagement platform that brands of all sizes—from SMB to Enterprise—can utilize.
What’s unique about their help desk solution?
Their help desk software is built completely with the agent at the forefront. One of the more unique features to Zendesk is that agents can create their own macros to quickly respond to common customer inquiries. This saves time and energy — as your team can quickly respond to the most common customer questions on the fly.
Another great feature for agents is that they can also customize their dashboard views to pull only the metrics they care about most at the front and center.
As a large established player in the space, Zendesk has integrations with over 500 apps including Salesforce, MailChimp, Shopify, and others! This library of built-in integrations provides many meaningful connections to consolidate your workflow into one software tool — and make connections with apps to streamline your work.
Other interesting features of Zendesk include the ability to create a help center, an online community, a knowledge base, and a customer portal. That’s a lot of power in one tool…
Starts with free trial. $5-$199 per agent, per month for the Support plan
Intercom is the industry the leader in live chat. You’ve likely seen their friendly blue bubble in the bottom right corner of many-a-sites across the web. And their help desk ticketing software certainly doesn’t disappoint when it comes to performance and functionality.
But, how do they structure their help desk?
First off, they provide a shared team inbox that allows your team to all work together and respond to customer inquiries — regardless if the message routed from your website, mobile app, or even inside your product.
Then, from the same customer-facing module, a customer can interact with a member of your support team, a help center article, or even an automated answer bot. It’s all streamlined, and it provides the tools you need to grow.
Free 14 day trial. Starts at $87/month for Acquire customers; $49/month for Engage customers; $87/month for Support customers; and $136/month for all of Intercom.
Prices scale with plans, seats, and plans.
Freshdesk is a leader in the help desk space — trusted by over 150,000 small businesses and enterprises — such as Cisco, HP, Honda, and American Express.
What makes them special?
Unlike most of the other brands on this list, Freshdesk has two main uses cases: as an external support tool and as an IT help desk software.
With their software, you can automatically convert emails into tickets, set business hours and even establish service level agreements (SLAs). The tool also provides customizable portals to match brand styling, a self-service knowledge base & forum setup flow, and the ability to collaborate across a team.
Free 21 day trial. Free for Sprout plan; $15/agent/month for Blossom plan; $29/agent/month for Garden plan; $49/agent/month for Estate plan; $109/agent/month for Forest plan
5. Salesforce Service Cloud
If you’re like thousands of companies already using Salesforce to power their CRM and sales cycles, it might be worth considering Salesforce Service Cloud as a help desk tool.
What makes Salesforce unique?
One unique feature of the Salesforce offering is that they provide chatbots with AI. These smart responders can help automatically route and solve customer inquiries such as “What’s the status of my claim?” or “Can you modify my order?”
And on the front-end, your visitors won’t even have to know that they’re not dealing with a human. Oh, the power of technology…
Another clear benefit of Salesforce is that it’s the easiest way to tie into your existing Salesforce infrastructure. If you’re storing your customer data in their CRM, you’ll see all of that information pipe into the sidebar in Salesforce. Your support agents will easily be able to use that insight in their communications with customers and start more quickly solving issues and bringing smiles with every message.
Free 14 day trial. Essential starts at $25/user/month; Professional starts at $75/user/month; Enterprise starts at $150/user/month; Unlimited starts at $300/user/month
Zoho differentiates its help desk product as the “first context-aware help desk software.”
What do they mean by that?
They describe the philosophy as agents have the right tools to be productive, managers have the right insights to be decision-makers, and customers can find answers in a timely manner.
They deliver on that promise by automating frequent tasks, identifying patterns, providing several channels to communicate through, and providing methods for customers to be able to answer each other’s questions.
Free 15 day trial. $12/agent/month for Standard; $20/agent/month for Professional; $35/agent/month for Enterprise
You probably know JIRA from their project management tool.
But did you know that Atlassian also offers JIRA as a help desk?
With the JIRA service desk, you can directly tie in incoming inquiries to tickets for your engineering team. This helps streamline IT and development — and it helps you ship code out the door more quickly and more frequently.
It’s important to note one thing here. JIRA’s service desk is built for IT teams, not as a response tool for external visitors. It can help large enterprises have a reliable portal for HR, legal, facilities, and IT requests.
Free for 7 days. $10/month Small Team (3 agents included); $20/agent/month for Growing Team (4-15 agents)
Happyfox is a help desk solution designed for “today’s fast-changing global business.” And their client roster seems to suggest so — with Lowe’s and Whirlpool both calling themselves customers.
What’s different about an IT help desk?
Many of the software options on this page have the ability to be set up for different types of use cases, and Happyfox falls into this bucket. You can use the tool for customer experience, HR, marketing, or even an IT help desk.
With each setup, the feature set slightly changes. But some of the key features of their help desk solution include the auto-assignment of tools, smart rule-based ticket, advanced SLA management, canned actions, and queues.
$29 per agent/month for Mighty; $49 per agent/month for Fantastic; $69 per agent/month for Enterprise; $89 per agent/month for Enterprise Plus
9. HelpDesk by LiveChat
LiveChat is primarily known for their ummmmmm…. live chat tool. But their help desk offering is also worth a look — whether or not you’re using their system already.
What can you do with it?
First off, you can use it as an email channel. With that, you can convert your emails into custom tickets and manage them on the platform. You can also prepare canned replies and easily collaborate with coworkers on tickets.
Other great features of their software include smart search, status updates, and real-time reporting.
Free for 14 days. It starts at $19/agent per month.
Wrapping it up
No matter what you tool you decide to implement, you’re making a right step in the direction of running a more efficient ship. You’ve probably heard the saying, “you’re only as good as your tools.”
When it comes to choosing the best help desk software, this plays especially true. All of the tools on this list provide features that will help your team move more quickly and get more done.
This article is part of our educational series on software tools currently available in the market. Take a look at our coverage on the best live chat tools, the best email marketing software, or the best marketing automation software.