Help Desk Software

Find the right help desk software to improve your support and service desk experiences for customers, internal end-users and support teams.

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A Buyer’s Guide to Help You Find the Right Help Desk Software

As manager of a support team or your company’s customer service operations, this buyer’s guide will assist you in your journey to find the very best help desk software.

By following our six-step help desk software guide, you’ll be able to highlight the challenges you wish to rectify within your current setup, as well as identifying the features and tools needed to enhance your support and service desk experiences.

6-steps to finding the right help desk software

  1. Identify and understand the need for a help desk software tool

  2. Map out your existing customer service experience and support team processes

  3. Highlight your support and service goals by identifying the gaps in your help desk operations

  4. Ensure there is a match between your core requirements and help desk software features

  5. Establish the budget needed to deliver your help desk service and support goals

  6. Shortlist, evaluate and compare help desk software tools and vendors

A Buyer's Guide to Help You Find the Right Help Desk Software

1. Identify and understand the need for a help desk software too

Whether you’re implementing a help desk software solution for the first time or replacing an outdated customer service tool, you’re here because you want to elevate and revolutionise your internal and external support experiences.

Who benefits from using help desk software?

Help desk software can be integrated into various types of companies and teams, such as large businesses, e-commerce retailers, and Human Resources (HR). Here are three examples of teams and organisations that can benefit from using help desk software:

Why do companies choose to implement help desk software?

Like yourself, businesses go in search of a help desk tool once they’ve identified a problem or an opportunity in their current support and service processes. For instance, you may choose to focus your help desk operations more on adhering to higher customer service exceptions. Or, you may want to build a service desk knowledge base to provide better support to end users and your support team.

A support and service manager will only come to this conclusion once they have mapped out the current help desk processes that they and their team are responsible for. Once compiled into a list, they can then highlight the areas they need to improve.

An effective way to do this is to identify how each process is carried out and then compare it against how it can be improved with a help desk software tool. As an example, here are three support processes used without and with a help desk tool:

Without Help Desk Software

With Help Desk Software

Multichannel ticketing system

Manually manage requests across multiple channels such as phone, email, live chat and social media.

Requests from all channels are processed into tickets that can be tagged, categorised and passed between relevant support teams.

Customer self-service

With no searchable information, customers will contact you regarding all types of issues and enquiries.

Customers can access online self-service portals and knowledge bases full of commonly-reported issues, FAQs, forums, and product documentation.

Reporting and analysing

Without tracking agents and tickets, you’ll have no overall picture of how your service desk operations are performing or where you need to improve.

With reporting tools you’re able to analyse and measure your overall service desk performance and agent productivity to identify opportunities in your operations.

2. Map out your existing customer service experience and support team processes

Most used communication channels in help desk software

Planning and preparation are key to choosing the right help desk software for your support and service operations. When beginning your search, you should first take the time to map out all of your current processes.

To do this, start investigating how you provide your customer service and support experiences, as well as questioning the tools that are available to your support team.

An effective way to organise your processes is to split them into the three groups; customer service experience, internal employee support, and support team.

What are your processes for providing customer service?

What are your processes for providing support for internal employees?

What tools are provided to your support team?

3. Highlight your support and service goals by identifying the gaps in your help desk operations

42% of social media users expect service and support within 60 minutes

When searching for the right help desk software tool, it’s important to define what you want to achieve in improving your customer and support experiences. That way, when you come to shortlisting your product options, you’ll be able to identify the exact requirements needed to meet your goals.

Advancements in customer service products and practices have put reliance on companies to continually improve their support experiences. So much so, that in a recent survey by the Customer Experience Impact Report, 89% of people said they chose to do business with a competitor after poor customer experience.

Before defining your goals, you first need to understand what your end users and support teams expect from you.

Top Tip: When choosing help desk software, keep in mind that the right tool for you may not necessarily be the best one available on the market. It’s important to select a tool because it matches your goals, not because it was featured in a top 10 list of best help desk solutions.

What service experiences do your customers expect?

What support experiences do internal employees expect?

What workflow experiences do support teams expect?

Top Tip: When considering using support channels such as Facebook and Twitter, keep in mind that 42% of customers expect a response within sixty minutes on social media channels.

Once you’ve defined your goals, as well as the support and service experiences you want to offer, compare them against the ones that you currently provide. By doing this, you’re then able to highlight the gaps and challenges within your help desk operations. An effective way to identify these gaps is to separate them into two groups: hard challenges and soft challenges. Hard challenges are measurable and can directly affect the experiences you offer, whereas soft challenges are more generalised and may not be quantifiable. Here are some typical challenges that service managers and support teams will come across:

Hard Challenges

Soft Challenges

Top Tip: If you are struggling to find gaps within your help desk operations, there are a number of things you can try. One way is to ask your team about the challenges they have experienced when interacting with customers. Another way is to ask for feedback from your end users regarding their experience with your support team, either by using online survey forms or sending follow-up emails.

4. Ensure there is a match between your core requirements and help desk software features

67% of users prefer using a help desk software self-service portal

Realising the need for help desk software is important, but selecting a help desk tool with the right features is essential. Not only do you need to recognise the features that are going to close the gaps in your current service and support processes, but you also need to highlight your core requirements.

An effective way to do this is to create two groups: Essential features and Non-essential features.

Essential features: These consist of core requirements that are needed to help reach your service and support goals.

Non-essential features: These are features that would be nice to have and that may improve your service desk operations in the future.

Having an understanding of which features are essential and which aren’t will allow for a more focused approach when it comes to shortlisting your help desk software options.

On your journey, you’ll notice help desk tools offering different variations of features. For example, some tools will have features that focus more on customer service, while others will have features that focus more on support teams. Although the majority of features are designed to improve your service desk operations as a whole, it’s helpful to know the features that may be better suited to a particular process. For example:

Features that can improve customer service experience

Features that can improve internal employee support

Features that can improve the productivity of support teams

5. Establish the budget needed to deliver your help desk service and support goals

It’s important to determine the value that a help desk solution can offer your operations. For instance, what would be the value of increased company workflow through an efficient end user support experience? And what would you value customer retention through an improved customer service experience?

There are many reasons as to why building a budget is an essential step in your pursuit for the right help desk software, including:

Top Tip: Providing customers with the service and support that they expect can help to retain their interest in your business. According to Invespcro, increasing customer retention by as little as 5% will lead to an increase in profits by 25%-95%. In the same study, 70% of companies agreed that it’s cheaper to retain a customer through great customer service than it is to acquire a new one.

6. Shortlist, evaluate and compare help desk software tools and vendors

With core requirements in mind and a definitive budget set, your search for the right help desk software has now become a detailed and focused approach. Using these three tips, you can now start to put together a shortlist of help desk software options:

  1. Have your list of core requirements visible at all times

  2. Make sure to scan and search the entire help desk software marketplace

  3. Shortlist at least five products that either match all or a majority of your core requirements

At the end of this comparison and evaluation stage, you’ll be left with the perfect help desk tool for your support and service operations. But, to get to this stage, you first need to compare and cross-reference each product and vendor on your shortlist. To do this, we recommend creating an in-house evaluation team.

Why do you need to construct a help desk software evaluation team?

If you’re a small business, this evaluation team may only be yourself. But, for larger outfits, your team should consist of a mix of people that will be affected by the implementation of a new help desk system. Ideally, this will be made up of:

Once you have your team, it’s time to compare and evaluate your shortlist of help desk options.

What to look for when comparing help desk software tools

What to look for when comparing help desk software vendors

Experts Guides to Help Desk Software

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Acquiring new customers can be costly and time-consuming. So, here’s 5 ways a multichannel help desk solution can improve your customer retention strategy.

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5 Ways a Ticketing System Will Streamline Your Customer Service and Support

5 valuable ways a help desk ticketing system can providing your customers with a positive customer service experience to improve your customer retention.

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Help Desk Software FAQs

1. Can a help desk ticketing system generate tickets from my company’s social media communication channels?

Replying to requests in a timely manner is crucial if you’re looking to retain customers, attract new customers, and build your brand. For years, help desk and service desk tools have provided the necessary integrations to increase the efficiency of your customer response through ticketing systems. This is a valuable feature for identifying and answering requests across communication channels such as Email, phone, live chat, and SMS.

But, with 47% of customers preferring to contact businesses via social media channels, the majority of customer-focused companies will require a social media integration with their help desk software solution. Not only will this improve customer service experiences, but it will also make sure that comments and messages across social channels do not go unanswered. By not responding to customer requests, you risk damage to your brand and reputation. As well as repelling potential new customers.

By choosing a platform with a social media integration feature, you’re able to collect tickets raised across channels such as Facebook and Twitter. Tickets can be set up to detect direct messages, comments, and tags. This works by having social triggers, where the system automatically detects a request from your social media channel and turns it into a ticket. Tickets are then placed, along with all your other tickets, in your dashboard. Here, you can assign them to a specific agent and choose whether to prioritise them or not.

When you choose to integrate your social media channels into a ticket system, be aware of the different factors that customers will expect when compared to other channels. For example, 12% of customers will expect a response within 30minutes. And 25% of customers will expect a response later the same day.

2. I know what a help desk tool is, but what is the difference between a service desk and ITSM solution?

When searching for tools that best enhance your service and support activities, you will come across various terms of IT jargon and ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) definitions. Three products you’re most likely to have seen are help desk, service desk, and ITSM (IT service management).

While there are not many distinguishable differences between these programs, especially service desk and help desk systems, choosing to implement one over another depends on factors such as organisation size and business needs. So that you’re aligned with what is right for your service and support operations, it’s best to know the difference between the three.

What is ITSM (IT Service Management)?

IT Service Management, known as ITSM, is how your IT team manages the end-to-end process of IT services to customers. It is a program that designs, creates, supports and delivers your IT services. Often misconceived as just IT support, an ITSM tool oversees the vast majority of Information Technology-related areas in the workplace. Including laptops, servers, and critical software applications.

As defined by ITIL, ITSM has many core processes. As well as providing activities that match the IT support market, ITSM also includes processes that aren’t found in basic IT support models. Such as:

  • Change management

  • IT asset management

  • Problem management

What is Service Desk (or IT Service Desk)?

In relation to a help desk, a service desk is a more strategic tool that offers a broad scope of services to keep all IT tasks running smoothly. ITIL defines a service desk as “the single point of contact between the service provider and the users. A typical service desk manages incidents and service requests, and also handles communication with the users.”

Whereas a help desk focuses more on the support experiences of end-users, a service desk will reach beyond answering requests and handle a range of IT-related tasks. For example, it will perform processes such as:

  • Tracking SLA compliance

  • Acting as SPOC for all IT-related areas of the business

  • Managing ITSM tasks such as change management

  • Managing entry-level ticketing services

3. I am a small business owner with minimal support staff – is help desk software right for me?

Help desk software is designed to streamline a business’s service and support processes by ensuring easy manageability. Although this may seem like it is angled more towards a larger organisation that receives thousands of requests a day and has the support team to handle them, it is also a valuable tool for a small business.

As a small business, staffed with minimal employees responsible for various tasks, you’ll need an efficient way to handle your customer requests. It’s important that you do so, as building a good customer base is crucial for a small business.

Unlike larger companies, you’ll most likely have only a handful of employees that deal with your customer support. In some cases, that may also be you – making it hard to prioritise work tasks and meaning customer requests may go unnoticed and unanswered. This can also be an issue if your business is offering customers multiple lines of communication such as email, phone and SMS, as well as social media. With so many channels that need maintaining, a limited application such as Outlook or Gmail just can’t cope and may end up exacerbating your service issues.

There may be some factors holding small business owners back when it comes to purchasing a help desk tool. Such as these three examples:

The price

It’s common to believe that a feature-laden software tool such as a help desk will take a chunk from your bottom line. But, that’s not the case. The majority of help desk solutions are available as SaaS and can be purchased via a manageable monthly pricing subscription. Not only is this great if you’re working with a small budget, but many vendors provide the option to cancel at any time.

The training

You may be worried that your employees simply do not have the time and resources to be trained in a new system. If you’ve gone through the process of finding the right help desk for your needs, hopefully, you’ll have a system that is already familiar and easy-to-use. But, if you’re still unsure with the ins-and-outs of the tool, vendor’s will provide relevant training in the form of videos, online webinars and documentations. Not to mention offering 24/7 support and live chat.

The lengthy instalment

Contrary to older systems and on-premise models, modern help desk solutions can be implemented and deployed instantly. With cloud-based and web-based programs, it’s as simple as downloading an app or accessing a login page. Compared to bigger companies that may have large amounts of data to migrate, you should be able to integrate external programs and enter relevant data within the same day of purchase.