Help Desk Software is a digital tool that enables businesses to maximise their level of customer support. It is used to automate inquiries across multiple channels such as email, live chat, and social media. Turning incoming requests into tickets and managing them from shared inboxes and dashboards. Helpdesks are designed to optimise collaboration between support teams and IT managers. As well as providing customers with self-service portals and knowledge bases to solve requests unaided. By embracing automation, helpdesk tools can provide detailed reporting and analytics data. Allowing businesses to improve their customer engagement and reduce risks.
What Is Help Desk Software?
Help Desk Software is used to manage a business’s customer service and support tasks. It is used by IT support teams and customer service teams to assist end-users. Typically in the form of employees and customers. A help desk provides several IT support capabilities from one centralised location. Enabling support agents to resolve customer requests and open tickets quicker. Each with greater efficiency and accuracy by utilising team collaboration tools.
Help Desk Software allows for an effective support management process. Helping businesses to keep up with the rigorous demands of customer service expectations. Including the delivery of support across communication channels. Such as live chat, social media, and email. As well as improve the efficiency of dealing with incoming requests.
Various types of Help Desk Software can be deployed. Including cloud-based or web Help Desk Software, on-premise, enterprise, and open-source. Each type of help desk solution depends on the size of a business support team and tasks.
What Are the Benefits of Help Desk Software?
Help desk support software provides multiple benefits for customer-focused businesses. The capabilities of a help desk solution improve a business’s customer support and service tasks. Helping to meet customer expectations and hit KPIs set by IT managers. Help Desk Software enables businesses to:
Automate & Simplify Ticketing Systems
With Help Desk Software, all support tickets are stored in one accessible system. Whether tickets are generated via email, phone, live chat, or social media. This enables support managers to manage and assign tickets to the right agents. As well as issue tracking and tracking the progress of tickets. Support teams can also categorise, tag, and customise each ticket. Helping to improve and simplify the workflow of support tasks.
Provide Multichannel Support to Customers
47% of UK customers use five different communication channels. This makes it essential for businesses to provide multichannel support. Allowing customers to contact agents through their preferred choice of communication. Help Desk Software organises all customer communication into one centralised system. No matter what channel of communication a customer has used. Essentially acting as a single point of contact for support teams. This helps eliminate challenges such as miscommunication and unanswered tickets. Which are common with manual methods and shared inboxes.
Create 24/7 Self-Service Portals for Customers
Self-service portals allow customers to resolve product or service issues independently. Something that 67% of customers prefer when seeking help. An effective self-service portal will help reduce ticket loads for agents. As well as reducing waiting time for customer issues to be resolved. Businesses can deploy a library of common support queries, solutions, and FAQs. Also known as knowledge base management.
Provide Detailed Knowledge Base Management
Knowledge bases ensure all useful content is available to support teams and customers. Having access to a knowledge base enables agents to find quick solutions. Helping to avoid delays when replying to customers. Digital content, such as FAQs, can also be accessed by customers. Enabling users to solve customer issues without having to contact a support agent.
Integrate AI, Chatbots, Live Chat, and Proactive Support
Following trends and implementing help desk automations is important. Especially for businesses wanting to advance their customer service tasks. A live chat feature has long been linked with good support services. 77% of customers choose to leave a website without a live chat function and go elsewhere. In terms of Artificial Intelligence, chatbots provide a way to assist with end-user requests. Making them a popular and fast-adopted feature of Help Desk Software solutions.
Offer Support Across Social Media Channels
Twitter and Facebook are becoming regular points of contact for businesses and customers. With social media penetration reaching 67% of the UK population in 2019. This makes social media integration essential for help desk processes. Enabling tickets to be created from social channels and tracked in a centralised dashboard.
Deliver an Omnichannel Experience
Businesses can go one step further and provide customers with an omnichannel experience. Omnichannel creates a seamless support experience for customers. They can raise a support ticket on one channel and carry it over to another channel. Without having to repeat their request to numerous support agents.
Guarantee Service Level Agreements (SLA) Are Met
SLAs guarantee customers that their requests will be resolved in a certain time frame. Setting a standard and expectation for both support teams and end-users. This requires a functional SLA management tool. Enabling support managers to set key performance indicators (KPIs) for teams and agents. Whilst also issue tracking and being notified of the progress of open tickets.
Measure Agent Performance with Reporting & Analytics
Identifying the need for Help Desk Software is one thing, maintaining and scaling it is another. With data reporting and analytic tools, businesses can measure performance metrics. Including performances of support agents and teams. As well as identify the latest customer service trends. This helps to understand where a support team needs to improve and how.
Why Help Desk Software Is Important for Customer-Focused Businesses
Help Desk Software is situated at the heart of a business’s customer support operations. It acts as a one-stop point of contact to provide efficient solutions to end-user requests. A help desk operation consists of a support team that acts on behalf of an organisation. Providing support to end-users in the most effective way possible.
Customer experience is the key brand differentiator above pricing and product quality. Meaning businesses must ensure they’re providing an excellent level of service.
At the start of a business venture, customer interaction is minimal. There might be a few phone calls, some Facebook messages, and one or two emails. In this current state, the customer service process is manageable. But, as a company grows, so does its customer base. Support personnel become inundated with incoming requests. From both customers internal Help Desk Software users.
Deploying Help Desk Software provides support teams with multiple benefits. Including:
- Managing requests from multiple communication channels in one place
- Automating the ticket creation and assignment process
- Tracking the progress of open tickets
- Improving the time it takes to resolve tickets
- Increasing customer reviews, feedback, and retention rates
- Analysing the efficiency of support agents and IT support teams
- Building self-service portals and guides to assist end-users
The importance of providing support to end-users applies to all business types and sizes. A small online retailer knows the importance of getting good customer reviews. So they’ll go out of their way to provide the very best support across all channels. Whereas an IT support team will prioritise the detail of their self-service portals. Helping to optimise the efficiency of their service agents.
Who Uses and Needs Help Desk Software?
Essentially, a help desk enables businesses to improve their service and support tasks. But, the benefits of a help desk go much deeper. They can affect multiple types of users and organisations in different ways.
Businesses should ensure that they’re providing an exceptional level of service to customers. Not only can they benefit from the use of Help Desk Software, but so too can their customers. Customers can take advantage of help desk tools such as:
- Multichannel integration
- Self-service portals
Businesses must also consider the problems facing internal customers; employees. Whereas external help desk processes provide support to customers. Internal Help Desk Software tasks focus on the issues of employees. An employee-focused help desk can assist with issues such as:
- Troubleshooting network issues
- Password recovery
- VPN connection trouble
- Setting up a computer or account
- Maintenance to software
A key area that benefits from the introduction of a help desk is a business’s support team. With reporting tools, service managers can improve the performance of their teams. This allows managers to set KPIs and ensure SLAs are being met. As well as knowing which agents are meeting targets and which are not.
Human Resource (HR) Teams
The right help desk tool can empower a company’s entire HR team. An automated help desk tool can store all requests in one dashboard. With this, HR teams can provide streamlined, efficient, and responsive support to employees. Help desk software can also help to limit the number of HR requests from employees. Using self-service functions such as digital resources. This allows everyone in a business to be up-to-date on topics via internal communications. Including appraisals and holiday requests.
Help Desk Software for Small Businesses
In the beginning, small businesses will rely heavily on customer reviews and brand building. This can be achieved by offering and delivering exceptional service to customers. But, as SMBs grow, they don’t have the resources to review their services. Let alone monitor all forms of support channels. This makes the need for automated help desk functions essential. With powerful automation, smaller support teams can focus on answering tickets. A medium-sized company will also require similar features. As well as prioritising a scalable model for their growing business.
Help Desk Software for Enterprises
Enterprises require various help desk tools to provide efficient support on a larger scale. They’ll need better collaboration between internal departments such as sales, marketing, and IT. As well as having to manage agents in different countries, time zones, and languages. A key Help Desk Software tool for enterprises is the ability to measure support team performance. By doing so, they can identify gaps in their processes. Helping to implement different strategies to improve and streamline efficiency.
Common Customer Support Challenges and How to Solve Them with Helpdesk Tools
Without Help Desk Software, support teams can struggle to provide exceptional service. Especially when they’re relying on manual methods instead of automating processes. One area where businesses feel the pinch of this is with customer retention rates. Ensuring high customer retention rates through good customer service is essential. Especially with the cost of attracting new customers 6-7 times higher than retaining an existing one.
To ensure good support processes, businesses should highlight challenges in their current processes. Common challenges include:
Managing and Tracking Tickets
90% of customers demand an immediate response to their queries. meaning time is of the essence when it comes to handling tickets. But, without the right tools, support staff have no option but to manage requests manually. Whether that means tracking queries in email chains or filling out spreadsheets. Either way, a manual approach can be time-consuming.
Solution: Automated Ticketing System
A key feature of Help Desk Software is the ability to automate the ticketing process. Allowing requests to be captured across all communication channels. A ticket is then assigned to a support agent and placed into a centralised dashboard. Here, support staff can see the status of the ticket and who is working on it.
Solving Customer Queries
A key part of the customer service experience is providing a solution to a problem. But this isn’t always the case. Without automated ticketing, tickets aren’t necessarily assigned to the right agents. If a support agent has a customer query they can’t solve, the ticket risks being left unresolved.
Solution: Knowledge Base Management/Team Collaboration
A centralised help desk tool enables support teams to build a detailed knowledge base. This allows agents to access shared resources and quickly find a solution. Agents can also collaborate with other support team members. Help to quickly provide a solution to an open ticket.
Delivering a Seamless Customer Service Experience
Whether by email, social media, or telephone, providing seamless customer service is essential. But, without team collaboration and automated functionality, this can discourage customers. Two-thirds of customers become frustrated when they have to repeat themselves to multiple agents.
Solution: Omnichannel Experience
An omnichannel experience benefits both end-users and businesses. Allowing each of them to venture into several communication channels. Omnichannel enables agents to raise a ticket on one channel and continue it on another channel. This allows customers to talk to one agent and then pick up where they left off with a different agent. Essential eliminate the process of repeating their request.
What to Consider When Finding the Best Help Desk Software
Each Help Desk Software solution can be built to match the requirements of a business. For instance, one company may require a tool that focuses on improving team collaboration. Whereas another business needs a helpdesk to set KPIs and track incoming requests. When choosing Help Desk Software, there a various factors to consider.
Identify Current Help Desk Tasks
Typically, there are a few factors that initiate a business’s need for Help Desk Software. Either they have identified an issue with their current processes. Or they’ve highlighted an opportunity to improve their customer support service.
For instance, a business may see an opportunity to improve its customer service experience. Or a support manager has noticed a rise in internal IT helpdesk requests. Prompting the need for a self-service portal. Where customers can learn more about their issues.
To identify the reasons behind deploying a help desk, businesses need to first question their current tasks. This helps to manage risks and opportunities. As well as identify gaps in their current support processes.
Tracking and Managing Incoming Requests
Requests come in the form of questions, complaints, and issues. They can also be delivered across various types of channels. Such as email, phone, live chat, SMS, and social media.
For modern businesses, it’s important to understand what channels their customers are using. Although social media may seem more popular, 62% of users are still more likely to use email. Offering customers the choice of too many channels can be overwhelming. Especially if incoming requests are being answered by a small support team.
Support teams should also consider how each request is dealt with. For instance, how do agents prioritise incoming rests? Do they base tickets on the severity or in order of time-received?
Providing Self-Service Support to End-Users
Ideally, end-users want to resolve issues without having to contact a support agent. This is achieved by building a digital library of common enquiries. Allowing users to refer to FAQs, automated live chats, and product/service documentation. This enables customers to find detailed information and quickly resolve issues. If a business can’t provide this, it may lose customers to a more support-friendly competitor.
Measuring the Success of Customer Service
Customer reviews and feedback are valuable sources of information for support teams. They enable IT managers to see if agents are meeting KPIs. Having this data makes it easier to highlight challenges and opportunities. As well as identifying the success and failures of a support team.
Managing and Prioritising Requests
A good end-user support system is essential for streamlining customer service tasks. As well as ensuring operations continue to run smoothly. Internal requests can be made by employees, managers, or executives. Each request can differ in severity. So, it’s important to identify how agents should handle requests. For instance, is there a dedicated line of communication for managers and executives? Do employees have access to and can learn more with a self-service portal? Is there a line of communication for employees working abroad?
Resolving Customer Queries
Most customer queries will be repeated, meaning they’ve previously been answered. This information can be stored in a digital library. But, without one, incoming requests could be delayed. Agents will find themselves sifting through a backlog of emails, messages, and phone scripts. These processes can prolong the response time to a customer’s original request. Resulting in a bad customer service experience.
The foundation of a successful help desk is built on how support teams handle requests. These requests come in the form of tickets. Effectively managing tickets is essential for providing a good customer service experience. Whether that be through a single shared email inbox. Or a centralised dashboard. By properly managing and assigning tickets, support managers can:
- Assign knowledgeable support agents to answer specific requests
- Avoid duplicated tickets by providing a clear workflow for each request
- Place tickets in order of priority
Highlight Gaps in Customer Support
By highlighting operational gaps, businesses can identify what they require from a helpdesk solution. Helping to provide support teams with the right features to meet customer service KPIs. This process is important, as many helpdesk tools can vary depending on user needs.
Help desk tools can be created for all types of businesses to enhance their support tasks. Including SMBs and large enterprises. This has fuelled a competitive battle between businesses to provide the best support. 89% of customers will seek a competitor after experiencing poor customer service.
A support team can experience several gaps in their customer service delivery. Challenges can include:
- Focusing on requests from one channel as opposed to all communication channels
- Failing to meet SLAs
- Experiencing a lack of collaboration within support teams
- Using spreadsheets or pen-and-paper for storing resources
- Being inundated with incoming requests and providing no self service portal
What Level of Support Do End-Users Expect?
Businesses can identify gaps in their services by analysing competitors and highlighting trends. Helping to gain a greater understanding of what users and support teams expect.
A trend that affected customer service protocols was the introduction of social media. Enabling customers to engage with businesses via platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. But this also affected the time it took for support teams to respond to incoming requests. 42% of customers expect a response within sixty minutes on social media. Whereas the average expectation for an email reply is within 24 hours.
Identify Help Desk Features Needed
Realising the need for Help Desk Software is important. But, finding a tool that offers the right features is essential. Firstly, it’s important to be aware of the challenges and benefits that each feature presents. For instance:
- What value would this feature add to customer service?
- Can this feature be easily integrated with existing systems (e.g. emails, data storage, and file hosting)?
- What training will be required?
- What legal requirements are needed (e.g. privacy policies, GDPR laws, etc.)?
To reduce service gaps, businesses need to highlight their core help desk requirements. These can be seen as the essential features. With each one enabling support teams to meet their KPIs. For instance, 75% of shoppers expect consistency across customer support channels. Meaning an essential feature needed to capitalise on this would be multichannel support.
Having an understanding of core requirements allows for a more focused approach. Especially when it comes to shortlisting Help Desk Software.
Set a Budget for Purchasing the Right Help Desk Software
It’s important to know the value that Help Desk Software can offer a business. Both in terms of cost on return on investment (ROI). By mapping out different scenarios, stakeholders can see the true ROI. For instance, the value of increasing support team workflow. Or, how greater customer retention can improve revenue. Having the tools to increase customer retention by just 5% can increase profits by 25%-95%.
Building a budget for Help Desk Software is essential. It helps to:
Fit a Specific Business Type
For medium or small businesses, producing a realistic budget is key. Most SMBs can’t afford to spend a large amount of money on a help desk solution. Especially when there are other areas of the business to invest in. However, modern help desk tools are delivered as SaaS (Software as a Service). Making them affordable for businesses that don’t have the resources for significant investment.
Determine Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)
A budget helps determine the value of implementing Help Desk Software. The idea of knowing the TCO is to focus on the long-term value of the product. As opposed to costs such as purchase price and operational costs. Knowing the TCO will prove a useful insight when calculating a product’s ROI.
Get Buy-In From Stakeholders
Getting buy-in from decision-makers is critical for the approval of Help Desk Software. Stakeholders want to know the reasons behind the need for the tool. As well as what ROI they can expect. When pitching to stakeholders, IT managers should focus on factors such as:
- Framing challenges and gasp with current help desk operations
- Showing how improvements can help retain customers and bring in new ones
- Demonstrating how a help desk can better organise a support team and increase productivity
Shortlist, Compare, and Evaluate Help Desk Solutions
With core requirements identified and a budget set, the search for Help Desk Software can begin. Using three tips, support managers can start to put together a shortlist of products:
- Have a list of core requirements visible at all times
- Scan and search the entire helpdesk software marketplace
- Shortlist at least five products that either match all or a majority of the core requirements
At the end of the comparison stage, only the right products will be left. To get to this stage, products need to be compared against one another. To do this, managers should create an in-house evaluation team.
How to Build a Help Desk Software Evaluation Team
For a medium or small business, an evaluation team may only consist of one person. But, for larger organisations, teams should consist of a mix of personnel. Each one being a stakeholder in help desk operations. Ideally, an evaluation team will be made up of:
- A junior-level agent that deals directly with customers and internal requests
- 2-3 support team employees
- An IT support and customer service manager/team leader
What to Look For When Comparing Help Desk Solutions
Once an evaluation team is assembled, it’s time to compare and evaluate the list of product options:
- Does it match core requirements?
- Is it easy to use?
- Can it be integrated with other tools?
- What type of system is it? Is it web-based, cloud-based, open-source, or enterprise Help Desk Software?
What to Look For When Comparing Help Desk Software Vendors
As well as comparing help desk tools, it’s essential to compare vendors as well. This helps to understand the experience a vendor has in the Help Desk Software market. As well as ensure KPIs are aligned with the services they provide.
Does the Vendor Provide Support and Training?
Although a product may be simple to use, staff will still require some basic training. This could be webinar tutorials or even in-person lessons. It’s important to look at the support that each vendor offers, too. This could be either 24/7 live chat support or video tutorials. This will help with short term issues. As well as indicating how quickly a vendor can resolve future problems.
Do They Fit the Industry?
Helpdesk software can be incorporated into various types of industries and markets. So, it’s worth understanding how well they a vendor knows the industry. Question each vendor about their previous customers.
Access a Free Trial, Demo, or Live Demonstration
All vendors should provide a free trial or live demonstration of their product. If not, get in touch with a salesperson and they’ll provide a Help Desk Software demo.
Find Testimonials From Previous Users
Although a product may tick all the boxes, reading vendor testimonials is highly recommended. Testimonials are an insightful first-hand look into previous customers’ experiences. Each one regards how the vendor has either positively or negatively dealt with issues.
How Long Will It Take to Deploy?
Before implementing a help desk solution, it’s useful to know installation and migration times. Most cloud-based and web help desk tools will be available from the moment of purchase. But, if data needs to be moved from another system, this can incur hidden costs. As well as taking some time to complete. Meaning the tool may not be available to use right away.
What Are Their Prices and Plans?
Finally, and most importantly, always check the vendor’s pricing plans. Stakeholders want to know if there are extra fees for storage limits or implementation. As well as subscription and monthly payment options. Knowing the price is also crucial for understanding the value of the product. Especially when concerning KPIs and milestones; “is it worth it?”.