Find the Best Help Desk Software to Automate Customer Ticketing, Improve Self-Service Knowledge Base Management, and Maximize the Collaboration of IT Support Teams
Help Desk Software systems are computerized platforms packed full of various tools that enable businesses to automate and manage their support processes. By utilizing helpdesk features such as automated ticketing management and self-service portals, Help Desk Software tools empower businesses to maximize the efficiency of their support processes to end users and help to increase customer retention rates.
Help Desk Software is a digitized solution that sits at the centre of a business’s support and service processes. A helpdesk system provides IT teams and support agents with the right tools that enable businesses to deliver exceptional customer service and support to end users.
Historically, support teams have had to choose between two types of support tools; help desk or service desk. One was geared towards providing support to external users such as customers, the other focused on supporting internal users such as employees. But, as cloud-based solutions evolved, both internal and external users now benefit from the typical features and functionality found in just one tool; Help Desk Software.
Acting as a single point of contact, Help Desk Software allows support teams to organise all communication channels and conversations into one centralized system. This helps to eliminate challenges caused by using shared inboxes, which can increase the chance of customer requests going unanswered.
Instead of a shared email inbox, a helpdesk solution enables businesses to build an easy-to-navigate repository of queries from all of their communication channels. That includes requests from email, live chat, phone, text, and social media. With 47% of UK customers using 3-5 types of communication channels, it’s important that businesses use automated tools to provide support on all fronts.
As well as streamlining support processes, Help Desk Software also provides the tools necessary to further enhance a business’s support protocols. Typical tools include:
Multi-channel ticketing management
Powerful support automation
Big data reporting and analytics
Knowledge base management
Service-level agreement (SLA) management
Helpdesk tools can also benefit a range of different business types, sizes, and departments.
In their early operational stage, 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 typically have the resources to review their services and monitor all possible support channels. This makes the need for certain help desk functions essential, in particular the ability to automate processes.
With powerful automation, smaller support teams can focus on answering tickets and resolving issues. A medium-sized company will also require similar features, as well as prioritising a scalable model for their growing business.
Made up of different support teams and departments, enterprises require various help desk tools to provide efficient support on a larger scale. For example, 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. An essential function of Help Desk Software for enterprises is the ability to measure the performance of their support teams and agents. By doing so, they can identify gaps in their processes and implement different strategies to improve and streamline efficiency.
The right helpdesk tool will not only prove valuable to a network of internal employees, but it can also empower a company’s entire HR team. One advantage of using an automated help desk tool is the ability to have all requests collected in one easy-to-manage dashboard. With this, HR teams are able to provide streamlined, efficient, and responsive support to their employees.
Help desk software for HR teams can also help to limit the number of requests from internal employees through the use of self-service functions, such as knowledge base management. This allows everyone in a business to be up-to-date on topics via internal communications, such as appraisals and vacations.
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 now become inundated across all communication channels with requests. Not just from customers, but from internal end users too.
With a good customer experience being the key brand differentiator above competitive pricing and product quality, businesses need to ensure that they’re providing an excellent level of service in a timely manner.
The solution? A cloud-based tool that helps to automate and streamline support processes. Namely, Help Desk Software.
The functionality of a cloud-based Help Desk Software application provide businesses 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
Easily building self-service portals, knowledge bases, and FAQs to assist end users
Essentially, the right Help Desk Software solution provides businesses with the functions to deliver an excellent level of service to end users. Whether that be customers, employees, or a team of support agents.
For modern-day businesses, providing exceptional customer service and support is critical. Through the speedy delivery of problem-solving, businesses are able to reap the awards. Including increased customer retention rates and maximized efficiency across support teams.
The importance of providing support to end users applies to all business types and sizes. For instance, the owner of a small online retail store knows the importance of receiving good customer service reviews. So they’ll go out of their way to provide the very best support to customer queries across all communication channels. Whereas an IT support team will prioritize self-service portals and knowledge base management in order to improve the efficiency of their service desk agents.
To maintain a consistent flow of efficiency within a business’s help desk processes, there are certain areas that need maintaining. These include:
Tracking customer queries
Managing support tickets
Providing agents with support knowledge
Maintaining service-level agreements (SLA)
All of these tasks, when performed manually, can be overwhelming. But, that’s where a digitized helpdesk solution can relieve the pressure. In fact, the integration of automated cloud-based tools is so beneficial that over 52% of brands cited technology as the key difference in their ability to deliver better end user support.
Without the use of computerized tools to automate and streamline processes, such as Help Desk Software, support teams can struggle to provide the exceptional service that end user’s have come to expect.
One area where businesses will feel the pinch of delivering poor support service is in their customer retention rates. With the cost of attracting new customers 6-7 times higher than retaining an existing one, ensuring high customer retention rates through good customer service is essential.
The key to ensuring the right level of support is delivered to end users is for support teams to highlight the challenges in their current help desk processes. Common challenges include:
With 90% of customers demanding an ‘immediate’ response to queries, time is of the essence when it comes to handling tickets. But, if support teams don’t have access to the right automated tools, they have no option but to manage service requests manually. Whether tracking queries in email chains or filling out spreadsheets, a manual approach can be time-consuming.
A key feature of any Help Desk Software system is the ability to automate the ticketing process. With this in place, end user requests are captured across all communication channels both internally and externally. A ticket is then assigned to a support agent and placed into a centralized dashboard, where all support staff can see the status of the ticket and who is working on it.
A major part of the customer service experience is being able to provide a solution to a problem, but this isn’t always the case. Without an automated ticketing system in place, tickets aren’t necessarily assigned to the most knowledgeable agents. If a support team member is presented with a query that they can’t answer, the ticket risks being left unresolved.
A major benefit of having a centralized help desk tool that is open to a business’s entire support team, is the ability to build a detailed knowledge base. This allows support agents, who may not have the answer to a customer’s request, to access a shared knowledge base and quickly find a solution. Agents can also quickly collaborate with each other and help to provide a solution to an open ticket.
Whether businesses provide support through email, social media, or telephone, providing a seamless customer service experience is essential. But, without team collaboration and automated functionality, this can discourage end users. In fact, two-thirds of customers become frustrated when they have to repeat themselves to multiple agents.
Having the ability to deliver an omnichannel experience not only benefits end users but also allows businesses to venture into more communication channels. An omnichannel functionality enables agents to raise a ticket on one channel, such as telephone, and then continue to manage that same ticket on another channel, such as email. This allows customers to pick up with one agent where they left off with another agent and eliminate repeating the process.
Although a Help Desk Software solution can be purposely built to meet the specific support requirements of a business, there are various core features that are common with all helpdesk and service desk tools.
Whether a ticket is generated from email, phone, live chat, or social media, all end user communication is stored into one easily accessible system. This enables support managers to effectively manage and assign tickets to the right agents and track the progress of tickets. Support teams can also categorize, tag, and customize each ticket to help improve and simplify the workflow of support tasks.
With social media penetration reaching 67% of the UK population in 2019, apps like Twitter and Facebook are becoming a regular point of contact for businesses and their customers. This makes social integration essential, enabling tickets to be created straight from social media channels and tracked in a centralized helpdesk dashboard.
Effective knowledge base management ensures that all useful and explanatory content is stored and available to support teams. Having access to a detailed knowledge base enables agents to find the solution they need and avoid any delays when replying to customers. Not only can this be useful for a business’s support personnel, but certain aspects such as FAQ sections can also be accessed by customers. Enabling users to solve their own issues without having to contact a support agent – something that 91% of customers prefer.
Keeping up with trends and help desk advancements is important for businesses wanting to match or better rivals when it comes to customer service. A live chat feature has long been associated with good support service. In fact, 77% of customers choose to leave a website without a live chat function and go elsewhere. In terms of sophisticated Artificial Intelligence (AI) and customer service, chatbot features are proving a great way to instantly assist with end user requests. Making them a popular and fast-adopted feature of modern Help Desk Software solutions.
SLAs provide a guarantee to customers that their request 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 that allows businesses to set key performance indicators (KPIs) for support teams, while also tracking and being notified of the progress of open tickets.
Identifying the need for a Help Desk Software system is one thing, maintaining it and scaling it is another. With big data reporting and analytic tools, businesses are able to measure the performance metrics of support agents and identify trends. This helps to understand where a support team needs to improve and how.
Whilst there are similar core features and functionality of most Help Desk Software solutions, each tool can be built with your business requirements in mind. For instance, you may require a help desk tool that focuses more on automation and team collaboration. Whereas other businesses may prefer to focus on setting KPIs and tracking the support service of agents.
Below are five key factors that each business owner or support manager should consider when choosing the best Help Desk Software for their support processes.
Typically, businesses will go in search of a helpdesk tool only once they’ve identified a problem or an opportunity in their current processes.
For instance, you may have highlighted an opportunity to improve the level of service you provide to customers. Or, you may have noticed a rise in internal IT helpdesk requests, so you want to build a self-service portal and improve your knowledge base management.
A good place to start is to fully understand your current help desk and support processes. Otherwise, it’s difficult to identify any gaps.
An effective way to map out all of your existing helpdesk responsibilities is to question how your support team currently handle end user support.
Requests will come in the form of questions, complaints, and issues that a customer may have experienced when using your product or service. They can also vary between different types of communication channels, such as:
It’s important to understand what channels your customers use. Although social media may seem more popular, 62% of users are still more likely to use email. But, unless you have an agent or team monitoring each line of communication, receiving requests across these channels can be overwhelming.
Not only should you consider how to manage each line of communication, but you should also consider how each request is dealt with. For example, do you prioritise requests based on severity or in order of time-received?
Ideally, end users want to resolve their issues without having to contact a support agent. This is achieved by building a knowledge base of common enquiries that users can refer to such as FAQs, automated live chats, and product/service documentation. Keep in mind, if you aren’t able to provide a quick solution for customers, you may eventually lose them to a more customer-friendly competitor.
The data you receive from a customer review measuring the success of your helpdesk support is valuable. It enables you to see if you’re hitting milestones and meeting KPIs. Having this information also allows you to highlight challenges and opportunities in your existing setup. As well as identifying the success and failures of your support team.
Having an effective support system available to end users is essential for streamlining workflow and ensuring operations run smoothly. Internal requests can be made by employees, managers, or executives, and can differ in severity. So, it’s important to question how you handle them:
Do you have a system that prioritizes urgent requests?
Is there a dedicated line of communication for managers and executives?
Do employees have access to a self-service portal?
Is there a line of communication for employees working abroad?
Most customer queries will be repeated, meaning they’ve previously been resolved. But, without a knowledge base containing this information, your support agents will find themselves sifting through a backlog of emails, social media messages, and phone scripts. These processes can prolong the response time to your customer’s original request and result in a bad customer service experience.
Whether you have a single shared email inbox or a dedicated dashboard for each support team, effectively managing and assigning tickets is essential for offering a greater customer service experience. By managing help desk tickets, you’re able to:
Assign knowledgeable support agents to answer specific requests
Avoid agents duplicating tickets by providing a clear workflow for each request
Place tickets in order of priority
Before beginning your search for the best IT Help Desk Software, it’s important to define how and why you want to improve your current support operations. By doing so, you can then highlight the core requirements and functions needed to meet your expected goals. This process is important, as many helpdesk tools can vary depending on user needs.
The advancement in modern help desk and service desk tools has allowed all types of businesses to enhance their customer service, from SMBs to enterprises. This has fuelled a competitive battle between rival businesses to provide the very best support. So much so, that 89% of customers said they preferred to do business with a competitor after experiencing poor customer service.
Most businesses will come to the realisation of needing a help desk tool as they experience harmful challenges in their existing processes. Such as:
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 error-prone spreadsheets or pen-and-paper as a form of knowledge base management
Being inundated with requests as a result of providing no self-service portal
Top Tip: If you’re struggling to find gaps in your help desk processes, there are two things you can try. One is to ask your team about the challenges they have experienced when interacting with customers. Another is to ask for feedback from end users regarding their experience. This can be done either by using online survey forms or sending follow-up emails.
An effective way of identifying gaps in the way you provide support to end users is by analyzing competitors and keeping up with the latest trends. By doing so, you gain a greater understanding of what users and support teams expect from you.
An example of the advancements in support services is how the introduction of social media channels, such as Facebook and Twitter, has shortened a user’s expected response time. Whereas the average expectation for an email reply is within 24 hours, 42% of customers expect a response within sixty minutes on social media.
Realising the need for Help Desk Software is important. But, finding a tool that offers the right features is essential.
No matter what helpdesk features you require, it’s important to be aware of the challenges and benefits that each one presents. For instance:
What value would this feature add to your customer service?
What training will your support team need to be able to use this feature?
What legal requirements do you need to meet with this feature (e.g. privacy policies, GDPR laws, etc.)?
Can this feature be easily integrated with existing systems (e.g. emails, data storage, and file hosting)?
To identify what is needed to reduce the gaps in your IT helpdesk services, you’ll want to highlight your core requirements. These can be seen as the essential features that are going to make sure you meet your KPIs.
Having an understanding of your core requirements allows for a more focused approach when it comes to shortlisting IT helpdesk products. Although the majority of features are designed to improve support operations as a whole, it’s helpful to know the features that may be better suited to a particular process.
As with all business purchases, it’s important to determine the value that a helpdesk tool can offer your support team. Keeping in mind that any tool you choose needs to be able to deliver your core requirements, too.
By mapping out different scenarios, you can begin to see the true return on investment (ROI) of a help desk solution. For instance, what would be the value of increasing support team workflow through improved collaboration and ticket automation? Or, how much can improved customer retention rates affect your bottom line by providing exceptional customer service?
In fact, having the tools to improve your customer service and increasing customer retention by as little as 5% can lead to a 25%-95% increase in profit.
There are many reasons as to why building a budget is an essential step in your pursuit for the right IT help desk software, including:
If you’re a medium or small business, producing a realistic budget is key. Most SMBs can’t afford to spend a large amount of money on help desk solutions when there are other areas of the business to invest in. However, most modern helpdesk tools are delivered as SaaS (Software as a Service) models, making them affordable for businesses that don’t necessarily have the resources for significant investment.
By setting out to build a budget, you’ll decide on factors that will 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. Knowing the TCO will also prove a useful insight when working out the product’s overall ROI.
Getting buy-in from the company’s decision-makers is critical for the approval and integration of your Help Desk Software system. Stakeholders will want to know the reasons behind the need for the tool and what ROI they can expect. Although pitches can differ depending on the stakeholder, whether that be the CFO or CIO, you’ll want to focus on points such as:
Framing the current challenges within the company’s help desk operations, such as being unprepared for an uptick in customers and channel communication
Show how the improvements to your customer service can help retain customers and bring in new ones to increase the business’s bottom line
Demonstrate how a help desk tool can better organise the support team to increase productivity
With core requirements in mind and a definitive budget set, your search for the right Help Desk Software solution has now become a detailed and focused approach. Using these three tips, you can start to put together a shortlist of help desk software options:
Have your 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 your core requirements
At the end of your 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.
If you’re a medium or small business (SMB), your evaluation team may only include yourself. But, for larger organizations and enterprises, your team should consist of a mix of personnel that will be affected by using a help desk tool.
Ideally, the evaluation team you put together will be made up of:
A junior-level agent that deals directly with customers and internal requests
2-3 regular support team employees
A support and service manager or team leader
Once you have an evaluation team assembled, it’s time to compare and evaluate your list of help desk options:
Does it match your 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?
As well as comparing each help desk tool, we recommend comparing the vendors too. This helps to understand the experience that each vendor has in the Help Desk Software market, as well as ensuring your support goals are aligned with the services they provide.
Although the product you choose is simple to use, you and your team 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 as well. This could be either 24/7 live chat support or video tutorials. Not only will this help with short term issues, but it also gives an indication as to how quickly a vendor will resolve future problems.
Helpdesk software can be incorporated into various types of industries and markets. So, to better understand how well they can support your needs in the future, it’s worth understanding how well they know your industry. Question each vendor about their previous customers and how they have handled problems that can also relate to your business.
All vendors should provide a free trial or live demonstration of their product. If not, get in touch with a salesperson and they’ll be sure to guide you through the system. If the vendor still won’t provide a sample of their product, that is a sign that this isn’t the right tool for you.
Although a product may tick all the boxes and be within budget, 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.
Before implementing a help desk system, it’s useful to know how long the installation and migration process will take. Most cloud-based and web-based tools will be available from the moment of purchase. But, keep in mind, that if you are migrating data from another system, this may incur hidden costs. As well as taking some time to complete – meaning the tool may not be available to use right away.
Finally, and most importantly, always check the vendor’s pricing plans. You’ll 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 in relation to your goals and milestones; “is it worth it?”.