Help Desk Software

How to find the best help desk software that automates your helpdesk processes, tracks customer support tickets and streamlines your communication channels into one place to help deliver excellent service to end-users.

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As company owner or support team manager, you’re tasked with managing various helpdesk processes to maintain an excellent end-user and customer service experience. Your job is to manually track customer queries and organise requests from multiple communication channels. As well as generating tickets from a shared email inbox and managing a support team of agents.

But, handling so many helpdesk processes can be overwhelming. That’s where an effective help desk software tool can help relieve the pressure. In fact, the integration of a helpdesk tool is so beneficial that over 52% of brands cited technology as the key difference in their ability to deliver better end-user support.

By the end of this guide, you’ll be able to identify the gaps in your current helpdesk operation. As well as highlighting the tools you need to streamline your support processes. You’ll then have the knowledge to dive into the help desk software marketplace and find the best tool for your requirements. Here’s what you can expect:

What is help desk software?

What is help desk software?

At the start of your business venture, customer interaction is minimal. You might take a few phone calls, answer some Facebook messages and receive one or two emails. In this current state, your customer service processes are manageable.

But, as your company grows, so does your customer base. You now become inundated across all communication channels with requests and questions. Not just from customers, but from internal employees too.

Your job of supplying efficient support to users is now overwhelming. With good customer experience being the key brand differentiator – above competitive pricing and product quality – you also need to ensure that you’re providing an excellent level of service in a timely manner.

The solution? Help desk software.

The right helpdesk provides you with the functions to deliver an excellent level of service to end-users. Whether that be your customers, internal employees or even your team of support agents.

Acting as a single point of contact, a help desk organises all multichannel conversations into one place. From here, tickets are generated, assigned to agents, and prioritised. Effectively streamlining the workflow of your overall support process.

Helpdesk software is a tool worth investing in if you want to:

Who benefits from using help desk software?

Who benefits from using help desk software?

No matter what side of the conversation you’re on, helpdesk software is beneficial for all those involved. Whether that be a team manager and support agents, or customers and internal users. But, that can relate to users on a much broader scale too.

Helpdesk tools can benefit a range of different business types, sizes and departments, such as:

Most used communication channels in help desk software

What are your existing IT helpdesk and customer service processes?

Businesses and managers will go in search of a helpdesk tool once they’ve identified a problem or an opportunity in their current processes.

For instance, you may have highlighted a chance to improve the level of service you provide to customers. Or, you might have noticed a rise in internal IT helpdesk requests, so you want to build a self-service portal.

But, without fully understanding your current support processes, it’s difficult to identify the gaps in your services. An effective way to map out your existing helpdesk responsibilities is to question how you handle current support operations:

How do you identify the gaps in your helpdesk support processes?

How do you identify the gaps in your helpdesk support processes?

Before beginning your search for 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 goals.

This process is important, as many helpdesk tools can vary depending on user needs. For example, you may want to reduce your current support response time for end-users. Or, maybe you want to improve the service being provided to your customers from your agents.

The advancement in helpdesk technology 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 prefered to do business with a competitor after experiencing poor customer service.

Most support managers and business owners will come to the realisation of needing a service desk tool when they experience harmful challenges in their existing processes. Such as:

What level of support does an end-user expect?

An effective way of identifying gaps in the way you provide support to end-users is by analysing competitors and keeping up with the latest trends. By doing so, you gain a greater understanding of what end-users and support teams expect from you.

An example of advancements in support services is how the introduction of channels such as Facebook and Twitter has shortened the expected response time for end-users. Whereas the average expectation for an email reply is within 24 hours, 42% of customers expect a response within sixty minutes on social media.

To identify opportunities and challenges in your help desk processes, constantly ask questions about what end-users expect in terms of support. Such as:

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.

Highlight the help desk software features you need that match your core requirements

Highlight the help desk software features you need that match your core requirements

Realising the need for helpdesk software is important. But, finding a tool that offers the right features is essential. For example, some tools will have features that focus more on customer service. While other tools will have features that focus on streamlining the workflow of support teams.

But, no matter what helpdesk features you opt for, it’s important to be aware of the challenges and benefits that each one presents. Such as:

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.

For instance, with 75% of shoppers expecting consistency across customer support channels, an essential feature needed to capitalise on this would be multichannel support.

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.

Essential helpdesk features to improve customer service

Essential help desk features to improve the efficiency of internal requests

Essential helpdesk features to improve support team and agent productivity

How to budget for the right help desk software tool

How to budget for the right help desk software tool

As with all business purchases, it’s important to determine the value that a helpdesk tool can offer you and your 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 ROI of a help desk solution. For example, 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:

Building a budget is also an effective way to make sure you keep within your spending limits when shortlisting products. However, there are some factors that can end up stretching those limits. So, it’s important that you also factor-in unexpected costs, such as:

How to shortlist, compare and evaluate help desk software products and vendors

How to shortlist, compare and evaluate help desk software products 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 start to put together a shortlist of help desk software options:

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.

How to put together a Help Desk Software Evaluation Team

If you’re a medium or small business (SMB), your evaluation team may only include yourself. But, for larger organisations and enterprises, your team should consist of a mix of personnel that will be affected by using a help desk system.

Ideally, the evaluation team you put together will be made up of:

What to look for when comparing helpdesk products

Once you have an evaluation team assembled, it’s time to compare and evaluate your list of help desk options:

What to look for when comparing help desk software vendors

As well as comparing each helpdesk tool, we recommend comparing the vendors too. This helps to understand the experience that each vendor has in the helpdesk market, as well as ensuring your support goals are aligned with the services they provide.

Experts Guides to Help Desk Software

5 Smart Ways Multichannel Help Desk Support Can Boost Your Customer Retention Rate

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 provide your customers with a positive customer service experience to improve your customer retention.

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How a Knowledge Base Can Improve Your Help Desk Processes

Need to improve support agent productivity and customer satisfaction rates? Here’s why you need a self-service knowledge base with your help desk system.

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The Importance of Help Desk Software for Small Businesses

Discover the importance of help desk software for small businesses & how managing your support processes can enhance your customer service.

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Why you need to build Customer Retention Strategies with your Help Desk System

Businesses spend 5 times more on acquiring new customers than retaining existing ones. Utilise your help desk tool & start building a customer retention strategy.

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Help Desk Software FAQs

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.

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

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.

With a help desk system, I am able to build a knowledge base – how useful is this for my IT support team and end-users?

A knowledgebase is a great way to improve the productivity and efficiency of your service team while also enhancing end-user satisfaction. Keeping in mind that without the use of a knowledge base you’ll run into risks such as inconsistent support, lengthy phone calls and dissatisfied customers.

Although a knowledge base can come in many different forms, the overall aim is to provide the end-user with the information to help resolve issues without the need to contact a support agent. Types of knowledge bases include:

  1. Articles

  2. FAQs

  3. Technical documentation

  4. User guides

  5. Videos

Whether you run a small business with just one or two support members or a larger business with multiple support teams, there are many benefits to building a knowledge base:

  • Improve your First-time Fix (FTF) rate

    Over time, your knowledge base will continue to grow and become a useful repository of solutions to end-user questions. This allows for a quicker, easier and less stressful process for your agents as they look to resolve numerous customer queries as quick as possible.

  • Reduce incoming ticket volume

    Depending on the size of your support team, responding to an inflow of tickets can be stressful. This is especially true if you’ve got tickets coming from multiple channels. But, with a knowledge base, end-users are able to find a resolution to their issues without the need to create a support ticket. This lessens the number of tickets created and relieves stress from your agents.

  • Avoid duplication of solutions

    As end-users continue to create support tickets, you’re more than likely to come across similar enquiries. These questions require you to respond with the same answer over and over again. A great way of using a knowledge base in this situation is to create an FAQ document. End-users are then able to consult your FAQs and find a fix for a common issue.

Which of my support and service processes can a help desk system automate to improve efficiency?

The automation of support and service processes is a desirable feature in modern help desk software tools. Having access to a powerful help desk automation allows your support team to do more with less. Which effectively reduces the agent effort required while also increasing end-user satisfaction.

By automating help desk actions, a vast majority of your support and service processes will be based on triggered and time-based events. You can even create custom workflows that streamline incoming communication. While helping to increase the productivity of your IT support team.

4 key help desk processes that can benefit from software automation include:

  • Processing incoming tickets

    On average, it takes a business 24.2 hours to provide their first response to an open ticket. But, by automating this first stage of end-user support, you can avoid these delays and improve your customer interaction rate. Setting up trigger-based events will automate incoming tickets, instantly categorising each request and re-route them to the right support agents.

  • Providing automatic solutions

    When an internal employee or customer wants to perform an action but needs help, they will contact a help desk support agent with their question. This then interrupts the workflow of an agent, causing disruption to workflow and productivity. But, with automated features, you’re able to integrate an AI platform. This can then scan a knowledge base or self-service portal to find the correct answer to the end user’s question. This helps to avoid the need for an agent to break their workflow and attend to an incoming enquiry.

  • Get end-user feedback

    Although there are many factors to measure the performance of your service, nothing quite matches up to an end-user testimonial. As opposed to creating and sending individual surveys it to each customer, you can automate the process. Doing this means each end-user will automatically be sent an email with an option to review their ticket, once their ticket has been closed.

  • Measure agent productivity

    Instead of manually collecting data regarding the workflow of your IT support team, you can automate the data collection. You’re then able to instantly and easily analyse data regarding each agent. Such as average answering time, the number of service requests received, their resolution percentage, and much more.

Can an IT helpdesk solution be an efficient replacement for a shared email inbox to help improve customer service?

As the owner of a business that relies on its customer base, providing great customer service is crucial. This particularly applies to owners of small or medium businesses (SMBs).

Replying to queries with valuable answers in a timely manner is one way to achieve exceptional customer service levels. With 62% of customers using a business’s email support channel, it’s important that you offer the best email support service you possibly can.

Handling two to three emails a day with an email system is fine. It’s easy to organise customer requests and queries. As well as track your support agent’s answers and replies.

But, as your business continues to grow, so does your customer base. With this growth, comes more questions and queries via email. Sooner or later, your email system will become near impossible to manage the uptick in customer requests.

When is it time to swap your shared email inbox for IT helpdesk?

Ahead of social media and live chat, email support is a preferred point of communication for your customers. In fact, only phone support is used more than email.

So, when your email system starts to become overwhelmed, it’s important to know when is the right time to switch to an IT helpdesk.

Be sure to watch out for signs such as:

  • A ticket has been left open and forgotten about

  • You’re using memory to search and find requests

  • A customer sends a follow-up email to their original query

  • You receive a bad review about the quality of your email support

  • You’re not responding to questions within a day of receiving them

A timely response is important to improving your customer service levels. Keep in mind that over 80% of customers expect a response within one day. While 30% expect a response within one hour.

What are the benefits of moving from email to IT helpdesk?

Switching to an IT helpdesk solution will allow your support team to deliver a more efficient level of customer support. The benefits of using helpdesk software instead of an email system include:

  • Assigning team members to individual tickets

  • Categorising tickets in order of priority

  • Setting alerts and notifications to keep within response deadlines

  • Analysing metrics such as agent response time to improve your processes

  • Receiving tickets from other channels in your inbox such as Facebook and Twitter