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 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 a Help Desk?
A help desk 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.
Help desks typically consist of a team of support staff that act on behalf of an organisation. Providing support and service to end-users in the most effective way possible. By doing so, support teams can provide customers with the service they require.
By deploying protocols that focus on end-user support, businesses can reap several benefits. Such as driving customer satisfaction and improving customer retention rates. As well as delivering a level of support that matches competitors.
What Does Help Desk Software Do?
Help Desk Software is a digitised tool that automates a business’s support processes. A help desk system is utilised by IT teams, support agents, and customers. Providing tools to deliver notable service and support to end-users. By digitising customer support operations, the tasks of support staff are streamlined. Helping to increase the overall efficiency of a help desk.
Computerised help desk tools allow for an effective support management process. Helping to keep up with the rigorous demands of modern customer service expectations. Such as responding to social media queries within 60 minutes. Or offering features such as live chat and an omnichannel experience.
To help meet customer expectations, Help Desk Software enables businesses to:
Automate 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 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 Customer Support
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.
Build Customer Self-Service Portals
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 issues to be resolved. Businesses can deploy a library of common support queries, solutions, and FAQs. Also known as knowledge base management.
Provide 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. Knowledge base content, such as FAQs, can also be accessed by customers. Enabling users to solve their issues without having to contact a support agent.
Use AI, Chatbots, and Live Chat 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 proving a way to assist with end-user requests. Making them a popular and fast-adopted feature of Help Desk Software solutions.
Integrate 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)
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 tracking and being notified of the progress of open tickets.
Use Reporting and Analytics Tools
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 Do Businesses Need Help Desk Software?
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 across all communication channels with requests. Not just from customers, but from internal end-users too.
Customer experience is the key brand differentiator above pricing and product quality. Meaning businesses must ensure they’re providing an excellent level of service on time. The solution? A cloud-based tool that helps to automate and streamline support processes. Namely, Help Desk Software.
The usage of Help Desk Software provides 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
- Building self-service portals, knowledge bases, and FAQs to assist end-users
For modern-day businesses, providing notable customer service is critical. Through the speedy delivery of problem-solving, businesses can reap many rewards. Including increased customer retention rates and maximised efficiency across support teams.
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 desk agents.
Who Benefits From Using a Help Desk?
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
- Knowledge bases and FAQs
Businesses must also consider the problems facing internal customers; employees. Whereas external help desk processes provide support to customers. Internal 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 knowledge base management. 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 and 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 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 a shared knowledge base 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.
Help Desk vs. Service Desk: What's the Difference?
An IT service desk covers a broader range of IT support operations. It acts as a single point of contact for service providers and end-users. Whereas a help desk focuses on problem-solving, a service desk goes beyond that. Helping to manage IT incidents, requests, and communications.
ITIL defines a service desk as “the single point of contact between service providers and users. A typical service desk manages incidents and service requests. And also handles communication with the users.”
A help desk and a service desk are seen as two varying forms of customer support processes. Although they can be interpreted as having no significant difference between one another. Defining the two variants can depend on several factors. Including business size and the depth of support operations. As well as the type of customers a business serves.
What Is ITSM?
It’s also important to understand the role of IT service management (ITSM). Particularly when it comes to defining the difference between support operations. ITSM has several core processes that encompass the delivery of IT support services. ITSM provides activities that match the IT support market. As well as processes that aren’t found in basic IT support models such as:
- Change management
- IT asset management
- Problem management
How to Find and Compare the Best Help Desk Software for Your Business
Whilst there are similar core features and functionality to 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.
1. Identify and Review all Existing IT Help Desk 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.
How Do You Track and Manage Customer Requests?
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:
- Live chat
- Social Media
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?
How Do You Provide Self-Service Support to End Users?
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.
How Do You Measure the Success of Your Customer Service?
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.
How Do You Manage and Prioritise Requests?
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 prioritises 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?
How Does Your Support Team Resolve Customer Queries?
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.
How Does Your Support Team Assign Tickets?
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
2. Highlight the Gaps in Your Helpdesk Support Processes
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 realise the need for 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.
What Level of Support Do End Users 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 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.
3. Highlight the Essential Features You Need
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.
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.
4. 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 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?
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 of the right IT help desk software, including:
To Fit Your Business Type
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.
To Determine the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)
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.
To Help Get Buy-In From Stakeholders
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
5. Shortlist, Compare, and Evaluate Help Desk Software Solutions
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.
How to Build 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 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
What to Look For When Comparing Help Desk Systems
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?
What to Look For When Comparing Help Desk Software Vendors
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.
Does the Vendor Provide Support and Training?
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 indicates how quickly a vendor will resolve future problems.
Do They Fit With Your Industry?
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.
Can You Access a Free Trial 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 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.
Can You Find Testimonials From Previous or Current Users?
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.
How Long Will the Vendor Take to Implement Their Help Desk Product?
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.
What Are Their Prices and Plans?
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 concerning your goals and milestones; “is it worth it?”.