Every passing year, organizations get more dependent on their IT infrastructure to keep their business going.
From physical devices used daily by employees to cloud-based software like email, wikis, and intranets, companies have a complex network of inter-connected services, and the disruption of the use of any of these can result in loss of time, money, and employee satisfaction.
IT departments are strategic units inside the companies that keep the business going. Once organizations are over a certain number of team members, keeping up with the demand for support is almost an impossible task to achieve by managing only with email.
Whether you need to improve the efficiency of your service desk department or provide customers with a streamlined system of support, this guide will help you navigate the different elements you need to consider when choosing a help desk system for your organization.
Help desk software is the interface between support agents and employees or customers.
Companies use it to centralize the requests for support - commonly called “tickets” - because it allows the Customer Support Department to route the request to the right agent, keep a history of the interactions between that employee and the support department, and provide self-service tools such as knowledge base and ticket status for faster resolution.
According to Transparency Market Research, the help desk software market share is expected to reach $11 billion by 2023.
Typically, help desk software connects to the customer contact points: email, text support, chatbots, and self-service portals, routing the queries uniformly to the service desk team. The software will also be connected to the customer database as well as to the knowledge base for providing clear replies to customer queries.
Modern help desk solutions also have analytics and deep learning capabilities to help you further optimize your help desk. These systems deliver actionable insights for better management of resources and resolve any bottlenecks in the ticket pipeline.
Some of the common features of help desk software are:
Your IT teams need a better way to handle support requests. As opposed to providing support to external customers (such as an e-commerce site or travel agency), you need a platform that has specific features like providing restricted access to employees and perhaps selected external users (such as partners).
Plus, you want on your side a knowledge base that could serve as an internal communications tool, and also Service Level Agreement compliance tools, so that you can define the level of urgency of a ticket according to the department, employee level, and type of incident.
Service portals are one of the main channels for IT incidents - and employees are losing less time per ticket when using them than email as a channel for IT support services.
The main goal of your IT teams will be to restore normal service operations as quickly as possible, minimizing the adverse effect on business operations.
When choosing an IT help desk software, you need to think about the needs of your organization.
With a ticket management system, users can submit a request, be it from email, through a communication platform, or directly from the help desk self-service platform.
The ticket is then automatically prioritized and assigned to a specific agent while letting the help desk manager keep track of the performance of its team, and re-assign tickets to agents with fewer incidents in the queue.
Also, Service Level Management helps create visibility on the expected resolution times for a ticket, letting the help desk software and the help desk manager escalate it or give it a higher priority.
By providing a self-service portal, users can be empowered to find answers to their inquiries before contacting support, fix their incidents, raise their own support tickets, and even help their colleagues by promoting a culture of knowledge sharing and collaboration.
Also, a well-designed service catalog can give visibility to users of all the services that can be provided to them from the different departments.
While commonly called “help desk software,” what most enterprise operations buyers are looking for is service desk software.
The biggest difference between a help desk and a service desk is that while the first is designed to respond to unexpected issues within IT infrastructure using a linear and reactive approach, a service desk is a strategic single point of contact for all IT activities.
This is why service desk systems can also include other useful features like:
A knowledge base allows your help desk to store all information relevant to your organization. This way, both agents and users can access articles to solve issues that were previously experienced by other users. Also, an integrated service desk knowledge base can provide solutions to users without needing to create a new ticket, helping to empower users to self-resolve their issues before contacting a support agent.
A self-service portal can provide not only a single point of contact with the different support departments but also give visibility of the status of previously opened tickets, access to the knowledge base, and a catalog of the possible services users can access. Self-service portals can be customized to include the company logo and colors
Reporting and analytics
Analytics is a key element for any professional service desk project. Understanding how your department and individual contributors perform against defined KPIs can provide you with actionable insights to improve the performance of the organization.
Service Level Management and SLAs
SLAs define the level of service expected by users and the support team. A help desk ticketing system with service-level management capabilities can route a ticket to the right agent according to priority, urgency, and knowledge level. Also, it provides signals to the agents to help them prioritize tickets based on expected resolution times.
With ticketing workflows, you can create a predefined sequence for any repeatable process, like onboarding an employee or the approval of a computer acquisition. This allows you to standardize these processes, and automate steps for more team efficiency.
ITIL is a set of practices that supports organizations and individuals to gain optimal value from IT and digital services, followed by most service desks around the world.
ITIL-aligned service desk solutions include built-in workflows that can help your organization define ITIL-defined procedures such as:
You can find dozens of help desk software in the market, each with its powerful set of features and capabilities. So how can you choose the best service desk software for your organization?
Here are a few key factors you need to consider:
Let’s take a closer look at each of them.
As you can imagine, the choice of help desk solutions largely depends on the type of organization. Help desk software for small businesses that sell direct to customers won’t work for large companies that offer services or products to other businesses.
Your service desk solution must align with your organization’s goals. Here’s how you can choose a help desk software based on the size of your organization:
Most SaaS help desk solutions have limitations on the number of users based on the pricing plan. Either way, make sure your solution supports enough users to support all your service agents.
When choosing a help desk software, you can either go for an on-premise solution or a cloud solution, depending on the type of business. On-premise solutions are useful if you have a support team and the resources for maintaining your own servers and hardware.
On the other hand, there are many advantages of having a cloud-based help desk. For once, you don’t have to worry about server costs or maintenance personnel. And as your team and organization grow, it’s relatively easier and cheaper to scale up a cloud-based help desk solution.
If your scope of services includes hardware support or device maintenance, or if your agents have to handle hardware in any way, it’s best to get a service desk that has asset management features, or that can easily integrate with an IT asset management tool.
Of course, your software solution must fit within the overall budget for the help desk. These days, most help desk software is subscription-based. This guarantees that you get continuous updates and security patches throughout the subscription period at no extra cost.
But if you’re planning to develop a solution by yourself - or if you’re going to get an open-source solution and customize it with a team - your budget can get a bit complicated. In this case, you’ll have to set aside resources for maintaining and updating the software and fixing the security issues, along with the cost of maintaining servers and a developer team.
|Hosting||Free trial||Pricing||Licensing Model||Pink Verify
# of Practices
|Integration Costs||Support costs|
|InvGate||Cloud & on-premise||Yes (30 days)||Request a quote||Agent/Year||7||Included + free API||Included|
|Freshdesk||Cloud||Yes (21 days)||Free for 10 agents,
$18/month for more features
|Agent/Month||N/A||Free & paid||Email support included -
Phone support included
in some plans
|Zoho Desk||Cloud||Yes (15 days)||Free for 3 agents,
$18/month for more features
|Agent/Month||N/A||Paid||Email support included -
Phone support included
in some plans
|ManageEngine||Cloud & on-premise||Yes||Starting at $10/month||Technician/Month||N/A||N/A||Included|
|SolarWinds||On-premise||Yes (30 days)||Starting at $19/month||Technician/Month||N/A||N/A||Included in some plans|
|BMC Helix||Cloud||Yes||Request a quote||N/A||14||N/A||Included|
|Help Scout||Cloud||Yes (15 days)||Starts at $20/month||User/Month||N/A||Included in some plans||Included|
|ServiceNow||Cloud||Yes||Request a quote||N/A||19||Free & Paid||Included|
|Cloud||Yes||Free for up to 3 agents,
then $20/month for more features
|Agent/Mont||N/A||Free & paid||Included in some plans|
|HappyFox||Cloud||No||Starting at $29/month||Agent/Month||N/A||Included in some plans||Included|
Freshdesk comes with intuitive solutions and helps you eliminate repetitive tasks using automation and AI. It helps you remove data silos and reduce costs. Freshdesk also comes with customizable dashboards and 24/7 customer support
Zoho Desk is a popular service desk solution that helps deliver high levels of customer satisfaction.
Zoho Desk also supports omnichannel services, including support through the website, email, phone, and social media. It can help you build a state-of-the-art workflow to provide quick responses and follow-ups to customers
Some of its other features are:
ManageEngine is a popular service desk solution delivering consistent results for the last 10 years.
One of the key features of the ManageEngine service desk solution is that it offers a variety of flexible plans to suit businesses of all types and sizes. This solution is highly power-packed and can help you run your service desk optimally.
SolarWinds is a popular service desk for modern IT teams used by MNCs all over the world. It helps establish better control over IT processes and improve customer service. It combines useful features and quality services to offer the best customer support to your audience.
The SolarWinds service desk specializes in industries with strict regulations and frequent audits. This software is useful for organizing your license and contract documents, staying compliant, and managing inventory. It is suitable for businesses of all sizes and is deployed as a SaaS solution.
Some of its features are:
It is suitable for modern businesses that work with CIOs, change managers, service desk managers, and IT operations managers that can utilize it for their teams.
Help Scout offers help desk software that is quick to learn and simple to configure. Its setup is more than enough for most small-to-medium-sized businesses - though it will miss out on more complex features.
ServiceNow is a cloud-based ITSM tool aimed at automating IT support operations. This help desk solution is designed based on ITIL guidelines and aims to help businesses improve service orientation for tasks, activities, and processes.
Formerly known as Jira Service Desk, Jira Service Management is an IT service management solution built on the popular Jira platform designed for high-velocity teams. Its tools empower teams to deliver great, coordinated service experiences without the complexity of traditional ITSM.
HappyFox is a help desk solution that prides itself in being easy to use, having a quick and painless setup, and a robust support system.
Choosing the right help desk software for your organization is essential to streamline your IT support and provide the best possible customer satisfaction and employee experience. To do so, you need to take into account:
Based on the assessment of your company’s current state, you’ll be able to determine which features are more relevant to you - and whether you need help desk software or maybe it’s time for you to adopt an ITSM approach and opt for a service desk.
These are the basic features to start the path of streamlining your IT services and properly accompany the growth of your teams and organization.