Customer experience is a crucial element driving the success of your business. In fact, 90% of Americans use customer support as a deciding factor when gauging whether or not to purchase from a company.
But good customer service is more than moving questions along for the sake of closing one support ticket and opening the next.
When done well, quality customer service should result in increased revenue and customer loyalty — with the referrals to match. You should ultimately find that it’s cheaper to retain current customers with proper support than it is to acquire new ones.
Providing the level of support that will help you achieve the above requires striking a balance between timeliness and quality of response. 90% of customers believe their problems should be addressed by a company immediately.
For the majority, “immediately” translates to 10 minutes or less.
To have remarkable customer support, you need to respond promptly in a way that efficiently narrows in on the crux of the issue.
If you respond too slowly or in a way that doesn’t actually address the customer’s problem, you run the risk of losing both their interest and, more importantly, their trust.
Cue software as a service (SaaS) help desk software.
Help desk software helps — it reduces the time it takes for a customer support agent to address issues. This is done by streamlining incoming tickets from various channels into one centralized location. help desk software, in particular, is great for small and large businesses alike.
It provides the following benefits to teams:
- Scalability: You can launch efforts with a basic, lower-cost plan (some are even free to start) and work your way up to more advanced plans as the company’s needs grow.
- Easy implementation: Since service desk software is typically stored in the cloud, internal set-up is minimal. Upon starting a trial or subscription, you can quickly deploy the technology across relevant teams. Additionally, if you’re unhappy with the software choice, it’s easy to opt out and transition to something else.
- Cost-effectiveness: You don’t need an entire team to manage SaaS help desk software, since maintenance work on the backend is usually handled by the provider.
With the above benefits in mind, every help desk system will vary.
However, there are a handful of critical features you should pay close attention to when choosing the right help desk software for your customer support team.
- Ease of ticketing: Tickets are how you’ll be managing customer communications. Make sure it’s easy to create and close tickets, make modifications, and route tickets through the appropriate internal channels. Additionally, it should be seamless for agents to store and resurface past tickets.
- Ticket consolidation from various channels: Where do you hear from your customers the most? Whether it’s live chat, email, social media, or phone, make sure the software you choose offers integrations for connecting necessary support channels.
- Self-service option: If you want to speed up the support process, a knowledge base feature can be great for offering guidance on common customer issues. Beyond that, a knowledge base can serve as a content source for sales agents looking for enablement materials and marketing teams looking to understand which topics are most popular with customers.
- Popular app integrations: There’s a difference between having help desk support software and actually using it. Make sure the provider you choose offers relevant integrations with other technology and apps your team uses regularly. This will help prevent the need for manual updates and entries by streamlining data across the board.
While the above features are generally important, every industry comes with its own set of nuances. Be cognizant of your company’s specific needs when vetting the features you believe to be most crucial.
What is the Best SaaS Help Desk Software?
Here are a handful of SaaS help desk software providers worth vetting in 2020.
HubSpot’s Service Hub is a support software offered by HubSpot, and it is designed to create a frictionless customer experience. One of the main features is the Conversations Inbox, which brings all customer communication channels — email, live chat, forms, Facebook messenger, and more — together into one universal inbox.
Contact and company data stored in the HubSpot CRM will automatically enrich each conversation, so your support team has contextual information about the customer’s history with your company.
You can start using Service Hub for free and set up your customer service team with live chat, ticketing, team email, calling, and more. Then, as your company grows and you move from reactive to proactive customer engagement, you can opt for one of the paid tiers and scale your activity.
Best for: Aligning sales, marketing, and service teams. Additionally, if you’re already using other HubSpot software, integration is a breeze.
Key features of HubSpot’s Service Hub:
- Includes the Conversations inbox, which brings all your communication channels — email inboxes, live chat, forms, Facebook messenger, and more — together into one universal inbox.
- Offers a full help desk, with routing, automation, and reporting to easily turn chats and emails into tickets that can be organized, prioritized, and tracked.
- Incorporates a self-service knowledge base for customers wanting to find information without speaking to an agent.
- Provides customer feedback tools to help your team run surveys and collect direct feedback from customers.
- Integrates seamlessly with popular tools, like Zapier, Facebook, Salesforce, and HubSpot’s free CRM (amongst others).
- Offers a user-friendly interface.
- Includes solutions for helping agents be more productive, helping customers find answers on their own, and measuring customer satisfaction.
- Great help desk ticketing, issue tracking, incident management, and self-service portal.
- Uses a ticketing system that may not be right for all companies, according to some reviews.
- Certain features are only available in paid tiers.
Pricing: HubSpot’s Service Hub has a freemium package, then three paid tiers starting at $40/month for two agents (billed yearly).
Used by big names like HP and Panasonic, Freshdesk is worth adding to the list as one of the leading help desk platforms on the market today.
Freshdesk’s unique gamification feature — the Freshdesk Arcade — sets the Freshdesk platform apart from its competitors. It displays leaderboards and badges for top support performers.
Best for: Serving external customers (vs. being used as a company’s IT help desk).
Key features of Freshdesk:
- Offers a shared inbox for support agents to access and manage tickets from various channels, including social media, voice, email, and live chat.
- Keeps track of conversations according to priority and category.
- Integrates with popular apps including MailChimp, Shopify, and Office 365.
- Facilitates mobility with their app for sales agents who might need to make customer inquiries from their mobile devices.
- Incentivizes agents to provide high-quality customer service with its gamification feature.
- Offers a free tier for small businesses eager to try out the product.
- Limits the key features (e.g., a chatbot and social signals) to only the highest-priced subscription tier.
Pricing: Freshdesk is free for unlimited agents with limited features. Their standard support starts at $15 per agent per month when billed annually.
HelpDesk’s main selling points are its ease of use and scalability, offering three tiered plans for growing businesses.
What sets HelpDesk apart is the robust offerings of the platform. Thanks to automation and integration tools, HelpDesk can help your team to be more efficient and make use of some of the other tools you’re already using in your tech stack.
Best for: Startups to enterprise-level companies.
Key features of help desk:
- Includes a shared inbox that allows you to create ticket lists and group tickets based on predefined filters.
- Creates company roles (for structure) and groups for customer support agents to share in their workflows.
- Uses automation (with a percentage of canned responses and automated assignments) and omnichannel support.
- Integrates with popular apps, including LiveChat, Zapier, and HubSpot.
- Offers a user-friendly and easy-to-use interface.
- Provides excellent on-premise customer support.
- Good customer service software that helps manage customer interactions and builds customer relationships.
- Includes only limited functionality with the Starter plan.
- Offers only three plans, each with distinct features for small, medium, and enterprise-level teams — there’s no in-between.
- Incorporates automation features that are not as advanced as those offered by other help desk software solutions.
Pricing: HelpDesk’s Starter plan (best for simple email management) starts at $4 per month per agent; the Team plan with expanded help desk-specific features starts at $19 per month per agent.
Trusted by hundreds of companies around the world, Acquire is a customer engagement tool that includes help desk software.
Their selling point is their “Unified Customer View” which lets you visualize and engage with your customers in one dashboard no matter where they are in the customer journey. All communication lives in one place to avoid the disjointed nature of traditional help desks.
Best for: Businesses looking for a complete customer engagement solution that includes a help desk, live chat, chatbots, video chat, email, and analytics.
Key features of Acquire:
- A unified agent dashboard where you can toggle between live chat, chatbots, analytics, and customer timelines to get a full view of each customer.
- Real-time support via live chat, chatbots, and video chat.
- One central inbox for all email support requests.
- Interact with customers on-screen with no-download co-browsing.
- Integrates with a huge list of popular marketing software.
- Co-browsing helps agents interact with customer browsers when they are stuck.
- Automated chatbots can be set up with no coding required.
- You can answer face-to-face questions with video chat.
- View customer timeline history and send them emails in one dashboard.
- They feature a full knowledge base software that helps you publish support articles and helpful content.
- They are still a new tool so there is some room to grow for very advanced features, but they cover a lot of bases.
Pricing: Their pricing starts between $60 and $250 per month (billed annually) and you need to get in touch with their team, as their pricing model is highly-customized.
As the winner of PC Magazine’s “Best help desk Software” award for the past four years, HappyFox is one of the best help desk software options out there. It’s comprehensive and very easy to use.
What sets HappyFox apart is the fact that you can use it to respond to customers across just about any customer service medium, managing the process is one centralized location.
It integrates with popular tools various members of different customer-facing departments tend to use, including Salesforce, Slack, Jira, and Magento.
Best for: Businesses with a variety of departments that need to offer help desk services including HR, customer support, marketing, and IT help desk teams.
Key features of HappyFox:
- Offers a centralized ticketing system that supports email, social media (e.g. converts Facebook private messages into tickets), and voice (e.g. call transcripts are converted into tickets).
- Includes a knowledge base for self-service support.
- Converts your live chat conversations on Happyfox Chat into tickets.
- Offers an easy-to-use interface.
- Incorporates automation features that reduce redundant requests.
- Automate and streamline ticket management in real-time.
- Addresses common inquiries with self-service tools.
- Limits some task capabilities with their rule-based automation.
- Allows staff to be assigned to only a single role, according to PC Magazine.
- Offers higher pricing than its competitors with no free tier options available.
Pricing: HappyFox offers two types of pricing. There’s a tier for small to medium-sized teams starting at $24 per agent per month and another for larger teams (with unlimited agents) starting at $1049 per month.
For help desk functionality, ZenDesk Support used to operate solely as a standalone product. However, ZenDesk Suite is now available, incorporating ZenDesk Support, Guide, Talk, and Chat under one platform.
Therefore, what sets Zendesk Support apart is the fact that you can use it in tandem with these complementary tools. Though the user interface doesn’t get a lot of points, the technology behind the platform makes it worth using, regardless.
Best for: Small to medium-sized businesses looking to centralize marketing and support efforts.
Key features of ZenDesk Support:
- Integrates tickets from various channels seamlessly via web and mobile.
- Offers multiple support ticket forms for agents working to best serve a customer’s specific needs.
- Includes business rules for automation that trigger automatic workflows based on changes to an original ticket.
- Incorporates advanced self-service support using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning suggestions for new content ideas and updates to outdated articles.
- Offers competitive pricing.
- Integrates with over 500 apps and services as one of the most popular help desk solutions.
- Customizable features good for call centers and helps improve user experience when resolving issues.
- Includes an inferior user interface compared to other help desk software (e.g. Freshdesk).
Pricing: ZenDesk Support is available as a standalone product starting at $5 per month per agent; as part of the ZenDesk Suite, pricing starts at $89 per month per agent.
SolarWinds Service Desk (previously known as Samanage) is consistently recognized as one of the best IT help desk platforms available.
What sets SolarWinds Service Desk apart is the fact that it serves IT teams really well. Besides what it can do to help IT teams better serve customers (both internal and external to an organization), it can also serve as a central repository for team knowledge and other important assets.
Best for: IT teams — but can also be used across other departments.
Key features of SolarWinds Service Desk:
- Allows teams to keep tabs on their organization’s technology infrastructure with an IT-specific feature called Configuration Management Database Software (CMDB).
- Includes an internal, employee service portal and knowledgebase management.
- Incorporates IT asset management functionality.
- Offers a more robust set of reporting functionality than its competitors.
- Includes Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) management features.
- Good IT service and IT support features.
- Works better as a company’s internal help desk, rather than an external, customer-facing option.
- Includes too many features, which can be both confusing and unnecessary based on your company’s size and specific needs.
Pricing: SolarWinds Service Desk offers plans starting at $15 per agent per month.
Note: tools not yet reviewed for this list include Zoho, FreshService, ManageEngine, ServiceDesk Plus, SysAid, and Jira Service Desk.
Every company is different, with teams and processes specific to their customer journey. What works for one business may fall flat with another.
Do your research and invest time in vetting platforms of interest upfront. You want software that can grow alongside your business model in both the short- and long-term — and the only way to achieve that is to partner with a platform teams want to use.
Bring in multiple user types and solicit feedback from those who will be responsible for implementing and managing the tool. From there, you can work towards narrowing in on the ideal solution for both your employees and customers.
Which SaaS help desk software platform does your team lean on for support? Is there one worth calling out that I didn’t include? Share your feedback below.