Help desk software systems help you manage customer service tickets quickly and effectively. When implemented properly, they can save support teams a great deal of time and money. We looked at 20 of the best help desk systems on the market and narrowed it down to the best six based on features, pricing, and usability.
Top 6 Help Desk Solutions 2019
|Help Desk Software||Best for|
|(Best overall) Companies that want powerful automation and collaboration features for a fair price|
|Teams that want a wide range of integrated systems with their helpdesk solution|
|Businesses that want powerful multichannel chat functionality with their service platform|
|Companies looking to customize the look and feel of their helpdesk software|
|Organizations that would benefit from auto-generated responses to ticket items|
|Teams that already use other products in the Zoho family|
How We Evaluated Help Desk Solutions
Help desk software systems should make it easy to track customer tickets, also known as service requests, and speak with customers over a wide range of channels, whether that is over the phone, via text messages, or an online chat. Services should be affordable enough for most small organizations. Bonus features include social media support and collision detection features that ensure that multiple agents don’t work on the same ticket.
We evaluated helpdesk systems based on the following:
- Cost: Services should be affordable enough for most small businesses.
- Ease of use: We looked at how easy each service is to set up and use.
- Channel support: We looked at each service’s ability to support tickets over email, phone, instant messaging, social media, and other channels
- Collision detection: Collision detection features notify agents that someone else is already working on the ticket, so they do not waste time working on it.
- Reporting: This feature is used to collect data on agent activity, customer satisfaction, and more
- Mobile app: A mobile app can be helpful for remote workers and other agents who need to solve customer problems while out of the office.
- Custom branding: We looked at the custom branding functionality available from each solution.
- Remote management: Being able to take control of a customer’s device can help agents solve problems faster and more effectively.
- Software integrations: We looked at the third-party app integrations offered by these systems.
- Custom forms: The ability to create and deploy custom forms for businesses can help your business solve unique problems more easily.
- Ticketing: Helpdesk software should make it easy to track customer tickets through the service pipeline.
- After-hours functionality: Automatically greeting customers with an after-hours message helps them, even when your staff is unavailable.
Based on the above criteria, we find that Freshdesk is the best overall choice for the majority of small business users. It has all the features you need to handle your customer service workflow effectively, it comes at an affordable price, and it comes with enough pricing plans to suit the needs of most small businesses. That, along with performance reports, make it a great platform.
Best Overall Help Desk Software for Small Businesses: Freshdesk
Freshdesk is a help desk software system that provides a strong set of communication features as well as an internal chat feature for collaboration. The service, which offers a free version with paid versions starting at $15 per month, is incredibly easy to use and comes with a wide range of software integrations. Freshdesk is ideal for virtually any business user that is looking to manage customer problems and manage support staff better.
Freshdesk offers a free version with a basic core set of features. Paid versions for small businesses range from the Blossom version for $15/agent, per month, and go all the way up to the Estate package, which costs $49/agent, per month. It is one of the more affordable systems today.
Freshdesk Tiered Features
|Ticket Trend Report|
|Multilingual Knowledge Base|
|Ticket Assignment Automation|
|Multiple Timezone Support|
The free Sprout version of Freshdesk comes with features for email ticketing and dispatching tickets to staff. Its collaboration features let staff chat with one another and work on solving a ticket issue together. It also provides a list of all staff members involved with a given ticket on that ticket’s main page.
This package is missing some of the functionality found in the paid versions of the system. You don’t get the collision detection module, so there are no automated measures in place to prevent multiple agents from sending the same message to a customer. The lack of software integrations here is also disappointing, though it can be paired with Freshdesk, the company’s IT ticket management software. Still, this has a strong feature set for a free offering and is a great help desk software service for any team that wants to try a customer service solution.
For $15/agent, per month, the Blossom tier of Freshdesk also adds collision detection, which alerts agents when another teammate is looking at their current ticket. This is an extremely helpful feature as it prevents your team from having to solve the same ticket multiple times. Other additional features include the ability to set after-hours messages for customers as well as integration with Google Calendar, Google Analytics, Hootsuite, Mailchimp, and more.
Freshdesk Blossom is missing the time tracking the functionality of the Garden package, so you won’t be able to see which of your agents are doing the bulk of the work. This is disappointing, as this feature is found in the less expensive Professional version of Zoho Desk. Still, there are a lot of features to be found here, making it ideal for companies that want to connect customer service data with their other business programs.
The Garden edition of the system, which costs $29/agent, per month, adds time tracking capabilities so that you can better understand what your staff is working on. It also comes with a session replay module so that you can watch interactions between your employees and customers. This can help you evaluate agent performance and spot problems. The Garden tier offers a performance reports module that can give you a visualization of each agent’s activity.
Unfortunately, this version lacks the automation features found in the Estate plan. It is also missing the ability to create and distribute custom forms like the similarly priced Growth edition of Kayako. With that in mind, the reporting and tracking functions in Freshdesk Garden are great for companies that want to gauge employee performance.
The top-tier Estate package costs $49/agent, per month. It comes with the ability to automatically assign agents to tickets so that you don’t have to bother assigning tickets yourself. You can also deploy a chatbot to greet customers automatically when they visit your page. The bot is highly customizable, and you can set it to do everything from route customers to agents or answer frequently asked questions without human staff having to intervene.
Unfortunately, Freshdesk’s survey builder is lacking compared to HappyFox, which offers many more options for asking open-ended and multiple choice questions. For the same price, HappyFox lets you ask customers customized questions for feedback so that you can gain insights from every interaction and improve your operations. Still, the Estate version of Freshdesk is very powerful and has enough features to suit the needs of most business owners.
What Freshdesk Is Missing
Hearing what customers think and using that information to improve your business is one of the most important things you can do to be successful. It is disappointing, then, that Freshdesk offers such a basic survey module. If you want to reach out and gauge customer open-ended opinions, we suggest looking at HappyFox instead.
What Users Think About Freshdesk
Users think very highly of Freshdesk. They find that it is incredibly easy to use and that its features save their agents a lot of time and effort when helping customers. However, several users have also said they’d like to see the service’s interface improve.
Where to Find Freshdesk
Freshdesk is one of the most popular systems of its kind, and with good reason. It offers a ton of features, it is easy to use, and it comes in several different pricing tiers to meet the needs of most organizations. Click the link below to start using Freshdesk free of charge.
Best Help Desk System for Software Integrations: HappyFox
HappyFox is a help desk platform starting at $29 per month. The software offers the ability to manage customer tickets, and also comes standard with automation and collision detection features. HappyFox is also able to connect data with voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP), customer relationship management (CRM), and other third-party apps for a more unified business experience. It is great for businesses that want to use data collected from customer service interactions and leverage it in other departments.
HappyFox offers two tiers of service for small businesses. The Mighty version costs $29/agent, per month, while the Fantastic package is $49/agent, per month. HappyFox is one of the more moderately priced services on the market.
HappyFox Tiered Features
|Social Media Support|
|Round Robin Assignment|
|Automatic Time Tracker|
|SLA Breach Notification|
|Custom Ticket Queues|
|Stripe Payment Support|
The Mighty version of the service, which costs $29/agent, per month, comes with the ability to handle tickets from customers that are reaching out to you via, email, Twitter, and Facebook. This is a terrific inclusion as many of today’s consumers prefer to raise issues on social media rather than reaching out through a company’s email or phone channels. It also comes with an automatic time tracker for agent work as well as collision detection functionality.
This version is missing the satisfaction survey module found in the top-tier Fantastic version. This is also missing the session replay feature found in the similarly priced Garden version of Freshdesk. Still, this version has a lot to offer companies that do most of their customer service over social media.
The Fantastic feature costs $49/agent, per month, and adds surveys, custom ticket queuing, and integration with the RingCentral VoIP phone service. It also comes with payment support via Stripe so that your customers can make payments while in conversation with your agents. This is especially helpful if an agent is helping a customer buy an additional product they need to solve a problem.
It’s a shame that even this expensive version of HappyFox does not have as smooth of an interface as found in Kayako, Zoho Desk, and other competitors. Still, the package is very useful if you want to chat with customers over a wide range of channels, and the survey function makes it great for gathering customer feedback without having to use a third-party solution.
What HappyFox Is Missing
HappyFox lets you communicate with users via phone calls, but phone conversations are only available via Aircall and RingCentral integrations. It also does not have as powerful of a chat module as Kayako, which has some of the best omnichannel support we’ve seen in a helpdesk service. If speaking with your customers across a wide range of channels is important to you, then we recommend looking at that system instead.
What Users Think About HappyFox
Users generally like HappyFox. They find the system easy to navigate, and they also think its features are very helpful, especially the wealth of integrations. However, they are also frustrated with the high cost of the system.
Best Help Desk Software for Multichannel Service: Kayako
Kayako is a helpdesk software solution that offers a wide range of communication channels. For example, not only does it support ticketing over email, social media, and chat, it also allows communication via short message service (SMS) text thanks to its free Zapier integration. The service, which starts at $15/agent, per month, is great for startups and other companies that want to accommodate customer communication preferences.
Kayako has two packages for small businesses: Inbox and Growth. Inbox costs $15/agent, per month, and comes with a basic core set of features, while Growth is $30/agent, per month, and is more advanced. This is priced similarly to competing systems.
Kayako Tiered Features
|Live Chat & Email|
|Basic Help Center|
|Advanced Automation Rules|
|Custom Views, Fields & Forms|
|Advanced Knowledge Base|
For $15/agent, per month, the Inbox tier allows for tracking and working on ticket items from customers on email, chat, and social media channels. Chat is supported on mobile platforms as well as desktops. It also integrates with Zapier, a connector service that allows you to integrate data with more than 1,500 business apps. One of Kayako’s Zapier connectors lets you connect SMS support, so you that customers can text your support team.
If you want custom reporting, advanced task automation, and the ability to build out an advanced knowledge base for customers, then you’ll have to upgrade to the Growth package. It also lacks the session replay modules found in other services. Still, this is a good match for companies that don’t need advanced features, but also want to speak with customers across many different mediums.
The Growth edition, which costs $30/agent, per month, has all of the features of the Inbox version but also adds advanced automation options that allow you to greet and help customers without any human interference. This module also assigns tickets automatically based on whatever rules you configure in the system’s management console. This works in a similar fashion to Freshdesk’s assignment functionality.
Unfortunately, this version does not have any sort of session replay mechanism, so you will not be able to watch your agent’s interactions and evaluate them in real-time. Therefore, the service is suited for companies that place more value in automation than reporting.
What Kayako Is Missing
Kayako allows you to make a knowledge base for your customers. While this is helpful, many customers prefer to navigate through the familiar interface of a Wiki guide. If you would rather deploy a wiki for your organization’s products and service, we suggest looking at TeamSupport. That service is also far more customizable than Kayako.
What Users Think About Kayako
Users laud Kayako for being extremely easy to use and having one of the most intuitive chat functions out of any service software. They also love the wide range of channel support. On the other hand, there are complaints about the company’s own customer service support. Some say their team is slow to respond to issues.
Most Customizable Help Desk Service: TeamSupport
TeamSupport, which starts at $50/agent, per month, is a help desk system with a design focus on customizability. You can change most aspects of the system to your liking, whether that is the dashboard interface, reports, forms, or ticket types. Not only that, but the service also offers video chat and the ability to deploy community forums for your customers. It is best suited for organizations that want full control over how their solution looks and feels.
TeamSupport comes in two different versions. The Support Desk tier costs $50/agent, per month. The Enterprise version costs $65 per month but can be used by small businesses as well as it has no minimum of users needed for the service and comes with useful features for companies of all sizes.
TeamSupport Tiered Features
|Customer Service Ticketing With Ticket History|
|Customer Notes & Insights|
|Customer Distress Index|
|Mobile Agent Tools|
|Customizable Customer Portal|
The Support Desk edition of TeamSupport, which costs $50/agent, per month, comes with all of the ticketing features you’d expect of a modern helpdesk system. You can communicate with customers via email, chat, and even video chat. This package also allows you to customize the interface of your solution fully, which is great if you want a bespoke feel for your software.
This is one of the most expensive entry-level packages on the market, but it has just about all of the core features you’d need for a successful customer service operation. It would be nice if you could customize the way that your customer portal works, but it is still a good fit for teams that want to customize their help desk interface.
The Enterprise tier is suitable for small businesses because it does not place a minimum on users. It also comes with a few extra features that might be of interest to business owners who can afford to spend the extra $65/agent, per month. It comes with multibrand support, which is great if your business has a subsidiary organization that also needs help desk functionality. You can also customize the look and menu options for unique customer portal pages.
This is one of the most expensive service packages available for a helpdesk service, and it is too costly for the majority of small businesses. Still, the ability to build and deploy a customer portal page can make your organization look more established, so it does hold some value for companies that can afford this package.
What TeamSupport Is Missing
TeamSupport has many features, but it is very expensive. If you are a small business that cannot afford to spend $50 for every one of your agents, we suggest looking at Zendesk Talk, which offers pricing plans for as low as $5/agent, per month.
What Users Think About TeamSupport
Out of all the services we looked at, TeamSupport’s customer support team received the most compliments for its responsiveness and knowledge. One reader mentioned that a representative from the company helped them for several hours and was helpful and professional the entire time. With that said, several users have experienced problems that the app can sometimes run slow, and there are glitches present.
Best Helpdesk Software for Automation: Zendesk Support
Zendesk Support’s help desk software is part of the company’s greater family of business apps. With a starting price of $5/agent, per month, the service comes with features like email and social media. It also comes with a wide range of tools for automating routine service tasks like responding to ticket items, which could save your agents from having to handle menial tasks themselves. Zendesk Support is right for companies looking for best-in-class automation.
Zendesk Support Pricing
Zendesk Support starts at $5/agent, per month, for the Essential package, making it one of the most affordable solutions on the market. Small businesses also have the option of going with the Team version at $19/agent, per month, or the Professional version for $49/agent, per month.
Zendesk Support Tiered Features
|Email & Social Support|
|Web Widget & Mobile SDK|
|Pre-defined Business Rules|
|Custom Business Rules|
|Zendesk Explore Analytics|
Zendesk Support’s Essential version cost $5/agent, per month, and comes with the ability to handle tickets over both email and social media. You can also configure these rules to answer frequently asked questions without human intervention. A nice bonus here is the Essentials Card, which pulls up a customer’s name, number, email, and order information in an on-screen window whenever a new ticket is started.
This package does not come with the custom business rules feature, which allows you to configure rules for assigning tickets automatically to agents based on availability, skill, or geography. It is very basic compared to most other entry-level versions of its competitors, but it also comes at a fraction of the cost. Zendesk Support is ideal for companies who want to try out customer service systems without investing a lot of money.
For $19/agent, per month, Zendesk Support’s Team tier adds automatic ticket assignment functionality. This essentially means that Zendesk can automatically send tickets to agents without a manager having to do so. It also comes with app integrations, such as connectors for Salesforce, Slack, Trello, and more. You can also track agent activity via the performance dashboard.
This version is missing the multilingual support of the Professional edition. It is also lacking things found in similarly priced offerings like Freshdesk’s session replay feature or Kayako’s omnichannel support. Zendesk Support Team is best suited for established businesses who want to track employee performance and also automate ticket distribution.
The Professional version adds a few extras for the price of $49/agent, per month. On top of multilingual support and customer satisfaction surveys, it also comes with Zendesk Explore Analytics, the company’s customer analytics platform that can be used to visualize all of your customer data, telling you what platforms your customers use most, what times they are most active, and other statistics.
It is disappointing that no small business version of Zendesk Support comes with a customer chat functionality as most of its competitors offer it in some way, shape or form. For that, you’ll have to either buy Zendesk chat separately or subscribe to the entire Zendesk suite of products, starting at $89/agent per month. This expensive version of Zendesk Support is only recommended for companies that feel the need for the analytics module.
What Zendesk Support Is Missing
Zendesk natively integrates with the company’s other customer support systems, including Zendesk Chat, and Zendesk Talk. However, it does not offer such connectivity with many other kinds of applications. If you’d like to use your helpdesk system that shares an ecosystem with CRMs, marketing automation software, and more, then we recommend a Zendesk alternative like Zoho Desk, which lets you connect data with most other systems in the Zoho family.
What Users Think About Zendesk Support
Many Zendesk Support users find that checking, working on, and closing tickets are effortless tasks and that they feel free to focus more on solving customer problems than wrestling with the interface. Still, some say that the web app is buggy and suffers from occasional slowdown.
Best Help Desk Service With Zoho Productivity Tools: Zoho Desk
Zoho Desk is a helpdesk software system that comes with features for email, chat, social media, and phone customer service communications. It also comes with unique dashboards for both agents and managers to work more effectively. However, what makes Zoho Desk stand out is that it natively integrates with almost all of Zoho’s 40-plus business applications. This makes it great for current Zoho customers who want to connect customer data with their helpdesk solution.
Zoho Desk Pricing
Zoho Desk’s small business options include two tiers. The Free version, as its name implies, comes at no cost and includes features for basic ticket handling. The Professional version costs $12/agent, per month, making Zoho Desk one of the most affordable systems available.
Zoho Desk Tiered Features
|Email Inbox & Web Form|
|Customizable Help Center|
|Agent & Manager Dashboards|
|Ticket Overview Dashboards|
|Radar Manager App|
|Customer Happiness Ratings|
|Social Media Channels|
The Free version of Zoho Desk comes with the ability to handle customer tickets over web form and email. It also connects data with the rest of Zoho’s apps, which is a plus in and of itself. For example, an agent can update a customer’s email address in Zoho Desk, and that information will be automatically updated in that customers profile in Zoho CRM so that your sales agents know what address to reach out to when pitching new products and services.
Unfortunately, this version is missing support for social media, web chat, or telephony channel support, so you won’t be able to solve customer problems through those mediums. This is disappointing considering the fact that Freshdesk’s free version does support social ticketing. With that in mind, this is still a suitable fit for users of other Zoho systems who want to try helpdesk features for themselves.
The paid edition of Zoho Desk costs $12/agent, per month, and adds support for social media, chat, and phone channels. It also comes with the ability to automate ticket actions like you can with just about any other helpdesk solution. That, along with modules for setting up after-hours greetings and tracking agent work times, puts Zoho Desk in line with other paid systems.
For the price, Zoho Desk Professional is an incredible value. However, it is lacking some of the more powerful features found in its pricier competitors like the customization found in TeamSupport. The automatic ticket assignment module is harder to use than similar functionality found in Freshdesk and other services. Zoho Desk is best suited for business owners who are using Zoho systems and want a complete helpdesk suite to complement those services.
What Zoho Desk Is Missing
Zoho Desk offers a solid range of features for its price. However, it is missing some of the features we like in other services. For example, it lacks the agent evaluation and session replay functions found in Freshdesk. If you want to use your helpdesk system to help you evaluate your employees, then we suggest using that service instead.
What Users Think About Zoho Desk
Users appreciate Zoho Desk’s interface, saying that it is very easy to navigate and understand. They also say it is great if you use any of Zoho’s other apps, as it provides a seamless business software experience. Common complaints about the service include the fact that setup can take a while and that the email ticketing sometimes stops working.
“Our company uses Zoho Desk for internal tickets and client tickets. Everything is submitted directly to our helpdesk team. The process works seamlessly, especially since Zoho Desk can integrate with our other Zoho products. For example, time that’s logged to a ticket in Zoho Desk is synced to Zoho Projects while tickets in Desk are also recorded in the Contact’s CRM record.”
―Keri Lindenmuth, Marketing Manager, The Kyle David Group.
Bottom Line: Help Desk & Helpdesk Software
Help desk systems, which can also be referred to by some in the industry as helpdesk software, make managing customer problems much easier than just answering the phone or emails. They allow your staff to handle multiple issues at once, understand customer problems and let you offer multiple channels for your customers to reach out to you.
If you are in the market for a help desk system, we suggest Freshdesk. The service comes with a powerful set of features, it’s easy to use, and it integrates with your favorite business applications. Best of all, you can start using it free of charge. Click the button below to get started.