Ten Help Desk Solutions for Better Customer Service

Customer service is mission critical or so we often hear from experts. Beyond trying to manage a complaint, why is it so important? If you don’t have a process for managing customer requests, questions, or technical difficulties, you may be reducing your profits. The following ten help desk solutions, also known as customer support software, are all aimed at refining how you guide your customer to satisfaction and loyalty.

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At first, a product or service is what attracts a customer’s interest, but it is often the reputation a company has for service afterward that determines whether they come back or not. It also drives word of mouth recommendations, online and in real life.

Live Chat, Ticketing, email support are just a few of the things that make tracking a customer request easier. Call logging, a knowledge/information center that reps/agents can pull information from quickly when answering questions and the best of these have social integrations so you can keep up with what’s happening around your brand and company name on Facebook, Twitter, and beyond.

The biggest value of a help desk is that your customer information is in one central place. If a customer calls in at another time, around the same request, any employee can help them or pass their call to the appropriate department.

Here are ten that you might consider:

Desk.com from Salesforce.com is one of the dominant players in the help desk space. No credit card required for the free 30-day trial, then pricing starts at $1/hour for part time agents you might have or $49/mo for each full time agent after the first one (which is free). So, in a nutshell, a one person shop could use this support tool for free.

LiveHelpNow helps keep your business up and running 24/7/365 with its web-based software. Plans start at $21/month after a 30-day free trial.

FreshDesk offers the first agent free on all its plans and special pricing for startups and nonprofits. 30-day free trial, then plans start at $9/month with hourly pricing for additional part time agents. They have catchy names on all their plans too: Sprout, Blossom, and Garden.

SmarterTrack has one low price of $15 per month; for each agent that you want to add. 30-day free trial. I like the self-service option for customers who want to research their own answers. It  includes a “Who’s On” functionality so you can see visitors in the support community area.

TalkDesk is more focused on being a voice platform so you know who is calling you. They tie into CRM systems and I include them here because they let you track interactions with your customers. You would likely need to add a help desk option to realize the full power of their system. 14-day free trial; has a free plan for one agent, and then $49/month per agent.

ZenDesk is another market leader with a powerful help desk solution. You can customize ticket views to prioritize customer requests. I like that they put on educational webinars every week. They have a starter plan that donates your $20 purchase (for one year of service) to a children’s hospital. You can have 3 agents on their $20/year plan, if you qualify as a new company. Regular plans start as low as $24/month/agent. 30-day free trial.

Zoho offers almost every application a small business could need. Their help desk option is called Zoho Support and they offer “free for one agent” package, then $12/month for each additional agent. 15-day free trial.

Kayako offers both a web-based and a pay-once full download software for its customer support/help desk application. There is a free 30-day trial, then $29/month on the SaaS version. The download version starts at $599 for up to ten agents.

Helpdesk Pilot has 15-day free trial, then $895 on an annual basis for five agents for their downloadable, host on your own server version. Their cloud version is called “HappyFox” and starts at $39/month for 3 agents. HappyFox is here. They do have a free plan, too, if you scroll down.

Helpdesk Pro offers a few different options that might work for some business owners. After a long 60-day free trial, they have a $29/month for unlimited users on their “sponsored” advertising-supported version. The next level is $59/month for unlimited agents.

Efficiency leads to lower expenses and improved profits, but not every business owner knows how to get there. Help desk solutions may be the key to improving employee productivity which in turn yields greater customer satisfaction because you have eliminated bottlenecks in the communication process (and elsewhere).

Keep me posted on what solutions you are using and why in the comments below.


Solutions Photo via Shutterstock

21 Comments ▼

TJ McCue - Product Editor


TJ McCue TJ McCue is the Product Editor for Small Business Trends and an entrepreneur who publishes Tech Biz Talk. TJ is a former Wall Street Journal columnist. He also writes for Forbes and American Express OPEN Forum. He loves learning about technology apps and software services - share yours with TJ.

21 Reactions

  1. Pretty comprehensive list. I’ve been using Freshdesk for a while and I like it. I use ClickDesk for live chat and they surprisingly came up with a help desk feature which I trialed for a bit, it also seemed pretty neat. Cheers!!

  2. Great information. I had no idea there were that many. I had heard of Zendesk, but none of the other help desk options. Thank you for this post.

  3. Interesting list. I am curious how it was compiled and how these products made the list. Mostly because all of the key players in the help desk industry, some of whom have been around over 20 years, the ones with the most experience in helping customers build a successful service desk, companies like BMC, Frontrange, Numara and CA didn’t even get a mention.

    • Cris
      i’ve used about every help desk one mention below and was never impressed, paid 10x the cost. BMC-Remedy is so clumsy it’s not funny. The ones mentioned in the article can rival these key players as you say and you don’t have to sell your first born for one of them

  4. Hi Cris,
    Thanks for your comment. I can answer your question pretty quickly. I’m familiar with all the companies you mention, but I would not count them as small business focused. The two main reasons a company does not make a list is a lack of transparent pricing or forcing the SMB owner to talk to a rep before revealing critical details about the product. I’m not picking on the four companies you mention in my comment/reply to you. They are good companies.

    In general, again not aimed at these four, many larger companies target the SMB market, but they are really focused on the enterprise market. We are all busy — large company executive to the micro-small biz owner, but the big difference I look for is someone who understands that a small business owner has to wear many hats and doesn’t have a support team to help make a software decision. In contrast, many bigger company executives have staff to help evaluate and can spend time (not wisely) mired down in tech details, verbose white papers, and so forth evaluating website copy. The smarter, nimble vendors have made it drop-dead simple so a prospect gets the core offering in 60 seconds or less. Then they can see the cost easily, and dig deeper from there.

    Look at these ten and then any large enterprise focused entity and tell me if you don’t see a difference, too. Do you work in the help desk market? Again, thanks for your comment and I hope I answered your question.

  5. None of the products you mention appear to be open source, and none are free. I’m looking for both. So far, I’ve found Fogbugz, which does not meet my needs, and osTicket, which might. Can you offer perspectives on these or other, similar products?
    Thanks!

    • Try otrs.com. It is open source, free, and relatively intuitive. It is not what I would recommend for a small business without some solid IT support resources (internal or external, but they are required). So it doesn’t fit into TJ’s criteria, above.

  6. We use Vision Helpdesk Software http://www.thevisionworld.com We tried Kayako, Supporttrio and few others but Vision Helpdesk was surely winner. It not only offers innovative features but comes with competitive pricing.

  7. What a great article! That is a good round-up of existing SMB SaaS solutions for helpdesk!
    We’ve been using Talkdesk for a while after trialing with some other solutions. Most of them don’t quite do the whole job that suited us – inbound, outbound, profile matching with social networks and integration with Salesforce. Support is pretty awesome too.

  8. Thanks for the above list. Additionally, gosupportnow is also a very good remote desktop support and sharing tool. It is very easy to use and best part is, it has no download of any kind.

  9. William Kunkel

    I have used SpiceWorks with great success. Tickets, Inventory, Vendor, AD integration. Multi-site, etc.

    http://www.spiceworks.com

    There is a free (ad supported) version.

  10. Full disclosure – I work for this company.

    Consider taking a look at Support Tracker.Net ( http://www.TrackerSuite.Net/web_help_desk.html ) It’s a 100% Web based help desk system, highly configurable (in workflow, form design – even field level), and available as SaaS or as an on-premise solution you can license and host internally. Source code is included with the license. Visit the website to register for immediate access to a free online demo.

  11. A nice selection here.

    HelpMaster is an Australian product that is being used by many small and mid-sized businesses for customer support, IT helpdesk and general business ticketing and workflow. Windows or Web, it comes with lots of reports and the power of a SQL Server database engine. Download a trial copy at http://www.helpmasterpro.com

  12. For us, InvGate Service Desk is the perfect tool to centralize our support ( IT + CustomerService ).

    InvGate provides some unique features like :
    Gamification : The Gamification features in Service Desk provide the framework for an IT Manager to reward and motivate staff with virtual or tangible incentives that are awarded for completing support oriented tasks. These incentives are awarded to an individual or group on completing tasks, or Quests, that contribute to the overall operational success of the group.
    Analytics : InvGate Service Desk’s analytics and custom reporting tools use a newer approach: interactive, multidimensional OLAP business analytics.
    http://www.invgate.com/

  13. Hi,

    I would like to inform about the Customer Support Application developed by us specifically catering to Manufacturing companies.

    You can have a free trial at https://customersupport.vimapps.com/

    We develop custom business applications and this is a product which is being used by quite a few small manufacturing companies as it helps them get the status of support tickets faster.

  14. Amazed to not see DeskPro listed here! Been using it for years in large consumer support environments, and the latest incarnation has everything.

  15. It’s great to see such a valuable resource (Customer Support apps) listed for small businesses.

    I wanted to make one addition: Reamaze

    We recently started Reamaze (http://www.reamaze.com) to help small businesses do away with the complexities of customer support and focus on the essentials.

    We built the app based on a set of winning support philosophies extracted from our interviews with some of the top customer support teams in the industry. These learnings were compiled into a book (http://www.lantirn.dev/resources/7-customer-support-statistics) that helped guide the design of the application.

    Anyone stumbling across this article ought to give it a try.

  16. Tremendous list of tools for customer service. I am pleased with the list mentioned over here. But as because the tool that I have been using is not listed here, I am surprised. Have you ever tried Replicon’s task management software ( http://www.replicon.com/olp/task-management-software.aspx ). If not I would like you to give it a try and I am sure you will surely list it the very next time.

  17. Vitaliy Verbenko

    There’s a customer service software that features components from Zendesk and Getsatisfaction (where customers can give praise, ask a question or share ideas).

    http://www.satisware.com

    There’s a free version, too.

  18. We provide post sale service management solution based on contact management. It support multi office operation of user and customer. A web based solution to meet the requirement for small companies. It help to manage IT asset of customer. 30 days free trial available.

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