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Best Help Desk software of 2020

Help Desk Software Trends

Help desk software makes it possible for businesses to receive, track, address, and analyze their customers’ support requests in an organized way.

Additionally, help desk software vendors now offer extra features like service-level agreement (SLA) management, knowledge base, user communities, self-service portals, and more.

Most businesses rely on their email for customer service when they are just starting. As the business scales up, their inbox will become more cluttered and unmanageable. A company in this growth phase would need a more efficient solution to manage its customer service, and that’s when a help desk software becomes essential.

Why use help desk software?

Does your customer support respond to questions and requests via email and calls alone? If so, your present customer success rate might be nothing compared to what is possible daily. A help desk software puts you in front of your customers through all communication channels possible.

Beyond calls and emails, current help desk software can handle live chats, contact forms, Facebook messages and posts, and more.

Some of your customers may contact you several times to request help on different issues. Help desk software helps you keep track of communication, so you are never unsure of where you left off or how to help your customers. This thread of communication makes it easy for anyone on your help team to know what to do without asking unnecessary questions.

So, the help desk software would distribute and assign tickets to your help desk team members, prioritize the most important tickets, and monitor progress. It makes sure that no two persons are responding to one email. Plus, the software keeps track of how much work your team did per day, as well as the quality of support.

If you sell products or provide services on your website, you will find out that different customers may report the same issue. Your help desk software can help you spot that an issue was reported several times so you can prepare answers to such problems. The ability of the software to keep track of issues would come in handy when you’re building your knowledge base.

The software helps you track response time for each of your representatives, so you know who is doing well and who needs improvement. Overall, your ability to track ticket time helps you to know how efficient and productive you are.

Who uses help desk software?

A help desk software is useful for anyone that has customers, regardless of business size. 

However, the most prominent users of the software are customer service representatives who might be independently managing customer care issues for third-party companies. These help desk agents answer any inquiries or tickets from the available channels and may have to handle the updates of your software’s documentation.

These days, however, more companies are turning to their internal teams to handle customer service instead of outsourcing to external agents. Consequently, these companies are hiring help desk managers and specialists for the work.

Help desk managers oversee the daily operations of a company’s or an agency’s help desk. Their duties will span activities like recruiting and onboarding, structuring and restructuring support processes, and tracking KPIs. These managers are also responsible for budgeting, analytics, and reporting to senior company executives.

Another vital role is the help desk team lead. This person assists the manager in coaching new agents and making sure they deliver the best customer service possible. Their job is to ensure that each agent meets up with the service-level agreements (SLA) of the company they work for. 

Features

Help desk software provides ticket management for batching tickets by customers, tags, and service-level agreement (SLA). Apart from grouping tickets, the ticket management feature of a help desk software helps you send out ticket reminders automatically. Reminders keep all stakeholders informed of any developments on the ticket. The reminder feature helps keep employees or customers informed of changes they might forget. It reminds stakeholders of any deflected tickets, alerts help desk managers of any high-risk tickets, or lets a colleague know that they have work to do.

Some help desk software solutions come with ticket templates. Templates are handy for businesses that receive a massive volume of requests or for those that want to encourage customers to send tickets faster. More so, templates can help reduce the time and effort required to fill out and submit tickets. Most templates provide pre-filled sections, and that includes pre-filled custom fields.

Another element of the ticket management feature is that it enables your help desk software to track tickets until a customer’s issue is fully resolved. Furthermore, any member of your support team can retrieve this ticket in the future to quickly resolve similar problems for the customer. Tracking tickets can help you spot trends.

If a customer experiences the same problems too often, then you can pay closer attention or escalate it to an appropriate IT or specialized support team to get the problem solved permanently.

The help desk team is able to coordinate on customer requests and complaints more easily and efficiently. Customer service becomes tougher and demands more attention as a company grows. When a business is just starting out, it can coordinate customer support over email, but things can quickly start falling apart without a system to coordinate these communications. To log, analyze, track, and resolve help desk issues, a business must organize its operations using help desk software.

Help desk software provides an enabling environment for agents to handle customer support issues better. The software may come with add-ons for priority support, workflow management, issue escalation, and ticket resolution.

Your help desk software helps you identify, isolate, and escalate high-priority or recurring customer support issues through workflow automation. One of the strengths of using help desk software is the workflow automation benefits that come with it.

Having agents available round-the-clock will cost most businesses a lot of money, so most companies can not afford this extra cost. However, customers will perceive any delay in receiving a reply as a negative experience. More so, manual issue escalation can see important and urgent matters slip through the cracks due to delays.

With your help desk software fitted with workflow automation, you can rest assured that your support team will not be overwhelmed, and customers will get replies on time.

A good help desk software helps your business measure customer satisfaction by asking them to rate their service experiences and answer short survey questions. This practice has become an industry standard as it helps businesses know their net promoter score (NPS) and improve it based on real user feedback. Surveys should capture information like an agent’s promptness and responsiveness during sessions, issue resolution, satisfaction with the resolution process, and any information that helps your company improve customer service.

Agents rely on help desk software to effect service-level agreements (SLA) for determining tickets’ priority and urgency. Help desk software solutions provide SLA to enable hesp desk agents to allocate their time and resources in addressing customer service needs. An SLA influences how an agent handles problems.

The SLA takes into account factors like the number of customers affected, how the problem impacted their business mission, the deadlines involved, the customer’s sense of priority, data security threat, and problem frequency. Hence, having a help desk software that comes with an SLA is crucial.

Based on the knowledge of the factors surrounding a problem, from a help desk perspective, an agent would then allocate time and resources accordingly to solving the problem. The SLA determines how help desk agents will prioritize an issue based on previously agreed-upon issue response and resolution times. SLA can exist between your company and customers or between departments. You want a help desk software that provides this feature or a template you can modify to your needs.

Help desk software alerts all stakeholders of any data changes so that they can act on relevant information when rendering their services. Help desk software can help keep everyone informed of changes in company data so that service agents and employees can respond to these changes appropriately. For example, ticket tracking helps agents know of any changes to a customer’s complaint and if the resolution should take a different path from the one previously in progress.

Help desk software with self-service functionalities enables customers to resolve issues round-the-clock by themselves. An instant benefit of help desk software solutions with self-service options is that they lower the workload of help desk agents. Consequently, this reduction in workload reduces business costs. The company will not need to hire new employees to match their growing customer base or customer service issues. Another immediate benefit of this feature is speed; customers can resolve issues as quickly as possible without needing a help desk agent.

Most businesses can solve recurrent issues like password retrieval, account unlocking, or resolving hardware or software issues with a self-service feature in their help desk software. Self-service can also be used for guiding customers through routine or initial setup procedures.

Analytics and reporting features of the help desk software enable management to make informed decisions about customer service delivery. Management gets data on the trends in ticket volume, agent response time, number of conversations happening per agent, peak ticketing periods, and overall customer satisfaction metrics.

Using the data from their help desk software, management can decide on the help desk features to introduce and whether to hire new agents or not. They can determine the cost of customer service, the value that each agent drives, spot recurring issues, ascertain if recently implemented service delivery improvements are working or not, and use data to derive insights.

Help desk managers can generate reports on help desk performance, usage statistics, client issues with a high frequency of reoccurrence, and granular information on daily operations.

Help desk software provides integration and collaboration options for both data sharing and teamwork. As companies grow, acquire new customers, hire employees, and adopt advanced technologies, they will need more cohesion in their help desk management. This is a problem that integration solves. Help desk software that provides integration and API support makes it easy for agents to collect and use information better for solving and managing issues.

Robust help desk solutions would include team collaboration features. Teams can collaborate to solve customer issues faster and better. Not all customers will be able to use a particular communication channel, so advanced help desk software solutions anticipate this situation, so they make sure to support multichannel customer support features. Although not a core feature, some help desk software 

Help desk software supports custom-branding features to strengthen or propagate brand awareness. Your businesses might want to project your brand image when interfacing with customers over your help desk software. Branding helps with top-of-mind awareness for businesses.

FAQ

Q: What is help desk software?

A: A help desk software helps facilitate smooth communication between a business and its customers in a very coordinated manner. The software makes it easy for customers to contact the help desk when they run into a problem or need to resolve an issue. A help software solution can be hosted on a business’s premises or online. Web-hosted help desk software can be on a remote server or on the cloud.

Q: What do I need to consider before choosing a help desk software?

A: You should look out for four features when choosing a help desk software; they are automated ticketing, ticket deflection, reminders, and analytics. Of course, having more features can help you improve your workflow and business results, but make sure these four features are in place. 

An automated ticketing system should encourage the customer to quickly and easily place their request. Not all customer requests must go to your customer service, some of them should go to specific departments that can better solve the problem, hence the need for ticket deflection. The help desk software must have a reminder system in place to get employees to act on priority issues and tickets. Analytics helps you see what’s going on so that you can respond to them appropriately and on time.

Q: What is the best help desk software for small businesses?

A: Most small businesses have tight budgets, so that’s where to start. Set a budget for your help desk software. The best help desk software for small businesses doesn’t have to be an expensive one; some excellent options are quite affordable.

Next, you want to decide if you should host your help desk software on-premise or on the cloud. Cloud-based solutions cost less to maintain but might expose your data to third-parties more. On-premise solutions are more secure but require a maintenance team or employee to keep it running. If you are on a tight budget, then you might consider using a cloud-solution for a start.

Except you anticipate the need for it, you may not need an ITIL compliant help desk software as an SMB. They cost more and require more complex configurations and processes to maintain. Help desk software solutions with ITIL standards are designed to cater to the needs of large enterprises.

Q: When is the best time to start using help desk software?

A: You may consider using a help desk software right from the launch of your business, but it also depends on your business size and resources. However, you should have a human agent handle your customer service needs until you have a better understanding of what to automate and what frequently asked questions your customers are asking. You want to build and avail your knowledge base as quickly as possible to make sure you are as responsive as possible to your customers’ needs.

If you have a business and do not have a help desk software yet, then it's probably time to get one if your customer service is taking too much time, costing too much money, or customers are not satisfied with your issue resolution.

Q: What is the cost of using help desk software for support?

A: As a general rule, the more feature-rich a help desk software, the more it costs. Specifically, ITIL standard solutions will cost you more than help desk solutions designed for small businesses. However, ITIL brings industry-wide IT support best practices to play for your help desk agents.

Another cost factor is the number of agents who use the system. The more agents you need to keep your help desk working, the more money you will spend. This is why automation is a big deal and why a robust knowledge base can help.

Prices for cloud-based solutions cost from less than $8 per agent per month to over $44. However, on-premise solutions can cost from as low as $239 per agent for a lifetime package to over $3,000 per agent, paid every year.

Q: What help desk software limitations should I know about?

A: The drawbacks of using a help desk software are pretty sparse. One of the most frustrating pain-points of using a help desk software is that some software requires a lot of resources to run, so they take too much time to load. If you have not managed a help desk software in the past, then you might struggle with customizing it the first time you use it.

Another issue here would be the ticket arrangements, rearranging them may be tough since they usually follow a preset order based on established SLA and customer service priorities. Some small businesses may not be able to afford help desk software solutions that come with extra features because they are usually more expensive too.

Q: How do I implement a help desk system?

A: Start by deciding what support your help desk system will offer. Will it address IT, payments, inquiries, or other customer service goals? Do you want it to generate data to use for other business functions or wish to restrict the help desk functionalities to customer service? Will you integrate a knowledge base or not, and why? What about self-service features, will this platform support self-service or will you always use an agent, and why?

Next, decide on your staffing needs. Estimate the total number of hours your agents will spend resolving issues daily. The amount of time agents spend resolving issues is called utilization time. You want to keep your utilization time to approximately 70 percent. Agents will have 30 percent of their time for other activities like breaks, managing downtime, doing secondary tasks, or attending training sessions. Customer wait time is likely to increase if you exceed the 70 percent utilization time, whereas your agents will have too much idle time if the utilization is less than 70 percent.

Agents can be generalists or specialists. You will have to decide which of these is the right fit for your business. You can also have a mix of them, where specialists handle specific topics, and generalists take care of the majority of the tickets you receive.

Set your ticket priorities and your service-level agreement (SLA) based on your unique business needs. Build your knowledge base to help customers address issues on time. Of course, you will want to set performance metrics to measure and make changes to your work as necessary.

Q: How can I develop documentation for a help desk system in our company from scratch?

A: An IT professional who just gained new employment and needs to create documentation for their company’s help desk solution may run into this problem. This is usually tough, except they have access to a help desk solution that caters to this need. If you have never developed documentation for a company from scratch, your best bet might be to use a help desk software that has templates you can adapt to your company’s needs. 

Q: What types of help desk software do we have?

A: Help desk software solutions divide into two categories, specifically, on-premises and online solutions. But web-hosted solutions include cloud-based help desk solutions. On-premise or self-hosted software solutions may be the most secure option, but it’s not without its drawbacks. A self-hosted solution is usually more expensive than its alternatives. Additionally, on-premise hosting demands dedicated maintenance staff, vendor upgrade costs and other risks like data loss due to natural or human-made disasters.

A cloud-based solution removes these risks, maintenance challenges, and upgrade costs. It also gives small businesses affordable help desk infrastructure. If your help desk agents access your system from remote locations, then cloud-hosting might be the best bet for your business.

However, using help desk software on the cloud has drawbacks too. Without an internet connection, the software won’t store and retrieve data. So, this option is not a fit for places with a poor internet connection or frequent power cuts. Secondly, cloud-based solutions leave your data at the mercy of third party vendors.

You can use remote web servers to host help desk software, but they are not as elastic as cloud-based solutions. Web-based solutions have all the risk of using on-premise solutions, except that you can access your data online and do not host your data locally.

Q: What’s the difference between a help desk and a service desk?

A: These two are pretty close, and in some instances, they are synonymous. However, help desk and service desk are not always alike. While help desk software doesn’t always include ITIL, all service desk software includes ITIL. Help desk focuses on reacting to customer and employee support as needed, but service desk provides support for both customers and employees proactively.

Most help desk software solutions are centered on a ticketing system, knowledge base, self-service, customer forums, and user communities. Service desks extend these features by adding assets, knowledge, and incident management modules.

Over time most service desk software solutions have come to serve as help desk solutions too. These days, most help desk software solutions would function as service desk solutions too. The lines are blurring.

Q: Can businesses of all sizes use the same help desk software solutions?

A: The straightforward answer here would be “no.” The more features a help desk software has, the more it would match enterprise users. Small businesses may benefit from using simpler solutions that address their immediate needs and grow with them as they scale up.  

Recap

Help desk software solutions can save your business the headaches of customer management and also provide you valuable insights into your overall customer experience. Whether you’re a small business or an enterprise, you can benefit from using a help desk software that matches your business needs. From highly structured help desk solutions that use the ITIL framework to less complex solutions, you can find what works for your ticketing, issue resolution, knowledge base, self-service, forum, survey, and other help desk needs.