How to Choose the Best Help Desk Software in Simple Steps

How to Choose the Best Help Desk Software

There comes a time when managing your customer issues is no longer possible using spreadsheets or post-it notes. Help desk software seems like the only solution that can automate your support process and keep customers happy. 

Now, when you raise the question- how to choose help desk software, there are literally thousands of things that factor in. Your business has to consider deployment options, cost, scalability, and long-term value. 

And just when you think you are getting closer to your decision, you realize you forgot the most important part – “ your team’s unique needs”.

The right help desk software can spell the difference between profit and loss, between unhappy and delighted customers. But at the same time, if you casually choose your help desk tool, you can raise havoc for your customer service team. 

What is Help Desk Tool

A help desk tool can be the key to a streamlined support process. In fact, the right help desk software can spell the difference between profit and loss, between unhappy and delighted customers. 

If you are searching for your ideal help desk or wish to settle for a better one, then this help desk software guide is for you. We will discuss the different types of help desks available in the market, and explore factors as well as features that you need to keep in mind before investing a single dollar.

Identifying Which Type of Help Desk Software You Need

There are multiple help desk vendors in the market today, selling different types of solutions for different businesses. Amidst all these options, choosing a help desk ticketing system can seem like a mountain to climb. 

Here are four common types of help desk software that will help you narrow down your search: 

1. Web-based

A web-based or cloud-based help desk software is hosted on the vendor’s servers. Instead of making a one-time payment, you are required to opt for monthly or annual subscriptions. The best part is that your business does not need to worry about maintenance, data backup, or security, as these are handled by the software company. 

2. On-premise

To operate an on-premise help desk, your business will need to purchase the software license and pay a one-time setup fee. You will have to install the system on your own server and look after its maintenance, data backup as well as security. Although this type of software might prove to be more expensive, you will have complete control over the privacy of information. 

3. Enterprise

Enterprise help desks, as the name suggests, are opted by large companies who have a big support team and need advanced features. For instance, you can get features such as IT asset management, change management, multi-brand support, enterprise reporting, and more. Due to advanced features, enterprise help desks are expensive compared to their counterparts. 

4. Open-source 

An open-source help desk allows developers to access its source code. In simpler terms, your developers can modify or enhance the tool depending on the needs of your business. Your team can build the tool over the course of time, add more features, fix bugs, make it more secure, enhance its user interface, and more. 

Factors to Consider Before Purchasing a Help Desk Tool

If you have no idea how to choose help desk software or what factors to consider then this section is for you. Right from understanding customer expectations to asking difficult questions to your help desk vendor, there is a lot you need to keep in mind. 

1. Define What ‘Great Customer Service’ Means For Your Business

Businesses that are known for exceptional customer service, start by creating a customer service strategy. 

Your customer service strategy is the foundation for an exceptional service culture. Understand what great customer service means to your business and make such service standards consistent across all departments. 

For some businesses, great customer service can simply mean a customer who has given a 5-star rating to a customer service agent or interaction. However, others might adopt an in-depth approach and consider ‘repeat buyers’ or ‘loyal brand advocates’ as signs of superior customer service. This will help you get a clear picture of your business objectives and priorities so you can look for a tool that meets them. 

Read More: 30 Customer Service Tips for Delightful Customer Experiences

2. Understand Customer & Employee Expectations 

Before picking the correct help desk solution, you need to understand what customers expect from your brand. Around 54% of all consumers globally say they have higher customer service expectations than they did just one year ago.

While some customers might expect a swift response over live chat, others might demand a mobile-friendly knowledge base. You can understand their expectations by monitoring brand mentions on social media, keeping an eye on your competitors, and directly asking your customers via surveys. 

Now, when we talk about employees, it is your responsibility to reduce their efforts and make their lives stress-free. The productivity and operational efficiency of your agents are dependent on the tools they use. Therefore, before finalizing a help desk, you must consider taking suggestions from those who directly deal with customers- your service managers, as well as service representatives. 

3. Raise Important Questions About Your Help Desk Vendor

Now, once you have clearly understood customer needs and expectations, it’s time to raise important questions about various help desk vendors. 

  • How many paying users do they have?
  • What is their average rating on popular software review platforms?
  • How easy is it to contact them for technical or non-technical assistance?
  • How many communication channels are they available on? (email, phone, chat, etc.)
  • What other perks/benefits do they offer? 
  • How secure is your business data with them?
  • Do they provide a free trial of their tool?
  • What help desk metrics does the tool allow you to measure?

The answers to these questions will provide a strong base for your research and help you realize the various pros and cons of every tool you consider. After discussing with your team or CS experts, you can frame more questions. 

4. Consider key Help Desk Features

Your search for the best help desk software is incomplete without factoring in the features. Let’s look at some of the core features that your tool should have: 

  • Issue Tracking 

Issue tracking is one of the primary features of help desk software. You can convert every customer issue/request into a ticket and successfully track the entire ticket lifecycle. Your agents can easily monitor the progress of every support ticket in a shared dashboard.

  • Internal Collaboration

 As a business, you may need more than an individual or department to resolve a ticket completely. Internal collaboration features such as private notes, parent-child ticketing, etc., allow your agents to work in sync and resolve tickets faster. 

  • Knowledge Base

All great help desk tools have one thing in common; they allow users to create a knowledge base from scratch. You can allow customers to find relevant help using FAQs, articles, video tutorials, etc., and reduce your ticket volume by up to 80%. 

  • Live Chat

Live chat enables you to provide real-time support from within your help desk. Besides engaging users, you can also use a live chat plugin to maximize your sales opportunities. In fact, chatbots can be used to assist customers with their basic queries. 

  • Reports & Analytics

The best help desk ticketing system must offer your team all the data you need. You can track key customer service metrics such as first response time, customer satisfaction, ticket backlog, etc. Managers can also monitor team performance from time to time.

Read More: 15 Help Desk Metrics to Improve Customer Support

5. Scalability Is the Key

Overlooking the scalability factor while purchasing help desk software can be detrimental to your business growth. You need to check with sales and customer service teams if the solution you are considering can support a large volume of customers.

Go for a help desk that can match your growing business requirements.

Let us say, you have a small team at present, but the business could expand at some point in the future. With business expansion, you would need a powerful help desk ticketing system to handle the rising volume of customer issues and requests. 

A scalable and future-proof software helps you better manage customer communications and collaborate with teams efficiently without losing any customer queries. Help desk managers can rest assured that even in case of rapid business expansion, their help desk tool will be more than ready to grow along. 

6. Focus on Your Budget

No matter if you have a customer service team of a hundred or ten members, budget is always an important factor. Without a sound knowledge of your budget, you are just taking a shot with both your eyes closed. 

Here are some points to consider to ensure the help desk system fits right in your budget:

  • Don’t get distracted by steep discounts or low prices. A low price does not guarantee quality features. Go for a tool that offers all the features your team needs without burning a hole in your pocket.
  • Get the upper management involved and take their approval before finalizing any help desk tool. Keep things transparent and let your leadership know where and how the money is going to be spent. 
  • Instead of making a heavy investment in buying an open-source tool, buy a cloud-based help desk software that offers flexible pay-per-agent plans. Go for annual plans as most companies offer heavy discounts (anywhere from 10 to 50%) on them. Also, ask if there are any hidden costs or charges. 

7. A Free Trial Can Work Wonders

Some help desk vendors offer a free trial for their product, which is usually limited to 15 or 30 days. A free trial can offer you a glimpse into a help desk system and help you make a more confident purchase decision. 

With a free trial, you can actually get to use the tool that you are going to purchase without spending a dollar. Using a trial version is a great way to check if all the advertised features and options are actually included and how well they function. Most trials offer you premium features so that your team knows exactly what they are getting into. 

A window of 15 to 30 days is more than enough to gauge the efficacy of a tool and explore all features in greater detail. During this period, ask your agents to jot down all the things they love and highlight areas where the tool falls flat. 

8. See How Well Your Team Responds 

Selecting the right help desk software is only half the battle won. You need to consistently see how your team responds to the tool and whether they are facing any challenges or not.  

  • Before you get all hands on deck, make sure your team is trained on basic help desk skills. They must have a fair idea about ticket prioritization, escalations, canned responses, ticket resolution time, and more. 
  • Whenever your team encounters any challenge, feel free to contact your help desk vendor for support. Visit their help center and look for relevant FAQs, help articles, video tutorials, etc. to overcome any hurdles. 
  • Hold regular team discussions and meetings to understand how comfortable your agents are with the tool. If they are facing challenges even are weeks of use, the tool might not be the best fit for you. With the right tool, you must be able to witness enhanced productivity and fewer efforts on the part of your agents. 
  • Create an internal knowledge base and allow agents to share best practices, tips, or hacks on making the most of the tool. For instance, an agent can share how he discovered an amazing feature and how it can solve a major problem. 

Other Factors to Consider While Selecting a Help Desk Tool

While we have already discussed the primary factors, there are still some additional factors that deserve your attention. Let’s take a quick look: 

What support channels do your customers prefer?

Customers today do not wish to contact a support team using just traditional channels such as the phone or email. Over the last couple of years, digital channels such as live chat and social media have garnered tremendous popularity. In fact, 51% of customers prefer to use live chat support for multitasking purposes. Therefore, while choosing your help desk make sure it supports the communication channels that are popular among your audience. 

To what extent do you wish to automate your customer service process?

Customer service automation can display magical results for your customer service team. Look for a help desk solution that allows you to automate your repetitive tasks with features such as canned responses, automated ticket routing, automated notifications, surveys, etc. Moreover, many modern tools even offer AI-powered chatbots that can help you assist customers even when your team is not available to take chats. Chatbots can interact with customers, help them make better purchase decisions, and generate more leads for your business. 

Ready to Choose the Best Help Desk Software? 

Most entrepreneurs have no idea how to choose help desk software. What’s worse? They don’t even know where to start. Getting your hands on a good help desk should not be giving you sleepless nights. Your team deserves the right tool that can not only reduce their efforts but also empower them to solve customer issues promptly. 

Once you also explore the factors mentioned in this help desk software guide, sit with your service team and understand what they want. Don’t forget to compare features and never compromise on security; we repeat- never!  

If you are looking for a feature-rich yet affordable help desk tool, then your search ends right here. ProProfs help desk has been diligently designed for happier employees and delighted customers. Thousands of businesses trust ProProfs for making every support interaction meaningful.

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About the author

Jared is a customer support expert. He has been published in CrazyEgg, Foundr, and CXL. As a customer support executive at ProProfs, he has been instrumental in developing a complete customer support system that more than doubled customer satisfaction. You can connect and engage with Jared on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn

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