If you want to build a customer-centric company that's focused on increasing value and growth for customers, it's important to meet and exceed customers' expectations. Often this means building a help desk, an important step towards becoming a flywheel type company -- where customers' success fuels your company's growth. 

In order to focus on your customers and improve their experience to get to the point where they help grow your business through word of mouth marketing, referrals, and positive customer satisfaction scores, you need to start with the basics. Prioritizing reactive customer support will earn you goodwill with your customers and help you form productive partnerships with them, and the basic element of excellent customer support is responding to and resolving customer issues.

In order to respond to incoming customer issues, you need a help desk and ticketing system to help you stay organized and prioritize. In this post, we'll cover the nuts and bolts of what makes a help desk, and which tools might be best for your customer support team.

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What Is a Help Desk?

Most customers support teams run on what we call a help desk, which is a technology system that helps teams intake, manage, organize, automate, respond to, and report on customer questions or issues. The best customer support comes from humans using top-notch technology to help scale the impact of each support rep and the solutions they identify for their customers.

Here's a breakdown of the specific capabilities most help desks are comprised of:

1. Customer Intake

Customer intake is how customers submit questions and issues to your customer support team. The channels used will depend on your customers and your industry, but it's advisable to offer a variety of different channels for customers to reach out to you to make sure you're helping them in the manner easiest to them. Otherwise, if you try to get customers to jump through too many hoops, they may grow frustrated, and leave you for a competitor that's more accessible.

Examples of customer intake include live chat, a web form, email, social media, or a phone call.

2. Shared Inbox

A shared inbox is how customer support teams can manage and collaborate on the responses coming in from customers to best determine a strategy for triaging and responding. It usually involves a way to consolidate and sort messages, and to tag and assign incoming tickets to specific reps.

Examples of shared inboxes include a group email alias, a conversational messaging inbox, a live chat queue, or social media monitoring tools.

3. Ticket Organization

Ticket organization is how the customer support team can stay organized and on track when ticket volume gets high -- such as during a product outage, or during a period of time when lots of customers are purchasing. Customer issues frequently involve a variety of different teams to resolve, so sorting, prioritizing, assigning, and tracking them helps teams save time and improve responses. Automation is a helpful way to more efficiently route and assign tickets to team members who specialize in certain issues or complaints.

Examples can include a help desk ticketing tool, collaboration tools like Asana or Trello, Jira, workflows, and more.

4. Reporting

Reporting is how customer support teams can optimize their work, incentivize and compensate reps, and make informed team priority and headcount decisions. Help desk reporting offers insights about how team systems and priorities are working. This usually includes dashboards that inform management about ticket resolution time, customer satisfaction, rep productivity, customer experience, and more.

Now that we're all on the same page about what makes a help desk, here's our list of the best help desk software your customer support team use to better serve customers:

1. HubSpot Help Desk Software

Price: Starts free; $400/month for Service Hub Professional

HubSpot Service Hub is particularly powerful when it's used with other HubSpot marketing, sales, and CRM products. By integrating automation and bots with all of your marketing and CRM data, Service Hub helps deliver an end-to-end customer experience that helps retain happy customers.

The tool features help desk and ticketing software that combines a conversational 1:1 communication inbox, automation and bots to effectively route, assign, and respond to tickets, and reporting to help support teams constantly improve and iterate to achieve better results, faster, for their customers. HubSpot tools were developed for small to mid-sized businesses, but we also offer an enterprise tier to help large companies deliver exceptional customer support at scale. 

Check it out below:


2. Zendesk Support

Price: Starts at $89/user/month

Zendesk is one of the most established customer service software companies, with tools that cater to a variety of different small, mid-sized, and enterprise customers. Its help desk tools are super-slick and consolidate all customer data across different platforms in one place.

Check it out below:


3. Salesforce Service Cloud

Price: Starts at $25/user/month

Salesforce offers a powerful help desk through its Service Cloud. By focusing on helping larger companies with bigger customer service teams scale support effectively, its help desk helps teams automate customer support, provide consistent experiences, and help customers help themselves.

Check it out below:


4. Freshdesk

Price: Starts at $35/user/month

Freshdesk offers a help desk that brings customer support to all of a company's different channels of communication. It helps unify customer messages and information to give customers a better experience, no matter how or where they reach out for support.

Check it out below:

Helpdesk Ticketing System

5. Intercom

Price: Starts at $136/month for two users

Intercom is perhaps best known for its live chat tool, and its help desk tool is a simple, easy-to-use solution for teams that don't need a lot of process to get going working with customers. It includes tools for easy collaboration and automation to scale and improve customer support.

Check it out below:


6. Zoho Desk

Price: Starts at $12/user/month

Zoho Desk's help desk solution is aimed at increasing individual customer support rep productivity. Its tools help identify insights and trends to help your team make better decisions to resolve customer cases faster.

Check it out below:


7. LiveAgent

Price: Starts at $9/user/month

LiveAgent is a help desk built for small to mid-sized businesses. It's more focused on phone support and call center-based teams, but they also support other email inboxes.

Check it out below:


8. Jira Service Desk

Price: Starts at $10/month for three users

Jira's help desk offers self-service options, ticket automation, SLA management, and more. If your software teams are already using Jira Software, users can link IT tickets to the team's backlog to get to the root cause of problems before they escalate for customers.

Check it out below:


9. Help Scout

Price: Starts at $12/user/month

Help Scout's help desk focuses on creating a simple, enjoyable experience for the end-user or customer. Its system focuses less on structure and tickets, and more on internal collaboration among teams to better serve customers.

Check it out below:


To learn more, read about the best call center headsets to use next.

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Originally published Nov 29, 2018 8:00:00 AM, updated June 24 2019


Customer Support