No matter what type of business you run, your customers should be able to contact you in case they have a question about their purchases. This is where the best help desk software platforms come into play!
Even though you can opt for simpler solutions, like contact forms on your website through which people can provide feedback and ask questions, a method like that might not stand the test of time as your business grows.
To help you out, and let you focus on the tasks that are actually important for your business (literally mind your own business), we did the hard part – researching the best help desk software and comparing the top solutions head to head.
We analyzed and tested the most popular tools out there and examined how effective they are at what they do. Based on this, you can decide which of these solutions is going to be suitable for you and your team.
What makes the best help desk software?
Here are some of the things you should consider when looking for the best help desk software:
Best help desk software (FULL COMPARISON)
Here are the best help desk software platforms we’re comparing:
No time to read? Here’s a quick summary of what we found:
|Tool||Cheapest plan (monthly)||Support channels||Knowledge base and self-service||Reports and analytics||Interface|
|Freshdesk||Free (unlimited agents)||Email, live chat, phone, social media, portal, bots||✅||✅||10/10|
|HelpScout||$15 per agent (up to 5 agents)||Email, live chat with on-page helper, phone||✅||✅||9/10|
|Zendesk||$5 per agent (unlimited agents)||Email, live chat, phone, social media, SMS||✅||✅||9/10|
|Jira Service Desk||Free (up to 3 agents)||Email, help center (on-site portal)||✅||✅||9/10|
|Zoho Desk||Free (up to 3 agents)||Email, live chat, social media, phone, community forums||✅||✅||10/10|
|LiveAgent||Free (unlimited agents)||Email, live chat, social media, phone, portal||✅||✅||8/10|
Freshdesk has an affordable and attractive package for small businesses that do not necessarily get an avalanche of tickets a day. But if you own a long-term financially-stable company or corporation, this software will offer you more goodies on the higher-tier plans.
Freshdesk is actually a product that’s part of a bigger chain of services – Freshworks – for various business departments such as sales, marketing, HR, IT service desk, and more.
The interface resembles the Time Doctor appearance and also has a little bit of Slack’s touch. This makes it look modern, playful, and easy to grasp. If this would be a contest of the most good-looking and intuitive interfaces, I would personally pick Freshdesk as the winner!
- Team inbox with multiple channels: email, chat, phone, social media, knowledge base articles.
- Custom ticket status.
- Automated actions on a ticket and pre-formatted replies.
- Parent-child ticketing and linked tickets.
- Android and iOS apps to handle tickets from mobile.
- Time-triggered and event-triggered automation.
- Feedback mechanism and automated pop-up solutions.
- Reports and dashboard analytics.
- Custom agent roles and custom apps.
Freshdesk user interface
- Sprout: $0. Includes unlimited agents, email and social ticketing, automation, reports, and knowledge base.
- Blossom: $19 / agent / month. Includes all the Sprout features + voice calls, time and event automation, agent collision notification, marketplace apps, and business hours settings.
- Garden: $35 / agent / month. Includes all the Blossom features + live chat, time tracking, customer satisfaction surveys, customer session replays, agent performance report, multilingual knowledge base.
- Estate: $65 / agent / month. Includes all the Garden features + chat with FAQ, ticket assignment automation, custom roles, enterprise reports, multiple SLAs and timezones.
- Forest: $125 / agent / month. Includes all the Estate features + skill-based assignment, secure test environment, IP whitelisting.
- It provides support via all channels, so you can track and solve requests coming from various sources right from one dashboard.
- It can be connected with custom apps and modules for extended functionality.
- It has marketing features like automated proactive outreach, custom bots, fast social media integration, workload management across multiple channels via one single window, etc.
- It has the friendliest interface and a real quick account setup.
- In only offers email and social ticketing in the free version; but unlimited agents, though.
HelpScout is the software we’ve been using on ThemeIsle and Revive Social for years, and we couldn’t be happier with the experience. It’s a simple platform, with an interface that won’t confuse you even for a second. Both the design and the content are straightforward and easy to interact with.
HelpScout is mostly focused on email support but it also offers live chat and in-app messaging. It also ticks all the must-have features that I presented earlier.
This solution is good for startups and higher business tiers given the pricing and the services that come in the first plan.
Another useful thing about HelpScout is its on-page docs module that serves general information to your customers about your products and answers common questions for them.
- Multiple mailboxes.
- Beacon with live chat and on-page helper (instant answers).
- Self-service content.
- Customer management.
- Real-time data reporting.
- Built-in apps and integrations.
- Knowledge base (instant answers for customers).
- Database with customers (keeps each customer’s contact details).
- Customer ratings after each reply.
- Custom apps (you can build your own apps and modules and integrate them with the platform).
HelpScout user interface
- Basic: $15 / agent / month (for up to five agents). Includes one mailbox, one docs site, beacon, reports, saved replies.
- Standard: $25 / agent / month. Includes three mailboxes, one docs site, reports, automated workflows, messages, 50+ integrations, beacon with live chat.
- Plus: $40 / agent / month. Includes all the Standard features + ten mailboxes, custom fields and teams, extra add-ons and apps.
- Company: for teams of 25+ members, with custom pricing. Includes all the Plus features + unlimited mailboxes, more docs sites, dedicated account manager, and other enterprise features.
- The documentation sites are useful and will save you a lot of time answering general questions and issues.
- The agent performance review pages are comprehensive and very informative.
- It’s highly customizable. You can add any kind of new functionality by integrating it with the platform.
- Instant answers can bring advantages to your team.
- It doesn’t come with a free version and the pricing plans might be expensive for a small business.
Zendesk is a popular name in the help desk software world, and its list of clients says it all. The Support Suite that Zendesk comes with is a set of tools and services that will make your relationship with your customers flawless. Everything you need in terms of help desk services – for small businesses or for enterprises – is there.
The interface is simple, modern, and easy to use.
- Unified conversations across channels.
- Customer interaction tracking and prioritization.
- Customer details, including from external profiles.
- Info extraction from previous events and conversations (external systems included).
- Self-service and knowledge base.
- Live chat, social messaging, SMS, email, and voice channels.
- Analytics and reporting.
- Integration with marketplace tools.
- Skill-based routing, triggers, and automation.
- Support Suite bundle.
Zendesk user interface
- Essential: $5 / agent / month. Includes email and social channels, pre-defined business rules, web widget, mobile SDK, interaction history.
- Team: $19 / agent / month. Includes all the Essential features + custom business rules, performance dashboards, integrations, and apps.
- Professional: $49 / agent / month. Includes all the Team features + multilingual content, customer surveys, dashboards and reporting.
- Enterprise: $99 / agent / month. Includes all the Professional features + skill-based routing, contextual workspaces, multiple ticket forms, multi-brand support.
- Elite: $199 / agent / month. Includes all the Enterprise features + unlimited light agents, advanced encryptions and security, data center location, 99.9% uptime SLA.
- Friendly interface.
- Uses all the support channels you might need, which you can easily integrate and set up.
- Lets you build and connect the platform with your own custom apps for more functionality.
- No free version available but the plans start at $5 / agent, with access to email and social ticketing.
- The live chat, phone support, community forum, and the self-service are standalone products, and you need to buy them separately or purchase the Support Suite bundle.
Jira is yet another big player in the project management industry.
It is popular among developers and IT companies, being great in helping agile teams organize and communicate better.
The service desk product is meant to facilitate the communication between the developer and the user, by offering a simple platform for IT inquiries and support.
Jira was mainly built for the internal departments of the same organization, to streamline their work and keep teams informed about the periodic development processes and changes within the company. But its Service Desk product is specifically great for technical assistance and communication between the product authors and its customers.
- SLAs policies.
- Customer satisfaction surveys.
- Easily configurable agent queues.
- Knowledge base and self-service portal.
- 200+ integrations.
- Automation and incident alerts.
- Configurable workflows.
- Smart search.
- Easy linking to dev backlogs for issues and deployment.
- Post-incident reviews.
- Supports multiple languages.
Jira Service Desk user interface
- Free. Up to three agents, 2 GB file storage, and almost all the product features.
- Standard: $20 / agent / month. Up to 5,000 agents, 250 GB file storage, and almost all the product features.
- Premium: $40 / agent / month. Up to 5,000 agents, unlimited storage, and all the product features.
- The agents can create issues and report bugs for developers to solve. They can also use the public commenting system to leave notes to each open issue. The interface here has a GitHub-like appearance.
- The platform has the option to invite external members (people who do not have a Jira license) who can communicate with the customer directly and follow up on the issue they’re having. It’s effective when a bug is reported, for example, and various developers need to take over.
- It offers a self-managed alternative if you want to host the platform on your own server.
- You can split customers into groups with different labels.
- It might seem not so friendly to users who do not use such tools on a regular basis.
- It only uses email and contact forms (via the help center page) as communication channels.
Zoho Desk has a nice and simple interface that puts all sorts of actions and features at your disposal in one single click.
It uses drag-and-drop options so you can set up your preferences right away, without effort. The ticket entries can be displayed in many friendly layouts – classic listings and columns (per priority or due date).
The rest of the customization settings are easy to spot and apply on each page.
What’s great about Zoho Desk is that it keeps all the information, data, conversations and interactions in the same window, no matter if they come from external sources like social media or forums. Everything’s stored in one place.
It also has an AI-powered system that handles voice messages, knowledge base suggestions for agents and customers, automated tags, statistics, and notifications.
- Multichannel system: email, social media, live chat, telephony, web contact form.
- Self-service and knowledge base.
- Customer relationship management tools.
- Automation: workflows, ticket assignment, notification rules, SLAs, layouts.
- Custom functions: you can write custom code to integrate modules and other tools.
- Mobile SDK.
- Integrations and APIs.
- Reports, dashboards, and time tracking.
- Customizable layouts, templates, self-service portals, ticket statuses.
- Agent roles and profiles.
- AI-powered assistant integration.
Zoho Desk user interface
- Free. Up to three agents, email ticketing, private knowledge base, predefined SLAs, multilanguage helpdesk, mobile apps.
- Standard: $12 / agent / month. Includes all the Free features + social and community channels, product-based ticket management, themes gallery, customer ratings, extensions and integrations, reports.
- Professional: $20 / agent / month. Includes all the Standard features + team management, telephony, time tracking, round-robin ticket assignment and agent collision, templates.
- Enterprise: $35 / agent / month. Includes all the Professional features + live chat, AI assistant, custom functions, multi-branding, role-based data sharing, 50 light agents.
- It comes with nice layouts for tickets, which you can organize and arrange based on due time, priority or status.
- It uses drag-and-drop to customize pages and forms.
- It has a detailed agent performance review page.
- You can add tasks, set reminders, and schedule calls via your dashboard (like in a project management tool).
- The response editor doesn’t offer the possibility to insert saved replies.
- The live chat and the AI assistant are only available in the Enterprise plan.
LiveAgent is a help desk software with a simple and rather minimalist interface. The tickets use colors for every label – deadline, importance, status, etc. – so you can filter and browse the entries quickly. It is a one-in-all help desk solution that offers pricing plans per channel of communication, so you need to upgrade for each new channel that you want to add to your suite.
It has a free version, though, including many channels but with basic features and settings.
- ‘To Solve’ button, where you can add tickets that need further investigation or deeper work.
- Automated ticket routing based on your rules.
- Hybrid ticket stream: different channels, the same thread.
- Time tracking.
- Ticket distribution by departments.
- Multilingual support (language-adaptable widgets).
- Rules and workflow automation.
- Predefined templates.
- Mobile help desk application.
- 30 integrations.
- Live chat.
LiveAgent user interface
- Free. Includes a 7-day ticket history, one email address, one chat button, and one phone number + other free features.
- Ticket: $15 / agent / month. Includes an unlimited ticket history and unlimited email addresses + other premium features like department distribution, multi-brand support, reports, APIs and integrations, data import from CRM.
- Ticket+Chat: $29 / agent / month. Includes unlimited history, email addresses, and live chat buttons + premium features like chat satisfaction surveys and invitations, real-time visitors monitoring.
- All-inclusive: $39 / agent / month. Includes unlimited history, addresses, live chat buttons, and call center support + video calls, call routing and transfers, interactive voice response, gamification, hardware IP phone.
- It has a clear and structured ticket management, using color labels to mark the importance, due date, department, and status of a ticket.
- The onboarding process is straightforward; it walks you through all the steps that need to be completed in order to have your agent profile ready.
- You can call the customer or effectuate an internal call directly via the ticket window.
- The ‘To Solve’ folder is pretty useful.
- It provides pricing per channel of communication. So, in the first premium package, it only offers email ticketing. With every new channel, it gets more expensive.
- The interface is not the friendliest, it has the vibe of an obsolete design. But it’s still an intuitive one.
Which help desk software to choose?
So which of these contenders comes on top as the best help desk software overall?
Maybe this will make your choice easier; here are my personal recommendations and short summary after reviewing, searching, and testing each platform:
Zendesk – If you have a small business and do not need many support channels, Zendesk can be a win in terms of pricing. Unless you need to add additional features, in which case your bill will grow.
Jira Service Desk – An efficient software that streamlines the work in an IT company. Its interface is friendly and provides all the resources a developer needs to solve customers’ issues without lingering on a ticket due to bad management. It also works for non-technical requests, but it might not be the first choice for a casual user.
Zoho Desk – Zoho is another software with a modern and appealing interface, which provides a clear and well-structured ticket listing per labels of choice. It’s hard to miss something with Zoho. It comes with affordable pricing for both startups and corporations.
LiveAgent – Similar to Zoho Desk when it comes to pricing, LiveAgent has a more attractive offer in the free version but a more difficult to grasp interface. Just like Zendesk, this platform raises the price for each new support channel added to the package.
I hope that this guide has helped you select the best help desk software for your business. Should you still have any questions, please let us know in the comments below.
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