An adult woman is working at her desk in an office looking at her computer.
When your business reaches a certain stage, using conventional systems like phone or email to manage customer service becomes obsolete. — Getty Images/10'000 Hours

Brands gain a competitive edge by impressing clients with stellar customer service, but it’s not always easy to exceed customers’ expectations. In addition to interfacing with friendly representatives, consumers want self-help tools and fast service. Conventional systems like phone or email simply won’t cut it, so many companies turn to help desk software.

Once you decide to purchase a ticketing support platform, it’s time to figure out your budget and must-have features. You can find a system that works for your agents and customers using a purposeful approach. Here’s how to choose help desk software.

Determine how help desk software fits into your customer service strategy

Your action plan defines the methods and processes your team uses to achieve high-quality customer service. It also outlines how you will measure your service level, including goals for key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics. Help desk software should help you achieve your operational and customer experience objectives.

Think about how your metrics and goals will change after adopting a ticketing system. You may add new metrics like ticket volume by support channel or ticket distribution. Since help desk tools often improve outcomes, you may expect quicker response times and higher customer satisfaction ratings.

You can find a system that works for your agents and customers using a purposeful approach.

Consider your budget

Help desk software vendors charge a per-user fee and offer monthly or annual billing options. Most use a tiered pricing model, with higher-priced packages providing additional features, like advanced reports and more support channels. Some products, like Freshdesk, have free versions. Freshdesk’s free plan supports up to 10 users and includes one inbox and a knowledge base.

Although you’re adding a new monthly service, you may be able to reduce other business costs. For instance, McKinsey’s “2022 State of Customer Care Survey” reported that “nearly two-thirds of those surveyed that decreased their call volumes identified improved self-service as a key driver.” Other savings may stem from increased efficiency and productivity.

Identify the features your employees and customers need

Help desk solutions provide tools for ticket, automation, and process management. The reports and dashboards vary by provider and service plan. Look at the features you need now and identify those that help your agents (and customers) as your business grows. Doing this step helps you look for software that offers additional functionality at a reasonable price.

Consider the following features and questions before choosing help desk software:

  • Support channels: Where can customers reach you? Will you support social media, WhatsApp, or Telegram? Do you want to embed a contact form on your website?
  • Automation: How important are features like canned responses, post-support customer surveys, automated alerts, and ticket routing?
  • Self-service tools: Do you want to offer customers a self-service portal, knowledge base, or chatbot assistance?
  • Integrations: Will you connect your business phone system, video conferencing service, customer relationship management (CRM) program, or billing software to your help desk system?
  • Reporting and analytics: What metrics and KPIs will you track? Do you need to download or automate reports? Are real-time analytics essential to you?
  • Vendor support: What hours will you typically need customer or technical service? Do you prefer to use email, phone, and live chat?

[Read more: How Crom Rehab Built a Successful Practice on Good Customer Service]

Evaluate help desk software systems

Once you’ve narrowed your selection, it’s time to assess the services. Take advantage of free trials and product demonstrations. Involve agents and managers to determine the product's usability. Remember to test the end user side as well. Help desk software should simplify your client’s experience, meaning the customer portal should be intuitive, with a minimum number of steps to request assistance.

You should also contact the vendor’s customer and technical support services. Are the representatives knowledgeable and support times reasonable? It’s also a good idea to check user ratings for desktop and mobile apps. Look for patterns of problems, such as several users mentioning issues requiring technical service or missing capabilities that they wish the tool offered.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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