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Help Desk Software

Help Desk software enables organisations to respond more efficiently to users. These ticketing systems can aid in answering technical and functional questions by providing improved methodologies for ticket tracking, IT service management and customer service support. Integrating these elements improves the ability of customer service departments to provide fast and effective support to employees, end users and customers. Help Desk management software can also facilitate the flow of new information from users, contributing to an organisation's existing knowledge base. Help Desk software is related to Call Centre software and Customer Service software. Find the best help desk software for your organisation in Australia.

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Help Desk Software Buyers Guide

Introduction

Help desk software enables organisations to respond more efficiently to users. The central idea of a help desk is to provide end-users, including internal staff and external customers, with access to the support and information they need to make effective use of a business's products and services. Some of the core features found in help desk software include a ticketing system, a self-service portal, and a searchable knowledge base. Ultimately, this combination of features improves the flow of information within an organisation.

Access to help desk software is beneficial to users because it allows businesses to track interactions with customers while allowing customers to communicate with customer service staff or find answers to their questions via the knowledge base. This can then improve overall customer satisfaction by ensuring end-users know how to use products and services, helping them to resolve any issues they encounter when using them. Additionally, help desk software can assist with internal communication, allowing customer service staff to assist other employees.

Help desk software is sometimes referred to as service desk software or as an IT ticketing system. It is closely related to other software categories, including call centre software, live chat software and online CRM software. The knowledge base within the software can be continuously expanded, especially as new problems emerge and new solutions to those problems are found. Expanding the knowledge base in this way can make it significantly easier for customer service teams to troubleshoot future problems and find solutions swiftly.

When deciding on a help desk software solution, organisations will need to consider a range of factors, including the size of the business, the skills and qualifications of employees, whether remote access is needed, and the ways different solutions can combine with existing processes and software packages. Although help desk software packages can vary in terms of the precise features they offer, the vast majority of options in this area will include the following:

  • Track and manage interactions and the issue resolution process
  • Manage, search and add to a database of common issues and solutions
  • Allow customers to resolve their own issues through the knowledge base
  • Set up email or SMS alerts to draw attention to issues that require escalation

What is help desk software?

Help desk software, also known as service desk software, assists organisations in their efforts to provide swift, helpful responses to end-users, including customers and internal staff. In particular, the software can be integrated with customer service or customer support processes, allowing an organisation's ticketing system to be more effectively managed. This, in turn, can then lead to efficient and reliable answers to technical questions.

Aside from helping businesses and other organisations to manage customer support tickets, the best support desk software will typically include a knowledge base, which serves as a database or repository, storing the most common queries, concerns, complaints or problems, along with their solutions. Using this knowledge base, it then becomes easier to track down solutions to similar problems and provide more informed answers to customer questions.

In many organisations, issues may need to be escalated or passed on to different departments. Help desk software can play a valuable role in making this system more efficient by improving the flow of information and allowing one employee to pick up where another left off. The ultimate aim of help desk software is to enhance the user experience by ensuring that end-users of all kinds are able to resolve problems quickly and make full use of products or services.

Businesses can make use of help desk software to manage their ticketing system and ensure employees are alerted to the issues that need to be escalated and resolved most quickly. At the same time, it can make it easier to live up to customer expectations, both in terms of the quality and overall speed of answers and eventual resolutions.

What are the benefits of help desk software?

The benefits of help desk software are primarily focused on the concept of centralising important information that can assist with user support and answering common questions. Crucially, the various benefits linked to help desk software can lead to an enhanced reputation and superior overall business outcomes in the long run. Some of the main advantages that might be expected after adopting high-quality help desk software are outlined below:

  • Improve resolution times: when customers encounter issues with products or services, they expect help to be available and demand fast response times. Through effective use of help desk software, businesses can meet customer expectations by providing employees with a continuously expanding knowledge base. This can then be used to provide quality answers to questions and deliver swift resolution times.
  • Increase customer satisfaction: effective use of help desk software can help to make sure customers receive the level of support that results in true customer satisfaction. This can be achieved by providing dependable, tailored support when customers encounter issues with products or services and by avoiding situations where issues are left unresolved. Improving customer satisfaction levels is a major priority for most organisations because it can produce significant business benefits, with examples including improved reputation, lasting customer loyalty, repeat business from satisfied customers, and better overall financial results. One of the key considerations here is the fact that an overwhelming 98% of Australians read online reviews before they make a purchase, meaning that great customer satisfaction is paramount to continued success.
  • Boost employee productivity: the knowledge base contained within high-quality help desk software can play a role in boosting productivity. It does this by providing employees with a reliable place to turn when they need answers to customer questions or when they need to find out how a particular problem can be resolved. This then results in the employee having more time to spend on their core work tasks. Additionally, the knowledge base can be used as an internal IT support tool, helping staff members to make more effective use of IT applications and systems.
  • Enhance staff knowledge: the continuous expansion of the knowledge base in a help desk software solution can also improve overall staff knowledge levels. Each time an issue is resolved, the solution can be documented, and employees can then learn from it. A key benefit associated with improved staff knowledge is resolving the most common problems and answering the most common questions more quickly. This can then boost first contact resolution rates.
  • Aid internal communication: good customer service and effective internal work solutions both rely heavily on the quality of communication within an organisation. Help desk software can assist efforts to improve communication by allowing different departments to easily add information to the knowledge base and read the information that others have contributed. The advantages associated with this improved communication are especially apparent if an end-user encounters a problem that needs to be resolved by involving more than one department.
  • Prioritise the right issues: some issues raised by customers are going to be more urgent than others, and ticketing software can assist employees in creating an order of prioritisation. Using the ticket management options, it becomes easier to identify the issues that need attention quickly. Combined with the alert and escalation features included in most software packages of this kind, it can draw attention to the most important issues or signal that they need to be escalated to a higher level of priority.

What are the features of help desk software?

Help desk software features will typically include some core features, which are present in almost all packages. It also has common and optional features, which can help buyers to choose between the different applications. The precise features that are most important to one business may not necessarily be as important to other businesses, but most companies—regardless of size and type—are able to utilise many of the core, common and optional features. Generally speaking, expect that a typical help desk software solution would include most of the following:

  • Ticket management: track interactions and automate key elements of the resolution process through built-in ticket management. When an end-user encounters a problem with a product or service and would like assistance from a customer service rep, the usual process involves them opening up a support ticket, which contains the interactions between the end-user and the support team. The ticket management elements included in the best software packages make it easy for interactions to be managed and for previous communication to be accessed.
  • Knowledge base management: search through, manage and add to a knowledge base, which covers the most common problems and their solutions, along with frequently asked questions and their answers. Making effective use of a knowledge base can help customer support teams to resolve issues more efficiently, often at the first point of contact. This then results in greater customer satisfaction. The knowledge base can also serve as a form of internal IT support, providing employees with a place to find answers to common problems.
  • Self-service portal: help end-users to find solutions to their own problems through a self-service portal. Provide access to the most critical information contained in the knowledge base and allow customers to track their own support tickets. While direct customer service is an important part of running a business, many customers do prefer self-service solutions when they are available. As an added bonus, any problems resolved without input from a customer service rep can help reduce the overall workload.
  • Alerts/escalation: automated alerts clearly express a sense of urgency, so problems are dealt with quickly. Meanwhile, escalation features within help desk software allow issues to be moved up to a higher level on the chain of command, such as in cases where involvement from a manager is needed. Alternatively, the issue can be escalated to a higher level of priority for the main customer support staff to deal with. Effective use of both alerts and escalation can ensure no issue is left unresolved for too long.
  • Macros/templated responses: answer the most common user questions and queries through the use of response templates or macros. Some questions have relatively simple answers, which do not necessarily require a carefully tailored answer from a customer service rep. With the use of macros or templated responses, these questions can be identified and answered much more quickly, resulting in faster resolution times.
  • Reporting/analytics: access reports and important analytics information to continuously monitor the help desk's performance. The best help desk software will help track key performance indicators, such as average response times, average resolution times, first contact resolution rates, and overall resolution rates. From there, it is possible to identify the areas of strength and weakness, making any necessary strategic adjustments.
  • Real-time chat: communicate in real-time, using built-in chat functionality. The inclusion of chat features within help desk software can assist with improving internal communication as well as making customer support more efficient. Some help desk software will also keep a chat log, allowing easy future reference to conversations that have taken place through the chat feature if it becomes necessary or beneficial to do so.
  • Automated routing: improve efficiency through automated ticket routing. There are few things that frustrate customers quite so much as having to repeatedly explain their issue, all while being passed around from one customer service rep to the next. With automated routing, issues can be automatically assigned to the right department and the most appropriate reps. As a result, solutions can be found, and customer support tickets close much faster, all while frustration levels are kept to an absolute minimum for all parties.

Using Capterra's help desk software directory, it easily filters the available software packages by the features they contain, ensuring only the solutions that meet specific requirements are seen. This will then allow a narrowing down in a help desk software search when looking for an ideal option for an organisation.

What should be considered when purchasing help desk software?

When purchasing help desk software, buyers need to ask themselves a number of key questions in order to find the best option for their organisation. Help desk software applications can differ significantly, and the best solution for one business may not necessarily be the best solution for another. In particular, the following questions can help to narrow down the available options to those that are most suitable:

  • What are the main features of the help desk software? First, it is important to carefully consider the features that are available in the different options. While there are core features, such as ticket management and a knowledge base—which are generally available in the majority of applications of this type—one of the best ways to narrow down the options is to look at the available supplementary features. Does the software include a live chat feature, and are there options for workflow configuration? Is it a closed source or open-source ticketing system? Ultimately, the focus should be on finding the right solution. The software with the widest range of features may not necessarily be the best fit because some of the supplementary features may not be relevant to employees, or the kind of help desk they are trying to run.
  • What makes a successful service desk? Businesses also need to give thought to what makes a successful service desk, especially within their particular industry. This means thinking about things from the perspective of end-users who may need to rely on the help desk to solve problems. Some typical answers might include efficiency, easy-to-navigate self-service solutions and the ability to resolve as many problems as possible at the first point of contact. Look for the solution that will help to meet the needs of the customers.
  • What are the costs associated with the software? Financial considerations are always going to be an important factor in deciding which software to use, but the issue of cost can be more complicated than simply looking at the upfront cost of purchasing the software. For example, if it is a web-based help desk system intended to be accessible from remote locations, there may be a subscription fee associated with it instead of a one-off purchase. Beyond this, factor in a need to provide employees with the right level of training.
  • Does the business need mobile and remote access? Employees may need access to the help desk when they are working from home or attending a different location. According to Gartner research, it is estimated that remote workers will account for 32 per cent of the global workforce by the end of 2021. On top of that, even among those who are attending physical workplaces, there may also be demand for flexibility and mobile access to key software packages, including the help desk software.
  • Is the help desk software compatible with other applications? Compatibility is a major consideration when investing in new software, and this is especially true if an organisation already has customer relationship management (CRM) software. If the tools are not compatible, so the data from each cannot be easily integrated, there is a risk of problems. These might include reduced efficiency, unnecessary friction, additional barriers to effective communication, and the possibility of data loss. By contrast, the entire customer support process becomes smoother and much more efficient when integration is possible.
  • Can you try the help desk software before you buy it? Businesses require certainty that they are investing in the right product, and the ability to try a software package before making a financial commitment can be invaluable. Some help desk software is available with a free trial, and a cloud-based helpdesk system could even be trialled without having to install the software on computers first. It is also worth looking into whether free training options may be available, as this can also substantially reduce the total cost of ownership and allow a better sense of whether or not a particular package is right.

Current help desk software trends will need to be factored into any purchasing decision, and these need to be understood and considered within the context of wider industry trends. It is important to note that the most important trends when selecting help desk software are continually shifting. Keep up with the latest developments, as they could inform future upgrade decisions. At the present time, some of the most important help desk software trends that organisations need to be aware of before making a purchase are as follows:

  • Increased use of automated processes: A large number of businesses are aiming to automate as much of the customer support process as they can to save employees time and provide customers with faster responses. Automated routing, the use of macros or templated responses, and an easily searchable knowledge base can all assist in creating a more anticipatory form of customer service, rather than having to deal with each and every problem as they arise. As artificial intelligence and machine learning continue to improve, customers will become more familiar with automation and appreciate its efficiency. However, it is critical that automation does not come at the expense of genuinely useful solutions to problems.
  • The popularity of social media: The enduring popularity of social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, presents a potential challenge to businesses for a number of reasons. Many social media interactions are publicly viewable, so solutions need to be swift and satisfactory. It may also be necessary to convince social media users to take discussions away from their chosen platform. Help desk software can play a role in this, but not all software packages include social media integration. Where such options are lacking, there is a need to create a reliable internal process for tracking communication across multiple channels.
  • The rise of AI chatbots: Some help desk software includes live chat options, and one of the most relevant trends in this area has been the recent rise of AI chatbots. Using chatbots offers several benefits, including rapid response times and speedy resolution of easy-to-solve problems. However, in more complex situations, where human intervention is needed, some customers may be reluctant to deal with an AI chatbot for too long. This means chatbots may also need to be configured to collect the most important information from customers and then pass it on to a human agent as soon as possible.
  • Expectations for 24/7 customer support: Many modern businesses cater to a global customer base, which means those customers may be using products and services at any time of the day. Therefore, there is an expectation among many that support will be available whenever it is needed. Of course, it is not always possible for businesses to have customer service agents on hand, which is why automation is so important. If customers fit into this category—that of expecting support at all times of the day—prioritise finding a software package that is capable of assisting in meeting those expectations.
  • Conversational user interfaces: Finally, the growing adoption of smart speakers and the increased usage of voice search functionality are important trends to consider because they help to demonstrate customers' interest in conversational user interfaces. This is worth keeping in mind when selecting help desk software because voice search and voice control technology can work especially well with self-service options, and some users may find this preferable to attempting to communicate with a chatbot using text-based inputs.