Helpdesk definition

A help desk is a tool that organizes customer communication to help businesses respond to customers and support them more quickly and effectively. Using a help desk allows your support team to offer the best possible service experience to your customers.

Helpdesks offer features to provide context and insight into customer experiences. They also offer features that allow you to benchmark the performance of your support team,  ensuring that your team is truly efficient in assisting and delighting customers. Helpdesk tools are one of the most integral tools for successfully supporting a customer base and delivering effortless customer service.

We’ve put together some information to help you learn about what a help desk can do for you and your team, its essential features, and how to pick one for yourself. 

Why do people use a help desk?

Every customer-facing team may have several people interacting with customers directly at the same time. If this is happening across multiple email accounts with various people, it gets tricky to minimize duplicated conversations, understand the complete context and know who the customer already interacted with at your company.

Helpdesk systems bring everyone’s interactions into one interface and allow different conversations to be cross-referenced and used for more context in the customer experience. 

Some basic functions for which businesses use a help desk include,

  • Organizing customer requests as support tickets on a single interface.
  • Categorizing and automating the flow of tickets to your support center.
  • Assigning the tickets to customer support agents for issue resolution.
  • Tracking the status of a request, both in terms of ownership and ticket duration.

A helpdesk software helps create organization out of chaos by keeping your ticketing system clean and providing your agents with relevant customer data that empowers them to succeed at their job.

What is a helpdesk What is a helpdesk

Key benefits of a helpdesk 

If you’re looking to level up your customer service experience, a helpdesk is the best place to start. Implementing a helpdesk can help in many ways as listed above, but let’s look at each of these benefits individually.

Unify all of your support channels into one place

If you provide support on multiple communication channels such as email, phone, live chat, messaging channels, or social media, having a help desk will allow you to unify all support channels into one place. There is nothing more frustrating to a customer than starting in one place (such as chat or phone) and being shuffled around from one channel to the other, repeating themselves to get an answer. Having a helpdesk app allows you to give a seamless omnichannel experience to your customers by retaining context when a customer switches channels.

Provide faster support to customers

Customers hate waiting—in the queue, over a phone call, or an email. 80% of customers agree that they want quicker responses from companies, and your support team can’t afford to lose precious minutes switching tabs and sorting queries before responding to them. A good helpdesk ticketing system aggregates customer interactions in one screen, adds tags to support tickets for a quick overview of the issue, and categorizes the tickets for agents to deliver quick, effective support to customers.

Boost your team’s productivity

While a helpdesk system allows you to automate time-consuming tasks like ticket assignment, it also eases your team’s workload with simple yet effective automation such as assignment and workflow automation, and autoresponders for out-of-office hours. You can also build an internal knowledge base within your help desk for agents to share insights and resources as well as communicate any changes or product updates to all teams. A good help desk also improves your team’s efficiency by facilitating cross-team collaboration and keeps all members of your global support desk on the same page.

Implement effective self-service options

39% of customers prefer self-service rather than speaking with agents and say they can resolve issues faster by finding help themselves. A feature-rich help desk enables you to create, organize, and centralize support documentation right from the tool, which can be populated with FAQs, guides, or tutorials and is a great way to help customers find answers to their queries before they reach out to you. Access to analytics for your knowledge base also gives you insights into popularly searched queries and highly viewed documentation.

Engage in contextual conversations with your customers

Using a helpdesk tool, you can have all of your customer information in one place and see everything that a customer has reached out to you for in the past. Your team can then pick up conversations without any inconsistencies in context, no matter which team member interacts with the customer next.   

Gain critical insights on agent and team performance

If you are just using personal or shared inboxes to handle customer inquiries, it’s hard to track the volume, type, and resolution rates of the support requests. This information is essential as it helps you monitor the performance of both individual agents as well as your help desk team and, at the same time, allows you to benchmark your support for future hires. A helpdesk system would assist you with these details through robust analytics and customizable reporting.

Who can use a help desk?

Every company that does business with customers will benefit from a help desk. However, you need to choose one based on your company’s size, the structure of your support function, and the kind of business you carry out.

Help desk for different business sizes
Help desk for small businesses

Running a small business means you have to go above and beyond to win customers’ trust for your business to grow. You can’t afford to lose customers due to mediocre customer service. You need to be on your toes, answer customer questions, take special requests, and sometimes hop on calls outside of regular hours. A good help desk designed for SMBs will help you sustain that level of commitment to all of your customers through intelligent automation and self-service options and is easily scalable as you have more customers, channels, and agents.

Help desk for enterprises

A good help desk for enterprise enables faster collaboration both between internal teams, and outside vendors, to help you deliver enterprise-grade customer service. The faster your teams, like engineering or product, can hop into your help desk and investigate critical, cost-bound issues, the better you can serve your high-value enterprise customers. Also, an omnichannel helpdesk enables you to view customer interactions across different channels on a single screen. AI-powered agent assist bots and RPA connectors within your helpdesk allow you to automate repetitive tasks and ease the workload of your agents.

Whether you are an SMB or an enterprise, the best helpdesk software is one that scales easily as you grow.

Help desk for different consumer segments
B2B

A Business-to-Business company is most likely to look for a customer service management software that offers multi-channel support, including channels like phone or chat. They’ll want to access support phone recordings to review calls for quality control. B2B businesses will also value customizable reporting and automation features that help manage escalations.

B2C

Business-to-Customer brands have slightly different needs from their B2B companies. B2C products are usually at a lower price point, and they ship higher volumes with lesser-paying users. So the focus on support in B2C can lean towards things like community forums or ticket deflection.

In general, helpdesk features like agent performance reporting, saved replies, and agent coworking will be critical for B2C customer support team managers. Because the volume can be higher in a B2C inbox, customer service management will benefit from having tools that stop duplicate tickets from being sent or notify agents that another team member is already working on a particular conversation.

Help desk for different customer service roles
Customer service representative

A customer service representative is responsible for answering any incoming tickets or inquiries on all the channels that you’re available for your customers. They might also be responsible for updating your helpdesk tool’s documentation (both internal and external). Helpdesk functionalities that they’ll find attractive are ease-of-use, simple automation, and the ability to support customers from a single interface.

Customer service manager

A customer service manager isn’t likely to spend much time in the inbox beyond looking at analytics. Occasionally, they may get into the inbox to get a sense of what queries are flowing into their helpdesk team or handle an escalation, but they are mostly not part of frontline support. What they care more about while selecting a help desk is how robust the reporting and analytics are and how customizable the help desk is. These options are incredibly important while hunting for new help desks for support teams.

Other customer support roles

It’s also possible that you may have a role between the customer service manager and customer service representative— say a support specialist, a team lead, or even someone with a little engineering background. They’re likely to care about features that overlap the interests of a helpdesk manager and a representative; they’ll want to see how the whole team is doing and where they could get better, but they’ll also need access to options like editing documentation, writing tickets, integrations and adding new tags.

How to choose the best helpdesk

With hundreds of helpdesk systems to choose from, it can be stressful to determine which one will suit your needs the best. It helps to make a list of your must-have and nice-to-have features. Bear in mind the specific problem you’re trying to solve or the goal you wish to attain. Here are some recommendations for you to consider while hunting for the best helpdesk software for you.

How much does the helpdesk cost?

Despite the size and nature of your business, you’ll have a budget allocated for implementing a new tool. Consider the costs involved both initially and in the months to come while evaluating a helpdesk solution. For example, while $50/month/agent sounds feasible when you have just two members, would the pricing still hold good when you scale as a 20-membered team? 

What features does it have?

Go through your must-have and nice-to-have feature lists. If one of your must-have features is not exactly as you would want it to be in a help desk you’re considering, it’s better to go with another tool option. Your not-so-critical, nice-to-have feature bucket doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker but a good add-on to your main criteria in choosing a help desk.

How easy is it to use?

Your team of agents may constantly be shifting. New team members must find their way quickly about the help desk and start supporting customers. It is crucial that the tool be as intuitive and straightforward as possible rather than frustrate your agents with a confusing user interface. A mobile help desk app is an added bonus for your agents who want to support customers easily on the go. Most help desks offer free trials for a few days or up to a certain number of users. Make sure to take advantage of the full trial period and get anyone who might use the help desk regularly to try the product for ease of use.

What is the support provided to your team?

As someone who works in support, you know how important it is to get good support and reach someone when you need to. Before you sign up for a new help desk, look at their support options. For example: do they offer email support only? Do they have varied support for different tiers of customers? What channels do they offer help on? How helpful are their support documentation and tutorials? Make sure that you find a helpdesk tool that’ll support you in a way that suits your needs. A great way to test this is by sending a ticket to their help desk and checking the spread and quality of their customer service.

What apps does the helpdesk integrate with?

There may be tools your company regularly uses, which, when integrated with your help desk, save time and makes it easy for your team to handle tickets. An app integration will connect two services and make their communication seamless and easy. For example, if your development team tracks everything in JIRA, integrating your help desk and JIRA would help manage engineering escalations. If you use Zoom for video calls all the time, it may be beneficial to have a way to launch it directly from inside of your helpdesk’s interface.

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Essential features of a help desk

A robust helpdesk should make it easy for you and your team to support customers in an organized and effective manner. Check if you have the following features that’ll make effortless customer service a reality for your business.

Multi-channel support

Today’s customers want their favorite brands to be available on multiple channels, including chat, email, messaging apps, social media, web portals, and phone for immediate assistance. Look for helpdesks that support requests flowing from different channels and offer the ability to switch seamlessly between the channels so that your customers have a hassle-free resolution journey.

Multichannel helpdesk Multichannel helpdesk
Ticket management

A basic functionality of helpdesks is to allow your agents to view all your customer queries on a single interface as tickets. Automated ticket routing and assigning, categorizing and prioritizing tickets, managing flexible business hours, and effective SLA management are all key features to note under helpdesk ticketing.

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Automation

Automated assignment workflows for different ticket types, canned responses, autoresponders for out-of-office hours, prompt reminders, alerts, and notifications are examples of simple helpdesk automation that make a big difference for your agents. An advanced helpdesk also encompasses AI-powered automation capabilities, including auto ticket field suggestions and agent-assist bots that pull up relevant solution articles for agents to refer to.

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Customization

Customizing the look of your support portal or contact form to blend with other website elements and owning a custom URL for your portal allow you to give a frictionless customer experience. A robust help desk should also enable you to customize agent roles and access as per their responsibilities.

Customization in help desk Customization in help desk
Integrations

When you’re using essential business software like a CRM, Slack, G Suite, or Shopify every day, integrating your helpdesk system with these tools helps ease customer interactions. Most help desks offer direct integrations with common tools that help you gain even more context about your customer’s wants and needs.

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Helpdesk Analytics

Analytics gives you real-time data on ticket trends and help you visualize vital agent performance metrics like response times and First Contact Resolution (FCR) ratings on an intuitive dashboard. You can set up curated reports on agent performance to be delivered straight to your inbox. Helpdesk tools also have mechanisms to tap into customer feedback and measure customer satisfaction using CSAT surveys.

Helpdesk analytics Helpdesk analytics
Self-service

You want your customers to help themselves. You want to empower them to get the answers on their own and not have to wait for you to get back to them via email, text, or phone call. Your help desk should offer the option to create an exhaustive knowledge base that fits the needs of your business and your customers and allows your customers to access it easily as FAQs, guides, or tutorials for self-support.

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Collaboration

Your customer support team will need a place to collaborate with other members both within and outside your company. With the right collaboration capabilities, your team can set the context, offer constructive insights on tickets and make way for other stakeholders to give updates as and when they resolve issues. 

Collaboration using help desk Collaboration using help desk

Ready to try a help desk for free?

The right helpdesk solution will help your team consistently deliver delightful and effortless customer service.

That’s why over 50,000 customers choose Freshdesk. With a powerful suite of features built into an intuitive UI, your agents can sign in and start resolving customer issues right away!

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