When it comes to customer service, everybody appreciates a first time, single contact resolution – the customer asks their question, and they get their answer + Read More
Customer service isn’t just about your team having the right attitude and training. For your customer support to be great (or even just functional) in 2020, you need the systems to back it up. This starts with a good help desk or ticketing software.
Your customer help desk software keeps incoming queries from falling through the cracks by turning them into easily manageable tickets. Once a new ticket is created, it can easily be tagged, sorted, and distributed to the right agent at the right time. While some companies use ticketing software to manage their emails alone, true omnichannel help desks allow tickets to be created from any digital channel, including chat, social, SMS, and even voice. This ensures the highest level of consistency, speed, and quality of customer service.
As important as help desk ticketing software is, it can be hard to find the right one. Pricing details can be buried in company websites, and customer reviews can be difficult to sift through. So, we’ve done some of the work for you.
If you’ve ever shopped on Amazon, you’ll know why reading the latest customer reviews is important: products can change vastly from one year to another.
For help desk software, this can be good, with new features being added and bugs being worked out over time. On the flipside, the customer experience can change quickly (and sometimes dramatically) for the worse if a software provider’s customer service becomes too slow, the price point changes, or the company tries tacking on too many clunky features at once.
We’ve compiled this list to include the most up-to-date pricing information and features from 9 leading vendors. We’ve also analyzed the most recent customer reviews from Capterra and Software Advice to give you a full picture of what each of these ticketing software providers has to offer in 2020. Whether you are a small business looking for a simple help desk solution or an Enterprise seeking a catch-all omnichannel platform, we have created this list with your 2020 customer service needs and budget in mind.
The following ticketing software providers are listed in alphabetical order , with key functionality and benefits highlighted for each product. Without further ado, here are our top 9 help desk software and email ticketing solutions in 2020.
|Rating (Source: Capterra)||4.7 / 5||4.5 / 5||4.6 / 5||4.7 / 5||4.4 / 5||4.5 / 5||4.0 / 5||4.4 / 5||4.3 / 5|
|Live chat ticketing||✅||✅||✅||✅||✅||✅||✅||✅||✅|
Great for: Mid-market and enterprise-level support teams looking for a fully integrated, all-in-one ticketing solution.
Founded in 2009 in Vancouver, Canada, Comm100 was launched as a live chat and email ticketing system aimed at helping businesses stay ahead of the digital curve. Since then, Comm100 has kept true to its mission by expanding its offerings to meet the evolving needs of customer service teams. The Comm100 system now includes a full digital omnichannel solution combining live chat, email, social media, SMS, chatbots, and knowledge base, all in one.
Comm100’s omnichannel ticketing platform gives companies more control and visibility than a regular inbox. Incoming tickets are consolidated in a single, unified view, regardless of whether they originate from email, SMS, or social media platforms. Agents can easily switch channels if an issue escalation calls for it, manage multiple email addresses, collaborate on tickets, and track resolution.
Features like advanced routing, response policy enforcement, an agent-facing knowledge base, and Agent Assist AI have helped companies improve efficiency and response quality. And with a wide host of integrations, it is easy to hook Comm100 up to your CRM without having to transfer any data. As one 2020 customer writes: “Comm100 has excellent features, a good range of tools and is well-priced compared to some competitors. It’s not as cheap as some alternatives but you really do get what you pay for with Comm100. We’ve been with Comm100 for around 4 years now since making the move from LivePerson and it has improved the service and customer relations to no end. The system is easy to use and fluid from both agent and customer’s perspective. The system has a plethora of different integrations through their library of pre-built integrations such as SalesForce, or if you have any self-hosted reporting does then you can integrate directly through the Comm100 API.”
For businesses who rely solely on email correspondence with their customers, Comm100’s omnichannel ticketing platform gives them complementary access to more instant channels like live chat, SMS, and social ticketing. As another 2020 live chat customer writes: “Comm100 is easily customizable and satisfies all of our needs for a customer-facing communication solution. We as a company started out with only the chat software and a few add-ons, but as we quickly built confidence in it, we decided to go all out and utilize their AI chatbot and other amazing features.”
In addition to its features and customization options, Comm100 has been praised for its “ability to provide solid, fluid, customer service.” According to one customer, “after experience with numerous other providers, Comm100 has been the only one that has provided a consistent high level of service to internal teams and our customers. High availability built in makes it stress-free. Engagement and relationships with our customers have certainly improved and we hope to be with Comm100 for the foreseeable future.”
Comm100 has gotten criticism in 2020 for its user interface being too bright. “The current theme can be heavy on the eyes and they do not currently offer alternatives,” writes one reviewer. “You can’t change time-zones per user and that can get confusing for multi-national teams.”
Reviewers in 2020 have also criticized Comm100’s reporting. “Splitting out agents can be challenging. We normally will download to excel and apply pivot tables to get the information we need. It would be nice to have a click and go option within the application though.”
Some 2020 customers have reported Comm100 to be missing certain features that would have benefited their operations. As one customer describes this experience: “There have been features that didn’t exist or work for our particular use case in the beginning but Comm100 does not shy away from addressing customer needs and many development requests we’ve made have been considered and deployed to the platform.”
Comm100’s Omnichannel solution comes with four pricing tiers:
Great for: Small to midsize businesses with straightforward help desk needs
Freshdesk is a cloud-based support software that was founded in Chennai, India, in 2010. It was created to address the help desk needs of mid-sized businesses after Freshdesk’s founder, Girish Mathrubootham, read an online comment about Zendesk raising their prices 60 – 300%. Today, Freshdesk acts as a help desk system for over 40,000 customers. It is currently undergoing a rebranding as “Freshworks,” as the company attempts to tap into new markets.
Customers praise Freshdesk for being an easy-to-use help desk software that aids tremendously in simple ticket management. As one 2020 reviewer says, “I love the way they laid out the user experience. It’s intuitive and designed so well for managing customer support tickets”
Freshdesk also gets points for its gamification features that help increase agent productivity. According to one 2020 reviewer, “Freshdesk is super easy to use and manage tasks between people within an organization as well as external contacts that are able to submit tickets as well. I enjoy how it keeps track of points across the organization so you can see the scoreboard compared to other people – it makes things fun!”
Pain points for Freshdesk’s customers include inflexibility in its reporting and lack of automation features. As one frustrated user says, “I believe there is still a lot to improve on the reports side. They are very limited. Also, it would be of great help to get a tool that automatically merged tickets by their content (email body) so that the agents would not have to merge tickets manually.”
Freshdesk users have reported other issues with ticket management in 2020. “Organization was somewhat difficult as each incoming ticket was not linked to a [customer] profile,” says one customer. Customers who use Freshdesk may also find themselves frustrated with data accuracy and filtering. According to another reviewer, Freshdesk “lacks basic and very simple features such as filtering emails/communication by date, or even displaying an accurate date.”
Users who praised Freshdesk’s ease of use have also switched away from their help desk software in November 2020 siting poor customer support.
Freshdesk’s simple help desk software has 5 plans:
Freshdesk recently made moves into the omnichannel market, and has since opened up two new plan offerings that include live chat ticketing:
Great for: Enterprise companies with large budgets and uncomplicated reporting needs.
Happy Fox is a help desk platform company headquartered in Irvine , California. Happy Fox received praise early on by PCMag editors for its live chat and email ticketing functionalities.
Customers say that Happy Fox’s onboarding and training is relatively painless. They also praise it for its ease-of-use. As one customer writes, “It makes it very easy to submit and track requests. We use this as an internal tool to track service and maintenance requests within our organization. It’s been very useful at providing tracking and transparency.”
For customers who complained about a difficult initial setup, Happy Fox’s customer support team came through and was able to help with the transition.
Customers in 2020 have cited notification lags as a recurring issue that affects Happy Fox’s usability. According to one G2 reviewer, “notifications sometimes have a delay of one or two days and that is annoying since the client may think that we are not professionals or that we do not care when it’s actually just an app lag.”
They also note that some of its features are lacking, or aren’t as robust as some of Happy Fox’s competitors. “The reporting is very challenging. I wish they had better reporting capabilities,” one 2020 help desk customer writes.
Happy Fox’s pricing structure caps the amount of tickets that companies are allowed to create per year, and limit customization options. Businesses who surpass the amount of allotted tickets created run the risk of costly overages.
Reviewers also say that Happy Fox’s once attractive pricing has gotten more expensive over the years, and that it currently prices above its competitors. With pricing information largely hidden on Happy Fox’s website, this lack of transparency makes it difficult for companies to assess whether Happy Fox is a good option for their business without first jumping through a few hoops.
Happy Fox’s pricing is only available upon request.
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Great for: Small businesses, high-growth startups, and non-profits who do not have a need for social or SMS channels.
HelpScout is a help desk software solution that was founded in 2011. Headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, HelpScout’s mission is to help small businesses build long term relationships with effective ticket management.
HelpScout’s help desk solution has received praise from its customers in 2020 for its clean interface and no-hassle integrations. As one customer writes, “Help Scout is very satisfying to use, it helps manage support tickets efficiently and integrates well with other tools such as Slack. We love it for all of these reasons.”
Customers have also praised HelpScout’s email ticketing features. “I absolutely love the templates, and tagging features. Also the knowledge base was super easy to set up,” writes one 2020 customer.
HelpScout’s focus is email ticketing, and it does it well. However, businesses that want a more complete support deck might find it a bit limiting. Tickets cannot be created from social platforms or SMS, meaning that companies may have an incomplete or segmented picture of customer interactions.
HelpScout is also not as robust as other email ticketing systems. As one customer writes, “It would be nice to have more customization options. The simplicity is of appeal here, but the limitations are noticeable.”
HelpScout’s help desk software has three price tiers:
HelpScout offers discounts for nonprofits. While it doesn’t have a free pricing tier, it does offer a free 15-day trial.
Great for: Small to mid-market companies who use Hubspot’s marketing software
Founded in 2006 at MIT, Hubspot was created to help give businesses access to inbound marketing tools. With a Marketing Hub, Sales Hub, and CMS Hub, under their belt, they recently made their move into the help desk field with the launch of their Service Hub.
Hubspot’s 2020 customers give its help desk praise for making it easy to keep track of tickets in association with specific contacts, companies, and deals. As one customer writes, “The integration with the rest of HubSpot is one of its biggest values. Many of the functions in Service Hub also mirror other functionality in HubSpot, so I didn’t have to learn how to use a separate suite of tools.”
Hubspot is first and foremost a marketing tool, meaning that it still has some work to do to make it in the support field. Hubspot’s Service Hub customers wish they had access to more reporting, better training, and automation. As one 2020 user writes, “The Service Hub is clunky and does its job less well, and for more money, than other standalone products that perform the same function.”
Current Hubspot users are more likely than nonusers to adopt this platform — however, it doesn’t always hit the mark, even for customers who have Hubspot’s other systems under their belt. As one user writes of their experience: “We chose HubSpot Service Hub because we were already using HubSpot’s other products. Using it was a mistake. It was difficult for us to use, lacked necessary features, did not integrate well with our other services, and was way too expensive for what we got.”
Hubspot’s Service Hub has three price tiers:
Hubspot charges $3,000 in onboarding fees for the Enterprise plan. There is a free version of Hubspot available with limited functionality.
Great for: Small businesses in need of a business messenger
Intercom was founded in California in 2011 by four Irish designers and engineers. A “Conversational relationship management” tool, it specializes in messenger-based experiences.
Intercom has been praised for having an “alluring interface”. As one customer writes, “The interface is modern and fresh looking, and it’s very easy for the customer to engage with the rep.”
Other businesses have also touted Intercom for its ease-of-use in 2020. As one customer in the IT industry writes, “We use Intercom for everything – customer support, marketing emails, live chat, help center and more. It’s become a central place for all our customer communications. We like that it can do so many things, yet it’s so simple and easy to use.”
For some customers, there is a bit of a downfall to the Intercom ecosystem. Companies that use Intercom admit that it adds up price-wise. “It could get a bit expensive if you’re relying on Intercom for too many things,” says one reviewer. Another 2020 reviewer echoes this sentiment, writing: “Everything seems to be an additional cost, there are different price tiers, product add-ons, etc. They keep squeezing money out of us.” While Intercom has good integrations, some customers complain that it makes it very difficult to leave the ecosystem down the line.
Larger teams in particular have questioned Intercom’s ability to meet their needs in 2020. As one user explains, “Overall, features look great from afar and it’s got some powerful tools via API but diving in deeper, it wasn’t the best experience for a larger support team. I can see how this might be a powerful tool for individual sales reps or account managers, but not a customer support team.”
However, users report that Intercom is improving. As one reviewer writes, “I would not have written a positive review about Intercom 12 months ago. There were too many small grievances with the individual features that were all building up. Recently the platform has matured enormously. It feels like the team at intercom has come into its stride. New features like Series, Guides etc. and most importantly – how they all work together – has made it a much better experience.”
Intercom’s conversational support is priced as follows:
Great for: Early-stage SaaS startups and small subscription-based businesses in need of a multi-functional email ticketing system.
Outseta was founded in 2016 with the goal of creating a software that supports all the needs of an early-stage startup. A smaller-name company than others on our list, Outseta has been making its way up help desk lists as an alternative to traditional email ticketing software for small teams in need of a lean tech stack.
Outseta is an affordable help desk option for businesses that are starting off with a small customer base (hence its practicality for companies offering subscription-based services). There are no added fees for additional users, which is good for startups with limited funding, where multiple team members may share roles.
Outseta checks different boxes than other help desk providers by including tools specifically targeted at early-stage SaaS startups, such as billing and authentication. As one 2020 customer writes, “Time saving! Everything that I’ve ever used all in one place working fully in sync, can’t ask for more!”
Outseta is also a startup, meaning that the cofounder, Geoff Roberts, personally contacts customers. While this can lead to slower response times, they are also more likely to be personalized.
Outseta is marketed as a stepping-stone software, ready to help your business out while it’s small. While this can be great for companies who are just getting started, Outseta is not optimized to accommodate substantial growth. The amount of contacts is also limiting for companies that don’t work with subscription models and who expect to engage with more than a couple thousand customers.
While Outseta has other neat features to support small businesses, their ticketing software lacks robust functionality required by more established organizations. For quickly-scaling businesses, this could result in headaches down the line, and time-consuming transfers to other software.
There are 3 simple pricing tiers for Outseta:
Outseta also has a “Free Forever” plan for companies who have less than 25 customer contacts. Companies who surpass the allotted contact limit can contact Outseta for custom pricing.
Great for: Medium to large organizations with in-house Salesforce expert / developer
Founded in 1999, Salesforce is one of the best-known CRM solutions, and is a pioneer in cloud-based CRMs. With more than 150,000 companies using salesforce, it is well known for its marketing, sales, and service capacities.
With near-endless reporting, Salesforce is known for the amount of things that you can track. This is good for large business operations. With the professionals guiding deployment, it is also highly customizable. As one user writes, “Of course like with all other Salesforce tools there is a high learning curve and you need to have professionals designing and customizing the system but it is well worth it.”
Salesforce customers praise its functionality: “Salesforce is our support case tracking system for our support department. I can only speak to how we use it and we live and breathe on it each day. It is the tool our clients use to get self-service help, open tickets, communicate through chat to support, track their cases, sign up for training courses, and many other items. It gives us the ability to organize our work and allow team members across the organization to see anything they need about a client. Salesforce is always stable and is there when we need it,” writes another customer.
Deploying Salesforce can be expensive. And even once it is deployed, customers have complained that Salesforce feels like a pay-to-play app, with costs racking up fast. As one customer writes, “It is VERY pricey and I wouldn’t recommend getting it if you need to utilize a ton of features, unless you have the budget for it. Additionally, there is a lot to learn from Salesforce and every time I needed to add something new, it made the tool more complex which was oftentimes annoying to learn.”
Salesforce is complicated, and requires a lot of time and patience that many businesses just don’t have. As one user writes, “Salesforce is huge, with more features and modules than you can possibly need. I feel that some of these modules would be a distraction, , to a smaller company.” Another review echoes this sentiment, calling its user interface “too complex for lean processes.” Even companies who already use Salesforce’s CRM and sales tools may find it simpler and more cost effective to use a third-party help desk with a Salesforce integration.
Companies looking for an out-of-the box help desk solution may want to avoid Salesforce. Like its CRM tool, it requires customization that can make or break the quality of your help desk. As one reviewer writes, “The software is as good and as bad as the admins customize it. I have had experiences where the database is well managed with the right features and stages. I have had other experiences where the setup is messy and the inconsistencies are frustrating. It certainly is not a tool for smaller companies without being able to assign at least one full-time manager of the CRM.”
Like Zendesk, Salesforce has gotten criticism for its customer service. As one 2020 user writes, “Customer support is not that good, even for big enterprises.”
Salesforce has 4 pricing options for its email ticketing software:
Businesses that want a true omnichannel solution with Salesforce should be ready for added costs. To expand your ticketing system to include live chat, social media, and SMS, businesses that aren’t enterprise will need to pay an extra $75 / person / month for Salesforce’s “Digital Engagement SKU”. This SKU comes with limitations — only 25 SMS conversations and 25 chatbot conversations are included. To unlock added SMS, it’s an extra $30 / month with a 100 conversation limit. And if you want more chatbot conversations, prepare to pay an extra $50 / month for 100 conversations.
Great for: Mid-tier US-based customer service teams.
Zendesk is a CRM tool and help desk software giant based in San Francisco. Created in a loft in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 2007, Zendesk’s mission is to bring a sense of calm to the often chaotic world of customer service.
Customers in 2020 have shared that it’s easy to get Zendesk up and running. “The ticket tracking system is very easy to use and set up so you can see what tickets each business unit or user has open. It also integrates very well with Slack and Salesforce so users can submit tickets and we can track results in Salesforce,” one user writes .
Reviewers also praise Zendesk’s customization options in 2020, writing: “The most likable thing about this software is, its customizable in every way. The software does not have lot of features available, but you can customize yourself (or a developer) the features based on your requirement.”
Customers praise Zendesk’s macros – templates for emails and chat replies – and management capacities. As one customer writes of their experience: “The ease of making macros, creating views, and extracting data all are incredibly useful for our everyday use.”
Zendesk is a huge company with a larger capacity for holes in its customer service, especially for its lower-tiered customers. While some users praise Zendesk for their support, other 2020 users have reported having to switch providers due to a frustrating lack of reliable customer assistance.
Customers have shared some complaints about Zendesk’s ticketing and issue tracking processes. Automations can be hard to implement and are nonexistent in lower-tiered plans, meaning that inboxes can get cluttered and confusing. Other customers have complained that it’s hard to reference past customer interactions, and that chat history gets erased when a customer goes offline. As one customer writes, “Setting up automations can be difficult, but rewarding once you have the process down. Also, searching for previous tickets for reference can be tedious and all over the place.”
Zendesk’s origins are in ticketing, making it a mature, robust solution for ticketing alone. However, Zendesk’s omnichannel help desk software can be clunky, as most of Zendesk outside of ticketing and knowledge base came through acquisition rather than natively built software. Zendesk’s social capabilities, for example, came through the acquisition of Smooch in 2019. Their live chat was acquired for Zopim in 2014, and development has been limited ever since. This taped-together help desk approach hurts the functionality and competitiveness of their individual support channels, and can even cause website lags for some users. One 2020 reviewer reported their company’s website slowing down by at least 30% with Zendesk, causing them to have to switch.
Another pain-point for Zendesk customers is the cost, which can add up quickly. As one customer writes, Zendesk is “not a good option when you want to integrate different employees or departments. It’s a good option when your customer service department is small.” GDPR compliance also comes with an added cost, making this software not the most cost-effective for European users.
Zendesk has multiple paid options. The first is its basic Zendesk Support, which has 5 tiers. These plans include basic email and social media ticketing, and are priced as follows:
The second is Zendesk’s full service Support Suite. This is Zendesk’s omnichannel option, and includes a knowledge base, live chat, and messaging. The Support Suite has two tiers:
While there is no free option, Zendesk offers a free 30-day trial.
Depending on the size and needs of your organization, your standard checklist while shopping for a help desk solution might include several things: an out-of-the-box solution with fast implementation, good reporting, attentive customer service, and extensive customization options.
Above all, help desk ticketing software must be more than just an email inbox. It needs to be more than a glorified knowledge base, that gives both customers and agents access to self-serve capacities, AI assistance, and quick responses (although this is a pivotal part of a ticketing system).
In 2020, your help desk software must be a central hub for information about all of your digital customer interactions. After all, your customers don’t think in channels and will reach out wherever is convenient to them, expecting you to be able to stay on top of their story. Not only do omnichannel ticketing systems keep cross-channel interaction history easily available for your team, but keeping all of your support tickets in a unified location helps you provide more accurate, efficient, and trustworthy customer support.
Speedy, thorough customer support simply cannot be an afterthought. With the right systems in place, you’ll be able to serve your customers wherever they are, on email and real-time digital channels.
For more information on digital omnichannel ticketing systems, check out our eBook, Best Practices for Digital Omnichannel Customer Service.
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