Types of help desk software

By Hannah Wren, Content Marketing Associate

Published July 19, 2019
Last updated January 19, 2022

Help desk software makes it possible for companies of all shapes and sizes to deliver great customer service. But with so many options out there, including different types of ticketing systems and different types of help desk software, it’s hard to know where to start.

To help, we’ve broken down the definition of help desk software and the different types of help desk solutions available. From the largest global enterprises to the smallest family-run business, there’s a help desk solution for every company.

Help desk software definition

Most customer service interactions start at a help desk. But what is a help desk?

A help desk is a suite of software tools that give customer service agents everything they need to solve customer problems in one place. The software helps agents track, prioritize, and solve customer requests using different types of help desk ticketing systems.

Types of help desk software

There are six main types of help desk software to consider: web-based, enterprise, internal, on-premises, open source, and cloud-based. Each solution has a specific set of benefits depending on the size, complexity, and nature of a company’s unique customer service needs. Let’s take a look at each:

Web-based help desk software

Web-based help desk solutions offer companies software as a service (SaaS). Service providers host the help desk on their servers, and companies pay a monthly or annual fee to use them. Web-based help desks require an internet connection at all times.

With web-based help desks, the service provider maintains the software. This includes backing up the data, maintaining security, and managing any required updates. There are a number of ways for companies to access and use web-based help desk solutions, including the service provider’s web site, mobile apps, and a desktop client.

Web-based help desks are a great choice for small to medium sized businesses looking for an out-of-the-box solution that requires almost no customization.

Enterprise help desk software

In addition to offering robust customer support capabilities, enterprise help desk solutions offer companies deeply-customizable tools for supporting internal customer service for large teams. Enterprise help desks operate at a massive scale, and provide a host of benefits, including collaboration tools for IT support, asset and account management, and knowledge bases for self-service support.

Enterprise help desks are feature-rich and allow companies to integrate the solution into the workflow of even the most complex global organizations. They are a good option for large organizations that require support for internal teams and external customers.

Internal help desk software

Like enterprise help desks, internal help desks assist companies in providing support for their own employees. Internal desks help desks can be used to power IT and HR departments by managing incoming requests from employees and getting them fast resolution for their issues. Internal help desks are a critical component of keeping employees happy and productive.

On-premise help desk software

On-premise help desk solutions involve purchasing licensed software and installing it on a companies own servers. With on-premise solutions, companies own their help desk and are responsible for its upkeep, including data security. Companies who choose on-premise solutions generally pay a start up fee and for scheduled updates.

On-premise help desks are customizable to interoperate with a company’s internal systems, and are highly-adaptable. They also allow a company to keep their data on their own servers.

Companies typically employ teams of employees to manage, customize and operate on-premise help desk software. Therefore, on-premise help desks are generally used by large enterprises.

Open source help desks

Unlike licensed help desks, open source solutions give companies access to the software’s source code. This allows companies to completely customize the help desk software to suit their specific needs, going beyond plug-ins and basic integration.

Since it requires deep levels of customization and support, an open source help desk software is a good solution for companies with highly-skilled IT teams with programming experience.

Cloud-based help desk software

Cloud-based help desks are similar to web-based solutions in that they operate and store data on remote servers. However, by living in the cloud rather than a vendor’s private servers, they are better able to scale up and down based on demand from customers.

With the ability to scale based on demand, many cloud-based solutions offer variable pricing based on useage, and give companies flexibility in how they use the service. Cloud-based help desks also allow teams to deliver great customer service without in-house programming or IT expertise.

Learn more about the different types of help desks.

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