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A guide to the best help desk software

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A complete guide to the 13 best help desk software

Last updated February 15, 2024

Businesses constantly strive to implement systems that help their teams provide great employee and customer experiences. According to the Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report 2024, 80 percent of customers expect chat agents and support representatives to assist them with everything they need. Implementing help desk software using the right tools and channels is crucial to meet evolving customer expectations.

Whether you’re managing customer conversations or handling employee IT support requests, omnichannel help desk software can help. Read our comprehensive guide to help desk software so you can find the right fit for your business.

More in this guide:

What is help desk software?

Help desk software is a tool designed to assist support teams in tracking, prioritizing, and resolving customer and employee queries. The right help desk system empowers agents to collaborate on requests and personalize conversations across channels. With AI and automation, help desk software can help teams reduce manual work.

The 13 best help desk software of 2024

If you need help choosing your next help desk solution—look no further. Our help desk software comparison list provides an overview of features, pricing, and free trials of the top help desk software.

1. Zendesk

Use case: Customer and employee experience

A screenshot shows the omnichannel agent workspace from Zendesk, the best help desk software.

It’s no secret that Zendesk is the G.O.A.T. of help desk software. Designed to enhance the employee experience (EX) and customer experience (CX), our help desk software is the best of both worlds. Its intuitive design and quick setup offer a fast time to value, allowing businesses of any size and industry to implement our software and start using it in minutes. Zendesk seamlessly integrates with your existing tech stack and is easily customizable with the 1,500+ apps and integrations in the Zendesk Marketplace.

Satisfy customers by meeting them where they are via the Zendesk Agent Workspace, a unique tool that provides a unified view of the entire customer journey. It features an omnichannel ticketing system that enables agents to provide fast, personalized customer service at scale on channels such as voice, live chat, messaging, email, social media, and more.

Our employee-centric help desk makes it easy for agents to deliver an exceptional experience—whether for customer service or IT support. Zendesk offers intelligent tools to transform your system into an AI help desk that effortlessly boosts EX. With AI chatbots that use machine learning to provide personalized, conversational support, intelligent routing that sends tickets to the best-suited agent, and generative AI that accelerates knowledge base content creation with minimal agent input, Zendesk is a win for everyone—now and in the future.

Features:

Pricing:

  • Support Team: $19 per agent/month

  • Support Professional: $55 per agent/month

  • Support Enterprise: $115 per agent/month

    *Plans are billed annually.

Explore more Zendesk pricing plans.

Free trial:

14 days

Take 30 seconds to start a free Zendesk trial or request a Zendesk demo.

2. HappyFox

Use case: knowledge base support

A screenshot shows the ticketing system from HappyFox’s help desk software.
Image source

HappyFox is a cloud-based IT help desk solution designed to help support teams stay organized and deliver customer service. The help desk features a ticketing system that creates tickets from email, voice, live chat, messaging, social media, and web form requests and routes them to its shared inbox.

HappyFox’s help desk offers a few options for its self-service knowledge bases. It includes an internal knowledge base for support teams and HR, an external knowledge base software for customers, a contact portal for customers to create tickets independently, and a multilingual knowledge base for global self-service.

Features:

  • Omnichannel ticketing system

  • Reporting and analytics

  • AI-powered knowledge base (early access)

  • SLA management

  • Workflows

  • Automations and intelligence

  • Predetermined actions

  • Task management

  • Satisfaction surveys

Pricing:

  • Mighty: $29 per agent/month

  • Fantastic: $49 per agent/month

  • Enterprise: $69 per agent/month

  • Enterprise plus: $89 per agent/month

    *Plans are billed annually.

Free trial:

Contact HappyFox

Learn about HappyFox Workflows for Zendesk.

3. Help Scout

Use case: collaboration

A screenshot shows the shared inbox from Help Scout’s help desk software.
Image source

Help Scout offers a customer help desk that enables support teams to manage customer conversations collaboratively. The tool consolidates requests from email, live chat, self-service portals, and other channels into a shared inbox. All requests filter into this centralized location where they can be tagged, updated, and assigned to agents or teams.

Other features of Help Scout’s help desk include a help center, live chat and messaging software, automation, custom workflows, pre-built reporting dashboards, and collaboration tools. Help Scout also offers over 100 integrations in their app marketplace.

Features:

  • Shared inbox

  • Reporting and analytics

  • AI-powered knowledge base

  • Workflows

  • Automations and intelligence

  • Help center

  • Live chat and messaging

  • Collaboration tools

Pricing:

  • Standard: $20 per user/month

  • Plus: $40 per user/month

  • Pro: $65 per user/month

    *Plans are billed annually.

Free trial:

15 days

Learn about Help Scout for Zendesk.

4. SolarWinds Service Desk

Use case: IT service management (ITSM)

A screenshot shows the dashboard for Solarwinds’ help desk software.
Image source

SolarWinds Service Desk can help users manage and track support tickets in one centralized interface. It features reporting tools that allow users to analyze business metrics and agent performance. It's also an incident management software, letting users manage tickets from different channels, including mobile apps, phone calls, and live chats.

Finally, SolarWinds’ ITSM system enables businesses to standardize their service requests and processes. It helps teams manage daily IT tasks, collaborate internally, and offer customer portals for self-service. SolarWinds also helps users automate ticket creation, escalation, and routing.

Features:

  • Omnichannel ticketing system

  • Reporting and analytics

  • AI-powered knowledge base

  • SLA management

  • Workflows

  • Automations and intelligence

  • Change management

  • SMS alerts

  • Feedback surveys

Pricing:

  • Essentials: $39 per technician/month

  • Advanced: $79 per technician/month

  • Premier: $99 per technician/month

    *Plans are billed annually.

Free trial:

30 days

Learn about SolarWinds Service Desk for Zendesk.

5. Jira Service Management

Use case: project management

A screenshot shows the interface from Jira Service Management’s help desk software.
Image source

Jira Service Management from Atlassian offers a help desk program used for project management and customer service. Featuring a self-service portal that offers customizable request forms, the software gives customers and employees alike a place to create requests, find answers, and get help.

Jira offers conversational ticketing, meaning agents have a single view of requests from email, chat, and its service desk. Users can triage, track, and route incoming requests to agents or teams and use bulk ticket actions to group similar tickets.

Features:

  • Reporting and analytics

  • AI-powered knowledge base

  • SLA management

  • Workflows

  • Automations and intelligence

  • Incident management

  • Problem management

  • Change management

Pricing:

  • Free: $0 per month (up to 3 agents)

  • Standard: $650 per year (up to 3 agents)

  • Premium: $1,500 per year (up to 3 agents)

  • Enterprise: Contact Atlassian

    *Plans are billed annually.

Free trial:

7 days

Learn about Jira for Zendesk.

6. Salesforce Service Cloud

Use case: customer support

A screenshot shows the dashboard from Salesforce Service Cloud’s help desk software.
Image source

Salesforce Service Cloud is a customer service platform that provides a single view of customer information and history. It features automated workflows, AI-powered productivity tools, and a single ticketing system for issue resolution. Self-service options allow customers to manage tickets without additional help and find articles in the help center.

Keep in mind that Salesforce can be intricate, requiring a longer learning curve for first-time users. Salesforce isn't solely dedicated to customer experience (CX), providing a comprehensive suite for sales and marketing. That means businesses seeking to enhance their customer service may find it easier to achieve their goals by opting for software specifically designed for CX.

Features:

  • Omnichannel ticketing system

  • Reporting and analytics

  • AI-powered knowledge base

  • SLA management

  • Workflows

  • Automations and intelligence

  • Field service

  • Employee service

  • Contact center

Pricing:

  • Starter Suite: $25 per user/month

  • Professional: $80 per user/month

  • Enterprise: $165 per user/month

  • Unlimited: $330 per user/month

  • Unlimited+: $500 per user/month

    *Plans are billed annually.

Free trial:

30 days

Learn about Salesforce for Zendesk.

7. SysAid

Use case: ITSM

A screenshot shows the ticketing system from SysAid’s help desk software.
Image source

SysAid's help desk software offers a suite of ITSM capabilities. The platform provides ticketing functionality, allowing users to log, prioritize, and track support requests. SysAid can help teams with asset management, enabling businesses to manage and monitor their IT assets throughout their life cycle.

The software includes a knowledge base with automation features to handle repetitive tasks, and its reporting and analytics tools provide metrics for help desk performance and customer support trends. SysAid is also customizable and offers integrations with third-party tools and applications.

Features:

  • Omnichannel ticketing system

  • Reporting and analytics

  • AI-powered knowledge base

  • SLA management

  • Workflows

  • Automations and intelligence

  • Self-service portal

  • Asset management

  • Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) management

Pricing:

  • Contact SysAid

Free trial:

Available

Learn more about SysAid for Zendesk.

8. Vivantio

Use case: service management

A screenshot shows the workspace from Vivantio’s help desk software.
Image source

Vivantio's help desk software can help businesses with service management. Teams can integrate Vivantio with a support mailbox to automatically tag and categorize incoming emails. It also offers email templates for automated responses, ensuring customers receive acknowledgment.

Vivantio's portal widget builder features custom themes and designs, and the software’s searchable online knowledge base comes with custom forms and fields. Its help desk also features pre-built and customizable reporting and analytics dashboards as well as a report builder that allows teams to create custom charts to visually display data and metrics.

Features:

  • Reporting and analytics

  • AI-powered knowledge base

  • SLA management

  • Workflows

  • Automations and intelligence

  • ITSM management

  • ITIL management

Pricing:

  • Named license: $99 per user/month

  • Concurrent license: $149 per user/month

    *Plans are billed annually and priced for five system users.

Free trial:

Available

9. Zoho Desk

Use case: automated support

A screenshot shows the ticketing software from Zoho Desk’s help desk software.
Image source

Zoho Desk is a cloud-based help desk software that assists businesses with customer support operations. The platform offers a ticketing system, allowing users to create, categorize, and prioritize support tickets. Zoho Desk features a knowledge base so users have access to self-service resources. The software enables omnichannel support for communication channels, including email, phone, live chat, and social media.

Zoho’s help desk also features automation tools that allow users to set predefined rules and workflows for ticket routing as well as reporting and analytics tools to track ticket volumes, response times, and agent performance. Zoho Desk offers integration with other Zoho applications and third-party tools.

Features:

  • Omnichannel ticketing system

  • Reporting and analytics

  • AI-powered knowledge base

  • SLA management

  • Workflows

  • Automations and intelligence

  • Feedback widget

  • Web forms

Pricing:

  • Free: $0 per month (limited support)

  • Express: $7 per user/month

  • Standard: $14 per user/month

  • Professional: $23 per user/month

  • Enterprise: $40 per user/month

    *Plans are billed annually.

Free trial:

15 days

Learn about Zoho for Zendesk.

10. Freshdesk

Use case: multichannel support

A screenshot shows the ticketing interface from Freshdesk help desk software.
Image source

The Freshworks cloud-based help desk tool, Freshdesk, serves as a centralized platform for support teams to manage and respond to customer requests. Its ticketing system consolidates requests from various channels into a shared team inbox. It offers automation capabilities and customizable ticket fields to help categorize and route incoming customer inquiries and requests. Additionally, users can define custom ticket statuses for greater visibility into the ticket's progress.

It's worth noting that the Freshworks platform comprises three systems: Freshdesk, Freshchat, and Freshcaller. Each system operates within its own workspace, requiring agents to navigate between multiple tabs to access customer information. This setup may impact customer service efficiency, potentially leading to delays and oversight of important information.

Features:

  • Shared inbox

  • Reporting and analytics

  • 1,500+ apps and integrations

  • AI-powered knowledge base

  • SLA management

  • Workflows

  • Automations and intelligence

  • Agent collision detection

  • Prewritten responses

Pricing:

  • Free plan: $0 (up to 10 agents)

  • Growth: $15 per agent/month

  • Pro: $49 per agent/month

  • Enterprise: $79 per agent/month

    *Plans are billed annually.

Free trial:

14 days

Learn about Freshdesk for Zendesk.

11. HubSpot Service Hub

Use case: customer service

A screenshot shows the ticketing system from HubSpot’s help desk software.
Image source

HubSpot Service Hub provides a single dashboard that lets your support team log, organize, and track all customer issues in one place. Agents can view customer data, ticket status, queue location, and how long it took to resolve an issue. Reporting and analytics help you monitor key performance indicators (KPIs) like ticket volume and first contact resolution time.

HubSpot Service Hub offers ticket routing and automation features that allow your team to automate tasks. The platform also automatically creates tickets when a customer submits a form, email, or chat.

Features:

  • Omnichannel ticketing system

  • Reporting and analytics

  • 1,500+ apps and integrations

  • AI-powered knowledge base

  • SLA management

  • Workflows

  • Automations and intelligence

  • Conversation routing

  • In-app chat support

Pricing:

  • Free: $0 per month (limited tools)

  • Starter: $18 per month

  • Professional: $450 per month (up to 5 users)

  • Enterprise: $1,200 per month (up to 10 users)

    *Plans are billed annually.

Free trial:

Unavailable

Learn about HubSpot for Zendesk.

12. Spiceworks Cloud Help Desk

Use case: customer service

A screenshot shows the ticketing system from Spiceworks’ help desk software.
Image source

Spiceworks Cloud Help Desk is a web-based ticketing system designed to assist IT professionals in managing and tracking support requests. The platform allows users to create, prioritize, and assign tickets. Users can also set alerts and customize ticket attributes and rules to receive ticket activity and status notifications.

Spiceworks Cloud Help Desk supports email integration, automatically converting incoming customer emails into tickets. The software includes reporting tools for tracking ticket metrics, response times, and overall support performance. Additionally, users can customize ticket categories and create knowledge base articles and self-service resources for common issues.

Features:

  • Shared inbox

  • Reporting and analytics

  • SLA management

  • Workflows

  • Custom ticket views

  • Ticket rules

  • Prewritten responses

Pricing:

  • Free

Free trial:

Not applicable

Learn about Spiceworks for Zendesk.

13. LiveAgent

Use case: live chat support

A screenshot shows the agent workspace from LiveAgent’s help desk software.
Image source

LiveAgent is a help desk software that helps customer support teams manage inquiries across multiple communication channels. Its ticketing system supports channels like phone, email, live chat, knowledge base, and social media, routing tickets into a shared team inbox. Its chat software allows agents to provide live support and features a real-time typing view so support agents can see what the customer is typing before they hit send.

The software includes automation tools, such as prewritten responses and automated ticket routing. Additionally, LiveAgent provides a knowledge base for help center articles, FAQs, and self-service resources. The platform also offers collaboration tools, reporting and analytics software, and integrations with third-party applications.

Features:

  • Shared inbox

  • Reporting and analytics

  • AI-powered knowledge base

  • SLA management

  • Workflows

  • Automations and intelligence

  • Agent collision detection

  • Built-in contact forms

Pricing:

  • Free: $0 per month (limited features)

  • Small: $9 per agent/month

  • Medium: $29 per user/month

  • Large: $49 per user/month

  • Enterprise: $69 per user/month

    *Plans are billed annually.

Free trial:

14 days with free email or 30 days with company email

Benefits of using help desk tools

Help desk tools have benefits for customers and employees alike. Here are a few to consider.

An image depicts three icons with text explaining the benefits of help desk software.

Enables fast support

The best help desk simplifies the process of providing fast and easy support options to both internal and external customers. An omnichannel ticketing system, for example, consolidates customer requests and IT support tickets in a single location. This eliminates the need to toggle between systems and channels, enabling agents to deliver quick, efficient service.

Sets support teams up for success

Providing better tools can also result in more productive agents. When support teams have a help desk that enhances their skills and streamlines workflows—thanks to a unified agent workspace, AI and automation tools, and self-service options—they get time back to focus on the important stuff. They can consistently do their best work and, in turn, provide a better customer experience.

Keeps your business in sync

IT help desk software eliminates the swivel-chair effect by putting everything support agents need at their fingertips. It helps support reps better understand the customer journey so they can focus on delivering an exceptional customer experience at every touchpoint. It also gives IT teams a comprehensive view of the employee journey, facilitating a seamless EX. With context and data, tracking software, reporting and analytics tools, and easy-to-automate workflows all in one place, your business will stay in sync.

Different types of help desk software

Whether you’re a modest startup or a corporate giant, there are different help desk software options to fit your business. Depending on your company’s size, complexity, and customer service needs, each software can offer unique benefits to help your teams. Let’s look at the different types of help desk software.

Key features of help desk support software

Here are a few key features to look for when comparing help desk software.

An illustration shows an agent using a laptop next to a list of key help desk software features.

Omnichannel ticketing system

A help desk ticketing system allows businesses to process, manage, and track customer issues from submission to resolution. The requests are automatically organized, prioritized, tagged, categorized, and assigned to agents in a centralized dashboard.

Customers and employees can get convenient support over their preferred communication channels, like Slack, email, and live chat. Context moves with the user from channel to channel and lives in the omnichannel agent workspace. This unified view of conversation history, background information, and contact data allows agents to better personalize the interactions.

Reporting and analytics

Help desk software that features reporting and analytics gives you fast access to valuable customer insights that can help you:

  • Identify areas of improvement so you can provide better experiences.

  • Monitor agent and team performance to see where they excel and need to improve.

  • Understand your customers better so you can personalize interactions and improve their overall experience.

With a reporting and analytics solution that integrates data from every channel, you can measure how customers interact with your business and how you perform.

Apps and integrations

The right integrations can extend the functionality and capabilities of your help desk systems to get a 360-degree view of the customer. Adding apps like Slack, Zoom, or WhatsApp can enhance internal collaboration and streamline workflows, so support teams can resolve issues more efficiently.

Consider help desk software that offers a variety of pre-built, third-party integrations. For example, the Zendesk Marketplace offers over 1,500 apps and integrations, complete with user reviews and ratings.

AI-powered knowledge base

Customers can become angry, frustrated, or stressed when they can’t complete simple tasks independently. Including knowledge base software allows customers to quickly find relevant resources and resolve issues independently, reducing the number of support tickets.

Creating an AI-powered knowledge base can enhance the experience by surfacing personalized, relevant content based on the search query. It also continuously reviews existing content and identifies trending topics to ensure information is accurate, relevant, and up to date.

SLA and OLA management

A service level agreement (SLA) is a written agreement that defines support standards and is a critical feature that enables businesses to define, monitor, and meet standards with their customers. An operational level agreement (OLA) outlines the responsibilities and expectations between internal teams to ensure efficient collaboration and coordination in resolving customer issues.

Help desks allow users to set specific SLAs and OLAs for different types of tickets or issues, outlining the expected response and resolution times. The software tracks and monitors the status of tickets in real time, ensuring that response and resolution times align with the defined SLAs. SLA and OLA management typically include automated notifications that alert support teams or managers when SLA or OLA agreements are at risk.

Workflows

Help desk workflows are predefined sequences of actions and rules that automate and guide the processing of support tickets or tasks. These workflows streamline the resolution process, ensuring the consistently efficient handling of customer issues. Users can design custom workflows to automate repetitive tasks, route and assign tickets to the right agents or teams, and implement predefined actions based on certain triggers or conditions.

Automations and intelligence

Seventy-one percent of customers believe AI and chatbots help them get faster replies, according to our 2024 CX Trends Report. Some examples of how chatbots can help customers include:

  • Providing answers to frequently asked questions

  • Suggesting relevant help center articles

  • Routing customers to available live agents

AI and chatbots can also provide quick and convenient 24/7 customer support on your messaging channels even when your agents are off the clock.

How to choose the right help desk solution

With the right help desk system, support teams are equipped with all the tools they need to provide quick, personalized service. While the help desk software that’s best for your company may not be the best for other businesses, here are a few common things to consider:

Best practices to make the most of your help desk system

Because help desk solutions are so dynamic, there may be opportunities to optimize yours better. Here are some help desk best practices to get the most out of your help desk software

Use feedback

Enhance your help desk by gathering employee and customer feedback to identify challenges and areas of improvement. Consider automating customer satisfaction (CSAT), employee satisfaction, and Net Promoter ScoreⓇ (NPS) surveys using support software triggers when closing tickets. This approach ensures ongoing improvement based on real-time insights from your workforce.

OpenTable, for instance, improved its IT help desk with help from Zendesk. The restaurant reservation system collected employee feedback stating that it was cumbersome to submit support tickets to its internal help desk. After implementing additional channels and regular status updates, OpenTable achieved a more responsive and transparent process, confirmed by follow-up surveys.

Empower customers and employees to help themselves

Self-service resources like integrated help centers, community forums, and portal software enable customers and employees to find answers and handle simple tasks on their own. These resources help deflect tickets and reduce agent involvement, resulting in fewer tickets in the queue, better resolution times for agents, and faster service for internal and external customers.

Lower costs with AI

AI reduces business costs by improving task automation and decision-making and optimizing various processes. Businesses can boost agent productivity and efficiency by automating repetitive tasks and implementing AI-driven reporting and analytics—helping businesses achieve more without adding headcount. Plus, customer support automation with AI-powered chatbots reduces the need to involve human agents, lowering support costs.

Personalize the experience

With all your key customer data and context in one, unified agent workspace, you have the information you need to tailor and personalize the support experience. Personalized support not only boosts the customer experience but it also builds customer loyalty.

Net Promoter, Net Promoter Score, and NPS are trademarks of NICE Satmetrix, Inc., Bain & Company, Inc., and Fred Reichheld.

Frequently asked questions

Stanley Black and Decker

Stanley Black & Decker powers up Zendesk and drives a 5X boost in sales

"We wanted a solution that integrated all channels and that gave us the flexibility to implement in the way that we needed."

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Global VP Customer Experience Transformation

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Try Zendesk help desk software for free

The right help desk solution enables you to adapt to evolving expectations so you can continuously provide a great customer and employee experience at scale. That’s where Zendesk excels.

Our Agent Workspace is intuitively designed to unlock your team's potential. It gives your agents a unified view of the data and context needed to deliver personalized support across the entire customer and employee journey.

With intelligence infused across the entire service experience, Zendesk helps your support team resolve issues faster with innovative AI-powered tools. Zendesk sets up fast and integrates seamlessly with the wider business ecosystem, resulting in a lower total cost of ownership and faster time to value. See for yourself with a free trial.

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