If someone were to ask you the question:
“What’s the secret to long-term success in business?”
What would you say?
A high-quality product? A well-optimized marketing strategy? A killer sales department?
Well, all of those things are certainly important (dare I say essential), but they’re still missing a massive part of the answer:
Customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Long-lasting businesses aren’t just made up of one-time customers, they’re built from the ground up by the loyal bases of returning customers that they’ve built from day one.
And with that in mind, I’m sure you know where this is going.
“So how do you turn first-time purchasers into loyal customers?”
The answer is simple; you grow your customer base by outperforming your competitors in the customer service department. The brand that cares for its fans the most is going to earn the most loyal fans.
And one of the best ways to kickstart your customer service journey is by investing in a Helpdesk platform. Though since you’re already here, we probably don’t need to sell you too hard on any of that.
So without further ado, let’s talk about what you should be looking for when considering your options for tools to invest in.
What to Look for in a Helpdesk Tool
A strong helpdesk tool takes a few factors into consideration.
First is your budget. While the tool’s certainly important, no helpdesk tool is worth breaking the bank over, especially with all of the affordable options on the market.
The second factor is size. By this, we mean to say that certain tools are made for certain sizes of companies. A tool that’s meant for a multi-department, massive corporation is going to be vastly different from one meant for a small team of startup entrepreneurs.
And the last of the main factors is functionality. Just like an electrician needs a different toolkit than a plumber might, an IT company has different needs than an ecommerce store, even when it comes to help desks.
So while considering your tools, decide on the following:
- Do you need a niche-specific platform or a general one?
- Are you looking for a lightweight solution or a robust, all-in-one CRM package?
- What features are ideal for your day-to-day operations? Helpdesk features can include (but aren’t limited to):
- Email ticketing
- Live chat support
- Chat to SMS features
- Third-party integrations
- Automation for common tasks
- Data-based reporting
- Knowledge base features
- What features don’t you need? Feature overload can cause just as much inefficiency as a lack of features
So, with all of that out of the way, let’s talk about our list for the top 7 helpdesk and ticketing tools of 2021.
The Best Helpdesk Tools of 2021
ManyRequests (that’s us!) is an all-in-one platform that serves as a full fledged CRM and a helpdesk tool. Where ManyRequests shines is its hyper-focus on a select few areas: Agencies, Consultants, and Freelancers.
Starting off strong, ManyRequests’ invoicing feature allows you to bill clients upfront easily and efficiently, without wasting time that you could spend on other tasks.
Pair that with the one-thread system that saves the time it takes to track hundreds of email conversations and you’ve got an extreme time-saver on your hands.
It’s also highly-customizable to fit an array of agency needs, while staying easy enough to set up in less than 10 minutes.
Integration with third-party software and tools is no problem either—and the ever-growing list is already at a good size.
ManyRequests is great at what it does, but if you’re a company that doesn’t lie within those bounds—you’re probably better off with another tool that comes with industry-specific features.
eCommerce and IT, for instance, aren’t really industries that it’s been built for. It’s also not ideal for huge companies like the aforementioned Uber and Airbnb.
Who it’s Good For
Agencies, Freelancers, Consultants, and anyone in similar fields are in luck: ManyRequests is built specifically for that purpose.
You can even try it free for 14 days (without a credit card) here.
Freshdesk is a tool that’s designed from the ground up to work for businesses of all types and sizes, though it definitely works better for some than others—more on that later.
One of the first standout features of Freshdesk are the scenarios.
With Freshdesk, you can set up multiple series of events that can be performed automatically at the push of a button. Let’s use canceled orders as an example.
When a customer cancels an order, an agent would normally have to do a few things.
Forward the cancelation to another department, cancel the subscription, send a canned response back to the customer, and so on.
With scenarios, Freshdesk allows you to do all of that with one button press instead
Another way Freshdesk stands out from the pack is with its gamification features. Gamification allows your agents to have a bit more fun and a bit less monotony in their work by using stats like scores, quests, and more game-like features to add a bit of spice to what would normally be a pretty boring day.
Aside from that, Freshdesk also has a free tier that allows customers to try the waters before they decide to invest, and over 650 plugin apps to help customize the experience for your team’s specific needs.
While Freshdesk does have a reporting suite, it certainly leaves a bit to be desired. More customization for tailored reports would be a welcome addition.
Also, for those hoping to take advantage of the free tier, many of the key features will be locked behind that paywall, so treat it as more of a trial than anything else.
Who it’s Good For
Freshdesk is an excellent choice for many companies, but it works especially well for smaller teams and businesses, especially with the free options that allow you to save some budget while trying it out.
While Freshdesk is a platform built to primarily help smaller teams, Zendesk sits at the opposite side of that spectrum. Zendesk is a ticketing system built for large companies that have multiple departments working together.
Zendesk offers many of the same features as Freshdesk and then some. (both an advantage and a drawback, which we’ll touch on in a bit).
Zendesk comes stock with automated workflows and plenty of third-party integrations, but where it really shines is its support for large operations and detailed reporting suite.
It’s one of the few ticketing tools that offers support for multi-brand companies, for instance. Rather than a separate tool for each brand, you can have one tool for them all.
Zendesk also comes stock with lead generation and pipeline features, so it’s an all-in-one package of sorts. From customer support to acquiring those customers in the first place, Zendesk has it all.
Those same reasons that Zendesk is such a strong choice for some companies make it a very non-deal choice for many others.
With all of those features and support for multi-brand, multi-department operations Zendesk has quite the steep learning curve to get the hang of. It also comes at a higher price point than many other helpdesk and ticketing tools.
In a practical sense, this means Zendesk is going to be significant overkill for many brands, especially if you’re looking for a lightweight tool.
Who it’s Good For
Zendesk is built primarily for one purpose: Supporting large brands (and we mean large, with Uber & Airbnb being just a few of their biggest customers).
For startups and companies that aren’t working with multiple departments or brands at once, there’s a lot here that just isn’t necessary.
Another great choice for larger brands, albeit with a slightly different flavor than Zendesk, is Freshservice.
Freshservice comes from the same company that created Freshdesk, but it’s more tailored for the IT space.
As one might expect, Freshservice comes with many of the features that make Freshdesk great. Gamification features and automated workflows are just two of those.
But what differentiates the two is Freshservices’ IT-oriented focus; their asset and SLA management features are just two of those.
There’s also the support for building self-service portals like FAQs and knowledge bases too.
One large drawback with Freshservice is that it’s going to be far too feature-heavy for businesses that don’t need IT-related features.
Not only that, but with its focus comes a distinct lack of integrations with social media that are pretty standard within the space.
Who it’s Good For
Freshservice is an awesome choice for large IT-based companies. If you run a smaller company or one in a different space, you’re better off looking into other tools.
Zoho Desk is the customer service part of the larger tool suite created by Zoho. It’s a really versatile tool with some distinct edges over its competitors.
Zoho Desk’s most significant strong suit is how well it integrates with the larger Zoho Suite as a whole. Because while it can be used standalone, it’s meant to be used in tandem with their other services.
Zoho Desk also comes with the standard list of features and then some. From workflow automation and reporting to omnichannel conversations and top-notch integrations, Zoho Desk manages to pack in a full set of features without suffering from overload like many of its competitors.
One of the main drawbacks with Zoho Desk is the lack of an industry-standard 24/7 support chat. Which means that if you need a problem solved quickly, you’ll be on your own to traverse their knowledge base for a fix.
Many customers report that they wish there were a bit more training services provided as it doesn’t come with the simplest of onboarding processes.
Who it’s Good For
With Zoho Desk’s competitive price and robust list of features, it’s a great choice for companies that expect to scale quickly and don’t want to bottleneck their customer support department.
LiveAgent is a helpdesk tool meant for smaller companies that don’t have a need for many of the features more robust tools have.
LiveAgent comes with pretty much all of the industry standards and not much else. While at first this might seem like a complete downside, it’s actually LiveAgent’s strength.
LiveAgent might not be as feature-intensive as its competitors, but many businesses don’t need all of those extra bells and whistles.
It’s a light, extremely easy-to-use tool that comes with exactly what you need and none of what you don’t.
As you might’ve noticed, many of the strengths of these tools are also the weaknesses, and that’s exactly the case for LiveAgent.
If you run a company that has more complex customer service needs, you’ll find LiveAgent lacking in those aspects. The most notable of those weak areas are the lack of chat-to-sms and detailed reporting that’s necessary for very data-oriented businesses.
Who it’s Good For
LiveAgent is an excellent choice for small businesses that don’t have a need to scale much larger than their current size.
Where LiveAgent is the lightweight general helpdesk tool, SolarWinds Web Help Desk is the lightweight IT helpdesk tool.
There’s not much to say here that hasn’t been said in previous feature lists. SolarWinds Web Help Desk is an easy to use, easy to set up, web-hosted helpdesk that does its job well.
It comes with the asset management features you’d expect from an IT helpdesk, project and task management, and all the standards.
The drawback of SolarWinds Web Help Desk is that it doesn’t really provide much incentive for non IT companies to choose it over competitors.
And for companies that need a more feature-heavy helpdesk, you’ll also find SolarWinds to be a bit lacking.
Who it’s Good For
SolarWinds Web Help Desk is an excellent choice for an IT company that needs a lightweight, easy-to-use tool for its customer support department.
Helpdesk Comparison Guide
|Platform:||Pros:||Cons:||Who’s it For?|
|Manyrequests||– Purpose-built for Agencies & Consultants|
– All-in-One Solution
– Integrates well with other third-party services
– Extremely Simple Setup
|– Isn’t designed for industries like IT, eCommerce, etc||Excellent choice for scaling agencies, freelancers, and consultants.|
|Zendesk||– Very thorough reporting suite|
– Automated workflows
– Multibrand support
– Decent list of integrations
– Lead generation + Customer Service All-in-One package
|– Can get quite expensive at higher tiers|
– Steep learning curve
|Larger companies will get the most out of Zendesk; not as great for smaller operations|
|Freshservice||– Web-based, works well from most devices|
– Top Notch gamification features
– Excellent tool for IT teams
|– Limited integrations with social media|
– iOS-specific app can be clunky at times
– Too expensive and feature-heavy for smaller teams
|Great for larger organizations in the IT industry.|
|Zoho Desk||– Integrates seamlessly with the entire Zoho suite|
– Top-notch integrations
– Great price
– Highly-versatile without suffering from feature-overload
|– Customer support is lacking a 24/7 live chat|
– Can be quite complicated to onboard
– Could use for more support and training assistance
|Great for companies of all sizes, though works especially well for operations that expect to scale quickly|
|Freshdesk||– Scenarios feature helps to streamline workflow|
– Free tier to allow customers to trial
– Gamification Features
– Over 650 Plugin Apps
|– Reporting suite leaves a bit to be desired|
– Many key features locked behind the paid tiers
|Great choice for many businesses, but the free option (and affordable paid tiers) makes it an excellent choice for smaller teams|
|LiveAgent||– Free options|
– Simple to use platform
– Easy knowledge base creation features
|– Live chat locked behind higher tier|
– No chat-to-SMS features
– Reports can feel a bit generic
|Great for small businesses, but leaves a bit to be desired for those planning to grow or already at a larger stage|
|SolarWinds Web Help Desk||– Extremely easy setup|
– Easy to navigate and use
|– Not as feature intensive as competitors||Great for IT companies who need a lightweight, easy to use tool|