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What to Look for in a GDPR Help Desk | HelpSpot

Written by Ian Landsman, published on 12.01.2021

When transitioning to a general data protection regulations (GDPR) help desk, you should look for software that:

  • Provides your support agents with the suitable tools to manage (i.e., delete, rectify, restrict, export) personal data.
  • Comes with extra security measures to keep user data uber-safe.
  • Is available as an on-premise (self-hosted) solution.

Many cloud-based help desk software come with the extra tools (#1) and security (#2) to meet GDPR compliance requirements. Currently, most brands only offer cloud-based help desk solutions. This makes it almost impossible to find an on-premise help desk software that lets users have complete control over data storage.

Most of the “GDPR help desk” software out there provides the tools to manage personal data, but doesn’t let you operate on your own private servers.

So, the simplest and safest way to be GDPR compliant is to use an on-premise help desk so you have total control over data processing, data transfers, and storage.

In this post, we’ll take an in-depth look at our help desk solution, HelpSpot. We’ll discuss how it provides your agents with all the features to manage all incoming support requests and meet GDPR compliance requirements.

Is your support team looking for ahelp desk with all the tools to handle requests and keep your data GDPR compliant at the same time? Get started with our free 21-day trial to see if HelpSpot is the right fit for your team.

HelpSpot’s GDPR Help Desk Solution

HelpSpot homepage: Just Enough Help Desk Software

HelpSpot is one of the few help desk software on the market that comes in both cloud-based versions and on-premise solutions. The few other help desk brands that offer a self-hosted version either limit their feature-set or charge top tier prices (and in most cases, they do both).

HelpSpot differs from other help desk providers because both versions of our help desk come with the same features and the same pricing — you only pay for the seats you need. Plus, both versions support mobile apps (iOS & Android). If your agents need to provide support out in the field, we have you covered.

We strive to keep HelpSpot user-friendly, plus, our email management platform comes with advanced functionality that lets your agents:

  • Organize, assign, automate, and track high volumes of support requests.
  • Manage your customers’ personal data to comply with GDPR standards.

In these next sections, we cover our lineup of help desk features, starting with our suite of GDPR tools.

HelpSpot’s Built-in GDPR Tools

Export Customer Data by Email, or Delete Customer Data.

To comply with the General Data Protection Regulations, your service desk agents are now required (if requested) to perform certain actions — such as export, delete, or edit data — with regards the personal data of European Union (EU) residents. Each of the HelpSpot features discussed below corresponds to one of these actions.

Export Personal Data

The Right to Data Portability: If asked, you must provide your customer with a copy of all their data in an accessible format.

  • Export by email: To do this, an agent simply enters the customer’s email into HelpSpot. All data associated with that email will be collected and downloaded into a zip file. Then, agents can share it with the customer.

Delete and Edit Personal Data

The Right to Data Erasure: If asked, you must delete all or some of the data for which you no longer have (1) consent or (2) need of — if it exceeds the data retention period originally stated.

  • Delete a note: HelpSpot records all messaging (a.k.a. The Complete History) in a ticket. Each message or note has an ID. To delete a note (including any associated attachments), simply enter the note ID. 
  • Delete a request: Each customer request generates an ID. Agents can permanently delete an entire request by entering the ID.  
  • Delete by email: Agents can delete all data associated with an email by entering the email address.
  • Delete by customer ID: Multiple emails or phone numbers can be grouped on a single contact card or customer ID. Agents can delete the entire card by entering the customer ID.
  • Delete an attachment: HelpSpot assigns each attached document an ID. If requested, agents can enter the attachment ID to delete the attachment but retain the request.

Other Features to Keep Your Data Safe

One of the downsides for agents conducting support from a shared email account (like Microsoft 365) is sharing passwords. HelpSpot prioritizes data security by giving each agent their own login credentials, with built-in authentication. That said, you can further customize your security by authenticating against any source using our tool Black Box Authentication. This requires a few snippets of code, but knowing your data is safe is worth it.

Permission groups can be set up to limit access to certain features and datasets. This way, you can ensure that only end-users (with admin permission) can access certain reports that your day-to-day help desk staff cannot. For example, you can use a permission group to limit access to the features that delete, edit, or export personal data. This way, only your GDPR team is using GDPR tools.

These tools allow your agents to be GDPR ready. However, using a cloud-based help desk to process the personal data of EU residents outside of the EU can expose you to a breach of data protection law.

The good news? Our GDPR tools are all available on our self-hosted help desk, along with the customer support features we discuss next.

Features to Keep Customer Requests Organized

HelpSpot Inbox: See all requests in one place.


HelpSpot stores requests from all your mailboxes and linked channels in an accessible, shared inbox.

Support teams can organize requests using folders, categories, and tags. Plus, filters can be set up to present custom views of the inbox with one click. For example, if a manager wants to view the team inbox by how many EU based customers have made requests about their personal data, a simple filter is used to pull these tickets up.

Support agents can assign themselves tickets from the central inbox. These tickets are removed and placed in the agent’s personal queue, called “My Queue”.

To keep the customer experience consistent, all communication remains with the same agent.

Read More: The #1 Best Way to Manage a Shared Inbox

Features to Keep Your Agents on the Same Page

Status, Category, Assigned to: See everything in one place and see if anyone else is on the same ticket at the same time.

To help you better manage your team inbox and improve agent workflow, HelpSpot comes with collaboration features like collision detection and internal notes.

Collision detection alerts an agent in real-time when another agent is viewing or working on a support ticket. This eliminates any overlap in customer responses.

To reduce the need of messaging apps like Slack, internal notes allow agents to communicate with each other right within the ticket. Each note is assigned an ID (if you need to isolate and delete it later on) and recorded in the ticket. Any agent jumping in to assist on another agent’s ticket will be able to get up to speed quickly without having to ask for an update from another agent.

Note: Agents handling GDPR requests often have to jump in after the ticket is closed. The ticket’s Complete History provides all the context they will need to get up to speed.

Features to Increase Agent Productivity

Automated responses, as shown in this GIF, can save your team a lot of time


HelpSpot offers a number of time-saving features to increase agent productivity like:

  • Customizable templates for bulk responses.
  • Automation rules for training your help desk to do repetitive tasks.
  • A built-in knowledge base to reduce team workload.

Let’s take a closer look at each feature.

Customizable Templates

HelpSpot lets you create customizable email templates for common customer requests to prevent agents from having to rewrite responses from ticket-to-ticket.

Each template will have fields to quickly personalize a response, add attachments, or add an agent signature. This allows agents to increase their workload by sending bulk responses to similar requests.

Templates are a great way to send a quick update while your team is working on a request. Say a customer asks for a copy of their data. While you are transferring the request to your GDPR team, a template response acknowledging the request and explaining the timeline (one to three months under GDPR requirements) could be quickly personalized and delivered.

Automation Rules and Triggers

Using automation rules and triggers, HelpSpot can be trained to do repetitive tasks like ticket routing or escalation. This is helpful when managing time-sensitive tickets like service level agreements (SLAs) or GDPR-related requests. For example, you can create a trigger to identify words in a request that relate to data security. Then the ticket can be automatically routed to the agents handling customer data and set up with notifications to avoid delays.

Built-In Knowledge Base & Self-Service Portal

A simple way to increase team productivity is to store troubleshooting articles and FAQs in an accessible library or knowledge base. Agents can improve response times for even complicated requests by simply pulling pre-approved articles into customer responses.

Agents can publish the most relevant articles in a customer self-service portal. A self-service portal can reduce your teams’ workload by up to 20% by allowing your customers to find the solutions to their issues without consulting your agents. All customer searches are tracked. As a result, you can see what articles most benefit your customers. Plus, the customer searches that yield no results gives you a good idea of what articles you need to add.

To learn more about the benefits of our help desk knowledge base features, read this post.

Features for Better Decision Making

Requests Over Time Analytics in HelpSpot

HelpSpot’s built-in reporting analyzes performance metrics like replies per agent, resolutions per agent, and average resolution time. These metrics help management make data-driven decisions around team workload, staff productivity, and customers needs.

Speed reports provide the data to show where agent productivity could be improved with time related metrics like resolution speed, assignment speed, and first response speed.

All reports can be:

  • Visualized using graphs and tables.
  • Automatically scheduled for delivery to any list of recipients and at any frequency: daily, weekly, and so on.
  • Set-up by ‘business hours’ or ‘all hours;’ this way if a customer posts a request last thing on a Friday and it’s not assigned till first thing Monday morning, it doesn’t skew the performance metrics for your entire team.

For more in-depth analysis, data can be exported as a CSV or integrated with any business intelligence (BI) tools you use with our open source API and a Zapier connection. This allows you to blend our customer data with other sources (i.e. market trends, logistics, supply chain etc.,) to provide more in-depth analysis.

For more details on our customer service reporting tools, read this post.

Try HelpSpot’s GDPR Help Desk for Free

As we mentioned before, both versions of our email help desk software — cloud-based and on-premise — come with the same features and pricing. Plus, you only pay per agent needed.

If our GDPR help desk solution sounds like the right fit for your organization, you can get started today with a free 21-day trial. Your agents will have all the features at their fingertips to handle high volumes of support requests and comply with GDPR requirements.

But, the great news? It only takes a couple of hours to get up and running: Our cloud-based solution allows for a seamless transition and our self-hosted software has a straightforward set-up so you can quickly get operating on your own servers.

Contact our team today to talk through any of your specific help desk needs, and get started with our free 21-day trial.

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