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Our review guide covers the best help desk ticketing systems for IT support teams.
In this article, we discuss:
We explain how our email management system, HelpSpot, lets IT teams prioritize and resolve support requests fast. You can also skip to the solution you’re most interested in:
Help Desk Ticketing Systems
HelpSpot is an intuitive, customizable support ticket system for IT teams that want to be up and running within hours. Test our email-to-ticket system by signing up for a free 21-day trial.
HelpSpot is an email-to-ticket system, so it works best for IT teams that (currently) use tools like Gmail or Outlook to manage support requests and need an upgraded solution. However, our software is customizable via Zapier and API so you can connect the help desk with other tools in your workflows — say, if you use live chat or another messenger to communicate with end-users — to sync data between systems and get a more detailed look at reporting metrics.
Our software is also highly intuitive so teams can set it up and learn the ins and outs easily. (Most teams can be up and running in a day.)
Plus, we make managing your help desk package easy: pricing is based on the number of agents you add. Every agent has access to the same features, and all versions of our help desk (cloud-based, EU-hosted, on-premise, and mobile) have the same features and pricing.
HelpSpot lets you:
But let’s take a more detailed look at how HelpSpot lets IT teams manage incoming tickets and streamline workflows.
Most IT teams spend a lot of time fielding support requests from two main sources — outside customers and internal staff. Within these two camps, requests can be further segmented by brand, department, product, issue type, and more. So it’s easy to see how managing a wide variety of request types could quickly result in an out-of-control inbox when working with basic tools like Gmail.
HelpSpot’s shared inbox acts as a central hub for IT inquiries by converting all incoming requests into new tickets. You can link multiple email accounts (e.g. IT@, support@, info@) and organize all your requests in one place.
From here, you can create custom views using filters to segment requests by mailbox, support team, or whatever criteria you set. This means that IT managers and agents can instantly view the requests relevant to them.
Our software pulls in emails (using IMAP) and sends emails back out (via SMTP) via your mail server, just like a desktop email client. This provides the highest rate of deliverability and no requests are lost or filtered as spam.
You can also use HelpSpot’s multi-brand features to create dedicated inboxes, knowledge bases, and self-service portals for different departments or end-user groups. For example, you could have separate inboxes and dashboards to differentiate between internal IT requests and tickets from external requesters. Each can be custom designed with its own branding, email templates, and email signatures to personalize if you wish.
Read more: Multi-Brand Help Desk: Manage All of Your Brands with HelpSpot
HelpSpot lets you organize and prioritize tickets using categories and custom fields.
Tickets can be arranged by request type by creating category groups such as, “network problems,” “printer issues,” and “software queries.” Custom fields can be used to drill down into a specific request category. For example, for the “printer issue” category, you can set up custom fields to track the printer type and serial number so agents can look at past problems with the device and monitor future issues.
These features can also be used to filter reporting information, so you can learn more about past and present issues and analyze detailed information about support requests.
From the central inbox, managers can view all service requests (or the filtered tickets relevant to their team), and assign tickets. Agents can also assign tickets to themselves or other members of their team.
HelpSpot will move the ticket to the agent’s personal queue so staff members can always see which tickets they are responsible for. Then, all follow-ups to tickets are routed back to the same agent’s queue for consistency.
Agents can easily see unassigned tickets (and which requests are assigned to which team members) so they can work through their inboxes more efficiently and avoid missed tickets.
Within agent queues, support staff can speed up response times by batching similar requests and sending out canned replies. For example, if you receive multiple requests from users experiencing network problems, you can batch tickets together and send a reply to let users know you’re working on resolving the issue.
Tickets can still be managed individually after a batch reply has been sent, or a filter can be applied to communicate to the group again if needed.
Agents can also merge multiple tickets from the same person and reassign tickets to other team members to further speed up response times and improve workflow.
HelpSpot makes it easy for staff to work together on support requests by providing native collaboration tools within tickets.
You can use HelpSpot’s internal notes to exchange messages with other agents without leaving the platform. All notes are stored within the ticket so the history is kept in one convenient place and, anyone joining the ticket can immediately pick up the status. This is useful for IT managers too, as they can see the steps taken to resolve requests.
Agents can also tag other team members or departments to help resolve requests or notify them of certain actions taken. For example, an IT agent may want to tag the HR department to inform them that they’ve finished setting up computers and workstations for new employees.
To prevent any confusion or duplication, HelpSpot’s collision detection feature alerts team members if another agent is working on the same ticket. A red-colored bar is displayed in the top right corner of the ticket, in real-time, so agents immediately see the notification and can avoid stepping on each others’ toes.
Response times are important for all support teams, but they are critical for an IT support team dealing with network problems and software issues that could cause organization-wide downtime. So we’ve included several features within HelpSpot to help your agents provide helpful responses and quickly resolve requests.
You can create a library of email templates for common questions so IT agents can quickly access standardized responses to requests. Agents can send off canned responses or drop templates into email replies and customize them with additional information and personalized signatures.
Templates not only speed up response times, but they also prevent replies with typos or incorrect details. IT agents can quickly respond to tickets and feel confident they are sending up-to-date and accurate information.
HelpSpot lets you store important documents (e.g. troubleshooting or FAQ info) in an internal knowledge base. You can use the help desk knowledge base to provide pertinent resources to IT agents, which is beneficial because:
You can create different knowledge bases for specific teams (such as IT Dev or IT Ops), departments, or brands. So, information can be organized by staff member if you want to segment requests.
Read more: 5 Top Help Desk Knowledge Base Software: Buyer’s Guide
Knowledge base resources can also be published to your website in a self-service portal; this enables requesters to answer IT queries themselves without having to submit a ticket and wait for a response from your support team. And as with the knowledge bases, you can set up separate portals for different end-user groups, such as internal staff and customers.
If users can’t find answers to their questions from your support documents, HelpSpot provides a customizable contact form so they can submit tickets within the self-service portal. Then users can refer back to the portal to check the status of their requests.
HelpSpot monitors search activity in portals so you can see which topics are most popular (and identify recurring issues). This also helps you discover content gaps so you can ensure you’re providing helpful resources on the issues end-users experience most frequently.
HelpSpot’s automation features and triggers help you streamline workflows by setting “if/then” rules to automate repetitive tasks like ticket routing and escalations.
For example, you could set a rule that if the phrase, “network problem” is included in any ticket, then that ticket is automatically routed to the agent who deals with those types of queries.
Likewise, you can use HelpSpot to manage service level agreements (SLAs) and response times. Using the example we just mentioned, you can automatically escalate tickets that mention network issues to the IT Manager if they are not assigned and responded to within two hours. This means you can prioritize the most important queries and stay on top of the response status.
You can also use HelpSpot to set reminders for tasks, such as software updates or license renewals so that nothing is forgotten.
We’ve already mentioned that response times and performance are especially critical for IT teams — with HelpSpot’s built-in reporting, you can monitor the speed and quality of responses, see which issues take longer or require more back-and-forth to resolve, and uncover ways to smooth out your processes.
HelpSpot automatically tracks essential performance metrics, such as the number of resolved tickets by agent, average ticket response time, and the number of requests over time. Metrics also include data from customer satisfaction surveys.
You can use HelpSpot’s pre-defined templates and modify them to analyze data by teams, agents, and time frames. It’s easy to filter raw data using the categories and custom fields you create to analyze different data groups, such as:
These insights allow you to analyze your team’s performance and the types of requests your staff receives. For example, if you receive multiple requests asking about a certain software update, it may indicate that you need to add more resources on software updates to your website portals (or update your existing documentation).
You can view performance metrics on the HelpSpot dashboard, or you can download data to Excel or Google Sheets if you want to save or edit reports internally.
HelpSpot also has automation rules so you can easily distribute reports to stakeholders (e.g. IT managers and department heads) by email, at any frequency (daily, weekly, or monthly). And we allow free unlimited sharing.
This detailed information means you can fine-tune your processes and improve your team’s performance. For example, you can provide extra training for agents whose response times lag behind others, or add additional information to knowledge bases and portals.
Read more: Help Desk Reporting: Key Support Metrics and How to Use Them
Some help desk and complex ITSM solutions take time to learn and onboard staff. HelpSpot is easy to set up — its user-friendly interface means agents can get to grips with the software in a few hours, as there’s no need for formal training.
HelpSpot is flexible and scalable. Teams can add to our ticketing solution by connecting other tools from their tech stack via Zapier or API. For example, you can connect IT tools like asset management or incident management software to the HelpSpot platform. Or, if staff or customers use chatbots or social media to ask a question, these can be linked up to your service desk to push data back and forth.
You can access your customer data from HelpSpot too. Our Live Lookup feature lets you pull information from your customer database (e.g. CRM) in real-time and view it while working on requests in HelpSpot. And, if you have multiple CRM systems, you can either merge the data within the Live Lookup code for a single result or create multiple Live Lookup connections and toggle as needed.
You can also integrate with our sister product, Thermostat, to manage customer feedback surveys and customer satisfaction reporting, and have them filter back directly into HelpSpot.
We have strict procedures in place to help keep your data private. These include built-in authentication (and 2FA) so every agent has their own username and password to securely access HelpSpot. We also offer single sign-on and Black Box API to authenticate against external sources.
Our permission groups help you control who can access which features and tickets, and who can add, edit or delete information from the help desk. For example, you can allow the IT manager to create content on the self-service portal, but give agents a “view only” role. This clarifies who’s responsible for specific tasks and prevents confusion.
Our pricing structure is uncomplicated. It’s based on the number of agents (or seats) you want to book, and all features are included, as is access to our support team. So, there are no unexpected costs, and all agents can seek help directly from HelpSpot if they need it.
Your IT agents can be up and running with HelpSpot in a couple of hours. Start a 21-day free trial to explore our central inbox, collaborative features, reporting tools, and integrations.
Freshdesk is a user-friendly help desk with a broad range of features for support teams, including automation rules and reporting. The software offers several communication methods, including live chat and a call center, that may appeal to IT teams wanting omnichannel routing to unify different platforms. Freshdesk also has “Freshchat”, an AI-powered chatbot to help customers solve their IT questions.
Freshdesk is cloud-based and its free plan is a good starting point for small businesses, although basic features such as automation and collision detection would require an upgrade. IT teams that want reporting will need to opt for one of the more comprehensive plans, although some of Freshdesk’s plans may have extras that aren’t applicable or helpful to IT teams.
It’s also worth noting that Freshdesk is pretty advanced, which could impact training and onboarding times, but IT professionals should have no issue learning the platform.
Note: We cover Freshdesk’s sister product, Freshservice, an ITIL-ready, IT service management (ITSM) tool, below.
Read more: Freshdesk Alternatives: 9 Help Desk Software for Support Teams
Zendesk is a powerful help desk solution suited to IT teams that manage support requests from multiple channels (e.g. from social media, over the phone, and email).
Most Zendesk users enjoy the wealth of features, including multi-channel routing, social media widgets, and Zendesk’s AI-powered chatbot that can send automated replies via email and messenger. However, some users say the software is not easy to use, while others report that customer support is lacking. IT teams may be able to manage this platform, but it might not be the best fit if you need help desk software to support multiple departments (like sales or HR) because it’s not the most user-friendly.
Zendesk offers four pricing options but the Suite Professional package is the most popular with larger IT teams. This plan includes customized analytics (not available on the two lower tiers) as well as SLA (service level agreement) management.
Read more: #1 Zendesk On-Premise Alternative: HelpSpot Self-Hosted
Zoho Desk is a cloud-based help desk that is popular with enterprise IT teams looking for a solution with omnichannel support and AI functionality. The software lets you centralize messages from a variety of channels, including instant messaging, phone, email, social media, and live chat.
Zoho’s AI-powered chatbot, “Zia”, can respond to customers directly by pulling info from knowledge base articles or suggesting responses that IT teams can use. Zia also identifies ticket sentiments to flag priority tickets or notify users when there’s a surge in tickets of a certain type. This means IT teams know what issue to focus on and ensure enough agents are available to help.
Zoho Desk integrates with other Zoho products (e.g. Zoho CRM) and offers third-party integrations with applications such as Slack, Shopify, and Twilio. It also offers a Remote Assistance feature which is useful for IT teams that need to transfer files and share screens while chatting with customers in real-time.
Some users find Zoho Desk’s feature set overwhelming and complicated to learn. However, it is a good option for teams wanting the benefits of AI, omnichannel support, and smooth integrations with other Zoho products. Prices start at $14 per agent/month for a basic package, but the advanced AI features are only offered in the Enterprise package at $40 per agent/month.
Read more: Zoho Desk Alternatives | Top 8 Help Desks for Customer Service
Freshservice is a cloud-based, ITIL-ready, full-featured ITSM (IT service management) solution.
Like its sister product, Freshdesk, Freshservice has all the general help desk features you would expect, such as knowledge management, canned responses, and reporting. But Freshservice packs in advanced features for IT service teams, like asset management, project management, and change management. Freshservice also leans heavily on AI-powered tools that help agents save time by providing suggestions and responses to tickets, so it’s a good choice for super-busy IT teams.
Most users agree that the software has a modern interface that’s easy to use, and users have positive remarks on the number of features and Freshservice’s efficient customer service.
Freshservice has four plans, from “Starter” to “Enterprise.” IT teams that need the full suite of ITSM features (e.g. problem, change, release, and project management) should start with the Pro plan.
Jira Service Management is a feature-rich ITSM software for teams that require resource management and reporting tools within the help desk. They offer a comprehensive set of help desk features, such as self-service portals, knowledge bases, and reporting, and a range of extras like incident management, change management, and bug tracking.
Jira is entirely cloud-based, so it’s not an option for IT teams that need to operate on private servers. But it is popular with enterprise teams that are already using Jira’s other apps and want a help desk solution with advanced features and works with their tech stack.
However, Jira can be rather pricey, so it might not work for every budget. And some users mention that the software is difficult to learn, so while it might work for IT users, it’s not a good option for brands that need help desk software to support their whole organization.
Read more: Jira Service Desk Alternatives for On-Premise Users (5 Tools to Try)
ManageEngine ServiceDesk Plus is an ITSM solution for organizations that have multiple support teams and need an ITIL-ready software with advanced features like asset management, project management, and a service catalog function.
In addition to standard IT help desk features like customer portals and SLA management, ManageEngine recently launched an IT release management tool. This is designed to help IT teams implement software upgrades quickly and smoothly, and includes an integrated calendar to manage conflicting projects.
ManageEngine caters to all IT teams by offering cloud-based and on-premise versions of their help desk product. And since it is developed by Zoho, it may appeal to IT teams that already use Zoho products, as integrations with these tools are easy to set up.
ManageEngine offers three pricing plans, but the standard package is free for up to 10 users, so it could be a good choice for small businesses or start-ups. Prices start to stack as you add agents or more advanced features.
Read more: 7 Best ManageEngine ServiceDesk Plus Alternatives & Competitors
HelpSpot is a popular ticketing system software for IT teams because our time-saving features, like the shared inbox, workflow automation tools, and self-service portals, empower your staff to manage a high volume of support requests with ease. You can connect HelpSpot with the tools you’re already using to support unique workflows, and since HelpSpot is user-friendly and scalable, it can seamlessly grow with your business.
Sign up for HelpSpot’s free 21-day trial to test our ticket management features and see if we’re the right fit for your IT support team.
We trust HelpSpot with our most important communication—and they've made a huge difference to our business.
Teagan West, Customer Service Manager
The Silent Partner