Best Help Desk Software 2021 (20 Ticketing Systems Compared)
You’ve got a good company. You make great products and services. Your team is eager to provide customers with the best experience possible. What’s missing?
The answer is you need the best help desk software and ticketing system to stay on top of the customer satisfaction game.
This article walks you through all the ways that good help desk systems can turn your service team into a streamlined support and problem-solving machine. Then, we’ll compare 20 of the top help desk and ticketing software solutions available today.
Help desk ticketing system comparison chart (top 10 highest rated)
Pricing starts at
Best help desk software overall
$19 per user/month
Best free help desk ticketing system
$12 per user/month
Top help desk software for small business
$15 per user/month
Top ITSM ticketing system
$19 per user/month
Jira Service Management
Great IT ticketing system software
$20 per user/month
Great simple help desk and ticketing software
$15 per user/month
Good all-in-one tool for customer support
HubSpot Service Hub
Top CRM help desk software for support
$50 per month
Good multichannel service desk tool
$15 per user/month
ManageEngine ServiceDesk Plus
Good ticketing system for large business
$1,195 per year for 10 users
What is help desk software & what does it do?
It’s true when thinking about customer service and support, the best tool is a human being. Human support agents are understanding, patient, and able to sort through complexities.
However, in today’s economy, with a hyperfocus on customer experience, human service reps can experience an increased amount of pressure to serve higher numbers of customers in shorter times while still giving max satisfaction human help.
That’s where help desk systems come into play. In brief, help desk and ticketing software are like assistants to human support agents.
Automates simple tasks
Firstly, like any good business SaaS, help desk and service systems can take over a lot of the easy and repetitive tasks. This is done with automation and workflows. Some common examples are: Instantly replying to any incoming customer request. Asking the initial questions and gathering initial data, and routing the customer to the most appropriate agent. Another example is updating customer files, sending notifications when tickets move through the system, and helping agents organize their tasks and workloads by priorities or categories.
The best help desk software lets customers reach out to a company using any channel they prefer. This could be via telephone calls, emails, or chatting over social media. It also includes text SMS text messaging. Great help desk tools also let you put a live chat widget on your website, or on a mobile app. But despite the multichannel communication options, support agents can field all incoming issues in one unified and shared dashboard.
Another huge set of tools for help desk solutions are self-service features. These are features that provide customers quick and easy ways to find solutions to their problems without having to create a ticket with service departments. These include a customer portal where people can log in and review the status of their orders, profiles or tickets. There is also the knowledge base. This is like a better version of an FAQ. AI is often involved in a knowledge base, learning the most common questions and delivering the best solutions with ever-more precision.
Analytics and reports
Like any department, activity creates data. This is true for customer service as much as it is for sales or marketing. Help desk tools can analyze that data to provide support managers with real-time, up-to-date insights. These include how individual agents are performing or whole shifts or teams. It can analyze days and time periods that see spikes in support issues, or based on geolocations or devices. It can show when specific issues become more common, or if it is specific products or services which give customers the most problems.
What are the different types of help desk software?
Customer service software
IT service management software
Automated ticketing systems
Customer self-service software
Social media service software
Cloud-based help desk SaaS
On-premise help desk software
Omnichannel help desk software
SMS customer support software
Telephone customer service software
What is the best help desk software? Here’s our top 20 list:
Now that you are fully convinced that help desk systems are crucial for a customer service team, it’s time to check out the top vendors in this field. From enterprise-level on-premise software, to free and open-source SaaS, this list of the 20 best help desk softwaren tools has got the right option for any operation.
Zendesk Service (Best help desk software overall)
As long as software became more predominant for use in customer service, Zendesk has been a major player. Founded in 2007 out of Denmark, Zendesk today has over 160,000 users in over 160 countries.
Today Zendesk has a platform just for service desks. The goal is to make things easier for support reps, and get faster response times for customers. Customers can reach out with many messaging platforms. This also includes live chat, social media, and even phone calls too. There are AI-powered bots and other ways to automate simple tasks. Workflows can also do routing, sending certain tickets to the right rep. It can also direct users to self-service knowledge bases for quick answers. Zendesk service also has in-depth reporting on customer support departments. This platform really has all the functionality for customer support and ticketing systems. You can also use it inside Microsoft Teams.
There is a foundational plan for support teams at $19 per user per month billed annually. More advanced plans go for $49 and $99 per user per month billed annually. There are also plans for the Zendesk Suite which includes sales tools. Enterprises also have special deals. There are also free trials for some plans.
Zendesk Service is best for:
Zoho Desk (Best free help desk ticketing system)
Zoho dates back to the mid-90s, even before the dot-com boom. This platform has survived the years because it’s powerful but simple. It also keeps winning awards. Today they boast over 50 million users for their various SaaS.
Zoho Desk is an all-in-one help desk solution. The ticketing system streamlines the process helping users get solutions faster. With automation features, it also makes service agents’ jobs easier. Zoho Desk is a multichannel support help desk combining email, phone, social media, live chat and web forms. Zia is Zoho’s AI assistant. It can speak to customers, do sentiment analysis and auto-tag tickets. There are knowledge base tools and other self-service functionality. This platform works well with Zoho CRM, which boosts agent productivity. Analytics takes care of metrics like time tracking for individual tickets. Real-time reports give big picture data on whole service departments.
Zoho Desk offers a free version. It does email ticketing, customer management and SLA tracking. The standard plan is $12. The professional plan is $20. The enterprise plan goes for a reasonable $35. All plans are per user per month billed annually. There are also free trials.
Zoho Desk is best for:
Freshdesk (Top help desk software for small business)
Freshdesk is the help desk system from Freshworks. The company started in 2010. Today it has many products including Freshservice and Freshchat. Freshdesk is their main customer service software.
With Freshdesk you get a ticket management system. With AI automation, it prioritizes and does ticket routing to the best agents. The AI tool is called Freddy and can work as a chatbot. Agents can also use a shared team inbox. From here, common replies can be saved and turned into canned responses. Freshdesk is an omnichannel tool, with email, phone, chat and more. Freshdesk also offers help widgets. These include web forms, personalized content, and rage-click detection. The last helps cut down on frustrated customer interactions. Customization options run through the reports. There are one-click insights. There is also knowledge base analytics.
Freshdesk Sprout is a free support software for email and social ticketing. The premium plans cost $15, $35, $49 and $99 per user per month billed annually. There are other plans which you can see on their website. Free trials are also available.
Freshdesk is best for:
Kayako (Good multichannel service desk tool)
Kayako has been in operation since 2001. This is a customer service app meant to increase loyalty. This is part of their high-growth approach to help desk solutions.
Multichannel communication gets you mobile, Facebook, Twitter, email and live chat. Reps can get a total view of the customer’s online journey. There’s also a self-service desk for customers to find simple solutions fast. This can include articles and videos. There’s also analytics for the help center. Live chat lets agents be proactive in offering support. Kayako is also designed around team collaboration. Kayako has a lot of good 3rd party integrations. These include Slack for team communication, Salesforce for CRM and Stripe for payments. There’s an API for developers to add their own tools. Kayako lets you automate away many repetitive tasks.
Kayako has 3 plans. The $15 per agent per month plan gets you an omnichannel inbox. For $30 per agent per month there are workflow automations. At $60 per agent per month you find advanced workflow customization.
Kayako is best for:
Help Scout (Good help desk software for simple workflows)
Help Scout was founded in 2011. The founders had pure customer experience in mind when designing this platform. It’s popular for growth companies with customer-centric values.
The shared inbox streamlines support departments. For collaboration, there are notes, tagging and saved replies. You also get collision detection. All issues come in with full customer data. This includes all previous customer queries for each contact. You can set up workflows to automate actions. It uses basic if-this-then-that functionality. The knowledge base lets you create articles quickly. You can also customize it with your own brand. There’s also in-app messaging. This lets agents be proactive to ensure top end-user experience.
The standard price tag for Help Scout is $20 per user per month billed annually. It gets you 3 mailboxes. The next plan is $35 per user per month billed annually. Here you get 10 mailboxes. For unlimited mailboxes, contact Help Scout. There is also a 15-day free trial.
Help Scout is best for:
Front (Good help desk support tool for team collaboration)
Among many other fun facts, Front boasts a stat of 93% when it comes to their employee satisfaction. And happy employees must know something about customer satisfaction. Front is a platform which helps agents and customers alike.
Front has a lot of team collaboration tools to help service departments. Team, inboxes, ticket assigning, tags and @mentions are in there. There are standard workflow automations. More premium packages have advanced rule triggers and actions. You can sync with Microsoft Office and Outlook lists. There are response time and SLA tools to resolve issues without delay. You can get a Front chat widget for a website. There is also in-app messaging. Front has the major integrations and a robust API.
You can try Front for 7 days with no credit card. The Starter plan is $9 per user per month billed annually and is good for 10 users max. The Plus plan is $24, the Pro plan is $49, and the Enterprise plan is $79, all per user per month billed annually.
Front is best for:
Vision Helpdesk (Good on-premise help desk system)
Vision is a brand of the Indian IT sector giant JPK Software Solutions. The Vision Helpdesk software was released around 2007. They do both cloud and on-premise products, as well as specialize in satellite IT solutions.
The multichannel options for Vision are email, phone, live chat and social media. They also provide an API for custom tools. You can set up simple workflows with rules-based triggers. Rules can be based on SLA agreements and escalation rules. You can also automate notifications. For team collaboration, you get gamification and knowledge sharing. It’s also easy to work together on tickets. Vision has many tools for billing, like ticket or time-based. The self-service customer portal is very customizable. Vision has good mobile apps.
Vision Starter Helpdesk costs $12 per agent per month billed annually, or $200 for a one-time license fee. The Pro is $20 per agent per month billed annually, and $400 for a one-time download.
Vision Helpdesk is best for:
ThinkOwl (Great AI-based help desk and ticketing system)
From the get-go, ThinkOwl fuses AI with human labor as the ideal customer support symbiosis. The website has lots of great resources on the future of AI in the customer experience.
ThinkOwl’s AI starts by taking over needed but slow and simple work. But while it is doing that, it is also gathering data and analyzing it. This process gradually increases its knowledge of the process so that it does a better job in less time. This means agents always get the most important information right when they need it. ThinkOwl also covers your shared unified inbox. It’s also a virtual assistant you could put onto your mobile app. It’s got a chatbot too. You can handle case management here, and get analytics and reporting.
ThinkOwl offers a free version. It’s good for up to 5 agents. $42, $79, and $129 are the three pricing tiers, all per agent per month billed annually. You can also try it for free.
ThinkOwl is best for:
HelpDesk (Great cheap help desk and ticketing tool)
With a matter-of-fact name like HelpDesk, you get a good idea of this customer service platform’s priority. To give users a ready-to-use out-of-the-box help desk solution.
HelpDesk gets you the help desk tools you need without overcomplicating things. Multichannel support tools let agents use a single app for multiple email accounts. Ticket management lets you tag tickets, and group them according to common solutions. Setting up rules to automate ticket routing is one of many standard workflows. Other team collaboration features include private notes. Everything is personalizable so you can push your brand in all customer interactions. Analytics cover historic data to give current insights.
This is one very affordable piece of SaaS. The Starter plan is $4 per agent per month billed annually. The Team plan is $19, same terms. Enterprises can contact for custom prices. There is also a 14-day free trial.
HelpDesk is best for:
SeamlessDesk (Good free help desk system for single user)
SeamlessDesk is another IT service desk software. It’s got features for end-users struggling with a site or app. This is a good free option for one-person operations.
The ticket assigning and tracking tools are quick to learn. It does things like smartly categorize and prioritize issues to streamline ticket resolution. You also don’t need to be a code wizard to create customizable workflow automations. Tickets can be logged and customers interact via phone calls and emails. Notifications can also occur on social media and mobile SMS. Customer support department heads get a lot of features to manage the team. You can track and report on agent or team performance. Or track time spent on a ticket or organization.
There’s a free version of SeamlessDesk for one person only. The premium plan is $25 per agent per month. Enterprise-level operations should get in touch with SeamlessDesk directly. SeamlessDesk also has a whopping 30-day free trial.
SeamlessDesk is best for:
Cayzu (Good help desk for startups on a budget)
The Cayzu philosophy is “no manual required,” which is a common thread we see here. Still, this helpdesk tool that started as a project among friends has earned its claim to ease of use.
As good a tool as this is for startups and small businesses, there are other niche solutions. Educational and other non-profit institutions can find Cayzu useful. As a help desk tool it gives reps a single portal to manage all issues. You can automate emails, and set up custom rules based on things like specific rep, or SLA. Communication comes in via email, social media chats and websites. You got your slew of team collaboration features. And as all that great support goes on, Cayzu gathers data and analyzes it. Real-time reporting isn’t stuffed with too many details either. There’s also a Jira integration for more technical support.
Cayzu pricing starts at just $4 per agent per month billed annually. That plan is basic, and the next more complete plan starts at $9 per agent per month billed annually. There are more plans, and the more premium plans become cheaper per agent, the more users you subscribe.
Cayzu is best for:
Agile CRM Help Desk (Good help desk and CRM system)
Agile CRM is a big platform with a lot of arms. It has full suites for service, sales and marketing. The service module can definitely be considered a standalone help desk solution.
The usual roundup of help desk features is all on display here. There’s ticket management including issue labeling and grouping. Smart views can show reps quickly the key info they need in the moment. SLA agreements are set up to trigger alerts. Other automation includes canned responses which are no prob to build. You can even get ticket feedback from customers to keep satisfaction levels high. This includes a feedback leaderboard to add some fun gamification to a support team. Agile CRM Help Desk has decent 3rd party integrations like with Twitter, LinkedIn and AWS.
Agile CRM has a free version which is amazing for up to 10 users. You don’t even need a credit card. The upward plans are $9.99, $34.99 and $64.99 per agent per month billed annually.
Agile CRM is best for:
Teamwork Desk (Great shared inbox help desk software)
Teamwork is headquartered in Ireland with offices in San Francisco too. They make team productivity and collaboration tools. Teamwork Desk is their add-on to make their platform a customer support solution.
The main features making up Desk is ticket management and automations. They also have a set of tools called training wheels. These are for using shared agent knowledge to help onboard new reps. It speeds up training which means more ready agents helping customers. Tickets come in a unified shared inbox, but there is agent collision detection too. End users can visit a customer portal which Teamwork Desk helps set up. With a knowledge base, fewer problems get converted into tickets too. Analytics measures customer satisfaction levels as well as agent performance.
There are 3 pricing plans for ATeamwork Desk. They are $7, $13 and $25, all per agent per month billed annually. Contact them for enterprise prices. You can also give it a test run with a 30-day free trial.
Teamwork Desk is best for:
HubSpot Service Hub (Top CRM help desk software for support)
Straight out of Cambridge, Massachusetts, HubSpot has been around since 2005. IN 2014, they went public on the NYSE. HubSpot started with marketing tools. Service Hub is HubSpot’s help desk solution.
This is a known tool for smaller companies looking to scale up. It’s great for startups and small businesses. It gets business reps full customer data for every issue. One thing about HubSpot Service Hub is how much CRM functionality you get. You get all the standard conversation tools. There’s a full suite of help desk automation features. You could use this to handle customer surveys. All data feeds back in real-time reporting. There are features for a knowledge base. Higher-end plans get support department heads full team management.
There is a free version of Service Hub. It’s got live chat and ticket reporting. The premium plans start at $45, $360 and $1,200 per month for 2, 5 and 10 users respectively. There are extra charges for additional users.
HubSpot Service Hub is best for:
ManageEngine ServiceDesk (Good ticketing system for large business)
ManagementEngine is the IT management division over at Zoho Corp. The company has over 90 tools for all things IT. ServiceDesk Plus is a Gartner award winner for IT service management.
You got a lot of options for smart automations. These are customizable even if you don’t know code. ServiceDesk plus handles ITSM workflows between IT and other platforms. You got basic knowledge base and self-service portals. Asset management and inventory reporting are in there. You got SLA tracking. There is a live chat tool. Overall it’s a solid tool for incident and problem management. ServiceDesk Plus has native apps for Windows phone, iOS and Android. ManageEngine also makes SupportCenter Plus for non IT support.
There are many pricing plans. ServiceDesk Plus starts at $1,195 per year for 10 users. ServiceDesk Plus Pro starts at $495 per year for 2 users. For full pricing, visit the store on their website.
ManageEngine ServiceDesk is best for:
IT ticket management
UVdesk (Best free open source help desk tool for ecommerce)
UVdesk is a fully open-source help desk solution. It’s a very international company and their website shows it. Many reviewers say this is the best open source help desk platform.
UVdesk is great for ecommerce operations. Online stores can use it to enhance the customer experience. It makes it a snap for reps to fetch order details. There are many 3rd party integrations for things like Amazon, Shopify and eBay. You can unify many marketplaces into one support user interface. UVdesk has automated workflows. It’s easy to create rules based on triggers like incoming tickets. The knowledge base has an AI tool called Bianka to help customers find answers easier. This AI tool can also be used as a quick ticket builder.
As an open-source ticketing and help desk platform, the basic UVdesk is free. There are premium versions too. The Pro plan is $8 and the Enterprise plan is $15 per agent per month billed annually.
UVdesk is best for:
Jira Service Management (Great IT ticketing system software)
Jira is a suite of different project and ticket management SaaS. It’s made by Australian software company Atlassian. They also make Trello, which is popular for project management.
Jira has many subsets. The main Jira software does issue tracking. But here we turn our attention to Jira Service Management. It’s a relatively new platform. It’s mainly used for ITSM, which aligns IT teams with other departments like sales or HR. In other words, ITSM brings together developers and operations (devs meets ops). The main strong point is speedy resolutions. They call this high-velocity service management. Service requests and support tickets can be tracked in real-time. There is also asset management, and knowledge management. These are useful for IT team collaboration. Change management means better contextual information for support agents.
For an operation of less than 3 IT support reps, there is a free version of Jira Service Management. Premium plans cost $20 or $40 per user per month. Enterprises can get in touch with Atlassian for a customizable quote.
Jira Service Management is best for:
LiveAgent (Great simple help desk and ticketing software)
LiveAgent was established back in 2004. Originally they made B2B apps. Then they realized that improving customer satisfaction was the most important. Today they have offices in Bratislava, Kyiv and New York City.
The aim of LiveAgent is simplicity. Like the best help desk software, LiveAgent gets you a good ticketing system. There is a universal inbox where support reps can interface with incoming tickets. Reps can also tag and add notes to issues. Tickets can migrate from channel to channel. You can automate canned messages. LiveAgent helps you stay on top of SLAs. These are service level agreements. They deal with deadlines and timeframes to resolve problems and are very important for customer satisfaction. Other communication tools include live chat, a call center and social media tools. There is also a customer portal and a knowledge base builder.
The free version of LiveAgent only has a 7-day ticket history. Pricing plans are $15, $29 and $39 per agent per month. Billing is on a monthly basis. You can try LiveAgent for free on all plans.
LiveAgent is best for:
HappyFox (Good all-in-one tool for customer support)
HappyFox is a support SaaS tool out of California. They really want to make customers “happy” but to do so in a slick, sly platform (like a fox). HappyFox’s CEO is an award-winning seasoned entrepreneur.
There are many modules with HappyFox. The help desk is the main toolkit. It does email ticketing and has ticket templates. Customers can get SMS notifications when their case changes. There is a full knowledge base feature. This includes a community forum builder. There’s a customer self-service portal. HappyFox helps with SLA management. It also offers satisfaction surveys, which users can do after getting support. There are many customization features for the help desk. It includes branding and custom domains. HappyFox also offers an AI assistant. It can do customer conversation ticketing. For chatting, HappyFix has a live chat tool, and a chatbot feature. You also get workflows and business intelligence.
For the full pricing plan of HappyFox help desk SaaS, visit their website to get a quote. There are pricings for the live chat module. They begin at $29 per month.
HappyFox is best for:
Freshservice (Top ITSM ticketing system)
Freshservice is another product from customer relationship company Freshworks. It is one of their more recent SaaS. Freshservice so far has over 40,000 customers.
Unlike Freshdesk, Freshservice is more for IT departments. It is an ITSM platform. This stands for IT service management. This kind of tool helps make sure what goes on in IT support does not conflict with the rest of the company’s workings. It is also an ITIL tool. ITIL stands for IT infrastructure library. This is for streamlining many phases of service requests. These include strategy, design, separation, and continual service improvement. IT teams use Freshservice for technical issues like software bugs and glitches. It also includes asset management. Real-time reporting is also included.
Freshservice does not have a free version like Freshdesk. Pricing begins at $19 per user per month billed annually. That includes mobile apps for iOS and Android. Premium plans are $49, $80 and $109 all per user per month billed annually.
Freshservice is best for:
ITSM and ITIL
What is the best help desk tool for me? Our conclusion
The top tool spots are dominated again by the Zs: Zoho Desk and Zendesk. Single users ought to check out SeamlessDesk, while teams may consider Front. LiveAgent wins points for simplicity, while HappyFox scores well on robustness. If it’s IT support you need most, Jira and Freshservice are top picks too.
Wrapping up, choosing the best help desk and ticketing system shouldn’t turn into a Quixotic quest for perfection. To get the most out of any business SaaS, you need to make sure your team is fully on board. So don’t just pick the best and expect its tech to do the rest. Customer service and support deserve all the technical help it can get, but it’s only your people who are the true heroes of customer satisfaction.
What is the difference between helpdesk and technical support?
A helpdesk is a term for general customer service and support. It is the system where customers can reach out to a company, ask for help, log a complaint, or even find their own solutions. Technical support specifically deals with issues from using software or a website.
What is the difference between a helpdesk and service desk?
A service desk is a complete customer support system. A helpdesk is a tool that works within a larger service desk. The help desk is like an interface where customers can interact with a company’s support department. The best help desks are multichannel and often multilingual too.
Is it helpdesk or help desk?
Originally it was spelled “help desk” as two words. Over time people came to start writing it as one word like “helpdesk” as the software became more common. The only problem is, there is branded software called “HelpDesk” which should not be confused with all help desk software.
What is a CRM ticketing system?
A CRM ticketing system is a customer relationship management tool that can be used in customer service and support. It gives agents full customer data including interaction histories. It also lets agents create support tickets via the CRM, or updates the CRM via the ticketing system.