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Help Desk Software 2021: Complete Guide

Learn why Help Desk software is important for the business, how it helps and how to choose the right Help Desk software

Last updated: Feb 17, 2021

Help Desk Software 2021: Complete Guide

What is Help Desk?

Help Desks were created by enterprises to provide both customers and internal users with a central location for information and support on their processes, products, and/or services. The purpose of the help desk is to offer a single point for the businesses to answer questions and troubleshoot problems. Help desks enable businesses to respond to their customers effectively and enable a better customer experience.

The future service desk should more closely align with the consumer experience in terms of self-service and the availability of applicable information.


David Slakin


Help desks can deliver a variety of both product and technology-related services. The function of the help desk is to be the single point of contact for any assistance customers or end-users need, with respect to business services.

According to an HDI report conducted in 2017 on Technical Support Practices the top three drivers of the decrease in ticket volume are self-help (42%), staff competency (34%), and knowledgebase (29%).

What is Help Desk Software?

Help Desk software helps businesses execute core tasks that are based on corporate best practices such as ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library). The goal of managing any customer issues is to restore normal service operation quickly and efficiently, and this is the primary objective of any Help Desk software. According to many experts a large number of companies look at Help Desk Software as a tool that gives them a competitive advantage.

Help Desk software is primarily used to help agents track, manage, and solve customer issues. Teams typically deploy help desk software to manage the ticket life cycle, automate tasks, and optimize processes and workflows. Help Desk software enables technology teams to offer support for customer interactions across phone, chat, email, social media, and other channels in one place.

Help Desk vs Service Desk

Business Users are often confused with the two terms Service Desk and Help Desk. Are they both interchangeable? When to use what? Do we need both? So it is often important to understand the distinction between the two. It is important to note the Service Desk very often used in the context of IT Operations.

Service Desk is born out of IT Services best practices framework ITSM and based on the paradigm “managing IT as a Service”. Simply put, Service Desk is the single point of contact between service providers and users and is focused on delivering service end-to-end. A typical service desk manages both incidents and service requests and handles communication with users. It is concerned with both resolving the immediate issue and improving the quality and performance of services offered to ensure they are fully meeting the user’s needs as per the business goals and service agreements. The service desk is a key component of managing the service delivery from a big picture perspective and is often seen as more strategic.

Help Desk is more focused on incident management and largely pertains to break-fix problems. Service Desk is a broader evolution of Help Desk. Since Help Desk is only a small part of the overall service delivery it is often seen as more tactical. However, many of the modern Help Desk go beyond just incident management to include Knowledge Management and enabling self-service.

5 Key Benefits of Help Desk Software

Seamless Experience for Customers

A Help Desk software converges all inbound communication and converts the help desk into a single point of contact for all questions. By supporting a single point of contact, Help Desk software minimizes customer frustration and enables faster problem resolution.

Omnichannel Customer Support

Help Desk software helps bring together multiple support channels, regardless of whether your customers use different channels or even switch channels to get an answer. Help Desk software allows you to easily follow a customer from one channel to the next without loss in communication or ticket information.

5 Key Benefits of Help Desk Software

Improved Customer Satisfaction

Help Desk Software plays a major role in businesses to improve their customer satisfaction scores. Many of the features like automated ticketing and routing, sending reminders to agents on pending tickets, automatic assignment of tickets help greatly in customer issues being addressed promptly, and ensuring nothing goes amiss.

Help Desk software enables businesses to meet their customer demands. According to a Zendesk Customer Service Survey Report in 2018, for 97% of respondents, bad customer service changes their buying behavior. Help Desk software lets businesses stay proactive and organized in solving their customer issues, thereby improving satisfaction and influencing future business transactions.

Using Help Desk software, businesses can ensure all the information regarding a customer query/interaction is in one place. This enables you to avoid having the customer repeat themselves and provide a superior customer experience.

Improved Operational Efficiency

Help Desk Software helps businesses to handle customer issues at scale. Help Desk software enables the creation of manual workflows. This saves time by automatically creating tickets and assigning customers to specific support team members. Help Desk software enables businesses to create documentation so that they can search and find answers to their common issues easily. Some help desk software even offer analytics on the knowledge base, to help know what people are looking for the most.

Using Help desk software, companies can track metrics that directly impact customer satisfaction. The software often incorporates metrics such as tickets closed, deferred, agent productivity, customer feedback, and more, which can help improve service efficiencies.

Higher Productivity

With Help Desk Software, all customer support interactions happen from one place, so communication is seamless, personal, and efficient. This makes agents more productive as they don’t have to juggle between channels and deal with any ad-hoc communication. Also, all information related to customers is available to them, so they can service customers faster thereby increasing overall productivity.

Which industries use Help Desk Software?

Mid to large size companies from industries such as manufacturing, technology, healthcare, and education which constantly interact, or support customer issues can utilize Help Desk software effectively. Organizations can use Help Desk software for their external customers, or their internal ones (employees).

Who are the users of Help Desk Software?

Help Desk software is mainly used by businesses for technology support, customer support, or IT asset management. The Help Desk software is therefore operated by IT teams, but can also be used by HR teams, technical support, trainers, and educators who are looking to provide support to their clients/customers.

Why Help Desk is Important

Help Desk software helps businesses by solving many of the critical problems they face in customer support.

Problem #1 - Lack of Visibility into Customer Support Issues

Businesses that rely on email and phone to handle customer inquiries, cannot provide insight into how customer support agents are performing, or if they are providing correct information to customers. A Help Desk software helps maintain a record of customer interactions to monitor support activities. Together with reports and analytics, Help Desk Software provides the necessary insights to managers to proactively deal with customer issues.

Problem#2 - Agents not used optimally

One of the common problems faced by businesses is the lack of understanding of the usage of their agents. Are the right agents deployed for the right set of customer issues? Is the workload optimally balanced between the agents? Is a particular agent spending too much time on specific customer issues? Are agents spending too much time on repetitive problems? Help Desk Software alleviates these problems with the configuration of the right set of workflows, agent assignment rules, notification on pending cases. Business leaders always have a pulse on their resource usage when they use Help Desk Software.

Problem#3 - Too much time spent on repetitive issues

Businesses always prefer to optimize their resources and do not wish to employ their premier agents on a repetitive set of customer issues. Such issues are best handled through self-service. Applying Pareto’s principle, 80% of the customers face 20% of all the issues. Businesses can optimize their customer support by linking with Knowledge Management and offering self-help through automation.

Top 3 drivers of decrease in ticker volume. Self-help: 42 percent Staff competency: 34 percent Knowledge base: 29 percent”



Problem#4 - No Loopback from customer service

Customer Issues often provide insight into what customers are missing in the product/service, process gaps, and what customers would like to see. Help Desk software helps managers gain insights regarding what customers care about providing a clear view of what they need. This helps provide improvements to products or add relevant information to documentation, or change processes to offer better customer experiences. Completing this process loop from customer service to product development is important for the business to acquire and retain customers.

What are the Key Features of Help Desk Software?

Ticket Management

All Help Desk software helps the support to track and manage customer issues by keeping track of each customer issue in the form of a ticket. Ticket Management helps to prioritize, categorize, and assign tickets to the right agents. This is a key feature that helps to use resources optimally. Generally, ticket management allows issues to be reported from any channel, and Help Desk software helps to centralize all such reported issues.


Help Desk software supports the creation of business workflows that run automatically based on established triggers. This automation helps to prioritize and assign tickets to the right agents based on pre-set rules. This automation can also be enabled by AI. Automation of workflows can be done where the customer issues are coming from, type of issue, and also based on customer classification. This enables customers to get faster solutions to their issues while reducing manpower time. Many Help Desk software offer automation of tasks, and processes, to save time and effort in repetitive jobs.


Support agents often need help from their team members, supervisors to resolve issues. Help Desk software provides the ability to collaborate with team members on resolving issues, without back and forth communication and without losing customer context. This is a critical component for providing a great customer experience.


Businesses can use the Help Desk software to customize forms, templates, workflows, and responses to their unique needs.

Reporting and Analytics

Most Help Desk Software provide an extensive set of analysis and reporting on all key metrics related to agent workload, customer satisfaction, help desk productivity. Important metrics in customer support performance need to be tracked, and most Help Desk Software will offer reports based on these metrics for managers to assess overall support performance. They also custom reporting and report sharing capabilities.


Help Desk software offers businesses the ability to personalize all their interactions. This can include applying logos, creating custom fields, custom email, and SMS messages. Help Desk software offers respondents the ability to implement and re-use standard responses to recurring questions and situations.

Custom views

Custom views can be created using Help Desk software to offer personalized views for agents to see their activities based on ticket status or other conditions, and for managers to monitor status levels. Custom dashboards or layouts also allow different departments to monitor their requirements.

Native Apps

Some Help Desk software offer mobile apps support to enable agents to respond to customer service requests on the go. Mobile apps also enable business users to manage issues 24/7 and respond immediately without the customer experiencing any delay.

AI in Help Desk Software

With Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) impacting several routine technology tasks, it’s no surprise to see its impact on Help Desk software and support.

Cognitive Automation

By analyzing repetitive tasks conducted by Help Desk software, AI can offer advanced automation. Cognitive Automation will allow machine learning to automate multi-step tasks which can reduce the time it takes to identify and solve issues.

Business-aligned organizations are more likely to spend money on technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), predictive analytics, service automation, and virtual agents over the next twelve months, and far less likely to have no plans

H (

HDI (2017)

Get Intuitive Insights

Leveraging advanced algorithms, more data points can be analyzed, faster and effectively, resulting in business managers being given intuitive insights into their customer interactions or new product capabilities that may be in demand.

Save Time with Big Data Analytics

According to a ThinkHDI article, Help Desk software can leverage big data to save up to 670 working hours per year. Helse Midt-Norge IT (HEMIT), is the IT Help Desk service provider for nine hospitals in central Norway. Using Big Data analytics, HEMIT spent more time-solving user problems, rather than just reporting them. The final result was a 50% time reduction to complete help desk tickets, with 10% fewer phone calls and 25% more help desk resources available for problem resolution.

In fact, according to Gartner’s Top Strategic Predictions for 2018 and Beyond, "By 2020, 55% of all large enterprises will have deployed at least one bot or chatbot in production, and AI augmentation will generate $2.9T in business value and recover 6.2B hours of worker productivity by 2021."

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Buyer’s Guide: 8 Factors to Consider to buy Help Desk Software

Cloud or On-Premise Deployment

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Businesses that need full control over their customer data and incident management files, prefer to use on-premise solutions. Businesses that need extensive customization and complex integrations would also help the on-premise solution. When it comes to flexibility and ability to scale, cloud-based online Help Desk software scores better. Businesses need not worry about infrastructure management, configuration, and scale issues as these will be easily handled online Help Desk Software. When you need more scale or a higher configuration, all you need to do is choose a different pricing plan. Compliance and regulatory limits also play a key role in the selection of an on-premise solution.

Support Organization Structure

Some organizations offer multi-tier help desk support wherein each level of support offers a varied degree of customer service and usually there is a hand-off between levels. Also the channels that are used in these different tiers would be very different. Help Desk support can be spread across geographic locations. It is important to choose the right Help Desk software that supports such a complex organization structure and support models.


Help Desk Software needs to have some of the key core capabilities like ticket management, automation, integrated live chat, built-in phone support, reporting, and analytics. It is important to assess the strength of these abilities before choosing the software. Also a built-in knowledge base or integration with knowledge management system is key to implement today’s sophisticated Help Desk. Many of today’s Help Desk software vendors advanced capabilities like collaboration tools, customer portal, dashboards and mobile apps.

Also the needs of your business function should match the capabilities provided. For example, most Help Desk software is tuned for customer support. If it is meant for internal use, say by the HR department, it is important to assess whether it is tailored for such use cases.

ITIL compliance

ITIL offers best practices framework for customer service providers. Choosing software that has a higher degree of compliance with ITIL ensures that organizations are benefiting from such practices. This to an extent takes care of many of the compliance, audit, and regulatory issues.


As your business grows, you’ll need to manage more business users, support technicians, and end-users. The Help Desk software should be scalable to support future business growth.


A business that operates globally, will need to communicate with customers from different countries. In such a case the Help Desk software should be able to offer its capabilities in multiple languages.


Help Desk Software should support both data level and user-level security. Businesses must consider security protocols such as data encryption, data storage, and access protocols before making a choice. The software should support the necessary authorization and authentication mechanisms to deal with multi-level support and organization hierarchy.


Help Desk software must be able to interact with other applications like CRM and analytics software for which it will require integration capabilities. Larger enterprises may have dedicated Knowledge Management Systems that would need integration with Help Desk. If the organization is implementing a larger service delivery framework, then it needs to integrate with other tools and applications that support other critical functions of service management.

What are the challenges in adopting Help Desk Software?

According to Research and Markets, the ITSM (IT Service Management) market is slated to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.78% between 2016 and 2020, with the cloud-based ITSM market reaching a CAGR of 14% between 2016 and 2021.

But before thinking about what the future of help desk support software will be, it's important to consider the challenges that are being faced.

Data Security

Business users are becoming more comfortable in using their personal devices in the work environment. While this increased mobility is enabling businesses to be more productive, it also comes with the risk of data misuse. This can make it difficult for Help Desk software to be effective across such a dynamic environment.

Compliance Issues

Today’s businesses operate in a dynamic environment with interrelated IT components. These complexities can lead to inadvertent violations if the Help Desk software is not up to date or advanced enough to manage constantly changing regulatory policies.

Growing Data and Applications

As business users adopt more technologies, company environments often experience data proliferation or fragmentation of data across applications. This can cause multiple issues in terms of security, compliance, transparency and speed for the Help Desk software implementation.

Staying Up-to-Date

Help Desk software needs to stay relevant with continually changing technologies and customer needs. While customers can adapt quickly to new channels of communication, this can pose a challenge for Help Desk software that is not agile in its ability to evolve.

ROI of Help Desk Software

Businesses that invest in Help Desk software usually experience improved productivity and faster resolution of customer issues. According to an Avanade whitepaper, for every $1 invested in customer experience through help desk software or similar platforms, you can reap a return on investment of $3.

Poor customer service is one of the key reasons for customers to move away from the organization to go to their competitors. 86% of the customers cite poor customer service is one of the key reasons why they do so. For 51% of the customers, one poor customer service experience is enough to do so. Investing in a good Help Desk Software helps organizations to do away with this issue.

Reduce Time and Costs

By reducing the time to create tickets and resolve issues, Help Desk software can help businesses reduce the time and costs per customer issue. According to a BMC blog post, the cost of manually handling a help desk ticket is $22. By automating the process, 22% of total service desk tickets were resolved at practically no cost.

For many of the organizations, support revenue is a major source of revenue and for such organizations, Help Desk Software not only brings in internal efficiencies contributing to the bottom line, but also greatly helps in improving customer satisfaction and NPS thereby contributing to the top line.

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164 Help Desk Software