While there are dozens of help desk software solutions available on the market today – ranging from simple tools with basic set of features to advanced systems – the majority of them commonly share three fundamental parts: ticket management, automation suite and analytics. Furthermore, many help desk software vendors provide additional capabilities such as built-in self-service options, multiple contact channels, CRM integration, sophisticated reporting, collaboration tools and more. Choosing the right help desk software depends on your business needs, specific requirements and the budget.
At the least, a help desk software includes a ticket management system where customer queries are logged, organized and queued for fast and efficient resolution. A ticket is a communication thread between a company and a customer. Help tickets store all incoming customer communication (emails, phone calls, live chats, social media messages), as well as internal agents’ notes and other data related to a single customer issue. Support agents can easily view full history of every interaction which enables them to provide quicker and more personalized responses.
When a ticket is submitted, it needs to be routed to the appropriate department or person. While this can be done manually, it can result in response delays or important issues being left unattended. Help desk automation capabilities ensure support agents can effectively process a large volume of customer requests without compromising on quality and speed of resolution. You can usually automate ticket distribution, assignments and prioritization based on your configured parameters, such as ticket source, subject, ticket category and other possible conditions. Automation generally ensures that tickets are routed to the right agents and helps to optimize their workload and improve productivity.
An SLA (Service-Level Agreement) is a commitment between a service provider and a customer that defines the level of service expected from a vendor in terms of time to first response or time to issue resolution. Incorporating SLAs into your help desk process guarantees your agents always deliver service targets and customers are never left waiting for too long to get a response. It also helps to maintain accountability among your support team as managers can easily identify low performing agents who are breaking SLAs and take measures for their improvement.
Every solid help desk software system will have robust reporting features that allow getting actionable insights into your support team’s performance, channel usage and customer satisfaction ratings. Comprehensive analytics reports that are typically displayed in the form of visual graphs and charts can show, for example, how exactly your support agents are performing in the given time period (by the number of solved emails, opened chats, average response time etc.). That allows you to keep track of who is the most productive on your team and delivers consistent results over time.
Since today’s consumers have become highly self-reliant when it comes to customer service and prefer searching for answers and resolving issues on their own, self-service appears to be one of the most important features of a help desk software. That may include a complete customer portal with a range of self-service options such as knowledge base, FAQs, customer community forum and feedback boards, or only some of those options. It enables customers to find answers to simple problems without involving direct interaction with a company’s rep, while also saving time of your support agents who can focus on more important issues instead.
Integrated community forum functionality in help desk software is a logical extension of its self-service capabilities. It provides customers with a platform where they can search for helpful information shared by other users (tips, use cases, best practices, personal experiences of using a company’s products etc.), engage and collaborate with them on topics of mutual interests. As forum entries are automatically transformed into tickets, support agents can easily monitor these customer interactions and participate when appropriate or necessary.
Live chat is becoming increasingly common as a customer support channel. It is highly valued by consumers as it allows them to get answers to their questions immediately with no need to spend time on searching for information on their own. That is why the majority of help desk software vendors offer live chat support. Not only does it enable agents to provide real-time help to customers. By enabling proactive chat invitations, they can target visitors browsing specific pages of your website (such as product or checkout pages) with custom messages and offer timely assistance – it helps to build credibility with prospects and increase conversions.
Built-in telephony integration is one of the key features offered by almost any help desk software provider. It literally means that you can set up a fully functional call center and support your customers over the phone right from within your help desk tool. Voice integration capabilities will usually allow customers to make either phone calls or PC to PC calls by clicking a phone button/ widget on a website. Phone calls are recorded creating a help desk ticket or are attached to an existing one. Some tools also offer IVR (Interactive Voice Response) options to ensure customer calls are routed to the right departments or agents.
Many help desk software vendors offer integration with the most popular social media platforms - Facebook and Twitter. With social media channel integration support agents can view, monitor and manage customer interactions via Facebook and Twitter right from the help desk interface. Whenever new messages, posts or comments appear on Facebook, the agents get automatically notified and can answer when needed. Similarly, when new messages or tweets mentioning your brand are posted on Twitter, the agents will see them as tickets and can respond whenever action is required.
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