Using a helpdesk to make support easier01 Jun 2015
If you answer any more than a few emails a week, & do so in capacity that requires accountability & reasonable response times, it's likely time you started using a helpdesk. A helpdesk often is a centralized piece of software where folks can get support. Many feature frequently asked questions, knowledgebase articles & the ability to submit tickets and inquiries. There are many, many available versions with varied features. I'd highly recommend tinkering with each and finding one that fits your needs.
We've done a good bit of testing with each, and I'll list the pros & cons of each below.
The bulk of the software below have the following:
Allow people to email you, and, for you to respond back via email. It'll convert those emails into tickets.
The ability for multiple team members to login & manage said tickets. This makes for good accountability, and, allows everyone (whom might need to) to review said tickets.
Allows tickets to be converted into tasks, knowledgebase articles & FAQ pages to make it easier for other users to look up answers for their own questions.
Self-hosted means that you'd be responsible to host the software yourself, either on a web hosting account at a company like Fused or elsewhere. Some have non-self-hosted versions available where the vendor hosts it for you. There's some advantages and disadvantages to self-hosted software.
Often open source to some degree, meaning you can tinker with the code & make changes as needed
You can move from host to host based on uptime & performance needs
There's very little vendor lock-in. You can export your data to another helpdesk as needed
You get to upgrade the software yourself! Yay .
You (or your host) get to manage the security of said product. This can be both a plus or minus, but for most folks would be a minus.
We've used Kayako what seems to be over a decade. It serves our purpose well, but, given it's age it's beginning to show some wear & tear. Kayako offers both a self-hosted (i.e., one you host on a web hosting account at a company like Fused) & hosted version (one kayako hosts). The software features live chat, a helpdesk that allows emails to convert to tickets and a decent knowledgebase system.
It's got a slightly antiquated interface, but nonetheless allows us to respond to inquiries promptly. It's a great system to consider, but lacks some social features like converting facebook posts/twitter responses into tickets. Nonetheless, it's got fairly open code, so if you're technical enough you can add your own modules.
Link to Kayako: Kayako
Cerberus is great. No complaints, slightly antiquated interface, but it "gets the job done".
Link to Cerberus: Cerberus
Desk is a great product from salesforce. It has a decent interface, lots of applications available for mobile, ipad & desktop. It features a long list of social media integration (for twitter responses & such) and overall has a decent pricing scheme. It's SaaS only, which means salesforce hosts it for you. There's some limitations with that, mostly that you're locked into using their software. If you come across something you don't like, migration would prove tedious.
Link to desk.com: Desk.com
Zendesk is the product of a public company. It has a great interface, and supports lots of nifty features & includes many mobile device apps. & such. The one limitation is it's self-hosted only, and there's some questionable uptime stats. with their systems. Nonetheless, we've heavily considered & wielded their software -- it's good stuff.
Link to Zendesk: Zendesk