Using a helpdesk to make support easier

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:

  1. Allow people to email you, and, for you to respond back via email. It'll convert those emails into tickets.

  2. 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.

  3. 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 helpdesks

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.

Advantages

Disadvantages

Kayako

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

Cerberus is great. No complaints, slightly antiquated interface, but it "gets the job done".

Link to Cerberus: Cerberus

Hosted helpdesks

Desk.com

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

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