Helpdesks are becoming more and more popular, whether it’s an IT support company or a company that deals with customer service requests. The sheer volume of helpdesks, both free and paid, give weight to this observation – with many more being developed incorporating new and existing features. The most popular helpdesks on the market seem to be expensive solutions – as demonstrated in the infographic below, which was based on research done in 2014 by Capterra.
The above infographic demonstrates only two helpdesk solutions that have a free version, both of which will be covered in this post. However, the lack of free helpdesks in this top 20 list is somewhat confusing, considering the amount of value a free helpdesk has. A free helpdesk perhaps doesn’t have complicated multi-channel features like that of Zen Desk or a highly customizable UI (user interface) like FreshDesk – and they may therefore lack crucial features that are fundamental to large corporations or those who companies who require specific features such as the need to transcribe phone calls.
However, if you are not a particularly large company and you were managing before by using sub-standard techniques, a free helpdesk might be the next appropriate step for your business to take. Alternatively, you may already be forking out lots of money for a paid helpdesk but only use a few of its features, features that may be available in a free helpdesk solution. Regardless of your situation you will find a lot of value in free helpdesks, especially if your work is in the IT support field. Below is our top 3 free helpdesks that will undoubtedly help your IT technicians be more efficient and effective in their jobs.
1. User Voice
Ranked third on the Capterra top 20 list – this is an amazing piece of free software that in hindsight skews more towards shops and the e-commerce sector. The UI is very friendly and doesn’t have any annoying adverts that may pop up, it integrates nicely with social media platforms such as facebook, and indexes previous searches – which can be very handy when searching for a specific ticket. On top of that, it includes all the other standard helpdesk features such as in-depth ticket analysis, ticket organization / filtering and user profiles.
We like the simplicity and the multi-channel features that makes ticket collection flow in a logical method. It does however have some negatives, especially when compared to other free helpdesk solutions. Perhaps the main criticism we have is the lack of depth – especially when looking at it through an IT support lens, on top of that other people have commented online and said the features in ‘user voice’ are far weaker than its competitors, also noting that setup wasn’t as straight forward as it should’ve been.
This helpdesk was another that was deemed popular by the previously highlighted research. Freshdesk is actually a paid service but does have a free plan that has somewhat limited functionality and is strictly limited to three users however it’s still enough to consider as a top free helpdesk. In general and while a lot of features are limited – the functionality in our opinion surpasses ‘User Voice’ – on top of that it has a really intuitive layout and amazing customer service, even for the free plan. Furthermore it has various additional features, for example the software has already been translated into 16 different languages, emails and tickets can be turned into knowledge articles and the solution is completely responsive.
It does however and as previously mentioned limit crucial functionality which you’ll end up wanting to use – not to mention some of the other free solutions have this functionality already. Moreover, previous users have stated that it isn’t the fastest system – it lacks speed when executing key processes. Likewise the limit of agents is another stand out negative – however even with the free plan you can add more agents, at a price of course.
To summarise, we really liked this helpdesk and the functionality it has to offer. The host company provides great customer support and is therefore an option that should definitely be considered if you are a small IT support company but have ambitions to expand, as the transition from the free to premium service would be rather easy.
At a2ztech we currently use Spiceworks and have been doing so for the past year. For us it was the obvious solution for an IT support company due to the extra functionality that the other two helpdesks covered in the article don’t seem to have. Upon installing and setting up Spiceworks you will understand why this solution is the perfect fit for a small IT support company – with key features such as inventory management, rigorous ticket system, knowledge base, invoicing for new equipment, monitor and analysis of systems on the infrastructure, self-hosted/managed and various other handy features.
For us this is the perfect helpdesk while we develop – we have tried paid helpdesks but haven’t needed all of their features. However from using this software day in day out, we have noticed some things that have really bugged us and effected are experience using this software. Unlike the other two helpdesks reviewed here, Spiceworks contains adverts that can become a bit of nuisance. It can also be fairly slow, especially on large networks that deal with 100s of ticket requests a day.
In general though, the Spiceworks system is the best fit for small IT support companies who don’t want the additional features of paid helpdesks. If however, a lot of your support queries come from social media or through telephone enquiries, Spiceworks might not be the best choice for you and your business.
To conclude, all three helpdesks serve a purpose and that is ticket creation and managing these tickets. All three do exactly that – however the best fit for an IT support company is Spiceworks due to the extra functionality it has, functionality that has a clear emphasis on this industry. However, while you start out we suggest you try them all – until you find what works for you and how your company is setup. Regardless of your choice, if you are still using an outdated IT support process i.e. receiving and processing emails through an inbox or several, you are missing out on data such as the average response time to an IT request, data that can really help when understanding and expanding an IT support business.