Written by Alice Martin Published on September 18, 2023 On this page What is Helpdesk Software? 1. Zendesk – Best Overall 2. Freshdesk – Best for Communicating with Customers 3. Zoho Desk – Best Value for Money 4. Salesforce Service Cloud – Best for Software Integrations 5. Manage Engine – Best for Team Organization 6. MS Dynamics – Best for Customization 7. Sugar Serve – Best for Data Analysis What Are Some Essential Help Desk Software Features? How We Test Helpdesk Software for Businesses Expand Zendesk is the best overall helpdesk software system, based on our in-depth analysis. It provides in-house customer feedback capabilities as well as the possibility to integrate with a vast array of third-party apps, meaning it will slot right in with your existing system. It has a reasonably priced starting plan as well as opportunities to upscale, so it can grow along with your business.If you're seeking an even more affordable option, Freshdesk offers a free plan, so you can reap the benefits of a dedicated helpdesk system without any of the financial investment. The Top 7 Best Helpdesk Software These are the providers we recommend based on our research. Clicking on the links will take you to the provider's website.Zendesk – Best overallFreshdesk – Best for communicating with customersZoho Desk – Best value for moneySalesforce Service – Best for software integrationsManage Engine – Best for team organizationMS Dynamics – Best for customizationSugar Serve – Best for data analysisWhile your team may be geographically scattered due to hybrid working, you want to ensure that you have a centralized system for receiving incoming communication and troubleshooting customer queries. This is where a dedicated helpdesk system becomes a crucial addition to your CRM software suite.We extensively researched the top helpdesk software products on the market and compared them on a number of criteria. We looked at the available features, how well the product can be customized to individual business processes, the help and support options on offer, how easy the software makes managing large teams as well as the all-important, pricing.If you're short on time and want to cut to the chase, go directly to our free comparison tool. We'll connect you with your best-suited provider, who will then be in touch with tailored quotes at no extra cost. Try our top four helpdesk software systems... Zendesk Freshdesk Zoho Desk Salesforce The Best Helpdesk Software At a GlanceWe've selected the top seven options for a helpdesk software solution. Below find our shortlist, with essential details such as pricing, free trial and key features. Swipe right to see more 0 out of 0 backward forward Best Overall Zendesk Best for Communication with Customers Freshdesk Best Value for Money Zoho Desk Best for Software Integrations Salesforce Service Cloud Best for Team Organization Manage Engine Best for Customization MS Dynamics 365 Best for Data Analysis Sugar Serve Price Range $19 – $215 per user, per month Price Range $0 – $119 per user, per month Price Range $0 – $50 per user, per month Price Range $25 – $300 per user, per month Price Range $10 – $58 per user, per month Price Range $50 – $95 per user, per month Price Range $80 per user, per month Free Trial 30 days Free Trial 21 days Free Trial 15 days Free Trial 30 days Free Trial 30 days Free Trial 30 days Free Trial Try Zendesk Try Freshdesk Try Zoho Desk Try Salesforce Try Now Get Quotes Get Quotes What is Helpdesk Software?Helpdesk software refers to platforms that assist companies in dealing with incoming communication. They can be used for external communication, such as customer service requests, inquiries and complaints but also for internal communication, such as for IT teams to handle requests from employees. Similar to CRM software for sales and marketing teams, helpdesk software handles a form of customer-relationship building but helpdesks are more focused on problem-solving.If you currently operate without helpdesk software, you may not be operating as efficiently as possible. With the right helpdesk software, you can save time on repetitive tasks, quickly troubleshoot issues, create more opportunities for self-service customer service, encourage collaborative working between agents, and improve your external and internal communication, ultimately fostering stronger relationships. 1. Zendesk – Best Overall Zendesk 4.7 Pricing $25-$199 Try Zendesk Quick overview Zendesk is our overall no.1 recommendation for helpdesk software. It offers a low entry-level pricing plan but plenty of room to upscale onto one of its higher tiers when your business expands. Read more + Read less - Strengths Scalable tiered pricing plans Strong suite of software integrations Great security features One of the only providers that provides in-house customer feedback system Weaknesses Lacks workload organization features Pricing See more See less PlanPrice per month (billed monthly)Price per month (billed annually) Only email ticketing system Support Team $25 per user $19 per user Support Professional $59 per user $49 per user Support Enterprise $125 per user $99 per user Omnichannel system: Zendesk Support, Guide, Chat, and Talk Suite Team $59 per user $49 per user Suite Growth $99 per user $79 per user Suite Professional $125 per user $99 per user Suite Enterprise $199 per user $150 per user Suite Enterprise Plus N/A $215 per user Zendesk ReviewWith the highest score for features (4.6/5), Zendesk shines when it comes to multi-channel communication. With the Suite Team plan and above, your customers can get in touch with your support team via email, built-in VoIP, website live chat, social media, and a variety of instant messaging apps.From the Suite Professional plan and above, Zendesk offers handy data analytics into metrics such as response time. While both are top scorers for help and support, Zendesk comes in second to Salesforce as we've found its training platform to be a little less comprehensive. Zendesk also comes in second to MS Dynamics for customization but is worthy of a mention for strong scores in both of these categories.We gave Zendesk a more humble score of 3.8/5 for its team infrastructure features, relating to multi-team collaboration, organization and management. Zendesk has some helpful organization features such as manual and automated ticket routing, team hierarchies and separate case queues. However it lacks a calendar feature and task dashboard, and its team communication feature is only available on its Suite Professional plan and up. These are features which can help teams organize their workload much better and are all offered by competitors, Salesforce and MS Dynamics, who earned a 4.8/5 in this department.We also think it could improve on pricing. While $19 per user, per month is not the most expensive plan, Zendesk does not offer a free option as seen with Freshdesk, Zoho Desk and Manage Engine so in that respect is not as accessible for all budgets. 2. Freshdesk – Best for Communicating with Customers Freshdesk 4.6 Pricing $15-$99 per user, per month Try Freshdesk Quick overview Freshdesk is our top choice for communicating with customers across a broad range of channels. Read more + Read less - Strengths On average, one of the cheapest providers available Strong software integration options Workload managment features Weaknesses No in-built customer feedback system Less advanced ticketing features than competitors Pricing See more See less PlanPrice per month (billed monthly)Price per month (billed annually) Comprehensive support helpdesk Support Desk: Free Free Free Support Desk: Growth $18 per user $15 per user Support Desk: Pro $59 per user $49 per user Support Desk: Enterprise $95 per user $79 per user Combined plan for self-service, conversational support and ticketing Omnichannel: Growth $35 per user $29 per user Omnichannel: Pro $71 per user $59 per user Omnichannel: Enterprise $119 per user $99 per user Freshdesk ReviewOn one of Freshdesk's lowest price plans, Omnichannel Growth ($29 per user, per month), customers will be able to get in touch via five channels of communication: email, VoIP, website live chat, social media and instant messaging apps. It also supports self-service support models, so customers can be directed to help options without needing to rely on your agents. This saves time for both your team and your customers.For comparison, to access the same amount of communication modes with Zendesk, you would be paying $49 per user, per month, or $95 per user, per month plus add-on fees with MS Dynamics. So this really is a generous feature from Freshdesk, earning it a 4.6/5 overall for pricing.Across the board, Freshdesk's scores do not dip below a 4/5, so it's a solid option. It particularly stands out for its software integrations. Freshdesk has the capacity to link invoicing software such as Quickbooks and Xero, engineering and support via JIRA, Google Apps, live chat, email marketing like MailChimp, cloud document sharing like Dropbox and CRM software too. This means that Freshdesk can slot right in with your existing software framework and make for a straightforward onboarding process.Its data analysis features are particularly strong, especially in the Pro and Enterprise plans, with metrics showing sentiment analysis, response time, ticket volume and resolution rate. These insights are valuable for performance reviews of your customer service agents and also to better understand how your team can improve.Freshdesk is best suited for external communication as it lacks the functionality for asset management, problem management, contract management and change management – which are necessary for an internal helpdesk solution. For a more developed internal communications solution, perhaps for IT teams, we'd recommend Manage Engine. 3. Zoho Desk – Best Value for Money Zoho Desk 4.6 Pricing $0-$50 per user, per month Try Zoho Desk Quick overview Zoho Desk is our no.1 choice for value for money. Scoring a perfect 5/5 for pricing, it beats its competitors by being super reasonable while still offering a professional helpdesk software solution. Read more + Read less - Strengths On average, the cheapest platform in our shortlist Many options for customers to submit queries Workload management tools Weaknesses Not as customizable as competitors No in-house customer feedback feature Fewer communication channels than competitors Pricing See more See less PlanPrice (billed monthly)Price (billed annually) Free $0 $0 Standard $20 per user $14 per user Professional $35 per user $23 per user Enterprise $50 per user $40 per user Zoho Desk ReviewLike Manage Engine and Freshdesk, Zoho Desk offers a free plan, but its most expensive Enterprise plan is still cheaper at $40 per user, per month than some competitors' entry-level plans. This makes it ideal for smaller businesses looking to upscale their communications without the investment, or for larger businesses wanting an affordable option. Who doesn't want to save money?It's not only cheap, but it also offers some sophisticated features such as data insights into response time, ticket resolution rate and custom reports. This is a feature offered by Zendesk, but for $99 per user, per month vs. Zoho's $14-$40 per user, per month.Customers can only communicate via email with Zoho Desk, or website live chat and social media if you choose a premium plan. They could improve by offering more communication channels, as demonstrated by Freshdesk, which additionally offers built-in VoIP and instant messaging. 4. Salesforce Service Cloud – Best for Software Integrations Salesforce Service Cloud 4.1 Pricing $25-$300 Try Salesforce Quick overview Salesforce Service Cloud stands out for its vast library of software integrations, making it a convenient choice for businesses with large software suites who need a helpdesk software system that will slot right in. Read more + Read less - Strengths Highly customizable Strong help and support options Extensive app integration Weaknesses A more expensive option than competitors Fewer communication and ticketing channels than competitors You will need a third party platform to obtain customer feedback Only works on annual subscription which is a bigger commitment than monthly Pricing See more See less PlanPrice per month (billed annually) Essentials $25 per user Professional $75 per user Enterprise $150 per user Unlimited $300 per user Salesforce Service Cloud ReviewWhile it is on the pricier side with a starting price of $25 per user, per month, compared with Freshdesk ($15), Zendesk ($19) and Zoho Desk ($14), Salesforce stands above the rest for its help and support options. Scoring a 5/5 for help and support options, its Trailhead training platform offers tons of courses, some free, some paid, for in-demand skills such as Google Workspace and AI. This offers great opportunities for your business to upskill and get the maximum potential out of your software.In terms of integrations, Salesforce offers many first and third-party integrations such as customer service apps, CRM apps, VoIP and other communication apps. This means that you don't need to change anything about your existing software framework when implementing Salesforce and its help and support options will ensure that it's a smooth transition.It's worth mentioning that Salesforce also earned perfect scores for its high-end security features, customization features and capacity for creating a strong team infrastructure.Its main downside is again, that it's one of the most expensive options on the market. However, if you're looking for a trusted software that is a household name, with strong features, reliable onboarding support, extensive integrations, ultimately helping you create a strong helpdesk infrastructure, then Salesforce may be worth the investment. 5. Manage Engine – Best for Team Organization Manage Engine 3.8 Pricing $0-$58 per user, per month Try Manage Engine Quick overview Manage Engine's product is solely for internal helpdesks, such as IT teams dealing with troubleshooting requests. It is the only provider in this shortlist suitable for these sorts of teams, so it should be a clear choice if that is what you're looking for. Read more + Read less - Strengths Lower cost than competitors Provides complete helpdesk functions Great capacity for IT teams receiving large volumes of requests Weaknesses Fewer third party integrations than competitors Not many features for managing users Pricing See more See less PlanPrice per month (billed annually)Price per month (billed monthly) Standard Free for first five users then $10 per user Free for first five users then $12 per user Professional $21 per user $23 per user Enterprise $50 per user $58 per user Manage Engine ReviewEarning top scores for its internal helpdesk features, Manage Engine offers everything that IT teams need to keep the business connected. Manage Engine rivals industry leader, Salesforce when it comes to its organizational features. From its lowest plan, it includes a unified case queue, task dashboard, calendar, and message broadcasting within the platform as well as both manual and automated ticket routing.With Manage Engine's organizational features and capacity, IT teams are equipped to handle large volumes of support requests. On top of that, Manage Engine enables businesses to create self-service assets so that employees can consult these documents for help and be more self-sufficient while saving your employees in IT time spent solving issues.It also offers analytics features and security features such as threat detection and response, which is incredibly important for IT teams facing potential data breaches, malware and phishing attempts. Security should be a primary concern for IT teams seeking helpdesk software. Manage Engine offers SSO (single sign-on), custom permissions, multi-factor authentication and data restrictions based on role, to help avoid cybersecurity attacks.Bear in mind that Manage Engine is not suitable for external helpdesk teams such as customer support agents, this is because it lacks the capacity for integration with third-party apps that are necessary to create a seamless support infrastructure. It does offer extensive first-party integrations with its own software add-ons with features such as password management, analytics and an application manager.With a 5/5 score, it shares the top spot with Zoho Desk for pricing, making it a cost-effective option. It's totally free for the first five users, then works out to a reasonable $10-$12 per user, per month. 6. MS Dynamics – Best for Customization MS Dynamics 3.7 Pricing $50-$95 Get Quotes Quick overview While MS Dynamics stands out for its customization features, it's far more expensive than equivalent competitors. With a starting price of $50 per user, per month, this is much higher than Freshdesk ($15) and Zoho Desk ($14) so it's not an accessible price point for all budgets. Read more + Read less - Strengths Extensive library of app integrations for a seamless experience Helps create a solid customer support infrastructure Highly customizable Weaknesses More expensive than competitors Lacks a standard ticketing channel More advanced features are paid add-ons Must integrate with MS D, a paid add-on, to access customer feedback function Pricing See more See less PlanPrice per month (billed annually) Professional $50 per user Enterprise $95 per user MS Dynamics ReviewIn terms of features, it offers great flexibility for customizing objects, task types, ticket types, dashboards, fully editable forms and a custom automation builder, which earns it top scores in this area.It also does well in its software integrations, so this suits businesses with pre-existing software platforms who want their helpdesk software to fit in with their processes, not change their whole workflow to suit a new software platform. MS Dynamics is compatible with third-party apps as well as its own extensive first-party library. Microsoft has also begun implementing generative AI within its apps, to provide an even more proactive approach to problem-solving. There is also no in-built method of collecting customer feedback, which means you may have to link a third-party app to achieve this goal. Luckily, MS Dynamics has many opportunities for integration. If you're seeking a helpdesk software that has this feature built-in, then Zendesk may be your best bet.Even though it is an expensive product, there are still some drawbacks. It doesn't offer multi-channel communication and customers can still only contact you via email on the Professional plan. Whereas on Freshdesk's rival ‘Omnichannel' plan, customers have access to support via social media, built-in VoIP and instant messaging features and it's a whole lot cheaper too. 7. Sugar Serve – Best for Data Analysis Sugar Serve 3.0 Pricing $80 per user, per month Get Quotes Quick overview Sugar Serve offers handy features for data analysis of customer sentiment, response time, ticket resolution rate, handling time and custom reports, making it a smart choice for businesses who want to gain maximum visibility over their customer service practices. Read more + Read less - Strengths Can be tailored to unique business needs Fosters well-managed customer support teams Simple pricing plan Weaknesses More expensive than competitors Fewer customer support options than competitors Limited options for third party integrations Pricing See more See less PlanPrice per month (billed monthly) Sugar Serve $80 per user Sugar Serve ReviewWhile it's renowned for its data analysis capabilities, Sugar Serve is one of the most expensive offerings on our list at $80 per user, per month.Sugar Serve is strongest when it comes to data. Offering insights into metrics such as AI-based sentiment, agent response time, ticket resolution rate, ticket volume and handling time. It generates custom reports and also offers suggestions powered by generative AI tech to give a predictive edge to your problem-solving and customer support. Having the capacity to analyze these intricacies is invaluable as it'll allow you to spot seasonal trends, and patterns and gauge customer pain points so that you can optimize your support methods.Sugar Serve supports email communication and with an add-on from Amazon Connect, built-in VoIP and website live chat too. For such an expensive plan, you may expect more channels of communication, as demonstrated by Freshdesk, which offers built-in VoIP, instant messaging and social media on top of Sugar Serve's communication channels.Another plus is that it only offers one plan, which makes life easier when deciding on which plan to choose. On the other hand, there is less scalability than with Zendesk, which offers a range of pricing tiers. What Are Some Essential Help Desk Software Features?Here are some of the key helpdesk software features to be aware of when selecting the right provider for your needs.Ticket tracking – Helpdesk software allows support tickets to be logged, assigned, prioritized, and tracked through resolution. This provides visibility into open issues and service level status.Self-service – Customers can often log and track their own tickets or find answers via self-service knowledge articles which eases the workload of agents.Reporting – Helpdesk software reports on metrics like ticket volume, resolution time, agent workload and more, to show areas of success and improvement.Automation – Some helpdesk platforms have automation capabilities like auto replies and reminders. This saves agents time by outsourcing repetitive tasks.Multi-channel support – Many helpdesk tools allow customers to contact via email, phone, live chat, social media and other channels.Agent collaboration – Features like shared ticket queues and notes allow agents to efficiently work together.Integration – Helpdesk software can integrate with your existing software systems to enrich tickets and give more insight into queries. Verdict Our top recommendation for helpdesk software is Zendesk. With scalable pricing plans, Zendesk is an option that can expand with a growing business. Its stand-out feature is its broad range of communication channels, allowing your customers the choice of email, social media, VoIP, website live chat and instant messaging apps.These factors combined make Zendesk a wonderful choice for businesses seeking a flexible helpdesk software solution.While it's not the most expensive option on our shortlist, Zendesk does not offer a free plan, and some of the most valuable features, such as data analytics, are not accessible on lower plans. For a more affordable option, consider Freshdesk or Zoho Desk, which both offer a free plan. Try our top four helpdesk software systems... Zendesk Freshdesk Zoho Desk Salesforce How We Test Helpdesk Software for BusinessesWe tested 7 market-leading helpdesk software products to evaluate them in terms of functionality, usability, cost, scalability, and more so we can make the most useful recommendations to US businesses.Our rigorous testing process means these products have been scored and rated in five main categories of investigation and 17 subcategories – in fact, we covered 75 areas of investigation in total. We then gave each category score a ‘relevance weighting' to ensure the product's final score perfectly reflects the needs and requirements of Expert Market readers – and that's our product testing algorithm in a nutshell!Our main testing categories for helpdesk software are:Help & Support: the resources and assistance available to users when they encounter issues or require guidance while using the helpdesk software, including email, online chat, and phone support as well as 24/7 help availability and staff training.Customization: the ability to tailor the helpdesk software to suit the specific needs and processes of the organization, e.g. customizing task and ticket types, adding integrations, and more.Features: the functionalities and capabilities provided by the helpdesk software, such as case management tools, self-service functionality, and the available ticket channels.Team Infrastructure: determining if a platform makes it easier to manage large teams, including team dashboards, team hierarchies, and unified case queues.Pricing: the cost associated with using the helpdesk software. It includes factors such as licensing fees, subscription plans, and additional charges for add-on modules or features. Frequently Asked Questions What is the difference between a helpdesk and service desk? Both a helpdesk and service desk deal with incoming requests, but the focus and approach are a little different. A helpdesk is designed to provide reactive solutions to incidents and requests from users, with a focus on user satisfaction. However, a service desk is more oriented towards proactively managing the overall health of IT services and infrastructure. What is the difference between IT support and a helpdesk? The focus of a helpdesk is largely to solve users' problems, whereas IT support is responsible for a larger scope of technical issues such as onsite troubleshooting, remote diagnosis, systems administration, network maintenance, software installations and preventative maintenance. Is a helpdesk the same as CRM? While they both relate to customer support and relationship building, helpdesk software is not exactly the same as CRM. Helpdesk software specifically focuses on troubleshooting user issues, whereas CRM has a broader scope. CRM is responsible for the entire sales pipeline, nurturing leads through the marketing and sales lifecycle. CRM does also work on maintaining customer relationships but it is also related to outreach rather than purely problem solving. We created a list of the best cheap CRM on the market. How much does a helpdesk software cost? For entry-level plans, you can expect to pay around $10-$30 per user, per month. For larger teams or enterprise plans, you may pay upwards of $100-$200 per user, per month. Some helpdesk software providers have free plans, such as Freshdesk and Zoho Desk. Can a helpdesk software integrate with other platforms? Yes, helpdesk software can integrate with third-party platforms such as CRM, customer service and VoIP (telephone systems). The benefit of this is that you can keep your existing software subscriptions as your helpdesk can work seamlessly with it. All of the providers in our shortlist offer plenty of third-party integrations, apart from Manage Engine, which only integrates with its own first-party software. Can helpdesk software handle multi-channel communication? Yes, most helpdesk software is equipped to handle multi-channel communication. The following channels are often supported by helpdesk software: email, phone, web forms, live chat, social media, text, in-app support and self service. Does helpdesk software have any security features in place to protect customer data and sensitive information? Since helpdesk software focuses on handling inbound communication, this can sometimes involve customer data and sensitive information. Importantly, software also features a number of security features to ensure this data is kept safe. These features can include, encryption, access controls, authentication, security training, patching as well as aligning with current compliance standards under ISO 27001, SOC 2, HIPAA, GDPR, and CCPA. Written by: Alice Martin Software Expert Alice is one of Expert Market’s resident software experts, helping businesses improve their efficiency or reach, with an emphasis on productivity software, CRM and telecommunications.