Helpdesk software makes customer service easier and more efficient. And of course, better customer service is correlated with higher customer retention, better reviews, and higher profitability.
As a small business, you can easily use email as your primary customer communication channel. If you do, Gmail has a ton of built-in features that can help you track and organize incoming messages, or even distribute them throughout your team.
However, it may be in your best interest to use a Helpdesk app to complement, improve, or outright replace your email customer service strategy.
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What to Look for in a Helpdesk App
If you’re looking for the best possible helpdesk app, you’ll want to look for these features:
- A team-based inbox. First, it’s helpful to have a team-based inbox. If you’re managing customer service with just a handful of individual customer service email addresses, things can get hectic fast. A good helpdesk software will be able to centralize all incoming messages and support tickets, so you can assign them and address them as you see fit.
- Task assignment and follow-up. Speaking of which, it’s important for your helpdesk app to have task assignment, delegation, management, and follow-up features. Ideally, you’ll be able to convert each new incoming message into a task or a support ticket, which you can then track and manage as it approaches resolution.
- A knowledge base. Knowledge bases are collections of content meant to help people solve a wide range of problems. You can use knowledge bases to allow customers to service themselves, improve the knowledge of your customer service team members, or both. In any case, you’ll want to use a helpdesk app that allows you to create and manage this content.
- Chat and phone options. Email is an ideal platform for customer service, but it’s certainly not the only platform. Many people still prefer options like chat and phone calls. Ideally, you’ll find a helpdesk app that allows you to collect and track customer inquiries from a wide variety of different communication channels.
- Mobile app support. Your customer service agents won’t always have a desktop setup to rely on, so it’s important to have access to a functional, intuitive mobile app. Most modern helpdesk apps are designed with mobile use in mind, but make sure you give the mobile app a whirl before committing to any new services.
- Analytics. Finally, and most importantly, your helpdesk app needs to have some capacity for analytics. You should be able to track your customer service interactions from start to finish, and in ways that allow you to improve your approach. For example, can you track how quickly you’re able to close customer service tickets? Do you have a way to determine whether your customers are satisfied with the interactions they’ve had?
The Best Helpdesk Software for Gmail
Many of these helpdesk software apps function as standalone apps, but can also integrate with Gmail in at least one way (usually, that means collecting incoming messages from your Gmail accounts).
In any case, you can use them as complementary services to your primary Gmail customer service channel, or you can use them in addition to your core email messaging:
Drag recognizes that Gmail is already a powerful customer communication and service tool in its own right, and attempts to use email service as a foundation for its app. With Drag, you’ll be able to create and assign tasks, collectively view incoming messages at a team, automate certain customer service functions, and track KPIs to make sure you’re serving customers effectively. After a bit of initial setup, you can optimize it for your team and individual needs. Plans start at $15 per month per user.
Zendesk is designed as a customer service and customer relationship management (CRM) platform in one. Because Zendesk offers a wide variety of different apps and solutions, based on your industry and your needs, it’s hard to easily summarize what it can offer. With even the basic support software, Zendesk will give you customer tracking, group messaging, ticket creation, and automation functionality, and you can scale up to cover almost any business needs. Pricing starts at $5 per month per user.
3. ProProfs Help Desk
ProProfs Help Desk is a cloud-based ticketing software that empowers businesses to offer delightful customer support from anywhere in the world. This robust tool acts as a single platform for all your customer-facing email accounts and lets you convert customer requests into tickets. The product is suitable for any company size, from small scale startups to big multinational enterprises. It has a free plan for a single user with up to 100 tickets per month, or paid plans starting at $10 per month per user.
Snappy is a team inbox that allows you to answer emails and manage frequently asked questions (FAQs) from users with canned answers. It’s incredibly simple, so it’s very easy to learn, and it isn’t bogged down with superfluous features you’re not going to use on a regular basis. It’s perfect if you’re used to using Gmail for customer service, but you need a tool with just a little bit extra.
5. Help Scout
Help Scout already offers a Gmail-style interface, so if you’re used to managing all customer support in Gmail, it should look familiar. It also has a ton of keyboard shortcuts you can use to greatly reduce the time you spend managing queries. Help Scout supports multiple mailboxes, and the ability to organize all messages and mailboxes into folders and categories. It also has support for surveys, which allow your customers to provide feedback about the help they’ve received. It’s free for up to 3 users and 1 mailbox, but $20 per month per user beyond that.
6. Zoho Desk
Zoho’s Desk is an open-ended platform for customer service agents, managers, and customers that allows you to customize your own interfaces. With it, you’ll be able to conveniently collect messages and view them as individuals (or as a team). You can create and assign tickets, and follow up on assigned tasks. And of course, you can measure your results with ongoing reporting. The free plan is available for up to 3 agents, but beyond that, plans start at $12 per month per user.
osTicket is an open source helpdesk app that can help you with almost anything related to customer service. With it, you can answer support emails, create and assign tickets, create your own knowledge base and forms, and write new documentation. You can also host it on your own server, and customize it as you see fit, since it’s open source. Of course, you can also set it up to work with Gmail or any other service you want. The open source edition is free, but if you need hosting, you’ll pay $9 per month per user.
With Front, you’ll get access to an interface that strongly resembles your existing Gmail inbox. With it, you’ll be able to monitor the inboxes of your individual team members at a high, supervisory level. You’ll also work with a three-column design, providing information on messages, accounts, and details from specific messages. Features include task assignment, snoozing, and a tagging system to help you stay organized. It’s $14 per month per user.
With Freshdesk, you’ll be able to streamline your customer communication, consolidating incoming requests from email, chat, and phone all in one location. You’ll also be able to automate much of your customer service work, and assign and follow up on tasks for whatever you can’t automate. You’ll also get access to in-depth reporting, so you can analyze your best (and worst) customer issues for a given period. There’s a free level available, but pricing for the paid app starts at $15 per month per user.
Groove is another helpdesk software that gives you the power to access a full team email inbox, without ever leaving your personal email inbox. You can create and assign tickets, and set it up so individuals are auto-forwarded tickets assigned to them. It’s a perfect system to keep track of incoming and completed requests, and it has plenty of built-in dashboards to measure your results. It’s free for up to 2 users with basic features, and $15 per month per user beyond that.
Setting up a Helpdesk for G Suite
You might have discovered this article if you were searching for a helpdesk software solution for Gmail (and other facets of G Suite). If that’s the case, Google offers several built-in G Suite tools you can use to provide support to your employees and teammates. Check out their guide on setting up a helpdesk for G Suite.
If you want to better understand your email habits and incoming email requests, you’ll need an analytics tool to dissect your incoming and outgoing messages. That’s where EmailAnalytics comes into play.
With EmailAnalytics integrated with your team’s Gmail accounts, you can study essential email metrics like total incoming and outgoing emails, average email response time, and even average thread length. Sign up for a free trial today, and take control over your customer service.
Jayson is a long-time columnist for Forbes, Entrepreneur, BusinessInsider, Inc.com, and various other major media publications, where he has authored over 1,000 articles since 2012, covering technology, marketing, and entrepreneurship. He keynoted the 2013 MarketingProfs University, and won the “Entrepreneur Blogger of the Year” award in 2015 from the Oxford Center for Entrepreneurs. In 2010, he founded a marketing agency that appeared on the Inc. 5000 before exiting it in January of 2019, and he is now the CEO of EmailAnalytics, and co-host of the podcast The Entrepreneur Cast.