Our research found that Zendesk is the best helpdesk software on the market today, with solid customization tools, exemplary help and support options, and more features than any helpdesk software we tested.
However, this doesn't mean Zendesk is the best helpdesk software for your particular business. There are plenty of providers out there that could offer you a more attractive price point or more specific features suited to your needs – and we've collected all of them.
In this guide, we'll show you the top helpdesk software providers available, as well as explain what helpdesk software is and how we rated and ranked these options. You can also check out our CRM comparison page for more information.
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Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Service
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An fully-featured yet pricey CRM solution with excellent team management tools.
A robust platform aimed at businesses looking to scale
A practical option with lots of channels but no survey functionality
An affordable option with plenty of features for smaller businesses
A great, customizable platform aimed at larger businesses
A solid budget option with low costs and few features
A weak offering with few native service channels available
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Requires Telephony integration/Voice add-on on all plans
Requires Telephony integration on Support plans, available on Suite plans
Available with Omnichannel plans
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Available with Enterprise plan
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Limited to 1 license (Essentials), unavailable (Pro), additional cost (Enterprise)
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Available with Omnichannel plans
Available with Enterprise plan
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Best Helpdesk Software Providers
The helpdesk software industry is filled with a wide range of excellent options to choose from. Subsequently, this can make the decision pretty difficult, but we're here to help. Our in-depth research looks at each option independently, so you can make the right choice the first time.
Here are the top helpdesk software providers, based on our in-depth research:
- Zendesk – best overall helpdesk software
- Freshdesk – best for scalability
- Zoho Desk – best value helpdesk software
- Salesforce Service Cloud – best for team infrastructure features
- Microsoft Dynamics Customer Service – best for customization
- ManageEngine – best low-cost helpdesk software
- SugarServe – best for simple pricing
Zendesk – Best overall helpdesk software
Zendesk stands alone at the top of our helpdesk software research, netting an overall score of 4.7/5 in our research. This boils down to its excellent customization options, robust help and support, and the largest feature catalog of any other helpdesk software on our list. In fact, Zendesk's 4.6/5 for features is the highest be a substantial margin, with only Freshdesk, Zoho Desk, and Microsoft Dynamics getting close at 4.2/5 in our research.
This high score is the result of massive functionality across the customer service spectrum, including email, social, live chat, and SMS communication and ticketing channels built into all Suite plans, starting at only $49 per user, per month. These plans also provide robust customer feedback tools and data analytics, which is why the cost a bit extra. Even better, you can combine it with Zendesk Sell, the provider's sales CRM, to combine customer service and sales into an all-in-one hub.
The only downfall for Zendesk is the price, which is definitely on the expensive side, which helped it receive one of the lower scores for pricing at 3.2/5. Still, even with this ding, Zendesk was still makes our top spot because of the sheer functionality available. Simply put, you get what you pay for and, with Zendesk, you pay a lot to get a lot.
- 14-day free trial
- Unmatched selection of customer service features
- Offers good customizability
- Robust help & support tools
- Limited team infrastructure features
- A bit on the expensive side
Right out of the gate, Zendesk offers a lot of pricing plans. With three standard Support plans and five advanced Suite plans, you'll have the pick of eight pricing plans, which is far more than the standard in the industry. The Support plans range from $19 per user, per month to $99 per user, per month, which is fairly standard when compared to others on the market, particularly Freshdesk.
When you look into the Suite plans, Zendesk does get expensive. The prices range from $49 per user, per month all the way to $215 per user, per month, which is one of the higher pricing ranges in our research. Luckily, with a lot of pricing plans to choose from, Zendesk provides you with flexibility when it comes to choosing your preferred deal.
Freshdesk – Best for scalability
If you're looking for a Zendesk alternative that is a bit more affordable, Freshdesk is your best bet. With an overall score of 4.5/5, it's more than a respectable option as it has robust customization and features offerings, as well as better team management functionality than Zendesk, allowing managers to more effectively manage their teams through the platform.
However, the help and support options are slightly lacking with a score of only 4/5, namely due to the fact that Freshdesk does not offer 24/7 live support, which is available with Zendesk. The availability of help and support is also an issue, with certain plans lacking email options, which could be a dealbreaker for those that hate talking on the phone for support issues.
The biggest perk of Freshdesk is the affordability, which lends itself to being quite scalable, as its many pricing plans won't cost you too much to upgrade. Support plan prices start at $15 per user, per month and end at only $79 per user, per month, while Omnichannel plans start at $29 per user, per month and only get as high as $99 per user, per month, so the range is much more manageable than Zendesk. Plus, Freshdesk offers a free forever plan, which is enough to attract even the most frugal of business owners in need of helpdesk software.
Check out our Freshdesk guide for more info
- Offers a free plan for up to 10 users
- Great offline tools for customer queries
- Lots of communication channels for users
- No built-in customer feedback option
- SLA tracking only available to expensive plans
- Few agents tracking features on cheap plans
Pricing is one of the best aspects of Freshdesk. You'll find three standard Support plans, which range in price from $15 per user, per month to $79 per user, per month, as well as three Omnichannel plans, which range in price from $29 per user, per month to $99 per user, per month. Basically, you get all the flexibility of Zendesk without the high prices. All of these prices are based on an annual billing cycle.
If you want to be billed monthly for the Support plans, the prices change to $18 per user, per month for the Growth plan, $59 per user, per month for the Pro plan, and $95 per user, per month for the Enterprise plan. For the Omnichannel plans, prices change to $35 per user, per month for the Growth plan, $71 per user, per month for the Pro plan, and $119 per user, per month for the Enterprise plan.
Perhaps one of the driving forces behind Freshdesk's impressive pricing score of 4.6/5 is that it offers a free forever plan that is surprisingly robust. You get email support and ticketing functionality, the ability to build a knowledge base, and social media communication channels are built in for Facebook and Twitter.
Zoho Desk – Best value pick
As far as our overall scoring goes, Zoho Desk and Freshdesk are quite similar, offering great, affordable solutions for small businesses and netting an overall score of 4.2/5 in our research. It is worth noting that they both get there in different ways, though. Zoho Desk‘s pricing options, for example, are more affordable than Freshdesk, but our research finds that its lacking when it comes to customization and help and support.
Beyond those differences, Zoho Desk and Freshdesk have identical scores for features (4.2/5) and team infrastructure (4.1/5). This further highlights that these helpdesk software providers are well-equipped to handle the needs of your team, whether it's for customer support or project management.
The biggest difference between Zoho Desk and Freshdesk is that Zoho Desk doesn't offer any kind of suite or omnichannel plans, so you aren't going to get as many built-in communication channels as Freshdesk. Zoho Desk provides no built-in VoIP, no instant messaging apps, and only unlocks live chat with the Enterprise plan.
- Affordable prices and 15-day free trial
- Plenty of features, particularly for the price
- Easy to use interface
- Limited customer support options
- Small amount of available customization
Zoho Desk pricing
With a perfect 5/5 score for pricing, Zoho Desk is undeniably the best value pick for helpdesk software. There are three pricing plans that range in price from only $14 per user, per month to $40 per user, per month, all of which are incredibly low when matched up against its competitors. Even better, you don't sacrifice a lot with the lower price, as Zoho Desk's most expensive plan at only $40 per user, per month still offers live chat support channels, which other more expensive platforms like Microsoft Dynamics 365 Service does not.
Even better, Zoho Desk also offers a free forever plan, although it's not nearly as robust as the one you'll find with Freshdesk. While it does offer email support channels, there is no social media functionality, it also offers a customer portal, but is missing the ability to build a knowledge base.
Salesforce Service Cloud – Best for team infrastructure features
If you haven't heard of Salesforce in your search for helpdesk software, where have you been looking? As the most popular CRM on the planet, Salesforce is always a good option, and the Salesforce Service Cloud is a solid pick for helpdesk software. With excellent customization and a perfect help and support score, like Zendesk, you could do a lot worse than Salesforce.
The pricing for Salesforce Service Cloud is admittedly a bit high — with a score of 2.3/5 in our research for pricing — particularly considering you don't get that many customer support features built in. The starting price comes in at $25 per user, per month, which is a full $10 per user, per month more than Freshdesk.
However, if you're looking for team infrastructure features, Salesforce Service Cloud has the best score across our research, netting a score of 4.8/5, thanks to features like task dashboards, internal knowledge bases, and agent monitoring being available across all plans.
Check out our Salesforce guide for more info
- Great infrastructure for managing teams
- Lots of customization opportunities
- Plenty of communication channels
- No built-in customer feedback options
- Comparatively quite expensive
Salesforce Service Cloud pricing
This is the one major downfall of Salesforce in most cases, and it's definitely true when it comes to the Service Cloud. The helpdesk software offers three different pricing plans, with a starting price of $25 per user, per month and the most expensive plan costing $300 per user, per month. With these hefty price tags, Salesforce prices itself out of the competition a bit, particularly compared to the most affordable provider on this list, ManageEngine, which starts at only $10 per user, per month.
Another downside is that most of the features you'd want out of a robust platform like Salesforce are relegated to the pricier plans. Website live chat, for instance, is only available on the $150 per user, per month Enterprise plan, and it will still cost you extra. To cap it all off, there is no free plan, like with Freshdesk and Zoho Desk, so the 30-day free trial will have to suffice.
Microsoft Dynamics Customer Service – Best for customization
Microsoft is certainly making news for its business software moves lately, but that shouldn't distract from its helpdesk software offering in Microsoft Dynamics Customer Service. As a whole, the Microsoft Dynamics 365 platform remains one of the go-to options for businesses around the world, and this iteration was no exception. This is thanks to its excellent customization score of 4.8/5, the highest in our research.
This high customization score comes from the Microsoft Dynamics 365 ecosystem, as this platform provides a vast array of first-party and third-party integrations. On top of that, all business processes can be customized in some way, from custom objects and custom tasks to custom dashboards and custom automation builders.
The only aspect of the Microsoft Dynamics Customer Service platform that landed it so far down the list is its price. With a pricing score of 1.9/5, it's even more cost prohibitive than Salesforce, which is because of an extremely high starting price of $50 per user, per month. Still, if you're a big business that can incur the cost and is already using Microsoft 365, this could make for a great addition to your customer service setup.
- Lots of potential add-ons make for customizable platform
- Robust support and help options
- Most security features of CRM on the list
- A bit on the expensive side
- No built-in customer feedback options
- Many features reserved for Enterprise plan
Microsoft Dynamics Customer Service pricing
We aren't going to mince words; Microsoft Dynamics Customer Service is expensive. It only offers two pricing plans, with the most affordable coming in at a very high $50 per user, per month, with the most expensive costing a moderately high $95 per user, per month.
The biggest problem is that these expensive plans don't offer that much in the way of functionality. The $50 per user, per month plan only allows for email support functionality, while the $95 per user, per month plan only offers other channels, like phone, social, and live chat for an additional charge, while Freshdesk does it for only $29 per user, per month. Suffice it to say, you better have deep pockets for advanced functionality with Microsoft Dynamics Customer Service.
ManageEngine – Best low-cost helpdesk software
If you're looking for the helpdesk software with the lowest monthly cost, you just found it with ManageEngine. Starting at only $10 per user, per month, it beats Zoho Desk by a full $4 per user, per month as the most affordable option in our research, helping it secure a perfect 5/5 in the category.
However, ManageEngine is a perfect example of you get what you pay for, as the helpdesk software scored poorly across most of our other categories, including features (3/5) and customization (2.6/5). Most notably, ManageEngine offers no third-party CRM integrations and lacks solid customer feedback features, which many users will deem a dealbreaker.
Basically, there are plenty of other comparatively affordable options, like Zoho Desk at only $14 per user, per month, that offer a lot more in terms of features, like social media communication and ticketing channels. Still, ManageEngine does offer live chat communication channel features with its cheapest plan, which few other providers offer. It also has a respectable selection of team infrastructure features, so the savings could be enough to sway the right company.
- Very low-cost option
- Pricing based on endpoints
- Solid team infrastructure features
- Extremely limited customization
- Help and support isn't very responsive
ManageEngine is very affordable, with a starting price of only $10 per user, per month, and two other pricing plans that start at $21 per user, per month and $50 per user, per month. Even better, you get your first five users free, which can keep costs down for small teams. The feature offering isn't terrible at this low price point either, with chatbot ticketing, customer portal, and customer feedback features available across every single plan.
ManageEngine actually isn't much cheaper than Zoho Desk, with the latter actually having a more affordable enterprise-level plan than the former. In our humble opinion, if savings are important to you, Zoho Desk is your best bet, but if ManageEngine is calling you, we won't get in the way.
Sugar Serve – Best for simple pricing
Tired of thinking about all these pricing plans with different features? Well, you're in luck, because Sugar Serve only has a single pricing plan. The provider is primarily focused on email, as it offers templates and email ticketing. You'll also find features like a knowledge base builder and customer portal. Unfortunately, that's all you're going to get from Sugar Serve that's worth boasting about.
As you may have surmised from its position at the bottom of the list, Sugar Serve didn't do great in our research, with an overall score of 3.2/5 due to few features, limited customizability, and little help and support options. All of that, of course, is made worse by the high price tag. The only bright spot? Sugar Serve does offer incredibly robust analytics, akin to the likes of enterprise-level plans from Zendesk and Zoho Desk.
- Extensive customization options
- Provides KPI tracking functionality
- Great data visualization capabilities
- Only provides email channel
- No built-in customer feedback tools
- Lacks important security features
Sugar Serve pricing
While Sugar Serve might not be particularly affordable, it does make the whole pricing decision easy with only a single plan that costs $80 per user, per month. Yes, that is pretty steep, and it's only made worse by the fact that you have to have a minimum of three users, so you're looking at a monthly bill of at least $240 per month.
Even worse, you really don't get much for the cost. Sugar Serve almost exclusively offers email functionality, offers no customer feedback tools, and its missing security features like multi-factor authentication and IP restrictions.
What Is the Best Free Helpdesk Software?
If you're a small business and need to keep costs as low as possible, you're in luck! There are several helpdesk providers on this list that offer free plans, so you can get started without incurring any costs.
Still, it's worth noting that these free plans are lacking advanced features. Sure, they may work for a time if you're a really small business but, in the long run, we highly recommend checking out a paid helpdesk software to manage your customer support needs.
Freshdesk is already one of the best paid helpdesk software options on the market, which makes the fact that it has a free forever plan all the more attractive. With the free plan, you can utilize email and social ticketing functionality, you can build a knowledge base for your customers, and you can access a contact database, which is quite robust when it comes to free forever plans.
Like Freshdesk, Zoho Desk is a rock-solid helpdesk software that also happens to offer a free forever plan, making it a go-to option for businesses on a budget. However, Zoho Desk's free plan is more limited than Freshdesk's option, offering only email functionality and no social media or knowledge base features. Still, it's a great place to start with software that offers plenty of affordable paid options to scale alongside your business.
ManageEngine doesn't technically have a free plan, but it does give you access to its $10 per user, per month Standard plan for free if you only have five or fewer technicians utilizing the software. Subsequently, if you're a really small customer support team, this could be a good way to get your feet wet before any financial commitment is made.
What Is Helpdesk Software?
Helpdesk software describes a type of customer relationship management (CRM) platform that is specifically designed to help businesses manage their customer service needs. It will empower you and your employees to track client interactions, manage user requests, and generally deal with customer-specific needs for your business.
Businesses use helpdesk software to better organize, streamline, and automate customer service efforts across the business. These online platforms keep track of everything and make it easy to view past interactions, which makes customer service easier for employees and customers alike.
What Should I Look for in Helpdesk Software?
If you're trying to make a decision for your business, it's safe to ask exactly what you should be looking for when it comes to helpdesk software. Fortunately, we've done the research, so we can give you bit of insight into what you should keep an eye out for in your search.
- Channels – Whether a platform works with email, phone, live chat, or social media when it comes to communication and ticketing functionality.
- Self-service tools – What kind of tools are provided by the platform that allow you customers to solve problems on their own.
- Data & analytics – How robust the data visualizations and dashboards are that keep track of your company analytics.
- Help & support – What kind of customer support is provided to users of the platform, whether it be via phone, email, or live chat
- Customizability – How much the platform can be molded to fit your particular business needs.
On top of all that, you'll obviously want to consider the cost of a platform, as prices can vary dramatically from plan to plan and provider to provider. Value over actual cost is also important, as some options are more expensive but they offer a lot more useful features.
After conducting an initial exploration to identify the most relevant, popular, and established tools in the market, we put them through their paces with hands-on testing to see their real strengths and weaknesses. In this case, we put 13 CRM systems to the test across 84 areas of investigation.
Based on years of market and user needs research, we've established a CRM testing methodology that scores each product in six main categories of investigation and 13 subcategories; this covers everything from the available features and scalability capacity to the product's value for money, and much more.
Our main testing categories for CRM systems are:
Features: the functionalities and capabilities provided by the CRM software, such as contact management, lead and opportunity tracking, and task and activity management.
Help and Support: the resources and assistance available to users when they encounter issues or require guidance while using the CRM software.
Customisation: the ability to tailor the CRM software to suit the specific needs and processes of the organization, e.g. customizing fields, layouts, and workflows.
Scalability: the ability of the CRM software to accommodate the growth and changing needs of the organization, such as the capacity to handle a growing customer database.
Price: the cost associated with using the CRM software. It includes factors such as licensing fees, subscription plans, and additional charges for add-on modules or features.
Team Structure – Sales CRM: determining if a platform makes it easier to manage large sales teams, including team dashboards, team hierarchies, and team inboxes.
Usability – Small Business CRM: assessing the simplicity of the interface, the ease of navigating through menus and options, and the overall user experience.
When it comes to calculating a product's final score, not all testing areas are weighted evenly, as we know some aspects matter more to our readers than others, which are merely "nice to have." After hundreds of hours, our process is complete, and the results should ensure you can find the best solution for your needs.
At Tech.co, we have a number of full time in-house researchers, who re-run this testing process regularly, to ensure our results remain reflective of the present day
Verdict: What Is the Best Helpdesk Software?
There are lots of helpdesk software options out there for businesses of all sizes, and we'd encourage you to check out your options before committing. Check out our CRM comparison guide to get as much helpful information as you can, so you know you'll make the right decision.
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