5 Ways to Find the Right Help Desk Software

Feb 17, 2016 1:49:58 PM / by Sarah Spangler

It’s not easy to find help desk software that’s a perfect fit for your business. There are a lot of reputable help desk packages out there, which makes choosing rather more complicated than we’d like it to be.

It’s important to get it right. Help desk software is in many ways the keystone to your company’s success. A poor experience at the hands of a help desk agent (human or automated) has a negative impact on customer retention and loyalty.  As everyone knows, it costs far more in sales investment to win a new customer than it does to retain an existing one.

Any company trying to shine must put their customers first. Research by customer intelligence consultants Walker found that by 2020 customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator.  So, if you end up with a help desk package that’s cumbersome to use, lacks a vital feature, will take months to implement, or can’t be customized to fit special requirements, it’s not likely that it will improve the customer experience.  Since there are dozens of options on the market, how do you start whittling them down?

To help cut through the confusion without cutting corners, here are five of the most important questions to ask before you make your decision:

1 – Does the help desk software include the most important core features?

Some applications offer a more extensive list of functions than others, but the key functions that should be included in a help desk package include:

  • Self service portal (web and mobile)
  • Incident logging through multiple channels (portal, email, phone)
  • Ticket tracking automation
  • Escalation management
  • Knowledge base
  • Service level management
  • Workflow management
  • Survey tools
  • Reporting, metrics and dashboards
  • Capable of supporting IT asset management

2 – What are the customization options?

Since no two organizations are the same, what you need to keep your help desk users happy may not be listed any vendor’s standard feature list.  If you like the look of a package but don’t see the exact functionality you need, can the application be customized without undue cost, delay or difficulty? How easy does the vendor make it to discuss and implement special requests?  All vendors offer demos.  Just be clear about your unique requirements and challenges when talking to vendors so they can use this insight to provide you with a demo that’s tailored to your needs. They may be able to suggest new ways of optimizing the software to work for your business.

3 – What is the cost?

Make sure that you get pricing information at an early stage so that you don’t waste time looking at systems that are beyond your budget. Sites like Capterra make it easy to compare license types, features and prices, and most software vendors offer pricing guides on their own web sites.

Other factors play into the budget discussion.  How scalable is the software and what will it cost to add more features or processes in the future? Undertaking a few basic ROI calculations allows you to establish which processes and outcomes will be most improved by the new software.  (Even if actual dollars can’t be calculated, you can benchmark items like customer satisfaction ratings, speed of resolution, volumes of tickets tracked and time spend on reporting and monitoring.)

Total cost of ownership (TCO) is perhaps the most important calculation.  This should include all direct and indirect costs associated with the system to reflect the true cost over time – usually several years. If you are looking to replace an existing system, beware of letting what you pay for this dictate your expectations of what a new system will cost.   What’s important is that what you pick is right for you and can be customized to meet your unique needs. Instead of paying for a high end software package that takes forever to implement, with a lot of features you never use, you might be better off with a streamlined package that does exactly what you need and costs a lot less.

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4 – Can it integrate into existing systems?

You need to be sure that your chosen help desk platform can be fully integrated into your current IT systems. The ability to share data between internal systems and departments means that your help desk staff and knowledge base are drawing on the most up-to-date information available within the company.  Not only do users receive rapid, accurate answers but help desk data, fed back into the company systems, provides vital data on where to focus improvement efforts and where best practices exist that can be replicated. The right help desk software will not only fit, but also empower your business.

5 – When can I get it?

Many help desk applications can be implemented within very short time – sometimes less than a week, depending on the expertise of the internal IT staff and the size and complexity of the project.

Remember, though, that internal processes can be more intricate.  Set a realistic timeline for obtaining budget, obtaining consensus about your software choice, setting expectations about ROI, customizing, implementing and rolling out the software to users.  It’s better to deliver the project a week ahead of time than two weeks late!

Overall, the software is only one part of a successful help desk.  The staff, your management processes and your IT and business systems all play a part.  Bearing all these considerations in mind will help you to select the right help desk software and get maximum ROI from the system.

Topics: Help Desk

Sarah Spangler

Written by Sarah Spangler