As the importance of customer service gains popularity in the media and in businesses especially, more and more "help desks" are coming out of the woodwork. Of course along with those, are the so-called "top 10 (or top 20) best" lists for help desk software. The issue with many of these is that they lump anyone who calls themselves a help desk under one category - so you often see a hodge podge of internal IT, live chat, and even call center software. For the buyer looking for customer support software, to assist in their customer support efforts, it can be very confusing and even misleading. Add to this the fact that there are vast differences in the requirements of a company providing B2C support vs B2B support, and also between internal vs external help desk functions, and you've got a recipe for frustration.
To help shed light on this muddled segment, we'd like to take the opportunity to clarify what a true help desk is, and the various components you should be looking for if you are looking at help desk software.
What is a Help Desk?
By definition, a help desk is simply a contact center designed to provide users with assistance, often with computer related or technical issues. It's interesting to note that it specifically refers to technology/software and yet most help desk software is not designed for that use at all. If we pull from the definition then it makes sense that help desk software should be a system designed to manage the process of assisting users with questions/issues. A basic software like live chat, while extremely useful, is only a single component of a proper help desk solution.
Hint: If you are currently trying to compare help desk software, check out G2 Crowd's Help Desk Grid Report. They compare actual help desk software based on features, performance, and real user reviews.
Internal vs External
When looking at help desk software an important consideration is who the user is (the one seeking assistance). If they are an employee, or an Internal user, you should be looking at help desk software designed for internal support. Often this will refer to things like ITSM or ITIL. If your users are External, such as customers, they you need an external help desk software.
B2C vs B2B
Another major consideration when evaluating help desk software solutions is the type of customers you serve - are they individuals (B2C) or businesses (B2B)? If they are individuals you likely have high volumes of one-off support requests, and you need a help desk software designed for that. If they are businesses however, you likely have fewer individual customers but each has multiple contacts and multiple issues. You need a software designed for B2B help desks that will keep track of issues at the company level, and let you manage the entire customer relationship.
In summary, while the "Top 10 Help Desk Software" list may sound impressive, make sure you take it with a grain of salt, and understand your own business needs ahead of time.