Published on 
October 3, 2023

11 Help Desk Software for 2023 - Buyer's Guide

Shonik Agarwal
Founder's Office
min read
Table of Contents

Looking for a help desk software for your business? In this blog post we cover the top players, pros and cons of each and a guide on how to select the right software for your use case.

TLDR. Here's a review summary if you do not want to read the full post.

Review Summary: Top Help Desk Softwares

Help Desk Software Founded Best for Unique feature Cons G2 Review Per seat price (billed annually) Free trial available? Free plan available?
Richpanel 2019 Ecommerce & SaaS Self-service portal & AI capabilities Newly founded 4.7 (70+ reviews) $24/mo Yes Yes
Help Scout 2011 Email support Easy reporting Not ideal for large ticket volumes 4.4 (350+ reviews) $20/mon Yes No
Zendesk 2007 Enterprises looking for flexibility 1,000+ integrations Too complex to setup 4.3 (5,000+ reviews) $19/mo Yes No
Zoho Desk 2000 Cost-conscious businesses Integrates seamlessly with the rest of the Zoho suite products Product support is poor and too complex to set-up. 4.4 (4,500+ reviews) $14/mo Yes Yes
Freshdesk 2010 Industry agnostic. Small & large businesses. Built in CRM Too complex to setup 4.4 (2,000+ reviews) $15/mon Yes Yes
Hubspot Service Hub 2006 Hubspot Marketing Suite Users Works out of Hubspot. Can see complete CRM details next to each ticket. Complex set-up with a steep learning curve 4.4 (1,800+ reviews) $18/mon Yes Yes
Intercom 2011 SaaS Onboarding tours & outbound messaging Expensive 4.4 (2,000+ reviews) $74/mo Yes No
Gorgias 2015 Ecommerce Shopify integration Outdated UI 4.6 (450+ reviews) $50/mo Yes No
Hiver 2011 Small business doing support out of Gmail Works out of Gmail Not ideal for large ticket volumes 4.6 (750+ reviews) $12/mo Yes No
Kustomer 2015 Ecommerce & Tech Startups Custom objects to send orders, booking information, etc to help desk Need lots of tech integration to get working 4.4 (350+ reviews) $89/mo No No
Jira Service Desk 2002 IT Teams Asset management No multichannel support 4.2 (700+ reviews) $50/mo Yes Yes

What is a help desk software?

Help desk software is used to organize and respond to large number of queries. These queries could be from customers or internal employees. Most businesses start by using emails or slack to manage them in early days. But after a certain scale, you run into challenges like

  • Accountability: Who is responsible for which ticket
  • Measurement: How much time is each team member taking to respond to the query
  • Tracking the status: Responding to emails does not mean the query was resolved. You need to explicitly track the status (open, in-progress, closed, resolved, etc) of each query.

This is where a help desk solution comes in handy. A help desk software will help you a) unify messages from all channels; be it email, chat, sms, phone, social media. b) distribute incoming queries between teammates c) measure and improve customer satisfaction

The 11 best help desk software for 2023

To assist you in your search, we have compiled a list of all popular help desk software in the market.

1. Richpanel

Best help desk software for scaling your customer service without hiring more agents.

Richpanel is a complete customer support platform that packs all features needed to deliver outstanding customer service and delight customers with super-fast resolutions.

Multichannel inbox

Richpanel: Multiple Channels inside Help Desk System

With Richpanel help desk software, you can manage customer communication from email, live chat, SMS, Instagram, Facebook, and phone calls all in one place. The inbox integrates with all popular apps to bring customer context such as ecommerce orders, CRM data, loyalty points, and more next to each ticket.

This multichannel capability and integrations eliminate the need for agents to switch between applications, making their work streamlined.

Other key features of the help desk include:

  • Collision detection: to prevent duplicate work and see if the ticket is being worked on by another colleague
  • Assignments: Assign chats and tickets based on skills, language, and availability
  • Collaboration: Use private notes and mention colleagues in conversations to seek help and gather more context
  • Snooze: Snooze tickets to get back to them at a later stage
  • Canned responses: Respond quickly to routine queries without having to copy and paste the same response repeatedly.

Self-service portal

Richpanel Self-Service Portal & Knowledge Base System

Enable your customers to resolve common issues immediately and in real-time 24/7. The self-service portal integrates with your cart platform, allowing your customers to perform common actions such as order tracking, editing orders, cancellations, and returns without the need for agents.

The self-service portal is similar to Amazon's "My Account" section, which has become the go-to tool for Amazon customers to resolve their issues.

Live chat

Live Chat Software

The live chat software enables customers to receive real-time assistance while browsing your website or mobile app. The appearance of the live chat widget can be customized to match your brand and make it your own.

With the campaigns feature, you can proactively engage customers based on specific conditions. During off-hours, the chat widget converts into a contact form and collects all necessary information to reach out to customers when agents resume work.


Richpanel: Reporting inside Help Desk System

The Richpanel help desk software also comes preloaded with default reports that measure all aspects of your support centre’s performance. The reporting goes beyond regular help desk software and enables you to analyze what topics customers contact you about, self-service rates, and customer retention, satisfaction, and revenue influenced by live chat.


Richpanel Integrations

Richpanel help desk software integrates with several apps to simplify agent workflows. Integrations bring additional context inside the agent inbox, eliminating the need to switch between applications. Integrations play a crucial role in executing rules based on data from other applications and enabling workflows to take actions on external apps

Popular use cases include allowing customers to track order status in self-service, letting agents edit orders from the help desk, and asking customers to leave a review on Trustpilot after a positive customer sastisfaction survey rating.

Mobile app

Richpanel Mobile Application

Richpanel help desk software offers mobile iOS and Android apps users on the move. These apps are perfect for customer service teams who need push notifications to resolve customer issues while away from their desktops. With the mobile apps, you can easily manage your customer support workflow and provide excellent service, no matter where you are.

G2 Reviews: 4.7 (57 reviews)

Price: Starting at $24/agent per month

2. Help Scout

Best for businesses that want to prioritize email support

Help Scout Help Desk Software

Help Scout is best suited for businesses that prioritize email-based customer support and collaboration within their support teams. It's help desk solution is well-regarded for its simplicity and ease of use, making it suitable for businesses of various sizes.

Help Scout's full knowledge management functionality is particularly beneficial for companies aiming to provide self-service options to customers.

Businesses seeking a customer support solution with robust reporting and analytics features will find value in Help Scout's ability to provide insights into customer support processes, customer satisfaction scores and performance.

G2 reviews: 4.4 (350+ reviews)

Price: Paid plan starts at $25 per user per month on the monthly billing option

3. Zendesk

Most popular amongst enterprise teams

Zendesk Help Desk Software

If you're considering a help desk software solution, chances are that you're either already using Zendesk or thinking about using it.

Zendesk was one of the first companies to offer cloud-based help desk software and has since acquired several companies to add a host of other capabilities, such as live chat, chatbots, knowledge base, social media integration, and phone support. It's a preferred solution for enterprise teams and integrates with over 1,000 apps.

Because Zendesk is sector-agnostic and allows for customization, users often struggle to determine which features they want to use and how to customize it for their specific needs. Another issue is that it's extremely difficult to get support from their customer success team, who have relatively small numbers compared to their large customer base.

We have heard complaints from customers paying over $100K in annual fees struggling to receive adequate support.

🤫 Insider scoop:

In June 2022, Zendesk was acquired for a staggering $10.2B in a private equity deal, just months after turning down a $17B offer. Their valuation gamble took an unexpected turn!

Revenues: $1.6B (est 2022)

G2 Reviews: 4.3 (5,000+ reviews)

Price: Starting at $24/agent per month

4. Zoho Desk

Most cost effective alternative to Zendesk

Zoho Desk Help Desk Software

Zoho started as a Salesforce alternative but has since ventured into many other categories, including Zoho Desk, a help desk software solution. Like all of their products, Zoho Desk has all the essential features of  modern help desk software too, such as ticket management, automation, and knowledge base.

Zoho has never been known for innovation or great UI. The interface for all their products is basic and cluttered. However, you'll get an affordable help desk tool that can do the same things as Freshdesk and Zendesk.

🤫 Insider scoop:

For those of you who don't know, Zoho is one of the earliest and largest software companies in India. What's amazing is that they are completely bootstrapped and are estimated to be generating over $1B in annual revenues.

Many of the company's initial employees have gone on to start other companies, and both the founders of Freshdesk worked at Zoho before starting their company.

G2 Reviews: 4.4 (4,500+ reviews)

Price: Free plan available. Paid plans starting at $14/agent per month.

5. Freshdesk

Help Desk solution with the best chatbot builder.

Freshdesk Help Desk Software

Freshdesk started as a “better & cheaper alternative” to the incumbent, Zendesk. Their claim to fame was that their online help desk software, was more simple and “fresh” compared to Zendesk. In many ways, players like Freshdesk have put pressure on Zendesk to upgrade their products which is obviously good for the end customers.

Freshdesk help desk solution in many ways is similar to Zendesk in terms of capabilities, number of integrations and also takes a horizontal approach which makes it a flexible product for all kinds of use cases. One advantage over Zendesk is its flexible chatbot platform, which can be used for a variety of use cases.

However, setting up this help desk system can be complex and time-consuming.

🤫 Insider scoop:

Freshdesk is closely related to all the 3 companies before it on the list. Freshdesk & Richpanel share the same investor, Sequoia Capital. Freshdesk founders were both employees of Zoho before starting out on their own. And Freshdesk is most popular for its feud with Zendesk.

Zendesk was frustrated with Freshdesk's bidding on the "Zendesk alternative" keyword. As a result, they purchased the domain and created a humorous campaign to redirect people searching for that keyword to this website instead of their competitors.

Revenues: $100M Est

G2 reviews: 4.4 (2,000+ reviews)

Price: Free plan available. Paid plans starting at $15/agent per month.

6. HubSpot Service Hub

Best Help Desk software for Hubspot customers

HupSpot Service Hub Help Desk Software

HubSpot is a well-known company that offers both CRM and marketing automation software. Among their products is HubSpot Service Hub, a cloud-based help desk software that provides advanced features, such as a ticketing system, customer relationship management tool, automation, and a knowledge base.

If a business already uses other HubSpot tools, it may find Service Hub to be a natural fit due to its seamless integration with HubSpot's ecosystem.

However, because HubSpot Service Hub is a relatively new addition to their product portfolio, it is not as feature-rich or mature as their CRM and email marketing platform. In particular, the live chat widget and ticket assignment features have room for improvement.

Additionally, all HubSpot products have the same login, unlike Zendesk or Freshdesk, which have separate UIs for each product. This can make the HubSpot UI feel cluttered, and a customer service manager may see and have access to a lot of things they will never use. Similarly, a marketing manager will see and have access to a lot of areas they will never use.

G2 reviews: 4.4 (1,800+ reviews)

Price: Free plan available. Paid plans starting at $18 per month.

7. Intercom

Best for SaaS companies

Intercom Help Desk Software

Intercom began as a free live chat tool, and its messenger became popular due to its modern design and interface. The company has since added other products to its suite, including a help desk tool, ticket management, product onboarding tours, and in-app messaging.

SaaS and tech product teams looking to streamline the user onboarding journey and provide live chat support often choose Intercom. The tool offers great UI and integrations. However, the pricing can quickly become expensive, as it is based on agents, contacts in your database, and monthly users.

Many customers have complained that the pricing is not only high but also unpredictable.

G2 reviews: 4.4 (2,000+ reviews)

Price: Paid plans starting from $74/month when billed annually.

8. Gorgias

Popular amongst Shopify merchants. Best for low volume support teams.

 Gorgias Help Desk Software

Gorgias started as a Chrome extension that assisted Gmail users in drafting and using canned responses. They soon discovered that most of their users were customer service agents; who used it to reply to their support requests and messages.

Consequently, they pivoted to becoming a Shopify app and now serve as a lightweight alternative to Zendesk for Shopify merchants.

The Gorgias help desk tool integrates with more than 150 Shopify apps, making agents' work more manageable. If you're a customer service agent working on a Shopify website, this tool can save you a lot of time in switching between different applications.

Currently, Gorgias has over 10,000 merchants who use their Shopify app. Their pricing is based on ticket volumes, so it can be expensive if you have high ticket volumes.

G2 reviews: 4.6 (450+ reviews)

Price: Paid plans starting from $60/month for 350 tickets. $40 for each additional 100 tickets.

9. Hiver

Basic help desk for small businesses. Built inside Gmail.

Hiver Help Desk App

Hiver is best suited for businesses that heavily rely on Gmail as their primary email and customer support platform. It is particularly useful for teams that require shared inboxes, streamlined email collaboration, and efficient workflow management within the Gmail environment.

It’s not the ideal help desk software as the business scales or if you have too many agents but if you want to continue using Gmail while adding collaboration features & clear assignments then Hiver is a good choice.

G2 reviews: 4.6 (750+ reviews)

Price: Starting at $12/user per month

10. Kustomer

Best help desk for customer 360 view.

Kustomer Help Desk & CRM Software

Kustomer is a help desk software & CRM well-suited for businesses that prioritize unified customer 360 profiles and personalized customer experiences. Kustomer started off on the premise that customer data exists in silos across multiple applications and their software helps teams to unify this data and make it available to agents inside the CRM.

This help desk software does require decent amount of developer effort to get it working and build the unified customer 360 profiles.

🤫 Insider scoop:

In 2022, Meta acquired Kustomer for $1B. Now, Meta is seeking strategic buyers to offload Kustomer. Brad Birnbaum, the founder of Kustomer, also founded which was acquired by Salesforce in 2011. Therefore, he has founded two help desk software companies and successfully sold both to tech giants.

G2 reviews: 4.4 (350+ reviews)

Price: Starting at $29/user per month

11. Jira Service Desk

Best ticket management system for incident management

Jira Service Desk Help Desk Software & Ticketing System

Jira Service Desk is commonly used help desk software by engineering teams, but it can also be useful for support teams as a central location for reporting and tracking bugs.

Users can create custom workflows and forms to ensure smooth project management. They can also assign statuses to specific tasks to keep everyone informed. Reports provide support reps asset management with insights into the work being done and the overall workload, providing context for asset management, bug-tracking and requests.

G2 reviews: 4.2 (700+ reviews)

Price: Free plan available. Paid plans starting at $7.50/user per month.

That brings us to an end of the top help desk software and their review. Now we'll cover a free alternatives, self-hosted options and a guide to select the right help desk system for your business.

Using email as a help desk alternative

If you have low volumes or low budgets, you can start by using email instead of a dedicated help desk. All you have to do is create an email or a group with something like or and request users to send all their queries and requests on that email address. Two popular options are:

1. Google Groups as a Collaborative Inbox

Free help desk alternative for teams that use G Suite.

Google Collaborative Inbox

Most people start by creating a new pseudo email ID like but a better way to do this would be to create a Google Group and convert that to a Collaborative Inbox. A Collaborative Inbox is where group members can take and assign conversations and perform other collaboration tasks. 

How it works?

  • All members of the Collaborative Inbox Group can pick and assign conversations to themselves
  • Other members can see unassigned conversations
  • You can add statuses like open, closed to the conversations to keep track
  • Filter conversations based on assignee or status

Setting up a Google Group is fairly simple. If you're not familiar, follow the instructions in this link. Finally, add people to the group. That's it! Now, everyone in the group can respond to emails in the group mailbox without sharing login information, which is a huge security benefit.

2. Outlook Shared Mailbox

Free help desk alternative for teams that already use Microsoft Outlook.

Outlook Shared Mailbox

Microsoft Outlook's Shared Inbox is similar to Google's Collaborative Inbox. It allows your teams to work from the same queue, supports assignment and adding/removing group members.

If you already use Outlook, setting up a shared mailbox won't cost you anything extra.

How to select the Help Desk that is right for you?

Follow these steps to select a help desk system:

  1. Note down your requirements: Visualize the ideal customer and agent experience
  2. Check if your business has regulatory or compliance requirements for hosting data internally: If not stick with a cloud based help desk software
  3. Use the cheat sheet table: See what segments, use cases appeal to you the most
  4. Shortlist & trial: Shortlist the 2-3 based on your requirements. Take a trial of each and see which one is closest to your requirements out of the box.
  5. See how easy it is to adopt: A help desk that meets 80% of your requirements right outside the box, and has a short learning curve is ideal.
  6. Reviews and references: Always a good idea to check reviews. If you are a large business with 100s of agents, it might be a good idea to speak with reference customers of the vendor over the phone and check their experience.

How to come up with Help desk software requirements

Simple solution: Jus visualize and note down the 'ideal' experience for customers & agents.

  • Ideal experience for your customers: How should customers reach out to you? Email, Chat, Self-service? How soon should their query be resolved? Was there a recent support interaction with a company that you felt was effortless and delightful. Use that as a benchmark.
  • Ideal experience for your agents: Happy agents create happier customer interactions. How should your agents receive the queries, how should they be distributed? Are they spending too much time juggling between tools and mundane tasks? How can we centralize the data for agents in one screen? How can we automate the redundant tasks?
  • Ideal experience for support managers: What kind of reports are essential for your business operations? How would you like to visualize the live activity and measure performance of team members? What kind of data and tools will you need to give them effective feedback? How will you up skill them? How will you want to manage and centralize knowledge?

Here's a simple table that you can copy and replace with your requirements.

Help Desk Software: Sample requirements

Criteria Customers Agents Support Managers
Ideal Experience User-friendly interface Efficient ticket creation Comprehensive reporting
Seamless self-service options Robust collaboration features Customizable dashboards
Quick response times Knowledge base integration SLA management
Current Pain Points Long wait times for support Lack of agent productivity tools Limited visibility and insights
Difficulty finding information Inadequate ticket assignment Inefficient resource allocation
Lack of personalized assistance Communication challenges Inconsistent ticket prioritization

Help Desk Software: Features checklist

You'll have to decide what features are needed for your implementation. But here's a quick check-list of features that is expected from every help desk system.

Feature Description
Organizing conversations Efficiently create, track, and manage support requests.
Omnichannel Support Provide support across various channels (email, chat, phone, social media)
Self-Service Portal Allow customers to find answers to common questions through a knowledge base or FAQs
Automation Automate repetitive tasks like ticket routing, assignment, and follow-up
SLA Management Set and enforce service level agreements for response and resolution times
Collaboration Tools Enable agents to collaborate internally and share information to resolve tickets faster
Reporting and Analytics Generate reports and gain insights into key support metrics for performance evaluation
Customer Database Maintain a centralized customer database with contact information and interaction history
Integration Capabilities Integrate with other systems (CRM, e-commerce platforms) for a seamless support experience
Escalation and Prioritization Escalate urgent issues and prioritize tickets based on severity or customer importance
Customer Satisfaction Surveys Collect feedback from customers to measure and improve service quality


  • What is a help desk software: Help desk softwares help you organize and respond to large number of requests. When emails can no longer be used to manage the volumes, consider upgrading to a help desk tool.
  • Top players & cheat sheet: A detailed review and cheat sheet of top help desk software options by use case, price and industry
  • Free help desk alternatives: How to configure Gmail's Collaborative Inbox and Outlook's Shared inbox as help desk alternatives.

People Also Ask:

Cloud-based vs self-hosted help desk: Which one is right for me?

If your business has some regulatory requirements. Example: Some financial institutions have very strict requirements to host data internally. And you are required to host data yourself, your options are self-hosted help desk or an open source help desk.

Types of help desk based on where they are hosted.

  • Cloud-based: This is the most popular kind. All the softwares we reviewed in this list were cloud-based help desk solutions. This kind is hosted by the vendor and you do not have to worry about uptime or maintenance. The biggest benefit is that you get access to newer features regularly and helps you keep up with modern times and evolving requirements.
  • Self-hosted: This is similar to buying a Microsoft office license and installing it on your machine. Known as an on-premise help desk software, is installed directly onto your own servers. It could be something you build yourself or purchase from another company.
  • Open source: Open source help desk software lets developers access the source code of a program directly, giving them the ability to customize the software in whatever way they see fit. This software is generally non-proprietary, meaning there's no single owner of the program.

Generally, we do not recommend the self-hosted or open-source options as they are much more complex to maintain, you'll always play catch up with cloud-based players since they update the software very frequently. The software will struggle to keep up with evolving times.

If you feel frustrated with the customer service of your bank or healthcare company - this is one of the main reasons. Their tech is self-hosted and need to work hard to build new features. Unlike clients of a cloud-based solution which is getting access to newer features every month, every quarter.

What is an internal vs external help desk software?

  • Internal: This help desk software is typically used to manage IT-related issues. Employees can log tickets directly with your IT team, making it easier to manage and organize those requests.
  • Customer-facing: Customer-facing help desk software is generally used by customer support teams to manage incoming customer conversations. These tools vary in functionality, but most include a shared inbox and some form of collaboration, productivity, and reporting tools.

What Is a Help Desk Software Used For?

In simple words, help desk software is used to help you respond to queries efficiently and effectively. It is responsible for:

  • Routing: evenly distributing tickets between available team members. Advanced help desk systems can also route tickets based on skills, language, and other criteria you define.
  • Self-service: helping customers resolve common queries quickly and instantly using the self-service portal or a knowledge base.
  • Live chat software: many help desk software packages come with a live chat feature that can be added to your website or mobile app. This allows visitors to get real-time assistance.
  • Knowledge base: maintaining a central knowledge base that can be used by agents, customers, and collaborators.

What is the best help desk software?

Choosing the right help desk software depends on your use case, team size, and goals. If you are just starting with help desk software, a system like Hiver or Help Scout would be ideal. If your business is scaling and you need a comprehensive, flexible system, your choices include Zendesk, Richpanel, and Freshdesk.

Is ServiceNow a help desk software?

ITSM (Information Technology Service Management) is a help desk software used by internal IT teams to track and manage service requests of a company's employees. It includes modules for asset management, service catalog management, knowledge management, and handling IT incidents and problem resolution.

In simpler terms, if a company has several thousand employees, an ITSM helps with tasks such as provisioning laptops for new employees, deploying necessary software, handling IT issues, and off-boarding employees.

What is an example of a help desk?

The simplest example of a help desk is your company's email inbox, You receive support requests from customers through this email. One of your team members picks it up, resolves the customer query, and then responds to the customer. A help desk system can help you do all of this at scale, with additional capabilities and reporting.

Is help desk a CRM?

The lines between the two applications are blurring. Some modern systems are capabale of doin the job of both applications. Traditionally a a Help Desk software provides users the possibility to ask questions on the website & help agents resolve these queries. Customer relationship management (CRM) systems store customer info and help send targeted messages to customers. Today’s help desk softwares like Richpanel provide a ton of context inside the agent interface and let businesses send targeted messages based on certain triggers which is why many businesses use it like a CRM.

What is help desk software called?

A help desk tool, also called a service desk tool, provides a one-stop service for your internal and external problems. Support representatives are capable to quickly monitor all issues if needed and prioritize pending urgent tickets.

What is help desk ticketing system?

It’s essentially the same thing. The “Ticket” is a unique ID given to track a service request. This way if a customer reaches back again, they can give the ticket # to the agent and the agent can look it up to give an update to the customer. Modern help desk systems don’t need ticket # because they store customer’s info and all service requests (tickets) are connected to the customer’s profile. If the customer calls back again, agents can look up all previous tickets on their profile.

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