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Help! I Need Help Choosing a Help Desk!

Keeping Staff | April 5th, 2021

There are literally hundreds of help desk tools to choose from. We're here to offer some totally biased and 100% self-interested information on the 5 biggest players in the space. And at the end, we provide a little information on why we think Keeping is the best choice for most growing businesses that are upgrading from a simple shared Gmail account.

If you take away anything from this cheeky post, it's that you (probably) don't need a complicated help desk to stay on top of your customer support. Read on to find out why!

Zendesk - The Death Star

Zendesk - The Death Star

There’s no doubt about it - if you need the help desk equivalent of a planet-cracking super laser, then Zendesk is for you.  Zendesk is a publicly traded company, with over 3,500 employees firmly focused on dominating the help desk universe.  This isn’t necessarily bad, but in order to maintain this massive organization and deliver big profits to their shareholders, it means that YOU, dear customer, are going to be squeezed.

That aside, there are some benefits to having an imperial army behind you.  Zendesk, Inc, is building a full suite of business tools, including a sales oriented CRM.  Much like Freshdesk or Zoho Desk (below), Zendesk would prefer that you buy all of your business tools from them.  Again, there’s nothing wrong with this, although be careful about platform lock-in.

Who is it for?

Zendesk is increasingly aiming at large enterprises, as evidenced by their pricing page.  Their entry-level tier starts at $49/mo per user when you lock in to an annual plan.  They *do* have some lower priced options, but they tend to hide them so make sure you dig around the pricing page a bit.  Zendesk is good for large companies and complicated multi-tiered organizations.

Freshdesk - The Lumbergh

I'm gonna need those TPS reports before you leave.

Do you wear a phone headset all day? TPS reports due again? Then Freshdesk might be the tool for you! Freshdesk has 3,600 employees (including 760 sales reps that carry a quota) and was founded in 2010 in Chennai, India, as a Zendesk alternative. Much like Zendesk and Zoho Desk, Freshdesk has expanded beyond the help desk category and is building a complex platform of business tools.

Freshdesk and Zendesk are battling for the same customer and from the outside they offer very similar features.  In fact, it’s very difficult to recommend one over the other.  Zendesk may win out for larger organizations with complex reporting needs, where Freshdesk has a slightly more intuitive feel.

Who is it for?

Freshdesk is perfect for dedicated customer service representatives in large organizations.  If your job title has the words “Customer Support” in it, and you need lots of features and are willing to pay for it, Freshdesk could be a great solution for you.

Intercom - Mr. Burns

Mr Burns, money money money!

Intercom pioneered the ubiquitous chat widget that is now available on every website.  Intercom bills itself as a “business messaging” platform, which means it does a lot more than just handle your customer support emails.  We’re going to go out on a limb and say that chat based customer support is a bad idea.  While offering instant customer support seems like a good idea at first, it quickly leads to burned out employees and cranky customers (who expect an immediate response to every question).

Ultimately, though, Intercom and Mr. Burns are peas-in-a-pod because it can get *VERY* expensive, quickly.  In addition to a never ending list of pricey add-ons, Intercom also charges $50/mo for every 1,000 “contacts” in your customer database.  This is *great* for Intercom, because (guess what!), this number never goes down and after a few years this could be costing you hundreds (or even thousands!) of dollars a month!  Mr Burns would be proud, indeed!

Who is it for?

If live chat via support is a must for your business (perhaps because you are selling pacemakers or bomb defusing kits?), then Intercom might be a good choice - they are the market leader here.  They also have a lot of features that go beyond customer support if you need more marketing and sales oriented options - just be careful of that price tag!

Zoho Desk - The Space Shuttle

Founded in 1996 and also based in Chennai, India , Zoho has been around a long time.  And much like the now-retired Space Shuttle, Zoho Desk is a complicated piece of software.  If you like switches, dials, and tons of options to cover every possible way you could use a help desk, then Zoho Desk might be for you! 

Zoho shines when integrated with their other products (which includes a long list, such as a project management tool, CRM, invoicing, and more), so if you are interested in an All-In-One office solution, the Zoho Suite is worth a look.

Who is it for?

Mid sized enterprises that want an all-in-one solution to cover a variety of business needs, but aren’t ready for the more expensive Enterprise-only solutions (like SAP). Zoho Desk works best when paired with Zoho CRM.

Gorgias - The eCommerce Treadmill

If you are doing customer support for a high volume eCommerce store, then you need a tool dedicated to the job.  Gorgias was founded five years ago to do one thing and do one thing well - customer support for eCommerce.

Customer Support for eCommerce is special.  You tend to get a lot of the same questions over and over again (eg, “Where is my order?” or “I want to return this.”), and customer support representatives need deep integration with their online ordering system.  Gorgias does this well, but it comes with a billing model that is a bit unusual.  Instead of paying per agent (like almost every other help desk), your bill is calculated off of your support ticket volume.  This can make it a little harder to predict costs, but you can add as many agents as you like without adding seats.

Who is it for?

High volume eCommerce brands that need deep integrations with their billing and sales platform.

Keeping - The Underdog

Rocky - The Ultimate Underdog

As you can tell from the website you are reading this on, we’re not going to claim to be 100% objective here.  But we promise to shoot straight and tell you where Keeping shines (and where it can’t compete with the tools above).

We built Keeping for teams that are doing more than just customer service.  If you are a growing business, it’s likely that your whole team gets involved in customer support requests.  The last thing you need is another Chrome tab to keep open all day.  That’s why we built Keeping, which brings your customer support requests TO you in your personal or work Gmail account.

Keeping covers all of the “must haves” for a help desk - you can assign a status, priority, or team member to a support request, or use an automation to do this automatically.  Knowledge Base? Check. Collision detection? Yup.  Reports on first response time? Got that, too.

But Keeping isn't the Space Shuttle. AI-powered chatbot? Nope.  Phone integration? No. CSAT surveys? Not yet.

We think Keeping is the right tool for *most* growing businesses that aren’t yet staffed with a dedicated customer service team.  And if you ever outgrow Keeping, there’s no lock-in and we make it super easy to transition to another tool.

Who is it for?

Keeping is built for growing teams that need to get a handle on customer support but aren’t ready for a big enterprise tool like Zendesk, or teams that are currently sharing a Gmail inbox to answer customer support requests and are ready for a (massive) upgrade. Give us a try, there's no credit card required and you can be up in running in about 10 minutes!