Please note that this post is based on preliminary data.
We often think of help desk solutions as a tool used by IT personnel to track our requests. Nowadays, it’s true that in education and bigger companies, this is the most frequent use of this product. Let’s dig into this product category to find out why and how it was created, its main companies and what the future holds for help desk software.
Definition and Features of Help Desk Software
Help desk solutions manage customer requests, respond to customer-care issues, and keep track of them. They generally belong to a wider category called service desk, which also includes asset management and IT service management. As a result, help desk software refers specifically to the system that handles customer requests.
Help desk software typically includes three components: ticket management, automation suite, and Reporting/Optimization.
Help desk software usually receives the customer requests from one point of contact (a web form, an email address, a chatbot system). The solution will create a ticket, track it and organize it to improve resolution rates. A knowledge base may also be developed that aggregates and organizes questions and answers, such as FAQs or articles. Multi-points of contact may be supported, as well as a dashboard and analytics section. Additionally, it may allow agents to transfer difficult issues to a higher management level.
History of Help Desk Solutions
Before the 20th century, all interactions with clients were made in a face-to-face fashion. Complaints, suggestions or purchase follow-up required face-to-face contact in the store. When Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone and following its commercialization, a distant request was then possible.
Fast forward to the 1960s. In order to receive and handle customer inquiries in an efficient and organized manner, companies started setting up call centers. Interactive Voice Response (IVR) provided a significant boost to telephone customer service, enabling customers to perform basic transactions without speaking to an agent. At this point, we are still far from the current help desk solutions.
Then, the commercial Internet came (in the 1980s but more popular in the 1990s). With this new technology, the possibility of outsourcing client relations occurred. What was previously done in the store or in nearby call centers was now conducted by contractors on the other side of the planet. This foremost impacted English-speaking companies and countries more than bilingual or non-English constituents.
In the 2000s, help desk solutions started to be massively implemented in companies and in education, especially in universities and colleges. At first, this software was being used in IT departments as previously described. Today, they are also helping front-line workers in centralized service centers and are used in conjunction with customer relationship management tools as well as other solutions, like chatbots.
Advantages to Use a Help Desk Software
- These days, many institutions and school boards use webmail for their daily communications. Compared to an email client, webmail tends to offer faster customer support and increased productivity when a help desk solution is implemented.
- Since help desk automates many repetitive tasks like ticket creation and assigment, the workload is cut down which gives more productivity to the overall customer service.
- Many cloud-based solutions include built-in security features with regards to personal information and tracking.
Downsides of Help Desk Solutions
There are some reasons to think twice before implementing a help desk software:
- The cost and time-consuming process of first implementation. While some solutions offer a trial option, it may be a deterrent for large institutions and school boards to try a software this crucial to their operations.
- For on-premise options, the downtime associated with maintenance and upgrades can limit the service offered to customers. In peak periods, unscheduled downtime could have a huge impact on a university reputation.
- Cloud-based help desks are not perfect either. They imposed higher costs over long time periods.
The Main Help Desk Solutions
As you can see in the graph above, ZenDesk (27%) has more than a quarter of the market shares in the HigherEd submarket. If we omit the Others group, ZenDesk is followed by SolarWinds (12%), TeamDynamix (10%), and Service Now (9%).
For K-12 (below), the market leader is the same: ZenDesk. Contrary to HigherEd, fewer players have a bigger piece of the pie: Zendesk (29%), SolarWinds (28%), and SchoolDude.com (23%). The other players have less than 5%. Based on our research, it is unclear why SchoolDude (now Brightly) performs extremely well in K-12 while being almost absent in HigherEd (it is included in the Others group).
The Future of Help Desks
Help Desk solutions are here to stay. In fact, with artificial intelligence built into some solutions, the system learns how to resolve simple requests or can assign tickets based on employees’ performance or knowledge. In addition, with the post-pandemic work-from-home trend, help desk solutions should continue to be implemented in the future and probably at a faster pace.