Automated Help Desk

Help desk automation software builds customer loyalty and helps service teams reach peak performance.

A guide to help desk automation

Customer support teams are working faster than ever with the power of help desk automation. The right help desk AI now guarantees thousands of companies can better serve their customers and build stronger buyer-seller relationships. In fact, automated sales software and AI are so influential that 57 percent of business leaders already plan to increase their AI budgets by at least 25 percent in the coming year.

Not leaning into AI comes with a set of risks. Our recent study found that 61 percent of customers would walk away from a company after just one bad customer service experience. In a competitive market, it’s crucial you use every tool in your arsenal to improve the customer experience. AI is how you leverage bespoke customer service at scale.

And that starts with a strong help desk.

In this guide, we’ll go over the following points to get you started on your automated service desk journey:

What is help desk automation?

Help desk automation is a digital tool businesses use to automate help desk tasks, including ticket routing, escalation, alerts, and scripted responses. Automating these tasks reduces your support team’s workload and provides faster and more consistent assistance to online customers. These platforms offer different features your service agents can use to resolve tickets with greater ease, ensuring all of your customers have the support they need.

You can often find service desk automations included as features of larger end-to-end customer service platforms. Integrated together, these platforms offer scalable support solutions that businesses of all sizes and across industries can use to strengthen their customer relationships.

What will help desk automation do for your business?

Every business only has so many hands on deck. Even a fully-staffed support team won’t always have the capacity to field every incoming ticket. Using automation software gives your team an extra boost of support that reduces their workload, eliminating hassle and allowing them to be more productive.

The result is a faster ticketing system with faster ticket resolution, fewer negative reviews about slow or inconsistent service, and a more streamlined workflow for your reps.

What are the benefits of help desk automation?

As you read about these main benefits of using service desk automation tools, keep in mind that software isn’t a magic wand. Deploying software to its greatest benefit takes some careful strategizing, which we’ll discuss later in the article when we address how to choose the best help desk automation software.

Faster ticket resolution

Help desk automation software provides customers with multiple avenues for getting their problems solved with as little downtime as possible. Whether they need support from an agent or need to look up something in your knowledge base, customers appreciate being able to solve their problems quickly and get on with their days. Faster resolutions increase confidence in your brand’s ability to serve its customers no matter where they are when help is needed.

Boost support agent productivity

Much like a master chef will have other hands in the kitchen to do the chopping, washing, fetching, and prepping, automations give support agents the bandwidth to handle the more nuanced tasks that technology can’t handle on its own. This partnership between agents and technology means your support team accomplishes more while doing less, boosting overall productivity without burning your team out.

A unified, consistent customer experience

Using help desk automation helps support teams develop unified and repeatable workflows that everyone can execute, even if they’re scattered around the globe. With workflows executed the same way every time, customers experience consistent treatment with every interaction even if they deal with a different agent every time.

Strong customer loyalty

Help desk automation software serves as an extra pair of hands (or a thousand) that can act with lightning speed and pinpoint accuracy. The result is more satisfied customers who know they can rely on your team to provide the incident management and issue tracking tools they need to resolve things quickly, so they can get on with their busy lives.

What features should an automated help desk have?

There are many customer service software platforms that include automated help desk features. As you continue your search for the right provider, take note of the features you think would save your agents the most time and energy. Keep in mind, too, the features you may need in the future as your consumer base grows.

  • Ticket routing
  • Email forwarding
  • Alerts and notifications
  • Ticket escalation
  • Automatic reporting
  • Knowledge base
  • Canned responses
  • Automated feedback rating
  • Self-service portal
  • Chatbot
  • And more

What customer support processes can you automate through the help desk software?

Anyone who’s ever worked in a customer support role knows that the same questions and issues have a tendency to come up over and over again. From customers forgetting their passwords to asking about order statuses for the 12th time, it’s not uncommon for agents to field the same tickets ad nauseum.

Help desk automation software helps you automate those processes that pop up over and over again, giving time and energy back to your support team. Here are some of the support processes that can easily be automated to save your team time and brain power:

  • Ticket creation from multiple channels
  • Tracking ticket lifecycles
  • Answering basic FAQs
  • Gathering feedback from customers
  • Updating customers with ticket resolution progress
  • Perform audits of customer service touchpoints efficacy
  • Prioritize tickets based on urgency
  • Close and log resolved tickets
  • Onboard new service agents
  • And more

Some professionals have expressed being concerned that automating processes will create an impersonal experience for the customer. But this is a glass-half-full way to look at automation. In reality, automation exists to remove the most time-consuming and mundane tasks so that agents have more bandwidth to fully commit to problems that really require that human touch.

A comparison chart for the top 7 automated help desk software

Automated Help Desk Software

Starting Price

Free Trial?

Features

Zendesk

$49/month

Yes

  • Industry-leading ticketing system
  • AI-powered automated answers
  • Reporting and analytics (pre-built and custom)
  • Customizable ticket layouts
Salesforce Service Cloud

$25/user per month

Yes

  • Self-service help center
  • Case email auto-response
  • Appointment assistant
Freshdesk

$15/agent per month

Yes

  • Ticket dispatch
  • Auto-triage
  • Round-robin routing
ServiceNow

Custom pricing

No

  • Performance analytics
  • Virtual agent
  • Guided decisions
HelpDesk

$4/agent per month

Yes

  • Automated ticket assignment
  • New ticket notifications
  • Collision detection
HappyFox

$29/agent per month

Yes

  • Custom ticket queues
  • Satisfaction surveys
  • Round robin ticket assignment
Manage Engine

$10/technician per month

Yes

  • New ticket creation
  • Ticket categorization, prioritization, and assignment
  • SLA management

An overview of the best 7 automated help desks


Zendesk Support Suite

Zendesk Support Suite automated help desk

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Zendesk is a recognized leader in the world of customer service software, helping businesses of all sizes boost their service team’s productivity and performance. Zendesk’s Support Suite includes many automated help desk features, including a cutting-edge automated ticketing system that uses machine learning to receive and process customer tickets. It even reroutes tickets via email, messaging, or an IVR (Interactive Voice Response) system to the most qualified representative for that ticket’s issue.

Additionally, Zendesk comes equipped with a vast library of pre-written responses and templates, making the development of consistent and on-brand service replies easy. Other useful automated features include account verification, bot-based troubleshooting, customer greetings, and article recommendations—which enable agents to solve tickets faster with AI-powered contextual article recommendations linked within responses.

Designed with your agents’ needs in mind, Zendesk is a cloud-based platform with a radically simple interface that has a clean and easy-to-use unified agent workspace. From here, agents can track tickets, monitor performance, and gather relevant context with the click of the button, giving them the context they need to deliver fast and friendly service with every interaction.

Zendesk offers customizable branding options, and extensive integrations with the most popular business software tools.

Pricing Plans:

Suite Team: $49/agent per month
Suite Growth: $79/agent per month
Suite Professional (most popular): $99/agent per month

Free trial: 14 days

Features of Zendesk Support include:

Salesforce Service Cloud

Salesforce Service Cloud automated help desk

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Salesforce is one of the most trusted software brands on the market today. Salesforce Service Cloud is its customer service platform that offers AI-powered workflows and automations for every touchpoint along your customer’s journey.

Connect customers with relevant knowledge base articles, gather all interactions and communications in one spot, and build customer views that let you personalize each touchpoint with a unified and branded voice. You can also get real-time updates from across multiple data sources, and streamline ticket prioritization so tickets with the most urgency can be kicked to the front of the line.

Pricing Plans:

  • Essentials: $25/user per month
  • Professional: $75/user per month
  • Enterprise: $150/user per month
  • Unlimited: $300/user per month

Free trial: 30 days

Free version: Not available

Features of Salesforce Service Cloud include:

  • Case auto-assignment
  • Web and email case capture
  • Case email auto-response
  • Case escalation rules and queues
  • Lead-contact account management
  • Service console apps
  • Omni-channel routing
  • Case milestone tracker

Freshdesk

Freshdesk automated help desk

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Trusted by 50,000+ customers, Freshdesk is a cloud-based automated service desk platform that has many useful features for streamlining workflows and freeing up agent schedules. Some of its most popular features include its intuitive customer portal, advanced agent routing, multi-channel ticketing system, and contextual insights that let agents swiftly connect to customers with personalized care. Freshdesk also has a fairly fast go-to-market deployment for novice teams, and offers plenty of support and videos for learning how to use its features.

Pricing Plans:

Growth: $15/agent per month
Pro: $49/agent per month
Enterprise: $79/agent per month

Free trial: 21 days

Free version: Free for up to 10 agents

Features of Freshdesk include:

  • Email & social ticketing
  • Ticket dispatch
  • Ticket trend report
  • Data center location
  • Collision detection
  • Time tracking
  • Round-robin routing
  • Custom reports and dashboards
  • Skills based routing
  • Knowledge base approval workflow

ServiceNow Customer Service Management

ServiceNow Customer Service Management automated help desk

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ServiceNow CSM promises effortless customer experiences by letting teams address needs proactively rather than reactively. Automated service desk features include intelligent routing, case lifecycle tracking, an AI-powered chatbot, and automated self-service. Manage case flows seamlessly across teams, empower agents to multitask with ease from a configurable agent workspace, and offer support to customers on their favorite channels including web, chat, email, and social media.

Powered by the larger Now Platform, Now Intelligence is an AI and machine learning tool that performs a wide range of automation functions, including identifying critical issues and recommending tasks to help agents resolve issues faster.

Pricing Plans:

  • Standard: Custom pricing
  • Professional: Custom pricing
  • Enterprise: Custom pricing

Free trial: Not available

Free version: Not available

Features of ServiceNow include:

  • Agent workspace
  • Case management
  • Omni-channel
  • Self-service
  • Predictive intelligence
  • Guided decisions
  • Advanced work assignment
  • Process optimization
  • Virtual agent

HelpDesk

HelpDesk automated help desk

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This no-coding help desk automation platform employs proactive workflows to get the ball rolling on resolving customer issues. Automatically assign tickets to agents based on their department, skills, or area of interest, and balance their workload evenly so support agents don’t become overwhelmed or flustered. The HelpDesk platform even has a counter that keeps track of the time you’ve saved by using automations, which helps teams select the features that contribute most to overall productivity. Other popular HelpDesk features include canned responses for rapid and accurate communication, and a ticket heatmap that lets you identify and prepare for peak times in ticket submissions.

Pricing Plans:

  • Starter: $4/agent per month
  • Team: $19/agent per month
  • Enterprise: Custom pricing

Free trial: 14 days

Free version: Not available

Features of HelpDesk include:

  • Email channel (shared inbox)
  • Automated workflows
  • Collision detection
  • Analytics
  • LiveChat integration
  • Screen recording
  • Email delivery tracking
  • Canned responses
  • Agent rating
  • Tagging
  • Ticket merging
  • Customizable automation reply
  • Customizable email template

HappyFox Help Desk

HappyFox Help Desk automated help desk

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HappyFox Help Desk is a one-stop customer service platform for a huge range of industries including education, retail, telecommunications, travel, real estate, and more. It serves small businesses and enterprise-level organizations alike, and offers integrations with the most widely used business tools like Microsoft Teams, Shopify, and Slack.

This platform is an all-in-one ticketing system that lets you automatically convert requests into tickets from multiple channels, including email, chat, social media, and phone interactions. It also boasts a robust self-service portal where customers can go to seek their own answers, save important information for their own records, and seek answers from knowledge base articles.

Pricing Plans:

  • Mighty: $29/agent per month (5 agents)
  • Fantastic: $49/agent per month (5 agents)
  • Enterprise: $69/agent per month (5 agents)
  • Enterprise Plus: $89/agent per month (5 agents)

Free trial: 30 days

Free version: Not available

Features of HappyFox include:

  • SLA management
  • Knowledge base
  • Smart rule automation
  • Custom domain mapping
  • Reporting
  • Custom ticket queues
  • Satisfaction surveys
  • Round robin ticket assignment
  • Proactive agent collision
  • Agent scripting
  • Audit logs
  • Bulk editing

ManageEngine ServiceDesk Plus

ManageEngine ServiceDesk Plus automated help desk

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Designed specifically for IT service, ManageEngine is a division of ZOHO Corp built to supercharge IT help desk capabilities. It offers extensive reporting functions, codeless customizations, and smart automations for every stage of the ticket lifecycle including creation, categorization, and closure. Zia, the conversational AI chatbot, acts as a virtual assistant and first point of contact, reducing the volume of requests for agents and providing customers with a clear avenue for seeking assistance.

With ManageEngine, you have the option of deploying ManageEngine ServiceDesk Plus on the cloud or on-premises. Pricing packages range from Standard to Enterprise, with plenty of price options available depending on how many technicians you have. You can also select multiple add-ons, including problem management, live chat, project management, and service catalog.

Pricing Plans:

  • Standard (Cloud): $10/technician per month
  • Standard (On-premise): $120/technician
  • Professional (Cloud): $21/technician per month
  • Professional (On-premise): $248/technician
  • Enterprise (Cloud): $50/technician per month
  • Enterprise: (On-premise): $598/technician

Free trial: 30 days

Free version: Free plan with open source with Apache license

Features of ManageEngine ServiceDesk Plus include:

  • Zia AI chatbot
  • Incident management
  • Request tracking & automation
  • Multi-channel support
  • Account and contact management
  • Knowledge base
  • Customer portal
  • Reports
  • Dashboards
  • KPIs
  • Automation bundle

How to choose the best help desk automation solution for your business?

Some small business owners might think that help desk automation is too advanced for their young operation. But they couldn’t be more wrong. Most service desk automation platforms require no coding skills and include numerous support options for novice and veteran teams alike. Still, not every platform will be right for every team. Here are some tips for choosing the best help desk automation software for your business:

  • Consider scalability: If you have growth in mind, consider the features you’ll need in the future. As your help desk needs expand, your software must be able to handle those needs at a cost that protects your ROI, or you’ll be shopping for a new platform down the road.
  • Test drive different platforms: Most software platforms are designed for simplicity, but that doesn’t mean they all hit the mark. Working with a complicated or crowded interface can be counterproductive to what you’re trying to achieve with automation, so play close attention to the look and function of a platform’s user interface. The best way to judge this is by taking advantage of free trials, which will let you poke around and explore just how simple (or complicated) it is to navigate.
  • Don’t try it all at once. Deploying automations can be a tricky business if you try to do too much at once. Select a few automated help desk features to begin with, and be strategic about incorporating them into your team’s workflow. Gather feedback from support agents about what you can do to best integrate the software into their process, and hold regular conferences with them to discuss progress in case additional help is needed.
  • Customer support: Speaking of additional help— even customer support teams need customer support sometimes. Look for vendors who offer robust support options, training opportunities, and easily digestible online resources to help you use your automations.

Frequently asked questions

What impact does automation have on a service desk?

In short, automations boost service desk productivity so your agents are able to resolve tickets faster and with the greatest accuracy possible. Without automations, it’s easy for agents to get stuck in the weeds. Communications get lost across the various channels your customers have for reaching out to you, causing frustration on both ends and costing you business in the long run.

How do you automate your help desk?

You start with assessing your service desk needs and finding the right vendor. There are tons of options on the market, and not every provider is going to provide the right blend of features you need at the price you can afford. Read reviews and be realistic about your team’s IT capabilities. Then, consider enrolling in a free trial to give the most promising platforms a test drive. Every platform will include step-by-step instructions for how to deploy their features, and you should have someone on your team who takes the lead on learning how to use and troubleshoot these features.

Try help desk automation solution for free

Looking to free up your agents so they can devote their expertise to more nuanced problems? Zendesk Support Suite is an all-in-one cloud solution that offers a wide range of powerful automation features. Empower your customers to help themselves, or clear the way for them to reach the best qualified support agent for their problem. Zendesk Support Suite is intuitive, scalable, and free to try for 14 days.

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