A guide to help desk automation
Last updated October 25, 2023
The online consumer experience is evolving year after year, and businesses are seeing the power of seamless, efficient interactions. According to the Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report 2023, 71 percent of business leaders are committed to building a more fluid customer service experience—and help desk automation is integral to that fluidity.
This article will detail how help desk automation software works, its role in a comprehensive customer experience (CX), and how to select the right software for your operations.
What is help desk automation?
Help desk automation is a technology that uses automation to eliminate repetitive work, create custom workflows, and streamline support. These capabilities are often further enhanced with artificial intelligence (AI).
For help desks, automating repetitive work like ticket routing frees them up to focus on more important tasks. For those receiving support, automation provides a more consistent and impactful CX or EX (employee experience).
Service desk automation is often included as a feature of larger end-to-end customer service platforms. When integrated, these platforms offer scalable support solutions. IT and HR support teams can also benefit from help desk software.
What will help desk automation do for your business?
Even a fully-staffed operation won’t always be able to field every incoming ticket. Using artificial intelligence for customer service gives your team an extra boost of support, allowing them to be more productive and help more customers.
This results in faster ticket resolution, fewer negative reviews, and a more efficient workflow for your reps.
Benefits of help desk automation software
Here are a few benefits that help desk automation software can bring to your operations.
Improve customer satisfaction
Help desk automation software is an additional pair of hands (or a thousand pairs) that can act with lightning speed and pinpoint accuracy.
Through automated customer service, businesses can answer customer queries instantaneously with chatbots, send automated messages and reminders, and deliver a more holistic CX. The overarching result is more satisfied customers who know they can rely on your business to provide timely, helpful support.
Heighten agent productivity
Much like a line cook supports a Michelin-star chef by doing prep work and basic cooking, automation aids support agents by completing the more trivial day-to-day work. This frees up agents to focus on more nuanced tasks that technology can’t handle on its own.
Whether you have a smaller support team or an enterprise help desk, a partnership between agents and technology means your employees accomplish more while doing less—boosting overall productivity without burning your team out.
Lower support costs
Staying in the kitchen, Michelin-star restaurants have sous chefs, line cooks, and others who all earn a salary. Automation software, however, serves as a “chef” that provides the same level of support for a fraction of the price of employee payroll.
In addition to lowering support costs, the right product can improve ROI and drastically reduce time to value (TTV). At Zendesk, we prioritize agility—meaning you can get up and running in just days and start seeing the value of your investment immediately.
Create consistent customer experiences
According to our CX Trends Report, 70 percent of consumers purchase more from companies that offer seamless conversational experiences. Using help desk automation enables teams to develop streamlined workflows—like using chatbots to resolve common customer questions—which results in increased team efficiency and a consistent customer experience.
Collect greater insights
Automation can give organizations a comprehensive view of customer interactions. With advanced analytics related to ticket times and performance, customer feedback, and automated reporting, automation platforms provide important insights for businesses to improve their operations.
Features of automated help desk software
Here are a few features a reliable automated help desk software should offer.
Automated help desk software can streamline customer support by utilizing an automated ticketing system to route incoming tickets to the right team member.
First, a business sets criteria for how to route tickets based on the content and context of the support request. Automation takes it from there to deliver these tickets to the most qualified agent, resulting in better workload distribution and a more efficient experience for the customer.
Help desk automation software comparison chart
Below is a comparison chart of the top 10 help desk automation software. You’ll find a rough breakdown of each software’s price, free trial options, and features.
|Software||Starting price||Free trial||Features|
|Zendesk||$55 per agent/month (billed annually)||14 days|| |
|HelpDesk||$29 per agent/month (billed annually)||14 days|| |
|HappyFox||$29 per agent/month (billed annually)||14 days|| |
|Salesforce Service Cloud||$25 per user/month (billed annually)||30 days|| |
|Freshdesk||$0 per month (up to 10 agents)||14 days|| |
|ServiceNow||Contact for pricing||Unavailable|| |
|ManageEngine ServiceDesk Plus||Contact for pricing||30 days|| |
|SysAid||Contact for pricing||30 days|| |
|Zoho Desk||$14 per agent/month (billed annually)||15 days|| |
|Spiceworks||Free plan available||Not applicable|| |
The 10 best automated help desk software
Now, let’s jump into an extended breakdown of each software, including its pricing and features, so you can invest in the best one for your business.
Any company can claim its product has automation but only offers one or two features. For a truly business-altering product, you need an option that brings automation to your entire operation—something only Zendesk can provide.
Zendesk brings a full breadth of automation capabilities to help desk software:
Advanced routing: With advanced routing from Zendesk, teams can have queries instantly routed to the right team member based on intent, sentiment, and language as well as agent availability, capacity, skills, and ticket priority.
Triggers and workflow automation: Be it notifying users when you're out-of-office, sending satisfaction score follow-ups, automated responses to high-volume requests, or more advanced capabilities like bot deflection and 24/7 support, Zendesk can help you automate your most common tasks to save your team time.
Real-time reporting: Real-time reporting and analytics features can help teams stay on top of customer trends and improve operational efficiency. This allows you to pivot and adjust to disruption or change in the moment.
Flexible agent workspace: While automation and AI are becoming increasingly common for support teams, a human touch is needed from time to time. Our software can be a one-stop-shop for everything an agent needs to do their job effectively—whether that calls for supporting a user personally or with AI.
Additionally, all our capabilities come with no-code implementation, so you and your team can get up and running quickly. And, with over 1,500 different apps and integrations that allow for customization, Zendesk is the ideal solution for customer service help desks, HR help desks, or IT help desks.
Omnichannel ticket management
Internal and external knowledge bases
Automated ticket tagging and routing
AI-powered workflow automation
1,500+ apps and integrations
Flexible Agent Workspace
Industry-leading Agent Workspace
Flexible ticket assignment options
No-code chatbot builder
Suite Team: $55 per agent/month
Suite Growth: $89 per agent/month
Suite Professional: $115 per agent/month
Suite Enterprise: Talk to sales
*Plans are billed annually.
HelpDesk is an automation platform that provides no-code workflows for businesses to address customer issues. This browser-based product allows users to set up condition- and action-based workflows to automate daily customer communications.
HelpDesk also helps users assign tickets to agents based on skills or availability, identify VIP customers, and categorize customers and tickets. Other predictive features include email templates, custom fields, ticket summaries, and text enhancements.
AI text enhancement
Team plan: $29 per agent/month
*Plans are billed annually.
HappyFox is a customer service platform with automated help desk capabilities that businesses of all sizes can use. It’s a ticketing system that lets users convert requests into tickets from multiple channels, including email, chat, social media, and the phone.
HappyFox also has features like smart rules, service level agreements (SLAs), and auto ticket assignments for automation. Furthermore, the platform has canned responses to help agents respond to customer inquiries and reporting and analytics features.
Service level agreements (SLAs)
Auto ticket assignments
Reporting and analytics
Custom ticket queues
Mighty: $29 per agent/month
Fantastic: $49 per agent/month
Enterprise: $69 per agent/month
Enterprise Plus: $89 per agent/month
*Plans are billed annually.
Salesforce Service Cloud is a customer service platform that offers AI-powered workflows and automation. With this product, businesses can connect customers with knowledge base articles, automate business processes, and route cases.
The platform also has chatbots that can handle common requests. Additionally, it integrates with other systems, such as Zendesk. However, While Salesforce Service Cloud is highly customizable, it tends to have a high total cost of ownership because it often requires expensive technical resources and partnerships.
Lead-contact account management
Customer service AI
Starter: $25 per user/month
Professional: $80 per user/month
Enterprise: $165 per user/month
Unlimited: $330 per user/month
*Plans are billed annually.
Freshdesk by Freshworks is a cloud-based automated service desk platform. It offers a ticketing system and multichannel support capabilities over channels like email, phone, and chat.
Teams can automate ticket assignments and set automatic email notifications to notify customers of changes to their requests. Its features include agent routing, AI-powered workflows, and self-service software, such as customer portals. That said, Freshdesk does have limitations to its reporting capabilities, and its agent interface is disconnected—forcing users to go into different screens for detailed information on individual channels like phone or chat.
Learn more about how Zendesk and Freshdesk compare.
AI-powered workflows and automation
Data and analytics
Custom reports and dashboards
Free: $0 per month (up to 10 agents)
Growth: $15 per agent/month
Pro: $49 per agent/month
Enterprise: $79 per agent/month
*Plans are billed annually.
ServiceNow offers help desk software that specializes in IT service management. It also has a customer service management (CSM) tool that focuses on automated issue resolution and self-service capabilities. Automated service desk features include intelligent routing, tracking tickets throughout the resolution process, an AI-powered chatbot, and automated self-service.
Teams can also engage in omnichannel support and communicate with each other through agent workspaces. Furthermore, the platform also attempts to assist agents with customer service management playbooks that can alert them to trending problems. These dedicated workspaces offer a unified CSM view and automated task abilities.
Standard: Contact for pricing
Professional: Contact for pricing
Enterprise: Contact for pricing
ManageEngine is an IT service management platform that aims to supplement help desk capabilities. Overall, the product combines service management, asset management, HR, finances, and more to deliver workflows that help the customer service experience.
The product offers no-code ticket automation, reporting functions, and customization to address tickets in all stages of the ticket lifecycle. ManageEngine also partners with Zoho to utilize Zia, a conversational AI chatbot. This bot acts as a virtual assistant and first point of contact, providing customers with an alternative avenue for assistance.
Zia AI chatbot
Request tracking and automation
Account and contact management
Contact for a quote
SysAid is an IT service automation platform that focuses on creating workflows for service desks. Businesses can automate tasks related to customer support tickets, daily tasks, and general workflow through its no-code software.
SysAid features self-service automation to assist support agents in finding resolutions to common problems like password resets, ticket automation, and asset management. Additionally, reporting features can help businesses monitor the status of active and archived support tickets.
Analytics and reporting
Remote control capabilities
Contact for pricing
9. Zoho Desk
Zoho Desk by Zoho is a help desk software that helps users create automated resolutions for customers. The platform has three main objectives: improve the customer experience, assist support agents, and increase long-term retention. Zoho attempts to help businesses with these goals by offering omnichannel capabilities, AI workflows, analytics, and other workflow-related features.
Other capabilities include self-service features that enable customers to find answers on their own, ticket organization and accessibility to help support agents keep track of open tickets, and time tracking so managers can keep an eye on employees' productivity. Additionally, integration features allow businesses to use Zoho alongside many of the other tools they use daily.
Standard: $14 per agent/month
Professional: $23 per agent/month
Enterprise: $40 per agent/month
*Plans are billed annually.
Spiceworks is a free cloud help desk focused on automation and efficiency for help desks. This product is designed for businesses with tight budgets and helps to automate daily projects and user requests. From there, teams can create reports to help keep an eye on their trending performance.
The platform has features like automated ticket routing, automated responses, knowledge base creation, and advanced reporting. Spiceworks seems to offer fewer capabilities than the other options on our list, but it does include the basics to get businesses up and running.
Automated ticket routing
Reporting and analytics
Custom ticket views
Free plan available
How to choose the right help desk automation solution for your business
Not every solution will be suitable for every team. Here are some tips and questions to ask when choosing help desk software:
Make sure it’s easy to use: If a product is too complicated for your team, you won’t see any value from it. Prioritize ease of use so your support agents can get up to speed quickly and realize the product's full value.
Test drive the software: Does the software have a free trial? Take advantage of it to get a sense of a product’s feel and capabilities before committing to a purchase. Pay close attention to the look and function of the user interface, and ensure the platform can meet all of your needs.
Consider time to value and ease of implementation: Be sure the product you select is simple to set up and allows your organization to get value from it quickly. Zendesk is a top vendor when it comes to low total cost of ownership (TCO), resulting in a rapid time to value.
Select a solution with a dedicated customer success team and built-in best practices: Can your team receive support easily? Look for vendors that offer robust support options, training opportunities, and easily digestible online resources to help you use your automated help desk effectively.
If you’re looking for a help desk automation solution that checks all the boxes above—and offers world-class features like an industry-leading omnichannel agent workspace, robust reporting, and 1,500+ apps and integrations—look no further than Zendesk.
Zendesk is an all-in-one cloud solution that offers a wide range of powerful automation features to empower your customers and optimize your support team. Try us out for free for 14 days.
Frequently asked questions
Here are a few frequently asked questions about help desk automation software.
Try help desk automation software for free
If you’re ready to try a help desk automation software, opt for Zendesk—an industry-leading solution that assists help desks of all sizes streamline their operations and customer or employee support. From advanced ticket routing to advanced bots, real-time reporting, and a unified omnichannel agent workspace, we have the capabilities your agents need to optimize their workday and spend more time on tasks that require the human touch.
Zendesk help desk software isn’t just a customer service solution. It’s flexible and many IT and HR help desk teams use it to provide support to their employees, too.
Try a free trial of Zendesk today.
Related help desk automation guides
Here’s some related information and guides that you can use to enhance your operations.