How AI Can Boost Help Desk Productivity (+ 7 Tools to Try)

Customer support is a cornerstone of success for businesses of all sizes, but delivering exceptional service takes consistent effort over time, and the tools you work with can make that much easier. 

AI features in your help desk can transform a traditional help desk into a proactive, efficient, and highly responsive support system tailored completely toward helping your team (and your customers). 

AI tools are most successful when they seamlessly integrate and enhance existing processes. The challenge is to find the right tools and use them in the right ways to enable your team.

What is an AI help desk?

Help desks, or service desks, are a central hub for managing customer inquiries across various channels.

AI help desks enable customer-facing teams to automate repetitive manual tasks. They combine all of the typical features of a help desk (like a shared inbox or a help center) with AI-powered features that improve productivity.

There are many ways to use AI in customer service. These features typically fall under three broad categories:

  1. Chatbot solutions aim to deflect tickets by resolving customer queries. They can be rule-based and guide users through predefined processes, or they can be based on conversational AI, where they function more like virtual assistants that engage in dynamic conversations and mimic human interactions.

  2. Automation tools automatically categorize incoming requests, which can help with ticket routing or analyzing customer feedback. These use technologies like predictive analytics to anticipate customer needs and suggest relevant solutions or sentiment analysis to provide insights into positive and negative sentiments expressed by customers in real time.

  3. Agent assist tools help agents while responding to customer queries. They tend to use many of the same technologies as the other two categories, but their goal is to support your agents. They might suggest solutions based on historical ticket data, or they might rephrase agent responses to be friendlier or more professional in tone.

The benefits of using an AI help desk

Some of the benefits of using an AI service desk include: 

  • Improved response times: AI assistants can either provide lightning-fast responses themselves or they can help your agents work faster. 

  • 24/7 availability: An AI help desk will often include an AI chatbot with around-the-clock coverage. AI-powered systems never take breaks or vacations, ensuring your customers receive assistance 24/7.

  • Process automation: AI tools are good at automating routine and repetitive tasks. They can summarize conversations, suggest relevant saved replies and resources, convert internal product documentation into customer-facing articles, and process common queries or order changes.

  • Writing assistance: You can use AI tools to change the tone of your responses to be more friendly or formal, lengthen or shorten replies to fit the situation, and translate text into other languages. All of these enable your team to write better emails in less time.

  • Scalability: AI-powered tools can handle a high volume of tasks simultaneously and scale up without incurring linear increases in operational costs. This makes help desk artificial intelligence ideal for companies of different sizes and at various stages of growth.

  • Data-driven insights: Advancements in natural language processing allow AI to quickly analyze vast amounts of text, offering insights on feedback sentiment, customer behavior, common issues, and areas for improvement.

All of that sounds great, but there is an important caveat: AI tools are only as effective as the quality of code and data behind them. 

In other words, they can enhance productivity, but they cannot replace humans.

Fully outsourcing your customer service to artificial intelligence is not a great idea. Recent research from SurveyMonkey shows that 90% of people still prefer to receive support from a person rather than from a chatbot. Even though AI technology has drastically improved, it still has a long way to go before it matches the empathy and care a human support team can provide.

The goal should always be to elevate your customer experience. The best AI tools are the ones that help your team provide better service.

The 4 best AI help desks

Almost 80% of customer service leaders acknowledge AI's pivotal role in shaping their strategies. 

However, knowing that AI has a lot of potential doesn’t necessarily mean knowing where to start. And new tools emerge in the market every month, making it increasingly hard to choose the right one for your specific needs. 

To help you navigate through options and make an informed decision, here are the top AI help desk solutions that can enhance your team's productivity while improving your customer experience.

1. Help Scout

Best AI help desk for customer-centric service.

Help Scout is a powerful help desk solution that feels just like your inbox but with the automation and collaboration features essential for your team's success. 

What sets Help Scout apart is our responsible approach to AI, putting people at the forefront and empowering your team to deliver customer-centric service.

One of Help Scout's standout features is AI assist. It enables your agents to change the tone of voice of their replies, adjust message length, and seamlessly translate text in conversations — all in a matter of seconds. 

AI assist has you covered across multiple languages including Chinese, Dutch, English, French, Korean, German, and many more.

It also offers automatic proofreading for spelling and grammar to help maintain quality across your team.

In addition to AI assist, Help Scout also includes the AI summarize feature, allowing you to turn lengthy conversations into a concise set of bullet points with a single click.

It can speed up the review process and facilitate seamless collaboration, enabling team members to quickly catch up on any conversation.

Price: Free trial available. Plans with AI features start at $40/user per month.

2. Tidio

Best AI help desk for live chat interactions.

Tidio makes live chat support easy with the help of their AI bot, Lyro. 

Lyro is designed to understand context, remember previous interactions, and generate detailed responses, ensuring that customers receive accurate information. It can handle up to 70% of customer queries with automated, human-like conversations.

When Lyro encounters a question it can't address, it escalates the conversation to a human agent, allowing your team to take over and provide the necessary assistance.

For human agents, Tidio offers the Reply Assistant AI, allowing your team to transform quick drafts into polished, well-crafted replies with a single click.

Price: Free trial and plan available. Paid plans start at $29 per month.

3. Zendesk

Best omnichannel AI ticketing system for managing multiple brands under one roof.

Product Screenshot: Zendesk AI

Zendesk is a popular omnichannel help desk tool known for its endless customization options. 

It uses AI technology to identify and categorize customer queries, streamline issue resolution by suggesting relevant materials to human agents, and simplify the creation of customer-facing documentation with writing assistance tools.

Zendesk Answer Bot uses machine learning to provide answers sourced from various knowledge bases.

Price: Free trial available. Plans eligible for the Advanced AI add-on start at $55/agent per month, with an additional add-on cost of $50/agent per month.

4. Gorgias

Best AI service desk for low-volume ecommerce teams.

Product Screenshot: Gorgias AI

Gorgias’ help desk is well known in the world of ecommerce. Its native integrations with popular ecommerce tools, such as Shopify and WooCommerce, enable ecommerce support teams to significantly enhance their productivity.

When it comes to AI features, Gorgias offers a range of tools that can transform your customer support experience:

  • Responding to common questions with an AI bot.

  • Sending relevant resources to customers and agents based on the conversation context.

  • Automatically prioritizing and assigning tickets and closing spam emails.

  • Analyzing message sentiment.

This level of automation streamlines issue resolution, improving your team’s productivity.

Gorgias charges by ticket volume, making it suitable for teams with a stable and predictable ticket income or if your total ticket volume is quite low. 

Price: Free trial available. Plans eligible for the automation add-on start at $50 per month. While AI features can be found throughout the platform, many key features are part of this add-on, which costs an additional $25 per month.

Top 3 AI add-ons for help desks

Although many help desk solutions now offer AI features, choosing your entire help desk based on their AI capabilities might not be necessary. 

Some options integrate with your existing help desk. Because they’re specialized AI tools, they can often perform at a much higher level than the equivalent native feature. 

1. SentiSum

Best AI help desk add-on for insights and sentiment analysis.

Product Screenshot: SentiSum

SentiSum integrates with most popular help desk solutions and acts as an analytics add-on, allowing you to gain a deep understanding of customer sentiment and the reasons for contacting support on each ticket.

While SentiSum can handle substantial amounts of data, the pricing is on the higher side. 

If you’re a mid-market or enterprise business and want deeper insights into your customer feedback, SentiSum is worth considering. 

Price: Free trial available. Plans start at $2,000 per month.

2. CaffeinatedCX

Best AI help desk integration for teams with comprehensive help articles.

Product Screenshot: CaffeinatedCX

CaffeinatedCX provides native integrations for well-known help desks like Zendesk, Freshdesk, and Intercom. 

One of its key features is auto-drafted responses, which can significantly speed up the work of human agents. It also offers ticket summaries and AI writing assistance for correcting typos, modifying text style, and adjusting the tone of customer support responses.

CaffeinatedCX is largely trained on existing help articles. You’ll likely see a larger impact if you have a good foundation of comprehensive and up-to-date help articles. 

Price: Free trial available. Usage-based plans start at $299 per month.

3. Brainfish

Best AI help desk integration for knowledge base management.

Product Screenshot: Brainfish

Brainfish is an AI-powered self-service platform that provides customers with instant and accurate answers using your existing help articles. You can import your content from Zendesk, Freshdesk, or Intercom. You can also import content in HTML, Markdown, or PDF formats. 

It has multiple implementation options, an easy-to-use admin interface, and insights into customer behavior. It’s capable of handling complex inquiries and providing personalized responses tailored to each question.

Brainfish also includes an agent assist feature — a Chrome extension that helps agents solve queries by providing detailed, step-by-step instructions. 

Price: Plans start at $99 per month.

How to implement an AI help desk

Implementing an AI help desk involves several key steps, from identifying the areas you want to optimize to training your team and continuously improving the workflow.

Understand your service request processes

Start by gathering data on request volumes, response times, resolution rates, and customer feedback.

  • Use analytics tools to spot trends and identify bottlenecks. Where do you see response delays, frequent escalations, or manual tasks that could be automated?

  • Get feedback from your frontline agents. They have firsthand experience dealing with customer inquiries and can offer valuable feedback on customer pain points. 

This type of analysis can help you drill down on the types of tools and features you need to improve your customer experience.

Identify the right automation tools

Develop a list of “must have” and a list of “nice to have” features. For example, if your customer base is local, you probably don’t need advanced AI-powered translation features.

In your decision-making process, consider key factors such as pricing, user-friendliness, platform security and reliability, data regulations compliance, potential downtime, and the resources required for a seamless transition.

Train your team on AI solutions

AI help desk solutions come with significant changes in workflows. For it to be successful, your team has to be on board and embrace this as a positive change. That might mean:

  • Encouraging your team to view AI as a valuable ally complementing human expertise.

  • Taking advantage of free onboarding sessions that many applications offer to help you and your team get the most of your chosen tool.

  • Including ethical considerations in your AI training program, such as strategies for mitigating bias, addressing privacy concerns, and ensuring responsible AI usage.

Put policies in place to prevent overreliance on AI, particularly in sensitive contexts where information may require human review before it is provided to a customer.

Analyze performance data

Once your team is up to speed, it’s time to see how it works in practice.

Start by establishing KPIs to evaluate how effective the AI solution you’ve implemented is. At a minimum, you should monitor response times, issue resolution rates, and track customer satisfaction — and then use that information to continuously improve. 

An AI-powered help desk (or add-on) can produce quick results, but you’ll need to keep a close eye on trending data over time to understand the full impact of your new tool. 

Consider regulations and compliance with an AI help desk

As technologies evolve, so do the regulations governing them. 

These are some of the current key regulations that you should confirm any AI ticketing system complies with. It’s a good idea to get advice from a legal professional for your specific requirements, but here are some basics to start with. 

GDPR requirements for data protection and privacy

If your operations extend to the EU, compliance with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is crucial. GDPR regulates the processing of personal data within the EU, and non-compliance can result in significant problems and fines.

  • Before incorporating AI tools, verify their GDPR compliance.

  • Collect only the data essential for your service request process, and clearly describe how that data is used in your privacy policy.

  • Obtain explicit consent from customers before collecting and processing their personal data, e.g. via a checkbox or banner before submitting a request.

Regulations in the United States

In the United States, data privacy and security laws are not uniform at the federal level. 

Ensure that you store and process customer data according to local regulations. For example, consumers have the right to access their data or opt out of data sharing in certain states. You might also be required to notify individuals in case of a data breach.

Some states, like California, include additional data privacy and protection requirements.

HIPAA compliance

If you operate in the healthcare sector, you have to comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). That includes:

  • Maintaining confidentiality and security of protected health information (PHI).

  • Establishing a business associate agreement (BAA) with your AI help desk service provider.

  • Training your staff on policies to safeguard PHI.

All AI-powered tools leverage your data — including customer information — to some extent. It’s important to understand the specific ways an AI help desk is leveraging your business and customer data so that you can maintain a high level of confidence in your systems. 

Bring your customer service to the next level

AI help desks can provide a ton of additional value to your team and your business as long as they’re implemented in the right way. 

You can boost productivity, improve customer satisfaction, and avoid wasting time on routine tasks. 

The key lies in that careful and thoughtful implementation. AI solutions can become invaluable tools that contribute to your team's success and your business's growth, as long as they integrate with your existing processes and complement the capabilities of your team. 

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