The 9 Best SaaS Help Desks + How to Pick the Right Tool

Jesse Short | June 24, 2021

Today’s businesses face more competition than ever before. Getting someone to make a one-time purchase is difficult enough, but for SaaS companies that rely on repeat business, the task is even tougher. You need something to differentiate your company from your competitors.

Some try to go viral with a quirky ad or use one-off incentives like promotional discounts to stand out, but those can be costly and time consuming and can deliver mixed results. However, there is one time-tested solution for standing out: offering top-notch customer service.

But providing world-class customer support is no small task, especially if you don’t have the right tools. To help you make the right choice when it comes to tools, we’ve done some research to uncover the nine best help desks for SaaS companies.

Why is a help desk an important tool for SaaS businesses?

No matter how well-designed your product is, customers have questions. When you consider the added complexity and dynamic nature of software, it’s paramount that your customers have a direct line of access to get their questions answered.

With help desk software, you’re able to create that direct line of communication between you and your customers — and also make the process more efficient for everyone involved.

Along with managing incoming customer communications, many help desk tools let you offer proactive support through knowledge bases and automated messages.

When you create a strong customer experience, you better retain customers and grow your bottom line. Strong customer service also serves to differentiate your business from others. In fact, according to Gartner, two thirds of businesses primarily compete on customer experience already.

Key features to look for in a SaaS help desk

Many help desk tools have similar feature sets; things like a shared inbox and reporting tend to be pretty standard. However, there are four key areas we think a SaaS company should look for in any help desk software they’re considering.

  1. Ease of use: If your team and your customers aren’t able to easily navigate giving and getting support using your help desk, chances are they won’t. Look for support tools that take both the customer and the agent experience into consideration. If one is strong but the other is lacking, it may be a signal to keep looking.
  2. Scalability: As most SaaS companies know, needs can change quickly. Since you don’t want to switch tools every few years, it’s important to seek out options that cover both your current and your projected future needs.
  3. Interconnectivity: Being able to connect with a CRM and other tools can make customer interactions run smoother and reduce headaches for everyone involved. When a tool has strong native and third-party integrations, it keeps information from being siloed and gives more overall transparency.
  4. Flexibility: Though help desk software is most heavily associated with customer support, other teams like product, sales, and marketing regularly use it, too. Finding a help desk tool that covers those different use cases helps you get the most out of your investment and could also save you from needing to invest in additional software.

The 9 best SaaS help desk tools

The only way to truly find the right help desk tool for you and your team is to check out the options. To help, we’ve put together a list of the nine best SaaS help desks — and what each tool offers.

1. Help Scout

Help Scout started out as a shared inbox tool but evolved into a complete support platform over the last 10 years. Along with a shared inbox, Help Scout offers omnichannel coverage to support customers where they’re most comfortable, knowledge base capabilities with Docs, and even live chat support with Beacon.

Help Scout also offers tools and integrations to increase team productivity. For example, you can automate manual tasks — like assigning conversations — with workflows, respond quickly to commonly asked questions using saved replies, or empower customers to find answers on their own with Beacon’s self-service mode.

Along with a strong set of features, early-stage teams may be able to join Help Scout’s startup program, which gives a generous discount on service for up to two years. More established teams can choose between two base plans, starting at $20 per user per month, and the customizable Company plan.

Whether you’re a team of two or 200, Help Scout has a plan to cover your support needs. With a robust feature set and flexible plans and functionality, they’re an option any SaaS company should have on their list.

Price: Starting at $20 per user per month.

2. Zoho Desk

Most may know Zoho as a CRM tool, but they also make help desk software. Zoho Desk has a host of features like a shared inbox, phone integration, and chat. However, some of those features — like chat — are limited to the highest-tier plan.

Zoho Desk also boasts a strong selection of integrations to connect with the rest of your tech stack. For larger teams, there are team management features like time tracking you can take advantage of.

Finally, they even have some AI options you can take advantage of for self-service, though that feature is also limited to the highest-tier plan.

Price: Starting at $20 per agent per month.

3. Kayako

Kayako originally set out in 2001 to make a more usable help desk. Since then, they’ve continued to add to their product. Now users are able to offer chat support and build out a knowledge base, though those features are only available on their higher-cost plans.

Kayako also offers collaboration features like the ability to add internal notes to tickets and to see when another agent is working on a ticket to avoid duplicate work. All in all, Kayako has a strong offering worth checking out.

Price: Starting at $15 per agent per month.

4. FreshDesk

For teams looking for just help desk functionality, FreshDesk is worth looking into. With their solution, you’re able to manage email and social (Facebook and Twitter) conversations all in a single inbox.

You’re also able to build out a knowledge base, connect to other software using apps in their marketplace, and do some automations to improve productivity.

FreshDesk also offers a few more features like advanced reporting and the ability to send customer satisfaction surveys (CSAT) when a ticket is closed, but these two features are only offered on their higher-tiered plans.

Price: Starting at $19 per agent per month.

5. Zendesk

Zendesk is one of the most recognizable names in customer support software. Though most think of them for larger teams due to the cost and complexity, they do offer non-enterprise level plans.

Zendesk offers omnichannel support covering email, social, phone, and chat. You can also build out a knowledge base or use their prebuilt apps. Zendesk even offers more advanced features like AI and customizable analytics dashboards, though those are limited to their higher-cost plans.

Price: Starting at $49 per agent per month.

6. HubSpot Service Hub

Though they’re primarily known for their marketing and sales software, HubSpot recently released support software called HubSpot Service Hub. It’s help desk software that includes most standard features like a shared inbox and reporting capabilities.

It also includes satisfaction surveys, automation capabilities, and the option to build out a knowledge base. If you’re a HubSpot CRM user, you’re able to connect customer profiles to Service Hub, giving your team even more context and insight.

Price: Starting at $50 per month (includes two agents).

7. Jira Service Desk

Similar to HubSpot, Jira isn’t primarily known for its help desk software. Most may think of it as an internal tool to manage software bugs and other product requests. However, they too started offering a customer-facing product with Service Desk.

As with some of the other newer offerings, their feature set is mostly the basics like a shared inbox, reporting, and self-service options like a knowledge base. They also have an integration with Slack and Microsoft Teams, adding an additional channel people can submit requests through.

Price: Starting at $20 per agent per month.

8. TalkDesk

If you’re an ecommerce company looking for a custom support solution, TalkDesk may be worth checking out. They offer many of the standard help desk features we’ve mentioned in the list so far, like omnichannel support, analytics, and self-service options.

However, they also offer some features specific to the ecommerce space like dynamic product recommendations using AI and proactive notifications for things like shipping or return updates to keep customers in the loop.

Price: Contact their sales team for rates.

9. Google Collaborative Inbox

For teams just getting started with support and already using Gmail as their email provider, Google Collaborative Inbox could be a good first step. It’s a free option and lets your team work out of a shared inbox.

Functionally, it allows multiple people to access a certain email address. Though it’s not the most advanced offering, it does allow some further insight for your team and can help save time and handle customer requests better.

Price: Free.

Choosing the right SaaS help desk

Keeping customers for the long haul is no simple task. Though it may be tempting to try novel ideas to keep people around, often the best approach is to focus on the fundamentals. For SaaS companies, that means investing in key areas like customer service.

With the right help desk software, you empower your team to do their best work. When your team is at its best, customers have a better experience and may be more likely to continue doing business with you.

Take the time to properly research and vet your options. Consider current and future needs, and look for tools that can grow with you and address both customer and agent needs. If you do, you’ll be setting everyone up for success.

Jesse Short

After spending a few years working as a support agent, Jesse made the switch to writing full-time. He works as a Content Writer at Help Scout, hoping to help improve the agent and customer experience.