7 Top-Rated Affordable Help Desk Software

By: Shephalii Kapoor on January 12, 2024
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Picture this: You’re a help desk manager flooded with customer inquiries via multiple communication channels. This situation may affect work efficiency if all your agents are stretched thin. Affordable help desk software can be a lifesaver, helping you automate customer services and manage service tickets without incurring hefty costs.

To make your search easy, we have highlighted the seven top-rated affordable help desk software for help desk managers and their teams, in ascending order, based on their pricing as found on vendor websites and verified software reviews. Based on our research, we've considered products priced less than $22.99 per month as affordable software and have arranged them in ascending order. Read more.

The software listed in this article can be categorized into different categories—dedicated help desk platform, service management tool, and customer service system. Nonetheless, all the products offer core help desk features, such as multi-channel support and ticket management.

1. Apptivo

Apptivo is an online suite with integrated applications for managing contacts, sales, customer service, and marketing operations. With a help desk module, the software enables service agents to convert emails to support tickets, prioritize requests, and follow up on customer queries from a single platform. It also allows users to provide escalated support channels to clients by defining multiple service level agreements (SLAs) and mapping them to customers. Team members can set automated alerts if the SLAs are not met on time and reassign requests if required.

Product features of interest*:

  • Assignment automation: Allocate tickets to agents based on query type or agent’s skill set. By default, the system allocates tickets to the user who creates it. However, these can be routed to improve customer satisfaction levels. 

  • Workload management: Enable agents to manage and organize tickets based on due time, status, and priority. The feature helps agents decide which tickets need their attention first.  

  • Ticketing portal: Allow your customers to create, track, and manage tickets using an online ticketing portal. Customers can also make changes to already submitted tickets using this portal. 

Starting price: $8 per user, per month

Billing cycle: Annual

Customer support options: Phone support, email, and knowledge base

Who should consider Apptivo?

Help desk managers looking to cater to diverse customer priorities regarding response times and service levels can consider Apptivo. With SLA automation and multiple SLAs, the software enables managers and their teams to create and set employee response times for different cases. It also allows them to view the total number of cases an employee handles within each SLA, facilitating employee performance evaluation and efficiency measurement.

Analysis performed in December 2023**

Apptivo

Apptivo

4.43 out of 5 stars

711 reviews

2. Desku

Desku is an AI-driven customer support solution that leverages Generative Pre-trained Transformer (GPT)-4 [1], to help agents address customer concerns by analyzing real-time metrics, such as context, mood, and urgency. It also provides instant customer recommendations during live chat, which helps agents handle incoming queries for faster issue resolution.

Product features of interest*:

  • Real-time translation: Automatically translate messages between agents and customers to provide quick two-way communication in multiple languages. The software leverages artificial intelligence to facilitate quick translation. 

  • Automated ticket classification: Route tickets to the right agents by classifying them based on the query type and urgency level for effective issue resolution. Ticket categories in Desku include technical issues, billing and payments, product inquiries, complaints, account management, and policy questions. 

  • Semantic search: Enable customers to conduct real-time searches in your knowledge base using advanced language models capable of generating human-like text. This makes it easier for customers to extract information and find answers within the knowledge base.

Starting price: Available upon request from the vendor

Customer support options: Emails, chat, and knowledge base

Who should consider Desku?

Customer support teams looking for a tool with AI capabilities to automate conversations and enhance customer support can benefit from Desku. The software offers several AI-based features, including translations, automatic classification, ticket summaries, and suggested answers to help enhance efficiency in customer support interactions. It also utilizes AI to automatically resolve customer queries across various channels using workflow automation, eliminating the need for urgent agent intervention.

Analysis performed in December 2023**

Desku

Desku

4.72 out of 5 stars

36 reviews

Pro tip

Opt for a tool that integrates with multiple social media channels, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to automatically convert customer queries from various online platforms into tickets.

3. LiveAgent

LiveAgent is an online help desk solution with multilingual support that allows agents to communicate with customers in their preferred language. The software supports 43 languages and offers agents the flexibility to add new languages by creating custom translations. Some of the languages supported by the tool include English, Greek, Hebrew, Persian, and Arabic. Agents can create and customize the tool's chat, contact, and customer feedback widgets.

Product features of interest*:

  • Agent collision detection: Prevent multiple agents from working on the same ticket using the agent collision detection feature in LiveAgent. The feature displays support agent names who are viewing and addressing queries, ensuring that others do not open a ticket that is already being worked on. 

  • Canned messages: Set predetermined text responses to common customer questions or assist customers in assessing their issues before connecting to a support agent. The feature helps save agents’ time and improve customer satisfaction.

  • Omnichannel support: Allow customers to connect with your business and submit queries via multiple platforms, such as email, chat, phone, and social media channels. This ensures better customer retention and improves engagement.

Starting price: $9 per user, per month

Billing cycle: Annual

Customer support options: Phone support, emails, and chat

Who should consider LiveAgent?

Help desk professionals providing customer support to a global audience can consider LiveAgent for its multilingual capabilities. Additionally, agents working in a sizeable support team, where multiple agents handle numerous queries simultaneously, can benefit from this tool. With an agent collision detection feature, the software allows teams to avoid double efforts and ensure efficient case resolution.

Analysis performed in December 2023**

LiveAgent

LiveAgent

4.68 out of 5 stars

1573 reviews

4. Zoho Desk

Zoho Desk is another help desk tool that offers custom help desk organization to organize your customer service efforts into manageable sections. The feature enables you to create a specific help desk with a dedicated support team, SLAs, and a set of support channels for each department in your organization. This enables departments to efficiently solve customer queries, ensuring that any surge in a particular kind of ticket belonging to a department does not bring the whole service operations down. 

Product features of interest*:

  • Web forms: Enable your customers to submit concerns, requests, or feedback using embeddable web forms. You can use this feature to create web forms in the customer’s preferred language, customize the appearance of fields to match your brand’s identity, and convert web forms to tickets.  

  • Sentiment analysis: Leverage AI to process customer questions and understand the sentiment behind every ticket. Zoho Desk’s AI capabilities enable agents to tag issues that might have triggered a negative sentiment, enabling them to take appropriate actions.

  • Guided conversations: Lead end-users by asking relevant questions, suggesting answers, and steering conversations in the right direction. The feature enables agents to add elements, such as text replies, questions, and more, to ensure smooth conversation flow. 

Starting price: $9.59* per user, per month

Billing cycle: Annual

*Converted using xe.com as of December 07, 2023

Customer support options: Emails, chat, and knowledge base

Who should consider Zoho Desk?

Service desk managers looking to enhance ticket routing efficiency can go for Zoho Desk with multi-department ticket management capabilities. The software enables managers to create separate help desks for each department, efficiently routing customer tickets to their appropriate departments. The software also facilitates tracking each department's agent performance, response, and resolution times.

Analysis performed in December 2023**

Zoho Desk

Zoho Desk

4.51 out of 5 stars

2141 reviews

Pro tip

Select a help desk solution that allows service agents to classify tickets according to topics, nature of requests, priority levels, status, specific attributes, and more. Ticket classification helps service desk teams effectively manage issues, locate specific tickets, and route tickets to the right agent.

5. Gorgias

Gorgias is a customer service platform specifically designed for ecommerce stores. The software enables ecommerce help desk teams set rules to surface important requests from VIP customers. It offers a rule library, also known as rule templates, to help service agents create rules to fit some of the most common workflows. With an auto tag rule, the platform automatically tags tickets from VIP customers who have spent a total of $1000 or have had a minimum of three orders by default. This can be customized to suit your business needs.

Product features of interest*:

  • Control panel: Refund, update, cancel, and approve return requests—all from a single place. Help desk agents can also use this panel to communicate with customers using multiple methods, including email and chat.

  • Reusable macros: Accelerate response times using prescripted templates for repetitive yet essential customer inquiries. As a help desk manager, you can create macros for welcome emails, order status updates, refund confirmations, and more. 

  • Ecommerce integrations: Connect with over 100 ecommerce tools, such as Amazon, Etsy, and Walmart. This integration allows you to respond to buyer messages and escalations from all these platforms.

Starting price: $10 per month

Billing cycle: Monthly

Customer support options: Emails, chat, and knowledge base

Who should consider Gorgias?

Ecommerce help desk managers looking to prioritize tickets from VIP customers can opt for Gorgias. With rule settings for VIP customers, the software allows help desk agents to automatically tag tickets coming from VIP customers, ensuring that high-value customers receive quicker responses and resolutions. This helps businesses ensure that no urgent requests are left unanswered. The software also allows teams prioritize tickets from repeat customers, improving customer retention and loyalty.

Analysis performed in December 2023**

Gorgias

Gorgias

4.7 out of 5 stars

110 reviews

6. ManageEngine ServiceDesk Plus

ManageEngine ServiceDesk Plus is an enterprise service management platform designed for IT service desks. The software enables IT help desk managers and agents to create customized ticket submission forms to collect precise information needed to handle incident and service requests. IT agents can add additional fields, including text, numeric, and date and time fields, in these forms using a drag-and-drop mechanism. Moreover, they can provide role-based access to specific custom forms and link these forms to relevant technician groups for faster resolution of requests.

Product features of interest*:

  • Self-service portal: Facilitate quick request creation using the tool’s online self-service portal. As an IT service agent, you can showcase your service catalog in the service portal, enabling users to pick and choose the required services. 

  • Automated notifications: Keep end users informed about ticket progress and request approvals with automated email notifications. You can set notifications to acknowledge the acceptance of new tickets, resolution, and closure. 

  • 360-degree IT service management: Integrate with applications from ManageEngine, including password management and operations management, to have a 360-degree view of all aspects of your IT service management (ITSM), which includes addressing service requests, incidents, and more.

Starting price: $10 per user, per month

Billing cycle: Annual

Customer support options: Phone support, emails, and chat

Who should consider ManageEngine ServiceDesk Plus?

IT departments looking for a tool to handle incidents, changes, and service requests from a single platform can consider ManageEngine ServiceDesk Plus. The software offers a 360-degree view of your entire service lifecycle, enabling IT help desk teams to manage, track, and resolve issues through a centralized platform. Additionally, the software offers customizable incident and service request forms that allow IT departments to capture specific information when users report incidents or request services, improving the accuracy and relevance of data.

Analysis performed in December 2023**

ManageEngine ServiceDesk Plus

ManageEngine ServiceDesk Plus

4.39 out of 5 stars

206 reviews

Pro tip

Shortlist a help desk platform that enables managers to define and enforce SLAs to ensure the timely resolution of support tickets. Help desk tools with SLA management enable help desk managers to establish clear expectations for response times, resolution times, and overall service quality.

7. Freshdesk

Freshdesk is an online customer service solution from Freshworks that lets agents create their own personal canned responses other than the responses created by the administrators. Personalized canned responses are only available for agents and can be created depending on the type of tickets they deal with. These can be customized by inserting the requester’s name, agent signature, and ticket details using dynamic placeholders.

Product features of interest*:

  • Filtered search: Find tickets, solution articles, forum posts, and customers using the filter search feature. Agents can also use filters, such as ticket priority and ticket status, to narrow down their ticket views based on their preferences.  

  • Ticket volume trends: View the number of tickets received, resolved, and unresolved in a given time period—hour, day, week, month, and year. These insights help the business’s desk managers understand the ticket flow in their help desk and allocate resources accordingly.

  • Time sheet summary report: Track the time spent on each ticket by utilizing the time sheet summary. The feature helps service desk managers generate time sheets for the actual time spent on customers and invoice clients accordingly.

Starting price: $11.97* per user, per month

Billing cycle: Annual

*Converted using xe.com as of December 07, 2023

Customer support options: Phone support, emails, and chat

Who should consider Freshdesk?

Help desk professionals looking for a tool that helps create personalized responses can consider Freshdesk. With personalized canned responses, the software allows help desk agents to add a personalized touch to their responses using dynamic placeholders, rich text formatting, and in-line images. Agents can also use this feature to organize these responses into their personal folders and share them with fellow team members for consistency and efficiency.

Analysis performed in December 2023**

Freshdesk

Freshdesk

4.5 out of 5 stars

3261 reviews

How much does help desk software cost?

A help desk software solution can cost as low as $8 per user, per month or all the way up to $229+ per user, per month, depending on various factors—deployment model, features, number of users, training requirements, integrations, and more. Most help desk solutions typically include the following pricing plans:

  • Free trial: No-cost trial plans ranging from 7 to 30 days give users access to either all or limited features of the software. These are ideal for businesses that wish to try out a tool before purchasing it.

  • Free version: Free software plans offer basic features and limited premium feature access. These are ideal for small business owners or help desk teams with a limited budget.

  • Entry-level: Starts at $8 per user, per month and offers limited features, such as summary dashboards, notifications, contact management, and filtered views. These are ideal for small business owners with basic help desk needs.

  • Mid-tier: Ranges from $12 to $99 per user, per month and offers advanced features such as omnichannel shared inboxes, customizable chat widgets, and transcript summaries. These are ideal for businesses that have outgrown basic help desk solutions but don’t require the full range of functionality offered by enterprise-level tools.

  • High-end: Advanced plans going up to $229 per user, per month offer advanced message routing, load balancing, and priority support. These are ideal for larger businesses spread across the globe.

Hidden costs associated with affordable help desk software

Besides the software license itself, there may be additional costs associated with the best help desk software, including:

  • Training costs: Training staff to effectively use the system can be a significant hidden cost. This involves both—training for new users and ongoing updates.

  • Data migration charges: Transitioning from an existing system to a new help desk system may require additional resources, which might come at an extra cost.

  • Hidden support costs: While basic support might be included in the initial purchase, advanced or priority support may come at an additional cost.

Frequently asked questions when selecting help desk software

  • Does the tool offer a self-service portal?

While evaluating potential help desk solutions, consider a tool with a self-service portal that enables customers to independently find information, troubleshoot issues, and request assistance without direct intervention from support staff. This self-service portal typically includes a knowledge base with frequently asked questions, articles, and guides, empowering users to resolve common issues. 

  • Does the software offer customizable ticket templates?

Consider a help desk tool with customizable ticket templates that can be pre-filled with information like subject and description. Agents can use these tickets to quickly create tickets and emails, saving time and effort in the process. Customizable ticket templates enable businesses to tailor their help desk system to their unique needs, enhancing efficiency and overall customer support quality.

  • What are the collaboration features of the software?

Before finalizing the best help desk software, inquire about the collaboration features offered by the tool. These may include collision detection, mentions, saved replies, internal messaging, and discussion forums. Collaboration features in help desk software are essential to foster teamwork and communication and improve customer service.


Methodology

For this article, we selected the top seven products that met the following criteria:

  • Each product should be a part of Software Advice’s Frontrunners Report 2023 for Help Desk Software.

  • We assessed all 25 products in the Frontrunners report for their monthly pricing (as of Dec. 7, 2023) and considered the products with publicly available pricing information. Based on the assessment, the average price was calculated to be $22.99. Products with a monthly subscription price lower than $22.99 were then shortlisted to be included in this list and arranged in ascending order.

  • Each product must include help desk management as the core feature.

  • Each product must meet our market definition for help desk software: “Help desk software enables organizations to respond more efficiently to users, answering technical and functional questions by providing improved methodologies for ticket tracking, IT management, and customer service support. Integrating these elements improves the ability of customer service departments to provide fast and effective support to employees, end users, and customers. This facilitates the flow of new information from users, contributing to an organization's existing knowledge base.”

*Our research team identified these features from vendor websites (as of Dec. 7, 2023) based on their analysis of what users find valuable in or expect from help desk software. This list is not exhaustive. For additional features, refer to the vendor's website.  

**We selected products for this article based on their average ratings as of December 2023; however, the article displays each product’s current average rating, which may differ if more reviews have been left since our analysis.

We select and rank products based on an objective methodology developed by our research team. While some vendors may pay us when they receive web traffic or leads, this has no influence on our methodology.

Products evaluated for the pricing calculation were taken from Software Advice’s help desk software directory. The pricing ranges exclude freemium versions of the products. The features highlighted were identified based on their relevance and the percentage of products in the Software Advice directory that offer them.

Definitions

[1] Generative Pre-trained Transformer (GPT)-4 is a multimodal large language model by OpenAI, to analyze past customer transactions.