What is Service Desk Software? Analysis of Benefits, Features and Pricing

Freshservice: Top Service Desk Tool

What is service desk software?

Service desk software or IT service desk is a broad term for systems with single point of contact that handles service requests and incidents relating to IT and other business processes. Service desk software allows businesses to automate and streamline the process of dealing with large volumes of customer queries. It also promotes personal customer engagement rather than offer mechanical responses.

ITIL v3, the generally accepted principles on how IT is aligned with business goals, consider service desk as one of the four pillars of IT management, the other three being: technical management, application management and IT operations management. It is a strategic component to meeting the growing needs of customers, primarily ensuring that product matches customer expectations. Beyond providing support, service desk nurtures long-term communication with customers ensuring that the product is problem-free or up for an upgrade or update.

Customer experience, in which support is key, tops the most important digital marketing strategies in a report by Econsultancy.

In this guide we’ll go beyond answering the question, “What is service desk software?” and explain in details the following key points:

  1. Examples of Service Desk Software
  2. Benefits of Service Desk Software
  3. Types of Service Desk Software
  4. Features of Service Desk Software
  5. Buying Factors to Consider
  6. Pricing of Service Desk Software
  7. Potential Issues
  8. Latest Trends

Difference of Service Desk Software vs. Help Desk

Help desk and service desk software are often interchanged but they are not exactly synonymous. There are plenty of overlapping functions, such as, ticket management, SLA, self-service portal and automated routing and notifications, but the overall I.T. approach is different.

Help desk focuses on fixing issues and is more oriented towards short-term goals. For example, a workstation PC breaks; help desk will aim to fix it. On the other hand, service desk focuses on the long-term goal and, in fact, helps with the company’s I.T. strategies. In our example, a service desk may run regular diagnostics on the workstation PC, as on the company’s other I.T. assets, to prevent breakdowns or anticipate the need to upgrade of change the asset.

The two also differ in their definition of customer service. A help desk waits for problems to arise, a customer ticket being submitted, for example; while a service desk may provide regular product updates and notifications to customers as part of an SLA. In the latter, the aim is long-term, to ensure smooth customer experience throughout the product’s lifespan.

You can say that service desk has a help desk component, but not the other way around.

Samanage dashboard gives you an overview of your service desk key metrics.

Examples of Service Desk Software

Service desk software comes in various plans and terms. To get you up to speed with the market landscape, here are examples of service desk software that are popular in the niche.

  1. Samanage. A fully featured IT service desk and asset management software that lets you build best practices and share knowledge on incident management. Aside from tickets, it manages contracts, licenses, SLAs and asset configurations. You can track your assets’ entire lifecycle with this software, including its components. Likewise, it is designed with intuitive visualization reports that help you digest insights from service desk.
  2. Freshservice. A popular ITIL-compliant service desk solution with plug-and-play simplicity and intuitive interface. Its main features include incident management, self-service portal, service catalog, mobile app and advanced reporting. It also handles standard service requests for change, release and problem issues. Likewise, the software can handle multiple SLA policies and can be customized based on agent role.
  3. ManageEngine ServiceDesk. An integrated help desk and asset management platform that offers multiple support channels, so your customers and employees can easily reach out to you. The system follows ITSM workflows with rich customization options. It also features mobile support for iOS and Android devices.
  4. SysAid. A highly scalable solution with a help desk core functionality. An asset management module can be added to the platform, making SysAid a true service desk. Key features include remote asset management, self-service portal, knowledge base management and patch management.
  5. bpm’online service. An omnichannel service desk with editions for small business and enterprise. The solution is part of the vendor’s business process management suite that provides you with a single comprehensive environment for cases, requests and workflows. Key features include 360-degree customer view, case management and contact center.

Benefits of Service Desk Software

Why use service desk software? Simply put, what is service desk software but increasing your business efficiency and boosting profits in the process. Specifically, here are the main benefits:

  1. Bridge IT and business. Technical breakdowns, glitches and gaps disrupt business and your ability to make profits. These problems are often preventable had there been close communication between IT and your business units. Service desk addresses this issue by  helping you raise, assign, track and resolve tickets. Moreover, an SLA management lets you prioritize urgent issues and set deadlines or escalation rules to ensure the problem is expertly resolved. Less urgent problems can be diverted to a self-service portal, where users help themselves find the solution via smart search filtering. Through automation, service desk also ensures routine processes and tasks are met, so IT and business are closely integrated.
  2. Standardize IT processes. Service delivery is standardized and kept to ITIL-aligned principles via automation and rules. This helps you plan and track IT-related strategies with more accuracy. For example, tickets can be resolved using historical incidents. Issues can be analyzed for causes, then archived in a knowledge base for future reference. New asset or product rollouts can be assessed for risks and lessen their impact by documenting beta test results and recommendations.
  3. Collaborate in real time. As with most SaaS solutions, collaboration tools are built in to allow teams to work in real time over the cloud. Remote members can easily join discussions and meetings, tasks can quickly be routed to the right person, while the team leader or you has constant updates on team activities via dashboards, which consolidate all tickets, changes and asset data in one location for quick lookups and drill-down accessibility.
  4. Manage assets. Service desk keeps tab of all your hardware and software assets and contracts with inventory management and smart search. You can quickly retrieve information to evaluate asset value, configuration items and purchase terms, among others, of specific assets. This helps you perform regular maintenance and avoid sudden breakdowns or anticipate change.
  5. Make data-driven decisions. The various data generated by service desk from issues to product specs and performance offer a deep pool of insights when aggregated. Many solutions have off-the-shelf and custom reporting and visualization tools that use Natural Language Querying engine to extract patterns or trends from data. You can analyze datasets to help you identify common and unique issues, cost-benefit of specific assets and, overall, ROI of your IT strategies.

Freshservice’s gamification motivates your agents to consistently give their best customer service.

Types of Service Desk Software

How does service desk software work? The definition of service desk software differs widely among industry practitioners because they refer to it depending on a specific type. We can classify this category based on how vendors usually package the feature set, namely:

  1. Incident management. This is the core feature of both help desk and service desk. While many vendors style themselves as service desk, they also provide a modularized help desk module for ticket management. In such case, these vendor types cater to companies looking for help desk functions alone, but want the option to a service desk in the future.
  2. Asset management. On the other hand, vendors would offer a separate module for asset management should your requirement is based on this only. Asset management-focused service desk are specific to helping you manage your IT assets including fixed assets and depreciation. This type will need to integrate with a help desk software or an incident management module to manage tickets.
  3. Fully integrated. Many robust applications provide all the main components of a service desk. This type is ideal for medium-size companies and enterprise.

SysAid provides you a quick lookup on your IT assets.

Features of Service Desk Software

What does service desk software do? While the overall perception is that it helps resolve incidents, that’s just one of the advantages of service desk software. Most solutions have these standard features that go beyond managing tickets:

  1. Ticket management. This manages incidents and issues. Users can raise tickets via different channels, such as, email, phone, live chat or self-service portal. Tickets are automatically prioritized, assigned and monitored for faster resolution.
  2. SLA management. This helps you prioritize tickets based on SLA and set rules on escalation or deadlines.
  3. Knowledge base. Unique incidents are automatically converted to help content and archived in a knowledge base for future reference. Customers with similar incidents or issues are directed to the knowledge base for self-service resolution.
  4. Service catalog. A centralized location that details to different business units the service available. The catalog also provides a form where users can submit a ticket.
  5. Automation. Manual and routine tasks are automated to ensure standards are kept and no tickets fall into the crack. Automation also relieves your agents of repetitive tasks and, instead, lets them focus on unique cases.
  6. Customer service portal. Users with FAQs are directed to a knowledge base where the answer is suggested.
  7. Problem management. Unique complex issues are isolated and analyzed for causes and impacts on other business aspects. The goal is to minimize disruptions and prevent the same issue from resurfacing.
  8. Change management. Changes to rollouts are anticipated, monitored and the risks mitigated with the use of collaboration tools and analytics.
  9. Release management. Documents product development stages and monitor tests and deadlines to ensure smooth product releases.
  10. Task management. Organize tasks and subtasks in clear nest structure and with clear assignees each. Teams can collaborate, discuss and generally exchange information using this platform.
  11. Dashboards. Provides real-time and past data with at-a-glance feature and drill-down tools to help you track the overall picture or investigate bottlenecks. Dashboards also showcase reports and other key metrics related to your IT strategies.
  12. Asset management. Gives you 360-degree visibility on all your IT and business assets. It usually features inventory management, asset discovery, CMDB management and asset lifecycle management.
  13. Contract management. Acts as a central repository of vendor contracts with easy-retrieval feature. You can be notified of expiring terms or approvals to keep you on top of all your IT assets.
  14. Analytics. Lets you consolidate all service desk data and analyze them for patterns and trends. This module often comes with visualization tools and templates or custom reports to match your requirements.

Buying Factors to Consider

The purpose of service desk software is to help you improve business efficiency in general, not bog you down with technical problems or impede your future growth. So, before subscribing to a solution, ensure that the system will cover your requirements. Here are the common factors to consider:

  1. Full integration with IT management processes. The solution must be able to integrate with or built in with other IT management processes, such as, governance, financial management, sourcing and configuration. Service desk is just one aspect of IT management and it cannot perform in a silo. For example, its asset management feature must be able to extract accounted costs from the finance department or inventory items from purchasing department to make a more accurate ROI analysis on a given asset like a PC.
  2. Extensibility. Check for integration and the different ways to extend service desk functionalities. These include APIs to let you add your own apps into the system for customized workflows and the depth of third-party app integration. Check for native integration to project management solutions (as issues may be treated as projects), productivity apps, document management apps and connectors.
  3. Mobile apps. Does the software have iOS and Android apps? This will help you manage tasks, incidents, changes, requests and assets wherever you are internet-connected. Prefer native mobile apps over mobile browser support; the former ensures smoother data synchronization with the desktop system.
  4. Gamification. Providing daily support can be stressful, if not boring. This feature helps you motivate your agents and, in turn, they provide consistent excellent support to customers. Gamification uses satisfaction rating to reward your best performers. It lends to your workplace a competitive atmosphere, where a leaderboard showcases each agent’s points based on your rules.
  5. Security. Information on your IT and business assets and customer data must be encrypted at rest and in transit. Also check if the vendor abides by applicable state and federal regulations. Likewise, take the time to evaluate the vendor’s physical and operational security protocols to assess how they respond to breaches or emergencies.

Pricing of Service Desk Software

The cost of service desk software can be packaged with fixed pricing or by quote only. Here are the typical pricing plans of the top solutions in this niche.

  1. Samanage. Typical of robust solutions, Samanage pricing is available by quote only. The vendor will try to match the feature set with your unique needs.
  2. Freshservice. Many vendors offer a free plan like Freshservice. The freemium is available for up to 3 agents and features incident management, knowledge base management and self-service portal. The vendor also offers three paid subscriptions from $29 per agent/month.
  3. ManageEngine ServiceDesk. Also available by quote only, with standard packages estimated around $395 per month.
  4. SysAid. Pricing is also by quote as is common practice in the service desk category. This ensures you only get the features you need with the option to scale to more advanced tools in the future.
  5. bpm’online service. Offers two pricing plans for small business and enterprise. The former starts at $35 per user/month while the latter at $50 per user/month. The enterprise has additional modules like problem management, change management and release management, among others.

Potential Issues

As with other business solutions, issues can arise unexpectedly and defeat the reason for getting a service desk in the first place. To prevent this from happening, make sure you have a clear understanding of what your business needs. In many cases, a small business only needs a help desk solution to provide customer service. With a few IT assets, a company won’t find much use for a service desk’s asset management module. On the other hand, even if you’re a small business but with a strong focus on tech, you’d definitely want to invest in service desk. It is a critical component to ensuring your product releases and upgrades match your customers’ expectations.

We can think of two major changes in how service desk functions. Both of these are being adopted now, but they are not yet fully realized.

  1. Cognitive technologies. Cognitive technologies allow support to provide a more personalized customer service, where each ticket is treated as an individual case. Thanks to IoT, social networks, big data and, generally, a more integrated consumer-product landscape, companies today and in the future can learn about each customer’s real-time and historical behavior, locations, interests and other key metrics. One customer’s problem is slightly different from another customer’s and newer service desk can pinpoint the finer details by aggregating data from the individual’s digital footprint.
  2. Support as sales. Data culled by support from customers are being turned over to sales for leads. Each ticket and customer query adds to the big data of potential opportunities or threats to the product. More companies today view customer service, not as a cost center, but a revenue point-of-contact much like sales. The shift is expected to get more popular as companies learn to leverage big data with the growing availability of business intelligence solutions.
Category: B2B News, Featured Articles

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