Budget constraints preventing you from buying a help desk tool? Check out these top-rated free software options.
As a customer service manager, you may be aware of the multiple benefits of help desk software. The software makes your ticketing process highly efficient, drastically reducing the time to resolve customer queries.
However, budget constraints may keep you from purchasing a help desk solution. It’s not always easy to justify the software’s return on investment (ROI) to your stakeholders, investors, or employees. This puts you in the tough spot of wanting to improve things but being unable to.
If you identify with this situation, there’s an alternative. You can try out any of the free help desk solutions on the market. Now, we understand that “free” software might give you some concerns, such as lack of product documentation and potential data breaches. For these reasons, you need to vet the vendor and their offering before implementing it.
By thoroughly researching the free solutions on the market, you can find a tool that meets your long-term business needs and doesn’t create any problems. This article will help you do just that.
We researched and analyzed about 100 free help desk solutions on Capterra to provide you the six best options. We’ve listed them in alphabetical order.
What does “best” mean? Each of the six tools included in this article has a minimum user rating of 4.0 in the past year. You can find our full methodology here.
6 Help Desk Solutions for Customer Support Teams
ConnectWise Control is a help desk and customer support solution for small and midsize businesses (SMBs). The software can be deployed on the cloud and on-premise.
Its free version supports one technician and up to three customer agents. It allows agents to connect with one customer at a time and resolve the customer’s query.
ConnectWise Control users can upgrade to four plans: One, Standard, Premium, and Access Only. These plans allow agents to connect with more than one customer at a time. These include features such as file transfer, customization, voice calling, video recording, and reporting.
|Capterra reviewers said that ConnectWise Control is lightweight and easy to load, which allowed them to quickly connect to their customers’ devices. They noted that the tool’s remote control functionality made it easy for agents to resolve customer queries online.||Users noted that the mobile app interface isn’t easy to use and needs a revamp. Some reported having troubles while accessing the solution on Internet Explorer.|
Cost to upgrade: The One plan starts at $24 per month for one user.
Highly rated by: Small businesses. In the past year, about 88% of the reviewers on Capterra worked in small businesses (with fewer than 200 employees) that operated in IT services as well as computer and network security domains.
Mobile apps: Android, iOS
ConnectWise’s Android app for remote sessions (Source)
Deskero is a cloud-based help desk and ticketing system for businesses of all sizes. Its Start plan is free for up to one agent and includes email ticketing, web portal support, knowledge-base, and multilingual controls.
The free version also offers customized branding, which allows users to incorporate brand logos and colors to the interface.
Users can upgrade their Start plan by paying $4 per additional agent (the first one is free). The other plans—Grow, Business, and Premium—provide access to paid features such as social network ticketing, automated ticket assignment, chat and feedback widgets, as well as time tracking.
|Capterra reviewers find the tool’s social media ticketing functionality helpful as it lets them efficiently track customer complaints on social media channels. As the tool allows customizing ticket fields, buyers said that they were able to accurately capture customer data based on their business needs.||Users found Deskero’s standard reports to be limited and feel that it could include more in-depth reports. Some also mentioned that the mobile app was difficult to use and could be made easier to navigate.|
Cost to upgrade: The Start package is free for one user but charges $4 per additional agent.
Highly rated by: From 2018 to 2019, nearly two-thirds of Deskero’s reviews came from small businesses users, while the remaining were from large enterprises (with more than 1,000 employees). Teams using this tool the most were IT services and software development.
Mobile apps: Android, iOS
Ticket management in Deskero
Freshdesk is a cloud-based multichannel help desk solution for businesses of all sizes. Its free version includes email ticketing, social media ticketing (only for Facebook and Twitter), knowledge-base management, and reporting.
The USP of Freshdesk’s free version, called Sprout, is the support for unlimited agents. The plan offers ticket trend reporting, which lets agents track the status of their open and closed tickets in real-time.
Freshdesk offers four other plans—Blossom, Garden, Estate, and Forest—which include features such as event-based triggers, service level agreement (SLA) management, chat and chatbot-based support, as well as surveys.
|Capterra reviewers find the product’s interface (on the web browser and mobile app) easy to learn and use. They said that the knowledge base management functionality was useful as it let them build customer-facing, self-service websites on their own.||Reviewers feel that the product could include more customization options in the standard reports and dashboards. They also noted that the product wasn’t very effective in identifying spam messages.|
Cost to upgrade: $15 per agent per month for the Blossom plan.
Highly rated by: From 2018-2019, almost three-fourths of the reviews were from small businesses. The most reviews came from specific business verticals such as IT services, internet service providers, and software development.
Mobile apps: Android, iOS
Ticket management in Freshdesk
SysAid is an IT service management and help desk solution for business of all sizes. The solution is available both as a cloud-based and on-premise deployment option.
Its free version is deployed on Windows or Linux servers and supports up to two agents and 100 end users. This version offers ticket management, incident management, workflow automation, knowledge-base management, and reporting functionalities.
The free version’s USP is its asset management functionality, which allows users to track IT assets and devices. It helps agents find assets easily, while handing queries that require hardware replacements.
If you want to manage more than two agents or more than 100 assets, you can upgrade to any of the three paid plans—Basic, Full, and À La Carte. In addition to all the free features, these plans offer configuration management database, SLA management, patch management, and multiple email boxes.
|Capterra reviewers found the reporting functionality helpful as they were able to track their SLAs on a single dashboard. This helped them promote transparency in their customer handling processes. Also, the customizable ticketing and assets tracking functionalities were beneficial in tweaking the solution to suit their help desk processes.||Some buyers found the admin console’s user interface (UI) to be slightly outdated and said that it could do with an aesthetic revamp. Others noted that the setup and configuration of workflows could be difficult to implement for a non-technical user.|
Cost to upgrade: N/A
Highly rated by: From 2018-2019, 80% of the reviewers were from SMBs (with midsize businesses having up to 1,000 employees). Most of these reviewers were from financial services, software development, and IT services companies.
Mobile apps: Android, iOS
Incident reporting in SysAid
ManageEngine ServiceDesk Plus is an IT service desk solution for businesses of all sizes. The product can be deployed on the cloud or on-premise. Its free version, the Standard plan, offers incident management, a self-service portal, knowledge base management, and SLA reporting.
The free version’s on-premise version supports up to two agents, while the cloud-based version supports up to five.
ManageEngine ServiceDesk Plus’s USP is its incident management functionality, which combines incidents from different sources, automatically assigns incidents to agents, and marks incidents as high priority. This helps businesses respond as soon as an incident is reported.
Users can upgrade to two paid plans—Professional and Enterprise. They can also upgrade to the paid Standard cloud-based plan that allows more than five agents. In addition to the free features, the paid plans offer asset management, purchase and contract management, problem management, and change management functionalities.
|Capterra reviewers found the updates timely, frequent, and helpful in improving product functionality. They said that the tool is easily customizable to their business needs. The software also||Some users noted that the search functionality doesn’t always provide accurate results, which can make it difficult to search for tickets using keywords. Buyers also said that it can take some time to fully set up the tool as one has to manually configure most of the functionalities.|
Cost to upgrade: $1,195 per month for 10 agents under the Standard plan.
Highest rated by: During 2018-2019, 83% of ServiceDesk’s reviewers were from SMBs. Most of them were from industries such as financial services, software development, and IT services.
Mobile apps: Android, iOS
Incident tracking in ManageEngine ServiceDesk Plus
6. Zoho Desk
Zoho Desk is a cloud-based help desk and customer service solution. Its free version offers email ticketing, ticket and agent tracking, SLA management, a community forum, and knowledge-base management functionalities.
The free version’s USP is the reporting functionality. It offers ticketing reports, agent dashboards, and manager dashboards that provide managers a complete view of the customer support operations.
Users can upgrade to two paid plans—Professional and Enterprise. These plans offer advanced features such as social media ticketing, custom ticket templates, and advanced reports.
|Capterra reviewers found it easy to create knowledge base websites on Zoho Desk. They said that its standard integrations were helpful in connecting the help desk tool to their existing applications.||Some reviewers found Zoho Desk’s ticketing interface hard to navigate, which results in a long learning curve. They said that it took them time to configure and customize the features based on their needs.|
Cost to upgrade: $15 per agent per month for the Professional plan.
Highly rated by: From 2018-2019, 87% of reviewers were from small businesses. Most of them work in IT services, software development, and internet companies.
Mobile apps: Android, iOS
Ticketing dashboard in Zoho Desk
The final decision: Which free help desk solution should I invest in?
After you’ve reviewed this list of products, the next step is to select one that will best fit your business needs. The following steps will help you make that decision:
- Calculate the total cost of ownership for the upgrade plans, including training, implementation, and support costs. Check with the vendor to ensure that updating the product you choose is under/within your budget.
- Review the features in this list and select the ones necessary for optimum business performance. Eliminate products that don’t offer the essential features for your business.
- Compare the free usage limits of the products (such as the number of agents and available features) and shortlist products accordingly.
If you currently use a help desk solution or have any other products in mind, please let us know in the comments section below.
For more information on help desk software, you can check out the following resources:
This article was updated Aug. 13, 2019. Products considered for this article fulfill the following criteria:
1. Must be free
For the purposes of this article, we classified a product as free if:
- It offers a free, standalone version of the software.
- It is not a trial version of the software, in which you must purchase a paid version after a limited amount of time.
2. Must meet help desk software definition
The products that met the above criteria were then evaluated against our help desk software definition: Help desk software helps organizations manage internal and/or external ticketing by tracking and resolving support requests and incidents.
This check verified the basic help desk capabilities and appropriateness for the category. A product was classified as help desk software if it contained all the core features—ticketing, knowledge base, and communication.
3. Have minimum number of reviews
Software that met the market definition also needed a minimum of 10 reviews published on the help desk software category page between May 21, 2018 and May 20, 2019. During this period, the product’s rating should be higher than 4.0 as well.
The content in this piece provides the opinions and points of view expressed by users and does not represent the views of Capterra.
Looking for Customer Service software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Customer Service software solutions.