If you have been on the lookout for a helpdesk solution to help you track incoming support emails, you have probably already come across several options. This post discusses the types of solutions available in the market, without getting deep into individual features. Hopefully this will provide a decision framework that will help you determine the type of solutions you need, so that afterwards you can go on and evaluate only those that fall into the category you need.

The Basics of email tracking

All helpdesk software applications have a similar set of features when it comes to tracking emails. The basic features here are included in virtually all helpdesk software tools, and are therefore not really a deciding criteria.

  • Capturing all inbound emails and automatically create tickets out of them
  • Provide a common interface for your team to assign, work-on and resolve the tickets
  • Send replies to the ticket directly from the helpdesk and correctly capture and thread any email responses.
  • Take the ticket through a workflow

  • The Price

    If you have been researching the available solutions, you have probably found that pricing is all over the map, and structured in a complicated way. You may have discovered that:

  • You could be paying anywhere between $5 and $500 dollars per agent per month
  • Each solution is sliced and diced into a bunch of packages, so you are not sure what you will need or will get at a particular price point.
  • Some vendors don’t even post their pricing (translation: very expensive with lots of salespeople involved).
  • You are left with a nagging doubt that there will be a bunch of hidden add-on service costs and upgrades that you will only find out about later.

  • Since this post is on our blog, you can probably guess that OneDesk differs on this.

  • Our prices are public and posted for anyone to see. I think you will agree that they are reasonable.
  • All our packages include ALL our features, no nickel-and-diming. You only pay more if you have more agents. Customers are always unlimited.
  • While we do offer some optional services, these are things that you could do yourselves. These services are made available to help you if you don’t have the time to perform them yourself. And as usual, all our service prices are public and posted.

  • The Customization

    Your business is unique, your workflows are unique, and one-size may not fit you. However in the world of software, customization costs money. If you need a special feature, you will have to pay for it (hence the high and hidden prices from some vendors). At the other end of the spectrum you may find some tools are so rigid that even the ticket statuses cannot be modified (these are often the less expensive solutions).

    If you don’t have an unlimited budget for your helpdesk solution, your challenge is the find the pre-existing software with the features you need already built-in. For this you need to have a clear-headed view of what you need vs. what you want.

    The OneDesk approach is to offer software that is customizable just by selecting options in the Administration panel of your account. While not being infinitely flexible, it offers a good selection of options that we hope will be able to handle the workflows for a large number of businesses. The nice part is that it is easy to set up in your account without expensive services. Our support team is always available to answer your questions free of charge.

    Here are some of the things you can configure in OneDesk:

  • Configure the statuses that your tickets go through
  • Configure multiple types of tickets – each with their own icons, and workflows.
  • Add custom properties to your tickets.
  • Configure the ticket details panel to show only the properties you care about.
  • Create, save and share customized views with filters, groupings, layouts and column-visibility.
  • Customize the ticket form (both internally and for your website).
  • Customize email layout, colors, content, triggering-logic, etc.

  • Making your selection

    When researching helpdesk solutions, here is the thought process you should go through:

    1) Ask yourself if your workflow and processes are so unique that it is unlikely you will find a vendor with what you need right out-of-the-box. If you believe that you indeed have unique requirements. Then you will be looking at the more expensive vendors (with the hidden prices).

    2) If you don’t have a sky-high budget, then you will need to eliminate all those vendors with hidden pricing, or asterisks next to their pricing options. You can also eliminate any vendors that are priced out of your budget.

    3) Next you will need to make a list of the major features you need without getting into the minutiae. This will include things like, time-tracking, live chat, a mobile app, task management, client portal, knowledge base, etc. This high-level list provides an quick way to eliminate vendors without having to take too long researching them since it will be clearly visible on their websites.

    4) At this point, you should be left with a short list of vendors that you will need to do a more in-depth evaluation on. Sign up for their free trials (if they don’t offer this, you can drop them off your list), and start testing them to see if they have the flexibility you require.

    5) An easy way to quickly evaluate the flexibility of a given solution is to look through the “Administration” options inside the app. Here you should be easily able to see what they allow you to configure. These include the ticket types, workflows, automations, customer-facing apps and more.

    We think OneDesk will do well in such an evaluation, and would love for you to sign up and try it out. If you have questions reach out to us and we will get you the answers you need.

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