A ticketing system makes it easy for customers to get answers via email, phone, live chat on your website, or even a self-service knowledge base. More importantly, help desk software streamlines customer service by automatically creating support tickets, offering pre-written answers to common questions, and making sure requests go to the customer service agents who can best respond to them.
A recent study showed that it costs up to seven times more to attract a new customer than retain a current one. Loyal customers are also five times as likely to buy again and four times as likely to refer. By contrast, 95% of customers will tell others about a bad experience and 87% will share good experiences.
This all just goes to show that customer service can make or break a business. Customers who have to wait for days or go back and forth with emails and calls to get a question answered won’t hesitate to leave a bad review or trash a company on social media.
With that said, we researched the best ticketing systems based on pricing for small businesses, ease of use, automatic ticket creation and sorting, and integration with third-party marketing. From the large field of contenders we checked out, the following six stood out, each for various reasons you can read about here.
The 6 Best Ticketing Systems of 2020
Best Overall: Freshdesk
Freshdesk was created in 2010 after the founders’ frustrating customer service experience with a broken TV. Since then, the company has developed a variety of communication, sales, and marketing tools under the umbrella of Freshworks. Although Freshdesk can scale to support businesses of all sizes, its ease of use, affordable pricing, and enterprise-level automations make it a perfect choice for small businesses.
Freshdesk’s star feature is a shared inbox that makes it easy for teams to sort, assign, and collaborate on tickets. The software automatically converts incoming email, voicemail, and even Twitter and Facebook support requests into tickets, and prioritizes and assigns them to the right agents.
Freshdesk also uses automation to help you eliminate repetitive tasks and focus on tickets that need more attention. You can send customers automatic email notifications based on their ticket status, perform multiple actions on a ticket with a single click, or set tickets to automatically move to the next stage based on time and event triggers. It even comes with agent collision detection to prevent more than one agent from working on the same ticket, as well as gamification features that motivate agents to meet their goals.
Freshdesk’s paid plans offer integrations with many platforms, including Google Apps, JIRA, live chat apps, Zoho CRM, FreshBooks, QuickBooks, Dropbox, OneDrive, Mailchimp, SurveyMonkey, and many others through Zapier.
Freshdesk offers three paid plans suitable for small to medium businesses; a pretty full-featured free plan is also available. A 21-day free trial unlocks all of the features, including those of the Estate plan, below.
- Email ticketing
- Ticket dispatch
- Team collaboration
- Knowledge base
- Trend report
- Social ticketing
- $15 per agent per month
- All Sprout features
- Time and event automation
- Agent collision detection
- App marketplace
- Help desk report
- Service-level agreement (SLA) management
- Business hours
- $35 per agent per month
- All Blossom features
- Time tracking
- Customer surveys
- Performance reports
- Session replay
- Custom apps
- $49 per agent per month
- All Garden features
- Ticket assignment automation
- Custom roles
- Custom portal
- Enterprise reporting
- Multiple SLAs and time zones
Freshdesk users also get 24/7 email support and 24-hour phone support on weekdays and can cancel service anytime with no fees or penalties.
Runner-Up, Best Overall: Zendesk
Zendesk was created in 2007 as a customer service platform with a focus on customer relationship management (CRM). We chose it as our runner-up because of its robust standard qualities and added focus on marketing.
Like Freshdesk, Zendesk has a shared inbox that lets you gather customer inquiries from emails, live chat, voice, web widgets, and messaging apps like Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, and WeChat. Its automations streamline customer support, like canned responses, automatic triggers, customizable workflows, a customer portal, and an answer bot that can direct queries to relevant articles.
Where Zendesk differs, however, is its marketing-oriented help desk approach. Using integrations with popular CRMs like Salesforce, SugarCRM, and Zoho CRM, the platform lets you gather valuable customer data to drive new leads to your sales pipeline. When a support ticket turns into a question about a product, you can hand the conversation off to your sales team. You can even automatically trigger live chat modules to help close the sale when a customer is lingering on a product or checkout page.
Zendesk gives you robust analytics and reporting and upgrade options for Sales Suite, which creates even more sales opportunities from your help desk. It also offers an app marketplace that lets you integrate with software like Slack, Aircall, Qualtrics, Trello, Google Play Reviews, Harvest, and many others.
Zendesk offers three paid plans suitable for small to medium businesses. A 30-day free trial is available and unlocks all of the features of Zendesk’s Professional plan, and you can cancel your service anytime with no fees or penalties.
- $5 per agent per month
- Email and social support
- Web widget and mobile SDK
- Pre-defined business rules
- Essentials card
- Interaction history
- $19 per agent per month
- All Essential Plan features
- Custom business rules
- Performance dashboards
- Apps and integrations
- $49 per agent per month
- All Professional Plan features
- Multilingual content
- CSAT surveys
- Analytics and reporting
For business owners who need assistance, there is no direct email, phone, or chat support for the Essential plan, though you can access the online help portal and Zendesk community. Email support is available during business hours five days a week for the Team plan, and the Professional plan offers 24-hour email and phone support five days a week.
Best Value: Kayako
Having started as a bootstrap company in 2001, when most customer service software was clunky and complicated, Kayako now boasts a roster of Fortune 100 companies and over 131,000 customers worldwide. We chose it as the best value since its entry-level plan is about half the price of its competitors and includes some essential features, like agent collision detection.
Kayako focuses on ease-of-use and creating a personal conversation with customers through a clean and minimal dashboard it calls a unified inbox. As with other modern ticketing systems, customers can send inquiries via email, live chat, Facebook, Twitter, or a self-service portal.
What differentiates Kayako from its competitors, however, is the ability to create multiple (what it calls multi-brand) help centers with unique content, live chat, automated responses, service-level agreement (SLA) support, and workflow automation. You can easily visualize your customer’s journey, measure your agents’ performance, and gather insights with at-a-glance dashboards and custom reports.
Finally, Kayako offers over 600 integrations through Zapier, including Salesforce, Slack, Mailchimp, Marketo, PayPal, and many more. You can even expand your customer channels with VoIP integrations including RingCentral.
Kayako offers two paid plans suitable for small to medium businesses. Both come with a 14-day free trial.
- $15 per agent per month
- Live chat and email
- Basic help center
- Mobile SDK
- Zapier integrations
- Unified inbox
- Assignment rules
- Collision prevention
- Reply-only automations
- $30 per agent per month
- All Inbox Plan features
- Advanced automation rules
- Custom views, fields & forms
- Custom reporting
- Multi-brand and multi-language support
- Advanced help center
- Organization profiles
Both of these plans offer customers email and online support during business hours with a dedicated customer success manager, onboarding, and phone callback support available to enterprise customers.
Best Price: Zoho Desk
Founded in 2005 with the initial release of a CRM and cloud-based word processor, Zoho rapidly expanded its offerings into 40+ products, including the launch of Zoho Desk in 2016. We chose it as the ticketing system with the best price since it offers all the features you need in a ticketing system at affordable plan rates.
Like many of its competitors, Zoho Desk offers multichannel support, allowing customers to contact agents via email, live chat, a web form, or through Facebook and Twitter. It has telephony support including voicemail, call routing, and automated ticket creation from phone calls.
Zoho Desk uses a clear and intuitive dashboard that gives agents an overview of tickets, as well as a separate dashboard for managers to track and analyze agent performance. You can customize and view reports and respond to tickets through an easy-to-use mobile app.
Zoho Desk features robust automations, often seen in similar help desk platforms, that automatically assign tickets to the right agents, send alerts of changes in ticket status, escalate SLA violations, and allow you to create custom workflows.
Zoho Desk supports dozens of integrations, including G Suite, Slack, Salesforce, popular email and project management platforms, and telephony solutions including RingCentral. You can connect Zoho Desk seamlessly to the company’s other native platforms, including Zoho CRM, SalesIQ, BugTracker, Analytics, Invoice, Survey, and more.
Zoho Desk Pricing
Zoho Desk offers one free and two paid plans suitable for small to medium businesses. The free plan supports up to three agents and is a great option for businesses that want to take their time testing out a ticketing system before making a commitment. All paid plans include a 14-day free trial.
- FREE (three-agent limit)
- Email ticketing
- Customer management
- Help center
- Private knowledge base
- Predefined SLAs
- Multi-language help desk
- $12 per agent per month
- All Free Plan features
- Social and community channels
- Product-based ticket management
- Public knowledge base
- SLAs and escalations
- Workflow, assignment, and supervise rules
- Customer happiness ratings
- Reports and dashboards
- Marketplace extensions and integrations
- $20 per agent per month
- All Professional Plan features
- ASAP-embeddable self-service
- Team management
- Automatic time tracking
- Round-robin ticket assignment
- Agent collision detection
- Tasks, events, and call activities
- SLA dashboards
The Free Plan offers 24-hour email support five days a week, the Standard Plan adds 24/5 phone support, and the Professional Plan adds 24/5 chat support.
Best for Email Support: JitBit
Created in 2005, JitBit is a simple ticketing system built primarily on providing support from customer emails. We chose JitBit as the best for email support because it’s a simple help desk focused on email ticketing without all the bells and whistles. JitBit replaces pricing per agent with monthly pricing based on the total number of agents you have.
JitBit takes just minutes to set up and is much less complicated than many of the other platforms we reviewed. That’s not to say that it’s more limited, however. Even though the software has a strong focus on email, you can also offer support via live chat and a web portal.
JitBit provides everything a small business needs to manage email support with complex features or complex setup. After connecting the platform to your email server, you can establish triggers that will send automatic replies, assign technicians to tickets, and set ticket due dates. A simple grid view shows the status of new and ongoing tickets and lets you filter, group, merge, and categorize customer tickets.
Additional features include standard agent collision detection, customizable reports, suggesting articles from the knowledge base to agents so they can insert it into their reply, and pulling customer info from an external CRM. JitBit integrates directly with Slack, Jira, and GitHub and with hundreds of other platforms through Zapier.
JitBit offers three different plans designed to suit organizations ranging from one to seven agents.
- $29 per month
- One agent supported
- Collision detection
- Mobile help desk
- Canned responses
- Help desk automations
- Two-way email integration
- Ticket management
- Customer support request tagging
- Knowledge base
- Team mailbox
- Multilingual support
- $69 per month
- Up to four agents supported
- All Freelancer Plan features
- iOS and Android apps
- $129 per month
- Up to seven agents supported
- All Startup Plan features
All of JitBit’s plans come with a 21-day free trial, 24/7 support, and the option to upgrade, downgrade, or cancel anytime.
Best For Ease of Use: HappyFox
Founded in 2011, HappyFox is a relative newcomer on the help desk scene. We chose it as the best for ease of use because it balances a full suite of ticketing features with an intuitive and well-thought-out interface that can be customized to any type of view or workflow.
HappyFox’s dashboard makes it easy for teams to manage ticket requests across multiple channels, including Twitter and Facebook. While you can communicate with users by phone via VoIP integrations, HappyFox recognizes that most customers prefer not to talk to a person on the phone and focuses more on live chat, email, and social network ticketing.
HappyFox uses a round-robin algorithm to identify which agents are available and can be fine-tuned to weigh agent limits and consider particular agents over others. Tickets can be automatically escalated to higher management if it’s nearing your SLA limits.
HappyFox offers a self-service portal connected to your knowledge base so customers can find answers to popular questions without creating a ticket. This helps cut down on calls and also shows you which articles are the most helpful to your customers.
HappyFox’s powerful report engine makes it easy to create custom reports to monitor the performance of your agents. Customer data collected can be easily shared with other departments via the platform’s many CRM, marketing, and project management integrations.
HappyFox offers two plans suitable for small to medium businesses with two others geared toward enterprise-level businesses. Although the company doesn’t offer a free trial, you can schedule a one-on-one demo to tour the product based on your needs.
- $29 per agent per month
- Import contacts
- Automated actions
- Agent collision detection
- Round-robin assignment
- SLA management
- Contact groups
- Automatic time tracker
- Software integrations
- Ticket templates
- $49 per agent per month
- All Mighty Plan features
- Satisfaction surveys
- SLA breach notification
- Custom ticket queues
- Multilingual knowledge base
Both plans offer email, phone, and live chat support during HappyFox’s business hours, while the Fantastic plan also includes 24/7 email support.
What Are Ticketing Systems?
A ticketing system (or help desk) is software that helps your business efficiently receive, manage, and resolve customer support issues. The best platforms feature powerful automations that can tag and route tickets to the right customer service agents to streamline and improve response times.
All good ticketing systems support multiple channels of communication, allowing customers to place requests via email, phone, live chat widgets, or even social media messaging apps. Offering these communication options to your customers and streamlining the routing of their requests can help you resolve issues faster and create happy customers.
Who Needs a Ticketing System?
A ticketing system can be invaluable to your business if you offer multiple products and services and are currently trying to field customer issues with emails and phone calls.
At a minimum, you’ll want a ticketing system that’s easy to use for your agents, has automatic ticket creation and sorting, and can prevent two agents from working on the same request. You’ll also want the option to create a self-service portal so customers can answer their own questions by tapping into an existing knowledge base or articles published on your site.
How to Choose a Ticketing System for Your Business
Choosing a ticketing system for your business depends on your specific needs. For example, if agents find themselves answering the same questions over and over again, a ticketing system that can automatically respond with answers to common questions is helpful. If there are agents who are versed in different products or aspects of products, being able to customize which tickets go to which agents can help improve customer service. Finally, for companies using SLAs, a ticketing system that automatically escalates tickets if they’re at risk of breaking the agreement is a necessary feature.
A ticketing system with a wide range of software integrations can help you generate leads by importing customer data and insights into your CRM software. Finally, more sophisticated ticketing systems can detect when customers are lingering on a product or checkout page, giving you a chance to connect with them and close the sale.
What Are the Expected Costs of Ticketing Systems?
Most ticketing software solutions offer monthly pricing for each agent using the system. Pricing is often pay-as-you-go, so you can cancel anytime, but it’s often cheaper if you pay for an entire year upfront.
Ticketing systems typically offer two to three plans suitable for small and medium businesses, plus an additional one to two enterprise plans for larger companies. Pricing for most basic plans runs from $5 to $30 and includes features like automatic ticket creation from emails and possibly other channels, a dashboard or unified inbox, team collaboration, basic automation rules, and a customer knowledge base.
Higher-level plans typically range from $20 to $50 and support more custom rules and automations, expanded software integrations, detailed reports and analytics, customer surveys, and custom workflows. Some ticketing systems offer a free plan with very basic features, including creating tickets from emails, a team dashboard, and basic automations.
How We Chose the Best Ticketing Systems
During our process for choosing the best ticketing systems, we looked for software that was cloud-based to avoid system conflicts, had an easy-to-use interface, robust automation rules, supported multiple communication channels (especially live chats), and also made it easy for customers to find their own answers via a knowledge base.
Additional considerations were platforms that had detailed reporting and analytics and integrations with a wide variety of third-party software to support lead generation and marketing. Finally, we looked for software with plans priced for small and medium businesses and with free trials to let businesses test-drive these products.
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