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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 three-and-one-half times as likely to buy again and five 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.
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.
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 Enterprise plan, below.
- Email ticketing
- Social ticketing
- Ticket dispatch
- Team collaboration
- Knowledge base
- Trend report
- Datacenter location
- $15 per agent per month when billed annually or $18 monthly
- All Free Plan features
- Agent collision detection
- App marketplace
- Help desk report
- Service-level agreement (SLA) management
- Business hours
- Custom email server
- Custom ticket views
- Ticket fields and status
- Customer fields
- Custom SSL
- $49 per agent per month when billed annually or $59 monthly
- All Growth features
- Round-robin routing
- Custom roles
- Custom reports and dashboard
- Customer segments
- Versions in knowledge base
- Up to 5 products
- Includes up to 5,000 collaborators
- Extendable API limits
- CSAT survey and reports
- Multiple SLA and business hours
- SLA reminder and escalation
- Multilingual knowledge base
- Custom apps
- $79 per agent per month when billed annually or $95 monthly
- All Pro features
- Skill-based routing
- Audit log
- Knowledge base approval workflow
- Agent shifts
- IP range restriction
- Email bot
- 5,000 bot sessions a month
- Assist Bot
- Article suggester
- Robo assist
- Canned response suggester
- Unlimited products
- Social signals
All Freshdesk users also get 24/7 email support and paid users also get 24-hour phone support on weekdays. You can cancel the 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 social apps like Facebook, WhatsApp, and Twitter. 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 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.
- $49 per agent per month, billed annually
- Integrating ticketing across email, social media etc
- Unified agent workspace
- Customer details and interactions
- Reporting and performance dashboards
- Apps and Integrations
- $79 per agent per month, billed annually
- All Team Plan features
- Self-service customer portal
- Customizable ticket layouts
- Multilingual support and content
- Automatic reaction
- SLA mangement
- $99 per agent per month, billed annually
- All Professional Plan features
- Conversation routing based on agent skill
- Custom team roles and permissions
- Customizable agent workspaces
- Third-party data storage
- Sandbox test environment
For business owners who need assistance, there is online, phone, and email support. Additionally, there is a Zendesk Help Center and a users community.
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 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 multichannel ticketing and communication.
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 three paid plans. 14-day free trials are available.
- $30 per agent per month
- Live chat, Facebook, Twitter and email
- Help center
- Basic performance reports
- Agents log in with Google
- Standard support plan
- Workflow automations: assign tickets to agents
- Advanced reporting
- Multiple brands, multiple languages
- Time-saving macro powered responses
- Custom fields for capturing critical information
- Slack integration
- 700+ Zapier integrations
- Organization Profiles for Agents
- Agent collision prevention
- $60 per agent per month
- All Growth Plan features
- Advanced workflow customization
- Internal help center and knowledge base
- Custom forms for help center
- Customer access to every ticket from their organization
- Custom security policies
- Custom roles and permissions
- Salesforce integration
- Custom performance reports
- Help center advanced layout and design options
- $59 per agent per month
- Live chat and email
- Help center & Support portal
- Customizable PHP source code
- VOIP Phone / Click to call
- Advanced Reporting with Kayako Query Language (KQL)
- Automation (SLAs, Macros, Workflows)
- Multiple brands, multiple languages
- REST APIs
In addition to a help center, Kayako offers three support plan options: Standard, Gold, and Platinum. Standard has robust online and phone support. Gold adds response time windows and expanded Kayako Classic support. Platinum gives you concierge consulting and training which helps improve your business and support team's performance.
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 dozens of 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 offers one free and four paid plans. Although, the top plan is probably overkill for small and medium sized 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. The first three paid plans have 15-day free trial and the final one has a 30-day trial.
- FREE (three-agent limit)
- Email ticketing
- Customer management
- Help center
- Private knowledge base
- Predefined SLAs
- Multi-language help desk
- Mobile apps
- 24/5 email support
- $14 per agent per month, billed annually
- All Free Plan features
- Scoring rules
- Multiple pipelines
- Mass email
- Custom downloads
- Canvas (1 view/org)
- $23 per agent per month, billed annually
- All Standard Plan features
- Web-to-Case forms
- Validation rules
- Inventory management
- Canvas (3 views/org)
- $40 per agent per month, billed annually
- All Professional Plan features
- Zia AI
- Multi-user portals
- Advanced customization
- Mobile SDK & MDM
- Canvas (5 views/module)
- $52 per agent per month, billed annually
- All Enterprise Plan features
- Advanced BI - bundled with Zoho Analytics
- Enhanced feature limits
- 30-day trial
- Canvas (25 views/module)
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.
With JitBit, you can start processing tickets in less than 30 seconds and it 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 importing & exporting data with other software. JitBit integrates directly with Slack, Jira, and GitHub and with hundreds of other platforms through Zapier.
JitBit offers four different plans designed to suit organizations ranging from one to nine agents.
- $29 per month
- One agent supported
- All core features
- Android and iOS apps
- Your own domain
- $69 per month
- Up to four agents supported
- All Freelancer Plan features
- $129 per month
- Up to seven agents supported
- All Startup Plan features
- Downloadable backups
- $249 per month
- Up to nine agents supported
- Add an agent for $29
- All Company Plan features
- Hide "powered by JibBit"
- Expedited support
- HIPAA compliance
All of JitBit’s plans come with a 10-day money back guarantee, 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.
- Omnichannel ticket creation
- SLA management
- Knowledge base
- SSO (GSuite/SAML/Azure)
- SSL certificate hosting
- Migration assistance
- All Mighty Plan features
- Multi-brand helpdesk
- SLA breach notification
- Custom ticket queues
- 24/7 email support
- Optional EU data center
- All Fantastic Plan features
- Proactive agent collision
- Task management
- Asset management
- 24/7 email/chat support
- Uptime SLA
Enterprise Plus Plan
- All Enterprise Plan features
- Agent scripting
- 2 TB attachment store
- All time reporting history
- 24/7 email/chat/phone Support
- Customer success manager
As you might expect, there is a self service help desk for users and you can support tickets there. Your access to personalized support grows with the plan you select.
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 the most basic plans is usually under $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. Some ticketing systems offer a free plan with very basic features, including creating tickets from emails, a team dashboard, and basic automations.
Mid-level plans typically cost about $30 to $50 and support more custom rules and automations, expanded software integrations, detailed reports and analytics, customer surveys, and custom workflows. Enterprise plans cost even more and can run into the hundreds of dollars. Of course, they come with the most advanced features and best support.
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.