While there won’t be any free lunches in the world of business, you can still find free help desk software solutions out there. Such plans, also referred to as freemiums, should not be mistaken for free trial or demo versions though. These only offer a certain time during which you can test the software and then you must pay for the subscription. Free help desk software or freemium will always stay free. So what is the catch? You.
Free help desk software, in most cases a cloud based, online hosted system, is a come-on to tease new clients for more features. If you want the more advanced features you’ll need to go for the paid plan that offers them.
A freemium help desk usually includes the basic functions, such as email support, phone support, a few pre-set report templates and knowledge base, and can only be used by a minimum number of agents, around 1-3 users. Don’t expect the more sophisticated functions like mobile app, customized reports or business insights, or a full technical support from the vendor. Still, free help desk software is valuable for a small business owner or freelance professional service provider if you find yourself under these situations:
If you still believe a spreadsheet is all you need to track customer queries, it’s time to dip your hands in free help desk software. Check for yourself the difference in convenience, ease of tracking, and overall improvement in your customer service. To make a more scientific analysis, divide your support agent between two groups: one sticking with the manual process and the other using the freemium. After a month, benchmark their performance based on as many areas you can think of: volume of addressed and unaddressed queries; resolution rate; and turnaround time. You should see a significant difference between the two groups’ overall productivity.
A free trial often gives you two weeks, tops, to assess the help desk software. That’s too short to check for unpredictable problems that may arise from both your side and the vendor’s, not the least the technical glitches. Besides, a vendor may give you extra care and attention (and promising treats!) during the free trial to persuade you to buy; but the same attention is significantly reduced once you sign up for a plan.
Freemium software gives you a more realistic period to test the system under a more realistic environment. Give it a month or two for your staff to unearth some glitches or bottlenecks. Do they find it easy to use or intuitive enough? If not why? Are there downtimes; if yes, how often and how long? Are your customers happier? If the freemium version shows potential problems, expect the paid plans will have the same glitches, more or less.
Free help desk software gives you the opportunity not only to check for technical glitches, but also measure vendor’s support. Are you able to reach them fast? How long does it take them to respond? A 24 to 48-hour window for email support is usually the norm. Do they communicate clearly that they grasp your problem (and urgency) at once? These things are critical once you have full help desk software running your customer service. Their customer support (to you) will define your own customer support.
Not that you want cheap help desk software, but you’re just being cost-efficient, at least for now. With a minimal customer base, you can address the most basic customer service needs with a freemium: receive queries, label their status, and sort them out between resolved and unresolved cases. The paid help desk plan with top features can wait until you grow your customer base.
Learning the ropes before comparing help desk software—whether you’re in B2B or B2C model—makes sense. Using a freemium will give you a clear idea how it works and the pros and cons associated with it.
Rather than look at freemiums as a cheap version, use it as an entry tool to help you get the best help desk software in the market today.
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