Easy to start with a basic free setup and upgrade as your company grows or develops the need for more features.
No on-site version for those who distrust the cloud. No dedicated asset management features.
- Bottom Line
Zoho Desk is a flexible helpdesk system that integrates well with other Zoho offerings. It provides basic features for small to midsize businesses (SMBs) as well as a full feature set for larger companies.
Zoho Desk is just one of Zoho Corp.'s huge suite of SaaS applications, including Zoho CRM, Zoho Projects, and Zoho Campaigns to name only a few. For its part, Zoho Desk is Zoho's entry into the helpdesk space and, all in all, it does Zoho credit. Zoho Desk (which costs $25 per user per month for the Enterprise edition I tested) is a great choice for either internal helpdesk or external service desk scenarios. It integrates with Facebook, Google Analytics, Twilio, and Twitter to extend functionality and provide gateways for users to interact with agents using Voice-over-IP (VoIP) or social media, as well as to provide data analysis to managers monitoring customer interactions and service-level agreements (SLAs). All of that and a nice price tag earn it an Editors' Choice award in our helpdesk category, along with HappyFox and Vivantio Pro.
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Zoho Desk comes in three versions: a free version, a $12-per-user-per-month Pro version, and a $25-per-user-per-month Enterprise version, which adds features intended for larger organizations. This version checked all of the boxes of our features table that can be checked, except for asset management. Unlike ServiceDesk Plus 9.1, which is also owned by Zoho (but released under ManageEngine, its subsidiary brand), Zoho Desk is not available as a standalone on-site app but only as a managed cloud service.
Another way Zoho sets Zoho Desk apart is by price. Other products that sport really complete feature sets, such as Vivantio Pro, reach prices as high as $90 per user per month, while Zoho Desk Enterprise maxes out at $25 per user per month. That's quite a bargain considering all of its features, and those who don't need all of that capability can drop their costs even more by opting for the Pro version.
Zoho does a good job keeping setup simple, starting with the free version, which lets an IT department test the basic system without even having to provide a credit card number. After you enter the basic company information, you can set up users and define their roles in the support team, which has some impact on features made available to that user.
You can then begin setting up customers, creating reports, defining service-level agreements (SLAs), linking to social media, texting messages, configuring chats and VoIP sessions, creating a knowledge base, and entering tickets. The user interface (UI) is clean and easy to navigate, with views for agents and managers following the same forms.
Tickets can be entered through the customer service portal or through Facebook or Twitter as with HappyFox. As you can see below, the ticket management UI provides simple ticket aggregation through any social media channel or directly through your company's portal.
Managers can easily drill down to incident details or look at tickets by agent, issue, keywords, or customer (see below). While there is no dedicated asset management system or feature set in Zoho Desk, it's certainly possible to create an asset tag entry on the customizable ticket form, as well as user names that could enable an agent to perform asset management-style searches, such as seeing if either the user or their PC has had problems in the past. Managers can also monitor SLAs by user, department, or company.
Self-Service, Reporting, and Integration
It is often most effective to let customers attempt to find the information they need before tying up an agent. The self-service portal includes access to a custom knowledge base. Agents can easily add to the knowledge base while solving a new problem, as well as adding to an existing entry as things change. The knowledge base system is both flexible and easy to use, with separate categories for FAQs, how-to articles, and known issues. It's a simple matter to set up multiple portals for different customers, whether internal or external, with customized forms by using different logos or other branding.
Reporting is available for several defined categories, as well as for custom reports to suit individual requirements. In addition to monitoring open tickets, time-to-close tickets, open versus closed tickets, and similar metrics, SLAs can be defined. Any issues that don't meet an SLA can be flagged or escalated to higher tiers of support.
Users can be prompted to evaluate the agent that gave them support, and the results are collected and made available to management for analysis. Below you can see the input form for evaluating an agent along with the drill-down capability for a manager.
Integration with other Zoho apps as well as with Twilio for voice calls, Twitter for chats, and Facebook public or private groups for social media support are all simple to set up and automate the creation of tickets through hashtags or other identifiers. With a wide array of methods to initiate tickets for internal or external customers, Zoho Desk is ideal for either service providers or for internal use by companies large or small.
Feature Sets by Version
The three available versions offer a great set of features. Even the free version is usable, especially for test purposes or for for smaller businesses that may not be sure they need such a product.
- Free: This version offers Work Modes, Customizable Help Center, Knowledge Base, Community Forums, Re-Branding, Domain Mapping, Priority SLAs, Basic Reports, Agent Dashboards, Manager Dashboards, Ticket Overview Dashboard, and the Team Feed.
- Pro: This version offers everything in the Free version plus: Multichannel Support, Helpdesk Automations, Multi-Department Management, Advanced SLAs with Business Hours, Integration with Zoho CRM with two-way sync, Customer Happiness Ratings, Cloud Telephony using Twilio, and Advanced Reports & Dashboards.
- Enterprise: This version offers everything in the Professional version plus: Multi-Brand Help Center, Scheduled Reports, Cross-Department Reports, Contract Management, Custom Ticket Templates, Role-Based Access Control, Zoho BugTracker Integration, Cloud Telephony with IVR, and Live Chat Support.
Overall, the Enterprise version of Zoho Desk is a very capable, easy-to-use, and nicely priced helpdesk system. A free trial makes creating a test bed simple and it provides a well-designed and capable UI for the Enterprise version. Unless you're specifically looking for a helpdesk system with integrated asset management, such as Freshservice or Zendesk Support, this should definitely be on your short list.
Logan G. Harbaugh is a freelance reviewer and IT consultant located in Redding, CA, who has worked in IT for more than 20 years. He was a Senior Contributing Editor with InfoWorld Labs for eight years, a Senior Technology Editor at Information Week Labs for five years, and has written reviews for many publications and web sites, including Storage Magazine, TechTarget.com, BizTech, EdTech, FedTech and StateTech, Virtualization Review, Information Week, eWeek, Network World, Linux Journal, PC Magazine, PC World and Internet.com. He has also written… More »
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