ChannelReply Blog

We Found 100% Free Service Desk Software—But Is It Good?

Published at Aug 24, 2017.

We’ve looked all over the web for truly free service desk software. We came across tons of free trials, of course. There were also plenty of dirt-cheap plans, like Zendesk Essential ($5 per agent per month) and Help Scout Basic ($12 per month). We even found some plans that were free for a limited number of users.

But in the end, it still wasn’t what we were looking for. We wanted a totally free service desk for any number of users.

Then we found Freshdesk.

Last updated 5/7/2019.

Free Service Desk Software for Any Number of Users

Freshdesk’s Sprout plan is 100% free for unlimited agents. It doesn’t matter if your support team consists of all 300 Spartans; they can all use Freshdesk with their own agent account.

What’s the catch? We’ve checked, and there is none. We’ll let Freshdesk speak for themselves—here’s what happens when you click on their “View detailed pricing” button:

Freshdesk Detailed Pricing

But of course, if it costs absolutely nothing, that begs the question: do you get what you pay for?

How Useful Is Freshdesk Sprout?

There’s no question that Freshdesk’s paid plans give you a lot more features. But does Sprout have enough to help a customer service team succeed?

A quick rundown shows that it can actually do quite a bit. Let’s take a look:

Speeding Up Replies

Racecar and Pit Crew

The main goal of help desk software is to reduce the amount of work and time involved in replying to each customer. Here are some of the ways Freshdesk Sprout does that:

Canned Responses

Freshdesk’s canned responses make a huge difference in support. Rather than having to write out the same answers over and over, or dig through your archives and copy a previous response to paste in, you can just save the answers to your common questions. Then you can insert them into emails with a click.

Ticket Merging

Merge Icon

Ever have a customer send you five separate emails about one topic within half an hour? Rather than responding to each one separately, or constantly cross-referencing the tickets to put together all the little pieces of info the customer sent, you can combine the tickets into one. No need to deal with multiple windows.

Facebook and Twitter Integrations

Facebook and Twitter integration save you from needing to log into your social media accounts separately from your helpdesk. Once you’ve connected your accounts, Freshdesk can transform the following and more into tickets:

  • Facebook posts on your brand page’s wall.
  • Direct messages on either Facebook or Twitter.
  • @mentions on Twitter.

Then you can respond without leaving Freshdesk.

One downside: Sprout users can only connect to one Facebook page and one Twitter account. However, all paid account levels allow you to integrate with unlimited Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Tags

Add tags to tickets (for example, “installation” for tickets about installing your software) to make it easy to sort out everything about related issues. You can also use tags with your customers, helping you keep track of things like which customers have experienced a certain issue or work for a specific company. You can even tag your knowledge base articles. Speaking of which...

Reducing Workloads

Man Playing Guitar Outdoors

A good helpdesk doesn’t just help you reply faster—it sometimes saves you from having to reply at all.

Knowledge Base

Freshdesk lets you build a knowledge base—a place where you can allow customers to access FAQs, tutorials, etc. This can save you from tons of tickets as customers answer their own questions, either by searching your knowledge base directly or by finding your articles in Google searches. It also lets people who are too busy or shy to contact support find the answers they need.

You can even create private knowledge base articles just for your staff. These can be used to create a library of easily accessible training materials.

Answers Transformed into Articles

Ever find yourself creating a detailed answer to a question and realizing you should really create an FAQ article about it, only to totally forget about it during the rush to answer the next ticket? Email to Knowledge Base lets you forward an answer you’ve written for a customer directly to your knowledge base. It then gets saved as a draft, and you can edit it into an article when you have the time later.

Help Widget

Freshdesk’s help widget works as a contact form to help your customers get in touch with you. You can add it to your knowledge base, of course, as well as your website or even an app you’ve created.

Performance Data

Global Data

About Your Agents

Choosing the employee of the month is always hard. So is figuring out which agents do which job best, especially if your team is scattered across the globe and you can’t just peek over their shoulder. Sprout allows you to see agent performance reports so you’re never left guessing.

About Your Operation

Find out when you deal with the most requests with ticket trend reports. These show you when you need more agents on the job, and can also help you see how well your team is managing support over time.

Mobile Support

Freshdesk Mobile Page

Not everyone has the luxury of leaving work at the office. Sometimes, your customers absolutely need your help wherever you are. Luckily, you can use the Freshdesk apps for iPhone, iPad, or Android to get the job done anywhere.

Spam Box Avoidance

If you have your own website, you can get your Freshdesk account set up with DKIM to act as a digital signature on your Freshdesk ticket responses. This will help make sure your answers get to your customers’ primary inboxes rather than their spam folders.

Security

Sprout comes with some impressive security features, including single sign-on and remote authorization for your portal, and SAML single sign-on.

Why Would You Want a Paid Plan?

Clearly, you can get a lot done with Sprout and never pay a dime. However, Freshdesk's Blossom plan costs as little as $15 per user per month and gives you access to awesome new features and add-ons.

Better Ticket Management

Freshdesk Blossom lets you split tickets up, which is great if a customer sends you a bunch of unrelated questions. It also lets you watch tickets so you never miss an update. Other upgrades include the options to sort tickets according to your needs and even cancel sending a message for 10 seconds after it "goes out."

Third-Party Apps

Sprout users don’t have access to Freshdesk apps. On Blossom, you can get some truly powerful tools. For example, you have full access to CRMs and email marketing tools like Salesforce, MailChimp and HubSpot. These apps are generally paid but can provide a lot of ROI for your business. One example of an app that's especially helpful for online sellers is...

ChannelReply (Amazon and eBay Integration)

Freshdesk Integration with Amazon and eBay

Normally, Freshdesk struggles with Amazon and eBay messages, jumbling data and failing to thread tickets. ChannelReply solves that. By integrating Freshdesk with Amazon and eBay, it keeps all your marketplace tickets as neatly organized as regular email tickets. It also adds tons of useful info about the customer and their order.

Faster Responses

Blossom gives you access to dynamic placeholders. These can automatically enter specific details you've collected from your customer into your canned responses. If you have ChannelReply, you could automatically fill in the customer's name, what they ordered, how much they paid and more using placeholders. It saves a ton of typing.

A LOT More

The full list of upgrades with Blossom is longer than the list of features you get with Sprout! See Freshdesk's own plan comparison here.

Is Sprout Worth Using?

Sprout

Given the enormous list of things Sprout can do, it is totally worth it for startups and small businesses. It provides far more than we would expect from free service desk software. But, if it sounds like it isn’t quite enough for your business, your can read our quick overview of all Freshdesk pricing plans to find the one that works best for you.

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