CRM or Help Desk — What’s the Difference Anyway?

The modern business structure splits into two these days. One is team CRM and the other is team Help Desk. “But why the divide? Aren’t they the same?” - some of you might reason. And frankly, they aren’t. They might look similar but in all honesty, they are two completely different tools that aim to achieve fundamentally different things.

But bold statements are just that, bold. That is why we decided to answer this tricky question by stacking the two against each other and analyzing them to the brim. So join us as we visit the depths of each system and try to explain the aforementioned differences. Let’s get started!

What’s a CRM System?

Now before we start drawing any comparisons, we’d like to first, define what each system is and what problems they can solve. That way you will have a better idea of how each of them differs, as well as which one suits you better.

So, Customer Relationship Management or CRM System for short is a dedicated platform for managing your relationships with your current customers. Back at the day, all customer information was stored separately across multiple divisions. Your CEO knows a few things regarding business needs, your sales reps had other bits of info in their inbox, and your accountant knew how invoices were sent.

HubSpot crm system

A CRM system enables to gather and store all the necessary info about your customers and leads. It includes the info on their persona, company, deals and any relations to your company. Source: G2

As the industry grows larger and your company evolves, having all customer info at one convenient and easy transferable place becomes a necessity rather than an option. After all, not having all that stuff in one place will slow down your support teams which can lead to losses due to your staff being disconnected. You need context to deliver good service.

This is where CRM systems come into play. Their purpose is to solve all of the above-mentioned through a set of features. They will organize and centralize all your customer information in one place and make it easily accessible from afar.

What’s a Help Desk?

Now that you have an idea of what a CRM is, let’s take a look at what a Help Desk system is and how it can help you out. We’ve already covered what a help desk is but, in short, it is a cloud or on-premise software system that helps your agents to serve your customers in a fast and effective manner.

On paper, the two systems are quite similar, in fact, for many of you it will sound pretty much identical but it is not. You see, where a CRM system holds customer information, a help desk tool makes use of the information to help your agents deliver better customer service. Indeed, from answering questions to solving product-specific issues, Help Desk systems are great for such things.

Zendesk ticket view

Using help desk, you will also have all the info you need on your customers and their companies. However, it will concern the customer service and support issues and tickets linked to them. Source:

But that’s not all, you can also integrate your Help Desk solution to a social media platform of your choice, as well as you can use it to automate responses, answer common questions and redirect people to an info portal (i.e self-service portal). As you can see, a help desk is much more than a CRM in terms of support features.

Before we close this section, we’d like to stress that you can also use help desks to acquire new customers. Yes, most help desk vendors deliver a bunch of dedicated customer acquisition tools, something CRMs don’t usually offer.

What Tool is Better?

And now for the fun part. You see, both Help Desks and CRMs aren’t exactly competing but serve as “nice-to-have” systems. In other words, if you have a CRM, consider getting a Help Desk and vice versa. As to the question of which one you should go for, we say it depends on your requirements and needs.

Help Desks and CRMs aren’t exactly competing but serve as “nice-to-have” systems. In other words, if you have a CRM, consider getting a Help Desk and vice versa.

If you want to improve your current customer service, Help Desks are amazing for this. They will not only help you serve more people at once but will accelerate problem-solving since you can off-load mundane work from your staff and let them focus on things machines can’t handle. But if you want a database for your ever-expanding list of customer data, CRMs are here to help. They will not only allow you to categorize and store information in an easy-to-digest manner but will prove to invaluable for future references.

As an example, let's take a look at the CRM and help desk products of the same vendor - Freshworks:

Freshsales deals

Managing sales deals in the Freshsales platform - a dedicated Freshworks CRM. Source: Startpack

Freshdesk tickets

Ticket management is the main purpose of Freshdesk - a dedicated help desk from Freshworks. Source: Software Advice

It's true that many companies first use a CRM system and then proceed to use a dedicated help desk system. The reason why they do this is growth. There is a time when your businesses need more than just one tool to handle all the tickets, the customer data, and the incoming support requests. So, if you are using a CRM and think that you should have used a help desk from the beginning, you are ready to switch.

Which One Is Cheaper Then?

And the last section of this article is pricing. While for many this isn’t an issue, we still decided to outline the general idea of how much a tool in its purest form costs. And by purest, we mean the price plan the vendor offers. Now how we did this is we took 10 popular help desk solutions and 10 popular CRM solutions and averaged everything out. Here’s what we got:

Average Help Desk Price — 50$ agent/month
Average CRM Price — 40$ agent/month

As expected, CRMs are cheaper but not significantly. But to put credit where credit is due, we selected the best ones. So, no wonder the price is $40 per agent a month. If you dig a tad deeper, we are positive that you’ll find a cheaper option and with just as many features. The same goes for help desks.

Does your business need both tools to boost the productivity? Take a look at this CRM help desk solution that allows users to combine both CRM and help desk benefits in a single place.

The Takeaway

And that’s all we have for today. We hope we managed to explain the difference between the two tools. They are similar, no doubt but ultimately, they are different and work better in unique scenarios. So, if you are planning on upgrading to a help desk tool, or want to move your old data from your email to a CRM, we can help you export your stuff in no time. Just give us a call and our technician will help you start in no time!

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