The Many Pitfalls of Free Help Desk Software

There are many different help desk systems out there. Some are paid others are free, and there are those that are crowdfunded. So, which one is actually better? To asnwer this question, you must align your needs and the tools in question to another and see what works for you. However, what WE can tell you, is that most free solutions have a pitfall or two.

And this is exactly what we want to talk about today. With so many free options out there, we feel that you need to know exactly what to expect from these seemingly free tools. Thus, without further ado, let’s dive into the world of free help desk software.

The Many Types of Free Help Desk Solutions

As you already know, there are a plethora of vendors out there and each of them tries to bring something good to the table. However, did you know that these platform-holders can be divided into four sub-categories? Well, now you do. The categories themselves are based on the pricing schemes, namely Open Source, Freeware, Shareware, Freemium. Let’s take a look at each separately so that you can have a better understanding of how they work and what they potentially can offer.

  • Open Source — For many, these types of tools are the best but it doesn’t mean that they fit every company. Open Source tools are the ones you can download, modify, copy, and even redistribute under license. Typically, such tools are maintained by enthusiasts and/or small communities, meaning they don’t have an owner (although they do have an original author).
  • Freeware — While similar to Open Source on the surface, these tools are owned by a company or a single individual and are locked. By locked we mean that you can no longer modify them and redistribute but you can still download them free of charge.
  • Shareware — These are technically your trial versions. You start to use the tool for free and after a small amount of time (from 7 to 14 days), you will have to pay a set fee to continue using the tool. Such systems are owned by companies and are constantly worked on.
  • Freemium — And the last ones on our list are the freemium options. Such web-based help desk systems are offered as a means to acquire new customers. These systems offer just enough functionality to draw you in but not enough to continue using it effectively. They aren’t trials either as they don’t have a timer and will work indefinitely.

Now that we’ve learned the many different kinds of free options you can use, let’s take a look at some of the popular vendor options and what are their limitations.

Let’s start this section with a look at the help desk solutions that have a dedicated free plan (which is also our number one pitfall).

All these systems are good but very limited, like very-very limited. These aren’t really plans but rather means to see what system might suit you. You are better off using a free trial than these plans as they are just not worth it. We’d also like to point out some Open Source help desks that are available free of charge too.

The two of the most popular ones are Spiceworks and osTicket (which we covered not so long ago). These are not perfect either, far from it in fact. Spiceworks, while free, has a lot of ads whereas osTicket is extremely limited in what it can do. Now onto the next section.

The Hidden Pitfalls

So, the pitfalls. There aren’t that many of them but those that are there will surely leave you with a mixed feeling. There are many troubles with the free help desk systems but we grouped them into four issues for a better reading experience. Namely, one size fits all, lack of growth, lack of support, and security concerns.

The One Size Fits All Problem

This is perhaps the most damaging of them all. When you see a free web-based help desk system, chances are it was made to suit all shoes. This isn’t a bad thing but it is certainly an annoying one. Most free tools cannot be customized and tailored to your organization’s needs.

But wait, there’s more. You will also have to adapt your existing processes to fit the new tool. In practice, this will cause a lot of headaches as you will have a lot of transformations and adjustments to do for things to operate effectively. In other words, testing is required and testing is something that is usually an expensive endeavor.

Finally, you will most likely face resistance from your employees. All this can result in frustrations which is never a good thing.

Lack of Growth

The second issue with most free help desk systems is that they were never designed to be expanded. Say, if you realized that the amount of incoming tickets is too high, then start looking for a new ticketing system because as usual, free tools are limited in this regard. Even worse, most free ticketing systems don’t even have an option to expand for money (due to how they were designed).

If you are heavily relying on an API system, tough luck then as these are usually locked or simply not existing. And if you think you’ll at least get a good help center, we regret to inform you that it is time to look for a third-party solution. Last but not least, if you expect integrations, then these are limited to a few social media platforms or to a few Google products.

The free tools were never made with growth in mind and this means that they don’t really have a lot of room for expansions.

Lack of Support

In third place, we have a lack of support. Many free help desk solutions just don’t have the money to establish a viable community support system. There’s no funding for it. In rare cases, when there is a paid upgrade system, you might get dedicated support but then again, it is a paid option.

In best cases, free plans have either an email support system or a very limited phone one. These typically work from 9-to-5 so if you are looking for around the clock one, you are better off using a paid help desk system (something akin to Zendesk or HelpDesk).

Security Concerns

Lastly, we have security issues.

Free ticketing systems are just that, free. They will never have the same level of data protection as a proper paid system.

Again, it all boils down to the funding but it isn’t about sophisticated, custom made protections, it’s about the fact that they don’t get updated very often. If your lock is rusty, then chances are you will be the victim. The same goes for free help desk systems. They are just not worth it.

Tips On How To Choose a Good Help Desk

And we’ll finish this article with a few helpful tips you should keep in mind when picking a help desk system for your business. So, here are the tips themselves:

  • Always remember what kind of support your customers expect from you
  • Define what kind of experience you want to deliver to your customers
  • Figure out your budget from the get-go
  • Define your core requirements
  • It has a proper knowledge base module
  • Read a lot of reviews before committing
  • Make sure the tool is scalable
  • Always use the free trial option for testing purposes

And that’s pretty much it. There’s more, of course, but these should definitely help you decide on a proper system.

Bottom Line

So there you have it, our take on free help desk systems and what you can expect from them. There are many solutions out there and we are positive that not all of them are that limited but the point of this article was to show that not all the glitters is gold. Experience careful judgment and make sure that the tool satisfies your all core needs, if you do so, you’ll be just fine.

But if you somehow started using a bad free help desk and need help moving your stuff. Just drop us a message and we’ll get you out of there in no time. Thanks for joining and we’ll see you in our next article.

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