We’ve reviewed Freshdesk several times over the last few years and it continues to rank at the top of our help desk competitors. Made by Freshworks, Freshdesk is the small business-oriented platform that contrasts with the company’s enterprise product, Freshservice. The app delivers a wide range of features aimed at providing customer support as quickly and easily as possible. Friction on the customer’s part happens when they don’t get the support they need in a timely fashion or when a problem takes too long to solve. From that perspective, Freshdesk does a great job minimizing that friction on multiple fronts. That, along with more advanced features, like gamification and multiple touchpoint channels, keep Freshdesk an Editors’ Choice winner this time around, along with fellow SMB contender, Zoho Desk.
Freshdesk Pricing and Plans
Freshdesk pricing tiers are named Blossom, Garden, Estate, and Forest. The Sprout plan remains free for unlimited agents with a basic set of capabilities, including managing tickets submitted via phone (though this requires an integration with Freshcaller), email, or social media (Facebook and Twitter). Other features in the free edition include basic automation and access to both an internal and public knowledge base. Customers with location-sensitive requirements can choose the location of the data center where Freshworks will host their Freshdesk instance.
For $15 per agent per month, Blossom adds collision detection and traffic cop functionality, which means it can prevent multiple agents from responding on the same ticket or an agent responding without seeing updated ticket information. Other features include more advanced automation and workflow, custom ticket views, basic SLA management, and integrations through the Freshworks Marketplace.
The Garden level has seen a price increase to $35 per agent per month since our last review. This level adds time tracking, ticket templates, customer satisfaction surveys, canned forms, and escalation emails for SLA violations, as well as “customer 360” tools. These let you see, within the context of a ticket, which knowledge base articles the customer has viewed or any information you’ve previously captured about the customer in previous tickets.
Estate remains $49 per agent per month with support for customized customer satisfaction surveys, advanced ticket assignment methods (round-robin and load-balanced), shared ticket ownership, multiple SLA policies, dynamic ticket forms, support for multiple products, and Freddy, which is Freshdesk’s AI engine. Freddy is basically a one-stop shop for integrating bot-oriented customer touchpoints, like bot-powered voice chat and smart, phone-based IVR systems.
At the top tier, Forest has seen a price decrease to $99 per agent per month. Additional features include HIPAA compliance and IP whitelists for both customers and agents. All pricing levels have access to mobile apps for Apple iOS and Google Android.
While it’s certainly competitive with platforms aimed at enterprises, like Vivantio, the price increases this time around place Freshdesk at the higher end of tools aimed at small businesses. For example, our other Editors’ Choice winner for smaller businesses, Zoho Desk, has similar pricing tiers as Freshdesk, including a free version. Its lowest-paid tier, called Standard, costs $14 per agent per month which is on par with Freshdesk. However, its mid-level tier, Professional, costs only $23 per agent per month compared to Freshdesk’s Garden tier, which now costs $35 per agent per month. So while Freshdesk certainly remains affordable to its small business target audience, there are cheaper solutions to be had if your budget is tight.
A Friendly UI With Some Unique Features
Freshdesk focuses on supporting external customers much like Gorgias targets e-commerce platforms. The app focuses on automating as much of the customer service experience as possible, mainly through bot features. Chatbots and self-service portals can solve a significant number of the most common support requests you’ll get in a customer-facing scenario.
The platform is also known for gamification, which remains a popular add-on to help take the boredom out of a typical customer service agent’s day. This feature is called Freshdesk Arcade, and it’s one area where Freshdesk remains unique. With Arcade, you’ll find leaderboards for ticket resolution and badges for top performers and agents who accomplish unique tasks. You can extensively customize Arcade, too, such that you can determine what point values are given (or deducted) for different events, like ticket resolution in under an hour, problems resolved inside period determined by the SLA, or point deductions for resolutions that come too late.
A nice feature you don’t find in some of its competitors is the ability for each user to configure their Freshdesk dashboard so it displays the information most important to them. This customizable dashboard presents a mixture of graphics and numeric data that can span everything from how many tickets are in the queue for that particular user on up to time slice trends showing what kind of problems customers are calling about most. There are also team dashboards that can provide the same sort of customization for a particular user group.
Canned responses are another way to help reduce how much time it takes to answer frequently asked questions. Freshdesk provides a templating capability that lets you pre-fill information based on previous interactions with a specific customer.
Aside from the Freshcaller hook to handle phone calls, Freshdesk has a host of other integrations, too. These include Google’s Workspace, Slack, Zapier, and more. For a complete list, you’ll need to hit the Freshworks Marketplace, which contains over 300 different application integrations.
While it doesn’t focus on e-commerce as much as Gorgias does, the Marketplace does have integrations for those kinds of apps, such as Shopify or PayPal and Stripe for payment processing. If you’re willing to build some custom workflows, those integrations could bring Freshdesk on par with Gorgias. Freshworks is going for as much flexibility as possible here so you can build whatever help desk your business needs. It’ll still take some work on your part, but the size of the Marketplace is a good step in the right direction.
Two new features we found in this round of testing are two-factor authentication and Field Service Management. Two-factor is a welcome addition to Freshdesk’s security capabilities and works via QR code on a mobile device. Field Service Management adds the ability to manage any service technicians you might have out in the field visiting customers on-site. This module matches your technician names with a scheduling tool that runs on iOS or Android so your field techs can stay in touch on standard mobile devices.
Freshdesk Ticket Management
Digging into the core functionality of any help desk platform means looking at how it manages incoming and completed trouble tickets. Freshdesk uses search to help you quickly locate tickets based on criteria such as open and pending, overdue, urgent, high priority, and other status indicators. This makes navigating through a long list of tickets much easier whether you’re looking for just your own tickets or managing a much larger pool aimed at your team. If you’ve set up custom category fields that are particular to your business or product, you can also search tickets by filtering on them.
We found adding those custom fields to be surprisingly easy. Freshdesk has a very intuitive drag-and-drop editor for this purpose that lets you add, delete, move, and label new fields as you see fit. Mapping them to corresponding fields in your tickets is automatic.
You can also execute scenarios. These are essentially saved action groups that contain multiple steps that Freshdesk will perform automatically. Scenarios can set a ticket’s priority, trouble type, and status. It could also assign a ticket to a particular agent or type of agent or group. You can use these saved views to limit your search list to certain common criteria without having to manually filter the list each time.
When you do need to manually filter a ticket list, you can either use the search button at the top of the screen or the filter panel that comes out from the right side and serves up the most comprehensive search functionality. If we had one complaint about Freshdesk’s ticket design it would be that the basic search function takes you out of the list view and into a search results area that includes tickets, contacts, solutions, and forum content.
Inside each ticket, you’ll see a three-panel layout. The first panel contains high-level ticket information and a history of customer interactions or notes on the ticket. Panel two has property information, so things like a resolution due date, tags, status, priority, and assignment details. The last panel shows customer contact information, agent time logs, and a to-do list.
Freshworks also has productivity settings. These let you auto-manage how new tickets are handled. This automated response system is called Dispatch’r. It’s one of the more complex aspects of Freshdesk we encountered during our test, but once you figure it out, it’s basically “set and forget.” Any automations you configure this way are rule-based, using conditions and actions to perform steps without requiring manual interaction. Observer is another rule-based automation tool that can watch for actions performed by specific user types. A third assistant, Supervisor, can monitor tickets that haven’t been touched in a while and perform follow-up steps.
To ensure your team doesn’t fall behind, the Supervisor feature runs an hourly check to see if any tickets haven’t been updated in 30 days. You can set automated responses to view, escalate, and resolve these tickets. On a similar note, you can set up response templates to solve outgoing tickets for standard requests. There are more than 100 out-of-the-box, ticket-resolution automations.
Freshdesk’s top-tier Forest edition includes a higher-end feature that lets your administrators test whatever configuration changes you make to the ticketing process. Testing happens using a sandbox view where you can see how any changes will behave prior to deploying them in your production environment. Updates can then be deployed as a whole or incrementally once you’re done testing.
Reporting and Exporting Data
Freshdesk has a new analytics module that’s currently in beta at the time of this writing. However, this will eventually replace the current reporting module. The new module focuses on spotting patterns and trends that might not get noticed in a standard canned report. This is on top of the current reporting module that already offers smart reporting based on custom queries.
The current reporting feature lets you ask single questions (“What is the avg first response time for John Smith last month?”) and then receive answers to those questions in a graphical format. This helps you build your own reports simply by expanding on your questions. Start your question with “How many” and the system offers choices such as “tickets were resolved,” “tickets were received,” or “tickets were reopened.” Click one of the options and additional terms appear, letting you get as granular as you’d like without having to know ahead of time what data you’re trying to surface. This makes basic reporting tasks highly intuitive and it’s not a feature you’ll find in many competitors. However, if you’re looking to do more sophisticated reporting you’ll probably need to do it in a third-party tool. leaves something to be desired for users looking to perform sophisticated analysis.
An Excellent Help Desk Platform for Small Organizations
Overall, Freshdesk is definitely still a leader for small businesses that need customer-style problem resolution. It’s not aimed at internal help desks where you’ll need features like change management, asset management, and project management. For these, you’ll want to look at ITIL-compatible platforms, like Freshdesk’s sister app, Freshservice. If high-end internal features like those aren’t what you need, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a tool that’s as capable and easy to use as Freshdesk.