7 Best Free and Open Source Help Desk Software Tools

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The help desk needs help, Open Source Help Desk Software Tools

Misplacing tickets, violating SLAs, frustrating customers, and sometimes losing them, all signs are pointing to a need for a better system. The only problem is, the budget isn’t there to shell out $100-$200 per month on software.Open Source Help Desk Software Tools

To help get you started, and save you some cash, here are some great free and open source help desk software solutions on the market right now.(Open Source Help Desk Software Tools)

Free/Freemium Options For Open Source Help Desk Software Tools

1. Freshdesk

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Open Source Help Desk Software Tools

Freshdesk is fourth on Capterra’s rankings of top 20 customer service software providers. Their free option is for up to three agents, with limited functionality.

Stand-out features

  • Easily prioritize certain customers based on SLA policies
  • Easily turn emails and tickets into knowledgebase articles
  • Use 16 different languages
  • Access via mobile-friendly site

Freshdesk’s solution for temporary increased demand is solid. Add extra agents for a day to work through a backlog for $1 – $3, without changing your plan. You can even purchase these in advance and use them as needed.

One Capterra reviewer found the customer service “incredible.”

Cons

Freshdesk’s most compelling feature might be its ability to gamify customer service. The system offers points and rewards for excellent service, to help boost service desk employee engagement and morale.

Unfortunately, gamification isn’t available at the free level for Freshdesk.

In addition, one SmallBizTrends reviewer found Freshdesk to be on the slow side.

Overview

Ultimately it makes sense to only have gamification available to larger shops. Gamification relies on competition among agents to really work. However, the other features will still be helpful to one-to-three person shops. For one-person shops, choosing a free option which is still free when you grow might be a good idea.(Open Source Help Desk Software Tools)

2. Spiceworks

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Open Source Help Desk Software Tools

Flipping the usual narrative, Spiceworks’ free version is self-hosted, managed, and backed up. Usually self-hosting is a premium service that comes with support and backups for the product. Spiceworks is one-and-done, download, and you’re ready to roll.

Stand-out features

  • Free regardless of the number of agents
  • LDAP/Active Directory Synchronization
  • Mobile Integration
  • Multi-Site Support
  • Fast and easy Windows installation
  • Also offers server monitoring services

Cons

  • On larger networks, performance can be slow
  • Can be difficult to install on Linux, Unix, or VMWare

Overview

The main feature of Spiceworks’ free version is that it’s self-hosted. If you don’t need or want that because you prefer the management and backups to be handled elsewhere then you should probably choose another option.

Other Free/Freemium Tools

Sysaid, ManageEngine, and Zoho all offer free services as well, and might be worth checking out.

3. C-Desk

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Open Source Help Desk Software Tools

C-Desk is a complete free helpdesk system which includes cross-team service request management, manual asset management, a knowledge base, a photo gallery, a notice board, and a log book.

Stand-out features

  • C-Desk, unlike most free options, is free no matter how many users or technicians use it

Cons

  • Capterra users didn’t have much to complain about. The feature list for help desk software might not be fully filled out, but there’s still plenty that C-Desk does.

Overview

As IT Manager Rupesh Medhekar wrote, “C-Desk is very user friendly application with bundles of features.” In addition to all of the above functionality, C-Desk also offers task management, project management, surveys and polls, and chat features. Like most help desk software, C-Desk routes each request to the best tech for the job. One Capterra reviewer called C-Desk’s forms functionality more advanced than Google forms.(Open Source Help Desk Software Tools)

Open Source Options

While free versions of help desk software are usually limited in users and functionality, open source software is fully functional for all users. It’s also extremely customizable. However, installation and configuration of the software is on your team. To balance everyone’s needs, most open source help desk software companies also offer a preconfigured version and/or installation and support for a price.

1. osTicket

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Open Source Help Desk Software Tools

With osTicket you can associate your SLAs with help topics, departments, or ticket filters and set up overdue alerts and notifications when you miss due dates. The customer portal contains all help requests and answers for access later.(Open Source Help Desk Software Tools)

Stand-out features

  • Add your logo, images and videos to tickets
  • Space in ticket for notes of all actions
  • Unlimited SLA agreements

Cons

  • Community support is strong, but sometimes larger issues take longer to resolve

Overview

osTicket has most of the features of a full-fledged help desk software tool, including a ticket filter tool to route incoming tickets from email, web forms, and phone calls to the right agents. Its auto-responder helps you set up workflows by ticket type. Automatic canned responses are possible, and the system offers dashboard reports.

2. OTRS Free

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OTRS Free offers emails notifications when tickets are created and changed. Tickets can be sorted by status, such as new, open, watched, escalated, pending, in-process, or by priority, escalation time, SLA, service, or type. The system reports on number of tickets and processing time.

Stand-out features

  • Available in 34 languages
  • Ticket lock prevents two agents from working on a ticket at the same time
  • Out-of-Office feature and visualization of agents that are away
  • Search auto-suggest

Cons

  • Admin manual is 300+ pages long

Overview

The biggest benefit is the ability to automate more and more requests, which reduces errors and optimizes the efficiency of your agents. OTRS Free calls this their process management module. Once you standardize processes like ordering or billing, decision dialogues guide the service agent and the customer through the process. Free configurable workflows make many tickets mostly automatic.

3. Mantis Bug Tracker

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Open Source Help Desk Software Tools

Most commonly used to track software defects, Mantis Bug Tracker is also a good open source help desk software. It’s fairly configurable, offering the ability for agents to decide which email notifications they want, for example by setting filters to define the minimum severity of issues to receive notifications about. Various levels of access can be given to different users, and changes to tickets are recorded in audit trails.(Open Source Help Desk Software Tools)

Stand-out features

  • Set user access by project and role
  • Track issues which have been resolved via RSS feeds
  • Revision control of text fields and notes
  • Graph relationships between issues

Cons

  • Configuration is “quite daunting” for non-developers, requiring manual editing of php files

Overview

The best part of Mantis Bug Tracker is the plug-in system. Over 50 plug-ins on the MantisBT-plugins organization on GitHub make it possible to do things like tweet a notification when an issue is resolved or send SMS messages or update statuses in external project management systems. TechRepublic also calls it “simple to use and simple to install.”

4. Bugzilla

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bugzilla

Bugzilla isn’t fancy. You can’t rate bugs according to importance or color code them. But that lack of features also means a clean, simple, easy-to-use interface. It does have some advanced features, such as advanced search which can remember your searches, and editable user profiles. Email preferences and bug permissions are comprehensive.(Open Source Help Desk Software Tools)

Stand-out features

  • Advanced search
  • Remembers your queries

Cons

  • Installation can be a bit confusing for non-Linux/UNIX administrators
  • System can’t be customized
  • Difficult to install on Ubuntu server

Overview

If your needs are basic and ease of use is important, Bugzilla is a great choice.

Conclusion

If it’s time for a better system but a budget isn’t appearing, check out some of these options for improving your customer service workflow. And if you do decide it’s time to invest,

check out Capterra’s help desk software directory to compare the options.

Have you used any of the suggested products? What did you think?  Are there other great free or open source help desk options out there?  Add them in the comments.(Open Source Help Desk Software Tools)

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