Our Choice in Support Ticketing Software

Toward the end of March, we switched our support ticketing service from Zendesk to Assistly. If you do any support work with clients, then you know how important this decision can be. We have been through three or four different systems in order to get us where we are today.

Unfortunately, that feature worked once out of around 3,000 messages.

In the early days of support, we would simply use email through Google Apps. In conjunction, we used Texter and Text Expander for macros, which are just prepackaged answer references for frequent questions. For a while that worked perfectly for us. We loved how past emails could be searched, but it wasn't a true ticketing system.

Looking to take the next step to an email management system, we decided to give Mailroom a shot. At the time, they were marketing a feature that would supposedly guess what you were about to write and then fill it in for you based upon your previous emails. This seemed like it could be a killer feature, saving us a ton of time. Unfortunately, that feature worked once out of around 3,000 messages. As we continued to grow, we needed to look for something new.

After some research, Zendesk was the support ticketing software we selected. It was a true support ticketing system, and we could continue to grow into it. Plus, Twitter was using it during the "fail whale" outages, so we knew it could handle a load of support questions.  Zendesk had everything we needed — custom reporting, macros, and auto responding based upon business rules.

You might ask, "Why then did you switch to Assistly?"

We still used Texter and Text Expander for some macros. Because of the macro UI within Zendesk, there was not enough space for all the macros we wanted to use. This resulted in about half of the macros we used being in Texter and Text Expander, and the other half in Zendesk. But it still gave us all the flexibility that we needed. We used Zendesk for two to three years, and Zendesk still has everything we need.


You might ask, "Why then did you switch to Assistly?"  There are a couple of reasons we are now using Assistly:

  1. The pricing scheme - Much like us, they use a SaaS model, but their pricing distinguishes between full-time and part-time user accounts. This allows us to have fringe users answer questions when needed, but we only pay for the time they are using the system. 
  2. Knowledge base system - Assistly has implemented a robust knowledge base system, and they have quick code "macroing" that goes with it. Because of the quick code, we rarely need to use Texter and Text Expander for our macros. As the support team continues to grow, we needed to have a uniform set of macros instead of half in one software and half in another.

Assistly is not without its faults though.  Its reporting area is deficient for my needs, and this is something we hope will be addressed in later updates.  Other than reporting, we have been pleased with our switch from Zendesk to Assistly. With this post, I wanted to share what we have used and are using currently if you happen to be in the support ticketing software market.  There is no perfect solution. The only right software choice is the one that happens to best meet your needs.

So what are you using, if anything? How is it working for you?

8 comments (Add your own)

1. Carlos Garcia wrote:
This post is very interesting! Thanks for sharing it! Does Assistly have iphone and iPad apps?

Fri, June 24, 2011 @ 2:49 PM

2. Chad Jaggers wrote:

They do not currently have iphone or ipad apps, but I do know it is one thing they are working on. Zendesk does have those apps and they are quite nice.

Sun, June 26, 2011 @ 11:10 PM

3. Killion wrote:
I've worked with an organization that uses an older (and probably modified) version of OTRS (http://otrs.org/). As far as template replies go, it is awesome at customizing. You can separate which replies should be available for specific queues/email addresses and you can even modify the template response to make it a little more direct/specific before sending.

It's also open source and free which is nice.

The bad thing is that the old version we used felt very ancient and not up to date with web 2.0 interfaces. The screenshots for the new version look much better. It also didn't like to have multiple windows open (the "back" feature within the system itself couldn't differential between what was the last accessed page among them all).

Overall, nice for being free, but a lot of room for improvement. I should note that I've not used another ticketing system to date, so they might all be equally bad. :-)

Tue, July 12, 2011 @ 12:11 AM

4. Erika wrote:
No more s***. All posts of this qulatiy from now on

Mon, February 20, 2012 @ 9:17 PM

5. Kevin Samuel wrote:
Hey Chad,
I invite you to try HappyFox(http://www.happyfox.com), a useful customer support tool. HappyFox with its intuitive user interface and powerful automation features makes dealing with customer requests a breeze. A robust Knowledge Base and an inbuilt reporting system are the other added highlights of HappyFox. With affordable monthly pricing-plans, HappyFox also helps you keep your costs under control.

Mon, June 4, 2012 @ 4:31 AM

6. Michael wrote:
So we too are thinking of using either zendesk or desk (formerly assistly). Though I like zendesk, Desk seems to have a much better system for canned responses/knowledge base articles, whereas Zendesk just piles everything into macros.

Are you still happy with Assistly/Desk? Anything you miss in Zendesk?

Wed, November 7, 2012 @ 10:38 AM

7. Chad Jaggers wrote:

We have been pleased with Desk. When we first moved there were some stats/analytics that we were lacking, but they are now there. I'm sure Zendesk has improved as well.

The canned responses/knowledge base articles is the reason we moved, and it's the reason we continue to stay with them. Either one would be an excellent choice though.

Wed, November 7, 2012 @ 10:45 AM

8. Tina wrote:
Assistly is now Desk, eh? For customer support, yeah, either of those is okay. If you ALSO want to use it for internal IT support, you really need to bite the bullet and go for something that supports asset management so you can associate service requests with actual hardware. The likes of Web Help Desk, VivaDesk, Track-It, etc. are the way to go.

They all can be used for external support too.

Wed, September 25, 2013 @ 3:02 PM

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