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- Poughkeepsie, New York
As with most of my reviews, I make it a point to visit a company’s About Us page before anything else. This invariably clues me in to the things they excel at which I can look forward to, as well as the areas which they are not terribly focused on. One of the first things that caught my attention (on their Philosophy page) was the phrase “structured flexibility” listed as one of their guiding principles.
It’s an excellent thing to strive for in any context, but one that is by nature very difficult in the programming world. Developers are pro at structure, but getting a machine excel at a task AND be adaptable is a tall order.
But somehow, HelpSpot has managed it. The more I dug into their software, the more clearly I could see how this core tenet played out. HelpSpot can become a natural fit into just about any business model, and grow right along with them as they expand. They boast that they can scale to handle thousands of support requests every day, and from what I can tell, they can do it more affordably than just about anyone out there. They presently have over 15,000 users, including Mayo Clinic, Warner Brothers, and American Red Cross.
To see how HelpSpot might fit in with your customer service tea, read our full review.
Table of Contents
HelpSpot offers a best-in-class 45 day free trial, followed by a 90 day refund period, and your first year comes with free tech support. All you’ll need to do is input a name and email address to get started with your demo. Once you’re ready to jump on board, they have a unique pricing scheme:
- $199 per agent, for life.
This reflects a recent price drop, from $239/agent for life.
You can also “buy in bulk” to save various percentages (5% for five users, 10% for ten… etc)
Also note that there are recurring costs for optional services:
- Tech Support – $69 per year, per user. Includes free upgrades, email support, and phone support.
- Hosting – $50 per month.
If you’re already sold, you can begin your HelpSpot Free Trial.
Web-hosted or Licensed:
Licensed, although they also offer hosting options if you don’t want to host it yourself. Hosting is provided by their partner, Arcustech.
Hardware and Software Requirements:
HelpSpot requires PHP 5.3+, which is included in the installer for Windows users.
The mobile version of HelpSpot is not its own app, but a “mobile mode” of the browser-based dashboard.
Specific Size of Business (or Company Size):
HelpSpot seems prepared to serve any company that is large enough to have a dedicated support team.
Ease of Use:
I am generally satisfied with HelpSpot’s ease of use. From the moment I signed up for a free trial, I was given a ‘welcome page’ and an email full for informative links to get started. I recommend starting with a free trial, even if you know you plan to purchase a license. The links on this welcome page and in the email gave me quick and centralized access to useful articles in their Knowledge Base, and a safe test environment to try things out before real customer data enters the mix.
As I toured their admin panel, I was able to change and customize most everything to suit my imaginary business. Categories can be custom tailored to reflect your in-house nomenclature, and filters can quickly get you to the most relevant information. There is always room for improvement, but HelpSpot does well in this category.
Here is my abridged list of the highlights for HelpSpot:
- Centralized Ticketing – Tickets from any source are centralized, enabling support consistency.
- Filtering – Over 25 conditions and Boolean operators allow you to customize your views in nearly unlimited ways.
- Automation and Batch Actions – Using a similar framework as their filters, you can automate tasks under fine-tuned conditions to streamline your workflow.
- Request push API – Push requests to another external system, such as a bug tracker, for further follow-up.
- Clear ticket assignment – Each request has only one owner so there’s no confusion on who’s responsible for it.
- Reporting – Built-in reports and fine-tuned custom reports are real-time.
Other features include spellchecking, color coded ticket history, cross-message quoting, and multi-brand support.
Integrations and Add-Ons:
HelpSpot does not highlight any 3rd party integrations- not even MailChimp or Google Apps. Some of these might be able to be used in tandem, but I would sooner call it a workaround than an integration.
They do, however, highlight their Live Lookup API functionality, which enables some very useful possibilities. Using push notifications, you can use this Live Lookup feature to track bugs and technical issues, behind the scenes. It makes it possible for you to sync contact lists with your preferred CRM solution. Since HelpSpot can pull all your contacts in real-time, there is no need for it to store any of your data itself. This translates to one fewer link in the chain where data can be lost.
One of the perks to using open-source software is that the community will invariably develop a slew of themes and add-ons to suit their myriad tastes. For you, this means that there are plenty of options out there for getting all of your customer touchpoints to reflect your unique brand. Both the customer portal and the emails sent through HelpSpot can be customized with templates, but be aware that any fine-tuning may require some HTML knowledge.
Customer Service and Technical Support:
Since HelpSpot is both a) a smaller company, and b) open source, the best ways to iron out your tech issues are probably through their self-help options. These include:
Personalized tech support is an optional upgrade, as mentioned in the Pricing heading, above. I’m unsure why it is listed as “per user.” Do companies often invest in tech support for some of their agents, but not all? At any rate, this support includes personalized email and phone support, as well as software upgrades.
As stated above, your purchase of HelpSpot does include one year of tech support for free.
Negative Reviews and Complaints:
The user feedback for HelpSpot was well-rounded, if a bit sparse. While the majority of feedback was positive, there were some very legitimate complaints that surfaced. Some feedback that users gave on how HelpSpot can improve include:
- Ambiguous terminology
- Needs better organization for tickets that may be ongoing or long term issues.
Positive Reviews and Testimonials:
I came across this user review, which does a decent job of encapsulating all the most prevalent HelpSpot feedback:
- “I was really impressed with the rich set of information present on each ticket and the ease with which transferring ticket ownership is accomplished. It’s functions seem to be much more customizable than many competitors.”
Customers commonly praised HelpSpot for:
- Ease of use
- Efficiency boost
- Agent accountability
- Increased quality of support
Security will vary primarily on your choice of hosting. If you choose to host HelpSpot on your own servers, then obviously your security will be on your shoulders. If you choose to utilize HelpSpot’s hosting partner, Arcustech, you can read up on their structure here. http://www.arcustech.com/hosting/helpspot/
As for software-specific security (as opposed to network security,) you can go to their website for a brief overview of HelpSpot’s offerings.
At this point, I am prepared to give HelpSpot an optimistic 4 stars. They earn those stars for:
- Best-in-class onboarding
- Price point
- In-house feature pool
- ease of use
- Open-source architecture and community of developers
- Flexibility (such as options for hosting and self-hosting, adaptability through customization, and filters.)
However, they could get the rest of those stars if they got along better with established applications (like the ubiquitous MailChimp, Constant Contact, Google Apps, Wufoo, etc) and if they kept improving their Ease of Use by hiring an editor to proofread their software and Knowledge Base. The only potential red flag that I can find is the aforementioned lack of integration with Google Apps and the like. It’s possible that HelpSpot could provide all that your service team needs, but I personally like to have access to all the best tools available, no matter who provides them, when excellence is a priority.
In short, HelpSpot gets my seal of approval. I can’t imagine going wrong with a product that is so customizable and scalable. As stated before, I definitely recommend getting your feet wet with the free trial first, even if you know you’ll be buying a license eventually. The onboarding is not to be missed.
If you’re ready to jump in, you can start that free trial.
We've done in-depth research on each and confidently recommend them.
We've done in-depth research on each and confidently recommend them.