Guide to Switching Help Desks

One does not simply wake up in the middle of the night and decide to switch help desks. It’s a process, and one that takes careful deliberation at that. 

Preparing to switch help desks happens well before the actual changeover happens, so if you’re just flirting with the idea of a switch, we recommend reviewing our blog post for some general information about switching help desks: 9-Step Guide to Switching Help Desks

If you've already made the decision to switch to Help Scout though — welcome! 👋 This guide is here to help you make that move. 

Step 1. Get your team in to Help Scout

Help Scout is built to help support teams collaborate — have your team log into the app to experiment a little before you start moving data around or using Help Scout to answer real live customers. When you're ready to make the switch then, you can delete all of the experimentation and start fresh! 

Add team members at Manage > Users. Full help on creating users can be found here: Create and Manage User Accounts

Here are some things to have your team dive into:

We offer live classes several times a week too, and your whole team is welcome to attend or watch a pre-recorded session. Just have them head over to Help Scout Classes to sign up!

Step 2. Prepare for your data migration

Words like “data” and “migration” likely aren't words that inspire comfort or warm fuzzy feelings in your heart, but it doesn’t have to be painful either. 

Help Scout has partnered with Import2 to bring you a quick and easy way to import your emails and/or tickets and customers from a number of different platforms, but before you start actually importing data, you've got some preparation to do. 

How you prepare will rely mostly on where you’re coming from, but no matter where you are moving from it’s good to remember the following:

  • You'll likely use the same support email address as you do in in your current help desk.

You'll just need to change the settings at your email provider that are forwarding emails to your current help desk. This means that emails sent to will no longer be forwarded to, but rather to your unique Help Scout Inbox address that looks something like this:

  • There will be some differences in how we organize conversations by status.

A status of Open with other services is going to be what we call Active. Resolved we call Closed. Below are a few examples of how Help Scout statuses map to some other services: 

Help Scout Zendesk Freshdesk Groove
Active Open Open Open
Pending On-hold Pending Pending
Closed Solved, Closed Resolved, Closed Closed
  • Help Scout does not have types or custom statuses like some help desks.

You can use Tags, Folders, or Custom Fields to organize and track your conversations, which are all highly customizable to fit your team's needs. 

  • All tags and labels will be imported as Tags in Help Scout.

You'll see the same Tags and labels on the same tickets. You can clean up or merge tags after the import if needed.

  • Rules, Macros, and Saved Replies will not be transferred.

Rules and Macros are similar to Automatic and Manual Workflows in Help Scout, and we support Saved Replies as well (sometimes called canned responses or macros by other help desks), but none of those features will be transferred in the import. You will need to move those over manually.

More help on these features: 

Get Started With Workflows

Create and Manage Saved Replies for Fast Answers

  • Knowledge base or help center data will not be transferred. 

Our built in import tool is not able to bring over knowledge base or help center articles. The Docs API is available to build a custom data transfer from other knowledge base providers. Keep in mind that this is a do-it-yourself project that will require API coding knowledge.  

If you're moving from Zendesk: Please reach out to our team before taking any further action if you also need a knowledge base import. We do have an older Zendesk import tool our team can switch you to that will also import knowledge base articles. 

Step 3. Set up your Inbox

If you haven't already done so, get your Help Scout Inbox set up and ready to go — though you will want to wait until you're ready to make the switch for the forwarding changeover. (Keep reading below for more on that!) 

Here's more help to get you through those steps: 

Step 4. Get ready to change your email and other ticket sources

This is the trickiest bit of the process because the timing is important — you'll want to switch the email forwarding and any other sources of emails or tickets just before you start the import to in order to minimize the number of tickets that don't make the jump. Any emails sent to your email address after you've changed the forwarding will go to Help Scout directly. 

  • Gather the information you need to log in with your email provider and make the changes to your forwarding settings so that it's a quick few clicks when you're ready to go. This will cover any tickets generated by sending an email to your email address. Check out Get Your Email Into Help Scout: Help Forwarding or Redirecting From Your Provider if you need a hand finding those settings at your provider. 
  • Do the same for any other sources of tickets that don't just send an email to your email address. For example, integrations with phone providers, social media messaging, or website contact forms that might have been configured to send directly to your help desk. Make sure you're ready to make the change for any sources of tickets to ensure that they'll be headed to Help Scout after you start the import. 

Note: After you've made the switch at your email provider and fully connected your custom email address in Help Scout, head over to Outgoing Email Settings to walk through making sure the email you send from Help Scout is ready to go too!

Step 4. Start your migration

Are you ready to get this done? Head over to Import Emails or Tickets Into Help Scout to get things moving from here!

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