If there’s anything in the world help desk systems that is certain, that would be the fact that Zendesk is in a class of its own. It is perhaps the most robust tool the market has ever seen in any period of time. It is very polished and well-rounded in terms of functionality. No matter what your competition offers, it is most likely Zendesk has it already, just under a different name. Considered by many to be one of the best help desk solutions out there, Zendesk has established itself as a viable platform for both customer service and managing internal operations.
Yet, with all these positives, just like everything in this world, Zendesk isn’t perfect for everyone. In fact, some companies might benefit from other types of products, whereas others will find a relatively high price to be too much.
In any case, if you find Zendesk to be not your cup of tea, we’ve piled a list of some of the most excellent Zendesk alternatives money can buy. These tools not only have a lot of similar features found in Zendesk but offer unique ones as well. As usual with such lists, we will talk about individual characteristics, their performance, and most importantly, the price.
This way, you will not only see the whole picture but also will know exactly what each tool sets itself to do. Thus, without further delay, let’s see what Zendesk alternatives are worthy of your attention.
Now before we start looking at all the alternatives to Zendesk we’ve piled up, it’s best that we also take a look at Zendesk itself. This way, you will know what exactly we will be trying to find in alternatives to Zendesk, as well as we’ll make sure that everyone is on the same page.
So, for those of you who have been living under the rock for the past 10 years, Zendesk is a customer service system designed to accelerate a wide range of business operations. It is widely accepted that the tool has some of the best automation tools, as well as a better integration system than most alternatives to Zendesk.
Since 2007 Zendesk has gained more than 40,000 customers worldwide. Many high profile companies operate thanks to Zendesk successfully. Among the most notable ones are Shopify, Groupon, Vodafone, and even the UK government. Thanks to the robust ticketing and management system, the tool gained a cult following among many startups as well.
Zendesk is known to be superb when it comes to self-service operations and consumer portals that companies can establish. Another important part of Zendesk is its analytics and reporting tool. They can keep track of multiple things at once, as well as they can be used to monitor product success rate and employee performance. Outside of boosting business operations, Zendesk provides a considerable number of customization and branding options. With it, companies can create custom animations, backgrounds, icons, and even behaviors.
Last but not least, Zendesk has a fairly reasonable price policy. For $89 user/month, companies will get access to the whole feature set. And those companies that are curious enough but still not convinced can try the $5 user/month plan to test things out beforehand.
Key Zendesk Competitors
Now that we have covered what is Zendesk and why it is so popular among different companies, it's time to look at the Zendesk alternative platforms list. We will cover each in detail and try to answer as many questions as possible. There are many different tools that are classified as Zendesk alternatives but we decided to cover only the best ones. As for the list itself, it includes Freshdesk, Help Scout, JitBit Help Desk, Zoho Desk, Spiceworks, HappyFox, Intercom, AzureDesk, Kayako, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, LiveAgent, and finally, Jira Service Management. We will be covering their key features, their prices, and what makes them a good alternative, to begin with. Thus, with no particular order, here are the best Zendesk-like tools in the business.
Zendesk Competitor #1: Freshdesk
At number one on our list is Freshdesk which is a relatively young platform with a lot of promise and frankly, features. One of the main components of this platform is the fact that you can adapt it to just about any business model. This service desk is perhaps the best example of a Zendesk alternative that doesn’t try to copy everything. Whether you work in traditional retail or e-commerce, Freshdesk will work in both scenarios. Also, the tool comes packed with a bunch of smart automation options. From ticket rerouting to answering basic customer messages, Freshdesk will do wonders.
For starters, you get access to a team inbox where you can easily view and resolve multiple problems surrounding customer satisfaction.
Another key component of Freshdesk is canned responses. This feature allows you to solve issues in a fast manner as you cut time on composing unique greetings. But that’s not all, as you can combine this feature with the scenario automation system. The end result will allow you to not only greet your customers in a unique way but solve common issues, questions, and threads in a matter of seconds. Then there’s the Team Huddle function which will establish a bridge among other agents for quick consulting. Last but not least, you get 24/7 support.
Freshdesk comes equipped with a bunch of gamification options that business owners can use to boost both customer loyalty and productivity. Essentially, you can make mundane work much more competitive and much more interesting through a series of challenges that come with reward points. These reward points can later be exchanged for a prize (say, a new laptop, or something), or used as an internal currency. Outside of prizes, employees with exceptional performance will have a badge near their profile signifying their contributions to the company.
Another important component of Freshdesk is the routing system. It can be adjusted, modified, and transformed to suit your organization's needs much more effectively. But the main takeaway of it is the fact that you can use it to track customer mentions, social media profiles, replies, and so much more. Essentially, what it can do is gather data from all kinds of sources and route them to one place where your agents will be able to deal with them. And it's not just about gathering new requests. It can resolve them as well, meaning that your agents don’t have to worry about performance reports as everything will be automated.
Freshdesk comes with a huge range of plans that will fit just about any budget. Just to be exact, the tool comes with 5 distinct tariffs, namely Sprout (free), Blossom (15$ agent/month), Garden (29$ agent/month), Estate (49$ agent/month), and Forest (109$ agent/month) respectively. And looking at all of them, the Estate is considered to be the best as it has enough unique features and it is cheaper than Zendesk.
Zendesk Competitor #2: Help Scout
The second alternative on this list is Help Scout. This is a relatively new tool on the market but it doesn’t mean that its fringe. Over the years, the platform has gained quite a lot of traction due to it being super accessible and effortless to set up. It is used by many freelancers and small businesses and is widely considered to be the best bang for your buck. The tool is also very reliable and super fast because it doesn’t use a conventional UI (more on that later), and has one of the most robust notification systems to date.
In fact, Help Scout is quite complete in its feature set and it has enough unique functions to be classified as a Zendesk alternative rather than a clone. Thus, Help Scout is a service desk tool for customers and not for tickets. What this essentially means is that all the features have a direct and indirect impact on the end-user.
Take for instance their communication module. With it, customers will be able to talk with your agents organically using email. What we mean by organically is that your customers won’t feel as if they are just a number on the queries list. On the backend side of things, the customer will be logged but on the frontend, all communication will feel natural and effortless. Another component that is worth mentioning is the ability to track engagement level from start to finish. This way companies can easily identify what causes customer frustration, and what kind of measures they should take to mitigate the negative effect. Last but most certainly not least, Help Scout allows you to make self-service portals where your install base can find answers to issues they have without the need to consult an agent.
Shared Inbox System
One of the main features of Help Scout is its shared inbox system. What it does is it allows you to set up a single place for all your agents. That place will have its own set of “profiles” for each agent, but the overall workspace will be shared. This will allow your agents to see what others are doing, as well as what tickets need immediate responses. In essence, this shared box is a collaboration tool, but the best part of it is that it doesn’t feel like one since everyone has their place. This box gathers data across all your social media profiles, e-commerce platforms, and even other help desk tools.
Detailed Customer Profiles
Another good thing Help Scout provides is detailed customer profiles. Now at glace, this might seem something less impressive, but in reality, this isn’t the case as the more information your agents have on customers, the better they can assess their issues. This is also a good thing for newcomers since they have no idea who's who and how to talk to them. This system allows you to comment on profiles (if the permission is granted, that is), leave badges, warn about things the person doesn’t like, etc. This will ensure that you people can provide a unified, high-quality service.
If you look at the pricing policy Help Scout provides, it is clear that this is a happy medium. On the top end, you have the premium tariff that will cost you an undisclosed amount of money (certain publications state that it is around $69 agent/month but don’t quote us on that). Then there’s the middle plan, which is $32 agent/month and will pack you up with just about anything you need. The standard plan is only $20 agent/month. For our money, we suggest that you use the middle option as it has all the tools necessary and won’t cost you a fortune.
Zendesk Competitor #3: JitBit Help Desk
Viewed by many as one of the most robust ticketing systems, JitBit Help Desk is a platform built specifically for smaller sized companies. It doesn’t mean that it won’t work in a large enterprise. This tool will help both large and small organizations win new customers, all while securing high-quality service. However, smaller companies will benefit from the features more than those that are bigger. What sets this tool apart from the competition is the ability to hook up the system with multiple third-party tools.
One of the most prominent features of JitBit is the fact that you can set up a communication channel across all of your departments. Whether you need a multi-channel setup or an omnichannel, JitBit is capable of doing both. And thanks to the smart notification system, you won’t be lost in notifications as every one of them will be labeled accordingly. And it’s not just emails; everything will be easy to read and digest thanks to the fact that you can fill out as many details as you like. The tool allows you to add custom fields, meaning that the stock options don't limit you. Thus, the tool has a multi-channel communication module, a good ticketing system, and a decent selection of automation options.
Yet, the main dish of the tool is its reporting tool. With it, you can not only create custom reports but gather data from various sources. Thanks to the fact that the report system uses an API token, you can embed it anywhere you want. The tool also has a loyal client system that will let you browse your customer purchase history, as well as what kind of items they view the most. The tool also has a self-service system that will let you establish a customer portal. Lastly, JitBit also provides you the ability to set up a unified inbox where all customer queries will be stored.
Having a mobile version of your service is no longer an option; it’s a necessity. Many companies usually resort to the mobile application, and thankfully, JitBit has one of the most robust apps out there. Essentially, it is a full-fat experience that is cramped down in a mobile application. From ticket management to profile viewing, there’s everything. Oh, and did we mention that it’s free? You’re welcome!
JitBit offers a wide range of plans that come with different features. But outside of these plans, the company also offers an on-premise solution and a cloud one. So, depending on the hosting solution, you can dish out for the on-premise solution upwards of $1699, $3499, and $4999 for Small, Company, and Enterprise plans, respectively. And for the cloud versions, upward of $29/month for the Freelance plan, $69/month for the Startup plan, $129/month for the Company plan, and lastly, the Enterprise plan will cost you $249/month. The tool isn’t exactly cheap but pretty fair in its pricing policy.
Zendesk Competitor #4: Zoho Desk
Another great help desk system is Zoho Desk. It is a potent tool that has a wide range of features you can use to boost your online presence. It is also a great tool to increase agent productivity, thanks to the included automation system. Its main purpose is to solve the issue of the lack of dedicated service desk systems for SaaS companies. Suffice to say, it managed to complete this feat in a breeze. It not only gave these companies the necessary tools to manage their customers but means to acquire new ones. Yes, unlike Zendesk, Zoho Desk also has an advertising module.
While it's not explicitly stated on their website, with Zoho Desk you can hook the platform with all kinds of software systems. Be it MailChimp or some proprietary home-baked solution, you can connect the two to boost your odds of both selling and gaining new prospects. Also as an indirect bonus, this tool is very intuitive and it takes little to no time to learn how to use it. This can save you a lot of hassle, as well as you can start boosting your operation faster.
Just like Zendesk, Zoho Desk has a ticketing system that is powered by an AI system dubbed Zia.
The Zia AI
What it does is it allows your agents to deliver better results through timely and accurate recommendations. Essentially, Zia reads the conversation flow, analyzes it, and searches for a solution both online and in your knowledge base. In other words, Zia is context-aware, and this is something that only continues to improve. But this isn’t Zia’s only strength as it can be used to answer incoming inquiries round the clock. The results are great as the messages are human-like, and the precision is simply put, outstanding.
Another good point about Zoho Desk is the fact that it has a dedicated asset management system in place. It’s still being worked on, but the results are fascinating. You can use it to track all your subscriptions, as well as connect it to popular third-party platforms. And speaking of integrations, Zoho Desk is known to be able to hook to just about anything that has an API. You can find it useful if you also need to manage your social media profiles.
The tool isn’t exactly expensive, and this is why most view Zoho Desk as the best alternative. For $15/month per agent, you get access to all basic help desk features, and if you want something more advanced, you’ll have to dish out $30/month per agent which is double of the starter plan. The company also has a free option, but it is quite limited in what it can do. It might be a good option for companies that would like to test things out beforehand, to learn the interface, etc.
Zendesk Competitor #5: Spiceworks
This tool isn’t exactly a Zendesk alternative as it was tailored to serve IT companies, it does still have a number of features that can be put against Zendesk. So, for starters, Spiceworks is an ITSM tool that has a number of integrations, including email, website, social media, etc. Among the most prominent features of Spiceworks is that the tool itself is very easy to use and requires little to no prior knowledge.
Focus on IT Support
This tool is often compared to SolarWinds Service Desk (Samanage) due to their strong focus on IT support, it has one huge advantage over the said tool, it's completely free. And it's not just free to some degree, you get the whole product with no strings attached. You might be wondering if there’s a catch and we are happy to say, that no, there is no. The only issue with the whole system is that it is ad-driven, meaning that the developers of Spiceworks rely on ad revenue to keep it afloat. You can disable the ads for an undisclosed amount of money, or you can continue to use it as is.
Long story short, if you are looking for a free alternative to Zendesk, then you won't find anything better than Spiceworks. You get unlimited everything and in case you want to get rid of the ads, we are pretty sure the prices are somewhat comparable to other service desk systems. And even so, the ads aren’t that crucial if you are a small company that just started doing business.
If you are looking for a free alternative to Zendesk, then you won't find anything better than Spiceworks.
Zendesk Competitor #6: HappyFox
This tool doesn’t exactly have a good reputation when it comes to their website but it does get credit where credit is due. Viewing the tool like a help desk solution, we can say for a certain, it's glorious. What we mean is that in order to see all the bells and whistles the tool has to offer, you need to schedule a demo. It's not the end of the world, it is something to keep in mind for the future.
Yet, despite all the caveats, the tool is a pretty cool combination of Zendesk and original ideas. What we mean is that it has enough unique DNA to stand on its own but somehow still manages to resemble Zendesk. Those who opted to use HappyFox can easily rely on a robust ticketing system, as well as one robust reporting tool (more on that in a moment).
Live Chat System
Aside from that, they also provide a really good live chat system that you can hook with practically anything you like. All chat interactions will be recorded in the reporting tool and in case you need to differentiate them by sources, the report tool allows for that.
Overall, it’s a nice package as the help desk itself is quite easy to use and does not require you to know the intricacies of help desk development. In other words, if you know how to use an email system, HappyFox shouldn’t be an issue for you. You can get all of this for just $39 agent/month starting with 3 agents. In case you wanted this tool for just yourself, you are out of luck as the company doesn’t sell it that way. Other than that, it's still good as it’s feature-rich and never hangs up on us.
Zendesk Competitor #7: Intercom
It can be hard sometimes to find a proper help desk tool that would replace Zendesk. So, instead of limiting ourselves to just the service desk, we decided to expand the list to cover messaging platforms. And for the better, because Intercom is perhaps the most robust messaging platform we’ve seen to date. It has a plethora of features that aren’t found in a messaging system, making it a unique hybrid service desk tool.
Outstanding Communication System
So, for starters, Intercom being a messaging platform, has one of the best communication systems in the industry. With this feature, you can reach your customers using live chats, emails, in-app messages, and even push notifications. Having it at your disposal, you can send relevant messages to your prospects at any time and anywhere.
Tied to a Chat Tool Knowledge Base
Another cool feature of Intercom is the ability to create knowledge bases (see what we mean by hybrid) that are directly tied to a chat tool. Essentially, you can place live chats on all pages of your knowledge base. You also get automated reports regarding tickets. Whether the ticket is closed or not, you will get a report regarding the status of the issue. Finally, the tool offers both a desktop and mobile solution which are on-par when it comes to functionality.
The tool comes at just $87 a month and you get access basically to everything you need. You can also dish $153 for the Pro tariff which has a few extra features but we suggest you stick with the basic as it is good enough as is.
Zendesk Competitor #8: AzureDesk
This seemingly small help desk tool has one of the best, if not the best, email communication systems we’ve seen. The key motto of the company is to go beyond customer satisfaction and deliver the ultimate service. And frankly, the tool has all the means to deliver such customer service.
Email System Integration
The tool can work as a stand-alone solution or as an integration to your current email system. In any case, once you hook up the tool, a wizard will greet you and help you configure the whole thing. Once you’ve passed this phase, you will gain access to a number of sorting options, tracking tools, and prioritization systems.
Intelligent Ticket Assignment
But that’s not all because you can also rely on an intelligent ticket assignment system that will find the right agent for the right issue, as well as a very responsive and fast user interface. Combine all this with a decent presentation and you get yourself a special kind of service desk. It doesn’t have a lot of unique features but those that are there are working as intended.
The service desk starts at just $9 a month per agent and includes everything we’ve stated above. At this price, it’s a steal in our opinion. We suggest that you at least give this tool a try, especially considering that they offer a 14-day trial. After all, it won't cost you anything and you get to test everything we’ve mentioned above for yourself.
Zendesk Competitor #9: Kayako
Moving on our list next is Kayako. Known to deliver on promises, this service desk tool is a godsend to those who seek an on-demand live chat and help center systems. Yes, Kayako is a master when it comes to the unification of customer support processes. Everything in this service desk just speaks quality. But we wouldn’t be honest if we stopped here as there’s more to the tool than meets the normal eye.
Indeed, looking at Kayako under the microscope, it's clear that it was built with omnichannel support in mind. This means that right out of the box you can connect Kayako to your social media suite, your website, and external resources. This will allow you to see in a broader manner what kind of things you should improve, as well as what issues you are currently facing. An easy to digest dashboard presents all this information to you in and in case you need additional things on it, you can add them in just a few clicks. Also as part of the omnichannel system, you can easily track where your customers come from. It will also show you what kind of journey they went through once they have landed on your website.
The tool starts at $15 agent/month and includes the basics. If you want something more special, you can try the Growth plan but for our money, we advise you to go straight to the Scale tariff (this is their premium plan) which is roughly $60 agent/month. This way you will get all the bells and whistles of the tool in an unlimited quantity.
Zendesk Competitor #10: Microsoft Dynamics CRM
While not new to the market, Microsoft's solution is pretty good in terms of features and reliability. But as the name suggests, this tool is first and foremost a CRM system. Yet, despite it being a powerhouse of a platform, it features a set number of great customer service functions that you can use to boost your odds on the market. While MS Dynamics is a CRM tool, it does provide similar features Zendesk has. Although, the key takeaway of the tool is its superb tracking system.
The philosophy behind the tool is quite simple: maximize engagement and minimize frustration on both ends. The tool has a nice feature called Service that can present a consolidated case where every interaction is tracked, every step is recorded. This will eliminate the need to ask the same thing over and over as more people join the support chat.
Additionally, the tool has a monitoring system that allows you to track all your social media channels for unanswered issues. This will make sure that no customer was left unnoticed, as well as it will make sure that you provide your support in a timely manner.
All in all, the tool will cost you $115 user/month. Yes, it’s quite pricey, especially considering that this is the starting point. The mid-tier plan will cost you a whopping $190 user/agent but you do get a high-quality tool that is more than a good CRM system. There’s also one thing we’d like to state and it’s the fact that the tool doesn’t have a trial plan. Thus, choose carefully otherwise you might need to double-dip.
Zendesk Competitor #11: LiveAgent
Simple in design, this service desk tool is among the best live chat vendors on the market. It has small, medium, and large organizations in mind and the feature set clearly reflects it. The main functionality of LiveAgent is to combine all your communication resources into one aggregated space so that managing it all wouldn’t require scrolling hundreds of browser tabs.
Outside of the above-mentioned functionality, users can also take advantage of the sophisticated issue supervision tool. Plus, there is a collision detection mechanism.
SLA Tracking System
Another cool feature of the tool is the SLA tracking system which lets you see how certain interactions might harm your relationship with your customers. Last but not least, you also get access to a nice live chat tool that you can place anywhere you see fit. It also comes with a translation module that supports up to 39 languages.
When it comes to pricing, the platform is really flexible and has a nice range of different modular plans. By modular we mean that in case you need just the ticketing system, you can grab the Ticket Plan which will cost you only $9 agent/month. But in case you are wondering if they have a fully-featured plan, they do. It will cost you $39 agent/month. Overall, a pretty good deal if you ask us.
Zendesk Competitor #12: Jira Service Management
And the last one on our list is the Jira Service Management. Developed by Atlassian, Jira is a widely recognized brand that is used by many companies across the world. One of the best things about Jira Service Management is that it can be used by both tech-oriented companies and companies that work in more traditional fields. Jira is still a service desk, and you can see it in its stock functionality. But thanks to the included marketplace, the tool can be used just about anywhere.
As mentioned above, the Atlassian Marketplace is one of the key advantages Jira Service Management has over its competition. With it, you can add a massive amount of features that you don't normally see in service desk solutions. True, the average price will increase. But you aren’t limited anymore, and the modularity will allow you to combine a huge set of things into one living organism. Another part of this is that you can use the marketplace gradually as you increase in size. In other words, if you need a single premium feature and don’t care about the rest, the marketplace allows you to buy that one feature.
Jira Service Management doesn’t use a traditional knowledge base system. Instead, the company offers you to use the Confluence platform. What makes this good is that it is its tool that gets its own set of updates. Essentially, a separate team is developing Confluence o which means you will get higher quality updates more frequently. Another benefit stems from the fact that you can split Confluence into multiple knowledge bases. Say, if you have a separate brand, Confluence allows you to make a new base for it in a matter of seconds. This makes managing much easier. It will also allow you to identify what issues your customers face much faster since each product is its own thing in its place.
Since the price can vary depending on the number of additional installs, the average price of the Jira Service Management is hard to calculate. However, what we can do is take a look at the official price. So, for three agents and more, you will have to pay $20 each. If you have more than three agents, then you’ll pay $15 for the next 85 agents. And lastly, if you have more than 85 agents, you will pay $8 per individual/month.
Which One Is The Best?
Now that we’ve covered all help desks, it’s time we stack them up against each other. We will try to identify what are the bottlenecks of each tool, what tool is the most convenient, as well as try to compare the price to performance ratio. We will also take a look at the usability rate as it is one of the most important aspects of any software tool and how well each tool scales.
Thus, if we take a look at the usability rate, there is no denying that Help Scout wins. Nothing beats the email-like interface. Everything is super accessible and works like a dream. Plus, there is the fact that you can share a single workspace with multiple agents. The second best would be the Jira Service Management as it is practically self-maintained and requires little user input to be able to work on it.
The most convenient of them all would be JitBit as it offers an uncompromised mobile experience. With more and more people shifting towards mobile alternatives, having an app that delivers the same results as the desktop version is simply amazing. And thankfully, JitBits solution marks all the requirements.
As for the prices, the winner would have to be Freshdesk with its varied amount of plans. Some of you might argue that Jira is the cheapest one and that isn’t too far from the truth. But when you take into consideration that Jira Service Management comes barebone, Freshdesk becomes the clear winner.
When it comes to features, Zoho Desk wins. The AI-powered bot is too good to pass on. It will not only work days on end for you but will actually reduce the load (and in some cases, stress) from your agents. And then there’s the price; it's not the most affordable. But it is pretty fair and understandable.
There is simply no competition. Jira Service Management takes the cake as being the most scalable tool on the market. You can expand just about any module, and in case you are missing one, chances are you can add it through the marketplace. If pricing isn’t a concern for you, Jira will do wonders.
So there you have it. There’s no denying that Zendesk is a good tool. But as you can see, there’s plenty of alternatives that you can take advantage of. Some of them offer a similar experience. Others try to win their customers by offering all that Zendesk has, plus a few extra features. We know some of them will work better in a specific environment whereas others are more universal.
In any case, no matter which one you decide to try, most of them have a free trial meaning that you can test them before purchasing. We hope we managed to answer all your questions regarding Zendesk alternatives. We tried our best to cover each corner, and in case we missed something, be sure to let us know. But in the meantime, if you plan on moving to any of these tools, we can lend you a hand. All you have to do is drop us a message, and our expert will get in touch with you in no time. But for now, thanks for being here. See you soon!
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