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.
Yet, with all these positives, it is clear that Zendesk doesn’t exactly fit everyone. After all, deciding on a service desk platform can be compared to picking a new apartment. You want it to be the all-in-one solution to all your needs as you are not planning to move anytime soon. Many Zendesk alternatives center around the same basic functionality and aren’t exactly ideal too. Hence why we decided to focus solely on Zendesk competitors.
This will allow us to fully differentiate both tools, as well as it will ease the process of defining what each tool does better or worse once compared to Zendesk itself. So, with all this in mind, we can start our Zendesk alternatives list with Zendesk itself. Why you might be wondering? And the answer is simple because we first need to know what the target tool is known for. Now on to the review itself.
What is Zendesk?
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.
Overall, the help desk system is very scalable and can fit practically in any business model. It is limited in terms of industry-specific requirements meaning that it will not be just as effective as stated in niche markets. The key functionality Zendesk is being praised for is its ability to transform any issue, conversation, phone call into a ticket. This is precisely what most alternatives to Zendesk try to copy and suffice to say, results are of varied quality.
Zendesk works best in large organizations where the volume of inquiries is massive. Those companies that operate on a smaller scale usually cite the fact that the tool has way too many features even in beginner/free tiers. Yet, despite all this, it is still regarded as one of the most powerful systems out there.
Zendesk works best in large organizations where the volume of inquiries is massive.
Best Zendesk Alternatives
There are many different tools that are classified as Zendesk alternative but we decided to cover only the best ones. 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.
At number one on our list is Freshdesk. Known for its ability to adapt to a multitude of revenue models, this service desk is perhaps the best example of a Zendesk alternative that doesn’t try to copy everything. 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 isn’t exactly expensive as it comes at a mere $19 user/month with its starter pack. Those who have a small to medium size business won’t spend more than $35 user/month, making the tool a viable option for startups.
Next on our list is Help Scout. This is a relatively new tool on the market but it doesn’t mean that its fringe. In fact, its quite complete in its feature set and it has enough unique functions to be classified as a Zendesk alternative 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 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.
The tool will run you just $20 agent/month for the starter tier. The company also offers $32 agent/month for the Plus tariff plan that has a lot more going on. Lastly, there’s the Company tariff plan which doesn’t have a distinct (you have to contact the Help Scout to get a price number) but it does have a few extra goodies such as Enterprise level security.
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.
This tool is often compared to 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.
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, its 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 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). 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, its 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 hang up on us.
It can be hard sometimes to find a proper help desk tool that would replace Zendesk. So, instead of limiting our self to just service desk, we decided to expand the list to cover messaging platforms. And for the better, as Intercom is perhaps the most robust messaging platforms we’ve seen to date. It has a plethora of features that aren’t found in a messaging system, making a unique hybrid service desk tool.
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 notification. Having it at your disposal, you can send relevant messages to your prospects at any time and anywhere. 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 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.
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.
The tool can work as a stand-alone solution or as 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. But that’s not all because you can also rely on intelligent ticket assignment system which will find the right agent for the right issue, as well as to 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.
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 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 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 whistle of the tool in an unlimited quantity.
Another great help desk system is Zoho Desk. 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.
...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 take little to no time to learn how to use. This can save you a lot of hassle, as well as you can start boosting your operation faster.
The pricing system of Zoho Desk is pretty straightforward, you get a free plan, a paid medium plan which starts at roughly $15 agent/month, and the premium package which is roughly $30 agent/month. The reason why roughly is that Zoho Desk charges in euros, meaning that the price can fluctuate depending on the financial climate.
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 in 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.
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. 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 is 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.
And the last contender on our list is JitBit Helpdesk. This tool will help both large and small organization win new customers, all while securing high-quality service. It 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.
Unlike other tools on our list, the system has two variants. A web version and a self-hosted solution. The first will cost you a mere $29 agent/month whereas the latter is quite pricey, rounding in $1699. Keep in mind that these are starter plans. And premium ones will cost you $129 agent/month for the web version and $4999 for the on-premise solution. Although, it also worth stressing out that you only have to pay once for the self-hosted solution and it does have a few advantages over the web version (such as more scalability and flexibility).
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 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.
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