The 11 Best Zendesk Alternatives Worth Trying in 2024
Zendesk is a great product that offers extensive customer service features. But it has a caveat, it’s expensive and complex.
If you’re not a large enterprise, chances are you’ll find Zendesk to be overkill. Especially since there are more user-friendly and affordable Zendesk alternatives that offer a great feature set.
If you’ve faced challenges using Zendesk and need to switch to an alternative, this guide is for you. We did some leg work for you and found the 11 best Zendesk alternatives based on factors like ease of use, feature set, and pricing.
What are the disadvantages of Zendesk?
While it’s hard to argue that Zendesk isn’t a great customer service platform, it does come with disadvantages: High costs and a complex interface.
Here’s a quick overview of Zendesk’s disadvantages as a customer service platform.
Zendesk can get quite expensive even if you use its most basic plan. The base plan doesn’t include features like service level agreements (SLA), custom and live analytics, or AI features.
Advanced features are locked behind a paywall. Even essential features like customized support forms are not available on the base plan.
Add-ons with extra cost
Sure, you can buy add-ons to get advanced features on a lower-tier plan. But there is a caveat: Not all add-ons are available on all plans.
If you’re on the base plan (Suite Team) or the next tier (Suite Growth plan), you aren’t eligible for the advanced AI add-on. If you’re eligible, you’ll have to shell out quite a bit for add-ons.
The advanced AI agent, for instance, costs $50 per agent per month.
Zendesk’s extensive onboarding process and complex configurations present a steep learning curve. This can translate to cumbersome onboarding, low employee buy-in, and investments in training.
Even once you’ve dealt with these problems, you might not achieve the same level of efficiency as you would with a more user-friendly platform.
Ironically, Zendesk has a reputation for being non-responsive. Don’t take our word for it—here’s a review from a Zendesk user on Capterra:
“If you need support for this software, they take a long, long time to get back to you. You better know what you're doing, because if you need to get a hold of them, I wish you the best of luck.”
Zendesk can be difficult to navigate. The lack of support only exacerbates the problem and leaves teams without dedicated experts on their own.
11 Best Zendesk alternatives for customer service
We’ve compiled the best Zendesk alternatives for customer service below. From basic communication to AI-powered tools, these solutions offer a wide range of features for customer service.
Look for an option that meets your business needs and offers value for money.
Missive is the perfect customer service solution for startups and small businesses. It’s not a full-fledged help desk software, which means you won’t have to spend time navigating through a lot of clutter.
The platform allows assigning customer conversations to a specific team, person, or multiple people. To automate this process, you can create rules to route conversations to the appropriate location.
Built-in email management
Missive offers a comprehensive range of email management capabilities. You can collaborate on customer emails, delegate them to team members, and manage multiple email addresses at once.
Missive helps you automate various workflows for incoming and outgoing messages, as well as user actions. There is also an OpenAI integration that acts as an email assistant, helping you be more productive.
Simple and affordable pricing
Missive helps small businesses deliver great customer service without spending a fortune. All paid plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee, so there’s little risk in trying it out yourself.
HubSpot Service Hub is a help desk platform that helps manage customer inquiries from its feature-loaded interface. It might be a good fit if you’re an enterprise user and require features like video recordings, the option to create a knowledge base, customer satisfaction surveys, and automation.
HubSpot saves plenty of time by helping you automatically assign incoming messages via chat and email to the right person on the team.
Support agents can use one of the 5,000+ email templates available on HubSpot to quickly respond to inquiries—you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time you receive a query about your refund policy.
While HubSpot is almost as complex as Zendesk, it does offer a limited free version and better support quality than Zendesk.
Salesforce’s customer service help desk solution is called Salesforce Service Cloud. It offers features like case management and omnichannel routing.
If you’re already using Salesforce products, Service Cloud would naturally be an ideal Zendesk alternative.
However, Salesforce will leave many of the Zendesk problems unresolved. For example, Salesforce also has a complex pricing structure and expensive add-ons. It’s also one of the more expensive options on the list.
While Salesforce does offer omnichannel routing, users report that case routing often doesn’t work. Users also cite the complex integration and implementation as a concern.
4. Zoho Desk
Like Salesforce, Zoho Desk is a comprehensive customer support software solution. The ticketing tool enables you to handle customer requests across multiple communication channels, departments, and products.
Zoho Desk offers omnichannel support, so you can handle these customer requests via live chat, phone, email, web forms, and self-service portals.
Speaking of live chat—Zoho Desk’s AI-powered chatbot (called Zia) elevates the customer experience and simplifies processes for agents.
It automatically fields customer queries from customers by generating responses using information in your knowledge base and other sources. This reduces support desk traffic and earns your agents some time. The AI chatbot also helps support agents find information faster during calls.
You can integrate Zoho Desk with various Zoho products, including Zoho CRM, Analytics (business intelligence software), and Cliq (UCaaS platform), as well as third-party tools like Slack, Mailchimp, and Asana.
Zoho Desk is a lot more intuitive than Zendesk and offers better support. However, the base plan doesn’t offer much. You’re compelled to opt for the second tier to increase limits across features.
5. Help Scout
Help Scout gets many things right. It has a clean and intuitive user interface, helps create customer portals for self-service, and offers features like shared inboxes and in-app messages.
The platform brings various AI features to the table, including AI summarize, which translates email threads into bullet points, and AI assist, which checks the text for grammar, tone of voice, and fragmented thoughts.
The setup is simple and quick, and the pricing structure is easy to understand. But it’s still an expensive solution. If you’re looking to switch to a more affordable Zendesk alternative, Help Scout is not it.
It’s also not the most customizable solution out there, though. If you need extensive reports, you might find Help Scout’s reporting features lackluster.
If you’re looking for a general customer service and ticket management platform with automation features, Help Scout is a great pick.
HappyFox allows you to deliver support via channels like email, live chat, social media, and phone. The platform helps create a knowledge base, which integrates with its self-service portal.
HappyFox’s knowledge base and self-service portal functionalities are a great way to reduce support desk traffic—they help your customers find answers by themselves and track ticket status, previous engagements, and other details without having to contact support.
It’s great that Happy Fox doesn’t limit itself to help desk features like a ticketing system, canned replies, and automated workflows. You also get detailed reports, satisfaction surveys, and built-in task management functionalities.
However, HappyFox does make you pay for these features, so only go for HappyFox if you plan to use the majority of its features. In fact, it’s even more expensive than Zendesk. While you won’t save anything by switching to HappyFox, you might want to consider it if you’re a large business that needs an extensive feature set combined with an intuitive interface.
LiveAgent is a multi-channel support platform that helps you build a call center, interact with customers via live chat on your website or social media, and build a knowledge base.
LiveAgent takes a gamified approach to customer service. Agents can earn badges for completing specific customer service tasks. This gamification can instill a competitive spirit that encourages agents and helps you identify areas where training may be necessary.
The live chat widget is fast and easy to implement. It includes access to unlimited chat and ticket history, chat analytics and tracking, and chat invitations with custom design options.
The platform integrates with over 200 tools, including Zapier, WordPress, Mailchimp, and more. Their extensive integration library is a plus since it helps you connect the customer service platform with your entire tech stack.
Gorgias is best suited for ecommerce brands, but you might consider Gorgias if you want access to features like social media sentiment analysis—a feature not commonly found in customer service platforms.
Because Gorgias targets ecommerce businesses, it integrates with all the popular ecommerce platforms, including Shopify, Magento, and BigCommerce. Their integration with Shopify is especially advanced—it allows agents to edit orders and handle refunds using its own interface.
While Gorgias is a great help desk software solution for ecommerce brands, it’s mostly ideal for small and medium-sized businesses. Large ecommerce businesses that also sell on marketplaces like Amazon and eBay might be better off with a different platform that integrates with these marketplaces.
Freshdesk is a natural alternative to Zendesk since it offers a similar feature set that prioritizes support via multiple channels, AI features, and scalability.
The platform allows you to configure automated workflows to field customer inquiries. The workflows can deliver tickets to the right person on the team and prioritize critical tickets.
The collision detection feature in Freshdesk ensures two agents don’t simultaneously work on the same customer inquiry. Freshdesk is loaded with collaboration features, too. You can use features like team huddle and shared inbox for more effective customer support.
You’re essentially switching to a more affordable version of Zendesk when choosing Freshdesk. It’s also less complex than Zendesk and offers additional features like collision detection. However, Freshdesk lacks customizability. If you’re looking for flexibility, you’ll need to look elsewhere.
Intercom is a customer messaging platform that enables you to provide multi-channel support via live chat, email, in-app messaging, and push notifications.
At the same time, Intercom helps you build an external knowledge base that allows customers to find answers without speaking to an agent.
Intercom Inbox is a great feature that brings all customer communications to a single interface. It helps you build workflows to automate tasks like routing customers to the right knowledge base content or agent.
You can integrate Intercom with almost any popular app, including WhatsApp, Salesforce, and Facebook. The only downside to Intercom is its steep pricing. If Zendesk’s price is a problem for you, Intercom isn’t the best Zendesk alternative.
|Proactive Support Plus
Kustomer is known for its ability to tackle a high-traffic support inquiries with ease. It combines robust customer support features with automation to deliver a great customer experience.
While most solutions on the list are standalone solutions, Kustomer is both a CRM (customer relationship management) and a customer support platform. Kustomer’s duality helps you see a complete picture of every customer as well as execute tasks across both systems at once, saving you time.
The AI-powered support platform supports various channels, including email, chat, SMS, social media, and phone.
While Kustomer is a feature-rich Zendesk alternative, it’s far from cheap. It’s significantly more expensive than Zendesk. There are only two pricing plans, so you can’t select a lean basic plan. If you want to use Kustomer, first verify if all the features it offers have value for your customer service processes.
How to choose the best customer service software for your business
When selecting a customer service platform, here’s what you should consider:
Identify your business’s needs—what features do you need in a customer service solution? Do you just need basic ticketing, a chatbot, and social media integration? Or do you need advanced AI features to automate customer support?
This allows you to filter out tools loaded with features you don’t need. When comparing tools, use the features you’ll use regularly as a basis to find the perfect tool.
Complexity discourages employees from using your software regularly. Ease of use is vital to getting employee buy-in.
When you use complex software, you lose on multiple fronts. You pay a premium for the extensive feature set, and you spend more on training staff.
If a support agent can’t use your customer service solution confidently, they’re more likely to make mistakes. The cost to your reputation in such cases can be rather expensive.
Transferring data is easier between integrated software. When your customer service software integrates with CRM like HubSpot, it’s easy for support agents to access customer data and register support tickets and other interactions in the CRM.
Integrations also make automation easier. For example, you could integrate a third-party tool like Asana to automatically create support-related tasks for agents whenever a customer opens a support ticket.
A customer service platform’s own customer support team says a lot about the company’s commitment to customer service.
There are other ways to assess support quality as well. For example, you can reach out to support yourself to see how quickly they respond.
Read through the SLA to see if the service provider guarantees a resolution or response time.
Customizability helps tweak the platform to suit your needs.
For example, not every business has the same escalation procedures for support inquiries. The customer service platform must allow you to configure your process to match your workflow.
Security and compliance
Look for industry-standard encryption protocols like SSL/TLS. Encryption ensures your data remains secure. See if the platform offers role-based access control (RBAC) to limit access to specific functionalities and data based on user roles.
Certifications with regulations and industry standards are a great indicator of a platform’s commitment to data security and compliance.
Look for certifications that confirm compliance with regulations and standards like GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), or ISO (International Organization for Standardization).
Reporting and analytics
Reporting and analytics are critical features. It tells you how your current customer service strategy is performing and what you need to change to improve it.
When evaluating a platform’s reporting analytics features, consider the following:
- Metrics: See which metrics the platform helps you track. Common examples include resolution time, customer satisfaction scores (CSAT), and agent performance.
- Customized reports: Does the platform allow customizing reports according to your needs? You should be able to track the criteria that matter most to your customer service team.
- Visualization options: Consider visualization formats available on the platform. Ideally, you want to be able to view data in charts, graphs, and tables.
You might even consider looking for AI features that allow automated reporting and trigger alerts when a specific threshold is met.
For example, when you receive more than 1,000 support tickets per month, the platform could automatically notify the support manager so they can make arrangements to tackle the high volume of queries.
Even if a platform checks all the right boxes, you have a budget to stick to. Steer clear of platforms with a complex pricing structure like Zendesk’s.
Look for a simple pricing structure. Factor in the cost of overages (for exceeding usage limits such as the number of tickets or API calls) and add-ons, if any.
Speak to support to learn about any hidden charges, like data storage fees or charges for accessing historical data. Sum up all the costs to calculate the total cost of ownership (TCO) and compare that with the value the customer service platform offers.
Zendesk's alternatives to elevate your customer service
Zendesk is a great customer service platform. But its broad feature set, complex user interface, and expensive and confusing pricing can be major problems for small and medium-sized businesses.
The best customer service tool is a combination of three things:
- It has the features you need
- It offers great support
- It’s within your budget
If you’re thinking about moving away from Zendesk, give Missive a try. It’s a team inbox and chat app that allows your team to help customers across all popular channels.