Compare 10 of the best Zendesk alternatives: FocalScope · Dixa · Freshdesk · Gorgias · Front · Zoho Desk · LiveAgent · Hiver · Help Scout · Intercom.
Looking for a Zendesk alternative? You’re not alone.
As one of the biggest brand names in customer service software, Zendesk is a great product and well-loved for its feature set. But it doesn’t always work for everyone.
Whether you’re looking for something cheaper, more flexible, or less complicated, consider the following 10 Zendesk alternatives:
6. Zoho Desk
9. Help Scout
All of these tools are targeted at improving your customer service function, so we have listed the key feature differences, pricing, pros and cons to help you find one that suits you most.
FocalScope – Rated 5/5 ★ on Capterra
FocalScope is unified customer service software that includes email ticketing, voice, live chat, as well as Facebook, WhatsApp and Telegram messaging.
Powerful email ticketing engine
As a solution that first started out as an email ticketing software, FocalScope now boasts a wide range of features to improve agent collaboration and productivity. Key ticketing features:
- Ticket logs: Trace any ticket activity, including views, replies, notes, chat logs and more.
- Internal notes: Share information and reminders between agents for efficient shift handovers
- Internal chat: Start an internal huddle about a ticket, and pin the chat log for later reference.
- Anti-collision alerts: Prevent agents from working on the same ticket and confusing customers.
- Ticket routing: Automatically distribute tickets based on rules and SLA-triggers.
- Training Mode: Assign new agents to Training Mode for practical on-the-job learning.
- Translations: Translate incoming and outgoing emails in 100+ languages.
- Data masking: Protect sensitive info like credit card details with data masking.
In-house voice software and call center features
FocalScope also has its own voice software, unlike most providers that typically rely on 3rd party integrations or solution partners.You’ll get a more consistent, “one-stop shop” experience, seamless connections with the software’s global features, direct support from the FocalScope team.
A few stand-out voice features:
- Screen pop: Enable agents to reference caller data immediately when the call connects.
- Call disposition: Create associated forms (e.g. Sales, Tech) for agents to record notes.
- Call routing: Route calls to agents, select a ring strategy and configure call overflows.
- Wait queues: Limit wait times or queue sizes and route callers to voicemail or backup agents.
- Call monitoring: Listen, whisper, or barge into live calls for training and quality assurance.
- Text-to-speech: Convert text into lifelike audio for phone greetings, IVRs, surveys, and more.
- IVRs: Leverage IVRs for intent routing (“Press 1 for sales..”), surveys, and short answers.
- Post-call SMS surveys: Measure CSAT and NPS via automatic post-call SMS surveys.
- Teams integration: Make and receive calls in Teams, while retaining call center features.
SLA management, dashboards and reporting
Snapshot: Manage SLA performance with time-based alerts and routing.
FocalScope is loaded with SLA features that help you monitor performance and ensure compliance. Set different time-based alerts to avoid ever hitting the SLA or KPI threshold. Examples include:
- Flag expiring emails or live chats in red
- Alert a supervisor by email or SMS
- Route expiring tasks to a back-up team or escalate to a manager
- Route calls to mobile phones in emergencies or time-sensitive orders
When it comes to reporting, you get SLA data on top of 70+ other reporting and dashboard templates. And unlike Zendesk (and most others), you won’t need expensive plans to customise your own reports with FocalScope.
Enterprise-grade configuration possibilities
Although Zendesk positions itself to be the choice software for bigger companies, user feedback shows that it lacks flexibility in configuration. In most cases, you aren’t allowed to have different settings within a single instance (a complete nightmare for BPOs and contact centers).
We’ll explain with an example: Say you have 5 agents at your Australia HQ, and 500 agents at your call center in Malaysia. Zendesk’s global settings won’t allow you to configure different wait queues, so you’re stuck with unrealistically uniform wait times and overflow settings across locations.
With FocalScope, you can configure these details so that workflows are accurate representations of customer traffic and agent availability at any touchpoint, across locations and channels. This protects your SLAs and/or internal KPIs while conferring greater efficiency and agent utilisation.
Travel management companies, contact centers and BPOs
Manage multiple clients using a single FocalScope instance. For each client account, you can set up unique voice IVRs, routing, SLAs, live dashboards and report templates according to their requirements. You can also schedule recurring reports to be sent to relevant stakeholders, and share your live dashboard with them for daily tracking.
When it’s time to submit a new tender, or renew an existing one, FocalScope gives you all the data needed to evidence your work, SLA performance, CSAT and NPS scores for better results. Click to learn more about how we help travel and BPO companies.
Cloud, on-premise or hybrid deployment
FocalScope is the only customer service software that offers flexible deployment, enabling you to deploy your helpdesk or call center in the cloud, on-premises or a hybrid combination of the two.
If you are required to store customer or enterprise data in your own servers, you’ll need on-premise deployment. If you operate multiple contact centers around the world, go for hybrid implementation.
- Small cloud: $9 per agent per month (up to 2 agents)
- Cloud: $39 per agent per month
- On-premise: $39 per agent per month
- Voice: Contact us for pricing plans
FocalScope has a very straightforward pricing model. It stands out amongst Zendesk and other providers because their core features are always included in their full depth, and won’t require expensive add-ons or plan upgrades.
Let’s use routing as an example: Zendesk requires the Suite Professional plan ($99/user/month) for skills-based routing. Hiver’s Enterprise plan ($80/user/month) will get you round-robin ticket routing. Front requires their Elite plan ($99/user/month) if you need shift-based routing.
At $39/user/month, you get all three and many more routing methodologies with FocalScope.
Amongst Zendesk competitors, FocalScope is one of the most flexible, well-rounded, and feature-rich options available. With it, you get every channel and every feature to its full extent without expensive add-ons, and you can configure virtually anything to make the solution work just for you.
Thinking of making the switch?
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Dixa – Rated 4.3 ★ on Capterra
One of the newest kids on the block, Dixa is a Danish startup offering a “customer friendship” platform aimed at helping businesses improve customer service across channels.
To differentiate itself, Dixa is proudly vocal (and making headlines!) about its anti-ticketing, “Tickets are dead. Long Live Conversations!” stance.
Dixa vs. Zendesk – What’s the difference?
As a Zendesk alternative, here are key areas where Dixa stands out between the two:
- Conversations, not tickets: All customer interactions (across channels) are organised into a single, threaded conversation history.
- User-friendly: Dixa is recognised for its intuitive, aesthetically-pleasing interface, that allows agents to pick up the software easily.
- Strong customer support: Users report getting end-to-end implementation support from the Dixa team, as well as fast and efficient support whenever they need help.
- Openness to feedback: Dixa is known for its receptivity towards feedback, and are quick to deploy fixes as well as new features that have been requested.
That said, some users have also reported finding Dixa’s basic features to be “unfinished” or limited in flexibility. For instance, you can’t merge contact data between emails and phone calls. There’s no feature for you to measure CSAT for phone support, either.
Dixa offers three plans, billed annually, with a minimum of 8 agents required at all levels:
- Professional: $99 per agent per month
- Premium: $139 per agent per month
- Platinum: $179 per agent per month
Update: Dixa recently revamped these bundles to Starter, Advanced and Unlimited. They no longer publish prices, so you can take these numbers as indicative costs.
Dixa pros & cons
Consider the pros and cons of Dixa as a Zendesk alternative:
- Easy to set-up and user-friendly interface
- Conversation-first concept facilitates personalisation
- Ability to set up automated workflows easily
- Great end-to-end support from the Dixa team
- Expensive, with a minimum number of 8 users required
- “Unfinished” features, particularly in phone support
- Limited analytics and reporting capabilities
- Prone to system crashes and performance issues
Dixa review: Final thoughts
Given that Dixa’s a newer software in the market, you must be prepared to face occasional teething problems and feature gaps. Dixa’s actively working on those, though, as can be seen from their acquisitions of Elevio (knowledge base), Solvemate (chatbots) and Miuros (analytics).
Yet, it’s worth noting that these capabilities aren’t exactly new, having existed for years in most customer service software available today—including Zendesk.
And if those prices are still what they are today, Dixa’s entry-level $99 per user per month bundle is far more expensive than most enterprise-level subscriptions in the market. At the minimum requirement of 8 users, you’re looking at upwards of $790/month for the cheapest plan. With these costs in mind, you’ll want to be mindful of the final price tag before committing.
Freshdesk – Rated 4.5 ★ on Capterra
Freshdesk is a well-rated Zendesk alternative, known for being cheaper, easier to use, and a favourite among small to midsize businesses.
Compare Freshdesk vs. Zendesk
Both solutions are similar in the variety of features, but here’s how Freshdesk stands out as a Zendesk alternative:
- Out-of-the-box automations: With more than 100 automations, you can leverage a myriad of rules to configure your ideal workflow.
- Field Service Management: Connect agents out in the field, manage schedules, track performance, collect customer signatures and access customer data on the go.
- Freshdesk Arcade: Gamification introduces a competitive element to agent performance, where they get points for hitting KPIs and/or SLAs, and lose points for slower resolutions.
- Freddy AI: Freshdesk’s AI bot has a much wider scope than Zendesk’s Answer Bot, which is mostly focused on live chat. It’s really a chatbot, email bot, voice bot and assist bot combined.
While Freddy presents a big advantage over Zendesk, some users find it lacking in templates or presets, making it challenging for non-technical folk to program.
Freshdesk used to have a simple pricing model going from “Sprout” to “Forest”. As of mid-2022, they now have two sets of pricing plans:
Freshdesk support desk (email and social media only):
- Free: Free forever, up to 10 agents
- Growth: $15 per user per month
- Pro: $49 per user per month
- Enterprise: $79 per user per month
Freshdesk omnichannel (+ live chat and phone support):
- Growth omnichannel: $29 per user per month
- Pro omnichannel: $59 per user per month
- Enterprise omnichannel: $99 per user per month
The Freddy AI chatbot is only available in the higher tiers, where there’s also a usage charge calculated by sessions. Field Service Management is only available as a paid add-on.
Freshdesk pros and cons
Explore the pros and cons of Freshdesk as a Zendesk alternative:
- Seamless transitions from Zendesk
- Straightforward to set-up and configure, easy-to-use interface
- Freshdesk Arcade gamifies agent performance with a point system
- Field Service Management allows you to manage, schedule and track field agents
- Poor support from the Freshdesk team
- Slow performance during heavy traffic
- Can get expensive with add-ons and customisations
- Buggy integrations, especially with Jira and other Freshworks apps
Freshdesk review: Final thoughts
Freshdesk is a solid Zendesk alternative and great for smaller companies that won’t need as much customisation, flexibility or scale. With the cheaper plans, you already get most of the core features (albeit not at their full depth) while keeping costs manageable.
Before you commit, take advantage of their free forever plan to get a sense of how it works, and consider which features are must-haves for you. Costs will add up quickly if you require certain advanced features and customisations, particularly for reporting and analytics.
If you’re a larger businesses and/or provide mission-critical services like corporate travel management—there’s a few worrying concerns you should know about. Many users report laggy system performance during peak hours, and the inability to get reliable help during outages.
Gorgias – Rated 4.7 ★ on Capterra
Gorgias is an up-and-coming helpdesk solution targeting e-commerce businesses, and thus offers several unique features that support those types of operations.
Difference between Gorgias vs. Zendesk
Right off the bat, you’ll find that Gorgias is a niche solution meant for small to midsized e-commerce businesses, while Zendesk is a more well-rounded one targeting a much wider audience.
As such, Gorgias is superior to Zendesk in a few ways:
- Dedicated to e-commerce: Gorgias offers a simplified interface with just the right features needed to support your online shoppers effectively.
- Deep e-commerce integrations: Amend orders and refund payments without switching tabs via integrations with Shopify, Magento and BigCommerce.
- Automate tasks via macros and rules: Automate answers to recurring questions, and actions like closing a ticket that doesn’t require a reply.
- Revenue statistics: Easily track converted tickets, conversion rates and sales generated from your support team.
Gorgias charges differently from the other providers in this list. Instead of the usual “per agent per month” bundles, they offer subscriptions based on your ticket volume i.e. the number of responses you send out every month. Here are Gorgias’ pricing plans with annual billing:
- Basic: $60 per month (includes 300 tickets, +$40 for the next 100)
- Pro: $360 per month (includes 2,000 tickets, +$36 for the next 100)
- Advanced: $900 per month (includes 5,000 tickets, +$36 for the next 100)
The basic package already includes most features, but the Magento integration and revenue statistics only comes with Pro and above.
Gorgias Pros & Cons
Weigh the pros and cons when considering Gorgias as a Zendesk alternative:
- Deep integrations with Shopify, Magento, BigCommerce
- Easy to set up macros and rules
- Automatically resolve standard questions like “Where is my order?”
- Revenue tracker helps you measure conversion rates and sales
- Solely focused on e-commerce businesses
- Pricing model will hurt those with high ticket volumes
- No SLA management or deadline tracker
- Only canned reports available
Gorgias review: Final thoughts
If you’re a small to midsized e-commerce business using Shopify, Magento, or BigCommerce, then Gorgias may be the one for you. It possesses a strong set of unique features that already go a long way automating tasks, and continuously pushes out new or fine-tuning improvements.
Though, keep in mind that automations are imperfect: Users report losing emails due to automatic tagging, integrations don’t always work correctly (resulting in disasters like confirming an order when they are actually out of stock), filtering emails can be excessively time-consuming, etc.
Gorgias also lacks a few core helpdesk features: SLA or KPI deadline management, customisable live dashboards and robust reporting functionalities. For instance, Gorgia’s canned reports can only be generated up to the past 90 days.
Lastly, you’ll also want to keep an eye on your ticket quota. Once you exceed the threshold, you’ll be charged a fixed fee. At the entry-level, you will need to pay $40 (that’s 60% of your monthly fee!) for the next 100 tickets even if you’ve only exceeded the quota by 10.
Front – Rated 4.5 ★ on Capterra
Front is another fast-growing startup offering a customer communications hub for teams of all sizes. With a vision to “Make work happier”, Front touts itself as an alternative to ticketing, where most of its features focus on personalisation and team collaboration.
Front vs. Zendesk – Which is better?
As Zendesk alternative, here are some reasons why some users prefer Front:
- Enhanced team collaboration: Tag colleagues in enquiries to discuss issues in an adjacent chat/comment log, without the hassle of forwarding emails or cc-ing colleagues.
- Clean, intuitive agent workspace: Front’s super sleek interface minimises visual clutter. At a glance, you get to view all messages, deadlines, and who’s working on which tasks.
- Focus on personalisation: Instead of a ticketing system, Front makes it look like you’re responding directly to customers 1-1 via the channel they contacted you at, without any hint that they are just one among thousands of tickets you get every day.
Front differentiates itself from Zendesk primarily through these collaboration features that help your teams nail issue resolutions, and shorten handling times while they’re at it.
Front’s pricing has been fluctuating: In the recent years, they announced a price decrease but in the same time period, there’s already been a price hike of 150-200% at all levels.
Here are the pricing options, billed annually:
- Basic: $19 per user per month (2-10 users)
- Growth: $49 per user per month (min. 5 users)
- Scale: $99 per user per month (min. 10 users)
While the basic package may be adequate as a no-frills solution, you will need the higher tiers to get pretty standard features like creating your own workflows, SLA management, as well as reporting and analytics.
Front pros and cons
Take a look at the pros and cons when comparing Front to Zendesk:
- Clean, intuitive agent workspace minimises distractions
- Strong internal collaboration tools facilitate problem-solving and improve handling times
- Focus on personalisation promotes customer relationship building
- Easy to manage and monitor multiple shared mailboxes and live chats
- No built-in voice channel, you’ll need a CloudTalk subscription and integration for this
- No online knowledge base or customer portal
- Some basic features like user and team management require the highest subscription plan
- Some users report poor support experience from the Front team
Front review: Final thoughts
Front’s biggest selling point targets a longstanding pain point faced by customer service teams: the difficulty in getting the right information for customers. It solves this by allowing an agent to pull in a colleague for discussions, or to work on the same task, as opposed to lengthy back-and-forth emails that may well stretch into days before resolution.
So if you’re expecting lots of complex enquiries coming your way, that which require extensive team collaboration, Front may be a good choice.
Beyond this, there aren’t other distinctive factors. If you’re looking for higher-order call center features, or greater flexibility in setting up automated workflows, Front comes up short—you may be better off with other solutions that will also cost less.
Zoho Desk – Rated 4.5 ★ on Capterra
Part of the larger Zoho suite of business solutions, Zoho Desk is a highly-rated helpdesk software known for its wide selection of features.
Zoho Desk vs. Zendesk – How do they compare?
Zoho Desk and Zendesk are similar in the breadth and depth of their features. Here are a few key differences between the two:
- Cost effective: Zoho Desk is one of the most affordable options out there, though you’ll have to pay extra for remote assistance, onboarding and configuration help (which you’ll need.)
- Customise anything and everything: You can set up Zoho Desk as you prefer. Rearrange, disable, or rename modules, set-up individual workspaces and define permissions.
- Powerful features: Zoho offers a huge selection of deep features, including their Blueprint workflow builder, Zia AI chatbot, Reply Assistant, and Radar performance monitoring app.
- Integration with other Zoho products: If you’re already using other Zoho software, such as their CRM, you can link them up with two-way integrations. Fees apply, though.
Zoho Desk pricing
Zoho Desk offers excellent value for money at every level, where their Enterprise plan costs less than half of Zendesk’s corresponding Suite Professional.
Zoho has the following plans, billed annually:
- Free: Free forever, for up to 3 users
- Standard: $14 per user per month
- Professional: $23 per user per month
- Enterprise: $40 per user per month
Heads up: Zoho Desk provides three tiers of support, where the first is free and the remaining two will cost either 20% or 25% on top of your monthly subscription. User feedback suggest that you’ll need the premium plans to get full-on support, particularly for configuration.
Zoho Desk pros and cons
Zoho Desk makes a formidable Zendesk alternative, where you’ll find most of their features match in breadth and depth. Here are some pros and cons:
- Affordable pricing across all plans
- Great data analytics available through a wide variety of reporting templates
- Zia chatbot automates tagging, routing, and sentiment analysis
- Workflow designer Blueprint enables easy drag-and-drop process mapping
- Complicated interface due to its many features, steep learning curve for agents
- Challenging and time-consuming to set up your instance
- Integrations don’t always work as expected e.g. pulling up incorrect CRM information
- Occasionally buggy, resulting in slower system performance
Zoho Desk review: Final thoughts
Considering its friendly price point and high customisability, Zoho Desk is a strong contender for Zendesk alternatives, especially if you already use other Zoho apps.
However, its strongest point also happens to be one of its biggest drawbacks: the wide selection of features can be overwhelming for new or casual users. Some users also find the user interface too busy, owing to the many controls, nested menus, and small text.
Lastly, there’s a good chance you’ll need their support to get everything set up, so you may want to factor in those add-on costs before deciding.
Hiver – Rated 4.6 ★ on Capterra
Formerly known as GrexIt, Hiver is a niche Gmail-based helpdesk software that allows you to to assign, collaborate and track emails within the Google Workspace ecosystem.
Hiver vs. Zendesk – What’s the difference?
As a whole, Hiver is a more targeted solution only meant for customer service teams that are using Gmail while Zendesk (and most other options) can be integrated with various email servers.
- Quick adoption: Get a quick productivity boost with Hiver’s various helpdesk features, and see results fast on the Gmail platform you’re already familiar with.
- Email collaboration features: Like Front, Hiver comes with email collaboration features like tagging, email templates, shared drafts and notes.
- Automation: Hiver’s email bot Harvey identifies non-actionable emails (like Thank Yous), closing them on your behalf so agents can focus on resolving enquiries.
- Integrated with Google Workspace: Extend beyond Gmail and integrate with other Google apps like Sheets for data analytics and reporting.
While Hiver’s entry-level and enterprise plans are cheaper than Zendesk’s, they are still pretty expensive overall:
- Lite: $20 per user per month
- Pro: $50 per user per month
- Elite: $80 per user per month
The Lite plan includes live chat and productivity-related features like shared drafts and tagging. At Pro, you get Jira and Asana integrations, SLA management, analytics, and Harvey, their AI bot.
At the highest level, the Elite plan doesn’t get you that much more, though. It adds uptime SLA, custom reports, priority support from the Hiver team, and oddly basic capabilities like custom access control and round-robin email assignment.
Keep an eye out for price changes: Users have reported steep 30-60% price increases in 2022.
Hiver pros and cons
Take a look at how Hiver performs as a Zendesk alternative:
- Strong collaboration features powered by tags, rules and notes
- Familiar Gmail interface makes it easy for agents to adopt
- Integrates closely with Gmail and other Google Workspace products like Sheets
- Great support, including onboarding help with their Lite plan
- No voice or call center features
- No social media channels
- Certain essential features only available in higher tier plans
- Limited integrations available (only Asana and Jira, aside from Google apps)
Hiver review: Final thoughts
Hiver does really well as an email management software for Gmail, making it a great choice for smaller customer service teams focused on interacting with customers via email.
Like an add-on, the tool extends your Gmail workspace with helpdesk features like shared drafts, ticket routing, SLA management and automations, allowing you to add productivity and track performance without making a big switch to other software.
As a Zendesk alternative, Hiver doesn’t quite match up. It has a basic live chat that integrates with email, but lacks phone and social media channels. Also, essential features like reporting analytics and CSAT measurement will require higher-tier subscriptions. This means you’re paying $50 or $80 per user per month for what some users claim is “essentially an upgraded version of Gmail”.
LiveAgent – Rated 4.7 ★ on Capterra
LiveAgent is another well-known Zendesk alternative. Though it offers omnichannel possibilities, a majority of users leverage LiveAgent primarily for live chat.
LiveAgent vs. Zendesk – Which stands out?
Here’s how LiveAgent compares as a Zendesk alternative:
- Superb live chat: LiveAgent’s strong suit lies in its live chat channel, which includes canned messages, feedback surveys and a seamless flow into email ticketing.
- Gamification system: Agents are awarded badges for completing certain tasks, adding a fun motivator for collaboration and performance.
- Outbound video calls: Make outbound video calls to customers—great for your sales and technical teams to provide better customer service.
- Cost-friendly: LiveAgent is much cheaper than Zendesk, making it a great alternative for small and midsize businesses.
LiveAgent has three pricing options:
- Free: Free forever, up to 1 email address
- Ticket: $15 per user per month
- Ticket + Chat: $29 per user per month
- All-inclusive: $49 per user per month
LiveAgent’s base prices are competitive, but do look out for add-ons that may inflate your costs significantly. For instance, adding just one social media accounts will cost you a whopping $39 per account per month—that’s already more than what you would pay for the middle-tier plan.
LiveAgent pros and cons
Examine the pros and cons of LiveAgent as a Zendesk alternative:
- Intuitive UI enables quick agent onboarding and adoption
- Video calling (outbound) helps facilitate sales, demos and technical support
- Gamification system motivates agent performance
- Costly social media add-ons
- No WhatsApp or Telegram messaging
- Patchy support especially during system outages
LiveAgent review: Final thoughts
LiveAgent performs well as a Zendesk alternative. Users who make the switch are likely to enjoy cost-savings while fulfilling their core requirements.
That said, if you require social media channels, or WhatsApp and Telegram messaging, those attractive savings may be outweighed by costly add-ons.
Lastly, user feedback on LiveAgent support seem to be polarised. Some people love it, particularly during set-up, while others have reported being unable to get timely help during critical system outages, or when glitches occur.
Help Scout – Rated 4.7 ★ on Capterra
Help Scout is a helpdesk solution that includes email management, live chat, and knowledge bases. Its simplicity makes it an easy, no-frills choice for startups and small businesses.
Help Scout vs. Zendesk – How do they compare?
Help Scout is a much scaled-down version of Zendesk, offering fewer channels but doing them well.
- Quick deployment: Help Scout is quick to deploy and easy to use, with some users being able to set-up, train agents and go-live in some 15 minutes.
- Email management: Team collaboration is made easier with notes, assignments, and the ability to track who’s viewing or responding to a customer in real time.
- Knowledge base: Help Scout’s knowledge base tool is Docs, which allows you to create and manage articles with a WYSIWYG editor. ‘Failed search’ reports reveal knowledge gaps quickly, so you can add new articles or adjust existing ones accordingly.
- Modern live chat: Beacon, Help Scout’s live chat widget, looks much more modern than Zendesk’s. Its well-integrated with your knowledge base, and allows customers to either browse answers directly within the widget, or reach out to you for help.
Help Scout pricing
Help Scout has three straightforward plans. The main difference between them is capacity, namely the number of mailboxes or knowledge bases you need.
Here are Help Scout’s pricing plans:
- Standard: $20 per user per month (up to 25 users)
- Plus: $40 per user per month
- Pro: $65 per user per month
Help Scout offers discounted pricing for non-profit organisations and startups, so do look out for those if you fall into these categories.
Help Scout pros and cons
Compare Help Scout’s pros and cons:
- Clean, user-friendly interface
- Great collaboration tools like email tagging, notes and collision detection
- Simple if/then macros help you automate repetitive tasks
- Data insights about knowledge base performance
- No phone support channel or call center features
- No social media channels
- Reports are sometimes inaccurate due to double counting
- Limited integrations and features
Help Scout review: Final thoughts
Help Scout hits all the right notes for a basic customer service software, and will serve smaller customer service teams well. Users appreciate Help Scout’s simplicity, and credits the solution for productivity gains.
However, at a certain scale—be it the number of agents, or customers—you’ll start to find Help Scout lacks depth in higher-order automations, routing capabilities, SLA management, data analytics and integrations.
And of course, if you need social media messaging or phone support channels, Help Scout won’t be the right solution for you.
Intercom – Rated 4.5 ★ on Capterra
Intercom is a messaging platform that’s famous for its Business Messenger (or live chat). Its core customer base comprise of larger companies that primarily use live chat for customer service.
Intercom vs. Zendesk – Which is better?
Unsurprisingly, Intercom’s strength is largely focused on its live chat, while Zendesk is considered a more holistic solution with features balanced across channels.
- Chatbot: Intercom’s no-code Resolution Bot helps you automate answers, share knowledge base articles, qualify leads, collect customer info and triage conversations on behalf of agents.
- Product tours: Set-up interactive product tours for customers to explore in their own time. Great for pre-sales demos, onboarding new customers, and highlighting new features.
- In-app messaging: Communicate with customers while they’re using your mobile or desktop app. Start a Chat session proactively to offer help, or Posts for announcing news and blogs.
- Campaign builder: Like Mailchimp, Intercom allows you to build and manage marketing or onboarding campaign, including customer segmentation, tagging, journeys and analytics.
Intercom is notorious for its complicated pricing and upward price revisions. There are 4 components to their pricing: Base fees, additional seats, people reached and add-ons.
Intercom recently removed most pricing information, except for its Starter plan:
(1) Base plan: Starter
- $74 per month
- Includes 2 seats
- Includes 1,000 people reached per month
(2) Additional seats:
- $19 per additional seat per month
(3) Additional people reached:
- $50 for each additional 1,000 people reached per month
- Limited to 50K people reached per per month, upgrade to remove cap
(4) Optional add-ons:
- Product Tours: from $199 per month
- Surveys: from $49 per month
- WhatsApp: from $9 per month per seat
Note that these prices are only for the Starter plan, and will scale-up with at the higher-tiers. Intercom also offers a discounted base fee of $65 per month for startups, for up to one year.
Intercom pros and cons
Consider a few Intercom’s pros and cons compared to Zendesk:
- Strong live chat, chatbot and knowledge base features
- In-app messaging opens up a new direct communication channel with customers
- Product Tours allows customers to understand your product better, faster
- Campaign builder lets you orchestrate marketing campaigns via email and live chat
- No phone support and social media channels (except WhatsApp)
- Poor support from the Intercom team; expect to wait days for a response
- Expensive as a whole, exacerbated by complicated pricing model
- Some basic features like dashboards require costly add-ons or upgrade to the highest tiers
Intercom review: Final thoughts
Considering its beautiful interface and innovative solutions, Intercom’s a definite category leader in the live chat arena. But can it truly replace Zendesk?
Intercom does include an integrated helpdesk that covers your email channel, though it lacks the depth and flexibility needed in larger, distributed teams. It doesn’t have a phone support channel, or ways to integrate with a 3rd party provider, so you’re pretty limited outside of live chat.
Without a doubt, Intercom’s biggest downfall is its pricing. Chief among complaints are inexplicable month-to-month bill fluctuations, on top of general price increments over the years. Longtime users have reported whopping bill increments between 300-500% of what they had originally paid.
If you’re a large SaaS provider, or have your own app, then the in-app messaging and Product Tours may benefit you, in spite of their hefty price tags. Even so, list down the features you really need and be absolutely clear on costing to avoid unwanted billing surprises.
How to choose the right solution for your team?
Learning your options and making in-depth comparisons will certainly help you make an informed decision. At the same time, ensure that you consider these internal factors:
- Feature needs: Depending on your business type, size, and customers, you may need a certain set of features. Be clear on which ones are must-haves, and which are just nice-to-haves, in order to calculate costs accurately.
- Budget: Costs can build up quickly, particularly if you have a long wish list of features and customisations. Don’t forget to factor in add-ons and other miscellaneous charges like additional seats, license fees etc.
- Timeline: Some solutions will take longer to deploy than others, especially if you’re switching from an existing provider. Account for any transition required, initial set-up time as well as agent training to avoid costly delays.
- Technical difficulty: Factor in the technical difficulty required to configure settings, particularly for more complex tasks like chatbots, automations and integrations. In some scenarios, you might even have to hire additional tech support to help you in the long term.
- Scalability: Consider your company’s roadmap and future plans. Evaluate whether the solution can scale up as you grow and meet your evolving needs—and how much it will cost you.
Need help deciding?
Give us a shout and we’ll be happy to help you make the best selection for your team.