Woman Using Helpdesk Software

Top 11 Zendesk Alternatives for Superior Customer Service

In 2018, improving customer experience is still the name of the game and B2B companies like Zendesk, have emerged with helpdesk software products to address this need. Helpdesk software makes implementing excellent customer support a much simpler and more cost-effective measure than in the past. In short, it organizes support issues, the procedures for addressing them, and the means of communication in one central place.

As customers’ expectations for immediate service has grown, software solutions have risen to the task. In any event, helpdesk apps and software let companies use one platform for communicating with customers. This can help companies better engage customers, boosting customer satisfaction and the possibility of a long-term relationship.

Support is a major part of my daily life. It is my goal to provide our users with a great product, and a great product is more than just the software on your phone. It’s the team and the support that stands behind it.”

~ Review from a Zendesk User

With a 68.22% market share according to Datanyze, and 319 ratings and reviews on TrustRadius, Zendesk is one of the most popular options for a helpdesk solution but is not the only one.

If you are considering customer support software for your company, take the time to research your options. Once you understand what’s out there, you can narrow down your list based on the most important features and factors for your use case.

Reviews will be helpful here – especially feedback from other users like you, with similar types of customers and support issues, similar support channels to manage, and who are operating at a similar scale. Because of these factors, the 11 alternatives to Zendesk presented here are not in any particular order – but they all carry a high rating according to user reviews.

Zendesk – What Is It Good For?

Zendesk interface

Image via Zendesk

 

Zendesk is highly scalable, with a capacity for anywhere from 5 to 500 helpdesk agents. The app translates any form of communication from customers into tickets that then go into the customer support issue.

This is designed to make tracking emails, chats, social media messages and web forms much easier for a business of any size, though it becomes particularly valuable at scale.

According to reviewers like this Ops Manager for example, who advises that Zendesk is best suited for organizations that have to handle a large number of support requests with different SLAs. She describes other features that are attractive for managing support at scale as well. These features range from a robust self-service and FAQ portal to reporting and analytics tools for managers.

Feedback across reviews shows that Zendesk is a powerful helpdesk solution – but that it is not always right for everybody. For example, Zendesk may prove too overwhelming for very small businesses that only need to handle a handful of inquiries each day, or who don’t need to maintain multiple support channels.

On the other hand, Zendesk may not be enough in some cases, depending on the complexity of the business’s needs. For example, this reviewer encountered challenges integrating data from Zendesk with their company’s BI system, and found the system less flexible than alternatives with regard to custom roles/permissions, making it “harder to implement for a larger organization that needs very specific configuration and individualization for their use-case/department.”

Pricing for Zendesk starts at $5/mo. per agent and runs up to $199/mo. per agent depending on company size.

Thankfully, there are plenty of alternatives to Zendesk for businesses large and small to consider.

1. Freshdesk

Freshdesk interface

Image via Freshdesk

“From the agent standpoint Freshdesk is highly optimized for all the tasks a support agent does on a regular basis. The team that designed the UX clearly spent a lot of time talking to folks in the support world. From the user standpoint the UX is also very optimized. Customers have told me its very easy to open cases, get updates and see status across all cases.” 

~ Review from a Freshdesk User

Freshdesk is one of the top Zendesk alternatives available on the market. According to stats on Datanyze, Freshdesk ranks second behind Zendesk for most used help desk technologies, with 7.84% market share.  According to reviewers, the Fresdesk user experience is one of its strongest differentiators.

Some of the specific features of Freshdesk that help it stand out include:

  • Team Inbox: All agents can view and track tickets from multiple channels within a single team inbox. 
  • Canned Responses: Helpdesk agents can quicken their pace by using engaging but canned responses that are saved on the helpdesk platform.
  • Scenario Automation: For tickets that require similar responses, agents can make several actions happen with a single click of a button
  • Team Huddle: For particularly challenging tickets, agents can consult with other team members and leadership for a clearer answer. 
  • 24/7 Support: Freshdesk offers 24/7 email support and 24/5 phone support for all of their customers.

Freshdesk pricing ranges from $19/mo. to $89/mo. per agent. For most small- and medium-sized businesses, the helpdesk app shouldn’t run more than $35/mo. per agent.

2. Help Scout

Help Scout interface

Image via Help Scout

 

From small to large teams, Help Scout is a wonderful asset to have. I’ve tried many alternatives but Help Scout is definitely the best bang for your buck.” 

~ Review from a Help Scout User

Help Scout is a relatively smaller helpdesk app company with a strong service team. Because of this, reviewers say that the software works well for both small teams and larger companies with thousands of users. As an alternative to Zendesk, Help Scout’s goal is to make every interaction with customers personalized by doing away with automated emails and ticket numbers.

Some of the highlights of Help Scout as an alternative to Zendesk include:

  • Multiple Mailboxes: The helpdesk app allows managers to create different boxes for shared email addresses so that every team member knows which communication they are responsible for.
  • Tagging: Keep track of which tickets are which, and trigger automated actions with the tagging system.
  • Collaboration Notes: Agents can make notes on a ticket so that other agents or managers can collaborate on a response.

At $15/mo. per user for up to 10 agents, reviewers say Help Scout delivers good value for the price. The highest tier is $40/mo. per user, which allows unlimited mailboxes and users.

3. LiveAgent

LiveAgent interface

Image via LiveAgent

“LiveAgent is perfect for an environment dealing with both large and small-scale email traffic, with the possibility for automation and customisation to provide a better customer experience.”

~ Review from a LiveAgent User

Overall, LiveAgent is a simplified alternative to Zendesk for small and mid-sized companies, particularly in the ecommerce industry, that want to focus on resolving customer support issues via live chat on their website. But LiveAgent isn’t limited to live chat only. Companies can also incorporate other features and channels, including phone, email, social, and a customer self-service portal, depending on the pricing tier. Some of the Zendesk-like features of LiveAgent include:

  • Hybrid Ticket Stream: The platform makes all tickets uniform, no matter which channel they come in on.
  • Automated Ticket Distribution: Tasks do not need to be manually assigned, and managers can monitor agent performance based on the number of tickets assigned/completed. 
  • Universal Inbox: Managers can track all tickets in one place.

Pricing for LiveAgent ranges from $12/mo. per user to $59/mo. per user. The higher end pricing includes time tracking, social channels and even gamification features.

4. TeamSupport

TeamSupport interface

Image via TeamSupport

 

“TeamSupport is very easy to get going with their sandbox environment in that you can get started with a few simple clicks.”

~ Review from a TeamSupport User

With a focus on automation, TeamSupport is an alternative to Zendesk that companies with growing customer support teams should consider.

Some of the components it has in common with Zendesk include:

  • Email Integration: Respond to tickets and take actions directly through email.
  • Ticket Automation: Managers can set rules for who receives which tickets, making the distribution process automatic after setting rules. 
  • Ticket Collision Prevention: Ensures that no two agents are working on the same ticket.

In comparison to Zendesk, pricing for TeamSupport is a bit steep. Monthly quotes start at $40 per user, and jump to $55 per user for tech and software companies. But as one of the Top Rated helpdesk apps (with an above-average user satisfaction rating), it may just be worth the cost for your team.

5. Spiceworks

Spiceworks interface

Image via Spiceworks

 

“We stopped using another product that we were paying for that was much more complex and expensive because Spiceworks was so simple. You can’t beat the price also.”

~ Review from a Spiceworks User

Spiceworks is a help desk solution tailored for IT companies. It may not be as full-featured as Zendesk, but the Spiceworks does include email integration and a simple ticket system. Ultimately, it’s a quick and easy helpdesk solution for IT.

The price point for this Zendesk alternative literally cannot be beat: it is free.  As reviewers who recommend Spiceworks note, if Spiceworks can meet your needs, why pay more?

6. ConnectWise Manage

Connectwise Manage interface

Image via Connectwise Manage

 

Keeps track of all communications between techs and end users. All the details are known from a company level vs. needing to ask techs what they have in their email box.”

~ Review from a ConnectWise Manage User

ConnectWise offers a host of business management software in a single suite, including but not limited to helpdesk tools. ConnectWise Manage may not be as simple to set up as Zendesk. However, it is a powerful tool for tech and IT services companies that want to manage sales, marketing, and customer service requests in a single system. Some of the Zendesk-similar features include:

  • Customizable Tickets: See all of the information that you need on a single screen.
  • Review the Team: See how the customer service team is spending their time. 
  • Data Tracking: Set goals on your time-to-resolution, and track them.

Because it is a much broader suite of software, pricing for ConnectWise Manage is by request.

7. Lithium

Lithium interface

Image via Lithium

 

Lithium has helped us operationalize our customer care over social allowing us to recognise issues and report back into the business opportunities.”

~ Review from a Lithium User

Lithium focuses on the social aspect of customer relationships and satisfaction, aka social customer service, which is a different way of approaching the helpdesk concept. Its social response features allow customer service agents to efficiently address issues that surface on social media. Posts are automatically routed to the most appropriate agent to respond. In turn, if the customer replies the conversation is threaded back to the original agent.  

Pricing for Lithium’s Social Customer Service is by request, alongside the company’s other social media and online service offerings.

8. Oracle Service Cloud

Oracle Service Cloud interface

Image via Oracle Service Cloud

 

“Oracle Service Cloud is the gold standard for customer service, as it streamlines everything you need into one product that it fairly simple to use. This also makes it a cost effective option with a huge company (Oracle) behind the product.”

~ Review from an Oracle Service Cloud User

The software giant has made strides to create a customer support solution that goes far beyond a simple helpdesk. Its strengths are the ability to provide “omnichannel” support and integrate with other components of the Oracle Customer Experience Cloud Suite. Unfortunately, it may be overkill for smaller teams and organizations with a limited budget (in contrast to Zendesk).

According to reviewers, Oracle’s UI is also less user-friendly. This reviewer who had experience with Zendesk before switching to Oracle Service Cloud sums it up: “Zendesk is definitely easier to navigate and has a more simple feel to it. However, Oracle has a huge advantage in how many different services it is able to integrate into one platform.”

Oracle is a big name in business software, and its helpdesk solution has the price to match. Services start at $90/mo. per user – but keep in mind that includes a cross-channel contact center, field service management, knowledge management, and policy automation.

9. WebEx Support Center

Webex interface

Image via Webex

 

My primary use of Webex is to assisting our clients with bugs or troubleshooting anything within our software.”

~ Review from a WebEx Support Center User

As it comes from telecommunications giant Cisco, WebEx Support Center is designed for providing technical support to major software clients on a global scale. Consequently, its limitation is that it is not meant to be a helpdesk solution in the strict sense of the term. It is a communication tool that allows support agents to talk with customers, share their screen and/or webcam, and help them troubleshoot issues. For companies that need to be in constant contact with customers for support, WebEx may be the solution.

WebEx is priced a bit differently than Zendesk or other helpdesk apps, based on the number of participants they need to include in support calls. Clients can pay $24/mo. for up to 8 customers on a conference call or $89/mo. for up to 100 people on a call.

10. Jira Service Desk

Jira service desk interface

Image via Atlassian

 

Easy communication with the customer. Workflows to track the status of issues. Automation tools are powerful.”

~ Review from a Jira Service Desk User

Atlassian is well known for its dev team productivity tools like JIRA, Trello, and Confluence, but it also offers a helpdesk app for companies that provide IT service and support It integrates with other Atlassian products, is fairly simple to use, and is easy to set up, according to reviewers.

Jira Service Desk is a cost-effective option at certain levels, but some reviewers have said that it gets pricey at scale. Pricing starts at $10/mo. for up to 3 users, then changes to $20/mo. per user for up to 15 agents.

11. Desk.com

Desk.com interface

Image via Desk.com

 

We run a team across the globe, with customer support in more languages than I can recall, and Desk.com helps us bring it all in, spread it out right, and help us to keep going at full speed ahead.”

~ Review from a Desk.com User

As a Salesforce product, the software from Desk.com brings together sales and support teams with the goal of providing a consistent customer experience and tracking account “health” in one place.

According to reviewers, the ability to track all communication within Desk.com does provide efficiency and transparency within the support workflow. However, it may not be convenient for other teams who want to stay apprised of support issues.

For example, this reviewer said Desk.com was “Good for having insight and transparency across teams (easy handoff from customer support to escalation teams with full case & customer history) but difficult to integrate with other systems if your teams aren’t all in Desk (for example, if CSM or other teams work primarily out of Salesforce).”

Like Zendesk and its other competitors, Desk.com includes features like:

  • Multichannel Support: Create tickets out of social media messages, emails and phone calls.
  • Case Management: Ensure that the right agents are receiving the right tickets. 
  • Productivity Tools: Automation and tagging designed to help agents and managers create faster workflows.

Desk.com pricing ranges from $20/mo. per agent for small businesses to $100/mo. per agent for enterprise-level customization. It is about the same price point as Zendesk.

Software-as-a-service solutions are designed to be cost-effective, truly helpful, and customizable to your business needs. Take the time to read through our reviews on the dozens of helpdesk software solutions available on the market, and narrow your options down to what you really need.

Brooklin Nash

Brooklin Nash writes about the latest tools and small business trends for TrustRadius. When he’s not writing, you can find him reading YA dystopian fiction (with guilty pleasure) and cooking.

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