Providing top-notch customer support is crucial in a SaaS business. In fact, 88% of customers say the experience a company provides is as important as the service. If you’ve been looking for a program to assist you, Zendesk will typically pop up in a Google search.
While Zendesk is a great option, there are several alternatives that may suit your business needs better. In this article, we’re going to discuss all things Zendesk, and give you an in-depth look into the software and 3 alternatives that may better suit your needs. If you’re looking for even more in-depth Zendesk knowledge, check out our blog on the 10 key features & benefits of Zendesk.
What is Zendesk?
Zendesk is a cloud-based comprehensive customer support and engagement platform that’s designed to help businesses of all sizes manage and improve their customer experience and communication efforts. Not only that, but Zendesk is a centralized hub that also offers a range of tools and services to streamline a business’s CX and customer support functions.
While Zendesk can benefit several use cases, it’s best used by customer support teams, CRM, and customer success teams for:
- Customer support
- Customer engagement
- Data-driven decision making
- Streamlining support operations
Zendesk is all about providing top-notch customer service as efficiently as possible, for both Zendesk customers and their end users, and has many features to do so.
- Ticketing System: The ticketing system allows businesses to log, track, and manage inquiries and support requests. Every customer interaction is recorded as a ticket, so agents can organize and prioritize them effectively.
- Multi-Channel Support: One of the top features of Zendesk is that it supports several communication channels including email, chat, social media, and phone. That way, agents can help customers on their preferred platform.
- Self-Service Tools: With a robust knowledge base and self-service portals, customers are typically able to answer common questions on their own. This frees up agents to help customers with more complex issues.
- Live Chat: Live chat is an excellent feature for instant assistance so customers do not have to wait on the phone.
- Automation: Workflow automation features are available to streamline the support process to reduce time spent on manual tasks and maintain consistency.
- Analytics and Reporting: Reporting and analytics tools help businesses identify trends, measure key performance indicators, and make data-driven decisions for improvements.
- Integration: Integrations are key when choosing a customer support software. Zendesk can be integrated with CRM systems, email, e-commerce platforms, cobrowsing platforms like Fullview, and more for a centralized hub.
- Community Forums: Community forums are a place where users can discuss your products or services, share experiences, and seek help, which also frees up agent time.
- Customer Satisfaction Surveys: Zendesk enables businesses to collect feedback from customers, conduct surveys, and gauge customer satisfaction. This data is valuable for making improvements in customer support.
- Social Media Integration: Zendesk also integrates with social media platforms so you can respond to comments made on Instagram, Facebook, etc.
- Mobile Accessibility: Mobile apps allow agents to manage customer support on mobile devices for ease of access.
- Compliance and Security: Zendesk provides features to help businesses maintain compliance with industry regulations and ensure data security.
- Call Center Management: For businesses with call center operations, Zendesk can be used to manage phone support and track customer inquiries made through this channel.
- User-friendly interface
- Live chat, phone calls, social media and email all in one place
- One-stop-shop for lead generation and customer support
- Many integrations
- Multiple language support
- Easy to set up for teams working remotely
- It’s expensive compared to other platforms
- No free plan
- Complex learning curve
- It’s more expensive than other solutions
- So many features that it can become overwhelming
- Users can experience a lot of technical issues
Zendesk user reviews
- Zendesk has 4.5/5 stars on G2. Here are some review snippets to give you an idea of what users like and dislike about the product:
- “We like the display of information, compartmentalization of support tasks, and configurability of the tool are extremely good and relatively easy to work with after an initial introductory period.”
- “I do not like Zendesk reporting and searching. Trying to find specific tickets or filter them in existing views can be a pain.”
The Zendesk deployment process can vary in complexity depending on your requirements, the size of your org, and the features you’re going to use. The basic process should include assessment and planning, account setup, user configuration, customization and integrations, training, testing, going live and ongoing maintenance.
As of 2023, Zendesk has 1,503 integrations on the marketplace. Some of the most popular integrations are:
According to the Zendesk website, there are 4 plans to choose from. Each plan tier offers a free trial, as well.
- Suite Team Plan: $50 per agent/month, with standard features including ticketing system, multi-channel communication, integrations, and custom automations.
- Suite Growth Plan: This plan costs $89 per agent/month and includes standard features as well as a self-service customer portal, multilingual support, business hours, and light agents.
- Suite Professional Plan: $115 per agent/month and is listed as the most popular plan. It includes all of the features of the other two plans along with HIPAA compliance, AI add-ons, custom and live analytics, and integrated community forums.
- Suite Enterprise: To get a quote, you must talk to the sales team for this one. Businesses get every possible feature Zendesk has to offer including custom agent roles and AI-powered content.
Why use a Zendesk alternative?
Zendesk may sound like the perfect solution to your customer experience needs, but there are several drawbacks to consider, such as the ones below.
Zendesk is expensive
As we mentioned earlier, Zendesk plans start at $55 per agent for their cheapest plan. For a smaller business or startup, this can be a big chunk of change if you have multiple agents. There is no free option, only a free trial. Smaller businesses may want to go with a cheaper, or free option when starting out.
Zendesk can be hard to use
Many reviews state that Zendesk has a learning curve. While it may be intuitive for some users, it can take a lot of training to get staff up to speed on how to use the extensive amount of features included.
Zendesk has pricy add-ons
Along with being pricey to begin with, the add-ons offered by Zendesk can be expensive. For example, the AI add-on alone is listed as $50 per agent on the website. This can add up quickly if you have multiple agents.
Zendesk’s customer support is weak
The pain point mentioned the most in Zendesk reviews is poor customer service. This is surprising for a company that provides tools for an improved customer experience! One review on G2 states that “the support for their product is a joke.” Another review says that “the support service is essentially non-existent.”
Best Zendesk alternatives in 2023
So, now that we know all about Zendesk, let’s talk about alternatives. Zendesk can be a good solution depending on your needs, but there are plenty of more affordable options out there that offer useful features that may be better suited to your needs.
We’ll start with Intercom. Intercom is a cloud-based customer experience platform that offers a suite of software tools to engage with and support customers through personalized messaging. It’s designed to facilitate real-time communication to build better customer relationships. It’s typically used for customer support, sales, and product engagement.
Intercom main features
- Customer support
- Sales and lead generation
- Marketing and engagement
- Product engagement
- Analytics and reporting
- Knowledge base
- Customization and branding
- Real-time communication
- Personalized interactions
- Multichannel support
- Easy to manage chat features
- Mobile access
- Ability to cobrowse with the Fullview integration
- Compared to other alternatives, Intercom can be expensive if you want to use advanced features
- The user interface can be complex
- There are so many features it can be overwhelming
- Intercom relies on a stable internet connection to function, which could lead to issues
Intercom has three pricing tiers, the start, pro, and premium plans. They also have an early-stage discounts program, where startups in the beginning stages can get up to a 95% discount on their services.
- The Starter Plan starts at $74/month. It does not list how many team members can be on the plan but suggests that it’s good for smaller teams.
- The Pro Plan is the recommended mid-tier option, but the pricing is custom and there isn’t a starting price listed.
- The Premium Plan has custom pricing, as well. Prices are calculated based on how many team members you have, the number of people your business reaches, and AI usage.
The deployment process for Intercom is pretty straightforward and designed to integrate into the fabric of your current customer communication strategy. Intercom offers the flexibility of deployment without the need for a complex on-premise infrastructure.
Typically, getting started involves embedding a code snippet into your website which will instantly enable the chat function. This is the feature most users want out of Intercom, so it’s great that it can be used so quickly.
Intercom also has a setup wizard guide to help you through the configuration process to customize features for your business.
Intercom has over 350 integrations for users to choose from, including CRM, email, ticketing, social media, cobrowsing, session replay, and reporting tools. The software also supports a Fullview integration, which allows users to cobrowse with their customers, creating a unique experience compared to Zendesk.
With cobrowsing and replays, customers are able to see what’s happening while agents solve their issues by gaining control of that user’s computer screen. Support agents also have access to console logs to make troubleshooting and bug diagnosis easier. This type of technology goes hand-in-hand with Intercom’s focus on instant communication and exceptional CX.
Intercom user reviews
On G2, Intercom has 4.5/5 stars. Customers like that “it makes things easier. I can instantly use the macro to respond to common queries.” They don’t like that “the search function isn’t as accurate as I would like.” Overall, most users had positive comments about Intercom and not many negative ones.
How Intercom compares to Zendesk
There’s much to consider when looking at Intercom vs. Zendesk. One of the biggest differences is that Intercom focuses on real-time communication and live chat features. Intercom also has an easier-to-use interface due to its intuitive and modern design.
Intercom is typically a better choice for startups over Zendesk due to these modern features, and less of a learning curve. Up-and-coming companies want the most advanced choices for the customer experience, and that includes chatbots and instant communication tools. If a business values a streamlined interface, then Intercom is the way to go.
While it has a higher price point that could turn off smaller businesses, it can be worth it for the simplicity of the platform, and is more affordable than Zendesk, especially with the discounts that they offer.
Salesforce Service Cloud
Salesforce is a household name when it comes to CRM platforms. The software boasts a robust array of features designed to empower businesses to manage their customer experience seamlessly. Let’s look at the main features, pros and cons, and how it compares to Zendesk.
Salesforce main features
Salesforce offers an array of features to help businesses manage customer interactions and streamline various processes. Here are some of the main features:
- Contact and lead management
- Opportunity management
- Sales automation
- Workflow automation
- Analytics and reports
- Email integration
- Chatter collaboration tool
- Mobile accessibility
- Integration capabilities
- Security and access control
- Customization and flexibility
- Comprehensive features
- Automation and workflow rules
- Integrations and AppExchange
- Mobile accessibility
Along with the pros, there are always going to be some cons.
- Learning curve
- Complex setup
- Integration challenges
Salesforce offers a tiered pricing model, which provides flexibility for businesses with diverse needs. There are several choices ranging from $25 to $500 a month. We looked at the small business pricing tiers for you.
- The Starter Plan has a price point of $25/month per user. This is listed as a simple CRM suite that includes marketing, sales, and customer service features.
- The Sales Professional Plan starts at $80/month per user and it suited to teams of all sizes.
- The Service Professional plan is also $80/month per user and focuses on customer service solutions.
- The Marketing Cloud Account Engagement is a suite of marketing automation tools that will run you $1,250 a month for up to 10,000 contacts.
Each plan has a free trial so you can find what’s right for you and your business.
Salesforce offers both on-premise as well as cloud-based deployment options, which sets it apart from most other CRM solutions. The cloud-based setup is easier to deploy and allows for more scalability and reduced IT costs. Having the option to choose gives businesses more flexibility to align with their current infrastructure.
Salesforce has 2500+ integrations, so it’s safe to say it’ll have what you’re looking for. It ticks all the big boxes such as G Suite, Slack, and Quickbooks. It also has integrations such as Fullview which enhance customer support features with cobrowsing and replays. Replays allow agents to jump in and see a customer's last sessions to help them better understand the issues they report. Cobrowsing allows agents to initiate one-click zero-download screen control sessions with a user live in their product so they can resolve customer issues in a hands-on way without all of back and forth that typically happens over email and chat.
Having so many integrations makes Salesforce a diverse platform that can appeal to most businesses.
On Gartner, Salesforce has 4.4 /5 stars. Users say that it’s “very customizable and user friendly,” and “an incredible tool with customization for any specific requirement for any workflow in the organization.”
What they don’t like is that it’s expensive, and can be difficult to set up. Overall, the majority of users leaving reviews are pleased with Salesforce as a CRM tool.
How does Salesforce compare to Zendesk?
While Salesforce's pricing might be higher than Zendesk's, especially for full-featured editions, users value its ability to provide an all-encompassing solution for managing various aspects of customer relationships. The platform excels in integration capabilities, seamlessly connecting with numerous third-party applications and tools.
Salesforce and Zendesk both have steeper learning curves than other platforms, but users appreciate the depth of customization this allows. The problem with Zendesk is that it has a specialized focus, while Salesforce is more broad. So, Salesforce is more suitable for businesses losing for a holistic CRM solution that can handle scalability with plenty of features.
Dixa is another software alternative to Zendesk. Let’s talk about what it is, how it works and whether it’s right for your business.
Dixa main features
Dixa’s main features include omni-channel communication, enabling businesses to interact with customers seamlessly across various channels such as chat, email, and phone. Dixa's real-time analytics and reporting tools empower organizations to gain insights into customer interactions, ensuring data-driven decision-making.
The platform also offers intelligent routing, ensuring that customer queries are directed to the most appropriate agent, leading to efficient issue resolution.
- Omnichannel communication
- User-friendly interface
- Intelligent routing
- Real-time analytics
- Quick deployment
- Flexible pricing
- Personalized customer interactions
- Advanced reporting limitations
- Steep learning curve
Dixa has tiered pricing plans and for any plan you choose, there is a 7-team member minimum. The website does not list free trials as an option.
- The Essential Plan starts at $39/month per agent and includes all of the base features of Dixa. It only includes the in-house Dixa messenger channel for communication.
- The Growth Plan starts at $89/month per agent. This plan includes all communication channels for customer support.
- The Ultimate Plan starts at $139/month per agent. This plan includes all of Dixa's features other than paid add-ons.
- There is also a custom plan that you’ll need to contact Dixa about for pricing.
Dixa's deployment process is designed for simplicity and speed. As a cloud-based solution, it facilitates quick and easy access without the need for extensive on-premise infrastructure. This adaptability ensures that businesses can swiftly integrate Dixa into their operations, optimizing customer service efforts.
Dixa currently integrates with 6,000 other applications. You can search the database on their website. Dixa isn’t stopping there and will have other integrations such as Fullview soon, which will give users the ability to cobrowse and do session replays thus improving the customer experience.
On Capteraa, Dixa has 4.3/5 stars. Users who like Dixa are saying that “the notification system is really great. It is perfect for a quick reaction towards your customer.”
Some of the things that users don’t like are issues with ported phone numbers and a tough time contacting customer service.
How does Dixa compare to Zendesk?
Dixa and Zendesk are both prominent players in the customer service software landscape, each offering distinct strengths. While Zendesk is recognized for its comprehensive suite of customer service tools, including a robust ticketing system and versatile marketplace, Dixa stands out for its user-friendly interface and seamless omnichannel communication.
Dixa's emphasis on real-time intelligent routing ensures efficient issue resolution, while its flexible pricing model accommodates businesses of varying sizes. The platform's scalability and adaptability further position it as a suitable choice for growing enterprises.
Users seeking a customer service solution that prioritizes intuitive design, seamless communication, and effective routing may find Dixa to be a preferred option over Zendesk. The platform's positive user feedback, particularly regarding ease of use and omnichannel capabilities, contributes to its appeal for businesses focused on delivering exceptional customer experiences.
Wrapping things up
The bottom line is that there’s a seemingly endless list of customer support software out there. While Zendesk is a popular choice, there are plenty of alternatives that offer different features and integrations that may better suit your business.
If you’re looking to incorporate cobrowsing and replays from integrations such as Fullview, you’re better off with an alternative such as Intercom, Salesforce, or Dixa. If you’re looking to learn more, check out our other blog posts and software reviews.
- HubSpot Customer Service Stats
- Q2 Zendesk Reviews
- DevRev Zendesk Pain Points
- G2 Intercom Reviews
- GetApp Intercom Reviews
- Gartner Salesforce Reviews
- G2 Dixa Reviews
Sources last checked 15-Oct-2023