Software Review

7 Best Zendesk Alternatives to Give Your Support a Boost in 2024

Check these 7 Zendesk alternatives to improve your customer support.

Written by Anastasiia Khlystova

7 Best Zendesk Alternatives to Give Your Support a Boost in 2024

Zendesk is an old, solid tool that has been on the market for over a decade. The company holds more than 22% of the help desk market and almost 19% of the live chat market. And it’s used by such companies as Airbnb, Squarespace, and Vimeo for their customer service needs.

Long story short, Zendesk is huge. But what makes it such a popular customer service solution?

Firstly, it offers a comprehensive set of tools for every use case: live chat, ticketing, knowledge base, call center support, CRM, etc. Their reports are extensive and detailed, which gives Zendesk’s users many insights into their performance. And just the fact that the tool has been on the market for so long implies that it must be very secure and stable.

Those are great arguments in favor of Zendesk. But no tool is perfect, and businesses are looking for Zendesk alternatives because of some major flaws.

Why look for an alternative to Zendesk?

Zendesk has over 5K reviews on G2 as of today and 85 heated customer discussions about the brand. Its rating is 4.3 out of 5 stars, with many users praising the tool for its reliable and feature-rich ticketing system. 

However, there’s some dissatisfaction, too. Before we dig into the top Zendesk alternatives, comb through these complaints that come down to the following five issues:

  • Chats, emails, and other channels are managed separately. The biggest downside is that Zendesk separates chats and email tickets, so there’s no way to answer customer requests in one queue.
  • Outdated interface. Zendesk’s overall interface looks very outdated and overloaded compared to modern tools.
  • Limited email automation functionality. You are allowed to launch automated email sequences and provide support only if you purchase two separate subscriptions. So, is it an all-in-one solution, after all?
  • No out-of-the-box features. Many tools offer some advanced features like custom chatbots, product tours, or video support. But it seems like Zendesk wants to stay a good old ticketing system and is not interested in customer service innovations. However, to be fair, the company did announce a collaboration with OpenAI in 2023.
  • Gets pricey. Zendesk offers many great tools and features for customer service, but if you want to enjoy its full power, Zendesk prices bite.

7 best Zendesk alternatives that meet your every need

Let’s explore some popular alternatives to Zendesk and pick the best one for you! While putting together this list, we focused on the platforms that offer advanced functionality and have great customer reviews. 

1. HelpCrunch — a one-stop Zendesk alternative

new-helpcrunch-home-page_widget-open_Zendesk alternatives

HelpCrunch is just the right Zendesk alternative if you’ve decided to shift away from a traditional ticketing approach and move to a versatile customer communication platform.

Being a one-stop platform for building customer relations, HelpCrunch offers not only a shared inbox for all your chats and emails but also a chatbot, knowledge base, email marketing features, and tools for customer engagement.

  • HelpCrunch features

Live chat. HelpCrunch offers 100% customizable live chat. Tweak its start screen, choose what modules (aka blocks) you would like to see on it, change its position, and even transform it with custom CSS or remove the HelpCrunch branding. The chat will automatically change from online to offline modes and back based on the operation hours you set.

HelpCrunch-start-screen-widget_EN_Zendesk alternative

Support agents will find all the necessary features for managing customer inquiries as effectively as possible – private notes, saved responses, departments, and prioritizing based on a chat status. Besides, even after you’ve sent a message to a customer, you can edit or delete it. File attachments and emojis are also at your disposal.

The user information is always in the sidebar of the chat window. It provides your team with a timely context, so there is no need to bombard clients with redundant questions. Support reps can assign any dialogue to themselves, another teammate, or a corresponding department.

As the work on a request continues, customer support agents will change its status from New to Open, Pending, On-hold, or Closed. Additionally, you can use your chat widget to engage your customers proactively by sending them auto and manual chat messages.

Chatbot. Plus, HelpCrunch has this awesome, user-friendly chatbot feature – HelpBot. It’s a customer support tool to streamline your customer service and put repetitive tasks on autopilot. Let the bot be the first point of contact and resolve simple customer issues with no intervention from your side.

So, what can it really do? Well, a lot of things. HelpBot was designed to:

  • Automate your customer support;
  • Handle FAQs by sharing canned responses, links, and knowledge base articles;
  • Qualify leads;
  • Gather issue details.

Apart from fast 24/7 support, the bot from HelpCrunch offers you an intuitive interface of the visual editor to create chatbot flows. Build the bot steps with a few clicks, move them around, remove or change connections between them, and enjoy the process along the way. No coding skills are required.

HelpCrunch visual chatbot editor

Email marketing. The email support feature is what especially differentiates HelpCrunch from Zendesk. 

On top of running email support with our platform, you can send an email follow-up after you’ve had a live chat conversation with your customers (that is if they’ve left their email addresses to you).

It’s easily done by simply switching between the corresponding tabs in the chat window. And every message that a customer hasn’t read in a chat is automatically forwarded to their email address. How many best Zendesk alternatives do that? I guess not much.

Shared inbox. The HelpCrunch shared inbox is everything you would want for clockwork-like customer communication, and your customer support team will absolutely love it. All correspondence lands in a single dashboard in the form of conversations. Basically, you have a chronological queue of all conversations, no matter the channel (Viber, Telegram, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Instagram, live chat, emails).

HelpCrunch Zendesk alternative_shared inbox interface

Knowledge base. This is another way to improve customer experience by enriching your self-service options. Build a well-oiled help center that is integrated into the chat widget with articles, optimize content for search engines, and divide it by categories and sections. Thanks to the WYSIWYG text editor, your pieces will never be patchy as it lets you:

  • Embed visual content such as videos and images
  • Structure your texts with lists of all kinds
  • Set up SEO settings for articles
  • Save articles as drafts and make them public or private
HelpCrunch knowledge management tool
HelpCrunch knowledge base integrated into the chat widget

Popup builder. There is one more important and unique feature the HelpCrunch customer support platform offers, and Zendesk doesn’t – popup functionalities. Many companies have already tried the HelpCrunch popup feature in full play and boosted customer engagement levels.

In a user-friendly interface, HelpCrunch allows you to set popups on your website based on visitors’ personal information and behavior. Choose a popup template you like, change the button color, come up with an eye-catching CTA and heading, add animations, and set up popup display rules. 

The HelpCrunch popup editor
  • HelpCrunch pricing
    • Basic: $15/mo/per team member 
    • Pro: $25/mo/per team member
    • Unlimited: $620/month if billed monthly, or $495/mo if billed annually
  • HelpCrunch Pros
    • Customizable chat widget
    • Integrates with social media channels
    • Offers a chatbot feature for customer support automation
    • Emails and chats land in one queue
    • Modern interface
    • All features are well integrated with each other
    • Has email marketing functionality included
    • Affordable startup-friendly pricing
  • HelpCrunch Cons
    • Not applicable as a big ticketing system
    • No call center feature

Give the one-stop solution a shot! Sign up for a 14-day free trial with HelpCrunch now and test its features in all their glory.

2. Intercom — expensive yet powerful Zendesk alternative

Intercom Zendesk alternative_homepage

Intercom is a more flexible alternative, offering many innovative, robust features not only for support but also for sales and marketing. That’s something that Zendesk lacks since it’s almost entirely support-oriented. 

This customer service platform includes custom bots, targeted product tours, advanced email marketing functionality, etc. Almost no other tool comes even remotely close to the level of innovation that Intercom sets. This multi-channel support tool was among the first to announce a collaboration with famous OpenAI and introduce a Fin bot powered by artificial intelligence. But those features also cost a lot – sometimes, thousands of dollars.

So, for the sake of simplicity, I won’t talk about them here and rather concentrate on three core Intercom features – live chat, shared inbox, and help center.

  • Intercom features

Their Business Messenger (the same as live chat) is quite feature-packed, with a built-in knowledge base and announcement integration. Once you install it on your website, it becomes a universal destination for all customer support.

It can also be enhanced by automation. The Fin AI Resolutions bot can help you with a self-service routine, automatically recognize similar questions from past conversations and serve up the best answer, and respond to repetitive questions so that your team can focus on their performance. 

Intercom’s shared inbox has such help desk features as tags, office hours, smart suggestions, public help center, snooze conversations, and a lot more. So, it’s a handy customer support solution.

Unlike many Intercom competitors, the help center feature here is easily adjustable from the dashboard. You can set up the basics to start your hub, localize articles, and style the knowledge base. To provide customers with their answers, use the system that automatically suggests articles from your resource center.

  • Intercom pricing
    The Intercom pricing structure is based on the number of seats, not the number of contacts reached. It looks like this:
    • Starter for small businesses: $39/mo with 1 seat
    • Pro: the prices are discussed individually (depending on the number of resolutions by the Fin AI bot, number of people reached, and number of customer service agents seats) 
    • Premium: the prices are discussed individually
  • Intercom Pros
    • Modern interface
    • Feature-rich Business Messenger
    • Shared inbox for emails and chats
    • Innovative features like custom bots and product tours (for additional costs)
    • Great customer feedback from users
  • Intercom Cons
    • Not applicable as a big ticketing system
    • Prices are changing fast
    • Hectic fees
    • Additional charges for active contacts
    • Limited reports

3. Freshdesk — almost identical Zendesk alternative for ticketing

This is another tool that can help you resolve customer queries. If you want to exchange Zendesk for 100% identical customer service software, Freshdesk (or Zoho Desk, for that matter) is an obvious front-runner.

Freshdesk is a help desk part of a customer support suite of tools called Freshworks. It includes products for customer relationship management, such as live chat, analytics, CRM, etc. So, what’s the deal here?

  • Freshdesk features

Comparing Freshdesk vs Zendesk, Freshdesk is a perfect replacement for Zendesk’s ‘Support’ subscription if you only need a help desk for email and social media integration. Optionally, you can add other Freshworks products to your dashboard.

The four core functionalities the tool covers, starting from the free subscription, are:

  • Help widget
  • Email ticketing
  • Twitter, Facebook, and WhatsApp integration
  • Knowledge base

There are all the basic, similar to Zendesk ticketing features available, like canned responses, ticket merging/splitting, tags, etc. Working in a shared inbox might be difficult for larger teams, that’s why Freshdesk offers numerous collaboration features like agent collision detection or Omniroute – a ticketing routing system that allows you to balance workloads in one place.

One of Freshdesk’s main selling points is its customer service automation features. You can automate virtually anything – from reminders to following up to prioritizing and assigning. For instance, there are three different ticket assignment techniques – skill-based, load-balancing, and round-robin. They ensure equal distribution of tickets between available support agents.

With the knowledge base feature, you can convert agent responses from tickets into knowledge base articles. In stark contrast to Zendesk competitors, Freshdesk has all the necessary settings for multilingual content, SEO optimization (but HelpCrunch has that, too) as well as comfortable work with the text editor.

  • Freshdesk pricing
    There are 4 subscription plans this Zendesk cheaper alternative offers:
    • Free: $0 up to 10 agents
    • Growth: $18/user per month 
    • Pro: $59/month/agent
    • Enterprise: $95/month/agent
  • Freshdesk Pros
    • Modern and more intuitive design
    • The live chat widget by Freshchat is more advanced and feature-rich
    • Advanced workflow automation
  • Freshdesk Cons
    • Disintegrated compared to all-in-one solutions
    • Poorer analytics
    • Unclear distribution of features among subscription plans

4. LiveAgent — best Zendesk alternative in terms of money

LiveAgent homepage_Zendesk alternative

LiveAgent is a classic, cut-down alternative to Zendesk and a customer support software solution for receiving and handling customer requests from different channels – e.g. email, live chat, social media, and phone calls. And it seems like the tool strikes the perfect balance between a feature-rich ticketing system and a simple interface.

  • LiveAgent features

LiveAgent’s flagship feature is a help desk. Its interface looks like the older version of Gmail and is handy for receiving and managing email requests from customers. Once you buy additional communication channels (live chat, social media, calls), they’ll also appear in the LiveAgent universal inbox.

Help desk features include things like merging/splitting tickets, canned responses, business hours, and whatnot. Plus, you can create a knowledge base or provide customers with a community forum and self-service portal, even being on a free 14-day trial.

The brand offers rather basic live chat compared to chat-oriented Zendesk-like software. But it can definitely improve your communication with customers thanks to the features like chat forms, satisfaction surveys, chat routing, etc. Like HelpCrunch, LiveAgent also makes it possible to set up proactive chat invitations to engage website visitors and invite them to start a conversation.

  • LiveAgent pricing
    • Small business: $15/agent/month
    • Medium business: $35/agent/month
    • Large business: $59/agent/month
    • Enterprise: $85/month/agent
  • LiveAgent Pros
    • Simpler and more intuitive Zendesk alternative
    • More affordable as an all-in-one solution
    • Customer portals on top of regular help center solution
  • LiveAgent Cons
    • Chats, emails, calls, and social media requests are under separate tabs
    • No email marketing feature
    • Outdated interface
    • Basic live chat functionality

5. Kayako — the oldest Zendesk alternative with limited functionality

Kayako_homepage_Zendesk alternatives

Kayako is a 22-year-old cloud-based help desk software. They made a huge shift in 2016 when the tool became omnichannel and unified customer data from different channels under one dashboard.

As of today, it’s an all-in-one tool that looks and functions like a ticketing system, where you receive all customer requests in a shared inbox (which is something Zendesk lacks).

  • Kayako features

Kayako’s functionalities are rather primitive for a full-fledged Zendesk alternative. But if you’re a small business owner, they’ll probably be enough for two- or three-person customer service teams. 

The live chat by Kayako can be integrated not only with your website but also with mobile applications through mobile SDKs. The widget is basic and covers nothing other than some very run-of-the-mill color scheme customization and proactive chat invitations.

As for the main help desk option, there is nothing irregular with this solution. Once a customer leaves a message in your live chat, it lands in the unified inbox, together with emails and social media messages. Agents can see user information in a ticket’s sidebar.

Additionally, every ticket shows a complete log of every activity a customer performed with your website or app before/during/after contacting you. This gives some additional context and can help you eliminate a couple of redundant questions.

Customer agents will enjoy team collaboration features like:

  • Private notes
  • Collision prevention
  • Assignment rules
  • Macros (canned responses)

Plus, there are only three statuses for each ticket – open, pending, and completed, but it’s possible to mark them with custom tags. 

Speaking of the knowledge base feature, it’s entry-level. You can create articles in a simple text editor, tag them, and distribute them between categories. To top it off, there are no SEO settings.

  • Kayako pricing
    • Kayako Cloud: for large teams (price is revealed on demand)
    • Classic On-Prem: for small and growing teams (price is revealed on demand)
  • Kayako Pros
    • Complete customer journeys in a ticket window
    • Shared inbox for all customer service channels
    • More affordable as an all-in-one solution
  • Kayako Cons
    • Poorer help desk functionality and reports
    • Agent-based pricing
    • Basic live chat widget customization
    • Basic knowledge base functionality

6. Help Scout — Zendesk alternative for effective email management 

Help Scout_homepage_Zendesk alternatives

Among other alternatives to Zendesk, Help Scout is quite a small customer service and help desk solution. It is accessible and widely used by freelancers and small businesses in a variety of industries.

  • Help Scout features 

The Help Scout’s key feature is the help desk, also called Mailbox. It is a pretty standard help desk solution: from the messages that are marked as Unassigned, Mine, Assigned, Closed, and Spam to the reports section. What is similar to Zendesk here? Well, not much. Help Scout offers a customer satisfaction surveys tool and names its report  “Happiness”. Compare that to Zendesk’s colorless “Satisfaction rating”.

Such a shared inbox and collaboration functionalities will let you:

  • Process all customer requests in a jiffy and keep them in a single queue;
  • Create multiple mailboxes for different teams to prevent clutter;
  • Monitor Beacons (aka live chat conversations);  
  • Send teammates private notes to discuss clients’ issues faster;
  • Create a searchable library of answers to FAQs and insert them into replies in two clicks;
  • Avoid duplication with real-time indicators showing when someone else is viewing or replying to a request.

The most striking is Help Scout’s Properties feature. It means you can monitor important customer relationship data in the dashboard’s sidebar. Zendesk, for one thing, had this long before that, which makes the tool more progressive.

  • Help Scout pricing
    The platform offers a 15-day free trial, after which you will be on one of the following pricing plans:
    • Standard: $25/user/mo
    • Plus: $50/user/mo
    • Pro: only if billed annually, $65/user/mo
  • Help Scout Pros
    • Easy-to-digest mailbox UI 
    • Effortless reporting features
    • Incoming emails tracking
  • Help Scout Cons
    • The tagging feature is a bit intricate (it could be more in-depth also)
    • Clumsy and hard-to-edit help center

7. ThriveDesk — a nice Zendesk-like option for bootstrapped startups

ThriveDesk_homepage_Zendesk alternatives

ThriveDesk is a new help desk solution for small and medium-sized businesses. Its niche is mainly SaaS, eCommerce businesses, and WordPress brands.

  • ThriveDesk features

This Zendesk-similar solution is all about ease of use and minimum fuss. This point is totally better than Zendesk. ThriveDesk’s set of features comprises:

Shared inbox. Once you log into the dashboard, there is a 4-step setup process, a zero learning curve, and just the key highlights you need to consider. Clearly, this is one of the alternatives similar to Zendesk, offering an easy installation.

All your conversations happen under the same roof, automation for repetitive tasks are at your disposal, and credible reporting and live chat are in place, to name just a few.

You can easily keep track of your team’s performance with reporting features, assign conversations to individual team members, filter spam, use an email signatures generator, build pre-defined canned replies, add assistants (aka support agents), manage tags, and much, much more.

Community. This is a rare case among other products on this list. ThriveDesk lets you develop your own space for driving user engagement, increasing customer LTV, and connecting on different ideas. Comment and reply to posts, share attachments, and embed your own content: in other words, build social trust.

The use cases here are miscellaneous, from membership and topic-related to product and newsletter communities. Plus, you can host webinars, which is something new compared to Zendesk. Think of it as a quirky knowledge base. But with real people in the driver’s seat.

WordPress integration. The ThriveDesk plugin for WordPress can be up and running in minutes and comes with features like live chat, reporting, and a lot more. Besides, clients can access their current and past ticket history on the WordPress dashboard, or you can create a ticket using the ThriveDesk form builder and add any field you desire to your ticket.

  • ThriveDesk pricing 
    • Starter: $32/mo (4 seats included)
    • Pro: $99/mo (10 seats included)
  • ThriveDesk Pros
    • A setup process is not an issue 
    • Affordable price
    • Innovative features
  • ThriveDesk Cons
    • Not mature enough solution on the market with only 12 reviews on G2
    • Initially, a web design and development company whose primary focus wasn’t on customer service
    • Features are not long-time-tested and can hardly compete with Zendesk

How to choose the tool that’s right for your team 

Basically, there are two kinds of Zendesk alternatives – those that are still more ticketing-oriented and all-in-one solutions. If you’re looking for something exactly like Zendesk, then Freshdesk, Kayako, or LiveAgent are ideal options to a certain extent.

Want to adopt software similar to Zendesk to completely shift shifting your approach to customer service completely and make it more modern and accessible? In this case, you should definitely go with one-stop innovative solutions like HelpCrunch or Intercom. This way, you’ll be able to provide real-time help and manage all your customer communications in a single tab. 

So, it’s your call now!

Anastasiia Khlystova
As a sporadic visitor of internet stores and a content marketing manager with 8+ years of experience, Anastasiia knows what good customer service is. Anastasiia is a former Head of Content at HelpCrunch, so she knows how to write about customer service so that everyone understands its true importance and key aspects. Her professional interests include AI chatbots and different aspects of customer support automation. When not writing for the HelpCrunch blog, she likes to read modern literature, watch independent cinema, and cuddle with her cat and dog.
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