Top Zendesk Competitors for Small Businesses
Correction 3/22/2019: This research has been updated to reflect Zoho Supports's name change to Zoho Desk.
Founded in Denmark in 2007, Zendesk is now one of the most widely recognized names in customer support software. Zendesk’s Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform is used by 60,000 customers in 150 countries and 40 languages worldwide.
Zendesk is not a full-fledged customer relationship management (CRM) platform: It focuses on core help desk and customer service (CS) applications such as ticketing, self-service and multi-channel support. But even though Zendesk doesn’t include broader CRM applications, such as those used for marketing and sales, it easily integrates with a wide variety of systems that do.
The CS software landscape is highly competitive—and given the emphasis on customer experience in today’s consumer-focused business climate, it’s a good thing there are so many support platforms to choose from. To help businesses better understand these choices, we’ve put together this report on the top alternatives to Zendesk on the market today. The report is broken into two categories:
Our first group of Zendesk alternatives includes other big names in the customer service software space. We identified these alternatives by measuring the amount of online search traffic each receives, and combining that with data from our own survey of software users. (See our “Methodologies” page for more details.)
Microsoft Dynamics is a powerhouse in the realm of CRM software. It is one of the most comprehensive CRM platforms on the market and is a good fit for companies needing a wide selection of customer service functionalities.
MS Dynamics is designed to provide the kind of customer service that improves engagement and minimizes customer frustrations. Its Service application presents a consolidated case view to agents with the complete backstory for every interaction, helping agents solve issues faster without asking customers to repeat themselves. Tools such as social media monitoring ensure that no issues or complaints go unaddressed, even if they weren’t officially submitted.
Freshdesk is a well-known Zendesk competitor. In fact, according to Freshdesk’s founder and CEO, Girish Mathrubootham, the company was started specifically to compete with Zendesk, which some lamented was too expensive for small businesses.
Freshdesk is known as an affordable Zendesk alternative and is a popular choice for smaller companies. It’s also frequently praised for its simplicity and ease of use— qualities that stem from its uncomplicated user interface (UI) and single, unified inbox where agents can view all issues and open tickets, regardless of channel.
The third market-leading Zendesk alternative is Zoho Desk. Zoho is a pioneer of the SaaS business model, and remains one of the most profitable SaaS companies today—so buyers of Zoho can rest assured their provider will stick around for some time.
Zoho is best suited to companies that need tight integration between their customer service and other software systems. Zoho Desk is a streamlined customer support tool, with ease of use as its first priority. It offers a selection of platforms for CRM, collaboration, human resources (HR) and other business functions, all of which work in harmony with Zoho Desk.
In this category of Zendesk alternatives, we have three customer service solutions that have received above-average user ratings and reviews on SoftwareAdvice.com. Zendesk itself has an average rating of 4.8 out of five stars, and is recommended by 83 percent of users at the time of publication.
(Note that products already identified as market leaders are excluded from this category.)
Help Scout has an average overall rating of 4.76 out of five stars, and is praised nearly unanimously by users for its simple, intuitive and easy-to-use UI. It also includes a strong set of collaboration tools that help employees work together efficiently, effectively and without missing a beat (or ticket).
The design of a platform’s UI plays a very large role in overall usability. UI determines how efficiently agents can assist customers and, to a large degree, determines the quality of the support customers receive. In fact, poor usability is one of the top reasons software buyers cite when asked why they’re replacing their existing help desk or customer support platform.
Samanage is recommended by 92 percent of users (at time of publication) and has an average rating of 4.6 out of five stars. Rather than being a generalized customer service platform, Samanage is specifically designed to provide IT support either to external customers or internal employees. This product is especially relevant to the 38 percent of customer service software buyers who work in the software/IT industries.
Samanage is a very flexible IT service and support platform, with such ITSM applications as issue tracking, inventory control, knowledge management and self-service provisioning. Current users praise the help they get from Samanage and the system’s very high degree of configurability. Samanage is a good fit for companies in the software and IT industries that need a flexible, scalable service platform.
Like Samanage, Spiceworks is also a service desk platform designed specifically for IT support. Spiceworks is known for its full-featured, free offering and is a good fit for small companies with limited needs and budgets (those managing up to 1,000 devices).
The free version of Spiceworks is supported by ads within the interface, but for a small fee, users can get the ad-free version (both versions offer full functionality). Spiceworks has a very passionate and loyal user base, as well as an active online community where users, IT administrators and service and support specialists from around the world share tips, tricks and solutions.
Customer experience is now more important than ever. In many markets, it has eclipsed both price point and product quality in importance. Though many businesses initially struggle to find cost-effective ways to improve customer experience, most eventually realize that efficient customer service software plays a key role.
While some are tempted to choose customer service software based solely on name recognition and popularity, this approach can overlook what might be better alternatives—including the six products listed above.
To arrive at the market-leading rankings, we surveyed U.S. software users about current products used. We then calculated an online brand popularity score, which is based on the number of times the product name and related phrases are searched for on Google per month. We valued the popularity score twice as much as the survey data.
To arrive at the rankings for top-rated competitors and top-rated best-of-breed alternatives, we analyzed our proprietary reviews data. From this data, we ranked products based on their average overall star rating (out of a possible five) as well as the percentage of reviewers who said they would recommend the product.