[Update 7/20/2017: This post has been updated to remove some options and include AzureDesk and Talkative.]
Zendesk is a huge name in the customer service software game..
Generally recognized as a leader, and definitely a trailblazing software platform, it’s also near the top of Capterra’s Top 20 Help Desk Software list. The index takes into account, among other factors, number of customers, number of users (help desk personnel, in this case), and social presence (Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Klout, and Capterra reviews).
Zendesk was born in a Danish loft out of a desire for a help desk software product which doesn’t require consultants to set up.
It really hit when companies started to see the value in prompt, friendly customer service. The inevitable ubiquity of social media meant public praise for companies handling customer care well, and public scorn for those who didn’t. This increased demand for a software simple enough that IT pros could use it out of the box.
And while Zendesk might be Goliath, it’s not the only great option in the space. Here are nine alternatives to the top player. Some are newer than Zendesk, other serve different needs, others are well-known competitors. I’ve also listed the type of shop each is best suited for (in no particular order).
ManageEngine ServiceDesk Plus is No. 1 on our list of the most popular help desk software options. It offers dashboards for projects, milestones, and tasks for all your projects. From there, the system will tell you what caused incidents so you can be proactive about preventing them.
You can use ManageEngine to track purchases, prices, and vendors to reduce spending, enforce policies, and eliminate redundancies.
Capterra users like the feature set and easy setup. However, there are several complaints about the “complex” and “counterintuitive” user interface.
- Predefined incident prioritization
- Over 150 ready-to-use reports
- Integrates with OpManager, Applications Manager, Desktop Central
- Assign project roles and provide access permissions to different project members
- Track the status of tasks with color coded Gantt charts
- ITIL edition and asset tracking features available
Used ManageEngine? Leave a review!
Samanage is the only help desk software option on this list that’s ITIL-ready and has IT asset management capabilities. It’s also 19th on our list of the most popular help desk software products. With a self-service portal, mobile access, and advanced reporting, there’s not much you’d need that Samanage can’t offer.
Users love how easy Samanage is to learn and the friendliness of the UI. Which is surprising given how robust it is.
- Slack, Zendesk, Google Apps integrations
- Contract and license management
- SLA management
Freshdesk is No. 4 on Capterra’s ranking of top 20 customer service software providers.
It’s going to work best for a larger shop that likes to run lean, because larger shops will get the most out of Freshdesk’s gamification features. It awards representatives with badges, prizes, and points for answering questions promptly and thoroughly for some healthy, friendly competition, as well as an easy, fun way to measure performance.
Lean shops can also respond to demand spikes by adding extra agents for a day to work through a backlog for $1 to $3, without changing their plans. These can even be purchased in advance and used as needed.
There’s a free option for up to three agents, with limited functionality.
Capterra reviewers absolutely love Freshdesk. They love its robust feature set and pricing. “Freshdesk, for me, was a natural choice,” writes Jane Kaiser, Project Manager for AttorneyYellowPages.com. “Their incredible customer service has been involved with me personally since day one, and I love that they offer me a full plan for free as long as my team is under three people.”
The only complaints are around the nonintuitive interface.
- Easily prioritize certain customers based on SLA policies
- Easily turn emails and tickets into knowledge base articles
- Use 16 different languages
- Access via mobile-friendly site
- Freshdesk is getting into the chatbot game with its recent partnership with Amplify
Used Freshdesk? Leave a review!
Groove was literally built to be a Zendesk alternative, according to Len Markidan, Groove’s Head of Marketing.
Founder Alex Turnbull struggled with Zendesk at his last company. He desperately wanted a more streamlined help desk softwarethat puts simplicity over having as many features as possible. When he left and that still didn’t exist, he started Groove.
Groove is help desk software that is built for small teams that are either outgrowing their shared Gmail support inbox, finding it hard to keep track of things and having things slip through the cracks, or frustrated by the clunkiness of their “enterprise” help desk. It’s not ideal for large (50+) teams, or teams that want every feature under the sun.
People who’ve used Groove love the customer support and how easy the software is to set up and use. “The company lives and breathes customer support. You can see it in their product, but the blog and product support are amazing extensions,” one reviewer writes.
Another user recommends buyers go through the onboarding videos before and during setup. Complaints center around search and reporting. The search functionality is rather basic, not comprehensive enough, and time-limited and the reporting is minimal, making Groove not an ideal option if you’re looking to use your ticketing system to help you prioritize product improvements.
Beyond the standard help desk features, and the streamlined setup, Groove also has the advantage of tickets that look and feel like emails to your customers.
There’s no “Please reply below this line,” or ticket numbers or support portals to log in to. If you don’t want them to, your customers don’t need to know you’re using help desk software. This can be great if you want to give your customers the feeling that they’re talking to a person, and not a corporation.
It’s also got a flat, simple pricing structure. All features are included for one price—$15 per month per agent.
And while it’s not strictly a product differentiator, it’s interesting that Groove is following Capterra’s model of giving away useful information through their blog.
“We’re really, really committed to helping small businesses,” Markidan told me. “We share growth lessons from our journey as a startup on our growth blog, and customer service lessons on our support blog. We haven’t spent a dime on advertising, and 90% of our leads come from the blogs.”
Used Groove? Leave a review!
5. Help Scout
Help Scout offers your customers a support experience that feels like personal email. No clunky ticket portal or username and password to remember. In addition, its robust reporting connects your support to your product roadmap. It also helps you easily measure your customers’ satisfaction with easy-to-use Happiness Ratings.
Help Scout has a perfect 5/5-star rating on Capterra. Users love the easy setup. ”There is no learning curve with this tool, which makes it easy to train new support hires as it is all very intuitive,” writes one.
They also love Help Scout’s customer support, saying it’s “the best we’ve ever seen. They are super friendly, very quick to respond, and understand requests the first time. They are the model for customer support.”
Others like the reporting functions and the saved replies feature that can include variables including the customer’s name.
- Easy and simple email integration so you can tag your emails for better organization
- Reports include variables such as “busiest time of day” for better analytics
- Integrated knowledge base
- Robust API
- Tons of integrations
- Free iPhone app
Used Help Scout? Leave a review!
LiveAgent is live chat and help desk software used by companies including BMW and Yamaha. It’s got tons of features, including a knowledge base and a customer portal/forum. Its feedback and suggestions form integrates with the forum so you can easily turn a one-way request into a two-way discussion.
Like Help Scout, LiveAgent makes it easy to collect feedback from your customers with ready-made (yet also customizable) feedback buttons you can put anywhere in your website.
Like Help Scout, Capterra users adore LiveAgent, giving it an average 4.5/5-stars. It’s one of our most-reviewed options. Users love the customer service. “They are quick, very helpful and also very nice,” remarks one customer.
For such a feature-rich software product, it sounds like users find it surprisingly intuitive and easy to use. “I love the simplicity of tools, management of tickets, the possibility of integration with live chat and a call center,” writes one customer.
- iOS and Android apps
- Phone support
- Social media integrations
- Distributed server helps ensure licenses are fully EU GDPR compliant
Used LiveAgent? Leave a review!
LiveHelpNow is really less customer service software and more geared for companies using live chat to close sales. That said, it’s very well optimized for that task. One especially cool feature is that it tells you how your customer service stacks up against your competition who are also LiveHelpNow customers.
Users of LiveHelpNow are pretty pleased with the software. “Its ease-of-use and exceptional customer support staff make it a hands-down winner,” one user writes.
This pretty much sums up the reviews. Over and over again reviewers call out support techs by name as being friendly and helpful. The only potential downside is that it may be missing some features that you want.
- Converts emails to tickets automatically
- Set agent and department-level access levels
- Real-time analytics, including geography, referral source, returning visitor
- Chats display visitor’s open social network profiles to target sales pitch
- Shopping cart, browsing habits, and previous help requests displayed so the chat operator can use the information to close a sale
Used LiveHelpNow? Leave a review!
AzureDesk is cloud-based help desk software aimed at small businesses. It offers a knowledge base with real-time, auto-suggest type search. A knowledge base is only as good as its search: irrelevant answers or slow results mean you’ll still end up with a customer support ticket, and a more frustrated customer.
It also provides customer interaction and team performance reporting.
Capterra reviewers like that it’s “simple to deploy, run, and manage.” They also like the “great support from the team that developed this product.”
Others say of the support, “They are fast and extraordinarily available.” Another reviewer writes of customer support, “They are always very responsive to requests and happy to have a Skype session at short notice if any issues arise.”
- Integrates with JIRA, Olark, Slack, Charge Desk, and more
- Customers can email from an unlimited number of email addresses in the same thread, as long as your email address remains the same
- Search within the platform to copy an answer from an earlier ticket and paste into a current one
Used AzureDesk? Leave a review!
Talkative is an easy way to let your website visitors call your existing phones or video call you from your website without having to sign in or download anything. Or, you can co-browse with your customers, seeing what they’re seeing on their screens in real time. Advanced analytics enables customer journey tracking.
While there aren’t any Capterra reviews yet, Operations Director Hardip Singh provides a case study, saying features such as web chat, customer co-browsing, and click-to-call browser functionality “were supported with exemplary support and efficient deployment to ensure the engagement tools were delivered with appropriate brand styling, streamlined to our business requirements and significantly enhanced our customer user experience.”
- Intelligent call routing
- Works with the call center software you’re already using
- Canned messages
- Chat logs
Used Talkative? Leave a review!
Have you used any of the suggested products? What did you think? Let us know in the comments. And to compare even more options, or read reviews for yourself, check out our customer service software directory or our Top 20 Help Desk Software list. Or both!
Looking for Help Desk software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Help Desk software solutions.