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Freshdesk vs Zendesk

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Software can have a major impact on ticket resolution time, agent productivity, and agent job satisfaction. We asked 100 help desk software buyers about their buying experience.  

Which aspects of customer service were significantly impacted by the software?

But, obviously, which software you choose will influence just how much more effectively you can provide your customers with a great experience, reduce average ticket resolution time, increase agent productivity, and so on.

Freshdesk and Zendesk are both great help desk software options. They are four and five, respectively, on our Top 20 Most Popular Help Desk Software list. Both can be used on-premise or in the cloud. Both offer users native iOS and Android apps.

Alright, so what’s different about them? Let’s compare.


Most important factor in help desk software purchase decision

Some Capterra reviewers complained about Freshdesk’s non-intuitive interface. One wrote under “Cons,” “Sometimes a bit confusing to setup and configure.” Another wrote, “Not intuitive. User interface can use a redesign to help make looking for things easier/faster.” However, UI preferences are not all the same. One reviewer raved: “All the admin features you need are in a one tab. It is so easy to configure the solution and to customize it (forms, emails, and so on). The solution can be online in only a couple of minutes.”

Zendesk got mostly praise from reviewers on its UI. “We’ve tried a handful of ticketing systems, but Zendesk has been the most user friendly and almost fully functional immediately upon sign up,” wrote one user. Another wrote under “Pros,” “Simple user interface and easy ability to write and modify macros.”


Freshdesk and Zendesk are pretty evenly matched when it comes to the types of customer support and training they offer. But when it comes to user experience with support, Capterra reviewers give Zendesk a half-star advantage. Yet there are a few complaints about slow response times.

Similarly, many Capterra users absolutely love Freshdesk’s support. “Their incredible customer service has been involved with me personally since day one,” wrote one. “And I love that they offer me a full plan for free as long as my team is under three people.” Another wrote “We had to contact the Freshdesk support only once, and honestly we were really impressed by the way they handled our support request because we only have the free edition. The ticket was solved and closed in only a couple of hours. Great support service!”


67 percent of the buyers who are unsatisfied with their current software cited a lack of certain features as the primary reason, above price and support.

Freshdesk is noticeably fuller featured than Zendesk. It’s got some great gamification features, offering representatives awards like badges, prizes, and points for answering questions promptly and thoroughly. Smaller, leaner teams who find themselves facing a backlog of tickets can add extra agents for a day for $1 – $3 without changing their plans. You can even buy these seats in advance and use them when you need them.

Reviewers like that you can change the colors and font on the Freshdesk portal and add your logo for a branded help desk platform for your customers.

If you’re wondering which of these features you can live without, the users we surveyed listed these as the ones they use most often:

Most used help desk features

We completed the survey in 2015. At that point only 40 percent of respondents were offering support via live chat. Meanwhile, toward the end of 2015, messaging apps surpassed social apps in terms of daily active users.

There are tons of reasons customers want live chat support. It’s immediate, yet asynchronous, meaning customers get answers right away, but aren’t on the spot to respond without time to think, like on the phone. Plus, users can chat from anywhere and while doing other things at the same time.

But what’s even better than live chat alone is live chat powered by a robot. AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants can help supplement your customer service offerings.

Freshdesk and Zendesk both offer automated responses to customer inquires powered by machine learning.

In late 2015, Freshdesk began acquiring startups in order to build technology that would respond intelligently to human questions with artificial intelligence and provide better answers over time through machine learning.

In 2016, Zendesk launched “Automatic Answers.” This is an email autoresponder feature that uses machine learning to improve the quality of the automated answers over time. “The plan is to extend this beyond email,” Zendesk’s VP of product Sam Boonin told TechCrunch. “Zendesk is multichannel and we’d want to include this in chat, voice, social channels and more traditional channels. We’d like to expand this to everything.”

Also in 2016, Zendesk launched Zendesk Message, which combines the smart bots of Facebook’s Messenger with Zendesk’s customer and issue tracking capabilities. If you can’t get access to the beta, there’s also the Agent Bot integration.


Freshdesk has a free version for up to three agents, with limited functionality. The paid version is $19 per user, per month.

Zendesk has no free version. The paid version is $1 per user, per month.

Keep in mind that in our research, users switched help desk solutions for functionality reasons, rather than price. By a wide margin.

Why did you switch?


Larger teams will get the most value out of Freshdesk’s gamification, but Zendesk’s automated response functionality seems aimed at bigger teams right now. If intuitive UI is most important to you, Zendesk is a good bet. If more features are more important, Freshdesk has slightly more.


Looking for Customer Service software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Customer Service software solutions.

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About the Author

Cathy Reisenwitz

Cathy Reisenwitz helps B2B software companies with their sales and marketing at Capterra. Her writing has appeared in The Week, Forbes, the Chicago Tribune, The Daily Beast, VICE Motherboard, Reason magazine, Talking Points Memo and other publications. She has been quoted by the New York Times Magazine and has been a columnist at Bitcoin Magazine. Her media appearances include Fox News and Al Jazeera America. If you're a B2B software company looking for more exposure, email Cathy at . To read more of her thoughts, follow her on Twitter.


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