3 Zendesk Alternatives for Every Budget
Companies looking for all-in-one customer communication software often come across Zendesk. However, there are many alternatives that could be a better fit for your existing setup and are significantly less expensive.
Zendesk has been around since 2007 and is the US market leader in customer management software. So the development team has had plenty of time to tinker with features and expand their platform. The result is a customizable tool that offers many integrations for connecting to third-party apps.
With this all-in-one solution, you can manage phone, email and messaging support, including tickets. It also offers a self-service platform for customers.
“Market leader” doesn't mean Zendesk is the best customer service and CRM system. Competitors like Userlike, Freshdesk, and Intercom have developed comparable software that well-known brands rely on. Why do many companies choose these alternatives and not Zendesk?
Why a Zendesk alternative?
- Migration to Zendesk can be a lengthy and expensive process. Specialized companies may take some of the work off your hands, but at a significant price.
- Don’t underestimate Zendesk’s fees, especially since you’re billed per employee. Their high prices are a popular reason why companies look for Zendesk alternatives.
- Zendesk is a complex tool, which employees need thorough training to use. Because there are so many functions and levels, you have to switch between different application interfaces more frequently, which affects usability and its "all-in-one" appeal.
- Zendesk's CRM module is a relatively new feature. It was added in 2018 and doesn’t quite fit into the software.
- Also, a common criticism from Zendesk users is the overloaded customer support. It can take days for customer service to respond, so solving technical issues is often left up to the customer.
The response time from Zendesk's own support team has become abysmal. It takes weeks to hear from someone, even if you put words like 'urgent', 'important', 'time-critical' in the subject line and the mail.Capterra review from July 2021 by Cody S., Business Analyst in an IT service provider with 51-200 employees, USA
Last but not least, companies should keep in mind that Zendesk is a US-based all-in-one solution. Whether the customer management platform is GDPR-compliant depends on the server location. It’s safer to use a European software provider.
3 Zendesk alternatives in comparison
- Userlike – Userlike - Affordable Zendesk alternative with Unified Messaging, chatbots and video chat
- Freshdesk – Zendesk alternative with phone, email & messaging
- Intercom – Zendesk alternative with email and messaging
|Head office||San Francisco||Cologne||San Mateo||Chicago + more|
|Server location||USA (EU-Server bookable via add-on)||Germany||USA (EU-Server bookable via add-on)||USA (EU-Server bookable via add-on)|
|Customers||Uber, Airbnb, Loréal||Nivea, Mercedes-Benz, Allianz||UNICEF, Cisco, Hugo Boss||Amazon, Atlassian, Shopify|
|Plan with all features||Suite Enterprise||Flex||Enterprise Omni Channel||Convert|
|Price for 10 agents per month||From 1.500 euros||290 euros||From 990 euros||Not specified|
|Price increases per agent||Yes, 150 euros/month/agent||No, included in plan||Yes, 99 euros/month/agent||Yes, n.a./month/agent|
|Trial period||14 Days||14 Days||21 Days||14 Days|
|Free version after trial period||No||Yes||Yes||No|
|Messaging channels||SMS, Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp||SMS, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Telegram, Threema, (Instagram coming soon)||SMS, Facebook, Apple Business Chat, Google BM, WhatsApp||Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp|
|Custom widget design||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Switch from chat to call||Yes||Yes||No||Yes|
|Browser-based video calls||User-defined||Yes||No||Yes|
|Voice messages via website chat||Yes||Yes||No||No|
|Ticket system||Yes||With integration||Yes||Yes|
|iOS + Android App||No||No||Yes (limited, see Freshdesk description below)||Yes|
|Self-service tool||Yes||Yes (as of 2022)||Yes||Yes|
|Capterra review||4,4 out of 5||4,6 out of 5||4,5 out of 5||4,5 out of 5|
Userlike – Affordable Zendesk alternative with Unified Messaging, chatbots and video chat
Userlike is the price-performance winner in our comparison and an affordable Zendesk alternative for all company sizes. Instead of paying extra for each employee, you only pay a fixed monthly plan. This gives medium and large companies full control of the costs.
Userlike is the best solution for your company if you want to continue using your existing setup (such as email, phone and CRM) and add a central inbox for all digital messaging channels (website chat, chatbot, SMS, WhatsApp, Facebook, etc.). All without expensive migration costs.
There are numerous integrations, so you can connect any software with Userlike and create effective workflows. For example, customer data collected in Userlike is automatically added to your CRM. Conversations between companies and their customers are well-protected at all times - thanks both to the server being located in Germany and Userlike’s high security standards.
- Intuitive application interface and (video) tutorials for easy onboarding.
- Many integrations with popular enterprise software like Slack, Salesforce, Mailchimp, Trello, Lime CRM, etc.
- Team inbox with the ability to filter by channels and employees, among other features
- Automatically generated customer profiles with links to social media profiles, displayed location and note function that make Userlike a mini CRM system
- Sophisticated website messenger with many sales and service features (routing, screen sharing, file sharing, etc.) Website conversations can continue even after days or weeks to build long-term customer relationships
- Switch from chat to audio or video call to escalate complex requests or give personal product demos
- Servers located in Germany (GDPR-compliant)
- Fast and reliable customer service
- There is no smartphone app
- The Instagram channel is not yet available (coming in 2023)
Userlike: Instant chats, long-term customer relationships
Over 10,000 companies like Toyota and Hermes trust Userlike to connect with their customers every day - via website chat, WhatsApp, chatbots and more.Learn more
Freshdesk - Zendesk alternative with phone, email & messaging
Freshdesk is considered an all-in-one solution for small and medium-sized businesses that want to handle all their customer communication (phone, email, messaging) with one tool. Freshdesk's feature set is very similar to Zendesk’s - which, however, also means it has similar disadvantages.
As with Zendesk, you pay per agent, which can mean high monthly costs depending on your employees. If your company is growing or has a few part-time employees, this is something to consider.
Website chat is available via Freshdesk through Freshchat. The chat window looks modern, but lacks advanced features like voice messaging and browser-based video calls, which you can expect from a specialized provider like Userlike.
- Intuitive user interface
- Enjoyable collaboration features for teams
- Wide range of service features
- Reliable customer service and support
- Costly channel migration
- No specialized unified messaging provider
- There are no feature tutorials, which makes employee training difficult
- Basic analysis options
- Many bot and automation features are only available in the highest plan
Intercom - Zendesk alternative for email and messaging
Intercom is another big player for bundling customer communication. The US company enables customer messaging via email and messenger apps and offers a tool for creating a knowledge database.
Intercom customers especially like its intuitive application interface and easy-to-create chatbot automations. However, Intercom is not a full-fledged CRM system, so you have to add external specialized software.
Its main criticism is its non-transparent pricing, which leads to the solution being unexpectedly more expensive for most users. No plan or add-on prices are listed on the Intercom homepage. Customers report a relatively inexpensive start - but in order to use the software to its fullest, you have to purchase add-ons at 200 to 500 euros per month each. This means the solution is only suitable for companies with a flexible budget.
- User-friendly application interface
- Easy bot creation
- Useful app
- Interactive product tour guides of its different functions
- Expensive with non-transparent pricing
- Only 2,000 contacts/month included
- Fewer app integrations compared to Zendesk
- Slow customer service
- Less customizable than Zendesk
- Basic knowledge base design options
- Servers located in the USA, among other places
Bottom line: Which customer management software is the best Zendesk alternative for your business?
Each Zendesk alternative we've compared here is a powerful solution that thousands of companies are already successfully using. Which one works best for you depends on the channels you want to offer and the price you're willing to pay.
All-in-one software that integrates all channels (phone, email, messaging) sounds reasonable at first. However, no software offers all the features you need in one application interface. For many use cases, you have to use external systems.
That’s why Userlike specialized in customer messaging more than 10 years ago, so that you use one powerful application interface for all your communication - a central inbox for website chat, SMS and modern channels like WhatsApp and Instagram.
Our software is simple and intuitive: all settings are in the Dashboard (e.g. employee roles and rights, chat window customization, etc.), and in the Userlike Message Center, agents and chatbots handle all requests coming in through the different messaging channels.
We know that with the wide range of Zendesk alternatives, it's difficult to settle on one solution. Therefore, you can get your own personal impression by testing Userlike for free — without obligation. You can set up your account in five minutes without a credit card. Once the trial period ends, you can continue to use the free version of our software for as long as you like.
Do you have any questions about Userlike as a Zendesk alternative or about chatbot integrations? Feel free to contact our service team via the chat on our website. We will be happy to help you professionally bundle your customer messaging all in one place — and according to GDPR standards.