We’re in an age where customer experience is just as important as the product you provide. 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for great customer experience. What's more, investing in customer experience initiatives has the potential to double your revenue within 36 months.
Your first investment in customer experience should be a strong helpdesk and customer support tool. It's the best way to keep track of customer conversations across various channels in one place. With built-in automation features, helpdesk software can also cover some of the heavy lifting and care for your customers while you sleep.
Two of the best customer support tools in 2020 are Freshdesk and Zendesk. As well as offering similar feature sets, their philosophies are alike too. Freshdesk is refreshingly simple and intuitive to use, while Zendesk was created to "bring a sense of calm to the often chaotic world of customer service".
As two similar platforms, it’s not always easy to know if Freshdesk or Zendesk is best for your customer service team. They cover the same core features – helpdesks with omnichannel ticketing and add-ons for live chat, call center functionality, and much more – but have certain differences.
To help you choose between the two customer support platforms, here's our head-to-head comparison.
- Comparing Zendesk vs. Freshdesk customer support software
- When to choose Freshdesk
- When to choose Zendesk
- Freshdesk pricing vs. Zendesk pricing
- Feature comparison of Zendesk vs. Freshdesk
- Summary: when to choose Zendesk vs. Freshdesk
- Connect Zendesk and Freshdesk to your other apps
Comparing Zendesk vs. Freshdesk customer support software in 2020
If you ask SaaS experts to name the first customer support software that comes to mind, they'll probably say Zendesk. Founded in a loft in Copenhagen back in 2007, Zendesk is one of the oldest and most reputable helpdesks on the market. It has an incredibly robust feature set – and it's impeccably reliable, too.
Freshdesk was founded in 2010 by CEO Girish Mathrubootham across the world in Chennai, India, partly in response to Zendesk increasing their prices by 60%-300%. Although Freshdesk tends to be more budget-friendly, you'd be hard-pressed to say where it falls short of Zendesk, especially when you see how much their customers love them.
Alongside their helpdesks, both platforms offer a wider range of products to give your business more benefits – including live chat and call center products – via Zendesk's product suite and the huge Freshworks family.
When to choose Freshdesk
1. You want a unified view of customer experience
One of Freshdesk’s top benefits is the Freshworks family it belongs to. Freshworks is committed to creating a connected experience across its many products, and it’s easy to integrate Freshdesk with Freshcaller, Freshchat, and even Freshsales and Freshmarketer.
If you're using multiple Freshworks products, you'll benefit from their unified dashboard that centralizes your customer experience operations in one place. Using the system comes with a healthy dose of humor: one review shares, "absolutely fantastic sense of humour with loading screens and "lost" page messages... the inspiring login messages are a great boost to my team in the morning!"
Freshdesk is also especially good if multiple departments collaborate on your tickets. Freshdesk's Discuss feature enables instant messaging to team members directly within the ticket center, instead of moving the conversation to Slack.
Another Freshdesk perk is how easy it is to equip agents with all the information they need without having to frustrate customers by asking them to explain their problems again. With Session Replay, Freshdesk quickly gets your reps up to speed on your customer's journey with your website or app via a video summary.
2. You want top-class support
Freshdesk is known for their stand-out customer support. 24/7 email support is included with all plans – even free ones – while 24/5 phone and chat support is included with all paid plans. However, it isn't just the availability of their support that makes Freshdesk stand out: it's the quality.
Freshdesk's quality of support is rated 8.9/10, compared to the helpdesk average of 8.4/10 on G2 and Zendesk's 8.3/10.
3. You’re on a budget
If you're price-conscious, Freshdesk is likely to be a better choice for you. Freshdesk's Blossom plan gives you a ton of value at a low price point ($15/user/month) and you can easily upgrade plans as you grow.
Freshdesk also offers free helpdesk software and ticketing features. With the Sprout plan, you can get started without paying a cent. This free plan is great for trialing the system and for very small businesses that may not need anything more.
4. Simplicity matters to you
Freshworks believes your business deserves better software - software that’s ready to go, easy to set up and use, and requires minimal customization.
Simplicity is at the key of the Freshdesk experience and it's one of the easiest helpdesks to set up and understand. One reviewer on G2 shares, "Freshdesk is super easy to use and very straightforward", and another says, "intuitive support software, full of functionalities and affordable".
When to choose Zendesk
1. You want a robust enterprise feature list
While Freshdesk tends to be the best helpdesk for small businesses, Zendesk thrives at enterprise level. On G2, 16.4% of Zendesk reviewers represent enterprise companies with over 1000 employees, compared to 11.6% of Freshdesk’s.
There are several reasons why Zendesk is so popular with enterprise customers. For one, it offers features and services that justify higher price tags, including advanced reporting as well as training programs and dedicated support teams.
Zendesk also scales incredibly well. Their pricing page offers an overwhelming number of features and products to wrap your head around, but this guarantees that Zendesk can keep adapting to fit your business as it evolves.
2. You want solid automation functionality
Zendesk tends to handle complexity better than Freshdesk, including when it comes to automation. Both platforms offer machine learning bots that analyze tickets and pull in relevant knowledge base docs, but Zendesk nudges ahead with its ease of set-up and usability.
Zendesk also has powerful rerouting tools to transfer chats or tickets from bots to agents or agents to other departments. You can even route to agents with specific skills:
3. You want more native integrations
Although Freshdesk is catching up with a fast-growing app marketplace, you can still get a lot more native integrations with Zendesk. However, whether or not this is an issue depends on the specific business tools you need to integrate: identify these and check if Freshdesk or Zendesk offers native integrations that fit your needs.
One of our favorite Zendesk updates in 2020 is the Zoom for Zendesk Integration, which enables you to create an instant Zoom meeting directly within Zendesk conversations.
To keep your customer data in sync across your business apps, PieSync offers robust integrations between both Zendesk and Freshdesk and hundreds of other business apps. Get started with a free trial now and sync your customer data where it matters.
4. You want more complex reporting & analytics
Zendesk thrives as an enterprise product – and enterprise organizations need advanced reporting and analytics.
With their analytics product, Zendesk Explore, you get instant access to omnichannel analytics to measure how customers interact with your brand on every channel. Built-in best practice dashboards also make it easy to analyze team performance and quality of customer experience.
Zendesk also provides plenty of scope for customization to fit your data needs, as well as the capacity for sharing with other team members and departments via their Collaboration add-on.
Freshdesk pricing vs. Zendesk pricing
When comparing Freshdesk and Zendesk pricing plans, one thing is clear: Freshdesk wins on clarity.
It's not immediately obvious which Zendesk subscription is for you on the main pricing page, but know that Zendesk Support is their core help desk software. Zendesk Sell is their full-features sales CRM.
If the basic Zendesk Support plan isn't enough for you, you can also opt for the full Support Suite, including live chat, social messaging, self-service and knowledge base, and omnichannel reporting. This starts at $89/month for Professional and $149/month for Enterprise, both billed annually.
Freshdesk's pricing page is easier to decipher, and you can cross-check it with pricing for complementary Freshworks products plans like Freshcaller and Freshchat as you go.
Both Freshdesk and Zendesk offer long trial periods and their pricing is both based on number of agents:
|Free trial||21 days||30 days|
|Pricing based on||# of agents||# of agents|
Here's our comparison of Freshdesk versus Zendesk Support pricing for different tiers:
Free for unlimited agents
$5 / agent / month billed annually
|- Email ticketing |
- Ticket dispatch
- Team collaboration
- Knowledge base
- Ticket trend report
- Social ticketing
- Omnichannel: convert calls to tickets in Freshdesk
|- Email & social channels |
- Web Widget & Mobile SDK
- Pre-defined business rules
- Essentials card
- Interaction history - All plans come with Lite versions of Chat, Talk, and Guide
|For small teams||Blossom |
$15 / agent / month billed annually
$19 / agent / month billed annually
|- Automations |
- Collision detection
- Marketplace apps
- Help desk
- SLA management
- Business hours
|- Custom business rules |
- Performance Dashboards
- Public apps and integrations
|For growing teams||Garden |
$35 / agent / month billed annually
$49 / agent / month billed annually
|- Time tracking |
- CSAT surveys
- Session replay
- Performance reports
- Multilingual knowledge base
|- Multilingual content |
- CSAT surveys
- Advanced analytics powered by Zendesk Explore
|For large teams||Estate |
$49 / agent / month billed annually
$99 / agent / month billed annually
|- Ticket assignment automation |
- Custom roles
- Portal customization
- Enterprise reporting
- Multiple SLAs & timezones
- Answer Bot
|- Multiple ticket forms |
- Skills-based routing
- Contextual workspaces
- Satisfaction prediction
- Multibrand support
$99 / agent / month billed annually
$199 / agent / month billed annually
|- Skill-based ticket assignment |
- IP whitelisting
- Data centre location
- HIPAA compliance
- Extendable API rate limit
|- Unlimited light agents |
- 99.9% uptime SLA
- 1 hour service level objective
- Advanced encryption & security
- Data center location
Does Freshdesk or Zendesk give you the most for free?
If you're a very small business looking for the most customer support tools you can get for free, Freshdesk is probably best for you. The Sprout plan offers a stripped-down version of the enterprise plan, including core helpdesk tools.
All Zendesk plans come with Lite versions of Chat, Talk and Guide, but on a very limited basis.
Feature comparison of Zendesk vs. Freshdesk
Both Zendesk and Freshdesk have very similar feature sets as superbly well-rounded customer support platforms. However, they occasionally approach features differently or have areas where they excel. Here's what you need to know about Freshdesk vs. Zendesk features.
|Dashboard||Unified view of different support channels||Customizable views|
|Ticketing||Instant messaging to colleagues in the ticket center||Easy to create tickets, respond and add new assignees|
|Workflows||Automatically assign and escalate tickets based on keywords (e.g. "unhappy") and properties||Simple to set up extensive automation based on triggers and SLAs|
|Live chat||Integrate Freshchat for a super user-friendly solution for customers and reps with easy-access extra info||Integrate Zendesk Chat for the strongest functionality and agent and department routing|
|Collaboration||Easy communication & collaboration between departments||With Collaboration paid add-on|
|Omnichannel||Connected flow between email, phone, chat and social media inquiries||Integrations between Zendesk products can be clunkier|
|Automation||Strong response automation but falls slightly short of Zendesk||Powerful bots and machine learning, has the edge|
|Self-service||Private and public knowledge bases with folders and tags to integrate with tickets||Lacks integration with tickets compared to Freshdesk|
|Call center||Integrate Freshcaller for an easy way to make, receive and record calls||Integrate Zendesk Talk for a call center solution built right into the Zendesk ticketing system|
|Reporting & analytics||Simple view of data and key insights, customizable dashboards||Plenty of advanced data, not always easy to sift through|
|Security||All the basics including HIPAA and ITIL compliance||Everything Freshdesk offers plus PCI/service provider compliance (so you can take credit card data within tickets)|
|Integrations||500+ native integrations with Freshworks; PieSync partner||700+ native integrations; PieSync partner|
|Customer support||24/7 email support for all plans, 24/5 phone and chat support for paid plans||24/7 support via phone and chat only available on higher-priced tiers|
|Reviews||4.4/5 stars with 2,292 reviews||4.2/5 stars with 2,198 reviews|
Summary: when to choose Zendesk vs. Freshdesk
What's the difference between Freshdesk and Zendesk? The main difference is that Freshdesk is perfect for small businesses looking for a helpdesk that's quick and easy to set up, while Zendesk is ideal for larger enterprises.
Here's a quick comparison of when to choose Zendesk vs Freshdesk, based on where the two systems excel:
|When to choose Freshdesk||When to choose Zendesk|
|You want a unified view of customer experience||You want a robust enterprise feature list|
|Top-class support matters to you||You want solid automation functionality|
|You’re on a budget||You want more native integrations|
|Simplicity matters to you||You want more complex reporting & analytics|
Connect Zendesk and Freshdesk to your other apps
Popular Zendesk integrations:
- Zendesk + HubSpot: When contacts send in a Zendesk ticket, create them in HubSpot.
- Zendesk + Google Contacts: When new contacts are added in Zendesk, keep them in sync with Google Contacts.
Popular Freshdesk integrations:
- Freshdesk + Mailchimp: When Freshdesk contacts are from a certain location, create them in Mailchimp.
- Freshdesk + iCloud: When new contacts are added in Freshdesk, keep them in sync with iCloud.