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A multi-channel helpdesk that works inside Gmail

Zendesk vs Help Scout – A Detailed Comparison

Jan 23, 2024
    |    
15 min read
    |    
Hiver HQ
Shobhana

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Choosing the right customer service platform is a key decision for businesses aiming to enhance their customer engagement and resolve complaints efficiently. In this context, Zendesk and Help Scout emerge as notable options, each with its own set of features tailored to different business needs.

Zendesk offers a broad spectrum of customer support functionalities, including an advanced email ticketing system, live chat, phone support, and a comprehensive knowledge base. Its strength lies in its versatility and ability to integrate seamlessly with a variety of applications, making it a preferred choice for businesses seeking a comprehensive, all-encompassing customer support platform.

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Help Scout, in comparison, offers a more focused and streamlined set of features. It is known for its simplicity and user-friendly interface, appealing to businesses that value straightforward and efficient customer support management. While it may not offer as wide a range of functionalities as Zendesk, Help Scout is effective in providing personalized customer service and efficient workflow management.

The Better Customer Support Solution AlternativeTry Hiver Free

Both Zendesk and Help Scout have established themselves as strong contenders in the customer service software market, catering to different business requirements. Zendesk is ideal for those in need of a wide-ranging suite of tools, while Help Scout is well-suited for businesses prioritizing ease of use.

This comparison aims to assist businesses in making an informed decision that aligns with their customer service goals, considering the distinct advantages and features each platform offers.

Zendesk Overview

Zendesk offers a suite of tools designed to streamline customer support. Its features include automations for handling routine tasks efficiently and providing a comprehensive, 360-degree view of each customer’s journey. By integrating various channels like email, live chat, phone, social media, and self-service options, Zendesk allows businesses to engage with their customers seamlessly across their preferred platforms, ensuring consistent and effective support.

The platform’s app marketplace features a variety of extensions and add-ons tailored to specific business requirements, including tools for real-time language translation and sentiment analysis. 

Zendesk UI

Additionally, Zendesk’s robust reporting and analytics capabilities assist in making informed decisions by analyzing key support metrics like ticket volume and customer satisfaction score.

Explore the best Zendesk Alternatives

Help Scout Overview

Help Scout is a customer support platform designed for efficient and effective customer interaction management. It offers a shared inbox solution for team collaboration on customer queries, and a knowledge base for self-service support. The platform is notable for its user-friendly interface, resembling an email inbox, which simplifies managing customer conversations. 

Help Scout UI

Help Scout provides functionalities such as private notes for internal communication, tags to categorize queries, and canned responses for sending quicker replies. The platform is well-suited for businesses seeking a streamlined and robust solution for customer support and team collaboration​.

Explore the Top 10 Help Scout Alternatives for Businesses

Zendesk vs Help Scout – which should you choose?

Comparing Zendesk and Help Scout, we’ll delve into what sets these customer support tools apart. This can guide you to making the right choice for your business’s unique support requirements.

1. Ease of Use

Comparing Zendesk and Help Scout in 2024 for ease of use, here’s what we find:

Zendesk:

Zendesk Agent Interface
  • Agent Experience: Offers a dynamic, highly customizable agent workspace, enhancing efficiency. That being said, it may overwhelm new users with its complexity.
  • AI Integration: Zendesk’s AI streamlines customer service by smartly directing inquiries to the right agents and suggesting pre-set responses for faster, consistent replies. This optimizes response times and ensures tailored support, although it benefits from some technical know-how for best results.
  • Analytics and Reporting: Provides deep, customizable insights, which can be complex for those without analytics experience.
  • Setup and Training: Zendesk’s setup can be complex, requiring a detailed approach, but it offers comprehensive training resources to help teams navigate and fully utilize its extensive capabilities.

How itGenius saved 40 hours a month by moving from Zendesk to Hiver

Help Scout:

Help Scout Agent Interface
  • User Interface: Known for its user-friendly, straightforward interface. That being said, it lacks the depth of customization offered by Zendesk.
  • Functional Design: Offers a clean, functional design suitable for basic needs. But, it might not cater to complex, multifaceted business operations.

Key Takeaway:

Zendesk is ideal for businesses looking for a flexible, AI-enhanced agent workspace that offers efficient query routing and automated responses, albeit with a need for some technical know-how.

Help Scout, with its user-friendly interface, is ideal for operations needing basic, functional design. It lacks Zendesk’s customization depth and faces limitations in search functionality and customer engagement customization. 

Choose Zendesk for a feature-rich, customizable environment, or Help Scout for straightforward, user-friendly operations.

2. Automation

Automation in Zendesk vs. Help Scout presents distinct approaches to enhance customer support efficiency.

Zendesk

Zendesk Automation
  • Automated Ticket Routing: This feature leverages AI to analyze incoming tickets and route them to the most appropriate agent or department. It considers factors like agent availability, expertise, and current workload, which helps in distributing support tasks effectively and improving response times.
  • AI-Powered Chatbots: Zendesk utilizes AI-driven chatbots that interact with customers in real-time, handling routine inquiries and providing instant responses to common questions. This automation not only speeds up customer service for basic queries but also allows human agents to focus on more complex issues.

Download the ‘AI vs Human | The Future of Customer Service in 2024’ Report

  • Trigger-Based Actions: Triggers in Zendesk are customizable automated actions activated by specific events in a ticket’s lifecycle. For instance, triggers can automatically send responses when a ticket is received, escalate a ticket after a certain period of inactivity, or notify supervisors of urgent matters. This feature helps maintain a consistent and efficient workflow in customer support operations.

Help Scout

Help Scout Automation
  • Workflow Automation: Help Scout offers customizable workflows that automate repetitive tasks. Users can create rules to assign, categorize, and prioritize tickets based on specific criteria such as customer information or the type of inquiry.
  • Basic Ticket Routing: The platform allows for the automated distribution of tickets, but it’s more straightforward than Zendesk’s AI-based system. It can automatically assign tickets to specific agents or teams based on predefined rules.
  • Canned Responses: Help Scout provides the ability to create and use canned responses. These are pre-written answers to common questions, which can significantly speed up response times and ensure consistency in communication.

9 Automations to Implement in Ticketing Systems

Key Takeaway

Zendesk’s automation, with its AI-based ticket routing and chatbots, is tailored for businesses requiring complex customer support solutions, but may present a learning curve due to its advanced features. 

Help Scout offers more straightforward automation tools like workflow automation and canned responses, making it suitable for small to medium businesses seeking simpler, efficient support processes. 

The choice hinges on whether a business needs intricate, AI-enhanced automation (Zendesk) or prefers easy-to-use, basic automations (Help Scout).

3. Omnichannel Functionalities

Let’s examine Zendesk and Help Scout’s strategies in centralizing various customer interaction channels for effective support.

Zendesk

  • Email: Zendesk transforms incoming emails into support tickets, integrating them into its unified interface alongside other channels. This system ensures efficient tracking, prioritization, and response to customer emails. It also preserves the context and history of interactions. Additionally, Zendesk facilitates customization of email communications, with templates and automated responses.
  • Community Forum: Zendesk’s Community Forum feature fosters an interactive space where customers can engage, share experiences, and provide peer-to-peer support. This forum serves as a valuable tool for companies to build community engagement and gather direct customer feedback, enhancing understanding of customer needs and preferences.
Zendesk Knowledge Base
  • Knowledge Base: Zendesk offers a Knowledge Base feature that helps a brand’s customers independently find answers to common queries. This self-service tool is instrumental in reducing the volume of direct support requests.
  • Live Chat (Zendesk Chat): Zendesk Chat enables businesses to provide real-time support to website visitors with its live chat feature. This tool is vital for engaging customers, especially during crucial decision-making moments. It increases customer satisfaction through prompt and personalized responses and provides insights into customer behavior and needs.
  • Messaging Platforms: Zendesk supports a variety of popular messaging apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, LINE, SMS, Telegram, and WeChat. This integration allows businesses to manage conversations across these platforms efficiently from a single interface, catering to the diverse communication preferences of customers.
  • Phone Support: Zendesk offers comprehensive phone support, including both inbound and outbound calls. The system seamlessly integrates with traditional and VoIP telephony, providing features like call routing and recording. This functionality is particularly valuable for managing complex or urgent issues that require immediate attention.
  • Web Form and Web Service (API): These functionalities enable the integration of Zendesk’s support tools directly into websites or apps, allowing customers to make inquiries or requests without leaving the platform.
  • Social Media Integration: Zendesk facilitates the integration with major social media platforms, enabling businesses to manage and respond to customer interactions on these platforms directly through the Zendesk interface.
  • Mobile SDK and Web Widget: With these tools, businesses can integrate Zendesk’s support features into their mobile apps and websites, offering users a cohesive support experience across these channels.

Discover the 7 Best Omnichannel Helpdesk for Customer Support

Help Scout

Help Scout Knowledge Base
  • Email Ticketing: Help Scout’s platform transforms incoming customer emails into organized support tickets within a shared inbox. This system facilitates efficient email management and tracking, allowing support teams to prioritize and respond to customer emails.
  • Live Chat: The live chat feature on Help Scout helps companies offers instant, real-time support on their websites, enabling immediate engagement with customers. This tool is crucial for addressing inquiries while customers navigate your website.
  • Voice and Text Integration: Help Scout integrates various voice and text communication tools into the shared inbox. This integration ensures that calls and text-based communications are centrally managed.
  • Social Media Integration: This feature allows Help Scout users to manage and respond to messages from social media platforms directly from their inbox. It streamlines responses and ensures consistent communication across platforms like Instagram and Facebook.
  • Shared Inbox: Help Scout centralizes all customer interactions from different channels into one shared inbox. This unified approach enhances team collaboration and efficiency in managing and responding to customer queries.

Key Takeaway

Zendesk excels in offering a comprehensive omnichannel experience, ideal for businesses requiring extensive integration with various channels like email, forums, and social media, combined with powerful analytics and customization. 

Help Scout, with a focus on simplicity and user-friendliness, is better suited for businesses prioritizing direct, streamlined customer interactions through channels like email, live chat, and a unified shared inbox. 

Choose Zendesk for a more diverse and customizable platform, or Help Scout for a straightforward, efficient customer communication approach. 

4. Reporting and Analytics

Comparing the reporting and analytics dashboard of Zendesk and Help Scout, it’s clear that both platforms provide valuable tools, albeit with different approaches and levels of complexity.

Zendesk

  • Tailored Reporting: Zendesk lets you craft custom reports that align with your specific business requirements. These reports can be fine-tuned using various metrics and attributes pertinent to your business, such as ticket volume, response times, and customer feedback.
Zendesk Explore for Reporting and Analytics
  • Snapshot Overview: It offers a quick glimpse into crucial metrics and trends, enabling businesses to efficiently monitor performance indicators.

18 Key Customer Service Metrics and How to Use Them

  • Ticket Sorting: This functionality allows for the categorization and filtering of tickets, aiding in a deeper understanding of customer needs and patterns in their requests.
  • Performance Tracking: These reports are designed to monitor the effectiveness of customer service teams and pinpoint areas for improvement.
  • Customer Satisfaction: Zendesk facilitates the tracking of customer satisfaction scores, ensuring that businesses consistently provide an exceptional customer experience (CX).
  • Data Exporting: Businesses can easily export data in multiple formats like CSV, PDF, and XLS for further analysis or reporting purposes.
  • Seamless Integrations: Zendesk seamlessly integrates with popular API providers like Twilio, Slack, and Salesforce, enhancing its reporting capabilities.
  • Zendesk Explore: A vital component of Zendesk’s reporting arsenal is Zendesk Explore. It functions as an analytical service that empowers businesses to gather, analyze, and take action based on customer service data. Zendesk Explore includes ready-made dashboards and also offers the flexibility to create custom ones, tailoring your reporting needs. These dashboards can showcase information across various Zendesk products such as Zendesk Support, Zendesk Chat, and Zendesk Sell, all customizable to focus on the key operational indicators most relevant to your business.

I really dislike the Explore reporting platform; Insights was much more robust and user-friendly. Creating your own dashboard is PAINFUL (slow, clunky, glitchy) and feels outdated.

Source

Help Scout

Help Scout Reporting and Analytics
  • Report Types: Help Scout offers several reports, including All Channels, Email, Chat, Phone, Company and User, Happiness, and Docs reports. Each report serves a specific purpose:
  1. The All Channels report provides an overview of the volume and types of issues handled.
  2. The Email report focuses on interactions with customer emails.
  3. The Chat report offers insights into chat workload and performance.
  4. The Phone report tracks phone conversation volume.
  5. Company and User reports give insights on individual and team performance.
  6. The Happiness report measures customer satisfaction.
  7. The Docs report is useful for understanding customer engagement with knowledge-base articles.
  • Functionalities: These reports come with useful functionalities like conversation drilldowns, popover definitions for metrics, and filtering options. The platform allows for detailed analysis with options to dive into individual conversations and metrics.

The reporting and analytics features could be more robust, lacking advanced customization options.

Source

Key Takeaway

Zendesk offers customizable, in-depth reporting with features like tailored reports, performance tracking, and Zendesk Explore. 

Help Scout, on the other hand, provides specialized reports focusing on specific interaction channels and performance metrics – with the option for detailed drill-downs. 

Choose Zendesk if you want a high degree of customization and depth in your reports. Help Scout works for more specific, targeted reporting.

5. Pricing

In examining the pricing models of Zendesk and Help Scout, both platforms demonstrate varied approaches, reflecting their target customer base and service offerings.

Zendesk

Zendesk Pricing
  • Suite Team: Priced at $55 per agent monthly (when billed annually),this entry-level plan offers foundational features including email support, messaging, live chat, as well as integration with social and business channels.
  • Suite Growth: At $89 per agent per month on an annual basis, this plan expands on the Suite Team’s offerings. It incorporates more sophisticated features such as advanced social and business channel support, along with the option to add voice support.
  • Suite Professional: This plan, costing $115 per agent each month for annual billing, provides more comprehensive features. These include support for multiple languages, enhanced knowledge management capabilities, and bot technology.

Even though Zendesk is a highly effective customer support program, there are some aspects that can be increased. Firstly, the pricing structure of Zendesk may not be ideal for organizations that have little budget or smaller-sized support teams. The price can go up as the number of agents or the requirement of improved features grows.

Source

  • Suite Enterprise: Targeted at larger organizations, this plan is available at $169 per agent per month with annual billing. It encompasses a broad range of features, including no limit on the number of departments, advanced encryption standards, and sophisticated data retention policies.

Zendesk costs 2x more than Hiver

Help Scout

Help Scout Pricing
  • Standard Plan: This plan starts at $20 per user per month and is designed for small teams or businesses with simple processes. It includes essential features like email support and basic reporting tools. This plan is suitable for teams that need fundamental customer support functionalities.
  • Plus Plan: Priced at $40 per user per month, the Plus plan is aimed at growing teams that require advanced features and reporting capabilities. This plan offers more customization options and is suitable for larger teams or those with multiple projects that would benefit from a shared inbox and more advanced user permissions.
  • Pro Plan: The Pro plan is priced at $65 per user per month. It is tailored for large teams and offers enhanced features such as increased mailboxes, additional Docs sites, enterprise security, and HIPAA compliance. This plan also includes advanced APi access, concierge onboarding, a dedicated account manager, and quarterly team training.

    As a customer, I believe that access to real-time chat should be a basic requirement for any support service. It’s frustrating to see that Help Scout is putting such a critical feature behind a paywall, and it makes me question their commitment to customer satisfaction.

While Help Scout may still be a reliable choice for some businesses, I hope they will reconsider their pricing model and make this integration available to all users. Until then, I will be exploring other options that offer better value for my money.

Source

Key Takeaway

Zendesk’s pricing varies, starting at $55 and going up to $169 per agent per month. This structure accommodates businesses of different sizes, with plans that progress from basic support to advanced features like bot technology and enhanced encryption.

Help Scout’s pricing, ranging from $20 to $65 per user per month, is tailored for small to medium-sized teams. Its Standard Plan covers essential features, while the Pro Plan scales up to include advanced functionalities like enterprise security and HIPAA compliance.

Zendesk is ideal for businesses requiring scalable, feature-rich solutions, including enterprises needing robust support. On the other hand, Help Scout is more geared towards small and medium-sized businesses, offering focused functionalities.

6. Customer Support Quality

When examining the differences in customer support between Zendesk and Help Scout, several critical aspects stand out:

Zendesk

For users of Zendesk’s basic service plans, accessing vendor support can sometimes be difficult. Zendesk reserves its advanced, tailored support services primarily for higher-tier subscription levels, which can be a drawback for smaller companies or those with a limited budget.

They have a 2-day SLA, no phone support, and the times I have had to work with them they have been incredibly difficult to work with. Very rarely do they understand the issue (mostly with Explore) that I am trying to communicate to them. The support documentation is incredibly lackluster and it’s often impossible to know which guide to use as they have non-sensical terminology that makes even finding the appropriate guide very difficult.

I would not recommend Zendesk for their lack of support alone. it seems that it’s been built to allow you to do most things but with non-user-friendly UI.

Source

Furthermore, Zendesk provides specialized support services, but at an extra charge. These enhanced support services are priced between $1,500 and $2,800, adding a significant cost consideration for businesses that work on a tight budget.

Help Scout

Help Scout offers support 24 hours a day, 6 days a week. However, unlike some of its competitors – case in point, Hiver – Help Scout does not provide a phone callback option for elite plans.

Key Takeaway

Zendesk’s customer support accessibility varies by plan, with advanced services reserved for higher tiers and additional charges for specialized support. This poses a challenge for smaller or budget-conscious businesses.

Help Scout’s 24/6 support offers consistent and reliable assistance, making it a strong choice for businesses that value steady and accessible customer service. 

…Or consider Hiver, a more suitable alternative

Hiver UI

Built Inside Gmail, Hiver offers a user-friendly platform for managing customer support with ease. Here’s an overview of its key features:

  • Comprehensive Multi-Channel Support: Hiver adeptly handles tickets from various channels like email, live chat, WhatsApp, and voice, providing full-scale customer service. Its knowledge base feature empowers customers to self-resolve common problems, easing the load on the support team.
  • Customized Views: Hiver’s system allows for easy management of customer conversations. It offers ‘Email Views’ for categorizing conversations. With Views, agents can apply filters to sort queries and thereby, access them quickly.
  • Collaboration Made Easy: Hiver fosters teamwork with features like shared labels, ticket assignments, and private notes for internal communication. These functionalities aid in quickly resolving customer issues and encourage a cooperative work atmosphere.
  • Robust Automation:Hiver’s automation features are designed to streamline and optimize customer support processes. Here’s an overview of how Hiver’s automation works:
  • Automated Email Routing: This feature automatically directs incoming emails to the appropriate team or team member based on predefined rules. For instance, emails can be routed based on their content, the sender’s information, or keywords in the subject line. This ensures that each email is handled by the most suitable person or team, enhancing response efficiency.
Automations in Hiver
  • Workflow Automation for Repetitive Tasks: Routine tasks such as categorizing, tagging, and marking emails can be automated in Hiver. This reduces the time and effort spent on manual sorting and organization, enabling team members to focus more on customer interactions and problem-solving.
  • Harvey, the AI bot:Harvey, the AI feature in Hiver, has a ‘Thank You’ Detection function. It automatically identifies ‘Thank You’ replies from customers, typically sent after resolving their issues. These replies, while positive, don’t need further action but can reopen closed threads. Harvey helps keep these conversations closed, streamlining email management.
SLA Automation in Hiver
  • SLA Management Automation: Hiver automates the tracking and management of Service Level Agreements (SLAs). It allows you to set up reminders and warnings based on the SLAs you have with your customers. For example, if an email hasn’t been responded to within a certain timeframe, Hiver can automatically alert the responsible team member or escalate the issue to management.
  • Automated Collision Detection: Hiver identifies when multiple team members are responding to the same email. This feature automatically alerts the team members involved, preventing duplicate responses and ensuring a more coordinated approach to customer communication.
  • In-Depth Reporting and Analytics: With advanced reporting and analytics, Hiver offers valuable insights into team performance and customer satisfaction. This data is crucial for making informed strategic decisions and pinpointing improvement areas.
Hiver Reporting
  • Reliable Vendor Support: Hiver ensures users have access to excellent customer support, including 24×7 chat and email assistance, across all its pricing plans. This ensures users have constant, round-the-clock support.
Testimonial on Hiver’s 24×7 Customer Support
Hiver Pricing
  1. Lite Plan: This basic package is available at $15 per user per month. It covers essential customer service functionalities, including email management and collaboration tools, accommodating up to 2 shared inboxes and 10 users per inbox. Additional benefits include mobile app access, onboarding support, and round-the-clock chat and email support.
  2. Pro Plan: Offered at $39 per user per month, this plan expands upon the Lite Plan. It incorporates voice calling, enhanced automation, detailed analytics, and integration with platforms such as Asana and Salesforce. This plan supports up to 5 shared inboxes and 50 shared labels.
  3. Elite Plan: Priced at $59 per user per month, the Elite Plan is tailored for extensive use. It offers sophisticated features like HIPAA compliance and a personal success manager. This tier allows unlimited shared inboxes, labels and users, and also includes Harvey, Hiver’s AI assistant.

All plans include a 7-day free trial period, and no credit card details are required for signing up.

Hiver accommodates a wide range of business sizes and requirements, positioning itself as a versatile customer support platform that’s built inside the Gmail interface.

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Shobhana has been recognized as a 'Top Customer Support Voice' by LinkedIn. Her expertise lies in creating well-researched and actionable content for Customer Experience (CX) professionals. As an active member of popular CX communities such as CX Accelerator and Support Driven, she helps professionals evaluate tools for their support team and keeps a keen eye on emerging industry trends.

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