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Zendesk vs. Intercom - Head to Head Comparison in 2024

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15 mins to read

In today's business world, customer service is fast-paced, and customers have higher expectations. To enhance customer satisfaction, businesses must equip their teams with customer support solutions and customer service software.

Zendesk and Intercom are the leading providers of customer service software (despite there being a ton of other alternatives) and offer a range of features and capabilities that enhance user satisfaction. However, businesses must choose between Zendesk vs Intercom based on their needs and requirements.

Zendesk vs Intercom
Zendesk and Intercom logos

Zendesk vs Intercom: Choosing the Best Customer Service Software

Considering that Zendesk and Intercom are leading the market for customer service software, it becomes difficult for businesses to choose the right tool. Sometimes, businesses do not even realize the importance of various aspects you must consider while making this choice.

Choosing the CRM software
Zendesk user interface

Zendesk and Intercom offer basic features, including live chat, a help desk, and a pre-built knowledge base. They have great UX and a normal pricing range, making it difficult for businesses to choose one, as both software almost looks similar in their offerings.

Some aspects give an edge or create differentiation in the operations of both software, which users may oversee while making a choice. We will discuss these differentiating factors to help you make the right choice for your business and help it excel in offering extraordinary customer service.

Zendesk vs. Intercom: Features Comparison

Let us dive deeper into the offerings of Zendesk and Intercom to make a comparison at a glance. This comparison is going to help you understand the features of both tools.

Ticketing System

Zendesk excels in its ticketing system, offering users an intuitive platform for collaboration among support agents. Its robust workflows streamline the ticket resolution system and efficiently handle all customer complaints. It also enables agents to perform customized workflow management, assign tickets to the right agent for request handling, and track the ticket's progress.

Zendesk Support
Zendesk Sandbox Interface

Tracking the ticket progress enables businesses to track what part of the resolution customer complaint has reached. On the other hand, Intercom catches up with Zendesk on ticket handling capabilities but stands out due to its automation features.

It allows businesses to automate repetitive tasks, such as ticket routing and in-built responses, freeing up time for support agents to deal with more crucial cases requiring more agent attention. This automation enhances support teams' productivity as they do not have to spend too much responding to similar complaints they have already dealt with.

Intercom ticketing
Zendesk ticket example

Messaging Platform

Zendesk is an all-in-one omnichannel platform offering various channel integrations in one place. The dashboard of Zendesk is sleek, simple, and highly responsive, offering a seamless experience for managing customer interactions.

It smoothly considers customer journeys from multiple channels, and its comprehensive messaging feature further enhances personalized customer interactions by allowing email, chat, and social media to be used all in one place. Its messaging also has real-time notifications and automated responses, enhancing customer communication.

Zendesk Messaging
Zendesk conversation example

Intercom's messaging platform is very similar to Zendesk's dashboard, offering seamless integration of multiple channels in one place for managing customer interactions. Although Intercom offers an omnichannel messaging dashboard, it has slightly less functionality than Zendesk.

However, it is a great option for businesses seeking efficient customer interactions, as its focus on personalized messaging compensates for its lack of features.

Intercom Messaging
Intercom chat widget

Help Center

Zendesk allows businesses to group their resources in the help center, providing customers with self-service personalized support. The platform has various customization options, allowing businesses personalized experiences according to their branding. Help Center in Zendesk also will enable businesses to organize their tutorials, articles, and FAQs, making it convenient for customer to find solutions to their queries.

The help center in Intercom is also user-friendly, enabling agents to access content creation easily. The branding may not be as customized as Zendesk. It does help you organize and create content using efficient tools, but Zendesk is more suitable if you want a fully branded customer-centric experience.

Zendesk Help Center
Customer portal with custom branding

Chatbots

Zendesk offers simple chatbots and provides businesses with straightforward chatbot creation tools, allowing them to set up automated responses and assist customers with common queries. Zendesk may be unable to give the agents more advanced features or customization options for chatbots.

On the other hand, Intercom's chatbots have more advanced features but do not sacrifice simplicity and ease of use. It helps businesses create highly personalized chatbots for interactive customer communication.

Intercom Chatbots
Example chat widget

It can also handle complex interactions and provide real-time insight to customer support agents. Overall, Intercom is a better option if personalized and robust chatbots are something you are looking for when managing customer support strategy.

Customer Support Solution

Considering all the features of Zendesk, including robust ticketing, messaging, a help center, and chatbots, we can say that Zendesk excels in being the top customer support platform. It is a reliable and effective software for businesses of all sizes.

Customer Support Platform
Example of updated tickets

Intercom offers advanced customer service through its automated functions and is suitable for businesses looking for a sophisticated customer support solution. Another advantage of using Intercom is that it not only enhances customer engagement but is also a great way to increase customer support teams' productivity.

CRM Utility

When it comes to utility, Zendesk's utility may not be as robust as a pure CRM solution. However, customers do have the option to go to Zendesk Sell for a more robust experience. Although Zednesk's utility may not offer all the features a standalone CRM may offer, it provides a convenient option for users who prioritize integration and collaboration between customer support and sales teams.

Intercom's CRM can work as a standalone CRM and requires no additional service to operate robustly. It offers comprehensive customer data management and lead-tracking features. Some businesses may require supplemental products to meet specific needs. Intercom's CRM utility is a solid foundation for managing customer relationships and sales in one platform.

Utility
Intercom as a CRM

Automation Tools

Zendesk's automation features are limited to offering basic automation to streamline repetitive tasks. While Zeendesk provides automation services for ticket support systems, notifications, chatbots, etc., it may not be an extensive feature compared to Intercom.

Intercom, on the other hand, offers more advanced automation features than Zendesk. It allows businesses to automate a wide range of business interactions. Its automation tools help companies see automated responses and triggers based on the customer journey and response time. Intercom's automation features enable businesses to deliver a personalized experience to customers and scale their customer support function effectively.

Intercom Automation
Zendesk automation capabilities

Apps and Integrations

The integration of apps plays a significant role in creating a seamless experience or a 360-degree view of customers across the company. Zendesk allows the integration of 1300 apps ranging from billing apps, marketing tools, and other software, adding overall to the value of the business. It also excels in the silo approach in a company and allows easy access to information to anyone in the company through this integration.

Intercom is also a customer service software that integrates entirely with third-party vendors, especially those offering messaging services. Using any plan, this integration is available to all customers, making the customer support experience and onboarding smooth.

Third Party Integrations
Apps and integrations in Zendesk

Reporting and Analytics

Zendesk offers robust reporting capabilities, providing businesses with detailed insights into consumer interactions, ticketing systems, agent performance, and more. Businesses can also track their performance, identify trends, and make informed decisions using its advanced analytics tool and creative dashboards that can customized according to the business needs.

Zendesk Analytics
Reporting in Zendesk

Intercom's reporting is average compared to Zendesk, as it offers some standard reporting and analytics tools. While it provides necessary reporting features that help businesses track performance and identity key metrics, this will not be a sufficient option if they want something more sophisticated and advanced. Its analytics do not provide deeper insights into consumer interactions as well.

Intercom Analytics
Intercom custom bot overview

Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)

Zendesk TCO is lower than Intercom due to its ability to scale, which does not require additional cost to update the software for a growing business. It also has a transparent pricing model so businesses know the price they will incur. Lastly, the tool is easy to set up and implement, meaning no additional knowledge or expertise makes the businesses incur additional costs.

TCO
Free trial ability in Intercom

Businesses may incur additional costs when they grow or acquire new customers, or there may be some costs associated with product limitations leading to increased expenses, as in the case of Intercom. Hence, the Intercom may not be an attractive option for cost-conscious customers.

Agility

Zendesk offers fast time to value, especially at the enterprise level. Its ability to scale with the businesses makes it an attractive option for growing companies. Its customizable options enable businesses to quickly gain value from its features by enhancing agility.

Zendesk's Flexibility
Zendesk focus on agility

Intercom also provides fast time to value for smaller and mid-sized businesses with limitations for large-scale companies. It may have limited abilities regarding the scalability or support of an enterprise-level company. Thus, due to its limited agility, businesses with complex business models may not find it appropriate.

Intercom's Agility
Intercom's AI promise

ROI: Return on Investment

Zendesk offers its users consistently high ROI due to its comprehensive product features, firm support, and advanced customer support, automation, and reporting features. It allows businesses to streamline operations and workflows, improving customer satisfaction and eventually leading to increased revenues, which justifies the continuous high ROI.

Zendesk ROI
The ROI of Zendesk

On the other hand, Intercom may have a lower ROI when compared to Zendesk due to the limited depth of features it offers. Although it provides businesses with valuable messaging and automation tools, they may require more than this to achieve a higher level of functionality. Companies might assume that using Intercom increases costs, potentially impacting businesses' ROI.

Pricing Structures

Businsses need to do a cost analysis whenever they select customer service software for their business. You cannot invest much in this software if you are a small business, as it would exceed the budget requirements.

For large-scale businesses, the budget for such investments is usually higher than for startups, but they need to analyze if the investment is worth it. They need to comprehensively analyze if they are getting the value of the invested money.

Zendesk and Intercom offer a free trial of 14 days, but you will eventually have to choose once the trial ends. The pricing strategies are covered below so you can analyze the pricing structure and select your customer service software.

Zendesk Pricing Structure

Zendesk offers various features, which may differ according to the plan. Zendesk pricing plans are as follows.

Suite Team Plan

Suite Team Plan can cost $69 per month for 1 agent. It offers all the essential features required in CRM software, including a ticketing system, 1000+ apps integration, analytics dashboards, a help center, and online support from Zendesk's customer support team.

Suite Team
Suite team plan in Zendesk

Suite Growth Plan

Suite Growth Plan costs $115. In addition to all these features, Suite Growth Plan offers light agents, multilingual support, multiple ticket forms, and a self-service customer portal.

Suite Growth
Suite growth plan in Zendesk

Suite Professional Plan

Suite Professional Plan costs $149 per month. The best thing about this plan is that it is eligible for an advanced AI add-on, has integrated community forums, side conversations, skill-based routing, and is HIPAA-enabled.

Suite Professional
Suite professional plan in Zendesk

Suite Enterprise Plan

The plan can be accessed after talking directly with Zendesk's sales team, as the website does not reveal the pricing for this plan.

Enterprise Plan
Suite enterprise plan in Zendesk

Zendesk also allows Advanced AI and Advanced data privacy and protection plans, which cost $50 per month for each Advanced add-on.

These pricing structures are flexible enough to cater to all business sizes and types. Businsses get a range of plans to choose from. Moreover, the pricing model ensures customer transparency and reveals the costs that businesses will incur.

You can also try Zendesk's free trial to test the platform and see if the features align with your goals. You can decide which Zendesk plan you want to subscribe to based on your budget and the offerings within each plan.

Intercom Pricing Structure

Intecom's pricing strategies are not as transparent as Zendesk's pricing. The following are Intercom's pricing plans.

Essential Plan

The Essential customer support plan for individuals, startups, and businsses costs $39. This plan includes a shared inbox, unlimited articles, proactive support, and basic automation.

Essential Plan
Intercom essential plan

Advanced Plan

The Advanced plan costs $99 and has powerful automation tools. It also has AI features for growing support teams, a multilingual help center, and side conversations. An advanced plan is the most recommended plan for businesses.

Advanced Plan
Intercom advanced plan

Expert Plan

The Expert plan, which offers collaboration, real-time dashboard, security, and reporting tools for large teams, costs $139.

Expert Plan
Intercom expert plan

It also offers a Proactive Support Plus as an Add-on with push notifications, a series campaign builder, news items, and more.

The pricing structure of Intercom is complex, making it difficult for Intercom users to understand their final costs. Intercom charges the price based on representative seats and people reached, with additional expenses for add-ons.

The final prices are revealed after engaging in sales demos and are not revealed upfront. This lack of transparency can create budgeting problems for businesses. The pricing can also vary based on the business size.

Intercom also charges additional charges for specific features, such as charging $0.99 for every resolution. This eventually adds to overall business costs, so they carefully need to consider all plans and budgets before making a decision.

Zendesk and Intercom Weaknesses Based on Customer Satisfaction

Every CRM software comes with some limitations along with the features it offers. Let us look at the weaknesses of both software. This weaknesses analysis will also help you make the right choice. You can analyze if that weakness is something that concerns your business model.

Zendesk Weaknesses

As we delve into the features of Zendesk, we can identify the following weaknesses regarding user experience.

  • A lack of centralized information related to customer conversations makes it challenging to track and identify problems based on past customer history. This weakness especially becomes difficult for SaaS companies as the liability to access users' data based on past information can be a hurdle in a smooth customer experience.
Highlighting Weaknesses
Zendesk lacking basic UX capabilities
  • The user interface needs to be updated over time and stay updated according to the requirements of modern users. Zendesk's interface has started looking a little old, so choosing this platform can be an issue for users who prefer a modern and up-to-date design for their software.
  • Users at the lower tier enjoy a lot of features that are required for a startup to stay updated when using CRM. Along with these functionalities, users at lower tiers also face a hindrance to customizability, which may somewhat limit the initial consumer interaction.

These weaknesses are not as significant as the features and functionalities Zendesk offers its users. If having a less modern interface, less customization if you have a lower tier plan, and lack of access to centralized information is not an issue for your business requirements, you should go for Zendesk.

Intercom Weaknesses

Following are the ticket weaknesses of Intercom.

  • The main weakness when you are an Intercom user is difficulty navigating complex features. It can confuse agents when finding the message in a particular thread. They also use a lot of terminology, and the menu layout can get confusing. Consumers usually do not like using tools that are difficult to figure out.
Highlighting Weaknesses
Bloated and complex feature offering at Intercom
  • Intercom is a customer service platform, but its support team is late responding. Customers usually complain that the support team does not reply promptly. This slow response time can create hindrances to a smooth experience for companies.

Managing Customer Relationships Using Advanced AI

AI is integral to customer relationship management software and facilitates consumer interactions. AI helps businesses gain detailed insight into consumer data in real-time. It also helps promote automation in routine tasks by automating repetitive processes and helps agents save time and errors.

Advanced AI in Zendesk

Zendesk's AI capabilities provide a comprehensive suite of features, including support ticket summaries, user sentiment analysis, a help center, and a side panel, all conveniently integrated into the app. Agents can quickly grasp the context of customer interaction through these support tickets and sentiment analysis that AI facilitates.

Zendesk AI
Promise of advanced AI in Zendesk

Integrating AI in the help center helps agents find answers to customer inquiries, providing a seamless customer experience. Zendesk's AI offers automated responses to customer inquiries, increasing the team's productivity, as they can spend time on the most crucial things.

While some of these functionalities related to AI are included in the Zendesk suite, others are part of advanced AI add-ons. If agents want to offer their customers a great experience, they can spend an additional $50 to have the AI add-on.

Advanced AI in Intercom

Intercom's AI has the transformative power to enhance customer service by offering multilingual support and contextual responses. AI-driven chatbot Fin is designed to automate consumer interactions. Fin uses seamless communication across customer bases, breaking language barriers and catering to global audiences.

AI in Intercom
Intercom's new bet on AI

Intercom's AI capabilities extend beyond the traditional chatbots; Fin is renowned for solving complex problems and providing safer, accurate answers. Fin's advanced algorithm and machine learning enable the precision handling of queries. Fin enables businesses to set new standards for offering customer service.

Fin
Fin, the AI chatbot in Intercom

What Type of Business Model Fits Both Software?

Before choosing the customer support software, it is crucial to consider the size of the business. Some software only works best for startups, while others have offerings only for large enterprises. Let us look at the type and size of business for which Zednesk and Intercom are suitable.

Business Models Fitting Zendesk

Zendesk is suitable for startups, mainly due to its transparent pricing. Startups usually have low budgets for such investments, making it easier for these small businesses to choose the right plan. The features in Zendesk can scale with growing companies, so Startups can easily customize their plan to changing needs.

Business Models
What is Zendesk suitable for?

It also provides mid-sized businesses with comprehensive customer relationship management software, as they require more advanced features to handle customer support. Similarly, the ability of Zendesk to scale also makes it the best fit for enterprise-level organizations.

It would not be wrong to say that Zendesk is your go-to solution for customer support management no matter what stage or size of your business, as it provides the most comprehensive solution that fulfills all your needs.

Business Models Fitting Intercom

Intercom is a complete customer communication platform for small businesses. It may also be suitable for mid-sized businesses. Still, considering that such companies do not have a large budget for investing in CRM software, they should carefully consider all plans.

Business Models
Intercom targets early stage companies

Intercom has limited scalability compared to Zendesk, which is unsuitable for large-scale enterprises. If transparency in pricing is not an issue for you and you are a small business, contact Intercom. If, after the additional prices they charge, the plan works for you, Intercom is a great way to manage your customer relationships.

Summing Up

To sum it all up, you need to consider various aspects of your business before choosing CRM software. While deciding between Zendesk and Intercom, you should ensure the customization, AI automation, and functionalities align with your business goals.

For smaller teams that have to handle multiple tasks, do not forget to check JustReply.ai, which is a user-friendly customer support tool. It will seamlessly integrate with Slack and offers everything you need for your favorite communication platform. 

Looking for more comparisons? We've created a comparison between Zendesk and Salesforce here. We'd also recommend checking out this blog on suspended ticket management in ZenDesk.

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