You’ve built a successful business, and your customer base is growing every day. Hooray! If you’re answering even 100 queries a week from customers, you’ll probably want helpdesk software from a company like Zendesk, Helpscout, or Freshdesk. Zendesk is one of the most popular helpdesk software programs, and this review will help you understand why.
Helpdesk solutions – also called ticketing systems – help you organize customer queries, whether they come in by email, phone, chat, or social media; manage the work of multiple agents; track stats like Customer Satisfaction; and much more.
Below, we provide an overview of Zendesk’s pros and cons, describe each price tier in detail, and evaluate Zendesk’s add-on services, like Chat and Talk. In future posts, we’ll provide similar reviews of some of Zendesk’s competitors, including Freshdesk and Helpscout.
Zendesk Pros: Easy to Use, With Good Options For Every Budget
Zendesk is easy to set up and use, with an attractive interface that Peak Support’s agents (and other Zendesk customers) say is user-friendly and easy to navigate.
Zendesk has five pricing plans, which range from $5/agent/month to $199/agent/month and up for an enterprise-level service. That means it has an option for almost everyone (though, unlike some competitors, it doesn’t offer a free version). In the higher pricing tiers, Zendesk’s features include good analytic tools and excellent customer support.
In addition, Zendesk offers a variety of add-ons: Chat, a tool for integrating chat support; Talk, for providing phone support; and Guide, which lets you easily create a help section for your website. The “lite” versions of these add-ons are all free, which is great for companies that are just starting to build their customer service operations. These services are discussed in detail below.
Zendesk Cons: Limited Features In Lower Tiers
Despite these benefits, Zendesk users in lower price tiers sometimes feel short-changed. Some users complain about unhelpful customer support from Zendesk in the lower-cost tiers.
Furthermore, there are no analytics in lowest tier and only rudimentary analytics in the second tier. Comprehensive analytics tools begin in tier three, at $49/month. That makes it difficult for smaller companies to track key stats like First Response Time. You can’t enable customer satisfaction (CSAT) surveys below tier three, either. By contrast, Zendesk competitor Helpscout enables CSAT surveys at its $15/month level.
Overall, however, Zendesk offers good options for every budget. Below, we describe each price tier in detail.
Tier 1: Essential - $5 per agent per month
This tier is perfect for small companies that have low ticket volumes and are just launching their customer service operations. If you don’t have enough volume for even one dedicated customer service agent, this may be the option for you. It’s cheap and easy to set up - but if your company is growing, be aware that you may quickly outgrow this price plan. Here are the main features Zendesk offers at this level:
- Email and social channels: Agents can provide support through email and multiple social channels. This means that customers can receive assistance through the channel they prefer, whether it’s email, Facebook, Twitter, or online chat.
- Basic Help Center: You can easily set up a basic Help Center that includes an FAQ. This is the first point of contact for customers when they need a question answered.
- Website & Mobile integration: A web widget allows you to integrate support into your website so your customers can get help through a contact form, without ever leaving your website. Similarly, a mobile SDK lets developers embed customer service right into your mobile app.
Tier 2: Team - $19 per agent per month
This level is a good choice for companies that are still small, but have a steady stream of help tickets. Zendesk’s features at this level include:
- Business Rules: You can create triggers that automate repetitive tasks. For example, you can set certain tickets to close automatically, or send an automatic response to tickets that come in after 6 p.m.
- Performance Dashboard: A dashboard allows for easy access to basic analytics such as number of new tickets, solved tickets, backlog, and First Response Time. However, you’ll have limited details and no ability to customize.
- App integration: You can integrate other apps like Callbar (integrates Talkdesk with Zendesk) and Ticket Translator (translates tickets into other languages).
Tier 3: Professional - $49 per month per agent
If you want to use data to drive the performance of your customer service team, you’ll want the Pro version of Zendesk. One of Peak Support’s clients, for example, launched a dedicated customer service team with two agents in mid-2017, using the Team version of Zendesk. By the end of the year, the client was ready to turn on customer satisfaction surveys, and upgraded to Pro.
Zendesk’s features at this level include:
- CSAT: By turning this feature on, you can easily send out customer satisfaction surveys and track each agents’ performance.
- Custom reports and dashboards: At this level, you can start to personalize the type of data you collect and analyze.
- Multiple languages: Zendesk supports over 60 different languages from all over the world.
Tier 4: Enterprise - $99 per month per agent
This level is good for medium- to large companies with complex customer service operations. Zendesk’s features at this level include:
- Agent roles: At this level, Zendesk offers pre-defined agent roles including light agent, staff, team lead, or administrator. Companies can create custom roles as well.
- Multiple brands: Companies can provide support for multiple brands - with customized help desks and contact forms for each one - but manage it in a centralized location.
- Multiple ticket forms: Companies can create multiple ticket forms. For example, a customer who needs to make a refund request would see a different form than a customer who needs help using the product.
- Personalized launch support: Companies get personalized support from Zendesk to set up and get started using the platform.
- Satisfaction prediction: Use data to predict customer satisfaction and understand what actions are most likely to satisfy the customer. Companies can integrate this feature into their business rules, which allows high-risk tickets to have priority.
Tier 5: Elite - $199 per agent per month
This is the highest tier available, and is generally used by the biggest companies. This level offers more security and gives agents access to priority customer service from Zendesk. Zendesk’s features at this level include:
- Unlimited light agents: Light agents can see and privately comment on tickets, but cannot actually chat with customers.
- Guaranteed 99.9% uptime: Zendesk guarantees 99.9% uptime for the service, with refunds for any additional service outages. (In reality, Zendesk probably provides this level of uptime at all levels.)
- 1 Hour Service Level Objective: One of the most valuable features of the Elite level, this guarantees that agents who have questions for Zendesk will get a response within one hour, 95% of the time. (Available in English only.)
- Advanced encryption and security
- Choose your data center location: Companies can choose whether their data is hosted in the US or the EU.
Additional Services: Chat, Talk, and Guide
As mentioned earlier, Zendesk offers add-on products including Chat, Talk, and Guide. Although each of these comes as a “lite” version for free with all Zendesk accounts, companies must pay for advanced features. This system is convenient because you can try each add-on for free. Plus, these products are designed to integrate seamlessly with Zendesk.
However, many customers prefer to use plug-ins from other companies, rather than Zendesk’s native apps. At Peak Support, many of our clients choose Olark over Zendesk Chat. We also often recommend TalkDesk over Zendesk Talk, because it offers better call quality. The cost of these additional tools does add up. And we recently discovered that Zendesk charges $9/user for clients who use TalkDesk - in addition to the TalkDesk fee.
Additional Services: Answer Bot
Zendesk’s Answer Bot is a basic artificial intelligence bot that uses machine learning to analyze each customer inquiry and provide recommended answers. It works instantly and the ticket will never be routed to an agent if the customer is satisfied, which frees up agents to work on more complicated inquiries. Answer Bot learns from its own mistakes and improves over time. Zendesk estimates that Answer Bot can resolve 6% of tickets without human intervention. Zendesk charges a fee of $0.70 to $1.00 per resolution, so you don’t pay if the question is routed to a human agent.
TL;DR: The Bottom Line
It is no secret why Zendesk is one of the most popular helpdesk software solutions on the market. It’s easy to use, has useful features in all tiers, has excellent data analysis capabilities in higher tiers, offers native add-ons like Chat and Talk, and is well-priced for both small and large businesses. Unfortunately, some features, like excellent customer support and in-depth analytics, are only available on the highest tiers. Overall, however, Zendesk is an excellent choice for a helpdesk ticketing system, for small and large companies alike.
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