The competition between Zendesk and Freshdesk is extremely tight, but overall we'd argue that Zendesk is the better choice than Freshdesk if you're after a slick platform for support and helpdesk teams. While their prices are similar, Zendesk provides a few more features that might tip a user towards choosing it to be their support CRM platform. That said, Freshdesk has an appealing free tier – something that Zendesk can't match.
In this article, we'll go into the essential details of comparison between Zendesk and Freshdesk. It's worth noting that we are talking specifically about their service CRM systems, rather than their broader sales-focused platforms (respectively, Zendesk Sell and Freshdesk CRM).
Freshdesk and Zendesk are two of the best platforms for service teams, but will Freshdesk's multitude of flowery-named plans trump Zendesk's array of features? Read on to learn more
On this page:
- Freshdesk summary
- Zendesk summary
- Best value for money: Freshdesk
- Freshdesk pricing
- Zendesk pricing
- Freshdesk vs Zendesk: who has the better free plan?
- Best customer support features: Freshdesk
- Best ease of use: Zendesk
- Best Knowledge Base: Zendesk
- Best support and training resources: Zendesk
- Alternatives to Zendesk and Freshdesk
- Frequently Asked Questions
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An inexpensive, simple CRM tool that offers the best service features available
A ticket-centric customer support CRM perfect for customer service, with a great free tier
Freshdesk vs Zendesk: Battle of the Service CRM Systems
Like we said, when compared to Freshdesk, Zendesk is a slightly better product, but it's a very slight advantage.
Freshdesk and Zendesk are two of the biggest names in service team CRM software. Even though they're very similar, there are some minor differences between the two that could make or break the software for individuals with certain specific needs in mind.
Service CRM comprises the systems that a business uses to communicate with their customers regarding customer support issues, like a missing order or a problem with a refund. If you pull up a business's website and talk to a chatbot or agent about a problem, that's service CRM in action – it may even be Zendesk or Freshdesk being used behind the scenes.
One area where both platforms shine is their affordability. Zendesk and Freshdesk are the most affordable CRM services on the market, with Zendesk costing $19 a month and Freshdesk costing $19 per user per month (or $15 if you pay annually), both on their lowest tiers.
Freshdesk in Summary
Freshdesk is part of the larger Freshworks software company. This company produces multiple CRM products that a business can use to improve their relationships with their customers, including Freshdesk, Freshchat, and Freshcaller. Freshdesk specifically tailors to online support options, like email queries.
- Free tier
- Affordable lower paid plans
- Custom permissions
- Can be tricky to master
- Not a lot of customer support
Zendesk in Summary
Zendesk is a smaller business than Freshdesk, as it hasn't branched out into quite as many CRM channels as those covered by Freshdesk. Zendesk Sell is there for Sales-focused teams, but customer support software is Zendesk's “home turf”, and it does this in style. Zendesk very much holds its own when compared to Freshdesk. They offer most of the same features at a similar price point, but there's a slickness to Zendesk's features that give it an edge.
- Open API for unlimited customizability
- 24/7 live support options
- Unlimited data with basic plan
- Highest tiers are expensive
- A bit more complicated to use
- Few enterprise-level features
Best Value: Freshdesk
Freshdesk is better value than Zendesk for three reasons. Firstly, Freshdesk offers a free tier, which means that you can use it without any financial investment.
Secondly, Freshdesk's lowest tier, the Blossom tier, costs $19 per month, but only $15 per month if you pay annually. Zendesk's lowest tier costs $19 per month no matter what, so Freshdesk has a slight edge on price across two very similar plans.
Finally, while not directly connected to value, Freshdesk has five tiers, which beats Zendesk's three. This allows users to make a more personal choice when looking at what features they want, meaning they might not have to spend money on Zendesk's highest tier when they want a feature included in Freshdesk's more middling tiers.
Freshdesk has five tiers, one of which is free. The rest are quite lovingly named the Blossom ($15 per user per month), Garden ($35 per user per month), Estate ($49 per user per month), and Forest ($99 per user per month) plans. These prices all hinge on annual payments.
There are a couple of add-ons that you might want to consider when opting for Freshdesk. The first is bot sessions, which allow you to run an AI called Freddy to help you with menial CRM tasks. Freddy is only available on Freshdesk's highest tier, and additional sessions cost $75 a month for 1000.
The second add-on is field service management, which can help you keep track of field employees' schedules and appointments, allowing your in-person CRM to be as effective as your online efforts. This costs $22 for each employee every month.
Keen to learn more? Our Freshdesk Pricing guide has the lowdown
Price billed annually
Per user, per month
Price billed monthly
Per user, per month
TRY FOR FREE
$15 per month
$35 per month
$49 per month
$99 per month
$79 per month
$139 per month
$19 per month
$45 per month
$69 per month
$125 per month
$99 per month
$169 per month
Zendesk's pricing model is simple, being made up of only three tiers. These are the Support Team tier ($19 per month), the Support Professional tier ($49 per month), and the Support Enterprise tier ($99 per month).
There are no paid add-ons for Zendesk.
See our full guide to Zendesk Pricing for a breakdown of plans, features and overall value
Freshdesk vs Zendesk: Which Has the Best Free Plan?
This is an easy question to answer, as only Freshdesk offers a free plan. Both platforms offer free trials with money back guarantees, but if you're in it for the long haul, Freshdesk is the one for you.
As for what's included in this free plan, you'll have access to:
- Email & Social Ticketing: Any message or email you receive from your customers can be converted into tickets
- Ticket Dispatch: Route tickets to the correct team or individual based on the tickets' categories
- Knowledge Base: If you need help, you might find answers in the knowledge base
- Ticket Trend Report: Analyse the various tickets your team receives to notice trends and patterns
- Datacenter Location: Choose which data center you'd like to host your data
Best Customer Support Features: Freshdesk wins
Both of these platforms have very extensive lists of features to enjoy, and while there's a lot of crossover between the two, there are some highlight features worthy of mention. Keep in mind, just because a feature is in one platform's list, doesn't mean that it doesn't appear in the other platform in some form.
Some of Zendesk's highlight features include:
- Email, voice, SMS and live chat support
- AI-powered automated answers
- Data and file storage options
- Customer self-service portal
- HIPAA compliance
Some of Freshdesk's best features include:
- Custom reports and dashboards
- Custom roles/permissions for each member on your plan
- Custom apps that can be created and installed onto your plan
- Skill-based routing (sending each query to the member most equipped to handle it)
- HIPAA compliance
Purely in quantity, Freshdesk comes out on top, at least when looking at their pages of features. Going through their list of features, you'll find some labeled with a tag that says “Freddy,” which is Freshdesk's AI. Only included on the highest tier, Freddy helps to expedite tasks and make them far easier, like suggesting canned responses to common issues or articles to help your team fix issues faster. Zendesk does have automated responses, but Freshdesk is a bit more robust when comparing the automated options.
Outside of these automated features, Zendesk and Freshdesk are generally tied when it comes to features, and while most people may not even opt for Freshdesk's highest plan, opting out of Freddy entirely, the virtue of these options existing means that Freshdesk wins this one.
Best for Ease of Use: Zendesk wins
Ease of use will always be somewhat subjective when comparing two software platforms. However, in our opinion, Zendesk has the slight edge over Freshdesk. This is for two reasons.
The first reason is that Zendesk's interface is just a bit smoother and easier to navigate. The soft colours and easy-to-identify icons make the overall experience a little bit nicer than Freshdesk (which is still very nice!).
The second reason hinges on Zendesk's next award, their superior support and training systems, which can help make their software easier to use.
Knowledge Base Showdown: Zendesk wins
Both Freshdesk and Zendesk offer a resource known as a knowledge base. This can be a pivotal tool for helping customers self-serve and find their own solutions – it's also an efficiency driver as this can deflect potential tickets your agents may need to respond to.
A knowledge base is a database of ready-made solutions that can help site users and customers resolve potential queries or problems. With a well set out knowledge base, you can make sure that common questions are answered, without an end user needing to type out an email, start a chat, or pick up a phone. At back-end, your agents can also lean on knowledge base solutions for ready-made responses that can speed up solving queries, help with new staff onboarding, and share best practices across the team.
When comparing CRM software, the topic of knowledge bases can get a bit confusing. For businesses using Zendesk or Freshdesk, the software itself will come with a product-based knowledge base to help you get up and running with the software. But, Freshdesk and Zendesk will also let you create your own customer-facing knowledge base for support on queries that your business faces.
While both Zendesk and Freshdesk allow you make your own knowledge bases, Zendesk has a more extensive knowledge base creator. It's simple to use, highly customizable, and lets you embed videos, images and gifs. Users can rate how useful a knowledge base article was, and at back-end, support staff will have these ratings flagged.
Zendesk knowledge bases offer useful features such as subsections, and the ability to allow user input to govern things like the knowledge hierarchy, while still using creator input to make sure the service is well-curated.
Best Support and Training: Zendesk wins
It's quite ironic that you may need to use a customer support line for a product that helps you provide customer support, but here we are. Again, like every other category on this page, this is a very close contest, but Zendesk just grabs the crown.
Both platforms offer training academies that their customers can use to familiarise themselves with the layouts of the software. However, Zendesk offers an official certification process that professionals can add to their resumes, which is a pretty solid benefit on Zendesk's end.
Alternatives to Zendesk and Freshdesk
While Zendesk and Freshdesk are two of the best CRM platforms out there, you might be looking for something else. Whether you're looking for other features or just not like the aesthetic of Zendesk or Freshdesk, here are some other options.
Zoho – from $12 per month
If you're looking for another affordable option, Zoho's CRM is extremely cheap, costing just $12 per user per month on their lowest tier. Not only that, but Zoho makes a ton of other software that a small business might want, like accounting or payroll software, so having a unified software creator might appeal to some.
See if Zoho is for you in our full Zoho Pricing guide
Salesforce – from $25 per month
Salesforce is a great option for those who want a lot of features. While Zendesk and Freshdesk already offer a load of options, meaning Salesforce's CRM won't offer too much more than you've already seen, things like territory and partner management can be a big help for a growing business.
Do you have to pay top dollar for the top CRM? Our Salesforce Pricing guide explains it all
HubSpot – from $40 per user per month
Finally, HubSpot is another possible choice. They don't have much over Zendesk and Freshdesk, but again, they create a lot of other software, like email marketing or accounting software, which might be enough to spur you to go for the company as a whole rather than just their CRM platform.
HubSpot Pricing – see our full run down of HubSpot plans and value
Verdict: Zendesk Wins by a Hair
The only substantial feature offered by Freshdesk is their AI, which you can only get on their highest tier, so might not suit a small or medium business. Overall, Zendesk is the winner, but a business wouldn't go wrong by choosing Freshdesk if it suited their work style, or if they used other Freshworks products.
Whichever you're leaning toward, it may be worth trying Freshdesk's free tier to get a sense of the product before opting for either.
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