Customer service is changing, and people are noticing. According to some statistics, as many as 40% of customers have noticed that companies are improving their customer service. At the very least, the survey says, companies are putting stronger emphasis on how they relate to their customers.
But that’s not the question. The question is: how can you capitalize on this trend?
If you’re going to get better reactions from customers, you’re going to have to invest in the software that helps you do that. Help Scout is one such software offering. Advertising itself as “scalable customer service” and an all-in-one customer service platform that helps you deal with your customer relationships as if you installed a front desk onto your web presence, Help Scout can help you deal with an influx of customers with ease.
But that’s not all it does. Specific features—a shared inbox, for example—also help your team get organized from your end of things. This not only improves your life, but improves your capacity for dealing with more customers. That’s especially important as your company grows.
Help Scout advertises that it’s used by over 12,000 companies. And that’s a sign that, well, a few of those companies probably enjoy what Help Scout is doing. But it also leaves a heck of a lot of other companies out there.
Those companies may want different things out of their customer relationship software, and that might be no fault of Help Scout’s. But what are the top alternatives, and what sorts of features do they offer that make them so attractive as potential solutions for your online business?
- Alternative #1: LiveAgent
- Alternative #2: Zendesk Support Suite
- Alternative #3: Freshdesk
- Alternative #4: Intercom
- Alternative #5: LiveChat
- Alternative #6: Zoho Desk
- Alternative #7: Spiceworks Help Desk
- Alternative #8: Freshservice
- Alternative #9: ClickDesk
- Alternative #10: Gist
- Alternative #11: Agiloft Flexible Service Desk Suite
- Alternative #12: ThriveDesk
- Alternative #13: Kayako
Alternative #1: LiveAgent
The run-down: We looked for alternatives to Help Scout that also tackled an “all-in-one” approach to customer service online. That’s exactly what LiveAgent does. You might gather from its name that they’re focused on live chat features. But there’s more here than meets the eye, making LiveAgent a perfectly valid Help Scout alternative for anyone who’s looking for it.
Key features: No setup fees for getting started, 24/7 customer service as you get onboarding and as use the software, anytime cancellation, a universal inbox for all SMS, email, and chat ticketing.
Pricing: $15/agent/month for its lowest pricing tier, Ticket, which includes unlimited ticket history and email address. Easy to scale.
Alternative #2: Zendesk Support Suite
The run-down: Zendesk is one of the top names in the space, and its support suite is a natural alternative for Help Scout because it takes that “all-in-one” approach we’ve been looking for. There are two key services here: Zendesk for Support and Zendesk for Sales. We’re going to talk about the Support suite here, but keep in mind that Zendesk also offers alternatives for anyone who wants to improve their sales abilities with traffic that shows up on their site.
Key features: Robust (Email, voice, SMS, live chat) support, a single help desk available with their lowest pricing tier, up to 50 AI-powered automated answers for people asking questions on your site.
Pricing: $49/agent/month billed annually with their lowest pricing tier, Suite Team. Also includes a free trial so you can dip your toes into the water.
Alternative #3: Freshdesk
The run-down: Freshdesk is a nice alternative because it offers a free option that lets you use the software on a limited basis, rather than a free trial. This is ideal for shops and businesses who aren’t sure how much they’ll use software like Freshdesk or Zendesk, but do want to try it out and see if it improves the quality of their support and makes their customers happy.
Key features: Email and social ticketing available with the free pricing tier, “ticket dispatch” feature included with the free pricing tier that lets you organize tickets with minimal overlap.
Pricing: $0/month for its bottom pricing tier, which includes a skeleton list of features such as ticket management. Additional support available with “Growth,” the next highest pricing tier at $15/agent/month.
Alternative #4: Intercom
The run-down: Intercom is aimed at businesses with a lot of relationships to manage with its customers, so many people who are already running successful shops or businesses might be more inclined to invest in this software. That’s especially true given the price point—more on that in a bit. But Intercom makes up for it with helpful live chat support features and robust self-serve features that will make it easier for customers to deal with any problem they might have at your site.
Key features: Live chat for support, role-based permissions for managing your customer support team, a “resolution” bot available for the lowest “Business” pricing tier.
Pricing: The pricing at Intercom tends to be enterprise-based, which means you will have to reach out to them for more details. However, there is a Starter plan available at $79/month, which includes one additional “seat” for getting a team on board. After that, you’ll have to pay for additional seats.
Alternative #5: LiveChat
The run-down: Ever have a customer frustrated with you because it felt like you didn’t know them? Well, in fairness, you talk to a lot of customers, and it’s hard to keep track of them.
Not to be confused with LiveAgent, LiveChat is a Help Scout alternative whose name explains its emphasis: the live chat aspect of interacting with customers. But does it deliver, especially in terms of automations that make it easier to interact with multiple customers? One neat feature is a 60-day chat history with every customer as soon as you sign up for the lowest tier, which ultimately gives you the power to interact with customers as if you know them personally. And that’s what makes LiveChat so powerful.
Key features: 60-day chat history included with the lowest pricing tier, unlimited chat history on the second pricing tier, and plenty of widget customization to make sure your live chat features look like your brand.
Pricing: Well mention two pricing tiers here, because you don’t open up a lot with their $16/month/agent billed annually tier “Starter” plan, but you do get a lot once you upgrade to $33/month/agent, including full widget customization and full customer chat history.
Alternative #6: Zoho Desk
The run-down: Zoho Desk is another nice “all-in-one offering” that makes it a valid Help Scout alternative. There’s a free version of their services which will have you installing ticketing features that work for smaller companies. Upgrade to their lowest pricing tier beyond that (which is as affordable as anything else on this list), and you’ll unlock all sorts of additional features. For the price, this might be one of the best bang-for-the-buck alternatives on the list.
Key features: Social and community channels, product-based ticket management, knowledge bases, relatively inexpensive additions for additional agents.
Pricing: In addition to free trials for any pricing tier, you can access their free plan and try out their ticketing system. Beyond that, the Standard plan is available at $14/agent/month billed annually, and that tier opens so many additional options that you might want to start there. But bear in mind that you get three agents onboarded with their free option, which gives you plenty to work with even before you spend a dime.
Alternative #7: Spiceworks Help Desk
The run-down: You might browse through this list and wonder if there are any alternatives to Help Scout. Alternatives meaning: options that don’t make you pull out your wallet. And if you’ve read thus far, you’ve seen a few alternatives that do mention there are free tiers. Well, welcome to the next level: every tier at Spiceworks Help Desk is free and unlimited.
So what’s the catch? Well, Spiceworks isn’t like the others on this list; it’s aimed at IT support more than customer support, with a very specific angle. However, if that sounds like something you need for your business, it might be a match made in heaven.
Key Features: Unlimited agents, unlimited tickets, unlimited devices—you get the idea. All the basic features are here, such as ticket management and dashboards for agents who are trying to help people with their IT problems.
Pricing: This one’s easy. Free, free, and free.
Alternative #8: Freshservice
The run-down: If providing IT customer support like Spiceworks is the name of the game, and you do want a paid option, Freshservice might be the best alternative on this list. Of course, it’s hard to rank it higher than Spiceworks given the price points here, but Freshservice offers so much with its services that it does deserve special mention.
So what’s going on with Freshservice? You can build a robust IT customer support service that handles incidents with ease, including a broad knowledge base that your users will love. This isn’t the option for you if you want to focus on customer support of a non-technical nature, or want to focus on sales, but for everything technical, Freshservice should be in the running.
Key Features: Incidence management (which includes logging and organizing any errors and helping people get things back up and running), custom SSL with the lowest pricing tier, and a starter analytics package for keeping track of how well you’re doing.
Pricing: On the lowest tier, Freshservice is $19/agent/month billed annually. That’s for the Starter package, although there are plenty of more options for scaling up when you need to.
Alternative #9: ClickDesk
The run-down: One of the key features at ClickDesk is how much you can do with their live chat feature. Keystroke previews, file transfers—this platform has the goods to make sure that you squeeze the most out of any customer chat session. That’s especially useful if you have customers who are used to handling something more technical. The live chat features are nice for sales, but they’ll really be robust in helping solve problems.
You won’t really get access to everything you need until you invest in the Enterprise tier, but all of the tiers here are affordable enough that you can use ClickDesk in an experiment mode and see how well it works for you. Don’t expect ClickDesk to be quite the full “all-in-one” experience of other Help Scout alternatives on this list, but it will help you handle all of the live chat requests you’re getting.
Key Features: Keystroke previews, analytics, video chat (with the higher pricing tiers).
Pricing: Highly variable. We recommend springing for Enterprise right off the bat ($26.99/agent/month if you go for the two-year plan), but the Lite version brings your costs down to the single digits. The question is, is it worth it? We don’t think so. Go for Enterprise.
Alternative #10: Gist
The run-down: Much like its simple, to-the-point name, Gist offers a quick introduction that gets right to the point. You can use their bottom pricing tier to active live chat and get a team inbox going, which is great for anyone who wants to build a customer service presence but isn’t sold on committing to any particular solution just yet.
With the more advanced tiers, Gist will more easily integrate with social media like Twitter and Facebook. This will expand your capabilities and give you a stronger web presence if you’re already active on those media. After all, today’s consumer expects more than just live chat. They want to hear from you no matter how they reach out.
Key Features: Live chat, team inbox, inbound email, public knowledge base, chat transcripts.
Pricing: There is a “free forever” option with access to live chat and team inbox. But if you want to expand to the other options, including a public knowledge base, you’ll have to upgrade to Professional, which comes in at $29/month with five seats included.
Alternative #11: Agiloft Flexible Service Desk Suite
The rundown: Not exactly a name that rolls off the tongue, is it? But the Agiloft solution includes customer support and an internal help desk that can really streamline things from the backend, giving you more flexibility to respond to customers when you need to. Its IT ticketing system is, of course, slanted towards technical solutions, so it’s possible that you won’t find this solution as robust when it comes to sales and support and other generic customer needs. But if you do have a lot of technical issues with your site and need a way to organize everything, this is a perfectly viable Help Scout solution.
If that sounds like faint praise, let’s talk about what it can do for incoming customers: it can give you everything you need to know about them based on previous interactions, which will help you establish more personal relationships and inspire loyalty.
Key features: Active case monitoring, escalation rules for technical issues, IT ticketing system including fully configurable tickets for unique situations.
Pricing: From $45/user/month, which is surprisingly in line with the more traditional help desk systems available on this list. You can also roll out larger deployment with the system by requesting a quote with them directly, if you feel the need to scale.
Alternative #12: ThriveDesk
The rundown: ThriveDesk isn’t going to wow you with its amazing features to price ratio, but what it is going to do is provide you with a quality Help Scout alternative at a price that won’t break your budget. If that makes it sound like a bargain-bin solution, don’t get us wrong: ThriveDesk has plenty going for it.
With the basic options, you can secure yourself a knowledge base, onboard three mailboxes and five users, and unlock unlimited conversations. This makes ThriveDesk a surprisingly scalable solution that can handle a wider range of customers than you might otherwise expect for the price point. In all, a solid, well-rounded offering that will help you take care of your customers in a hurry—and after all, that’s what we’re after.
Key features: Unlimited conversations, 1 community feature included, additional mailboxes available with the basic package.
Pricing: Currently advertising a “Limited Time” price of $25/month, there’s a possibility that it will change. However, this price is enough to get you on board with a robust customer support platform that will have you chatting away with customers for a reasonable flat rate. You can always add more users at just $10/month at current prices.
Alternative #13: Kayako
The rundown: No, we didn’t forget Kayako, which is a testament to just how deep this list of Help Scout alternatives goes. Kayako helps you get up and running on live chat via all sorts of media—Facebook, Twitter, etc.—and even offers its advanced reporting features on the lowest pricing tier. Does it sound too good to be true? Well, the price point is a little higher than the other options on this list, but there’s enough provided here that most people should feel perfectly comfortable signing up.
Key features: Live Facebook, Twitter, and email features, basic performance reports, advanced reporting, Slack integration.
Pricing: $30/agent/month, which is a little on the pricey side for the lowest tier, but it more than makes up for it by delivering the goods.
Your Next Help Scout Alternative
If you want to find tools for making your customers happy, they’re out there. But the question isn’t what you’re going to install. The question is: what are you going to do next? Are you going to find the right solution for you and implement it? If so, you certainly don’t have the excuses that the solutions aren’t out there. If you’re ready to get working, there are customers out there ready to chat.