Help Scout vs. Zendesk: Which live chat software is better?

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Unsure of what live chat software to pick for your Ecommerce business? Learn why we recommend these 2 help desks in this Help Scout vs. Zendesk Comparison.

$25/user/mo - $50/user/mo
$25/user/mo - $149/user/mo
Startups to enterprise businesses who need to improve communications and conversions.
Medium to large businesses that need a robust and flexible customer service solution.
$25/user/mo - $50/user/mo
Startups to enterprise businesses who need to improve communications and conversions.
$25/user/mo - $149/user/mo
Medium to large businesses that need a robust and flexible customer service solution.

Fearing getting those dreadful 1-star review ratings for your online store? Then, try using Help Scout or Zendesk as your help desk.

Zendesk offers an all-in-one solution with a live chat and CRM, while Help Scout delivers a live chat at an affordable price. However, how do they compare, and which one should you pick?

Let’s find out in this Help Scout vs. Zendesk comparison.

SMB Guide’s Verdict for Help Scout vs. Zendesk

CriteriaHelp ScoutZendeskWinner
SMB Guide’s Rating7.8/108.6/10Zendesk
Real-Time Messaging and Canned ResponsesZendesk
Live Chat AI and NLPML and NLP to understand intentNative “answer botZendesk
Customizable Chat WidgetsZendesk
Visitor Tracking and AnalyticsUses analytics integrations like SuperSLA to trackMulti-channel trackingZendesk
Multichannel SupportZendesk
Multilingual SupportZendesk
Offline Messaging and AvailabilityDetection that sets an agent’s statusHave specific response timesZendesk
Handoff and Escalation to Human AgentsAutomated escalationAutomated escalationZendesk
Security and ComplianceZendesk
User Experience and User InterfaceMinimalist interfaceMany features make it look clutteredZendesk
Integrations and Compatibility100+ integrations100+ integrationsZendesk
Customer supportLive chat and emailLive chat, email, and phoneZendesk
Pricing$25/user/mo – $50/user/mo$25/user/mo – $149/user/moHelp Scout
ScalabilityHelp Scout

Help Scout: Key Features, Pros, Cons, and Pricing

help scout homepage

Help Scout is a customer service platform providing businesses with a help desk focused on email-based support.

One of its standout features is the shared inbox, which connects all messages across channels in one spot. 

The shared inbox helps enhance efficiency, especially for high-volume messages, enabling quick replies to FAQs.

Besides the shared inbox, Help Scout provides a mobile app, AI-powered chatbots, reporting tools, and more. It makes Help Scout suits SaaS startups and SMBs looking for an affordable help desk.

Pros & Cons


15-day free trial

iOS & Android apps

100+ integrations

Workflows to automate everything


Lacks a spam filter

Functionality needs more flexibility


Help Scout offers SMBs a straightforward pricing of 3 packages. Like Zendesk, it lacks a free plan, but the plans have a 2-week free trial period.

Not only that, but you can also request a demo to see it in action. Help Scout also offers a money-back guarantee of 30 days, and subscribing to the annual plan gets you a 20 % discount.

Here are the plans:

  • Standard: $25 per user monthly or ($120 annually)
  • Plus: $50 per user monthly or ($480 annually )
  • Pro: $780 paid annually only
Help Scout

Help Scout's shared inbox, help center, and live chat software gives your team the tools you need to easily manage customer communications.

Start free trial

Zendesk: Key Features, Pros, Cons, and Pricing

Zendesk homepage

Zendesk is a popular customer service platform that provides businesses with a CRM, help desk, and live chat. The aim is to smoothen customer support delivery.

With Zendesk, its ticketing system is the core of the platform. The system works by creating tickets for every message received from customers.  

Not only that, Zendesk uses AI to help automate business workflows, ticket management, and other repetitive tasks. Small to large enterprises will find it offering modern tools to help them streamline their customer service delivery.

Pros & Cons


30-day free trial

100+ integrations

Omnichannel support

Intelligent AI usage


No self-hosting

Only ticketing support provided


Zendesk pricing is straightforward, offering 4 main plans. Like Help Scout, Zendesk lacks a free plan, but the plans have a month-long trial period.

Not only that, but businesses can also request a demo to see the inner workings. Zendesk pricing is per agent, and choosing the annual subscription gets you a 21% discount.

The service also offers additional services like SMS and advanced AI priced as pay-as-you-go. Here are the plans:

  • Suite Team: $69 per agent monthly or ($660 yearly)
  • Suite Growth: $115 per agent monthly or ($1068 annually)
  • Suite Professional: $149 per agent monthly or ($1380 annually)
  • Suite Enterprise: Custom

Real-Time Messaging and Canned Responses

Help Scout provides a basic chat feature offering reliable real-time messaging. However, it cannot compare to Zendesk live chat, which offers advanced features that are handy to handle high chat volumes.

Zendesk chat is reliable, offering real-time messaging, and it also allows chat routing and agent collision detection.

Help Scout real-time messaging

With canned responses, Help Scout calls them “Saved Replies.” The responses are simple to create, organize, and insert in the chats.

Customizing the canned responses on Help Scout is also basic. Agents can insert customer info like the name in the message.

Zendesk, on the other hand, offers macros and triggers for canned responses. Macros allow dynamic content insertion, such as the customer’s name and conditional logic.

zendesk real time messaging

Agents can also insert triggers in the responses depending on keywords in the chat. However, setting the macros and triggers is complex and requires tech skills.

With the customization of canned responses, Zendesk macros offer a broad range of options.

Agents can insert custom fields, use conditional logic, and add media, like images.

✅ Winner: Zendesk

Live Chat AI & NLP

Help Scout chat AI uses ML to understand customer intent and excels with its NLP. Agents can also train the chatbots with multiple entities and intents to understand various phases.

It allows the responses to feel more dynamic and natural than keywords-based.

Help Scout chat AI

With complex conversations, Help Scout AI understands context better than Zendesk. The AI responds accurately, even in conversations that go back and forth.

With the customization of bots, Help Scout requires some tech skills to build decision trees.

On the other hand, Zendesk uses its “Answer Bot,” which combines ML and NLP. It allows the live chat to understand conversation intent and respond accurately.

However, unlike Help Scout, Zendesk uses advanced datasets for continued learning.

zendesk live chat ai

One thing to note is that the answer bot struggles with complex inquiries. Agents will find that it relies on the knowledge base content to generate responses.

Not only that, when it experiences complex conversations, it routes them to a human agent.

With bot response customization, both software allows for workflow, greetings, and message flows. However, Zendesk goes beyond and provides a branching logic for complex scenarios.

✅ Winner: Zendesk

Customizable Chat Widgets

Help Scout chat window “Beacon“ allows agents to customize their font, color, and brand logos. Agents can also set the widget in various modes like ask first, self-service, or neutral.

help scout chat widget customization

It is a functionality that aligns with different visitors’ approaches. However, positioning the widget has limitations, unlike Zendesk. Positioning is only at the bottom right corner.

Zendesk allows more customization options than Help Scout using its Web SDK integration. Agents can change the theme color and font or add a logo to match your brand.

Zendesk also supports specific mobile customizations; agents can add more advanced modifications using the API. 

Positioning for the Zendesk widget is flexible, depending on the website design.

With greetings and pre-chat forms, Help Scout allows the creation of basic forms to collect essential info. Agents can also configure basic greetings for welcoming customers.

zendesk customizable chat widgets

Zendesk allows agents to create more elaborate forms with branching options and conditional logic.

Agents can also personalize greetings with dynamic content. One thing to note is that implementations for both widgets vary.

Help Scout makes it easy with a few clicks, but Zendesk requires tech skills to use APIs and Javascript.

✅ Winner: Zendesk

Visitor Tracking and Analytics

Help Scout uses analytics integrations like SuperSLA to track visitor metrics like geo-location, bounce rate, and page views.

The software also tracks user behavior like clicks, providing insight into visitor action on key pages.

Data analytics also allow agents to see search trends and how support gets handled. The report makes it easier for teams to personalize responses and find opportunities for upselling.

help scout analytics

Zendesk has tools for tracking and reporting. It also integrates with Google Analytics for more granular insight, like ticket deflection tracking and search analytics. 

The software then generates a weekly report with a summary of stats like unique visitors, page views, total views, and more.

Unlike Help Scout, Zendesk reporting is in-depth, providing a holistic view of agent performance and support activities.

✅ Winner: Zendesk

Multichannel Support

Help Scout focuses on providing a balanced multichannel strategy. It provides a shared inbox with phone, live chat, and email integrations.

However, unlike Zendesk, businesses require using Zapier to integrate social media and CRMs. Integrating the pre-built apps is simple, but third-party apps might require tech expertise.

Zendesk provides a comprehensive multichannel support structure accessible through mobile apps, phones, live chats, or email.

The platform also provides an app marketplace with 400+ pre-built systems, including social media, CRMs, and more.

However, Zendesk often requires separate products for each communication channel: Zendesk Chat and Zendesk Talk.

Each channel has powerful functionality, but agents must switch between them to deliver a response. The back and forth can impact the efficiency of support delivery.

✅ Winner: Zendesk

Multilingual Support

Help Scout lacks in-built multilingual support and relies on integration with third-party platforms like Crowdin.

It is handy for translating live chat messages and emails in real time.

Help Scout multilingual support

With knowledge-based content, the AI assistant can help translate responses or articles directly. However, the feature is lacking in the Help Scout entry plan.

Zendesk’s multilingual support is comprehensive, unlike Help Scout. Agents can set up their accounts to support 40+ languages.

Whether in the live chat, email, social DMS, canned messages, or notifications. Not only that, but teams can also create dynamic content depending on customer language.

Customers using a self-service portal can also get knowledge-based content translated into multiple languages.

✅ Winner: Zendesk

Offline Messaging and Availability

Help Scout’s approach to offline messaging and availability is simple. When the agent is not in a position to accept chats, Help Scout doesn’t present the live chat.

Instead, it displays “Send A Message“ in the offline message form.

Not only that, Help Scout has presence detection that sets an agent’s status. For example, it will display as unavailable when an agent closes the browser, logs out, or has no internet connection.

Zendesk provides an offline form for visitors to leave a message with their contact info when agents are offline.

Then, through its ticketing system, it creates a ticket for every offline message sent. One thing to note is that the feature requires an “Offline Ticket Requests” add-on, priced as a standalone to enable it.

However, unlike Help Scout, Zendesk allows agents to customize automated alerts to inform visitors of the expected response time.

✅ Winner: Zendesk

Handoff and Escalation to Human Agents

Help Scout provides basic handoff functionalities where agents can configure rules to route chats. Unlike Zendesk, the routing may lack advanced capability, depending on sentiment or chat history.

Help Scout Handoff

The Zendesk handoff function is more advanced, allowing agents to create custom triggers. The triggers can depend on chat duration, keywords, or sentiment, where it routes to the ideal agent.

With chat history and context, Zendesk leverages its ticketing system. Agents can view the chat history, including tickets or emails, for better understanding.

Help Scout, on the other hand, struggles with long conversation threads, making it harder for agents.

Zendesk agent transfer

With human intervention, Help Scout lacks advanced support features. Zendesk provides agent collision detection and internal notes for seamless handoff and teamwork.

✅ Winner: Zendesk

Security and Compliance

Help Scout uses TLSv1.2 encryption for all communications. The platform also employs 2-factor authentication and access controls to restrict sensitive data access.

Help Scout also complies with SOC 2, GDPR, and PCI DSS Level 3. For businesses that require HIPAA compliance, the Pro plan offers the feature.

With data retention policies, Help Scout allows customers to set them up depending on their needs.

Zendesk emphasizes the protection of customer data by securing it through its cloud servers. It uses encryption at rest and in transit, user access permissions, and employs privacy frameworks. 

Unlike Help Scout, Zendesk has a more exhaustive compliance certification with HIPAA, GDPR, CCPA, SOC 2, and PCI regulatory bodies.

Zendesk also offers its customers granular control on data retention policies, like deletion.

✅ Winner: Zendesk

User Interface and User Experience

Help Scout has a minimalist interface that prioritizes ease of use and simplified navigation. The simplicity and focus on key features make it easy to use even without tech skills.

Help Scout interface

Agents will also have customization options for branding the agent workspace, self-service portal, and notification preferences.

However, they’re not as extensive as Zendesk. Zendesk uses a design called “Garden” to ensure the consistency of all the apps.

Zendesk offers extensive customization options for workflows, agent interfaces, and dashboards. Users looking for comprehensive customization will find the options ideal.

zendesk interface

With user preferences, both software allows personalization of notification settings, language, and dashboard.

Not only that, but both provide a responsive mobile app for admins and customers.

✅ Winner: Zendesk

Integrations and Compatibility

Help Scout offers pre-built integrations with analytics, support, and communication platforms. However, the stack can’t compare to Zendesks’ 1000+ connectors.

Help Scout also has an API that agents can use to add third-party integrations.

help scout integrations

It’s worth noting that using the API requires having some tech skills. Besides the third-party integrations, pre-built connectors are easy to set up.

Zendesk, on the other hand, provides a library of 1500+ integrations with CRMs, marketing, support, and more.

The software also includes service teams with 400+ pre-built connectors that allow for quick facilitation of workflows between systems.

zendesk integrations

Teams looking for APIs will find powerful ones on Zendesk to use when connecting custom integrations. The powerful APIs come with documentation that simplifies the integration processes.

✅ Winner: Zendesk

Customer Support

Help Scout has a reputation for exceptional support. The channels offered for reaching out include live chat and email, which are available around the clock.

Response times on both are fast, taking less than 30 minutes. Service teams will also find comprehensive self-help resources that include a newsletter, documentation, and a knowledge base.

Not only that, Help Scout also has a large online community on its social channels.

Zendesk provides service teams with 3 methods of reaching out: email, live chat, and phone. The channels’ response times are longer than Help Scout, taking up to 4 hours for email and phone.

However, live chat provides instant responses through its chatbots.

Zendesk also provides self-help resources that empower customers to find helpful solutions. Some include a knowledge base, blog, webinars, and a vibrant community.

✅ Winner: Zendesk


Help Scout provides 3 plans with user-based pricing ideal for small businesses. The plans rise with tiers and depend on the number of users, with entry and pro packages having caps.

Unlike Zendesk, Help Scout lacks an enterprise plan, but the service offers some add-ons priced as standalone.

Zendesk offers tiered pricing with 4 plans based on services and features. The pricing is per agent, and like Help Scout, it offers add-on services. 

However, unlike Help Scout, Zendesk offers an Enterprise plan with custom pricing and features. Its per-agent pricing suits larger teams with dedicated support since you pay for active agents.

✅ Winner: Help Scout


Help Scout pricing is ideal for SMBs looking to scale because adding new users to their user-based model is simpler.

The only setback in Help Scout’s pricing scalability is the lack of an enterprise plan. It limits businesses that are growing and locks out large enterprises.

Zendesk plans offer comprehensive scalability options suiting large enterprises. Not only that, the Enterprise plan provides businesses with customization freedom.

However, Zendesk pricing plans mean adding new agents increases the cost, especially for the top plans. Furthermore, transitioning between plans can be disruptive.

✅ Winner: Help Scout

Standout Features of Help Scout

Help Scout focuses its help desk on a user-centric customer support experience. Here are 3 features that make it stand out.

Shared inbox

Help Scout design the shared inbox to improve efficiency, where it feels like using a personal email account.

The feature consolidates all messaging channels into one spot for quick response.

Integrated AI features

Help Scout includes features like AI Summarize and AI Assist in support delivery. AI Summarize puts long threads into bullet points, while AI Assist improves response quality.

Built-in knowledge base

Agents can use the knowledge base creation tool to build a self-service library full of FAQs and articles.

It is handy in helping customers find answers to their inquiries.

Standout Features of Zendesk

Zendesk provides an all-in-one solution that streamlines support services. Here are the 3 features that make it unique:

AI and automation

Zendesk provides an “Answer Bot” that uses generative AI to respond to customer inquiries naturally. The feature allows workflow automation and enhances support service.

Integrated voice software

Most services are getting obsessed with using DMs and emails for support. However, including one-on-one interaction through voice calls is a game changer.

Zendesk allows its agents to include a voice call button in the chats for a seamless way to contact support.

Integration stack

Zendesk is arguably one platform offering a 1000+ integration stack with platforms like CRMs, e-commerce, and more.

The software also has an API that users can use for custom integrations and data scraping.

Help Scout vs. Zendesk: SMB Guide’s Verdict

Our Help Scout vs Zendesk comparison shows that the platforms cater to varied business scales and needs. Help Scout’s simplicity and affordable plans fit small and mid-sized businesses. Zendesk’s comprehensive features designed for growth and scalability fit larger enterprises.

However, after a thorough evaluation, Zendesk wins. Here is why:

Zendesk’s multichannel support is comprehensive, integrating with social media, email, and phone. It also has a powerful ticketing system that creates a ticket for each message received in the agent workspace.

The extensive integration stack provides an app marketplace with 400+ connectors. All these and other features are the reason it wins this duel.

Help Scout is a decent alternative, offering a shared inbox that enhances efficiency. It also has a built-in knowledge base that agents can customize for a comprehensive self-service library.

However, it loses because of the lack of voice calling, granular reporting, poor spam filtering, and more.

Choose Help Scout If:

You’re a small business looking for a simple collaboration solution to deliver support.

Choose Zendesk If:

You’re a large business looking for a scalable solution for complex customer needs.

Help Scout

Help Scout's shared inbox, help center, and live chat software gives your team the tools you need to easily manage customer communications.

Start free trial

Jessica Pereira helps SaaS and digital marketing brands build long-lasting customer relationships with meaningful content. Her favorite topics include career development, productivity, and email marketing.