Olark vs. Zendesk: Which customer service software is best?

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Looking for the best live chat software to enhance sales and customer support? Find out why we recommend these 2 in this Olark vs. Zendesk Comparison.

$25/user/mo - $149/user/mo
Startups to enterprise organizations who want to provide live agent services using an in-house team.
Medium to large businesses that need a robust and flexible customer service solution.
Startups to enterprise organizations who want to provide live agent services using an in-house team.
$25/user/mo - $149/user/mo
Medium to large businesses that need a robust and flexible customer service solution.

Frustrated with your website’s lack of sales due to poor lead gen and customer support? Consider using Olark or Zendesk live chat software.

Zendesk offers an all-rounded solution, but don’t sleep on Olark. It focuses its live chat on small businesses.

However, how did we come to this verdict? Let’s find out in this Olark vs. Zendesk comparison.

Olark vs. Zendesk at a Glance

SMB Guide’s Rating8/108.6/10Zendesk
Real-Time Messaging and Canned ResponsesZendesk
Live Chat AI and NLPSimple logicNative “answer bot
Customizable Chat WidgetsZendesk
Visitor Tracking and AnalyticsBasic visitor trackingMulti-channel trackingZendesk
Multichannel SupportZendesk
Multilingual SupportZendesk
Offline Messaging and AvailabilityLack specific response timesHave specific response timesZendesk
Handoff and Escalation to Human AgentsManual escalationAutomated escalationZendesk
Security and ComplianceTie
User Experience and User InterfaceZendesk
Integrations and Compatibility30+ integrations100+ integrationsZendesk
Customer supportLive chat, and emailLive chat, email, and phoneZendesk
Pricing$29/user/mo$25/user/mo – $149/user/moOlark

Olark: Key Features, Pros, Cons, & Pricing

Olark homepage

Olark is a customer service platform that provides live chat and AI chatbots to deliver support.

Olark integrates easily with any website HTML code, allowing service teams to add live chat to the pages. 

The live chat is also trigger-based so that conversations can start with visitors proactively.

Besides that, Olark offers real-time reporting, canned messages, searchable transcripts, and more stellar features.

Pros & Cons


14-day free trial

30+ integrations

AI automation

Easy to use interface


No mobile apps

Limited data/reporting metrics


Olark offers 2 packages for the customer service teams to choose from. The plans have a 2-week free trial period but lack a demo to see it in action.

The pricing is per seat, and subscribing for two years gets you a 33% discount.

Here are the packages:

  • Standard: $29 per seat monthly
  • Pro: Custom

Make your business human by using live chat software for sales, marketing and customer support on your website.

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Zendesk: Key Features, Pros, Cons, & Pricing

Zendesk homepage

Zendesk is a popular all-in-one customer service platform that provides a help desk, live chat, and CRM for support delivery.

The platform helps large service teams manage tickets and build an integrated community forum and help center.

Whether your team wants to prospect, generate leads, or streamline customer service delivery, Zendesk has the tools to help.

Pros & Cons


30-day free trial

100+ integrations

Omnichannel support

Intelligent AI usage


No self-hosting

Only ticketing support provided


Zendesk has a straightforward pricing model where service teams can pick from 4 plans. The pricing is per agent, but Zendesk lacks a money-back guarantee.

In addition, like Olark, it doesn’t offer a free plan. However, startups get a six-month trial period after application.

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

Zendesk and Olark have relatively quick real-time messaging, but the differences are in their function.

The chat interface on Olark is simple, allowing agents to tag, monitor, and transfer the conversations.

The platform also displays the chat metrics in real-time on its dashboard, such as ratings, volume, and response times.

olark live chat examples

Zendesk, on the other hand, has an advanced live chat with more features and customizable options.

It allows agents to automate, route, or even escalate the chats. Not only that, Zendesk provides a mobile SDK for embedding chat features in mobile device apps.

The reporting is also in-depth, displaying ratings, real-time typing indicators, and more.

With canned responses, both Olark and Zendesk offer the feature but with some differences in use.

Olark provides an in-built feature that agents can use to create canned responses from a drop-down menu in the live chat window.

The “snippets” are basic templates that allow teams to add variables like a customer’s or agent’s name.

zendesk real time messaging

Zendesk uses macros for its canned responses, allowing more complex variables and formatting.

The software also employs its native “Answer Bot “that uses AI to recommend and send a response depending on the inquiry. 

Zendesk also allows more customization and personalization. For example, the agent can insert customer data, integrate other data sources, or use conditional logic.

✅ Winner: Zendesk

Live Chat AI & NLP

NLG and NLU power both Olark and Zendesk chatbots, but they have some output and feature differences.

Olark provides service teams with a chatbot builder with AI limitations, making it difficult to handle complex inquiries.

olark live chat

It relies on simple logic and can only respond to common FAQs. Not only that, the NLP engine uses keyword matching to understand natural language.

Unlike Zendesk, agents cannot train Olark chatbots to learn from or improve feedback over time.

Zendesk provides an advanced chatbot builder with functionalities like entity extraction, intent recognition, and sentiment analysis.

In addition, its native “answer bot “ combines ML and AI to respond to inquiries. It helps the chatbot handle complex inquiries since it uses NLP to understand context and intent.

From there, it can generate a natural and personalized response to the query.

zendesk live chat ai

With bot customization, Olark offers basic options focusing on format and text. Zendesk bot customization is more advanced, offering custom logic branching and integration of third-party sources.

It makes it easy for service agents to personalize the responses.

✅ Winner: Zendesk

Customizable Chat Widgets

Service team will find Olark and Zendesk allow for the customization of the chat widget appearance and functionality.

Olark allows customization of the widget’s color, font, button styling, and limited positioning.

An agent can also pick a chat box style, such as a tab, pop-up, or embedded. However, Olark limits the customization of animations, icons, or CSS.

olark customizations

Zendesk, on the other hand, offers more customization options than Olark. For example, agents can customize their branding (logo, theme, or font), widget positioning, and size.

Not only that, agents can use HTML and CSS for more detailed customization. With pre-chat forms and automated greetings, both platforms offer the feature but with varied sophistication.

Olark offers basic pre-chat forms to collect name, phone, and email information. Automated messages follow simple rules like URL, time, and location.

zendesk customizable chat widgets

However, agents cannot customize the message content, format, or style. Not only that, Olark doesn’t allow the use of advanced conditional logic or branching.

Zendesk provides dynamic pre-chat forms with conditional branching. It allows agents to tailor the questions depending on customer behavior.

Agents can collect names, phone, email, and custom fields. The best part is that an agent can personalize the automated greeting message through dynamic variables.

It gives service teams granular control, unlike Olark, to match brand identity precisely.

✅ Winner: Zendesk

Visitor Tracking and Analytics

Zendesk and Olark provide visitor tracking with varied details and scope. Olark provides basic visitor tracking capabilities, such as URL, name, browser, OS, and location.

However, Olark doesn’t support visitor session replays like history, referral source, page, and time spent.

Not only that, service agents cannot segment visitors on custom-defined attributes like behavior. The reporting limitations on Olark hinder proactive support.

olark analytics

Zendesk provides more comprehensive visitor tracking capability, including heatmaps, demographics, and devices.

Zendesk also provides visitor identification and in-depth session replay. With visitor analytics, Olark provides basic reporting on its dashboard, which is suitable for a general understanding of visitor behavior.

For example, agents can view the chat’s volume, response time, rating, and duration. However, it doesn’t report on chat conversion, resolve, or satisfaction, and agents can’t customize the report.

zendesk analytics

Zendesk, on the other hand, provides advanced reporting capability with a custom dashboard and segmentation capability.

Agents can drill to a granular level to get insights into visitor segments. The in-depth reporting allows tailored support, which leads to customer satisfaction.

✅ Winner: Zendesk

Multichannel Support

Olark has a simple integration process focusing on websites, where an agent copies and pastes the code.

Unlike Zendesk, Olark lacks a mobile SDK that agents can embed into the chat widget to use on mobile apps. 

Instead, it relies on Olark Chat, a third-party app. With social media integration, Olark only supports Facebook Messenger.

Zendesk offers integration options with apps, social media, email, SMS, CRM, and websites.

Unlike Olark, Zendesk integrates with social platforms like WeChat, WhatsApp, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook Messenger.

Zendesk also consolidates all the social network messages in a central inbox on its dashboard.

✅ Winner: Zendesk

Multilingual Support

Agents will find Olark offers basic multilingual support for creating chatbots that support various languages.

However, it depends on keywords and set rules. It makes it unable to translate or switch languages on the fly.

The accuracy of responses on Olark is not the best, especially for real-time conversations. The translation often requires an agent to do it manually when the chatbots request handoff.

Zendesk, on the other hand, provides advanced multilingual support with features like agent feature localization.

An agent can pick a preferred language for the live chat. Zendesk also provides machine translation integration with Google Translate for on-the-fly translation.

Translation accuracy on Zendesk is superb since it provides more advanced features than Olark. The machine translation and several language options lower the language barrier and enhance customer satisfaction.

✅ Winner: Zendesk

Offline Messaging and Availability

Olark offers a basic feature allowing customers to leave their email and message when the live chat is offline.

The customer messages then get delivered to the business email and await a reply.

Something to note is that Olark limits automation and customization of the messages. With availability notification, Olark only lets agents display online or offline status.

However, the platform doesn’t allow the display of estimated response times, like Zendesk.

Zendesk provides advanced features, including offline forms where customers can leave detailed messages. Not only that, Zendesk creates tickets for offline messages for follow-up.

Zendesk offline messaging

Zendesk also allows sending automated responses to the queries to acknowledge response times are set.

With availability notification, Zendesk allows agents to notify customers of their availability through status indicators (online or offline). It also displays estimated response times during peak hours.

✅ Winner: Zendesk

Handoff and Escalation to Human Agent

Olark provides a handoff escalation feature that agents can use to create triggers to transfer a chat from the chatbot to an agent. The set rules on the chatbot can get triggered by sentiment, phrases, or keywords. 

One thing to note is that the manual takeover often has delays, and context sharing also has limitations. Not only that, agent intervention depends on the experience and skills required to handle complex queries.

Zendesk, on the other hand, has a seamless handoff escalation through conditional routing. A chatbot detects customer sentiment, phrase, or keyword and automatically routes frustrated clients or complex queries to specific agents.

Zendesk also allows agent suggestions, where the chatbots recommend knowledgebase content for resolving complicated issues.

Unlike Olark, Zendesk offers supporting tools to aid agent intervention. They include notes, macros, and integrations with a knowledge base.

✅ Winner: Zendesk

Security and Compliance

Olark implements AES-256 encryption for data at rest and transit. The software also provides 2-factor authentication.

However, unlike Zendesk, end-to-end encryption is lacking, and third parties can access data. Not only that, Olark doesn’t display audits on its systems.

In compliance, Olark only has certifications with GDPR and PCI-DSS. The good thing is that Olark provides customizable data policies on retention and how long data gets stored.

Zendesk offers better and more advanced security, unlike Olark. The platform implements intrusion detection, AES-256, and data anonymization. Zendesk also provides end-to-end encryption, meaning only the sender and receiver can access the data.

Zendesk has extensive HIPAA, GDPR, PCI DSS, and SOC 2 compliance certifications. The platform also offers flexible data retention options like configurable data storage, data deletion, consent forms, and more.

✅ Winner: Tie

User Interface and User Experience

Blue and white are the color themes on Olark, and the interface design is modern, focusing on chat functionality.

The platform is also intuitive, and navigating through it is easy, with essential features available. Customization options on the platform have limitations compared to Zendesk.

olark dashboard

The only customization options available are logo upload and color theme change. However, Olark allows user preference adjustments like notification sounds, chat window position and size.

Unlike Zendesk, Olark lacks a mobile app, and agents on the go cannot access the workflow remotely.

Zendesk interface is more appealing than Olark, with purple, gray, and black colors. Unlike Olark, Zendesk offers more animations, making it interactive.

Something to note is that the platform has a steep learning curve compared to Olark.

zendesk interface

It’s because of the broad range of features and tools. With customization, Zendesk’s options are extensive.

Teams can customize their workflows, dashboards, and reports. The software also offers more user preference options, like granular user control preferences that match an agent’s work style and custom dashboards.

Zendesk also has a responsive mobile app (Android and iOS) that suits agents on the go.

✅ Winner: Zendesk

Integrations and Compatibility

Olark has pre-installed integrations with CRM, analytics, and marketing platforms like Salesforce, Google Analytics, and more. Olark also has an API that agents can use to integrate custom applications or scrape data.

One thing to note is that the API requires tech skills, unlike Zendesk’s. Integrating the pre-installed platforms is easy through a few clicks.

However, custom integrations need support from an expert. The downside is that Olark’s documentation is shallow compared to Zendesks’.

Zendesk has an extensive integration stack with over 1000+ pre-built systems like CRMs, support, marketing, and analytics platforms. Setting up the native integrations is easy because of its in-depth documentation and tutorials.

Agents will also find an API that they can use to integrate custom platforms. Unlike Olark, the API is well-documented and has developer support.

Overall, Zendesk provides better and broader compatibility with other systems to simplify complex workflows.

✅ Winner: Zendesk

Customer Support

Olark support channels are email and live chat, but phone calls are available in the Pro plan. Live chat responses are instant via the chatbot, while email and phone can take up to 3 hours to get a reply.

The support quality of Olark is decent, with helpful and knowledgeable agents. However, they lack expertise in complex technical situations.

Teams can also access self-help resources, including a help center, FAQ, blog, and forum. They are handy in troubleshooting software problems or gaining knowledge of the inner workings.

Zendesk offers 3 support channels: phone, live chat, and email. The response times for the email and phone are within 1-2 hours. Live chat is instant and has priority options for emergencies.

Zendesk’s support quality is top-notch, providing helpful agents with expertise even for complex technical issues. Zendesk also provides self-help resources, which include a blog, events, webinars, and a vibrant community forum.

✅ Winner: Zendesk


Olark provides 2 plans: Self-service and Pro. The pricing is per agent, and the pro plan offers premium features, including phone support.

However, unlike Zendesk, Olark lacks an enterprise plan catering to custom needs. On the positive side, the pricing plans are cheaper than Zendesks, starting at $29 per agent monthly.

Zendesk offers 4 plans, with the pricing per user rising with tiers. Each plan has varying features. Unlike Olark, Zendesk provides an enterprise package for large teams that need custom features.

One thing to note is that Zendek’s plans are pricey, starting at $69 per agent monthly.

✅ Winner: Olark


Olark’s tiers are scalable, but the Self-service plan seems ineffective with the limitations on automation, support priority, and more.

It then means subscribing to the Pro plan, which offers more advanced features.

Zendesk’s pricing is scalable and predictable, like Olark, where teams can anticipate costs as they grow.

Scaling through the plans is seamless, with each tier providing advanced features.

✅ Winner: Tie

Standout Features of Olark

Olark’s focus on live chat functionality makes it one of the best customer service platforms.

Here are 2 unique features that make it stand out:

1. Chat Widget Customization

Olark allows agents to tweak the look and overall feel of the chatbot to fit their brand voice. Agents can add a logo and change the widget’s font, theme, position, and size.

Not only that, agents can add themes for each website page or segment.

2. Co-Browsing

Olark allows agents to see what their visitors browse on their sites. Using the co-browsing feature, they can guide customers through complex processes.

For example, filling out forms, navigating through pages, and more.

Standout Features of Zendesk

Besides the CRM, help desk, and live chat features on Zendesk, here are 2 unique ones that make it stand out.

1. Knowledge Management

It allows agents to create a self-service portal where customers can get answers to their inquiries. Agents can also prompt the “Answer Bot” to recommend relevant content for customers that email or DM via live chat.

2. Detailed Reporting and Analytics

Zendesk provides in-depth reporting on their workflows and conversation pipelines to see performance. Zendesk also tracks metrics and finds emerging trends for improved workflow performance.

Olark vs. Zendesk: SMB Guide’s Verdict

Our Olark vs Zendesk comparison shows that each software fits different users. Olark fits small service teams focusing on live chat, while Zendesk is all-rounded.

After a thorough evaluation and testing, Zendesk wins. Here is why:

Zendesk offers a comprehensive customer service solution, including a help desk, live chat, and CRM. It also provides an extensive integration stack of 1000+ systems to help streamline support service.

The best part is that Zendesk is transparent in its compliance, security procedures, and policies.

All these and more factors are the reason Zendesk wins this duel.

Olark is a decent alternative for service teams looking for a live chat-focused customer service solution.

Its co-browsing and customizable chatbots make it appeal to SMBs. However, the lack of granular reporting, poor NLP engine, and more factors make it lose to Zendesk.

Choose Olark If:

You are a small service team looking for a powerful live chat solution to deliver tailored support.

Choose Zendesk If:

You are a large service team looking for a helpdesk with an omnichannel solution to streamline service delivery.


Make your business human by using live chat software for sales, marketing and customer support on your website.

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.