Zendesk Support (which begins at $5 per user per month) is one of the most popular helpdesk solutions available today. But advanced functionality costs more with Zendesk Support, opening the door to a potentially steep pricing structure. However, its advanced features still aren’t enough to compete with an enterprise-grade platform such as Editors’ Choice winner Vivantio Pro, though they are on par with our other Editors’ Choice winner HappyFox.
Because of Zendesk’s pricing structure, it’s important to determine what you’ll need before making your purchasing decision. Tally up everything you want and everything you might want and then calculate potential costs. Run those numbers against Zendesk Support’s competitors, most of which have set pricing, to see whether this tool will make sense for your budget. If money’s no factor, then Zendesk Support is definitely worth your consideration.
Features and Reporting
The feature lists of helpdesk applications all start to look very similar and Zendesk Support doesn’t stand out much from the pack, although in late 2015 it did announce that it had integrated machine learning (ML) into its platform to help with predictive analytics around customer satisfaction. Still, all of the standard boxes we set out to look for in this roundup are ticked. Zendesk Support lets tickets be raised via the usual array of sources: chat, email, in-app support, social networking websites, telephone, and the web. The company also provides outbound messaging for agents, a self-service portal for the general population, and an open application programming interface (API). The myriad of ways tickets can get raised into Zendesk Support is one of its strengths—one that is only slowly being replicated by its competition. Once a ticket is raised, the app lets agents add internal notes to it, which can be a huge help when tickets are being handled by multiple agents during the tickets’ lifetime.
Reporting was good but dependent upon the pricing tier you’re in. Starting with the Professional plan, users will get access to information powered by GoodData. If you can’t afford $49 per agent per month for the Professional plan, then you’ll be relegated to very minimal reporting. You can drop all of the way down to just a CSV file if you’re not careful.
One thing we liked was Zendesk Support’s implementation of Business Rules. By using this feature, service desk representatives can trigger automatic workflows based on changes to the original trouble ticket. You can even add macros to this process to use shortcuts when responding to oft-encountered problems. And service reps can also dynamically route tickets outside of workflow rules, if necessary, simply by cc’ing other co-workers or shring information using internal notes.
While not quite an Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL)-friendly system, Zendesk Support does let you raise problems—something that not all helpdesk solutions offer. The inclusion of such a feature, while not adhering to the entire ITIL methodology, is an interesting one in that it gives customers more flexibility over how to deploy and utilize their Zendesk Support investment.
Pricing and Plans
Zendesk Support is available in five paid plans. The pricing structure starts out at just $5 per user per month for the Essential plan. This is the starter plan that we reviewed and it’s Zendesk’s most basic, entry-level plan. Depending on the features you require, there are four more plans that can be chosen, including the Team, Professional, Enterprise, and Elite plans. The Team plan costs $19 per agent per month (billed annually). The Professional plan might be the best option for the majority of businesses since it offers plenty of features at its fairly low price of $49 per user per month (billed annually). The Professional plan isn’t the cheapest plan we have come across but it may be worth the cost. The Enterprise plan costs $99 per agent per month (billed annually). Elite, the most expensive plan, runs $199 per agent per month (billed annually) and includes Elite Support and Product Training. Finally, a free trial is offered to anyone that wants to get their feet wet before committing to any of Zendesk Support’s paid plans.
One important point to note is that Zendesk has broken out into many products a bunch of features other competitors include within a single product. For example, a knowledge base and a self-service portal are part of the Zendesk Guide product, while live chat, call center integration via Voice-over-IP (VoIP), and social messaging integration are part of apps named Chat, Talk, and Message, respectively. Pricing for all of these separate apps is confusing, so be sure to test out your complete end-to-end solution carefully and get a full price quote from Zendesk before jumping into anything.
Interface and Workflow
Zendesk’s user interface (UI) offers no transitions to grab your attention, and the density of data shown on the screen at any one time is low. That isn’t to say the UI is too sparse because we found that everything we needed was displayed at once, without us needing to click between tabs or windows in order to find what we needed. The same can’t be said of all of the competition’s offerings (in particular, Samanage). You’ll need to work with Zendesk Support a bit to get familiar with it because, while the UI has all of the icons you’re going to need, it doesn’t have too many labels. This made its overall impression a little less clear than something such as Freshdesk.
Still, it’s not a bad UI and our opinion here is largely subjective. For example, one of our favorite features is its Views screen that lets agents see all of the tickets that are, for example, unsolved or recently added. This lets you make sure that nothing falls through the cracks. Views can be extensively customized to your preferences, too. This is one area in which Freshdesk tried to do something similar but we preferred the way Zendesk Support shows the information, including ticket expiration times.
You can get into the meat of Zendesk Support by clicking on the “+” button at the top of the screen. This button brings up a collection of options, letting agents quickly create new tickets to users or organizations. Clicking the option to create a new ticket does just that, with a blank ticket loaded into the main part of the screen and a navigation pane remaining on the left-hand side.
At this point, you just need to enter the necessary data, filling in the Description, Requester, and Subject fields. Once you populated them, we recommend you head to the area where agents can assign the newly created ticket to either a person or a team via the Assignee box (with either being auto-filled as agents type). This is useful when raising tickets to the right people and can truly save time when later triaging incidents.
Once all of the relevant boxes are completed (as not all are required), save the ticket. You will be taken back to the Main view with all of the open tickets displayed. This inbox of sorts lets agents get a bird’s-eye view of what is currently active within the service desk. If done right, this can save agents time, letting them avoid having to open and close tickets just to find out rudimentary information (such as expiry time). Zendesk Support gets it right by letting this view be edited, giving you the option to add whatever information suits your company’s needs. Customization is always welcome, especially when it brings functionality with it.
Open tickets can have notes added to them via the Main Ticket view, with both internal and public notes being an option. Once complete, a ticket can be resolved by clicking Submit as Solved, which marks the ticket marked as completed. The agent can then return to the Main Ticket view for the next ticket on which to work. Tickets that have recently been worked on can easily be found via the Recently Solved Tickets view. This view is accessible via the Navigation pane. Other views offered here include Recently Updated Tickets and Pending Tickets.
Zendesk Support is a capable helpdesk solution. It has most of the features that a small, midsize, or even large organization will need—as long as tickets and the way they get raised are what your organization primarily needs. In other words, don’t look to Zendesk Support to handle projects, code and system changes, or assets, even using one of its many add-on products. Still, it’s a sleek, workable solution that will suit plenty of businesses, though you’ll probably find you’re paying more than you originally intended.