Zendesk vs Freshdesk vs Salesforce: Comparison of Top 3 Help Desk Solutions

What is the best help desk software?

The best help desk software is Zendesk. It’s a comprehensive solution that sports a plethora of capabilities to make your customer experience smooth and efficient. It features robust ticket management, omnichannel support, a self-service portal, and more. Moreover, the platform lets you personalize your support workflows and can scale up or down with your business.

Are you looking for a good software solution to enhance your customer service management process? Perhaps, you own a startup company that can’t afford to mess up when responding to customer inquiries? No matter the case, you can’t go wrong with investing in tools such as Zendesk, Freshdesk, and Salesforce Essentials. These are among the most popular and reliable help desk programs used by both startups and top brands from diverse industries.

However, when trying to compare products, it’s important to use similar metrics to avoid skewing the outcomes. So, we zeroed in on six key areas where, we believe, you should match the three products against each other for a solid comparison. At the end of this article, you should have a clearer picture of how each help desk software is superior over the other two in specific areas. Furthermore, it should allow you to get the insights you need to make an informed purchasing decision.

leading help desk tools

A good help desk solution for your business should be easy to set up, flexible to different user roles, and scalable to a business of any size.

For starters, having to follow a series of complex steps to install and configure help desk solutions isn’t something anyone wants to go through. Same with relying too much on the IT department to implement the system. That’s why out-of-the-box solutions are greatly appreciated by startups and big companies alike.

Flexibility to assign user roles is important, as well. In the case of implementing a help desk system, the users — both agents and customers — likely don’t have any technical skills to tinker with the app. And this isn’t an unlikely situation. In fact, according to a study conducted by the Service Desk Institute, service desk procedure is the most popular type of training given to employees, as shown in the chart below.

Source: Service Desk Institute

Similarly, if your company is growing fast, one of your challenges will be scaling support. There are plenty of techniques on how to scale customer service. However, it’s also important for your tools to scale with these techniques.

Luckily, Zendesk, Freshdesk, and Salesforce Essentials meet these criteria. These three solutions can adapt to customer support spikes without hurting your cash flow or involving huge sums of capital outlay.

With that said, let’s dive in and briefly get to know Freshdesk, Zendesk, and Salesforce Essentials. Remember to take advantage also of the free trial offers provided by the vendors to better evaluate the features firsthand.


zendesk dashboard

Our top pick help desk software Zendesk offers a comprehensive set of features to assist you in providing seamless customer experience. It also aims to improve your agents’ efficiency and ensure that your conversations with customers flow smoothly across every channel. It’s an easy-to-implement solution with robust capabilities for monitoring, organizing, and resolving your customer support tickets.

The platform’s omnichannel support is another noteworthy feature. Your customers would appreciate that they can reach you conveniently through chat, voice, email, web, or mobile. What’s more, is they can carry conversations across channels.

While this sounds like a decentralized feature, Zendesk guarantees that it’s not. The interface is integrated, so agents will find everything they need in one place. Plus, this will result in a more seamless customer interaction experience due to less repetition. Admins, on the other hand, will also able to track and manage every channel thanks to consolidated dashboards.

The vendor offers a comprehensive free trial to get you up to speed with the features. You can sign up for Zendesk free trial here.


An award given to products our B2B experts find especially valuable for companies

Try out Zendesk with their free trial

Lastly, the software is designed to let you configure your workflow as well as customize your support. This means that Zendesk is capable of working with companies regardless of the size and then scale up or down when needed. Its analytics capability is robust as well since you’re given access to customer intelligence, industry benchmark information, and many more. These will help your agents perform better in each interaction.

 Key Features of Zendesk:

  1. It offers an omnichannel support and ticketing system.
  2. It’s equipped with every information and tool to assist your agents in their tasks.
  3. It enables you to provide personalized support on the fly.
  4. It allows for easy creation and management of a web-based knowledge base.


freshdesk dashboard

Customer support software Freshdesk provides all the necessary features to ensure the operational efficiency of your agents. One of them is the robust ticketing module. This function lets you convert all transactions into tickets as well as streamline their management and delivery. Your agents can also tag them according to various criteria for easier organization.

Another interesting function that Freshdesk sports is the gamification feature, which helps turn tedious tasks into fun games. It can be used as a motivational tool where employees are competing with each other via internal game mechanics. Your agents can earn points, do quests, level up, aim for the leaderboard, and of course, win rewards.

Aside from those, the platform also packs various collaboration tools to maximize the efficiency of your workforce. Internal teams can collaborate on a certain ticket to find context in their issues and help solve it. They can even divide a ticket into smaller ones for a more streamlined approach.

You can check the solution closely when you sign up for Freshdesk free trial here.

The system also provides you with high-quality insights quickly via reports page where you can easily identify important issues. This way, you can quickly learn data related to bottlenecks, such as response time, ticket closing, and customer frustration. Other important stats like pending tickets, first response time, and first contact resolution are present as well. You can even search for reports by looking it up with keywords.

Key Features of Freshdesk:

  1. Its ticketing module is tightly integrated with all your support channels – email, chat, social media, phone, etc.
  2. It allows you to set up a support portal that you can completely customize to reflect your brand.
  3. It has features gamification mechanics.
  4. Its intelligent automation capability offloads many repetitive tasks.

Salesforce Essentials

salesforce essentials dashboard

The CRM tool Salesforce Essentials is a solution geared towards small businesses but can be used by help desk agents to streamline their workflows. The platform is an out-of-the-box solution that’s easy to set up, install, use, and maintain. What’s more, is it is designed to be scalable. So, you won’t have to worry that you’ll soon outgrow this solution because it can grow with you.

The SaaS giant, Salesforce, is known for its top-quality CRM platforms, and Essentials is no exception. It features Trailhead, a gamification learning platform. It’s an engaging way for your staff to learn about topics related to sales, service, CRM, and more. There’s a mobile app as well, which allows your team to close deals even from out of the office.

The platform will enable your agents to streamline their service by collecting every customer information and support channel into one location. No time is wasted too since Salesforce Essentials will route questions to the proper agent, automatically. It’s smart enough to delegate work to employees while factoring in their expertise as well as availability.

If you want to check its comprehensive feature set you can easily sign up for Salesforce Essentials free trial here.

Users can also avail of Sales Cloud Essentials, a module that allows smaller sales teams to sell faster. With this, your agents can follow up on leads, determine key contacts, and view sales details. This feature also removes the need for utilizing the inconvenient spreadsheets. It will take care of monitoring all needed information by automatically tracking meetings, calls, and emails. The module’s AI will also ensure that every detail is up-to-date, which effectively reduces the instances of risky manual entry.

Key Features of Salesforce Essentials:

  1. It can automatically route questions and delegate works to suitable agents.
  2. It features Einstein Captivity Capture, which can automatically track meetings, calls, and emails.
  3. It’s specifically created to be used by small businesses and teams.
  4. It pulls data from various channels – calendar, email, phone, spreadsheet, etc. – and places them in one location.

Comparison of Key Features

Ticketing module

Ticketing is a key feature for this type of tool, as mentioned in our guide to help desk software. This enables users to accept customer queries, respond promptly, and monitor engagements.

Both Zendesk and Freshdesk boast robust ticketing modules. They share features such as SLAs, file attachments, triggers, business rules, agent collision detection, macros for creating standard replies, etc. However, they still have their key differences.

Zendesk’s ticketing system is an omnichannel solution where all customer inquiries are handled through a shared inbox. This means that it doesn’t matter which channel your customer uses to reach you. Your agents will always have all the information they need to render the best service they can. You can share tickets with other Zendesk accounts, as well. This enables you to collaborate on customer service with outside teams such as a vendor or retail partners. This also helps you offer customer support in conjunction with other providers.

Meanwhile, one of Freshdesk’s highlights is its ticketing dashboard, which displays customer information inside the ticket, including their contact numbers. This helps agents to call customers for urgent issues while inside the ticket. Another outstanding feature of Freshdesk is that it gives smart suggestions for solutions to the ticket based on its keywords. This feature helps agents to send faster standard replies.

Salesforce Essentials, on the other hand, uses its built-in Service Cloud component to handle tickets and cases from multiple channels. Essentials also allows for the creation of a self-service portal, which your customers can use to quickly find answers to common queries.

Verdict: All competitive help desk solutions know how important the ticketing system is. Thus, each of them displays robust support for this particular feature. Zendesk offers the most comprehensive ticketing solution among all of them. The other two aren’t lagging, however.

Zendesk Omnichannel Ticketing

Zendesk’s omnichannel ticketing module.

Communication channels

Freshdesk and Zendesk provide multiple channels for contacting customers, both offering integrated phone, live chat, and email support, social media integration, and self-service center. You can integrate your Facebook and Twitter pages with the apps and offer customer support right inside your customers’ favorite social websites.

Both applications offer a self-service portal to create a knowledge base and community forum. These solutions also support customization to suit your brand’s feel and colors. However, Freshdesk goes a step further and enables replication of your website’s CSS style in the help center for seamless branding. On the other hand, Zendesk’s self-service center is offered in more than 40 languages, which is great if your main markets include non-English speaking countries.

Another great thing about Freshdesk and Zendesk is that they provide support widgets that can be embedded on your website. This way, visitors need not leave the site page to access your help center or submit a ticket.

Freshdesk’s widget is especially impressive as you can place it as a subtle tab anywhere on the page, and it expands when clicked. In contrast, the Zendesk widget only appears at the bottom part of the website. In the Freshdesk widget, customers get smart suggestions based on their query’s keywords.

Meanwhile, Salesforce Essentials leverages its Service Cloud module for small business customer support teams. It can automatically connect and centralize cases from multiple support channels, which can be accessed by agents from any device. Service and support agents get a full view of customer information for faster response to queries and issue resolution.

Verdict: Being at the top of their fields, all three products are expected to have robust features related to communication channels. What’s more, is, they all deliver. Each of them supports multiple channels, integrated interface, unified dashboards, automated tracking, and other useful functionalities.

Freshdesk Multi-Channel Communications

Freshdesk features multiple communication channels.

Mobile features

Freshdesk offers powerful capabilities in both its Android and iOS apps. You can perform tasks such as responding to tickets, changing priorities, and marking spam. Agents can pass a ticket to an office-based agent if they are unable to attend to the ticket in the field for any reason.

As for Zendesk, it offers a great reach with versions for both Kindle and Windows. However, Zendesk offers only select mobile capabilities, and you need to tweak its mobile SDK (Android and iOS only) to use live chat, knowledgebase, and ticket submission in the mobile interface.

Lastly, Salesforce Essentials’ mobile app lets you take customer profiles and insights from your CRM data, which you can access and take with you anywhere. This is great for accommodating clients on-the-go. However, most of its mobile app features are designed for CRM and not for help desk processes.

Verdict: While Zendesk offers a better reach through its Kindle and Windows versions, Freshdesk scores in this category. That’ because of the powerful features present in their iOS and Android apps, two of the most-used type of mobile devices according to our mobile marketing statistics.

Freshdesk Mobile App

Freshdesk has mobile apps for iOS and Android devices.

Reporting and analytics tools

Both Freshdesk and Zendesk provide robust reporting and analytics tools to help you measure customer support performance. However, Zendesk goes a step ahead as it offers 50 best practice reports, including customer experience, agent performance, and operational efficiency. Its Enterprise plan has up to 200 custom fields. You can compare your support team’s performance against your competitors that also use Zendesk. This can help motivate your agents to do better.

Freshdesk simplifies customer satisfaction analytics with emoticons that help to track your team’s performance. It can also gamify customer support with leaderboard scoring and awards. With this, you can reward agents for good performance, which can serve as a big motivation factor.

Salesforce Essentials offers contact management that enables you to get a 360-degree view of customers, including their communication history, past activities, and social engagement. This tool will perform well for assessing online deals and campaigns.

Verdict: Zendesk and Freshdesk are both forerunners in this field, and Salesforce Essential does a pretty good job of providing relevant data as well. However, Zendesk’s highly-customizable reports make it easier to compare metrics against each other for more comprehensible insights.

Zendesk Custom Reporting

Zendesk has a plethora of custom report fields to choose from.


All three products offer robust integration capabilities. For starters, Zendesk has a comprehensive app marketplace that enables users to add more features such as project management, marketing automation, ecommerce, and live chat. Most add-ons are free, and the rest are minimally priced. Plus, you can use Zendesk’s API to create your third-party app.

Meanwhile, Salesforce Essentials gives you the advantage of being able to integrate with other apps in the Salesforce ecosystem, such as Marketing Cloud and Pardot. Salesforce likewise has its cloud computing marketplace – AppExchange – which is home to thousands of business apps that you can access, download, and install to fully extend the functionalities of the Essentials platform.

Lastly, Freshdesk integrates with a host of popular apps, including ecommerce, CRM, productivity, and invoicing products. Top brands like Google, JIRA, Nimble, Dropbox, Zapier, Shopify, and MailChimp work well with Freshdesk, which also integrates with Salesforce business apps.

Verdict: Each of them offers comprehensive integration support. You can integrate Salesforce Essentials with other apps in the Salesforce ecosystem. Freshdesk, on the other hand, can seamlessly connect with several widely-used applications like Google tools and Zapier. Zendesk, however, offers a marketplace full of apps that it can integrate with. The best part is, most of them are free.

Zendesk App Marketplace

Zendesk has a marketplace full of apps it can integrate with.


All three solutions are cloud-hosted platforms that offer subscription-based pricing. All of them also offer free trials.

Zendesk offers several plans based on its separate modules – Support, Chat, Talk, and Guide. You can get one, two, or three modules or the entire package, depending on your needs. Each module gives you three to five plans to choose from, starting with a Basic plan with around three features to an Elite or Enterprise plan with complete help desk features and advanced capabilities. Plan prices range from $9/agent per month to $199/agent per month.

Freshdesk offers five plans starting with a free plan for use by an unlimited number of agents. Free plans are usually limited in features, so you may try out their paid plans with more features and advanced tools. Premium plans have prices ranging from $19/agent per month to $89/agent per month.

At $25/user per month for up to 10 users, you get value for money with Salesforce Essentials that integrates both CRM and help desk functions. In one platform, you get Sales Cloud Essentials with CRM features and Service Cloud Essentials with help desk tools to assist you in managing leads and delivering quality customer support.

Verdict: Zendesk offers the cheapest plan with a system consisting of core functionalities. However, Salesforce Essentials offers the most value for small businesses since it combines both help desk and CRM features.

Which Help Desk Software Suits Your Business?

Zendesk, Freshdesk, and Salesforce Essentials are all powerhouse help desk solutions. Any of them will go a long way in helping you deliver top-notch customer support. Hopefully, the six metrics used as benchmarks will help you decide on where to invest. However, if you’re still unsure of which one to pick, you can’t go wrong with trying our top choice, Zendesk.

Its capabilities and features are all solid and can greatly improve your sales and support team. Its pricing is flexible as well with add-ons you can purchase separately. Most of all, it comes out on top when compared side by side with two highly capable help desk solutions. You can try all its premium features at no cost when you sign up for Zendesk free trial here.

Lastly, while we did pit the best help desk solutions against each other, they’re far from being your only choices. If for some reason, you decided to explore more options before settling in, we got you covered. Check out these help desk software solutions available on the market today.

Christopher Robinson

By Christopher Robinson

Christopher Robinson is a senior productivity research analyst who specializes in optimizing online collaboration and project management using Scrum and agile approaches. In his work, he always emphasizes the need for distributed work training and the formation of efficient work habits. His work was mentioned in various business publications, including Entrepreneur and InfoQ. He’s a strong proponent of the GTD model. He has been cooperating with the FinancesOnline team for 5 years now, and his publications always focus on practical aspects of productivity tools that can have an actual, transformative impact on a company.

Leave a comment!

Add your comment below.

Be nice. Keep it clean. Stay on topic. No spam.


Why is FinancesOnline free? Why is FinancesOnline free?

FinancesOnline is available for free for all business professionals interested in an efficient way to find top-notch SaaS solutions. We are able to keep our service free of charge thanks to cooperation with some of the vendors, who are willing to pay us for traffic and sales opportunities provided by our website. Please note, that FinancesOnline lists all vendors, we’re not limited only to the ones that pay us, and all software providers have an equal opportunity to get featured in our rankings and comparisons, win awards, gather user reviews, all in our effort to give you reliable advice that will enable you to make well-informed purchase decisions.

No time for detailed research?

Get the best help desk software solution!

Award Zendesk