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Zendesk vs. HubSpot

Delivering great customer service experiences requires mature support software that can scale. When considering Zendesk vs. HubSpot, pick the proven leader in CX: Zendesk.

Zendesk vs. HubSpot: A comprehensive guide

Last updated January 22, 2024

Zendesk is a customer service platform built for the customer experience. HubSpot is primarily an inbound marketing tool that dabbles in customer service.

As NBA legend Kobe Bryant said, “If you really want to be great at something, you have to truly care about it. If you want to be great in a particular area, you have to obsess over it.”

That’s what we do at Zendesk. We’re obsessed with creating an innovative platform that enhances the customer experience. Unlike HubSpot—which spreads its efforts trying to solve problems for multiple departments—we focus on being great at customer service.

Here are three reasons why picking Zendesk over HubSpot is a slam dunk:

Reasons to pick Zendesk over HubSpot
  1. CX expertise

    Zendesk is a trusted advisor and proven leader in the global support market. Our customer experience expertise provides customers with the platform, tools, and guidance they need to achieve their business goals—and become CX-perts of their own.

  2. Product scalability

    We built Zendesk to support businesses throughout every stage of development. From startups to global enterprises, our platform meets the needs of teams large and small, regardless of customer support volume or complexity. HubSpot’s service product is younger and harder to scale, with its limited channel breadth, insufficient reporting, and other product gaps.

  3. Better ROI and TCO

    Zendesk can handle any business challenge efficiently with a consistently low cost of ownership (TCO). Self-service and automation features deflect up to 15 percent of agent contacts, which saves time and money. HubSpot, on the other hand, has basic automation and limited knowledge management capabilities. Important features are only available on its Enterprise plan, adding hidden costs. Also, HubSpot's product isn't as mature—meaning businesses outgrow its platform quickly, leading to rip-and-replace costs and a lower ROI.

More in this guide:

At-a-glance comparison: Zendesk vs. HubSpot

Let’s tip off this one-on-one matchup and see who stands alone as the G.O.A.T. Our chart is a highlight reel of benefits, features, and capabilities, so you can quickly compare Zendesk and HubSpot side by side. Our analysis is based on user reviews, our customers' experiences, and deep research by our product team.

Capability
Zendesk
HubSpot

Omnichannel

  • Web and app messaging, social media, telephony, SMS, email, and Apple Business Chat
  • Seamlessly shift conversations between channels
  • Limited native channel breadth
  • Unreliable native voice solution
  • No native SMS
  • Does not natively support frequently used social channels (Line, Apple Business Chat)

Self-service and knowledge management

  • Flexible hierarchies in the knowledge base
  • AI-powered content cues and knowledge base management
  • 6 levels of categorization for help center articles
  • Multi-language
  • Create and update content that lives across multiple articles or help centers
  • Limited hierarchies for categorizing content
  • No smart content cues
  • 2 levels of categorization for help center articles
  • Limited languages for help center translations
  • No ability to easily create and update content that lives across multiple articles or help centers

Agent experience and service efficiency tools

  • Omnichannel workspace
  • Threaded and reportable collaboration
  • Customizable, contextual agent workspace
  • Conditional fields and forms
  • SLAs and OLAs
  • Disjointed inbox/ticketing experience
  • Collaboration isn’t organized/threaded/reportable/tracked
  • Static agent workspace with limited customization
  • Limited SLA metrics and workflows
  • No OLAs
  • No side conversations
  • No problem-incident linking

AI and bots

  • Advanced AI in the context panel
  • Intelligent triage for streamlining agent routing
  • Macro suggestions (for admins)
  • Standard and advanced bots (pre-trained by industry)
  • Light AI/ML offerings focused on conversational AI
  • Content assistant for sales and marketing to generate blog ideas and sales emails
  • ChatSpot.ai is a conversational bot using prompts to build reports

Analytics

  • Advanced custom reporting
  • Custom metrics
  • Custom reports
  • Custom dashboards
  • Custom drill-in
  • Custom correlation
  • Basic, canned reporting
  • 5 service analytics reports and dashboards
    • Canned metrics
    • Canned reports
    • Canned dashboards
  • No custom drill-in
  • No custom correlation

Integrations

  • Robust integration with HubSpot (1,900 customers currently use the integration)
  • Integrations with best-of-breed marketing and CRM solutions such as Salesforce, ActiveCampaign, Adobe Marketo, Iterable, and Klaviyo
  • Full CRM suite (sales, marketing, service)
  • Bi-directional integration with Salesforce, Jira, and Zendesk

Zendesk vs. HubSpot: Features comparison

The best customer service solutions have the right features to set your team up for success. Let’s take a look at the all-star starting lineup.

Omnichannel customer experience

Omnichannel means customers can easily reach you through multiple communication channels, and all channels are interconnected for fluid, continuous conversations—making for a consistent and convenient customer experience.

The right platform helps you deliver an omnichannel experience, allowing agents to seamlessly move across channels. This boosts efficiency while removing barriers that stand between customers and support teams. Some channels include SMS, email, live chat, authenticated portal, web form, and voice.

With Zendesk, your agents can deliver rich, conversational experiences on any channel and manage everything in a single place: Agent Workspace. The interface surfaces important customer context from across all channels, so agents don't have to toggle between apps and waste time searching for information.

When support teams have the right tools and data at their fingertips, they’re set up for success. Businesses that switched to the Zendesk Agent Workspace have experienced:

  • 30% increase in agent efficiency
  • 18% faster replies to customers
  • 76% self-service deflection rate

Zendesk also includes a native cloud-based voice solution that works out of the box, so customers and agents can start or continue conversations from day one. The software supports toll-free numbers and features an embedded voice call button that lets customers call you through the mobile app or web browser.

Additionally, Zendesk integrates with important social messaging apps—including WhatsApp, Apple Business Chat, and Messenger—opening up even more ways for customers to reach your business. These messaging channels allow for asynchronous and real-time conversations, so interactions can start and stop seamlessly, on any channel, with any agent. This can boost customer satisfaction and, in turn, strengthen customer loyalty.

HubSpot has a limited number of native channels, making it difficult for customers to get support. HubSpot does not natively support frequently used social channels, like Line and Apple Business Chat, and lacks native SMS support. Additionally, HubSpot’s native voice solution is one of its lowest-rated features.

HubSpot also lacks a true omnichannel workspace for agents. Conversations with one customer across multiple channels are not consolidated into one thread. This means multiple conversations are spread across HubSpot’s agent workspace, resulting in increased resolution times. Some users report difficulty keeping track of cases, with conversation threads becoming mixed in the system.

Self-service and knowledge management

Self-service and knowledge management tools can enhance the customer and employee experience. With self-service resources, customers have the freedom to help themselves and resolve issues on their own. Effective knowledge management means keeping content fresh and well-organized, so customers and agents can easily find the information they need.

Zendesk offers robust self-service resources like chatbots, which provide 24/7 support by offering quick answers to FAQs or surfacing help center articles for customers. Additionally, Zendesk features knowledge management tools to help agents create and update content. These include:

  1. Content Cues is an AI-powered tool that identifies opportunities to make improvements by reviewing support tickets and existing articles. In addition to flagging content gaps, underperforming content, and outdated content in your knowledge base, it finds patterns and trending topics so you can make products, experiences, and operations better.
  2. Content blocks are segments of text—like a helpful paragraph, a bulleted list of policies, or a disclaimer sentence—that can be used in multiple articles across your help center. When updates to the copy are made in a single place, the changes occur wherever that content block lives. This eliminates the need to manually update individual articles, saving agents time and increasing efficiency.
  3. Team Publishing is a tool that streamlines the process of managing, collaborating on, and refreshing content. When content needs to be updated or created, you can assign the appropriate team member—like a writer, editor, or reviewer—who gets an automated email notification. Once each task is complete, the next team member can be tagged, seamlessly moving the article through the process.

HubSpot, on the other hand, delivers a basic knowledge base without cues to help support teams keep content fresh. HubSpot has just two levels of categorization—compared to six levels in Zendesk—so it’s more difficult to organize your content and surface the right information quickly. And HubSpot offers only half the number of languages for help center translations that Zendesk does.

AI and automation

As businesses continue to see the growing benefits of AI in customer service, it’s smart to implement AI and automation sooner rather than later.

Zendesk is at the forefront of implementing AI and automation, using the technology in innovative ways. In our Agent Workspace, you can access intelligence in the context panel, which provides key context about tickets and suggested replies to help agents handle customer interactions. Zendesk also uses skills-based routing and intelligent triage to efficiently direct tickets where they need to go, simplifying agent workflows.

Zendesk AI delivers an advanced bot already pre-trained in the most common customer service issues, saving you hours in manual setup and configuration. It can detect customer sentiment, intent, and language to handle the interaction more accurately. It also understands when a conversation requires a human touch and can seamlessly transfer the customer—and all the helpful context—to an agent.

HubSpot dabbles lightly in AI and machine learning, mostly focusing on conversational AI. But the AI tools, Content Assistant and ChatSpot, are not purpose-built for the customer service use case.

Like the name implies, Content Assistant allows teams to use AI to generate content. ChatSpot takes a page from the ChatGPT playbook in an effort to help marketing, sales, and customer service teams improve productivity. It can recognize commands to help automate common tasks, but the bots and chat flows use simple logic and forms to route customers to teams.

Case and ticket management

Managing customer issues and inquiries is crucial, no matter the size of your business. You need a platform that helps you organize and track tickets throughout their lifecycle.

With Zendesk, you get a platform with case and ticket management tools that empower your team to meet and exceed customer expectations. Our omnichannel agent workspace surfaces key customer info, conversation details, and tools in a single interface, so your team can provide a personalized experience. Built-in routing and intelligence get tickets to the best-suited agent quickly, with the right customer context included.

HubSpot’s support platform is not as robust when it comes to ticket management. Some users report a difficult experience with the ticketing system, describing it as "clunky to use," which prevents them from tracking and managing tickets efficiently.

Another major differentiator between HubSpot and Zendesk lies within service level agreements (SLAs). Both Zendesk and HubSpot enable the creation of SLAs, but HubSpot has limited rules and reporting.

Additionally, Zendesk has group SLA policies called operational level agreements (OLAs). OLAs allow businesses to set targets and expectations for groups working on tickets. HubSpot does not offer OLAs.

Here are other areas where HubSpot falls short:

  • No actions available for automated collaboration, like field updates or side conversations
  • No skills-based routing assignment
  • No problem-incident linking
  • Limited automation for agents (task reminders only)
  • Agent collaboration isn’t organized, threaded, reportable, or tracked

Integrations

Integrations allow you to expand the capabilities of your platform and streamline your data for personalized support and more efficient agents. Choosing a customer support solution with many integration options can help you tailor your setup to completely fulfill your business needs.

Zendesk is a highly customizable platform that integrates with many popular apps that improve the customer experience. With more than 1,300 pre-built apps and integrations in the Zendesk App Marketplace, Zendesk can enhance your collaboration tools, communication channels, and functionality by integrating with third-party API connectors. Some examples include marketing and CRM software like Salesforce, Zoho, ActiveCampaign, Adobe Marketo Engage, Iterable, and Klaviyo.

Zendesk even syncs seamlessly with HubSpot. This bidirectional integration lets you see ticket information associated with Zendesk customers and current CSAT in your HubSpot interface, improving the customer experience.

HubSpot offers a limited number of apps purpose-built for customer service. Users are also unable to add individual permissions to apps, so they can’t prevent unintended access to certain information. Additionally, the ticketing workspace doesn't display integrated apps, which means agents need to leave their workspace to use them, impacting productivity and efficiency.

Reporting and analytics

Reporting and analytics tools are essential for gathering insights, identifying trends, and discovering where you can improve as a business.

Zendesk boasts a native reporting and analytics tool with pre-built dashboards that integrate and display data from across channels. The reports are based on industry standards, so you can start crunching numbers immediately. Low-code, point-and-click configuration makes customizing reports a sinch, so you can create a personalized view of the most beneficial metrics.

HubSpot offers a basic set of reporting and analytics tools, with only five service analytics reports and dashboards. The software has canned reporting, metrics, and dashboards with no custom drill-in or custom correlation.

Ease of use

No one wants an overly complicated platform with a sharp learning curve. When agents can quickly grasp how to use software, the smooth transition adds a ton of value by saving time and money.

Because Zendesk focuses on customer support, we deeply understand the tools that agents need to offer help efficiently. Zendesk creates a frictionless agent experience with an intuitive interface, so agents can spend less time thinking about navigation and searching for information and more time focusing on customers. Plus, Zendesk is simple to set up and has copious out-of-the-box features, which means teams can use it from day one.

A unified omnichannel workspace also gives agents access to customer information, intelligence in the context panel, fresh and relevant knowledge base content, conversation history, integrations, and apps in a single place. Agents can seamlessly switch between channel types in one place, enabling them to respond to customers quickly and efficiently.

HubSpot was not built specifically for the customer or agent experience. As previously mentioned, the lack of an omnichannel workspace makes it difficult to manage multiple conversations simultaneously. Collaborating on requests is also challenging, as agents must toggle between systems and apps to loop in other departments.

Pricing plans: HubSpot Service Hub vs. Zendesk

Compare the pricing plans of HubSpot vs. Zendesk.

Zendesk vs. HubSpot Service Hub: Pricing plans

Zendesk
HubSpot Service Hub
  • Support Team: $19 per agent/month
  • Support Professional: $55 per agent/month
  • Support Enterprise: $115 per agent/month
  • Free: $0/month (for up to 5 users)
  • Starter: $45/month (for up to 2 users)
  • Professional: $450/month (for up to 5 users)
  • Enterprise: $1,200/month (for up to 10 users)
*All plans are billed annually.

Businesses want to see quick returns on their investment. Software with a consistently low total cost of ownership and without a bunch of hidden fees can help you accomplish that goal.

Zendesk offers an agile system that grows with your business, enabling you to pivot and adapt to changing business needs. It sets up fast and has an intuitive interface that’s easy for agents to learn. AI and automation take care of repetitive tasks, meaning more output with the same staff. That results in lower implementation, training, and staffing costs.

HubSpot isn’t built for scale, mostly due to its lack of more advanced features. HubSpot’s scaling customers will quickly outgrow the free software. They will need more advanced capabilities—like multi-brand management and problem-incident linking, which HubSpot doesn't offer—as they mature in customer service operations.

HubSpot limits call hours on each pricing tier and limits productivity tools to license holders. Many important features are only available in the Enterprise plan, including single sign-on, team goals, field-level permissions, custom objects, and admin notifications management.

Customer stories on using Zendesk vs. HubSpot

Don’t just take our word for it. Listen to what these companies had to say about Zendesk vs. HubSpot Service Hub.

RapidG + Zendesk: Streamlining operations and scaling support

Quote from manager at RapidG

When Australian company RapidG started to outgrow its customer service platform, the team began looking for an agile solution that could scale with them. As a supplier of eco-friendly cleaning supplies and cooking and safety equipment for various industries, the company needed to expand its omnichannel support.

The team first tried HubSpot and HubSpot Service Hub as a customer relationship management (CRM) tool and customer service ticketing system. They discovered HubSpot Service Hub lacked critical integrations, and they had issues connecting HubSpot’s ticketing solution to their telephony and email systems. Employees also had to manually key in tickets after calling or responding to customer emails.

After switching to Zendesk, RapidG streamlined its operations, enabling the business to scale and grow. With Zendesk, the company has seen these results:

  • 90% decrease in customer response time
  • 14% decrease in call waiting duration
  • 25% decrease in live chat response time
  • 100% increase in staff engagement

“The layout was incredible, and we had custom forms, macros, and special rules with notifications set up,” says Brendan Cappello, managing director at RapidG. “Staff engagement has gone from 7 percent on our previous platform to 100 percent with Zendesk.”

Learnsignal + Zendesk: Delivering a reliable, seamless CX

Digital-first, subscription-based education platform Learnsignal makes it easy for working professionals to earn professional credentials. Learnsignal gives subscribers 24/7 access to online classes, podcasts, tutorials, and expert tutors to conveniently learn at their own pace.

As subscribers surpassed 100,000 in 130 countries, Learnsignal needed an agile system to support its growth. The team tried several customer service software options, but they weren’t reliable, they lacked advanced features, and they couldn’t enable seamless, omnichannel communication between students and tutors. Enter Zendesk.

“We went from the decision to move platforms to having our first conversation on Zendesk in three to four weeks,” says Alan Lynch, head of education and customer services at Learnsignal. “We had to do something quickly and we needed something that would plug and play effectively.”

The transition to Zendesk was completed in just two weeks, and the Learnsignal team began seeing immediate results:

  • Increased CSAT score to 94%
  • Increased mobile users to 70%
  • Increased the number of students by 5,000

Frequently asked questions

Ready to try Zendesk?

Begin building your dream team by switching to Zendesk, a trusted leader in CX. Our agile, scalable platform with a low total cost of ownership puts you on the fast track to a high ROI, while our advanced service capabilities enable your team to deliver exceptional support. Try Zendesk for free and start dunking on the competition from day one.

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