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Zendesk vs. Intercom: A comparison for 2024

AI is the new standard for customer service. Choose advanced AI from the CX experts: Zendesk.

Why Zendesk is the best alternative to Intercom

Last updated April 24, 2024

Customer expectations are already high, but with the rise of AI, customers are expecting even more. Customers want speed, anticipation, and a hyper-personalized experience conveniently on their channel of choice. Intelligence has become key to delivering the kinds of experiences customers expect at a lower operational cost. As more organizations adopt AI, it will be critical to choose a data model that aligns with how your business operates. Customer experience will be no exception, and AI models that are purpose-built for CX lead to better results at scale.

Both Zendesk and Intercom offer customer service software with AI capabilities—however, they are not created equal. Zendesk AI was modeled on the world’s largest CX-specific dataset. With Zendesk, you get next-level AI-powered support software that's intuitively designed, scalable, and cost-effective. Don’t settle for second best. Compare Zendesk vs. Intercom and future-proof your business with reliable, easy-to-use software.

Three icons show reasons why businesses choose Zendesk vs. Intercom, including an intuitive design, scalability, and low TCO.

Intuitive design

Zendesk is designed with the agent in mind, delivering a modern, intuitive experience. The customizable Zendesk Agent Workspace enables reps to work within a single browser tab with one-click navigation across any channel. Intercom, on the other hand, can be a complicated system, creating a steep learning curve for new users.

Greater scalability

Zendesk is built to grow alongside your business, resulting in less downtime, better cost savings, and the stability needed to provide exceptional customer support. Many customers start using Zendesk as small or mid-sized businesses (SMBs) and continue to use our software as they scale their operations, hire more staff, and serve more customers. Our robust, no-code integrations enable you to adapt our software to new and growing use cases. Compared to Zendesk, Intercom offers few integrations, which may hinder its scalability.

Low total cost of ownership

Zendesk is simple to set up, customize, and maintain. As a result, customers can implement the help desk software quickly—without the need for developers—and see a faster return on investment. Plus, our transparent pricing doesn’t have hidden fees or endless add-ons, so customers know exactly what they're paying for and can calculate the total cost of ownership ahead of time. In comparison, Intercom’s confusing pricing structure that features multiple add-ons may be unsuitable for small businesses.

More in this guide:

At-a-glance comparison: Zendesk vs. Intercom

It’s easy to see how Zendesk excels over Intercom. Check out our chart that compares the capabilities of Zendesk vs. Intercom.

What you need to deliver the best CXZendesk
Native unified omnichannel workspace
Paid add-ons for critical channels such as WhatsApp
Robust integrations
Security and compliance
Reporting and analytics
AI built for CX

Intercom vs. Zendesk: Key capabilities

Let’s dig into the nitty gritty of Intercom versus Zendesk and see what makes Zendesk a better product for CX.

Native unified omnichannel workspace

A screenshot shows the unified omnichannel workspace from Zendesk.

Learn more about the Zendesk Agent Workspace.

Zendesk gives agents a unified omnichannel workspace with an intelligent ticketing system and embedded call center software. This single interface allows support agents to manage emails, SMS, phone calls, live chat, in-app messaging, and social messaging interactions seamlessly from one place.

Intercom primarily focuses on messaging but offers limited channel breadth compared to Zendesk, requiring paid add-ons for critical channels like WhatsApp.

Robust integrations

The Zendesk Marketplace offers over 1,500 no-code apps and integrations. Our software is trusted by over 160,000 customers who have successfully integrated key technologies such as Salesforce, Jira, Shopify, Slack, and Microsoft Teams, backed by reliable APIs and proven custom integration references.

Intercom offers just over 450 integrations, which can make it less cost-effective and more complex to customize the software and adapt to new use cases as you scale. The platform also lacks transparency in displaying reviews, install counts, and purpose-built customer service integrations.

A screenshot depicts the Zendesk logo surrounded by the logos of popular apps available in the Zendesk Marketplace.

Explore our plug-and-play integrations in the Zendesk Marketplace.

Security and compliance

A screenshot shows a few data security and compliance icons prioritized by Zendesk.

See how Zendesk prioritizes data security and compliance.

Zendesk provides comprehensive security and compliance features, ensuring customer data privacy. This includes secure login options like SAML or JWT SSO (single sign-on) and native content redaction for sensitive information. We also adhere to numerous industry standards and regulations, such as HIPAA, SOC2, ISO 27001, HDS, FedRAMP LI-SaaS, ISO 27018, and ISO 27701.

Intercom doesn’t offer native content redaction for sensitive information or offer device access restrictions. It reserves SSO and identity management for its highest-tier pricing as gated add-ons.

Reporting and analytics

Zendesk boasts robust reporting and analytics tools, plus a dedicated workforce management system. With custom correlation and attribution, you can dive deep into the root cause behind your metrics. We also provide real-time and historical reporting dashboards so you can take action at the moment and learn from past trends. Meanwhile, our WFM software enables businesses to analyze employee metrics and performance, helping them identify improvements, implement strategies, and set long-term goals.

Intercom offers reporting and analytics tools with limited capabilities for custom reporting, user behavior metrics, and advanced visualization. It also lacks advanced features like collaboration reporting, custom metrics, metric correlation, and drill-in attribution. Intercom does not have a dedicated workforce management solution, either.

A screenshot from the Zendesk reporting dashboard shows a line graph for tickets created by channel.

Learn more about robust reporting and analytics from Zendesk.

AI and automation

A screenshot shows the macro suggestions feature, an AI-powered tool offered by Zendesk.

Experience intelligent CX with Zendesk AI.

Zendesk AI is the intelligence layer that infuses CX intelligence into every step of the customer journey. In addition to being pre-trained on billions of real support interactions, our AI powers bots, agent and admin assist, and intelligent workflows that lead to 83 percent lower administrative costs. Customers have also noted that they can implement Zendesk AI five times faster than other solutions.

Intercom also uses AI and features a chatbot called Fin, but negative reviews note basic reporting and a lack of customization. Fin is priced at $0.99 per resolution, so companies handling large volumes of queries might find it costly. In comparison, Zendesk customers pay a fixed price of $50 per agent—and only Zendesk AI is modeled on the world’s largest CX-specific dataset.

Why customers choose Zendesk over Intercom

Icons display the awards Zendesk received for being voted the best software in three categories.

With over 160,000 customers across all industries and regions, Zendesk has the CX expertise to provide you with best practices and thought leadership to increase your overall value. But don’t just take our word for it—listen to what customers say about why they picked Zendesk.


An illustration of a person picking an apple shows how Reprise benefits from using Zendesk for customer service.

“There were a lot of shortcomings with the previous solution, Intercom. We couldn’t get the full messaging history or properly track different ticket queues—things that were super important to us. We sorely needed the ability to create a better help center and documentation. So we chose Zendesk and haven’t looked back.

—Paul Vidal, VP of customer success at Reprise


An illustration of a person sitting and wearing headphones shares how Novo benefits from using Zendesk ticketing systems.

“We built an agent view into our database directly in Zendesk, so they no longer have to switch off Zendesk to log into our database to view customer attributes. In the moment, it saves a couple of seconds, but over thousands of tickets? That saves hours. That alone has been one of the most impactful things.”

—Brian Kale, head of customer success at Novo


An illustration of two people lounging in the grass shows how Bitly benefits from using Zendesk for customer support.

“We saw a real improvement in the agent’s ability to iterate on their workflows and an increase in the number of one-touch tickets that could be solved with macros. We became much more efficient and successful on Zendesk.

—Brad Harris, global customer support director at Bitly

Frequently asked questions

Ready to try Zendesk?

Unlike Intercom, Zendesk is scalable, intuitively designed for CX, and offers a low total cost of ownership. Businesses of all sizes can rely on our customer experience solution to enhance their CX with a unified omnichannel workspace, extensive integrations, top-notch security and compliance, robust reporting and analytics tools, and advanced AI and automation. Try Zendesk for free and experience it for yourself.

Zendesk vs. the rest: Compare the software

See how Zendesk outshines Intercom