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The 10 best Zendesk alternatives that you can get for free!

By August 16th, 2023No Comments

Zendesk is the most popular help desk solution based on market share. It’s also one of the most feature-rich.  Still, Zendesk is not necessarily the best help desk solution for every company. Before you decide to pay a premium for a comprehensive software solution, you should see which Zendesk alternatives are on the market. But you might be wondering, what goes into Zendesk’s pricing and how is it that the free options can work just as well.

Understanding Zendesk’s Price.

Three things tend to influence the price of a product as it evolves:

1. Pricing tiers

As a product’s user base grows, its features start to encompass a wide array of use cases, which the company then monetizes.

In the case of Zendesk, there are various pricing tiers based on things like the type of add-ons and the size of the company buying the product.

2. More product features

Products tend to acquire more and more features over time. Still, some may just be “nice to have” that don’t add value, resulting in the much-dreaded feature bloat.

Regardless, the complexity of a product is reflected in its price.

3. Price increases

A complex product suite is going to require more support services from the company for the customer to use it successfully. This and other additional costs from maintaining new product features are passed on to the customer.  

Zendesk is no stranger to increasing prices, which caused a lot of resistance from its customers. Just see what happened during the Zendesk price hike of 2010.

zendesk alternatives

? Bonus things to consider

Before you delve into all of the options, here are some additional things to consider when you’re making a decision.

1. Convenience

There is an element of speed and ease to consider when making decisions. Some of the tools listed will mean team onboarding, and even self-hosting applications, whereas others are as simple as having a simple Help Desk directly inside Gmail so no extra work (if you’re a Google Workspace/Gmail user). 

2. Comprehensive ‘Help Desk’ or Simple ‘Shared Inbox’

There are two schools of thought. One is more traditional and is the thorough Help Desk solution such as Zendesk. The other is a more lightweight solution such as Drag which is simply a shared inbox that serves the same purpose. 

The features Zendesk alternatives must have.

Naturally, there is a core set of features every helpdesk solution must bring. Beyond that, many times, it’s just a matter of building complexity – and increasing prices – on a standard product. Basically, if companies are looking for a Helpdesk solution, they probably need:

  • The visual look of the whole process and tickets
  • Shared view and collaboration for customer support teams to work together
  • Delegation and assignment of tickets to agents, from end to end, in real-time
  • Automation of the process – templates, for example – making it easy to reply to customers
  • KPI tracking such as time to response or service rating

For most simple and small teams, as long as you have these features, it’s all fine. Apart from that, there are some non-feature related value propositionS that may have a fundamental role in the decision-making for companies when choosing a Helpdesk solution. For example:

  • Time invested to learn and implement
  • Ease to use a new solution
  • Competitive pricing points
  • UI/UX interface
  • Trust in the brand

Zendesk free alternatives you must try.

Since Zendesk can be pricey, it’s good to have some options that offer the same features as it does, but for much less. Take a look at some free alternatives to Zendesk that we have found, that surely will surprise you.

Drag: the best free Zendesk alternative for Gmail users

We are simply the most intuitive of all the free Zendesk alternatives. Drag is a shared inbox that works straight from the Gmail inbox, which means it doesn’t require a separate account or login.

Drag’s Kanban view converts emails from your help desk into cards, which is great for when emails are also tasks. Team members can drag and drop these cards to arrange them in order of priority and status.

free Zendesk alternative
You can also have some other features, such as:

  • Ticket delegation, when you need to delegate tickets to other teammates
  • Internal notes to write down every piece of information you need about a ticket
  • User roles and permissions to define what users are or are not allowed to do
  • Workflow automation to put repetitive tasks on autopilot.
  • Team reports and analytics to understand how your support team is performing
  • Integration with 5,000+ apps via Zapier

You can start using Drag for free. And did I mention that Drag isn’t just a help desk solution? You can also use it as a CRM, a project manager, and of course, as a shared inbox.


freshdesk - zendesk alternativeFreshdesk differentiates itself from Zendesk by making the customer success workflow more collaboration-driven. They have a huge concern about sounding too robotic. Agents can chat with each other while working on problems so that there are fewer collisions and better sharing of knowledge.

They also allow peers with different knowledge to gather in the same conversation, avoiding restarting tickets.

Freshdesk also starts with a free plan, which is great to try them out and buy them later — in case their software works better for you.

C Desk

C Desk is a Help Desk solution, originally positioned as an IT solution, they now extend their offering to ‘everyone within an organization’.

It also offers asset management, a vendor service portal, and more unique features such as forms, surveys, and photo galleries.

Zoho Desk

zendesk alternativeZoho Desk calls itself the first “context-aware” help desk solution. The software presents customer issues against the backdrop of prior activities. Managers also can monitor broad trends such as happiness ratings and negative feedback.

Zoho Desk is free for up to 3 seats.


Odoo positions itself as a family of apps (similar to Freshdesk listed above). It’s an open-source development model that enabled thousands of developers to build out their product providing ‘top-notch usability that scales across all apps.’

One app is free. For additional apps, they offer a user/month pricing model.


Hesk is a self-hosted solution and has had over 820,000 downloads to date. Their primary focus is as a Help Desk with asset management, tools, and a marketplace to support their core offering.

Their self-hosted version is free, with cloud-hosted versions costing $300 / year.

Jira Service Desk

Jira is an extremely large company (backed by Atlassian who are the makers behind Trello). It was originally built in 2013 after other software was adapted to try and meet the needs of what Jira Service Desk now does.

It is free for up to 3 users.


hubspot shared inboxes

Hubspot is a full suite of products from sales and marketing through to operations and CMS hub.

With HubSpot’s Help Desk, you can record, organize, and track customer issues in one dashboard.

Pricing starts from free for their free tools with the view to then expand into other paid products.

Live Agent

Live Agent is an established tool that is exclusively used as a Help Desk for customer support. It encompasses a knowledge base, live chat, and call center in its offering.

It offers a free, limited version of its tool.


Spiceworks Help Desk is a stand-alone help desk for teams. It appeals to both small businesses and enterprises.


Zendesk has its strengths, but do you need all of its features? There are many alternatives to Zendesk on the market offering core help desk features, and some of them are even free of charge.

To make the right decision, you first have to understand your needs based on your team size, workflow, and budget, and see which of the options out there match your priorities.  

Lastly, check out Drag for a help desk solution that scales along with your team!

The best Zendesk alternative.

  • 2.5x faster email responses.
  • 20 hours less spent per month, per team member.
  • 40% more deadlines achieved and happier teams.
Try for Free
Samantha Anacleto

Author Samantha Anacleto

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