Zendesk vs Salesforce
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Whether you’re choosing a customer service solution or are moving on from Salesforce, Zendesk has the tools you need to increase agility and reduce your total cost of ownership while not compromising on the 360 view of the customer. Learn how these two services compare in this Zendesk vs Salesforce matchup.
Zendesk vs Salesforce: Which is better?
Zendesk and Salesforce are some of the most popular names in customer service , but there’s a reason why industry leaders prefer Zendesk. Thanks to the faster speed with which companies can get up and running and the lower total cost of ownership (TCO), Zendesk is a trusted partner for delivering the best customer experience possible.
Jump to the most relevant information on Zendesk vs Salesforce through the table of contents below:
- At a glance comparison: Zendesk vs Salesforce
- Features comparison: Zendesk vs Salesforce
- Pricing plans: Salesforce vs Zendesk
- Customer stories: What customers are saying about using Zendesk vs Salesforce Service Cloud
- Ready to try Zendesk?
- Frequently asked questions
At-a-glance comparison: Zendesk vs Salesforce
|Fast deployment||Ready out of the box||Must be built from scratch|
|Agent experience||Build ticket workflows, easily view conversations, and promote collaboration—all in a unified place||Agents work in separate systems|
|Total cost of ownership||Low TCO with intuitive point-and-click configuration and easy customization options||High TCO that requires expensive technical resources and partnerships|
|Architecture||Modern architecture that enables innovation||Legacy, proprietary platform that is difficult to adapt and change|
|Strategic partnership||Built-in, tailored success resources help companies adopt CX best practices||Success resources cost extra and have a broad focus|
|Omnichannel conversations||Natively supports seamless conversations across channels like voice, chat, messaging, and social media||Requires third-party vendors for voice|
Features comparison: Zendesk vs Salesforce
1. Ongoing agility
Zendesk provides out-of-the-box services built around customer service best practices, meaning customers can hit the ground running. Zendesk has extensive documentation and easy-to-follow guides. Zendesk also delivers responsive support to organizations so they can make the changes they need to their platform when they need to make them.
Salesforce places the responsibility on its customers to build core customer service capabilities. That requires significant IT support to produce similar results as Zendesk, but at a greater cost in both time and money.
2. Agent experience
Customer service agents juggle many responsibilities, and their platform should give them an extra hand—or two. Zendesk improves the agent experience by making project management easier by setting up side conversations, building ticket management workflows, and facilitating team collaboration all in one place.
Agents benefit from a user-friendly interface, so they are able to devote more time to customer communication and improving workflows instead of navigating between different systems to find answers. Due to Salesforce being a highly technical platform, agents need to be reasonably skilled in setting up software to configure it. If they aren’t, you may need to hire a consultant to optimize the platform.
3. Total cost of ownership
Zendesk has all the key features of a great customer service experience ready from day one. Customers benefit from self-service portals, secure data storage, advanced support, and extensive knowledge bases that are already factored into the cost of their plans. Customers won’t feel ambushed with hidden fees or charges. They receive accurate pricing that fits the size of their company.
The entry-level Salesforce Service Cloud plan only provides users with knowledge and case management tools. Its next plan adds app integration, computer telephony integration, and contract management, but removes knowledge management. You would need to subscribe to the top plan to receive all these features.
4. Modern tools
Zendesk prioritizes innovation, so the SaaS it provides comes streamlined with modern functionality. It cuts out the baggage found in common legacy systems that can slow down performance or impede progress. Teams can build a help desk or community forum to relieve some of the burden from the ticketing system.
Salesforce has its own tools, like Einstein AI, to improve automations. While Salesforce Service Cloud is highly customizable, creating a product that fits the user is labor-intensive and may slow progress.
5. Strategic partnership
Part of what makes Zendesk the preferred help desk software for thousands of businesses is its commitment to a deep and long-term partnership with its customers. Zendesk offers resources on customer support best practices and ready-to-use templates so even small businesses can create best-in-class customer experiences.
Salesforce doesn’t offer these same support or training tools. Its primary focus is sales, so customer support guidance tends to take a backseat. If customer support is one of your goals, you’ll likely need to seek out other sources of knowledge.
6. Omnichannel conversation management
Zendesk understands the importance of a business being able to reach customers anywhere. To help, Zendesk gives team members the option of messaging, live chat, chatbots, social media, email, voice, or self-service right out of the box.
In comparison, Salesforce requires telephony integrations and add-ons for chat and automation. That means you should factor added costs on top of the base prices of Salesforce into your operations.
Zendesk AI models are purpose-built for CX, and come pre-trained based on our own customer service data. Unlike most solutions on the market, Zendesk AI is also quick and easy to implement. Businesses get robust AI capabilities–agent assistance and productivity tools, intelligent workflows, machine learning predictions, and advanced bots–all from one platform, and ready to go from day one. This saves teams’ time, money, and resources.
Salesforce AI is not ready out of the box and doesn’t come with pre-trained AI models specific to CX. As a result, it tends to demand a high level of technical skill or developer support to execute. This makes it challenging to realize value quickly.
Zendesk aims to provide you everything your team needs to succeed, but if there’s something your business can’t live without, Zendesk has you covered. Choose from over 1,000 integrations to give your support team complete control over customer experience. There are even multiple integrations with Salesforce.
Being one of the largest software providers on the market, Salesforce offers a wide range of integrations, too. The difference is that many of these integrations are required if you’re looking for features like automation or phone and chat support. This puts the responsibility—and the tab—for improving functionality on the customer.
Zendesk and Salesforce integration
Sometimes, the right choice between Zendesk and Salesforce is both. The service-first approach of Zendesk complements the CRM focus of Salesforce to give users a holistic relationship with their customers. You can easily integrate Salesforce with Zendesk out of the box. It’s such a common goal for Zendesk customers that there’s a Salesforce integration guide to get it done quickly.
Pricing plans: Salesforce vs Zendesk
|Licensing + add-ons||Plans starting from $19 up to $249||Plans starting from $25 up to $300|
Add-ons (excluding Unlimited plan):
|Implementation options and timeframe||
Zendesk professional services
Salesforce professional services (rarely)
|On average, 3-6 month implementation timeframe||On average, 6-12 month implementation timeframe|
|Dedicated administration/maintenance resources||⅓ to 2 full-time administrators||1 to 6 full-time administrators, developers and architects|
Delivering top-tier customer experiences comes with a price tag, but those numbers can be deceiving. It’s not as simple as comparing one to one since what you get for your money isn’t identical.
Businesses that use Zendesk benefit from a lower total cost of ownership thanks to comprehensive pricing that fits organizations of all sizes. On top of that, Zendesk customers see significant savings resulting from their lowered administration requirements. Companies save $250,000 per year on average just on licensing fees.
Compare that to Salesforce, which charges additional fees for things like self-service engagement. It also requires specially-trained administrators to build and maintain your service solution, which results in additional costs—and often frustrating delays.
Zendesk has point-and-click configurations that can make even complex changes happen fast, so your team doesn’t miss a beat.
Customer stories: What are customers saying about using Zendesk vs Salesforce Service Cloud?
Don’t just take our word for it. Look at the success these customers have achieved after switching to Zendesk.
Limeade: Agile operations, scalable growth
Limeade is an employee well-being company that operates in over 100 countries. It has over 2 million users and implemented Zendesk in just three weeks. Since then, Limeade has seen a 30-percent decrease in first response time and a 35-percent decrease in technical ticket resolution time.
Limeade tried Salesforce before migrating to Zendesk but struggled with its complex interface. Limeade needed to spot trends to improve their customer experience, and they just weren’t getting that from Salesforce’s limited metrics. Zendesk allowed Limeade to innovate on its own terms to keep pace with the rest of its business.
“One of the reasons that Zendesk was so appealing was the fact that it connects to a lot of other systems…it was crucial that we had the capability to be able to grow with other services.”-Ryan Putnam, Director of Customer Operations at Limeade
Foundant: Facilitating a unified view of the customer
Foundant Technologies provides application software to philanthropic organizations. Since it started using Zendesk in 2021, the Foundant team found that it could handle a 12-percent increase in monthly tickets—all while increasing its CSAT score by 10 points.
Zendesk’s unified system and view was key for Foundant. Though they believe Salesforce can be an effective tool, agents still had to switch between different channels and systems. Foundant was impressed with how easily Zendesk could integrate with existing solutions (like Salesforce) while streamlining their communication channels.
“The Salesforce integration in Zendesk has made it easier for the renewals team to access the client case history and see all the details in one place.”Jake Sharp, Senior Manager of Support Delivery at Foundant
Ideagen: Integrating new businesses at light speed
Ideagen offers software solutions to highly regulated industries like aviation, finance, and healthcare. As the company grew, it needed a support solution that could immediately streamline their existing workflows and processes. After adopting Zendesk, their new system went live in just nine weeks. That includes the time it took for migration and the training of 55 people. Since then, Ideagen’s CSAT improved by 20-percent, with a 25-percent increase in SLA adherence.
With no fewer than 20 products, Ideagen needs a platform capable of scaling and adapting quickly to change—all the while integrating seamlessly with their Salesforce hub. Zendesk emerged as the best solution and helped the team stay agile by turning data into actionable insights.
“Our business undertakes change every 6 months. Zendesk lets us adapt and integrate as things change.”Dave Stott, Head of Customer Experience and Support at Ideagen
Ready to try Zendesk?
If you’re still debating between Zendesk vs Salesforce, consider trying Zendesk for free and see for yourself. Zendesk has multiple integrations with existing services, including Salesforce. Your transition may be easier than you think, and the results can be significant.
Frequently asked questions
Here’s additional information on Zendesk vs Salesforce to address any lingering questions you may have.
Is Zendesk scalable as compared to Salesforce?
Zendesk is a scalable solution that works for businesses of all sizes, from startups to large enterprises. Thanks to its intuitive nature, large teams of technical admins aren’t needed. Companies like Uber, Instacart, Shopify, and thousands more have scaled with Zendesk to meet their growing needs. The open, modern, and flexible Zendesk solution makes implementing changes, new features, and workflows as simple as point and click.
Does Zendesk offer a 360-degree view as compared to Salesforce?
Zendesk can provide a 360 customer view without vendor lock-in. Zendesk integrates with key technology solutions, including Salesforce Sales Cloud, with a range of options that require no-code or coding-based middleware solutions. Over 2,500 companies integrate Zendesk and Salesforce, including Shopify, Logitech, Nextroll, and Peloton.
Does Salesforce offer a cheaper license cost as compared to Zendesk?
Zendesk offers a lower total cost of ownership when accounting for the hidden costs included with Salesforce. Unlike Zendesk, Salesforce charges additional license costs for chat and messaging, charges based on customer self-service engagement, and is limited to expensive third-party implementations.
Salesforce also requires costly technical resources to make simple changes to the solution. Because Zendesk comes pre-built with operational best practices, configuring the same capabilities with Zendesk only requires a point-and-click setup.
Which software offers better customer service and support—Zendesk or Salesforce?
Zendesk is the proven expert in providing the best customer experiences—and our own customers are no exception…We aim to be a long-term strategic partner, offering best-in-class resources and insights that help our customers boost their CSAT scores after switching from Salesforce to Zendesk.