What Is Intercom?

Intercom is a business messaging platform for building relationships with current and potential customers. It helps you build relationships through conversational experiences across the entire customer journey.

Intercom refers to itself as a Conversational Relationship Platform, providing insight into who is using your products or visiting your website. By learning more about your customers and how to communicate with them, you can create message-based conversations that feel personal, friendly, and convenient.

With over 30,000 clients worldwide and offices in San Francisco, Chicago, London, Dublin, and Sydney, Intercom is a world-class product compatible with any website or web-based application. It provides a one-stop solution for your customer communication needs, with advanced features such as targeted content, behavior-driven messaging, and predictive responses.

Intercom was founded four years after their major competitor Zendesk. In comparison, Intercom has marketed itself as a messaging platform as opposed to a full CRM solution.

What Is Zendesk?

Zendesk was released in 2007, starting off as a support ticket tool for customer service teams. Since then, it has evolved into a complete customer relationship management (CRM) solution focused on streamlining and improving communication.

They accomplished this by adding different tools to their software bundle, now known as the Zendesk Support Suite. Their most major development was acquiring the live chat platform Zopim, which was rebranded as Zendesk Chat. Since then, they have expanded their line to include products such as Zendesk Sell, Talk, and Sunshine Conversations.

Zendesk Support Suite now consists of seven unique products for customer support. They range from standalone communication tools to a fully-featured CRM platform. Zendesk’s security features and sales capabilities are known as some of the most advanced in the industry.

Both older and larger than Intercom, Zendesk has over 150,000 customer accounts in 160 countries and territories. They also have a worldwide presence with offices in New York, Mexico City, Tokyo, Paris, Singapore, São Paulo, and Dublin.

Zendesk aims to improve customer service for all of its clients, building software that exceeds customer expectations and sets support teams up for success.

Feature Comparison: Intercom Vs. Zendesk

Zendesk’s platform is made up of the following tools:

  • Support Suite - helpdesk tool for support tickets and handling requests via email, live chat, social media, phone calls, and knowledge base
  • Support Foundation - ticketing system for customer requests via email and social media, help center functionality is not included
  • Sales - manages your sales process from email and phone calls, includes a CRM system and pipelines

Intercom offers the following tool packages to choose from:

  • For most businesses
    • Conversational marketing - conversational chatbots, multiple team inboxes, etc.
    • Conversational customer engagement - outbound email, product tours, etc.
    • Conversational support - in-product messaging, ticket workflows, etc.
  • For very small businesses
    • Start - live chat and team inbox
    • Grow - live chat, inbound and outbound emails, knowledge base, and banners
    • Accelerate - live chat, inbound and outbound emails, knowledge base, banners, and custom bots


Zendesk’s core feature remains its ticketing system, and its functionality has remained the best in the industry since its inception. As Zendesk started off solely as a helpdesk and ticketing tool, they have perfected this part of their platform over the years.

The Zendesk dashboard brings together your customer interactions from all channels - whether they’re from email, chat, social media, or phone calls - where agents can solve requests quickly and efficiently. They also offer some advanced features to facilitate collaboration for larger teams, like private notes and the ability to see who’s handling a certain ticket in real-time.

Intercom’s helpdesk is complementary to their chat tools, which remain the core feature of their platform. It consolidates customer requests into one inbox and allows agents to leave private notes for each other. It is well designed and easy to use but lacks the advanced features offered by Zendesk.

Knowledge base

Zendesk’s Guide tool is loaded with useful features. Their intuitive text editor makes it easy to create new articles, organize them into categories, and customize your knowledge base to match your brand.

The Answer Bot tool seamlessly integrates with your knowledge base, delivering automatic suggestions to relevant articles. This saves your customers time when finding solutions and reduces the workload of your support agents.

Intercom’s Help Center is also efficient with comparable features to Zendesk. You can publish knowledge base articles, organize them by category and integrate them into your messenger to streamline your chat experience.

Like Zendesk, Intercom has its own Operator bot, which automatically suggests relevant articles to customers directly from the chat widget. When it comes to developing an optimal knowledge base experience, both Intercom and Zendesk are great options with similar features for your needs.

In-app messaging

While Zendesk offers a wide array of support features, many more than Intercom, there are a couple of major features it lacks that Intercom has. The first is proactive, in-app messaging, and the second is email marketing capabilities.

Proactive, in-app messages are notifications sent to users while using an app on mobile or desktop. It allows businesses to engage users while they’re active in the app, delivering information based on relevant time or behavior triggers. They can be used to share product updates, offer support, or promote offers relevant to their needs.

For example, if a user has been navigating your website for a few minutes, it can trigger an in-app message asking the user if they require assistance. Since the user is spending a considerable amount of time on your site, it is more likely that they will engage with your business and potentially become a customer.

In-app messaging is useful for a variety of reasons, including onboarding new users, converting users from a free trial, and asking users for feedback. If these features are important for your business, you may want to consider Intercom over Zendesk.

Email marketing

Another feature Intercom offers that Zendesk doesn’t is email marketing tools. Email marketing is one of the most effective ways to communicate with your customers.

This is because it can deliver value at every stage of the customer lifecycle, regardless of the nature of your business. Intercom’s email marketing service, especially when combined with their in-app messages and live chat, provides a powerful solution for interacting with your customers.

Once you have added a signup form to your website and started to grow your subscriber list, you can create email campaigns to establish regular communication with your customer base. This can be done through newsletters, onboarding emails, and product setup emails.

While Zendesk can be integrated with third-party email marketing tools like MailChimp, Intercom may be your best bet if regular communication with your customers is a priority.

Virtual call center tool

Zendesk offers its own call center software called Zendesk Talk, which is a virtual call center solution embedded into its ticketing system. It allows agents to provide personalized support using voice over internet (VoIP) technology. 

As a call center solution, Zendesk is quick to set up and easy to manage. Due to its cloud-based nature, your agents can be located anywhere in the world, as long as they have a headset and an Internet connection.

Intercom does not offer a virtual call center tool, so it is unable to handle calls through a cloud-based phone system or calling app on its own. However, you can connect Intercom with over 20 compatible phone and video integrations.

Zendesk is your best bet if you’re looking for a virtual call center solution, and you won’t be disappointed with the fully functional support platform that it offers. But if you’re already using Intercom, then you can use a compatible integration in order to meet your needs.

Real-time analytics

An important feature Zendesk offers that Intercom lacks is more advanced, real-time analytics. These analytics provide recent and relevant data to make better decisions for both your agents and your customers.

Real-time analytics are displayed on a live feed, providing necessary information on your dashboard and broadcasting it to your support agents. This can help your agents determine where they should allocate their time to assist their customers most effectively.

For example, if your agents see there is a spike in call volume or messages coming in from a certain channel, they can direct their attention to where customers need support the most. Those looking for the most advanced real-time analytics for making educated decisions should look to Zendesk for their customer service needs.

Customer reviews

Zendesk and Intercom have very similar ratings on popular websites such as G2 and Capterra. However, Zendesk has a larger customer base than Intercom, which is reflected in the number of reviews for each product.

The most common complaints in Zendesk reviews mention the lack of features at certain price levels, difficulty navigating its interface, and a slow setup period. Intercom reviewers complain about its lack of scalability, the increase in costs as your customer base grows, and challenges accessing a customer service agent when in need of assistance.

Pricing Comparison: Intercom Vs. Zendesk




Free trial

30 days

14 days

Free plan

Not available

Platform tool after trial

Basic subscription

Team plan

Start plan, 1 seat

Growth subscription

Growth plan

Grow plan, 5 seats

Professional subscription

Professional plan

Tailored to each customer

Enterprise subscription

Enterprise plan

Tailored to each customer

Pricing based on


Seats, Contacts

Zendesk’s tools are divided into three tiers:

  • Zendesk Support Suite
  • Zendesk Support Foundation
  • Zendesk Sales

While Zendesk’s pricing may seem confusing at first glance, it’s much easier if you choose to purchase one of their Zendesk Suite plans. These plans include all the features available for email, live chat, voice, and social media support.

The Zendesk Suite plans are divided into four options - Team, Growth, Professional, and Enterprise. They also offer slightly discounted rates if you choose to be billed annually.

Zendesk offers a customer support product called “Zendesk for support” and a complete CRM solution called “Zendesk for sales.” The entry-level tier is a very basic customer support tool, but it does offer features such as dashboard reporting and integrations.

Zendesk for sales starts at an affordable monthly rate, but you’ll have to purchase higher tiers in order to integrate with services like Zapier or HubSpot. Finally, their highest tier offers support for unlimited sales pipelines, advanced reporting, and other premium features.

Intercom’s pricing is much more customized, offering two monthly plans geared to very small businesses. Larger companies will need to book a demo and receive a custom quote for services.

  • Start plan
  • Grow plan
  • For most businesses - book a demo, pricing tailored to teach customer

Unless you are a small business purchasing the Start or Grow plan, it is difficult to estimate how much you will pay for Intercom. However, since they don’t offer a CRM, their pricing is simpler when compared to Zendesk.

Their basic plan offers support for one user, while the team plan works for up to 5 users. If you’re looking for automation, plans can become quite expensive depending on the level of automation you require.

Intercom’s plans can be improved upon with custom add-ons. This allows you to keep the price low by choosing the features that your business will actually use. Add-ons include:

  • Product tours - create interactive, video-based product tours that are easy to make and deliver to your high-value customers
  • Advanced lead generation - support for advanced sales and marketing integrations to grow your pipeline
  • Advanced customer engagement - features for advanced targeting such as A/B testing, notifications, and multi-channel campaigns

Intercom works best if you’re looking for the best messaging option and pricing customization, while Zendesk is the best option if you’re looking for both sales and messaging solutions loaded with advanced features.

While both Zendesk and Intercom are great options for managing your customer service needs, they are missing some important features that will take your support strategy to the next level. These include scalability, conversational insights, and open integrations. That’s where Ada comes in.

Conversational Ai: Help From Ada

Ada’s advanced AI chatbot is a powerful tool capable of automating 70% of customer inquiries, going far beyond the bots offered by both Zendesk and Intercom, which are essentially extensions of their knowledge base functionality.

If you’re looking to automate a portion of your customer success, or interested in leveraging AI to expedite replies to common inquiries, it’s common for companies to leverage Ada on top of either Zendesk or Intercom.

Unlike either Zendesk or Intercom, our team at Ada offers an AI-first approach to improving your customer experience. Ada integrates with Intercom as well as Zendesk and spans a wide range of channels, making it easy for companies of any size to implement.

If you’re curious about how our team at Ada has helped other enterprises automate 80% of their customer success volume, feel free to get in touch.

Customer Support Comparison: Intercom Vs. Zendesk

Both Intercom and Zendesk offer great customer support for their clients. The live chats on both of their websites have support agents that answer very quickly and are right to the point. The Zendesk team tends to respond a little faster depending on the time of day.

Intercom’s chat window states that their team usually replies in a few hours, but they will often respond in a matter of minutes. While Zendesk’s support is also fast, it is only available if you’re already a Zendesk user. If you’re only browsing their website, you will have to send a message to their sales team by entering your email address.

Intercom and Zendesk both have knowledge bases to help you get the most out of their platforms. Zendesk’s knowledge base is easy to navigate, dividing articles into a few main topics so you can find what you’re looking for quickly. There is also a list of common questions at the bottom of the knowledge base homepage so you can easily find answers to common issues.

On the other hand, Intercom’s knowledge base isn’t nearly as intuitive, with articles divided into about 20 topics with dozens of articles for each. This makes navigating through the knowledge base complicated, and it is less likely that you will find a solution quickly.

While Zendesk offers 24/7 support, Intercom only provides support with live agents during business hours. So Zendesk takes the edge when it comes to customer support, but at the end of the day, you will receive great support from either option.

However, if you’re looking for support that goes the extra mile, look no further than Ada. Our customer success team will work directly with your company to provide exceptional support for your customers. We have a track record of delighting industry leaders such as Medium, Upwork, Facebook, and Shopify.

Automation Comparison: Intercom Vs. Zendesk

Zendesk offers powerful automation tools to create better experiences for both your agents and your customers. The two main types of automated workflows in Zendesk are triggers and automations.

While triggers run immediately after a support ticket has been created or updated, automation includes an element of time. These automations save both your agents and customers valuable time and improve the customer experience.

Intercom also offers automation features for streamlining your customer support. Their bots use machine learning to suggest web links, knowledge base articles, and answers to FAQs directly within live chats

This allows customers to resolve their own issues quickly, reducing inbound conversation volume and scaling your team’s support capacity. Both Zendesk and Intercom offer automation features that improve efficiency and reduce your labor costs.

When it comes to automation, Ada can help companies automate up to 80% of their customer inquiries. In fact, Zoom is the world’s fastest-growing company and uses Ada to automate 70% of their sales inquiries via our conversational marketing tool Ada Engage

Chat Comparison: Intercom Vs. Zendesk

Intercom’s live chat widget is modern, smooth, and loaded with advanced features that make them one of the best messaging platforms in the industry. It is also highly customizable, so you can match the look to the style of your brand, product, or website.

The chat automation features available with Intercom are helpful for your support team and help your customer conversations stand out from the crowd. You can also integrate apps like Google Meet or Stripe to create more engaging experiences for your customers.

While Zendesk’s chat widget is rich with features such as shortcuts, automated triggers, and live chat analytics, the default design looks outdated compared to Intercom’s. In addition, if you choose to change the look of the chat widget, the customization options become limited.

If you’re looking for an AI-powered chatbot to be the new front line of your customer experience, Ada has the solution for you. Not only is our AI chatbot highly customizable, but it also improves the customer experience by reducing costs and driving revenue. No coding skills are required, allowing you to set up your chatbot quickly and free up your agents to make a greater impact.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between Intercom and Zendesk?

The main difference between Intercom and Zendesk is that Intercom focuses on personalized, message-based experiences, while Zendesk offers a more robust software solution for all of your customer service needs. Zendesk offers more features than Intercom, but their chat function is not as modern or intuitive as Intercom’s messaging solution. 

Why is Intercom more expensive than Zendesk?

It may appear at first glance that Intercom’s plans are more expensive than Zendesk’s. However, you must take into account that Zendesk’s plans charge per agent per month, while Intercom’s plans are limited to a certain number of seats. In order to determine which solution is more affordable, you will have to determine what features your team needs and how many agents will be providing support.

Which has more integrations, Intercom or Zendesk?

When it comes to software integrations, Zendesk has Intercom beat by a significant margin. Zendesk has been around much longer and has a larger customer base, offering compatibility with over 1,000 apps in 15 categories. While Intercom offers fewer integrations than Zendesk, it is still compatible with many popular apps like Slack, Stripe, Salesforce, and HubSpot.

Which offers more customization, Intercom or Zendesk?

Zendesk offers more customization when it comes to functionality. This is because they offer many paid add-ons that allow you to customize their platform to meet the needs of your business. However, Intercom offers more customization when it comes to appearance and layout, while Zendesk limits chat widget functionality for those not using their default theme.


10 Best Intercom and Zendesk Alternatives 


Target Market: Mid-sized Businesses and Enterprises


        • Impeccably easy to use (no coding required!)  
        • Outstanding AI solutions  
        • Create custom and human-like responses 
        • Interpret inaccuracies, missed words, and spelling mistakes 
        • An administrative platform that provides all the essential data you need to run your business 
        • And so much more!

"Game-Changing, Innovative and Future Proof" are just a few words satisfied clients used to describe Ada's services. 

Ada is an AI-powered chatbot platform based in Toronto, Canada. The company launched its platform last 2016, and as of today, they are one of the most robust AI chatbot software in the industry.

As a first-class service provider, Ada offers their clients impressive features like Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and are Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) compliant. These features demonstrate that Ada is the most flexible platform available, especially for SMEs or eCommerce businesses, at a fraction of the cost. 

Massive enterprises like Meta, Square, Zoom, and other global industry leaders trust Ada to automate their interactions. Ada's services have helped improve the customer satisfaction rate of their clients. They provide advanced AI solutions to help companies manage complex internal issues more efficiently than other industry leaders. 

Ada also allows its consumers to leverage their services over mobile SMS, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Apple Business Chat, and more platforms. Furthermore, there are over 100 languages available within the platform, so language barriers will never be a problem with this customer messaging software. 


Pricing: $16-$149 per agent / per month 

Target Market: Small to Mid-Sized Businesses 


        • Email management 
        • Alerts/Escalation 
        • Customer support 
        • Knowledge management 
        • Geotargeting 

LiveChat is an online chat software that allows customer service representatives to communicate with customers through their website or selected messaging apps. LiveChat makes it easy for companies to manage, customize, and rebrand their platform

The creators of LiveChat said that they specifically designed this bot to provide fantastic customer service for a price that anyone can afford. It integrates with over 100 SaaS solutions and services thousands of businesses all over the world. The LiveChat platform handles hundreds of millions of chats each year—hence why LiveChat is one of the top providers of customer service solutions today. 

LiveChat is a straightforward chatbot that integrates into a website, similar to Intercom. Next to Ada, LiveChat is also a powerful customer messaging software that satisfies modern companies' communication needs. It is accessible for representatives using web browsers, selected applications for Windows, Android, Mac OS X, and any mobile devices running iOS. 


Price: $0-$1,500 per agent / per month 

Target Market: Mid-sized Businesses and Enterprises 


        • Drift widget 
        • Chat routing
        • Data reporting and tracking user data 
        • Customized playbooks 
        • Mobile friendly 

Drift is a chat platform and an efficient sales tool. Its primary purposes are to help companies generate and qualify leads, finalize meeting bookings, and maintain an integration portfolio.

This conversational marketing and sales automation tool helps businesses connect quickly with customers who are ready to purchase their products. Drift is leading companies through the customer solution-driven revolution by using conversations to unlock and expand their compound annual rate. 

Customers choose Drift to provide a seamless buying experience for their potential customers. It also helps them generate more qualified leads and stimulate the company's sales cycle. 

Even after just two years in the market, the company has become one of the fastest-growing SaaS companies of all time. 


Pricing: $15-$39 per agent / per month 

Target Market: Small and Mid-Sized Business


        • Omnichannel universal inbox
        • 24/7 availability 
        • Real-time chat functionality 
        • Great customer messaging system 
        • Several brand features

LiveAgent is a help desk software that allows clients to interact with their customers through personalized conversations, all at a reasonable price. The platform provides its users a live chat application, versatile ticketing management, and easy-to-navigate self-service portals

LiveAgent has an inclusive selection of customer relationship management (CRM) applications. These applications are marketing and sales force automation in partnership with several third-party software companies known for their efficient and reliable services. LiveAgent is a personalized solution that can help companies that are just entering the sales and marketing field grow their customer base and online services

The software even provides a ticket management system for the users where the tickets contain all the course of emails, chat messages, phone calls, or messages from other communication platforms between the customer and customer representative of the company. 


Pricing: $25-$300 per agent / per month 

Target Market: Mid-Sized Businesses 


        • Territory management 
        • Workflow management
        • Contract management 
        • Interaction tracking 
        • Channel/partner relationship management 

Salesforce is a customer relationship management platform that provides businesses with a channel to communicate with their customers, forecast revenues, and monitor their leads. It also allows them to connect with third-party partners to maximize their service efficiency. 

This Intercom competitor can respond to customers across various social platforms and connect them to the appropriate agent for the job. According to the creator of Salesforce, reps that utilize Salesforce see at least a +29% increase in sales from greater visibility, an additional 34% increase in sales productivity, and a 42% increase in forecast accuracy.


Pricing: $225 per agent / per month 

Target Market: Mid-Sized Businesses 


        • Self-service system
        • Easily adaptable 
        • Suitable for any business field 
        • CS email system 
        • Ticketing system 

Helpshift is a mobile-first customer service platform.  It provides clients with a quality in-app help experience for a variety of mobile apps and mobile games. App users can receive immediate in-app help with automated solutions for simple to complex issues. A few of HelpShift's known clients are Square, Supercell, Tencent, Brex, Niantic, TBS/TNT, and other platforms in the mobile gaming industry.


Pricing: $19 per feature 

Target Market: Small and Mid-Sized Businesses, Enterprises 


        • Help desk CRM integration 
        • Call scripting 
        • Live help chat 
        • External and internal knowledge base 
        • Phone support

FreshDesk is a SaaS customer messaging software that allows small and large businesses to provide stellar customer support services. What makes FreshDesk stand out is that it is affordable. Depending on the plan, it can even be free for a lifetime for any number of agents. 

This customer messaging software converts all email, mobile SMS, chat, and social channel requests into tickets on one platform. It also unites various ticket resolutions across different channels. 

Its self-service platform lets you automate workflows, measure success metrics, and manage SLAs, which allows you to stay on top of your customer support strategy. FreshDesk also has an AI-powered support chatbot with predictive support capabilities and a service field management platform.  


Pricing: $299-$399 per agent / per month 

Target Market: Small Businesses 


        • Corporate reporting system 
        • Social media management 
        • Network directory 
        • Real-time updates
        • Sentiment analysis

BirdEye is prevalent amongst small businesses in the Medical Practice Industry. This customer messaging system provides businesses with the proper tools to deliver consistent, quality customer service. 

Founded in 2012, Birdeye employs several prestigious alumni from Google, Amazon, Salesforce, and Yahoo. Industry leaders like Salesforce founder Marc Benioff, Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang, Trinity Ventures, and World Innovation Lab are also some high-profile Birdeye supporters. 

FreshDesk Messaging 

Pricing: $15-$69 per agent / per month

Target Market: Small and Mid-Sized Businesses


        • Lead development 
        • Knowledge base 
        • Notifications
        • Searchable articles 
        • Team inbox

FreshChat is a customer messaging software built specifically for sales, marketing, and customer representative teams. This software allows representatives to interact with leads and customers on different platforms like their website, mobile app, or social media pages

FreshChat allows businesses and their teams to manage an efficient, reliable, and context-driven messaging experience between their business and the customers. This Intercom competitor includes integrated self-service systems, campaigns, sales bots, and intelligent message routing. With the help of FreshChat, it is easy for businesses to respond to lead inquiries quickly and exceed the expectations of the customers


Pricing: $89-$139 per agent / per month

Target Market: Small and Mid-Sized Businesses


        • Ticket collaboration 
        • Email to case 
        • Customer profiles 
        • Customer portal 
        • Response automation 

Kustomer is a customer messaging software that manages high support demands by enhancing experiences throughout a customer's service journey. 

Kustomer heads say that their company can help different brands resolve conversations on every digital channel by automating at least 40% of the interactions through self-service, first contact resolution backed with intelligent routing and driving omnichannel experiences between customers and representatives. 

The Kustomer open CRM platform minimizes costs by acting as a single interaction channel. It manages and records essential data to drive more intelligent processes that enable businesses to achieve a higher degree of success.