10 Best Help Scout Alternatives

Dmitry Dragilev
Published: Mar. 28, 2024

Help desk support software is one of the core components of a modern customer support strategy – the ability to turn first-time buyers into repeat customers.

Many companies spend tons of money to bring new customers into the fold. However, acquiring a new customer can cost five times more than retaining an existing customer. In fact, increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%, according to research done by Bain & Company.

Help desk software helps manage, streamline, and improve customer interactions. It also houses a lot of performance data to better understand things like how your team is performing and the reasons customers are contacting you in the first place. 

With its role being so central to retaining customers, it’s worth spending the time to get your selection right. One option you may have seen in your search is Help Scout. Help Scout is a popular help desk solution that offers strong functionality for small- to medium-sized businesses. 

Though Help Scout is a good fit for many teams, certain use cases would benefit from a different tool. In this article, we discuss when Help Scout is the right choice for your team and offer 10 Help Scout alternatives to consider when Help Scout isn’t the right option. 

What’s the Help Scout Alternative?

  • HubSpot – Best for sales and marketing
  • KnowledgeOwl – Best knowledge base
  • Copilot – Best customer portal
  • ChatBot – Best chatbot
  • Front – Best for using a personal email address
  • Freshdesk – Best free customer support tool
  • Zendesk – Best for enterprise-sized teams
  • Hiver – Best for new customer support teams
  • Gorgias – Best for e-commerce
  • ServiceNow – Best for IT-focused teams

Help Scout is Best for…

For 12 years, Help Scout has been creating software for customer support professionals. It started as a shared inbox tool but has since grown into an entire customer service software platform with solutions for live, self-service, and proactive customer communication.

To show you Help Scout’s best features, I used TestBox’s interactive demo software to record my test-drive of the Help Scout platform:

We found that Help Scout is best for these three user types:

1. Those with customer-oriented teams

If you spend even just a few minutes on Help Scout’s site, it’s very clear they’re on a mission to help others deliver a best-in-class customer experience. As mentioned above, they have tools covering reactive, proactive, self-service, and live customer support. 

If you need some support inspiration, their blog has tons of useful tips and best practices to keep your team in tip-top shape.

2. Those needing quick setup and onboarding

Whether it’s a piece of IKEA furniture or a fun new toy, seeing the words “assembly required” can quickly take the wind out of anyone’s sails. When we buy something new, we want to use it right away. 

Help Scout’s simple setup means you can be up and running in about an hour. They also have weekly product classes and access to their support team 24/6.  

3. Those anticipating growth

Though Help Scout is easy to use and simple to set up, it’s still a very robust tool. For example, their shared inbox is useful for basic support, but it can be made even more beneficial using workflow automation. That type of flexibility means Help Scout can fit needs for the long haul. 


  • Quick setup
  • Scalable features 
  • Access to a variety of customer support tools
  • Integrates easily to import data to Google Sheets (e.g., with via JSON API)


  • No customer portal 
  • No SLAs
  • Connection to Help Scout API expires in 48 hours

Top 10 Help Scout Alternatives

Though Help Scout covers a lot of different customer communication use cases, there are some support scenarios where it’s not the best tool for the job. Naturally, there is some feature overlap with the tools below, but each of the Help Scout competitors here do have a certain use case it serves best. 

HubSpot Service Hub

Best for sales and marketing

Help Scout is first and foremost a helpdesk software tool. Teams like sales, marketing, and product may be able to greatly benefit from Help Scout, but supporting those teams and their unique goals isn’t its core competency.

If what you’re really after is a marketing tool, CRM, or something similar and you just need very light customer support capabilities, then Help Scout may not be what you’re searching for. However, a tool like HubSpot could be exactly what you need.

HubSpot Service Hub offers a series of customer support features, including customer portals, knowledge base, live chat, omni-channel messaging, and inbound calling. But the real benefit here is that Service Hub is part of the much larger HubSpot CRM. This means you integrate service and support seamlessly with a wealth of sales tools to close more deals and manage your customer pipeline effectively. For intance, you can create email sequences to engage prospects further or use social media tools to react and respond to customer conversations. If customers have questions, there’s live chat support to get them the answers they need quickly.

Average user rating: 4.5 out of 5

Promising review: “We were already using the CRM features of Hubspot and liked the idea of combining with our service desk. We automatically create tickets from chats, which makes dropping the ball on tickets harder to do. The knowledge base is flexible, and the layout templates allowed us to get on-brand.” – Josh A.


  • Free suite of CMS content management tools for marketers and developers
  • Multi-channel support including email, phone, and chat
  • Automation to help reduce manual work
  • Seamless integration with HubSpot CRM


  • Somewhat expensive
  • Some core features like customer portals are still in Beta testing


  • Free plan is available with limited functionality.
  • Starter plan: Starts at $45/month and includes two agents
    • Additional agents can be added for $23/month.
  • Professional plan: Starts at $450/month and includes five agents
    • Additional agents are $90/month.
  • Enterprise plan: Starts at $1200/month and includes 10 users
    • Additional users can be added for $120/month.


Best knowledge base

Building out a self-service tool like a knowledge base empowers customers to find answers on their own, which can be quicker than reaching out to support in some cases, creating a better overall customer experience.

With KnowledgeOwl you’re able to create specific reader groups to make sure content is as relevant as possible for certain viewers. You also get access to advanced analytics and article ratings to better understand the areas where your content excels and where you have room to improve.

Average user rating: 4.8 out of 5

Promising review: “I use Knowledge Owl for a number of inter-connected knowledge bases, and I love how easy it is to maintain them. Not only am I able to use the same article in multiple sites, and have those articles update by updating just one of them, I’m able to insert custom content into one or more without affecting the rest. It allows me to create a custom experience without maintaining multiple versions of essentially the same information.” – Angie S.


  • Advanced analytics to understand what content is working and areas you can improve
  • Simple set-up, pre-built templates, and no-code-required customization
  • Bulk edit capabilities to save your team time


  • Expensive 
  • No additional support tools


  • 30-day free trial on all plans
  • Flex plan: Starting at $79/user per month
  • Business plan: Starting at $299/month
  • Enterprise plan: Starting at $999/month


Best customer portal

Depending on the type of support you offer or the clients you work with, it’s possible you may need a customer portal through which to serve them. If you’re not familiar, a customer portal is a secure digital space clients log in to access support services.

Generally speaking, customer portals are accessed through a website or mobile app and are usually offered to provide an additional layer of security, as well as for customer reference. Good customer portals provide an easily-navigated user interface for both customers and support agents. With Copilot (formerly Portal), you’re able to create dedicated space for multiple customers. They can submit questions, view self-service content, upload files, and even pay invoices through their customer portal.

Average user rating: 4.9 out of 5

Promising review: “Everything from starting a conversation in the messaging module to sharing files and billing customers is done in a single place, which really reduces the overhead in working with clients.” – Shashi R.


  • Streamlined data collection through built-in forms 
  • Ability to create invoices and subscriptions inside the product 
  • Extensions to connect with other tools in your tech stack


  • Base plans have user limits
  • Set up may be complicated based on your needs


  • Starter plan: Starting at $29/internal user per month
  • Professional plan: Starting at $69/internal user per month
  • Advanced plan: Starting at $119/internal user per month
  • Supersonic plan: Contact Copilot directly for pricing


Best chatbot

Most of us working in support have seen the rise of the chatbot over the past few years. Though chatbot support tools may still have a way to go to reach their full potential, they can be a useful part of an overall support strategy. 

ChatBot by LiveChat is a no-code chatbot builder. With their drag-and-drop interface, you simply build out the conversation flow for different chat scenarios, then integrate directly within major platforms like WordPress, Shopify, Slack, Facebook Messenger, and LiveChat. 

If you want to get started quickly, ChatBot offers a bunch of pre-built templates you can use. They also have self-service resources, like their ChatBot Academy, to learn the ins and outs of the tool to get the most value possible. 

Average user rating: 4.7 out of 5

Promising review: “Chatbot gets the job done without a lot of complexity. The UI is simple and straightforward to use. It helped my team setting up a chat system that works with AI.” – Jelle D.


  • Prebuilt templates to get started quickly  
  • Advanced analytics to make informed decisions
  • Access to ChatBot Academy to improve your build skills


  • Limited support capabilities 
  • Can get expensive if you need multiple bots


  • ChatBot offers a 14-day free trial
  • Starter plan: Starts at $52/month
  • Team plan: Starts at $142/month
  • Business plan: Starts at $424/month
  • Enterprise plan: Contact ChatBot directly for pricing 


Best for using a personal email address

Most companies use a single email address as the main contact point for support requests. Having a single point of contact removes guesswork for customers and allows a company to respond as a unified whole, both of which can help improve the overall customer experience.

That said, in some cases, using a group email address isn’t the most pragmatic. Front is a help desk tool that lets support agents respond from personal email addresses. They have collaboration tools, like internal notes, and a ticketing system with automated assignment and routing capabilities. They also offer some productivity tools, like basic automations, to reduce manual work and reporting to better understand team performance.

Average user rating: 4.5 out of 5

Promising review: “Couldn’t imagine living without it. The ability to treat email as a collaborative effort is groundbreaking. It’s easy to create visibility and work asynchronously on emails that would otherwise take multiple forwards and Slack conversations. The integrations with every platform via API let us manage tons of internal workflows in a completely automated way. Overall, we’re happy to pay for it – every dollar in Front probably saves us an hour in FTE time.” – Arjun K.


  • The ability to use a personal email address
  • One-click meeting scheduling  
  • CRM integrations for additional customer context


  • Some basic features like reporting dashboards are limited to higher-cost plans
  • Base plans have user limits


  • Starter plan: Starting at $19/person per month
  • Growth plan: Starting at $59/person per month
  • Scale plan: Starting at $99/person per month
  • Premier plan: Starting at $229/person per month


Best free customer support tool

When you’re just starting out and you aren’t totally sure what your needs are, a free tool can sound very enticing. Switching tools down the road can be very resource-intensive, but if you don’t think a customer support solution will be a true need in the relatively near future (6-12 months), then a free option might be just fine.

The unfortunate truth is that often, “free” ends up being synonymous with “limited.” Free tools are often just meant as a gateway into a product and not meant to be a means to an end. In some ways, Freshworks’ free version of Freshdesk customer service software fits that bill, but it does have some great functionality.

With their free plan, you’re able to respond to email and social requests from a shared inbox. You can create business rules to automatically sort incoming requests and even get some deeper insights like average response time through the included ticket trend report.

Average user rating: 4.5 out of 5

Promising review: “Freshdesk is full of benefits. It is a user friendly software which has no limit on application especially handling workflows. Communication has its place in the software and it is easy to reach people at any time. It is the best software for ensuring customers are happy with your Services always.” – Gabriel D.


  • Free plan available
  • Included call minutes (on some paid plans)
  • Advanced AI-powered support features available


  • Complicated setup 
  • Limited scalability (on free plan)


  • Free plan available
  • Growth plan: Starting at $15/agent per month
  • Pro plan: Starting at $49/agent per month
  • Enterprise plan: Starting at $79/agent per month 


Best for enterprise-sized teams

Just as startups and smaller businesses have unique needs, so do larger ones. Being able to get more granular with reports or setting up things like SLAs are just a couple of things that may get more important as a team grows. 

Some tools are better at meeting those needs than others. One of the best-known in the space is Zendesk. With Zendesk you get access to all the standard features you expect like a shared inbox, live chat, and a knowledge base builder. 

Zendesk also offers more advanced enterprise features like custom team roles and permissions, the ability to build out multiple help centers, and even the capacity to create custom agent workspaces to streamline work. However, those features are only offered on one of their highest-cost plans. So if you don’t have a large budget, it could be out of reach.

Average user rating: 4.4 out of 5

Promising review: “Overall, Zendesk is a great choice for businesses that need a robust and reliable customer service platform that can handle multiple channels and provide a seamless customer experience. Zendesk has a lot of features and capabilities that can help businesses improve their customer satisfaction, loyalty, and retention. Zendesk also has a lot of resources and support available for users, such as documentation, training, and community forums.” – Brandon T.


  • Access to advanced support tools (on certain plans)
  • Customizable agent workspaces 
  • Advanced metrics/analytics for better understanding team performance


  • Expensive
  • Long set-up time


  • Suite Team plan: Starting at $55/agent per month
  • Suite Growth plan: Starting at $89/agent per month
  • Suite Professional plan: Starting at $115/agent per month
  • Suite Enterprise plan: Contact Zendesk for pricing


Best for teams new to customer support

When starting out with customer service, it’s common for small businesses to lean on tools they already have in their toolbox. It makes sense. For those early in the journey, being resourceful is as much a survival technique as it is pragmatism.

Through that mindset, many teams end up doing things like using their standard email accounts to administer support. If you’re a team of one or two, it can work. However, anything past that, and the wheels start to come off. There’s a simple reason for that: Tools like Gmail simply weren’t built to do customer support.

That said, with a tool like Hiver, you’re able to turn your Gmail email account into a lite help desk. Hiver is basically a Gmail extension that lets you do things like assign customer conversations to different users, add internal notes, and utilize productivity tools like saved replies. They even recently added a live chat feature for real-time support needs.

Average user rating: 4.7 out of 5

Promising review: “Hiver has significantly improved our internal collaboration. Easy integration with Google Workspace, shared labels and shared mailboxes are allowing team members to find any relevant emails they may be looking for based on how our workflows are setup. The analytics on the shared mailboxes provide relevant insights for optimizing our workflows and improving accountability across company.” – Mark K.


  • Quick set up 
  • Support ticket assignment
  • Cost-effective


  • Limited support functionality
  • Not a long-term solution for many


  • 7-day free trial
  • Lite plan: Starting at $15/user per month 
  • Pro plan: Starting at $39/user per month 
  • Elite plan: Starting at $59/user per month


Best for ecommerce

Most of the tools on this list are focused on certain types of support or on team size, but not necessarily on a specific industry. Though the role of customer support may vary depending on your industry, the job and tools needed to do it well are fairly consistent. But there are a few exceptions, ecommerce being one of them. 

There are currently a couple of different e-commerce-focused help desks on the market, but we think Gorgias is top of the list. They offer all the standard help desk features you’d expect like a shared inbox, live chat capabilities, a knowledge base builder, and analytics. They also have productivity and collaboration features to save your team time and energy. 

Gorgias’ true differentiator is their e-commerce platform integrations. Through their Shopify, BigCommerce, and Magento integrations, you’re able to update orders and process refunds directly from Gorgias without ever opening another app, which can save your team lots of time and hassle. That said, one thing to note is that Gorgias does charge by ticket volume, so there could be some cost variance from month to month. 

Average user rating: 4.7 out of 5

Promising review: “I was able to quickly grasp their tool and use it effectively for my Shopify store. They provide a unified dashboard that provides me with a birds-eye view of all support conversations like email, chat, voice, SMS, social media, etc. I was able to easily view and edit my Shopify orders, and they provide full context of customer issues so that I can instantly reply to their queries.” – Verified Reviewer


  • Direct integrations with multiple e-commerce platforms
  • Automations to reduce manual work 
  • Knowledge base builder included


  • Variable cost due to volume pricing
  • Higher initial cost


  • Starter plan: $10/month
  • Basic plan: Starting at $50/month
  • Pro plan: Starting at $300/month
  • Advanced plan: Starting at $750/month
  • Enterprise plan: Contact Gorgias directly for pricing.


Best for IT-focused teams

Similar to team size, the type of support you offer can also shift needs. One type of support that generally requires some specialized tools is IT support. Though there are a few options in that realm, we think ServiceNow is one of the best. 

ServiceNow is a tool that helps teams manage all aspects of IT support. They have a shared inbox tool, where agents can see incoming requests. The layout is similar to a Kanban board, and agents can update the status of an issue directly within the task. 

As a fix or resolution progresses, they can continually update the ticket to increase transparency and allow for others to collaborate on the issue. There are also several other tools, like a self-service portal. If you’re looking for an IT solution, ServiceNow is a great option.

Average user rating: 4.5 out of 5

Promising review: “ServiceNow makes submitting tickets for issues across teams extremely easy and comprehensive. This platform allows detailed handoffs, easy timeline tracking, and simple commenting/chats between teams.” – Madilyn M.


  • Customer portals 
  • Easy ticket management through Kanbanstyle boards
  • Integrations to connect to other business tools


  • Primarily meant for internal support
  • Not the most user-friendly for non-technical people


Making the Best Choice for Your Team

To do any job well, you need the right tools. Every team will have different wants and needs, so once you have a solid grasp on what those are, try out a few options and talk with other stakeholders.

Once you’ve done all your due diligence, compare each tool side by side to see what will truly work best for you and your team. Be curious, and stay open to different options. If you do, we’re sure you’ll find the right tool for your team.