Kayako Alternatives: 5 Best Help Desks for Customer Support

Written by Ian Landsman · 04.26.2022

Kayako is a popular help desk software for customer service teams. It’s especially ideal for teams that need features like omnichannel support to connect with platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook, and Twitter. But Kayako may not be the best help desk for your customer support team if:

  • You only manage tickets from email and don’t need live chat or social mediawidgets. Because of Kayako’s pricing tiers, when it’s time to upgrade to more advanced features, like knowledge base or custom performance reports, you could be paying for features you don’t need.
  • You don’t want to spend a lot of time and resources training your team on new software. Kayako’s software is pretty involved, so training your team on all the ins and outs will take a significant amount of time. Some aspects of the software, like SQL, require tech experience that some team members won’t possess.
  • You need self-hosted help desk software. If you need to run your help desk software on your own servers — a popular need for companies that need extra security, like healthcare companies — then Kayako won’t work for you.

Above are just some of the reasons why you may be looking for something other than Kayako. To help you find the right tool, we cover 5 Kayako alternatives for customer support teams:

  1. HelpSpot
  2. Zendesk
  3. Help Scout
  4. Freshdesk
  5. Zoho Desk

We’ll start with HelpSpot, our customer service help desk software, and how your team can use it to improve your team’s productivity and customer satisfaction.

Looking for an affordable help desk that lets your agents manage all your email requests in one place? Get in touch with us today to discuss if HelpSpot is the best help desk for your team, and get started with our risk-free 21-day trial.

HelpSpot: Our Email Management Help Desk for Customer Service Teams

We made HelpSpot so even the smallest customer service team can use help desk software to assign and answer tickets, increase agent efficiency, and improve customer satisfaction. We did that by focusing on what’s essential — email and team management features — while still offering advanced tools that help your support teamwork more productively and provide a better customer experience. We also provide HelpSpot mobile apps for iOS and Android so field service teams that are on the go can access their help desk portal from anywhere.

Below, we look at:

  • Email management features that let you organize, filter, and assign tickets so nothing gets lost and tickets are resolved quickly and in the correct order.
  • Ticket collaboration tools that keep everyone on the same page by sharing internal notes and notifying agents when other team members are looking at the same ticket.
  • Help desk knowledge base that acts as an internal library to efficiently answer more complex questions that agents don’t know but can then answer without assistance.
  • A self-service portal customers can use to resolve issues without agent assistance, allowing your team to focus on higher priority tickets.

How HelpSpot’s Easy-to-Navigate Dashboard Makes Onboarding Simple and Quick

HelpSpot can be set up in an afternoon, and since the features are intuitive, agents can learn how to use HelpSpot without a lengthy onboarding period. All of the incoming tickets are displayed in the main inbox, then you can move to your queue or access other help desk features with the top and left-side menu bars.

HelpSpot inbox.

HelpSpot’s user-friendly layout can be especially appealing to smaller teams or teams who don’t have the time to train agents through a lengthy onboarding process. Because HelpSpot’s setup and training are so easy, your team can spend more time answering customer tickets and less time fumbling with a clunky interface.

Should your team need any assistance during setup, our support team is available to walk you through the process.

Email Management Features to Organize, Filter, & Assign Tickets

  • Consolidated Inbox: Whether you have one mailbox or a hundred, HelpSpot can organize all incoming emails in one shared inbox and assign tickets out to agents. This improves ticket management by keeping your communication channels organized and transparent.

    Read more: The #1 Best Way to Manage a Shared Inbox in 2022
  • Agent queues aka “My Queue”: Agents can click on the “take it” button to signify that they have opened and are working on a customer’s ticket. Once taken, the ticket will go to the agent’s “My Queue” box to show tickets currently being worked on.
My Queue.
  • Filters: Custom fields and filters let you categorize and add details to tickets, and then sort tickets by specific criteria — customer details (name, email) or ticket details (category, assigned user, status). For example, agents who handle product issue tickets can sort by that category, find all of their relevant tickets, and assign from that view. Simply fill out the required fields, and you’ll see all the tickets related to your query. Nothing “slips through the cracks.”

HelpSpot is also one of the only help desks to offer full multi-brand support. Our multi-brand help desk function lets you link as many email accounts as you need and create dedicated dashboards, knowledge bases, and customer portals for each of your brands. You can also add branding elements to customer-facing portals and email replies so end users know which brand they’re contacting. Then, you can manage all of your business’s support tickets in one help desk system.

Advanced Features for Increased Productivity and Efficiency

HelpSpot offers collaboration tools like internal notes and collision detection, customizable email templates, and a built-in knowledge base to help teams respond to emails more efficiently. You can even have HelpSpot automate repetitive tasks so you can focus on resolving support tickets.

Collaboration Tools

Internal notes let agents leave comments directly on the ticket so they can share information with others without being face-to-face; this keeps everybody up to date and aware of previous conversations.

Internal notes.

Plus, HelpSpot has collision detection which prevents duplicating tickets and notifies agents when notes or fields are being changed.

Customizable Templates and Email Signatures

HelpSpot lets you create and save custom email templates to quickly answer commonly asked questions; this prevents agents from having to type out repeat replies when fielding similar inquiries. For example, say you receive a lot of “order status” emails — you can create an “order status” template so agents can quickly pull in a reply and fill in the missing info.

You can also create and save custom email signatures, too, so all of your emails have a personal touch (even when agents are pulling replies from templates).

Knowledge Base

In addition to templates, you can also store troubleshooting documentation in HelpSpot’s knowledge base. Our help desk knowledge base is simple to set up — it is organized in a book/chapter format so you can organize resources by topic — and it’s easy to create new documents when new issues arise, so your knowledge base works as a continuously-growing resource for information.

Knowledge base.

Once you have content saved in your knowledge base, agents can reference those resources in the help desk without leaving the ticket; this helps them provide more timely support. Agents can even insert troubleshooting documents in their email replies to customers, preventing them from having to type out lengthy responses.

Self Service Portal

You can also publish knowledge base articles to a customer-facing self-service portal so end-users can access that info without contacting your team. Creating a knowledge base for end-users helps customers find answers to questions and resolve issues on their own without submitting tickets.

Self service portal.

HelpSpot tracks customer searches so you can see what end-users are looking for in your brand portals; this feature shows you which resources are most helpful, and which searches yield zero results, so you can use that information to plan additional content for your portals.


You can program HelpSpot to automate certain tasks, such as ticket routing, recurring tickets, SLA management, and escalation management. For example, you can program HelpSpot to automatically assign emails to agents based on ticket category, so all order status tickets would automatically be routed to the orders department.

Automation and triggers.

You can also use triggers to train HelpSpot to remind you when SLA tasks are due or prioritize emails that have not received a reply.

Productivity Reports to Monitor Team Efficiency

Helpspot’s built-in reporting allows you to track ticket and performance metrics to give you a deeper understanding of your team’s efficiency and your customers’ needs.

You can track metrics in real-time, including like:

  • Average response time
  • Average resolution time
  • Number of tickets received
  • Number of tickets resolved
Analytics over time.

You can adjust reports over any time frame, and use these metrics to dig into agent workload, individual performance, and the type of support issues your end users have. Then, you can use this information to make strategic decisions and improve customer relationships. For example, this data can tell you if you need to hire more agents, and it can highlight recurring customer issues so you can address them at the root.

Read more: The Complete Guide to Customer Service Reporting

HelpSpot provides an option to export and send reports, too, so you can push these out and share them with whoever you need. You can also set reports to send automatically: You can automate reports to be delivered daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly, then all appropriate stakeholders can stay in the loop without requesting updates from you.

Integrations & Customization Options

HelpSpot is built with an open-source API and has a Zapier connection so you can easily integrate your help desk with other software your teams use to provide customer support, such as phone systems, web forms, CRMs, or chatbots. Our help desk can sync with thousands of applications so you can add it to your tech stack and connect it with any tool you need. Then you can consolidate all of your support tickets and customer information and keep track of it in one system.

Single Tier Pricing

HelpSpot provides pay-per-agent pricing so you only have to make upgrades when you want to add team members. Every user has access to all of our core email management features, and customizing HelpSpot is free. There are no hidden fees.

Want better email management without an overload of features? Start a 21-day free trial to test our email help desk features and explore our customization options to see how we can tailor HelpSpot to meet your customer service team’s needs.

Other Kayako Alternatives

HelpSpot’s email help desk system is affordable, easy-to-use, and scalable: We provide the essential help desk features and let you customize our help desk to suit your team.

However, if you’re looking for help desk software that comes with out-of-the-box omnichannel support features, or you want something more robust in general, you may want to consider these four other help desk providers.



Zendesk is a robust help desk software that is typically recommended for larger customer service teams. Tech-savvy agents appreciate the hundreds of tools and pre-populated features, but teams without tech training could find the features overwhelming and unnecessary.

Popular features include AI-powered knowledge management, CSAT surveys, and self-service portals. Unfortunately, these popular features are only available in higher-priced tiers because it requires complete software upgrades.

People report a steep learning curve for agents because Zendesk has frequent updates, necessitating retraining for new tools and features.

Because of the price and complexity of this software, it’s only a good option for enterprise teams with the budget and resources to manage this help desk solution.

Read more: Zendesk Alternatives: 6 of the Best Help Desk Competitors

Help Scout

Help Scout

Help Scout is a cloud-based help desk software that primarily supports two channels – email and live chat. It has features like custom reports, a knowledge base, and automated workflows that notify agents of high-priority tickets, and Help Scout also offers omnichannel integrations if you need to field tickets from SMS or social media widgets.

But there are some drawbacks to Help Scout, including:

  • Its lack of customization options: You can’t add branding elements to portals or tickets.
  • A limited multi-brand support feature: Its multi-brand support feature doesn’t let you create dedicated knowledge bases or self-service portals for each brand.
  • Capped inboxes: With Help Scout, your inboxes are capped at lower price tiers, forcing some companies to upgrade before they are ready, which can be costly to companies who aren’t growing fast enough to recuperate the expense.

However, the lower price tiers make Help Scout a great option for startups or smaller teams who only need to manage one or two mailboxes and use live chat, SMS, and social media to communicate with customers.

Read more: Help Scout Alternatives: 6 Best Help Desks for Support Teams



Freshdesk is a cloud-based customer support software with two offerings: Support Desk and Omnichannel.

Support Desk helps customer service teams organize and distribute ticket requests while offering advanced tools like automation, collision detection, and knowledge base. They also have a suite of field service management tools for teams that need to access and use their help desk outside of the office. More in-depth versions of these tools are only available in higher-priced tiers, so you might have access to Freshdesk’s knowledge base feature, but it will be limited unless you get the upgraded version.

Omnichannel offers the same services as Service Desk, but with the included feature of omnichannel capabilities (meaning you can link to channels like SMS, live chat, and social media). Like Service Desk, the more advanced tools are all locked in expensive pricing packages, so you may end up paying for features you don’t need if you want to access some of the functionality in the upgraded help desk packages.

Freshdesk customers report that they enjoy using the interface but complain of how the features are broken up into so many different pricing packages; this quickly becomes expensive when you’re paying for tools your team will never use. As a result, Freshdesk is typically recommended for teams with a larger budget that don’t mind splurging on a robust help desk.

Read more: Freshdesk Alternatives: 9 Help Desk Software for Support Teams

Zoho Desk

Zoho desk

Zoho Desk is a cloud-based customer service software for teams that want an omnichannel support solution to help manage tickets from email, social media, messaging apps, live chat, web form, and telephone. It has many advanced features, including:

  • AI chatbots and an AI assistant named Zia: Zia can speak with customers, answer simple questions, and notify agents of unusual activity in the ticket stream.
  • Telephony: This works as a built-in call center and allows you to make and receive phone calls within the help desk.
  • Live chat software.
  • Workflowautomation features.
  • Project management tools.
  • Built-in knowledge base.

Because Zoho Desk’s dashboard comes with so many pre-populated features, it could be overwhelming and unnecessary for smaller businesses only looking to manage a shared inbox. That said, Zoho Desk’s cheaper price tag attracts small businesses, in comparison to some of the other robust help desk software on this list.

Due to the complexity of the software, and the bandwidth required to manage Zoho Desk’s yearly updates, this help desk may be problematic for teams without the necessary time to learn new tools and features, so it’s typically best for mid-size and large businesses.

Read more: Zoho Desk Alternatives: Top 8 Help Desks for Customer Service

Next Steps: Picking the Best Kayako Alternative for Your Customer Support Team

Above we covered 5 different alternatives to Kayako, including our software solution, HelpSpot.

HelpSpot offers a 21-day free trial for all new customers so you have a risk-free way of testing our help desk before committing to it. (We even offer this trial for our self-hosted help desk.) You can link email accounts, test the features, add agents, explore customization options, and decide if we’re the best ticketing system for your teams. Get in touch with us to talk about what you’re looking for in a help desk and learn about HelpSpot’s solution.

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Ian Landsman
Ian founded HelpSpot in 2005 with the goal of making every interaction with your customers simple and efficient.
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