9 November 2021
  • Industry Insight

Comparing Intercom alternatives; Crisp and Zen Desk

Finding the perfect chat software for your business

Customer service tools are an essential asset for each and every company operating today. Acting on valuable feedback and incorporating insights as well as responding to queries and complaints is vital. The voices of individual consumers are amplified today using social media. It’s in a company’s best interests to listen and to act to offset negative consequences. 

Hence, it’s essential to pick the right customer service tool; especially live chat software. Intercom is one that we at Steadfast Collective have had loads of experience with and would highly recommend. But, other Intercom alternatives are out there including Zen Desk and Crisp.

In this blog post, we take a comparative look between these three leading live chat programs. That way, you can make an informed choice as to the best chat software for your business. 


All three chat platforms feature customisable branding for your small business. You can modify the look of the chatbox and messages and so on. You can also incorporate built-in chatbots which get better after they learn the behavior of your users. 

You can also use all three platforms to send personalised emails to different types of users. It’s worth noting that Zen Desk doesn’t provide your small business with data enrichment. You can’t enhance your user profiles and learn more about their behavior. Whereas with Crisp and Intercom, you can enrich user data and learn more about how your customers behave.

One huge advantage for Crisp is that it has live translation support which Zen Desk doesn’t. With multi-language support and live translation, it’s easier for your business to cater to people from different countries or areas of a country. Without it, you can struggle to cater to a huge niche that may be profitable in the long run. On the other hand, Crisp doesn’t have the ability to schedule emails, which is a very basic ability. Zen Desk has this feature, and so does our top choice, Intercom. 

Comparing Intercom alternative Crisp

Third-Party Integrations 

All three tools featured here have third party integrations. You can also build apps on the platforms for yourself. That means that small businesses can essentially customise apps for their own use. These don’t just improve live chat, but also your customer experience. 

Customers will appreciate the fact that you’ve made everything so easy for them. Third party integrations to send files, write tickets, translate languages, etc. are very useful. They provide functionality that is otherwise not built into any live chat software. 

This is an essential feature within certain regions. Since there is no one-size-fits-all solution in business, 3rd party integrations are incredibly useful.  

Mobile Support 

Among the three live chat apps, Zen Desk has the best mobile support. You can use the entire platform easily on mobile platforms without added configuration. While Crisp and Intercom both have mobile support, the ease of use and clean interface that Zen Desk has is unmatched. 

You can search for data on your mobile device using Zen Desk. You can also work with mobile tickets and get notifications. Everything from sending comprehensive emails to live support on mobile platforms is achievable. 

That’s why Zen Desk takes the cake when it comes to mobile support. 

Comparing Intercom alternative Zen Desk

Customer Service Rating 

You can find different, conflicting reviews of either Intercom, Crisp or Zen Desk online. Certain reviews praise their features and availability as well as their customer service. However, certain reviews trash their functionality and their response. 

As with most things, you can’t please everybody. By and large however, these tools are all well recommended and reviewed on the internet. They are smart tools backed by large teams of developers, so it’s unlikely that they will be going anywhere anytime soon, and, if anything, should get better with age as new features are released/


The cheapest of the three is Zen Desk. At $19/month it has very similar functionality to Crisp ($25/month) and Intercom ($38/month). That on top of the fact that Zen Desk is a top performer among live chat programs makes it a great deal. 

While there is no free version of Zen Desk, its free trial is more than enough for you to get acquainted with its features. The one area where that low pricing does in fact show is in the ease of use. Zen Desk is not quite as user-friendly as Crisp or Intercom. However, Zen Desk is definitely the cheapest of the Intercom alternatives featured here. 

If pricing is less of a concern, why not look at the dual-sided element of Intercom? While the most expensive package of the three, Intercom offers more than just support chat software. It is also a great marketing tool offering conversational engagement and marketing alongside support. Intercom comes with a wealth of researched and proven marketing resources and materials, helping your business to win new customers, alongside helping pre-existing customers.

Miscellaneous Features

Other features which are important to consider when selecting a live chat software include:

  • Canned Responses

This is a live chat predefined message which live chat operators can send in response to a general query. This is useful when dealing with huge volumes of requests or the same requests over and over again. It’s a staple feature in any good live chat software. 

  • Offline Forms 

Offline forms help when customers can’t reach you. This is a general part of any live chat software which allows you to record a response that you can reply to later. While customers may be deterred from contacting you if you present them with this, it’s better than nothing. 

  • Smart Triggers

Smart triggers are triggers which can generate automated replies in a live chat software. This is an essential feature in today’s live chat programs. This helps them handle huge volumes of requests and makes handling those requests easier. 

Smart triggers can help small businesses which are growing, handle increasing loads from new customers. Without this smart trigger option, handling so many requests and complaints is impossible. 

  • Proactive Chat

This is a feature in live chat which can target a website visitor and invite them to engage in a live chat. You may have seen this feature on several websites where a ring sound notifies you that a chat is active. This can be used to help a customer, specifically one that has been inactive to engage them. 

  • Visitor Tracking

Visitor tracking is used to follow a visitor’s journey throughout your website. This helps businesses find areas where they can improve or help potential customers along their journey. 

All of these features can be found in both Intercom and the Intercom alternatives mentioned here. 

These features are all incredibly useful when choosing a live chat software. 

Intercom user tracking and profiles

Final Verdict

While these programs are all very useful and feature rich, the best value for money is provided by Zen Desk. Its ease of use, wide support, and glimmering record with users makes it a great choice based on price point. 

Crisp is a great middle ground, and is worth considering for the live translation features if your audience is spread across a range of countries.

Intercom, well, it’s our chosen chat software of choice. It has the best user experience of the three, and comes with the marketing extras, helping you to sell your products and services in addition to the support chat functionality. It is however the highest priced software, so the experience and additional features do come with a price tag.

Which chat software are you using to support your business customers? 

Contact us for help setting up or integrating customer support chat software into your web application. It could be a game changer for getting your customers the help and answers that they need.

Pete Heslop

Managing Director at Steadfast Collective, Pete's key focus is on building a team of smart creatives who build community-focused web applications.

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