Zendesk is a popular customer relationship management (CRM) solution. As you would expect, its popularity is based on the many attractive features and functionalities that it has.
For instance, depending on the Zendesk plan you are subscribed to, the software offers various degrees of sales tracking. You can use it to build and customize sales pipelines.
You can also use it to create custom data fields with filters and tags. Again, you can set it to score your leads and deals as and when they are due.
Here are more ways that Zendesk can benefit your sales and marketing automation:
- It can help you track your marketing tasks and activities. You can integrate it with a calendar app, for example. This way, it assists you with task scheduling. You can even set it to notify you about certain tasks at certain periods.
- Zendesk enables marketing team members to collaborate among themselves. The assigned team members can make comments in real time (including using @mentions). They can also share documents from a common repository.
- The software is also built for the effective automation and personalization of marketing emails.
- Again, the use cases include the automation of voice calls and text messaging. This incorporates the ability to track and record calls.
The above has only scratched the surface of the great jobs Zendesk does for business people across the big world.
Yet, despite all these and other substantial offers domiciled in this CRM software, Zendesk has its flaws and chances are that you’ve got some issues with it.
For one, when it comes to looks, its interface pales in comparison to some of the latest CRM tools in the market.
Also, Zendesk does not offer any out-of-the-box features such as chatbots and product tours as you will find with other tools today. And if you are very particular about support, then you won’t like that Zendesk has separate tickets for emails and chats.
Below is a comparative list of the software’s open-source alternatives you can consider, but why open source, you may ask.
The open-source options are preferred because their source codes are available to be used for free, and they can easily be modified, changed, and redistributed by end-users.
One result of this is that the software is more frequently up-to-date because of a community of developers contributing to it again and again. Thus, the open-source alternatives are more likely to be without the bugs of Zendesk.
Also, as a result of the thorough transparency that gets with open source platforms, they are generally deemed to be safer and more secure.
Now, the list…
Odoo CRM is an open-source, social, and cloud-based customer relationship management platform. It is a part of a suite of open source SaaS business solutions offered by Odoo, a company headquartered in Brussels (Belgium).
Other members of the Odoo suite include an eCommerce solution, a website builder, accounting software, a point of sale, and many more.
Like other members of the Odoo business suite, Odoo CRM sports a Kanban interface that makes it more visually appealing and user-friendly than Zendesk. Thus, it makes the workflow proportionately simpler and smoother.
A lot of users have reported the ease of use that the visual outlook affords them. For example, it helps them to better track sales opportunity pipelines. That’s because it enables them to easily visualize the entire process and know the next steps and actions to take before actually taking them.
Based on the real user experiences I sampled and one big area that Odoo CRM stands out as a great alternative to Zendesk is its ability to easily integrate with other members of the Odoo business suite.
This way, it makes it far easier to connect your customer relationship management with other aspects of your business operations.
Thus, your accounting/invoicing workflow as well as billing, marketing, and even manufacturing can easily dovetail with your CRM paraphernalia.
Other features of Odoo CRM that make it a suitable alternative to Zendesk are:
- It can automate lead generation based on opt-in emails as well as direct incoming emails.
- It includes marketing tools such as modules for bulk emails and market surveys.
- Users can integrate Odoo CRM with their email clients.
- It incorporates a quotation builder tool.
- It is available in 46 languages while Zendesk is available in 31.
Vtiger is a CRM software that can be found in two major forms: open-source and cloud. The software is one of the most patronized open source CRM solutions out there. It qualifies as a considerable alternative to Zendesk on many counts:
For one, users say they like the Vtiger interface and especially the ease with which it can be customized. This is to say that the software opens itself up to wide and varied use across industries.
Here are other reasons I think Vtiger is an excellent alternative to Zendesk.
- Efficient Contact Management: Open source Vtiger enables you to save your contacts and be able to have a strategic view of them. The view is such that interacting with them individually is deeply enhanced.
- Details like their names, lead sources, weighted revenue, the sales stage in which you are with them, and so many more are made readily available.
- Detailed reporting. This is one direct and important implication of efficient contact management, as described above.
- Multi-channel communication. This software delivers across emails, voice calls, and text messaging. There are rooms for integrating with many more channels.
- Unlike Zendesk, Vtiger extends its roles to ancillary business operation departments like inventory management, help desk management, and opportunity pipeline management.
This is an open-source CRM automation solution authored and maintained by the Scotland-based consultancy firm SalesAgility.
Forked from ChurchCRM, SuiteCRM is distributed on the GNU Affero General Public Licence (AGPL) version 3. Thus, it is free to use, contribute to, and redistribute.
This software stands out as an alternative to Zendesk given that it is fully customizable.
The modules are such that they can be reset to suit the particular needs of any business environment in which it is deployed. This is made possible by the ‘Studio’ tool included in the software.
Another ground on which users seem to prefer SuiteCRM over Zendesk is its ability to track calls. This way, it instantly transforms any caller into a quality lead.
You can send them notifications later on about product releases or whatever else you might want them to know.
Other features and functionalities that qualify SuiteCRM as a good open source Zendesk alternative are:
- It can be scaled to meet any level of business needs.
- Many real users testify that its interface is easy to get used to.
- Users also testify that SuiteCRM makes it easy to visualize your campaigns and generate desired reports from them.
- Far better than what gets with Zendesk, users like the customer satisfaction survey feature of SuiteCRM. As they say, it is very easy to use the software to get customer feedback in real time.
- You can use SuiteCRM to create new fields to match any data type.
- You can also use it to easily import or export data to either MS Excel or any of the popular databases.
- The platform is backed by both a dedicated tech support team and a huge, vibrant community effort.
This software stands out as an open-source alternative to Zendesk especially because it allows you to create a comprehensive view of your customers and clients.
Many of the users I sampled testify about huge data options being accessible via OroCRM. They also testify that the data filtering functionality throws up one of the neatest results in the market.
Another distinguishing feature of Oro CRM has to do with the organization of data. In this sense, it has the ability to segment prospects and customers for categorized marketing campaigns.
It is also endowed with features and functionalities that enable you to organize modules like sales pipelines and contact information.
Users also seem to prefer OroCRM to Zendesk based on the advanced nature of its analytics tools. For instance, it is possible to use the software to determine a customer’s lifetime value.
Also, access to pieces of information like a customer’s financial capacity as well as their recency and frequency are features that make this open-source software a better alternative to Zendesk any day.
OroCRM’s customization options accord it yet another edge it may have over Zendesk and many other competitors in the market.
It provides users with access to an app market. There, it can integrate with multiple apps to enable you in extending its functionality while customizing it to your particular needs.
Other features that make this software a valid open-source Zendesk alternative are:
- It is specially built to enhance personalized marketing. Mainly due to the huge customer data it is able to connect, it helps users in communicating with prospects and customers as absolute individuals.
- Transparency: OroCRM is not just open source. It is also based on the Symfony2 PHP web framework which makes it easy for most developers to understand and investigate its codes.
- Ease of Use: Users report that the entire interface is quite easy for them to navigate.
- The email campaign features are especially reported to be significantly easy to deploy.
Based on the user experiences I have come across, simplicity and ease of use make up important areas in which EspoCRM is to be considered a veritable alternative to Zendesk. This is despite it being quite rich in features.
First, it sports a clean user interface that is relatively easy to navigate. Then, there is the ease with which you can set up the software and customize it.
EspoCRM is also unique as an open-source Zendesk alternative based on its various options for managing email campaigns. These include options for email templates, folders, and signatures.
Among other email management features, this software enables you to have multiple email addresses per record. It is also well-suited for managing bulk emailing.
Again, because EspoCRM is relatively new in the market (released in 2014), it gives a lot of room for you to exercise your creative freedom.
Therefore, the chances of having to review your settings or disable imperfect modules are highly reduced relative to Zendesk and many other competitors.
The downside to this, however, is that the documentation for this software is still slim compared to the oldies.
Here are other features of EspoCRM that qualify it as a great alternative to consider for replacing Zendesk in your toolbox:
- It is regularly updated. For instance, I just checked its GitHub page, and it was updated only 18 hours ago as at the time of writing this article.
- It sports a robust calendar tool for managing meetings, calls, and asks.
- Social outlook: Users can follow particular records. They also have access to an activity stream where modifications to followed records are shown. Any user can create a record and include any other user on the platform.
- EspoCRM further includes tools for managing issues surrounding inventories such as products, quotes, invoicing, and sales orders.
- It equally has analytics and reporting tools. With these, users can gather and easily view customer info comprehensively.
- The software also includes options for managing business processes and marketing automation.
- It is free for both personal and commercial users.
X2CRM is an open-source Zendesk alternative that stands out in many respects. Its offers range through customer service as well as marketing and sales.
This software is built to adapt to all levels of enterprise needs. Thus, it caters to the customer relationship need for startups, SMEs, as well as conglomerates.
Below are other features of this CRM software that make it a considerable alternative to Zendesk:
- It has more marketing automation modules than Zendesk including options for marketing workflow.
- It also includes options for website activity tracking.
- Again, it can be deployed for routing contact leads and for administering targeted email campaigns.
- It features tools for the effective tracking of deal opportunities as well as for managing sales funnels and processing pipelines.
- It also includes a chart-based tool for visualizing and tracking a contact’s interaction history while generating alerts and notifications automatically.
- There are also features to enable you in assigning roles to your team members.
- Your team members can also collaborate in a cloud-based atmosphere.
- Then, the software incorporates robust reporting and analytics capabilities.
This is especially for you if you are considering open-source Zendesk alternatives for nonprofit use. Its modular architecture is built to function, especially as a fundraising manager.
Out of CiviCRM’s many features and functionalities, users seem to like its profound and versatile CMS integration the most. It can sync with WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal using its own API.
Another feature that makes this software a better option than Zendesk is its ability to manage contacts.
First, it can accommodate a huge number of contacts at a time. Then, it affords a rich range of options for expressing and viewing contact details. Users also testified about the ease of adding new items to the database.
Other distinguishing features of this software are:
- It sports a user interface that many users find easy to navigate.
- It is backed by a vibrant and helpful community.
- It has an efficient mass emailing feature.
- It can be used to design beautiful newsletters for improving customer relationships.
- A good dose of training resources is available online at zero cost.
This is a part one of a three-member software suite. The three members include Freshworks Sales Cloud, Freshworks Marketing Cloud, and Freshworks Customer-for-Life. Freshworks CRM is a part of the last to be mentioned.
The three members integrate and work hand-in-hand. Thus, using Freshworks CRM, you can easily unify your marketing and sales operations with customer relationship management much more than Zendesk can.
Other features that distinguish Freshworks CRM as a valid open-source alternative to Zendesk are:
- It is deeply powered by artificial intelligence.
- Many users agree that it is feature-rich.
- Users also say that they like the degree to which this software has helped them to organize their work. For example, customer requests and their info can be made easily available for visual brainstorming.
- Many users also agree that the interface is simple to navigate, create workflows, and new fields.
- Backed by solid AI, Freshworks CRM has the functionality to send emails to customers based on how they interact with a company’s products. So far, this is a huge edge that this software maintains over Zendesk.
- You can also use Freshworks CRM to set product demos.
- With the help of this software, the onboarding of prospects and new leads can easily and effectively be automated.
Bottle CRM is an open-source software developed by Micro Pyramid, a company based in Hyderabad, India.
Also identified as a Django-CRM, this software is distributed based on the MIT Licence. Thus, it offers end users almost unlimited freedom to use, modify, re-license, and even sell it.
Unlike Zendesk, Bottle CRM doesn’t seem to be popular among end-users, yet it made this list of the best open-source Zendesk alternatives for a couple of other good reasons:
- It attracts one of the highest numbers of developer activities on GitHub. As of June 2021, it has over 1,100 stars, 550 forks, and zero pull requests. For me, this signals that this is a great solution albeit unknown to most of its target markets. So, this may well be a new discovery that I am putting before you.
- Bottle CRM exists as a mobile app as well. Again, although the app is not yet used by many users, that’s a great feature to have considering that the web economy keeps going more mobile by the day.
- The software offers cloud storage.
- Its gamut of features include tools for administering contacts, accounting/invoicing, leads, cases, and opportunity tracking.
- The software also sports a planner tool.
Daybyday CRM is a customer relationship management solution that is provided both as a self-managed open-source option as well as a proprietary platform.
Although it appears that this software is not yet popular with too many end-users, I am listing it as a good alternative to Zendesk for the following reasons:
- It has attracted a relatively huge amount of developer activities on GitHub. As of June 2021, the software has garnered over 1700 stars and 650 forks in the developer community.
- Like Zendesk, It offers third-party integrations to popular tools like Dropbox, Google Drive, Dinero, and Billy.
- Its functions extend to other aspects of business operations like invoicing, HR management, and many more.
Every business is a living system. So, like any other living system, the health of any business depends on that of its constituting parts.
However, if any aspect of business operations may be considered to be more important than the rest, maybe it’s going to be customer relationship management.
Hence, the painstaking time I have been through to sniff out these open source alternatives to Zendesk for you.
I have developed a 10-member list in order to cover as many use situations as possible. What you consider the best among them would eventually boil down to your unique situation and perception.
What is my top pick among these tools? Although it is difficult to decide an answer to this question given that each of these offers packs a unique set of features, I leave that honor with Freshworks CRM.
My main reason for this choice is because of Freshworks’ depth in artificial intelligence. This is an era in which AI is everything when it comes to the quality of software and the value it delivers to its users.
It is no wonder that, among all the software programs sampled on the list, Freshworks CRM is the only one that is able to offer such next-gen values as issuing extremely targeted communication at prospects based on how they interact with a company’s products and services.
Tom loves to write on technology, e-commerce & internet marketing. I started my first e-commerce company in college, designing and selling t-shirts for my campus bar crawl using print-on-demand. Having successfully established multiple 6 & 7-figure e-commerce businesses (in women’s fashion and hiking gear), I think I can share a tip or 2 to help you succeed.