What Product Managers Can Learn: Zendesk vs. Help Scout

SlingshotAt Accompa, we strive to provide the best customer service we possibly can. It is one of our key differentiators.

A big part of being able to provide consistently excellent customer service is having the right tools & processes. To this end, our Support team had been using Zendesk for several years.

But they switched recently to Help Scout. When I talked with them about it, I realized this switch had a very interesting lesson for product managers. In this post, I’d like to highlight this lesson.

Before we get going, couple of quick disclaimers…


Help Scout has *not* compensated me in any form for this post. Perhaps they should! 😉 While your experience may vary, this post is based on our team’s & my actual experiences.

Zendesk is a trademark of Zendesk, Inc. Help Scout is a trademark of Help Scout. The owner of this blog – Accompa, Inc. – is NOT affiliated with the trademark owners. We’re referring to these trademarks in this post as per the “nominative fair use” doctrine of the U.S. trademark law.

Whew, we got that out of the way! Now let us look at why our team switched to Help Scout…

Why Our Support Team Switched from Zendesk to Help Scout

Zendesk is a good help desk software. They took the traditional help desk and put it on the cloud. They’ve been reliable over the years, and our team appreciated it.

But, at Accompa, we’re always looking for ways to provide better & better customer service.

Our support team felt Help Scout enabled them to provide a much more personal customer service. As a result, we switched from Zendesk to Help Scout – in spite of the extra work involved in making such a switch.

So, Is Help Scout Better Than Zendesk?

Does this mean Help Scout is a better product? The answer to that, of course, depends on your company’s needs! That said, Help Scout is better at meeting our company’s needs. How so?

  1. Feedback from our support team:
    Our support team believes Help Scout enables us to provide a more personal service to our customers. Customer experience now feels like exchanging direct, personal emails – rather than impersonal ticket numbers, etc. It has made our support guys/gals happier too, and this leads to even better customer service.
  2. My personal experience:
    A few days ago, I had to file a support ticket with the company who hosts this blog. I had to jump through a couple of really frustrating hoops before I could even access their Zendesk to file a ticket. Although they provided good service once I filed the ticket, I felt they could’ve provided an even better customer experience using a tool like Help Scout.

In case you’re thinking “Oh, this is just one company’s experience” – please note we’re not the only ones who made such a switch and are writing about it!

This leads to my key takeaway for product managers…

The BIG Lesson for Product Managers

So, what is the lesson for product managers? It is revealed when we consider the underlying reason behind both of my data points above:

Help Scout has re-imagined the user experience of a help desk system. Instead of being bound by what traditional help desks do, they have totally re-thought it & made it way simpler.

To the customer being served, it feels like a personal email – rather than an impersonal ticket system. For the support agents, it feels much simpler to use – like sending an email, rather than wrestling with tickets.

How can you apply this lesson to your product?

Re-imagine the product or feature you’re building. Instead of just following “industry best practices” or “traditional ways” of doing something – seek to radically simplify it and provide a dramatically simpler user experience.

This will increase your odds of success – especially if you are competing against entrenched incumbents. Plus, your users will thank you for making their lives simpler too!

To your success…

Michael Shrivathsan

I'm your author, Michael Shrivathsan, an expert in product management with successful experience at several innovative companies in Silicon Valley, USA over the past two decades. I'm also a USPTO patent recipient. For my day job, I'm the VP of Product Management at Accompa, we make the popular requirements management software used by Product Management, Business Analysis, and related teams.

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