by Suzie Blaszkiewicz
Published on 28 March 2016
When 17-year-old Varun Shoor started work on Kayako from his bedroom in Jalandhar, India in 2001, he probably never imagined that it would be one of the leading customer support and helpdesk platforms on the market. Since then, a whole host of alternatives to Kayako have sprung up, taking a cue from one of the modern forefathers of customer support software.
Having developed the software with the idea of affordability and flexibility in mind, the Kayako team created an on-premise version of the software, Kayako Download, followed by a cloud-based helpdesk, Kayako OnDemand, in 2003. Since then, the Kayako team has expanded to 140 employees and four international offices, all without receiving a single round of funding.
Shoor's focus has always been on making helpdesk software that's accessible to everyone. With one of the most active helpdesk community forums online, as well as a community license giving free software to charities and open-source projects, Kayako has stood out among the software crowd as one of most accessible helpdesk vendors on the market.
Although it may be one of the pioneers in helpdesk delivery via the cloud, however, there are now a whole host of alternatives to Kayako when it comes to cloud-based customer support and helpdesk software. Depending on what you're looking for, there might be some Kayako competitors that better suit your small business' needs.
Kayako Download costs $3,000 a year for 10 users with its 'Case' plan, which includes ticket and email management. Its 'Fusion' plan, which adds live chat and voice functionality, costs $4,000 a year for 10 users. If you want more direct customer interaction, its 'Engage' price plan for $3,000 a year will give you live chat and voice call for 10 users.
Kayako OnDemand starts at a more reasonable $24 per user per month for the 'Case' plan, while the 'Fusion' plan is $39 per user per month. Similar to its on-premise pricing model, the 'Engage' plan for on-demand is $24 per month per user.
LiveAgent is a popular Kayako alternative among users because of its affordable and flexible pricing plans. The support ticket-only function is $9 per month per user, although bundling three users gets you a discount from $27 to $19. The ticket and chat function is $14 a month, while the all-inclusive package is only $19 per month per user. Again, you can reduce the cost for as little as three users.
GetApp reviewer, Nick Vitsinksy, says: "I've been searching for a complex solution that would cover our company needs. Live Agent seemed to be a perfect solution. Especially for its price-quality-functionality ratio."
With big names like NASA, Intel and Avast noted as users, Kayako appeals mostly to enterprise-sized businesses. Popular industry sectors using Kayako include education, telecoms, manufacturing, and finance. Because many of its users are enterprise companies, it may not be perfectly suited for small businesses.
A better Kayako alternative for small businesses is Deskero. As one GetApp reviewer notes, the software is "ideal for small contact centers or pull-based environment." Another reviewer likes its "all-in-one customer support system and great social features… [it] integrates live-chat as well as social monitoring. Good tool even for small business…"
With the first agent free and pricing starting at $4 per user per month to try out the software, Deskero is a good option for small businesses looking to make a start with helpdesk and customer support software.
Kayako Download doesn't haven't any native integrations, relying instead on the Kayako API to integrate with other software. Kayako OnDemand does offer native software integrations, although it only integrates with 20 percent of the most popular applications on GetApp. This group includes MailChimp, Salesforce, WordPress, and Magento, as well as Basecamp and FreshBooks.
Zendesk is the leader among Kayako competitors for integrations, connecting with over 200 apps listed on GetApp and 65 percent of the most popular solutions including JIRA, SugarCRM, Slack, Shopify, and Hubspot. Says one GetApp reviewer, "since we are an existing Zopim customer, we felt right at home with the user interface and the Zopim + Zendesk integration is just pure genius. Our support team can create tickets on the fly during conversations with our customers by just clicking a single button."
Kayako offers both an iOS and Android application, although the apps get mixed reviews. The Kayako iOS app scores 2.5 stars in the App Store, while in Google Play, the Android app scores a 3.6. One iOS user says, "the mobile app is a needed component and for the most part well done. The interface is clean and simple to use! The big issue for us is there seems to be a bug in the billing section. We can post notes but if you try and add time the app crashes. Not being able to have my techs add time while in the field is a big draw back…"
Zendesk is a Kayako alternative that scores big points for its iOS and Android apps, with 3.5 stars in the App Store and 4.1 in Google Play. As one Android user says, "this app rocks. I receive approximately 100 emails a day and many are asking the same set of questions. After building out a collection of macros, I can rifle through a stack of tickets in minutes…"
Kayako gets mostly positive user reviews, although the general consensus is that the software can be a bit difficult to navigate for first-time users. Notably, most user issues with Kayako relate to quite specific problems, as one reviewer says: "the only thing that I dislike comes from the fact that we use the software as kind of a "work around" rather than a traditional Help Desk. So, some things require a couple more clicks than I'd prefer…"
With 123 reviews on GetApp and an average rating of 4.85 out of 5, the leading helpdesk software when it comes to user reviews is LiveChat. Many users praise its ease of use, implementation, and customer support, but its biggest compliment is its usefulness for connecting with customers.
One GetApp reviewer says: "We receive positive feedback on a daily basis from customers. They love how quick and easy it is to get the information they need using LiveChat. We have agents of all ages and computer skill levels using the program - it's easy for everyone. I would recommend LiveChat to anyone looking to boost their customer satisfaction."
Kayako markets itself as a 'simple, scalable customer service software… no matter how big you get'. Having said that, Kayako's customer base- which includes FedEx, GE, and Pearson- seems to start off with mid-sized to large businesses and may not be ideal for scaling down to smaller operations.
With clients big and small, TeamSupport is a good option for scalability. Nokia, Comcast, and NBA are included in its client list, but TeamSupport is also useful for small businesses. Lester Gasiewski, accounting coordinator at BNY Mellon, says, "working for a small business, this is great. Also, even as our company grows, I feel that TS "Team Support" will also grow and be able to support our needs."
Kayako has an active online community with forums for mobile and desktop, as well as Kayako TV, which includes training videos for all of its features. As one GetApp user notes, however, it can be difficult to get your head around the software: "…the only issue we had was the time it took us to learn the software, it can do pretty much everything, but it takes time to learn where everything is configured from."
Alternative: Help Scout
Help Scout is an appropriate Kayako alternative if training and ease of use is a big factor for you. It offers almost weekly live training sessions for both Help Scout and its Docs knowledge base, as well as set 'office hours' every Thursday so that you can ask general questions.
As GetApp reviewer Rob Claisse says, "the web app was simple to setup and immediately it made sense with features that gave us the power to ensure we were giving our customers the best service possible… Great documentation so little or no training needed for new staff."
Kayako has been noted for its occasionally tricky configuration when starting with the app. As one GetApp reviewer writes, "it is a little bit fiddly to get setup, as there is a wealth of options within the admin CP and its takes quite a lot of time to figure out where everything is."
Salesforce's customer support and helpdesk software Desk.com has been noted by users for its ease of implementation, allowing employees to get up and running with the app right away. One GetApp reviewer says: "the interface is very simple, so there is no learning curve I've noticed." Another GetApp reviewer had the same experience, saying, "I really love the ease of setting up Desk.com and my agents love the user interface!"
Kayako has a good support center for updates, user guides, and FAQs, although it's currently launching a new support center with smart search and responsive design to make the support process more seamless. Having said that, the company is still working out a few kinks before its new support system goes live.
You'd expect every customer support application to have good customer support itself, and HappyFox definitely follows through on its motto to 'Provide exceptional customer support. Everyday'. One GetApp reviewer notes: "I have used HappyFox for the past 9 months and have found the software simple to use. The support staff at HappyFox are excellent, they respond quickly and competently." It also has its own support center where you can submit tickets and look through forums for common queries.
Kayako has a wiki with a changelog featuring all of its updates and releases. There, you can find detailed info and screenshots explaining some of its bigger changes, as well as get patch updates when necessary. There is also a section on its website detailing some of its newest features. Because some people have trouble getting started with Kayako, however, too many changes could steepen the learning curve.
As far as Kayako competitors go, Freshdesk is a good option when it comes to updates. With updates every month and a section in its support center devoted to release notes, Freshdesk is constantly adding new features, many of which are requested by its active community.
As one of the first on-premise helpdesk and customer support solutions to make its way into the cloud, Kayako has paved the way for many cloud-based apps that have come after it. While it's the veteran among the group, there are plenty of other options which provide the same helpdesk and customer support functions but which may cater better to your company's budget, size, or implementation needs.
Which helpdesk and customer support software do you use? Let us know by writing a review!