There's been an epic battle forming over the last couple of years between two help desk SaaS products: Help Scout and Gorgias.
I've never had any issues with Help Scout. It works just fine. I almost put it in the same category I put BaseCamp – it works flawlessly for what it does. It doesn't offer a ton of bells and whistles, but it does what it does very well. Recently, however, Help Scout rolled out some pretty massive price increases, which forced me to reevaluate what we use for our companies.
In this article, I'll try to honestly assess both Help Scout and Gorgias.
- Help Scout vs. Gorgias—Do You Need Either?
- Help Scout vs. Gorgias—Pricing
- How Much More Would Gorgias Cost if You're Switching from Help Scout?
- Comparing the Features of Gorgias and Help Scout
- Email – Help Scout vs Gorgias
- Live Chat – Help Scout vs Gorgias
- Shopify Support – Help Scout vs Gorgias
- SMS Support – Help Scout vs Gorgias
- Facebook & Instagram Integrations—Help Scout vs Gorgias
- Are There Better Alternatives to Help Scout or Gorgias?
Help Scout vs. Gorgias—Do You Need Either?
Let's first discuss the third option: not using Help Scout or Gorgias, i.e., skipping SaaS altogether.
For my last company that I ran up until the end of 2016, we never had any help desk software. We had three people working in customer service in some capacity, and we simply used a shared email account managed within Google Apps. We use a series of stars to assign “tickets” to people: yellow for me, blue for Linda, and green for Mark. When we wanted to assign a ticket to someone, we'd just change the star color to that person. If we wanted to leave a note, we'd save a draft email. And you know what? This system actually worked pretty well, and it was completely free (really—we were on a legacy $0 Google Apps plan).
Now there are a whole bunch of reasons why this probably isn't the ideal solution, but for a small team, it works quite decently, especially if faced with the potential option of a $50+ per month SaaS fee that you're going to pay to either Help Scout or Gorgias.
Help Scout vs. Gorgias—Pricing
I won't address functionality yet because if you're reading this, there's a good chance you're considering pricing primarily.
The pricing models of Gorgias and Help Scout are vastly different. Help Scout charges on a per user basis (so it basically has unlimited inboxes), and Gorgias charges on a per ticket basis. Here's a summary of each pricing model: Help Scout's pricing is annoying, especially as your team grows, and Gorgias' pricing appears low but it's almost certainly higher than you imagine.
Help Scout charges per user no matter how often they use Help Scout. As your team grows, you will almost certainly be faced with a situation like we were: Ben only responds to a couple of emails a month. Do we really need to give him his own Help Scout account? So if you're a team of three people, you'll pay $75/month no matter how many tickets they respond to.
Gorgias, on the other hand, charges per ticket. A ticket is any email, chat message, or SMS message with a customer that you respond to. So if a customer emails you about a product AND you respond, this will count as a ticket.
Subsequent follow-up emails will not count as a ticket unless they don't respond to you within five days and then reply again after five days (which is a bit annoying—customers not replying within a few days isn't atypical. A 30-day window would be fairer). A customer opening a chat with you is a ticket. And, if you have an autoresponder setup that responds to emails, all of those will count as tickets.
With Gorgias, for $60/month on their monthly plan, you'll get 300 tickets and then be charged $40 for extra 100 tickets. So, if you get 600 tickets in a month, you'll be charged $60 + ($40×3) (or $180/month for the mathematically challenged).
How Much More Would Gorgias Cost if You're Switching from Help Scout?
For the companies I run, the first thing I did, of course, was to calculate how much more Gorgias would cost. The two biggest companies are the e-commerce outdoor brands I run and EcomCrew.
Our e-commerce brands are 90% Amazon. It means that we get very few tickets outside of Amazon, and the tickets we get we handle directly on Amazon.
For these brands, we handle support mainly through email and SMS messages, through an in-house app we have. I ran a monthly report in Help Scout for July, and we had helped only 23 customers through email plus 15 others—much lower than the 300 emails we would get with Gorgias. We also had three users, so we're paying $75/month.
With EcomCrew, our number of tickets was quite a bit higher, but not significantly (which surprised me).
In July, we only had 62 tickets opened, all through email. In addition, we had a handful of Facebook messages that we responded to, which would also count as tickets. Again though, in both cases, we were well below the 300 ticket cap on the $60/month plan on Gorgias.
The big takeaway? We're not helping nearly enough customers with any of my brands!
Comparing the Features of Gorgias and Help Scout
To be blunt, Help Scout has no features that Gorgias doesn't. This isn't that surprising either. Gorgias' pricing model is made to incentivize you to connect with as many channels as possible because each time you respond to a customer from one of those channels within Gorgias, it's going to count as a ticket. With Help Scout, you're paying a flat fee, so they're getting the same moolah whether you respond to one customer or a million.
With that being said, Help Scout does offer a lot of integrations, with two biggies missing: Facebook/Instagram and SMS.
Email—Help Scout vs. Gorgias
Not surprisingly, both Gorgias and Help Scout offer email support, and they're basically identical. Trying to give an edge to one over the other in terms of email support would be pointless and disingenuous.
Live Chat—Help Scout vs. Gorgias
Help Scout and Gorgias both offer live chat, and both are fairly similar and integrate quite easily. The biggest difference is in Self-Service (you know, where customers can enter into a question/answer tree).
Shopify Support—Help Scout vs. Gorgias
Both Gorgias and Help Scout offer fairly decent support for Shopify. Both allow you to view order information directly in their apps. Gorgias also allows you to edit order information directly within it, but this isn't likely to be that big of a selling feature for most e-commerce store owners.
SMS Support—Help Scout vs. Gorgias
For my e-commerce brands, SMS is integral. We don't offer phone support, only SMS. This was the selling feature of Gorgias for us. We had a number with Twillio integrated through our customer app, and Gorgias helped port the number over to their platform in a matter of hours (if we didn't have a number, we could register one with Gorgias).
Each text message that comes in creates a customer support ticket. In my opinion, SMS is vital for customer support, but so few e-commerce brands offer it. Nobody wants to pick up a phone nowadays, especially younger generations. SMS is also so much easier to handle overseas than voice calls (which Gorgias also offers).
Facebook and Instagram Integrations—Help Scout vs. Gorgias
The other biggies for most people will be Facebook and Instagram support. If you work with a lot of influencers or get a lot of brand mentions, it's nice to be able to see all of this in one platform. Having these mentions forcibly set up as support tickets means our people now will more or less be forced to reply to these mentions (which they should be!).
Help Scout can integrate via a Zap with Zapier, but this obviously isn't an ideal solution.
Are There Better Alternatives to Help Scout or Gorgias?
Let's be clear about something as well—there are a lot of players in the help desk space. Here are just a handful of them:
I've heard great things about each of these products individually. If there's one connecting thread with most help desk products, it's that they all seem to have very pleased customer bases, but, by the same token, they're all fairly comparable and there's not one standout “best-in-class” winner.
All the help desk SaaS products do a very good job. It's a super competitive space, and the bar is set high for all of them.
We ultimately switched to Gorgias from Help Scout for our e-commerce brands strictly for the SMS support and because the pricing scaled better with our company because we had a low number of tickets and need four or five individual user accounts.
Which help desk product are you using? Let me know your thoughts below.