Freshdesk CRM review

Freshdesk CRM offers outstanding support center tools at a steep price

Freshdesk CRM
(Image: © Freshdesk)

TechRadar Verdict

Freshdesk is a powerful CRM that offers email ticketing, live chat, and phone support for your customers. It’s very easy to use and boasts tons of features, but plans that include automation can be pricey.


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    Very easy to use

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    Integrated ticketing, chat, and phone support

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    Includes automations and chatbots


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    Expensive, especially for chatbots

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    Advanced reports have a steep learning curve

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Freshdesk CRM is a customer support platform from Freshworks. This CRM platform offers a help desk, messaging center, and call center all in one. In our Freshdesk CRM review, we help you decide if this is the best CRM software for your business. We'll also take a close look at its live chat functionality to see how the platform competes against other solutions in this field. 

Freshdesk is designed specifically for customer engagement, and is one of a series of Freshworks CRMs with different focuses – including Freshmarketer for marketing, Freshsales for sales management, and Freshservice for IT support.

If you're looking for an all-in-one CRM that combines sales and marketing, we recommend Freshsales Suite.

Freshdesk review: Snapshot

Freshdesk is a capable CRM that enables your business to offer outstanding customer support. The platform helps you manage email ticketing, live chat support, and a call center, and it’s much simpler to use than competing CRMs like Zendesk.

It offers a number of useful tools for team collaboration, including shared inboxes and tools for automating the organization of incoming requests. The software also includes highly advanced reporting features, although using them involves a steep learning curve.

Freshdesk is one of the more expensive support center platforms we have reviewed, so it may not be suitable for businesses on a tight budget. However, if you can handle the software’s cost, it’s one of the top CRM platforms for customer support.

Score: 4.5/5

Read on for the full review.

5 reasons why small businesses need a CRM

Freshdesk competitors

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How does Freshdesk compare to its main competitors?
Header Cell - Column 0 FreshdeskZendeskLiveAgent
ProsVery easy to use - Integrated ticketing, chat, and phone supportBuild your own custom plan - Customizable reports and dashboardsAutomatic ticket routing - Affordable plan options
ConsExpensive - Advanced reporting is complicatedConfusing user interface - No asset management featuresNo chat-to-SMS - Doesn’t offer phone support
VerdictFreshdesk is a capable support center CRM that’s very easy to learn and use. However, it can be pricey, especially if you want automation or chatbots.Zendesk is a versatile CRM that lets you create an online knowledge base and answer customer questions. You can build custom plans, but advanced features are pricey.LiveAgent is an affordable, easy-to-use platform for chatting with customers online. However, it doesn’t offer options for phone support.
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Freshdesk: Key features

Freshdesk is split into three modules: Support Center, Messaging, and Contact Center.

The Support Center module handles customer support tickets. You can set up ticketing across multiple platforms, including your website, an app, social media, and more. New tickets can go not only to an individual but also to shared inboxes to enable collaboration. Teams can share tickets with other teams, as well as split up tasks to speed up answering complex requests.

More advanced features include "Agent Collision Detection", which prevents multiple agents from unknowingly working on the same ticket. Freshdesk also supports SLA Management, so you can set deadlines for ticket response and/or resolution. This is made easier by the "Ticket Field Suggester" which can automatically categorize tickets and make sensible suggestions for filling fields. 

We were also impressed to see that Freshdesk has a built-in "Thank You Detector". This prevents tickets from being reopened if a customer responds with a thank you. 

Messaging, formerly known as Freshchat, is Freshdesk’s chatbot service. You can deploy automated chatbots across your website, mobile app, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Telegram, and Apple Messages. As for support tickets, incoming messages can be directed to a shared inbox to promote collaboration within support teams. Tickets can also be automatically assigned to agents based on certain keywords and/or priorities. 

Looking at the CRM's live chat functionality, specifically, the feature works well, making it easy for businesses to convert their support emails and chat transcripts into Freshdesk tickets. As such, all your important customer engagements can be kept in a single place. With Freshdesk CRM, you'll soon find that your customer records have a lot more context, leading to a more positive experience - for your customers and support staff. 

Freshdesk: Highlights

Contact Center, formerly called Freshcaller, is a voice-over-IP (VoIP) service that lets your business answer incoming phone calls from customers. It supports agents in more than 90 countries and lets you bring your own carrier if you already have one. Contact Center automatically records and transcribes calls, and agents can even switch a phone call to live chat. You can also reduce agent workload through using IVR (Interactive Voice Response) bots powered by AI to answer repetitive queries.

Freshdesk tracks all support interactions between your company and your customers, giving you detailed insights into everything that’s happened on a customer’s account in the past. For any contact, you can see current tickets, archived tickets, agent notes, transcripts of past chat and phone conversations, and more.

You can also tag and segment contacts to organize your database, and offer priority support to some customers.

Contact Center is part of Freshdesk's "Omnichannel", which supports converting calls into tickets with just one click.

Freshdesk: What’s new?

More recent efforts have focused on using Freshdesk's "Freddy AI" to generate plausible responses to customers and boost productivity. Freshdesk has introduced a number of features around this such as 'Summarize'. 

This feature is only available to Enterprise users and has to be enabled from the Admin Panel. Still, if you're signed up it's a great way to automatically generate a summary of a ticket based on all replies up to that point. This makes tickets much easier and quicker to hand off to new agents. You can also keep hold of the ticket and have 'Freddy' generate a new summary as new replies are received.

We were also very impressed to see Freddy being used to deploy the 'Rephrase' feature. This is useful for agents dealing directly with customers as it can automatically reformat your co-workers responses to use more formal English, as well as tidy up any spelling/grammar errors. Again this feature is currently offered to Enterprise customers only.

Freshdesk: Pricing

Freshdesk offers four Support Desk plans, which don’t include Messaging and Call Center, and three Omnichannel plans, which do. You can try out any plan for 21 days before committing to a subscription. Freshdesk lets you pay monthly or annually, and annual subscribers save 17%. 

You can try out any of the plans as a free trial for 21 days. This includes Enterprise or Pro Omnichannel Plan. There's no need to provide a credit card up front but you can do so any time during the trial if you want to extend your subscription. You can upgrade or downgrade your pricing plan if you wish. Payment is on a "pay as you go" basis, so there are no cancellation fees.

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Freshdesk’s pricing plans:
Plan type/featureFreeGrowthProEnterpriseGrowth OmnichannelPro OmnichannelEnterprise OmnichannelZendesk Suite TeamLiveAgent Ticket
Cost per monthFree$18 per agent$59 per agent$95/agent$35 per agent$71 per agent$119 per agent$59 per agent$15 per agent
Cost per year (save 17%)Free$180 per agent$588 per agent$948 per agent$348 per agent$708 per agent$1,188 per agent$588 per agent$180 per agent
Automated responsesX
Customer segmentationXXXXX
Local call minutes per monthXXXX2,0003,0005,000N/AN/A
Bot sessions per monthXXX5,0002,0003,0005,00050X

Testing Freshdesk

We tested out Freshdesk to see how easy the platform is to use, and how it handles reporting. The reporting test is particularly important, because if the data Freshdesk collects isn’t helping your company improve customer service, then the software isn’t doing its job.

How easy is it to use Freshdesk?

Freshdesk's dashboard in use

Freshdesk’s dashboard displays a summary of new support requests and customer satisfaction (Image credit: Freshworks)

We were impressed with how simple it felt to use Freshdesk, especially given the breadth of tools included in the platform. The Support Desk, Messaging, and Contact Center modules are neatly organized into a left-hand menu along with your contact database, reporting center, and administrative settings. 

A right-hand sidebar displays customization options as you navigate through Freshdesk, so you don’t have to deal with pop-ups or buried pages.

When you first log into Freshdesk, an overview dashboard gives agents a clear look at everything that’s on their plates. There’s a summary of new, unresolved, and due today tickets, plus a to-do list based on what tasks you or team members have been assigned. The dashboard also shows the results of customer satisfaction surveys, which helps agents keep track of how they’re doing.

We especially liked the layout of Freshdesk’s Support Center, which is set up like an email inbox. A tag makes it easy to identify new support tickets, and every ticket can be assigned a priority level. Plus, you can filter all tickets in your inbox based on what agent or team they’re assigned to, what priority level they have, or when the next response is due.

How good is Freshdesk’s reporting?

Freshdesk's reporting demonstrated

Freshdesk’s pre-made reports let you quickly analyze support ticket load and agent performance (Image credit: Freshworks)

Freshdesk offers built-in reports and analysis tools to help you constantly improve the quality of your customer service. We thought the platform did a great job with its pre-made reports, which offer customizable charts for support ticket load, agent and team productivity, and customer satisfaction surveys. You can filter these reports by agent, team, or support type, and it’s simple to export them to a PDF.

If you want more detailed analytics, Freshdesk gets a lot more complicated quickly. The platform’s custom report builder lets you drag and drop analysis widgets onto a page to create your own dashboards. There are some templates to get you started, but for the most part, you’ll add blank charts and tables, and then select what data to display. You can also add images and text boxes, customize the fonts and colors for each graph, and more.

The flexibility this offers is hard to beat, especially if you want to create a professional-looking report for a big meeting. However, the learning curve is quite steep when building your first few reports, and it takes a lot of time to work through all the customization options.

Freshdesk: Security

The good people of Freshworks seem to take security very seriously. The company claims that its servers are hosted in "world-class data centers that are protected by biometric locks and 24-hour surveillance".

All Freshdesk accounts come with an SSL certificate, which is enabled by default. Customers are free to set up their own support domain or vanity URL. You can also set up your own custom SSL URL - Freshworks claim they can get this feature up and running in 72 hours.

If you want to add multiple portals to your Freshdesk account, these can also use SSL authentication, though it's not clear from Freshwork's Security page if this means your account can support multiple SSL certificates.

You can lock down your account still further by setting up whitelists to only allow connections from known office network addresses for your agents. The whitelist can also be connected to a VPN to allow co-workers to dial in remotely if necessary. 

Freshdesk also supports simple logins via SSO (Single Sign On), so employees can use your existing Active Directory or online accounts like Google to authenticate themselves. 

It's also fairly easy to make your data HIPPA or GDPR-compliant. Freshdesk supports creating multiple encrypted fields in forms for storing personal data. It's also very simple to export or delete customer data in response to data protection requests.

Freshworks also claims that all customer data is encrypted when at rest and that they use SHA-256 encoding (presumably for storing sensitive data like passwords and credit card numbers).

Freshdesk support

(Image credit: Freshworks)

Freshdesk: Support

Freshdesk support pages are well-laid out and contain all the sections you'd expect for navigating such a complex platform. We were particularly delighted to see a "Getting Started" section which includes common topics like setting up support channels and getting to grips with the Admin section.

The 'Community' section allows Freshdesk users to share "how tos" and "best practices". There are contributions from Freshworks staff too, such as regular posts about new features.

The small video library also has some excellent instructions on how to perform basic tasks like converting Gmail messages to support tickets. Freshworks even has a dedicated academy where Agents can train how to use the platform and earn certification.

If customers run into further difficulties, the website does post an e-mail address and contact number. Subscribers can use these to contact Freshdesk support at any time. 

Alternatives to Freshdesk

Freshdesk isn’t the only CRM focused on helping you offer exceptional customer support. Zendesk and LiveAgent are two competing software platforms that give you tools for ticketing, live chat, and phone support.

We found Zendesk to be extremely versatile. It offers more than 1,000 apps and integrations, and includes automation features at a cheaper price point than Freshdesk. Plus, it has an internal help desk, which is a great tool for larger companies.

The downside to Zendesk is that it’s not as user-friendly as Freshdesk. For small companies that want to get a support center up and running quickly, that could be an important reason to choose the latter.

LiveAgent is more affordable than Freshdesk, but we found that this platform doesn’t offer nearly the same depth of features. Ticketing takes a backseat to live chat support within the platform, which means that there are fewer reporting options and automations for ticketing. It also doesn’t offer phone support at all. 

So, LiveAgent can be a good option if you primarily want to set up chat support, but it’s not as powerful as Freshdesk for creating a complete support center.

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Freshdesk’s features compared to the competition
Header Cell - Column 0 FreshdeskZendeskLiveAgent
Ticketing?YesYesYes (limited)
Live chat with bots?Yes (limited monthly bot responses)YesYes
Support24-hour chat and phone24-hour phone, email, and live chat24-hour phone, email, and live chat
Basic plan$12.99 a month$16.99 a month$2.99 a month

Freshdesk: Final verdict

Freshdesk is high-quality CRM software that can help your company set up a comprehensive customer support center. It supports email ticketing, live chat, and phone support, and works across all the channels your company operates on. Plus, Freshdesk includes automations and chatbots with its higher-tier plans. 

Despite the large number of tools and features that Freshdesk brings to the table, we found the software to be surprisingly easy to use. It’s well organized, and makes it easy to start answering tickets and chats right away. The only area where we found friction was in the advanced reporting tools, which are so advanced that they can be difficult to master.

The only real downside to Freshdesk is its cost. Features like workflow automation are pricey, and you’ll need an expensive Omnichannel subscription if you want to add live chat or phone capabilities to your support center. Zendesk offers a similar set of features at a significantly lower price, but it’s not as easy to use. So if your company has a large enough budget, we’d recommend sticking with Freshdesk.

Further reading on CRM software

If you’re interested in learning more about CRMs like Freshdesk, check out our guides to the best CRM for small business and the best CRM for real estate. We’ve also reviewed the best free CRM software, and explained why your small business needs a CRM.

Michael Graw

Michael Graw is a freelance journalist and photographer based in Bellingham, Washington. His interests span a wide range from business technology to finance to creative media, with a focus on new technology and emerging trends. Michael's work has been published in TechRadar, Tom's Guide, Business Insider, Fast Company, Salon, and Harvard Business Review. 

With contributions from