Drift v. Intercom v. Zendesk: Customer Success Platforms Compared

Oliver Bridge

Setting your customers up for success means you’re setting your brand up for success. 

Customer success software varies considerably based on factors like price, industry, and business goals. But, broadly speaking, tools that fall into this category allow you to do the following:

  • Capture customer data
  • Build or identify customer profiles
  • Collect and analyze feedback
  • Engage customers throughout the sales cycle
  • Predict future customer growth or ID red flags based on interactions, transactions, complaints, and more
  • Track engagement efforts

And that’s just scratching the surface. The point is, customer success tools allow you to build better relationships with your audience by customizing content and serving up the right message at the right time.

In this article, we’ll look at Drift vs. Intercom vs. Zendesk to help you get a sense of how customer success platforms can help you deliver better experiences to your audience.


Intercom describes itself as a customer messaging platform designed to help sales, marketing, and support teams drive better experiences through its advanced messaging features. Inside, you’ll find customer success tools like targeted messaging, multichannel communications, and smart chatbots that can qualify leads or answer customer FAQs. 

Key Features

Messenger. Intercom Messenger is the personalized home screen at the center of the platform. It’s part CRM, part inbox, and designed to host all of your conversations, integrations, and more. You can also chat with users in real-time and capture lead data.


Team Inbox. A team inbox is a collaborative tool that allows teams to work together to offer customer support, without getting in each other’s way. The inbox is easy to scan—allowing teams to track bugs and see who is waiting for a reply. Users can build teams, assign tasks to colleagues, and save replies to FAQs. 

Track User Data. You can group your users together based on who they are and what they do in your product. Use standard (data Intercom already has) or custom attributes (data that you send to Intercom) to build segments and track activity. Or, track users based on events (actions they take on your site or app). Data can be used to track customer success, identify qualified leads, and more.


Mobile Functionality. Intercom also works as a mobile app, which makes this a solid choice for sales, service, and marketing teams that need to respond to leads on-the-go.

Chatbots. Chatbot functionality depends on the type of plan you choose. Customer service plans come with an Answerbot designed to answer support questions, while sales plans use bots to collect data and ask qualifying questions to identify hot leads.


Targeted Messaging. Customer engagement users can use customer data to set up campaigns based on behavior, demographics, and more across a wide range of channels. Users can also collect feedback using NPS surveys, A/B test messages, and track performance metrics, all in one place.

Knowledgebase and Self-Service. Teams can also improve customer success by allowing them to help themselves. The platform allows users to create branded knowledge base content and use automated bots and self-serve support tickets to make things more convenient for the user.


Who is it For?

Intercom’s three pricing plans—service, sales, and marketing—show that the platform works for several types of users, each modifying a similar set of features to meet the needs of different teams—i.e. a lead generation bot vs. a support bot.

Still, if you want something that can be used by multiple departments, you’ll need to pay for the all-in-one plan, which offers the full range of features.


In all, Intercom is a well-rounded tool, designed to deliver customer success from all angles be it sales, marketing, customer service, or all three. It’s also worth mentioning, Bonjoro’s Intercom integration allows brands to connect video messaging to each stage in the journey, and continue the conversation on any channel connected to your messenger.


Drift is a cloud-based platform specializing in conversational marketing features that help sales and marketing teams close more deals. Drift offers customizable chat playbooks, email automation, and access to conversation histories—all of which come together to help teams capture and convert more leads. 

Key Features

Driftbot. Drift’s Driftbot is an intelligent sales assistant that serves up content, answers questions, and automatically assigns conversations to the right person. Driftbot operates on a system of custom rules, which you can build from scratch or use one of the platform’s playbooks. 


Drift Intelligence. Drift Intel allows brands to create company profiles for anonymous visitors that land on the site. This feature is powered by Clearbit and is used to collect details like the company name, industry, how many employees they have, funding, and other details that give sales and marketing the context needed to inform pitches, marketing materials, and conversations.

Intelligent Lead Routing. In addition to helping brands build out profiles, Drift Intel arms businesses with demographic information that can then be used to route incoming leads to the best rep for the job.

Real-Time Screen Recording. This feature allows Drift users to hop on a call with prospects and use screen share to add more context to the conversation. What makes this feature unique is, users can record these screen share chats, allowing them to analyze and learn from sales calls, use recorded content to create tutorials or social media posts, or walk customers through a series of steps. 


Who is it For?

Unlike Zendesk and Intercom, Drift is upfront about the fact that the platform isn’t really built for customer support. Instead, they make it very clear that the platform is specifically designed for sales and marketing teams but offer plans that support everyone from individuals to enterprises and early-stage startups.


Users can access basic chat for free, though the more sophisticated tools will cost you. Team plans that come with sales enablement tools, custom bots, and CRM routing will run businesses $400/month.

Drift is a powerful platform, but its core functionalities support sales and marketing alignment more than service and success activities. 


Zendesk used to be purely a support ticket tool, but they’ve since introduced Zendesk Suite, which brings more features into the fold that help teams from e-commerce brands to SaaS companies deliver a better CX to their audience. 

It’s almost impossible to go through every Zendesk feature, but the company says that the tool is designed to support customers on any channel be it SMS, web, social, email, and so on, and includes AI-based workflows that make managing all of these channels more manageable. 

Zendesk Suite also provides outbound messaging for agents, a self-service portal for the general population, and an API that connects Zendesk to a wide range of integrations, including Bonjoro. 

Key Features

Customer Context. Users gain access to relevant customer details, which can be used to deliver personalized responses and solve problems without forcing users to scramble to locate key info. Instead, the platform displays interaction history right there in the workspace, offering agents increased visibility and faster solve times.

Customer Insights. Zendesk gives users access to customer insights like CSAT ratings, NPS scores, as well as a tool that makes predictions about customer satisfaction. Users also have access to an omnichannel dashboard feature, which provides an overview of channel stats like ticket volume, pending items, active chats, and more. Additionally, users can track key success factors like agent productivity, wait times, and more--tying efforts to satisfaction.


Answerbot. Zendesk’s Answerbot supports support teams by responding to customers when agents are bust, makes content recommendations to curate answers for customers, and answers softball questions so that agents can focus on more important problems.


Guided Workflows. Speed up response time by automatically guiding them through open requests.

Knowledge Capture. Zendesk’s Knowledge capture app is a smart recommendation engine that gives agents content that they can use to add more value to their customer solutions. Additionally, teams can see which content was most helpful in using the platform’s reporting tools.


Who is it For?

Zendesk is best suited for customer-facing brands that can benefit from streamlining their customer service operations. As such, we see Zendesk as more of a B2C tool, perfect for any brand that needs to answer questions, respond to social media comments, and more. 

That said, the wide range of plans and communication-oriented features mean Zendesk fits in with a diverse range of business models. 


Drift v. Intercom v. Zendesk: What’s the Verdict? 

All of the customer success platforms mentioned here include chatbots and allow users to respond to inquiries, collect data, and connect with customers in real-time. Intercom is best for teams that want centralized messaging and connected platforms tailored to each customer-facing team. Drift is ideal for users that sell products with longer sales cycles and plan on using chatbots for multiple use cases--i.e. Lead capture, qualification, support, and scheduling.

Zendesk, on the other hand, places greater emphasis on handling support tickets and answering questions, rather than moving the sales cycle forward.

In the end, the “best” customer success platform is one that fits in with your business goals and integrates with all of the essential tools. To learn more about how Bonjoro integrates with Drift, Intercom, and Zendesk, check out our integrations page.

About the author
Oliver Bridge
Growth Grizzly
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