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Zendesk vs. Jira Service Management: Which do you need? [2023]

By Cecilia Gillen · May 31, 2023
Hero image with the Zendesk and Jira logos

I used to work at a children's shoe store, and we kept all our customer information on index cards (...yeah). So when a customer came into the store asking about their previous shoe size, naturally, we had lost their information and couldn't help them. Needless to say, little Suzie didn't get a new pair of shoes in her Easter basket, and we lost a sale. 

You may not be in the shoe biz, but the importance of quality customer service is pretty universal. If your company has an index card equivalent for organizing customer data and lending support, you're in need of help desk software. But which one should you go with? 

Zendesk for Service and Jira Service Management are two of the most popular help desk solutions on the market. I tested both apps to see how their features compare and what teams they're best for. Keep reading for my breakdown of Zendesk vs. Jira.

Zendesk vs. Jira at a glance

Both Zendesk and Jira offer ticket management solutions, but it's not really fair to compare the two platforms apples to apples. Here's why:

  • Zendesk for Service is better suited for customer support teams that require a user-friendly ticketing solution.

  • Jira Service Management is better positioned for IT support teams that will take advantage of its advanced IT service management (ITSM) features.

Having said that, there's a lot of overlapping functionality, so I dove in to see how they compare. Here's a quick comparison table, or you can keep reading for more details on my experiences with each platform.

Zendesk for Service

Jira Service Management


⭐⭐⭐ Customizable automation and triggers; interface for creating rules isn't very user-friendly and there aren't templates

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Templated automation and triggers for customer service and ITSM needs


⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ User-friendly interface; easy to process and resolve issues

⭐⭐⭐ Interface can be  overwhelming and has a steeper learning curve

Knowledge base

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Easy to add sections, moderate discussions, and preview changes

⭐⭐ Harder to navigate the knowledge base on the back end with no preview option, complicated interface, and no additional features like comment moderation


⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Multi-channel reporting, lots of customization options, and built-in formulas

⭐⭐⭐ Fewer customization options for reporting, no built-in formulas, and it's not as easy to pull data from specific channels


⭐⭐⭐⭐ 1,200+ integrations; integrates with Zapier

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 3,000+ integrations; integrates with Zapier


⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Pop-up tutorials, embedded video tutorials, and AI chatbot

⭐⭐⭐ Guided pop-up tutorials and external video guides; some interfaces are busy and technical


⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Affordable options for customer support needs

Team: $19/user/month

Professional: $49/user/month

Enterprise: $99/user/month

⭐⭐⭐⭐ More expensive for Enterprise plan, but you get more features than Zendesk

Free: $0 for 3 users

Standard: $21/user/month

Premium: $47/user/month

Enterprise: $134,500/year for 201-300 users

Jira is better for IT support teams

Both tools offer a ticket management system, but Jira is much more than just a ticketing system. With other ITSM features like asset management, change management, and problem management, Jira is a better fit for IT support teams. 

That's not to say Jira isn't equipped to aid with other customer support issues. Jira offers multiple service management templates to solve different customer satisfaction issues, including ITSM, general service management for IT and business teams, customer service management, and plenty more. 

Screenshot of Jira's project templates.

While the ITSM template has more advanced features for IT teams (obviously), the customer support template focuses solely on customer support features like ticket management, knowledge base, and reports. So Jira offers these customer service features, but Zendesk does them better (which I'll get into in a bit). 

So what ITSM-specific features do you get with Jira? First up is the asset management feature. This allows IT teams to easily track assets (like computer equipment and software) and their relevant requests. You can keep track of all your equipment in one place and link issues to related objects. 

Screenshot of Jira's asset management feature.

With the change management feature, you can do things like create change plans, assess risks, track deployment, and view changes in a calendar. From the Changes project, it was easy to switch between priority views and quickly see the status of each change request—features that make the lives of IT teams much easier. 

Screenshot of Jira's change management feature.

It was smooth sailing navigating the change calendar. With project, status, and assignee filters (plus so many more), you can easily narrow your view to just the information you need. You also have multiple calendar view options: day, week, month, and list.

Screenshot of change management calendar in Jira.

Jira also offers a problem management feature for ITSM. With this feature, you can group multiple incidents into one problem, so IT team members can identify trends and get to the root of the issue. 

Screenshot of the problem management feature in Jira.

If your company also uses Jira Software, you can check any recent releases there to help diagnose the problem. 

And it doesn't end there. Jira's automation options go beyond basic ticket management with additions like issue management triggers, DevOps triggers, and release management triggers. 

Screenshot of trigger templates in Jira.

Technically, you could use Zendesk ticketing for ITSM. But it certainly isn't built for it, and it's lacking many ITSM-specific features (like asset tracking) that make Jira a better fit for IT teams.

Zendesk is better for external customer support teams

While Jira really shows off when it comes to ITSM, Zendesk has more to offer in terms of external customer support.

One example: its chat feature. Not only can agents assist customers via chat, but you can also set up a bot to automatically reply to customers to speed up your workflow. Jira does have a chat feature, but agents can only respond via a Slack or Teams connection, and the platform doesn't offer a built-in chatbot.

With Zendesk, you can customize the flow of conversation your bot should lead customers through, determining what questions it should ask and what data to collect. You can set up automated triggers to program the bot to hand the customer off to the best agent for the job. 

While I don't love the interface for setting up these automated triggers, since there aren't any templated options and making your own involves a lot of dropdown boxes, the opportunities for what you could do with the chatbot are huge. 

Screenshot of Zendesk chat trigger options.

Another customer support feature Zendesk does really well is its knowledge base. Zendesk allows you to add FAQs, community discussions, feature requests, and announcements. The interface for managing all of these sections is so straightforward that you definitely don't need to be a pro at creating landing pages to configure the knowledge base. 

Screenshot of a knowledge base article in Zendesk.

The Jira interface for managing your knowledge base isn't as user-friendly or visual. Every page I went to edit opened in another, more confusing tab—not to mention, I couldn't find an option to preview my base as the end user would see it. 

Screenshot of knowledge base in Jira.

Zendesk also has a section in its knowledge base interface where agents can easily moderate any community discussions and filter spam—a feature I couldn't find on Jira. 

Zendesk offers better reporting

Zendesk's reporting is more robust than Jira's. You can pull in data from multiple channels, including calls, chat, answer bot, and articles from your knowledge base. And within those channels, you can pull in any metric you could possibly need—and add columns, rows, and explosions (which let you show multiple charts side by side). Then you can visualize and customize your data however you see fit and even use built-in formulas or save your own custom formula for a specific metric.

Screenshot of Zendesk's reporting features.

Jira also has a reporting feature, but it's not as easy to pull data from specific channels, and there aren't nearly as many customization options as Zendesk.

Zendesk is easier to use for help desk beginners

Zendesk is a lot easier to navigate when you're just getting started with the platform. It has a whole Get started tab with a rundown of all its features, complete with video guides. 

Screenshot of Zendesk's video guides.

As you explore each feature, there are detailed pop-up boxes at each step and even a chatbot to help guide you through the platform. 

Screenshot of Zendesk's help chatbot.

You get a different experience with Jira. While the guided tour popped up eventually, for some reason it wasn't triggered as soon as I opened the dashboard, so I was flying by the seat of my pants for a while until it decided to start helping me out.

There's also a world's difference between navigating an open ticket in Zendesk vs. Jira. Take a look at what an open ticket in Jira looks like. I literally gasped when I opened it. 

Screenshot of an open ticket in Jira.

There's so much going on. Tabs on both sides, tabs above, tabs everywhere. Now, I'm not an IT professional, so on some level, this will probably always be a little overwhelming to me. But the number of options you have for working through a ticket might make it hard to find what you need quickly.

Compare that to this open ticket in Zendesk, which navigated me through all the fields with multiple pop-ups when I first launched the sample ticket. 

Screenshot of an open ticket in Zendesk.

While there are fewer advanced options, the interface is cleaner and doesn't have me shaking in my boots trying to navigate it. Sure, there isn't an option to link affected hardware, but it's a lot easier to find crucial elements like the ticket status dropdown box. For customer support, it makes a lot more sense.

Jira's features also aren't all housed within Jira. For example, in order to manage alerts, you're navigated to Opsgenie, a totally separate Atlassian app. It felt like a game of musical chairs trying to use the platform. Again, this is par for the course for an IT tech stack, but if you're just trying to use it for customer support, it's a lot.

Screenshot of Jira alerts in Opsgenie.

I'm sure the learning curve dissipates as you get more familiar with Jira, but I picture the setup process being a bit of a headache for customer support professionals who just want to jump into using the ticketing system.

Jira is loaded with automation and team connection features

So what are all these extra features that make Jira so much more extensive than Zendesk?


Zendesk's automation capabilities pale in comparison to Jira. There are tons of templates for creating new automation rules within Jira. For instance, you can create a rule that automatically assigns issues to agents based on workload capacity, or make a rule that reopens a closed request if a customer leaves another comment on it. 

Screenshot of Jira's automation rules options.

When you compare those options to Zendesk's automation, there's much to be desired. Unlike other Zendesk features, its automation capabilities are much more self-serve: there aren't pre-made templates to get you started.

Screenshot of Zendesk's automation options.

Creating your own automation isn't the most user-friendly process, either. Unlike Jira's templates that explain exactly what the automation or trigger will do, Zendesk just hands you a bunch of dropdown options in each category that you have to sort through to MacGyver your own automation.

Screenshot of Zendesk's dropdown list of automation options.

Create and connect teams

What I found really cool about Jira was the ability to add and manage multiple teams. You can sort of do this with Zendesk, but it's not as advanced (more on that in a minute). With Jira, you can create an IT team, a dev team, a customer support team, and more depending on your needs. 

Screenshot showing how to create a new team in Jira.

From there, you can click into your different groups to see team activity and project statuses, and add context about why and where that team exists. Granted, it makes sense to have interconnected IT and customer support teams in a customer support solution with an IT focus, but the functionality does open a lot of doors that Zendesk leaves closed. 

Screenshot of a team dashboard in Jira.

You can create a group in Zendesk, but it's more meant for assigning team members with certain expertise to relevant tickets, not cross-functional teams. When you click into these groups, the only information you can view is what open tickets are assigned to that group and what team members belong to that group. 

Screenshot of a group in Zendesk.

And like I mentioned earlier, Jira has multiple project templates you can use depending on what you need. That's super useful on its own, but what's even better is that you can create multiple projects, like an ITSM project and a customer service project, and switch between them. 

Screenshot showing how to switch between projects in Jira.

While you probably don't need every template Jira offers, you could separate the customer support and IT teams into different projects, so everyone gets what they need out of their project space. With Zendesk, you can create different views, but that's strictly for viewing tickets, so it's not really comparable. 

Screenshot showing how to create a new view in Zendesk.

Again, limited views may do the trick if you're only focused on general customer support issues. But if you need to work with multiple teams to solve a technical issue, Zendesk may not cut it. 

Zendesk vs. Jira: Which should you choose?

It really comes down to what you need out of the tool. If you're just looking for a ticketing system, you'll be better off sticking to Zendesk. Jira is going to be a lot for customer support professionals to navigate, and you likely won't get your money's worth from all the extra ITSM features. 

Zendesk does many general support features better than Jira, like live chat, knowledge bases, and reporting. If these features are integral to your support workflows and if you need an easy-to-use interface to manage them, Zendesk is going to be a better option for you.

But if you would take advantage of all the ITSM features Jira offers and already use other Jira software, it's a no-brainer to use Jira Service Management for your customer and IT support needs, too. 

Integrating Zendesk and Jira

Plot twist: the two apps also natively integrate, and you can use them together.

For example, if you use Jira for internal needs and Zendesk for external customer support, you could send a Zendesk ticket over to Jira to create an issue for development teams to work on. That action can even be automated, so dev team members are automatically assigned issues, and when they close out the issue, all the linked tickets in Zendesk also automatically close. 

Agents on Zendesk and developers and IT professionals on Jira can easily exchange comments between the platforms as well, so lines of communication stay open on both sides while issues are being resolved. Additionally, you can connect multiple customer service portals to projects within Jira. Because each system has its own long list of APIs, there's a lot you can do to sync information between the two platforms and customize processes to fit your needs. 

Whether you go with Zendesk or Jira, Zapier offers thousands of integrations for both platforms, so you can also connect them to the rest of your tech stack. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Zapier is the leader in no-code automation—integrating with 5,000+ apps from partners like Google, Salesforce, and Microsoft. Build secure, automated systems for your business-critical workflows across your organization's technology stack. Learn more.

Zendesk vs. Jira Service Management FAQ

Still have more questions about Zendesk and Jira? Check out the answers to these frequently asked questions below.

Can Jira be used as a ticketing system?

Yes, Jira Service Management can be used as a ticketing system. Customer support and IT professionals can manage both customer and employee tickets within the platform. 

Is Zendesk a CRM or SaaS?

Zendesk for Service is a SaaS product that provides customer support tools. Zendesk for Service shouldn't be confused with Zendesk for Sales (AKA Zendesk Sell), which is a CRM.

All in all, Zendesk is more like a first line of defense for customer support issues, while Jira can dig into creating permanent fixes for issues. If you only need to resolve basic customer or employee issues, Jira might be more than you need.

Take a look at how Zendesk stacks up to similar apps in our showdowns: Zendesk vs. Freshdesk, Zendesk vs. Intercom, Zendesk vs. Salesforce, and Zendesk vs. Zoho Desk.

Related reading:

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