What is Intercom?
Intercom is a customer messaging software with features geared toward building customer relationships. It’s a technology-forward company with around 30,000 customers.
Table of Contents
- What is Intercom?
- Intercom Review Summary
- Intercom Pricing & Cost
- Intercom Features
- Intercom Customer Support
- Intercom vs. Competitors
- Is Intercom Right For You?
Intercom Review Summary
Intercom is a live chat and messaging platform that was founded in 2011 by Ciaran Lee, David Barrett, Des Traynor, and Eoghan McCabe. The company is headquartered in San Francisco, California and currently has over 30,000 customers worldwide.
With features like live chat, chatbots, and email marketing, Intercom provides a host of products aimed at helping businesses improve customer relationships. There are four basic plans to choose from, as well as a discounted year-long program that startups can apply to. While there is no free plan, prospective customers can try the Start and Grow plans for free for 14 days.
Intercom is an incredibly powerful customer engagement software with some advanced features. Large software and technology-forward businesses utilize Intercom as a cornerstone of customer engagement strategies. It is unquestionably advanced yet expensive, with features and add-ons that can add up to a high monthly cost. It also lacks a few basic live chat features, like message previews, that are found in most competitors.
Intercom Pricing & Cost
Intercom pricing ranges from $39 to $999 per month. Every plan has a seat limit; additional seats cost an additional monthly fee. There are additional features available for purchase as well as a discounted program that startups can apply to.
- Start: $39 per month with one seat; additional seats $9 per seat per month
- Grow: $99 per month with five seats; additional seats $19 per seat per month
- Accelerate: $499 per month—annual plan only—with 10 seats; additional seats $49 per seat per month
- Scale: $999 per month—annual plan only—with 10 seats; additional seats $99 per seat per month
- Early Stage Program: $49 per month for the Accelerate plan and Product Tours add-on
Additional features for purchase include:
- Product Tours: $199 per month for video and guided tours
- Advanced Support Automation: $249 per month for Resolution Bot
- Advanced Lead Generation: $499 per month for Clearbit Reveal & Marketo integrations
- Advanced Customer Engagement: $499 per month for push messages and multi-channel campaigns
Intercom Key Features
This review will walk through Intercom’s key features and how the software can support your business. Along with descriptions of the product, we’ll include images to give you a sense of the software’s overall layout.
Live chat is a software tool that allows your company’s employees to speak live with visitors through a window, often called a widget, on your company’s website. Live chat allows customers to immediately engage with your business, which is increasingly seen as a superior customer support channel over email and phone support. Intercom’s live chat feature, called Intercom Messenger, works efficiently and is designed intuitively.
The Messenger inbox is where agents receive notifications and chat with visitors. Agents are able to send canned messages, articles, images, emojis, links, and GIFs during conversations. One drawback to Intercom’s Messenger is that there is no message sneak peek, which allows chat agents to read what visitors are typing before they send messages. Conversation routing is also only available in the two most expensive plans.
Below is a picture of the Messenger inbox:
Additional details and capabilities found within the inbox include:
- General visitor information
- Latest conversations with each visitor
- View of all, unassigned, and agent-specific chats
- Custom conversation views
- Ability to resolve, snooze, or mark conversation as priority
- Ability to export conversation as a text
Visitors to your company’s website will chat with your agents using the widget. Below are two views of the widget. The left view is what the widget looks like during an active conversation. The image on the right displays some unique Intercom messaging features. You can program your widget to display certain messages and capabilities to returning visitors, like continuing an old chat, starting a new chat, or searching the Help Center.
Intercom customers can customize the widget by changing the color, adding their company logo, and choosing a wallpaper for the widget. Those with the two most advanced plans can remove the Intercom branding at the bottom of the widget.
Collecting and understanding user data helps businesses best serve and interact with their customers. With Intercom, businesses can not only collect and segment key data, but also send and store custom data attributes about users within the Intercom application. Overall, Intercom’s customer data functionality is one of the most complex across all live chat and customer messaging softwares.
Custom Data Attributes
Data attributes are individual pieces of information about customers rather than customer actions—for example, an attribute would be the date and length of a customer’s subscription plan, while an action would be the number of site visits. With Intercom, you can create and upload custom data attributes, which will allow you to segment your marketing campaigns and analyses.
Collected Data Points
In addition to uploading custom data fields, Intercom automatically collects data about your customers. Below is a list of the most important user data that Intercom automatically collects.
- Name and email address
- First and last seen on site
- City and country
- Browser version
Outbound messages are messages that proactively engage users. These messages can be sent once or sent on a recurring schedule and are often sent to specific segments of customers. For example, your company could create emails that are sent to customers who add items to their shopping carts but leave the site before purchasing. You can send targeted outbound messages to specific users across many different channels including chat, email, and posts, where you will make announcements directly from your product.
Series is a campaign builder designed to send cross-channel messages to segmented audiences. Intercom customers can create a new Series from scratch or utilize one of 12 pre-built templates. Some uses for Series include onboarding new users, announcing new products, or engaging users who have become inactive on a website.
Series are created using an advanced workflow builder, as shown below. Customers will be able to set the target audience, channels through which to send the messages, and integrate features like chatbots and Product Tours into the Series.
Chatbots are software programs that are designed to converse with visitors when human chat agents aren’t available to provide customer support. Bots are often programmed to automatically obtain visitor contact information or provide answers to commonly asked questions. Intercom’s bot section, called Intercom Operator, offers three bots: Task, Custom, and Resolution.
Intercom’s Task Bot is designed to automate straightforward tasks like suggesting Help Center articles and asking visitors to rate conversations. The Task Bot acts primarily as a targeted message automator; its capabilities are simple and effective. This bot is included in every plan.
Below is an image of the Task Bot’s main capabilities:
Custom and Resolution Bots
Intercom’s Custom and Resolution Bots are more advanced bots that interact with visitors based on predefined, targeted rules. Intercom offers a variety of pre-built bot templates as well as the option to create new bots from scratch. When testing the setup process for Custom Bots, we found them to be simple to set up, though not quite as simple as buildable bot workflows, which are found in competitors like Tidio.
Below is an image of the bot configuration interface. Custom bots are built in three steps: creating the initial message and response options, setting rules for when the bot deploys, and setting the bot live on your website. A useful feature is the ability to set goals, which will allow you to gauge the bot’s effectiveness and understand how visitors interact with the bot.
A Help Center is a landing page with articles, often FAQ articles, that are written to help guide visitors through common pain points and product features. Through the Intercom application, Intercom customers can design, write, and post articles to the Help Center. The Help Center is easy to configure on the customer side and easy to use on the visitor side because it’s searchable.
The Help Center can be lightly customized. The Messenger chat widget will be on the page so visitors can message support agents with additional questions.
Reports provide an overview of live chat and customer support performance. Intercom’s reports section is extensive, especially within the two most expensive plans. A particularly useful report is the Effectiveness report, which gives a sense of how effective your customer support agents are. We found that Intercom’s reports are beneficial because they update quickly, which is not true for every other live chat software. However, Intercom does not include the ability to drill down into specific metrics from the graphs themselves, which is a feature that Live Chat offers.
The reports section contains graphs and numerical representations of data. Below is an example the Responsiveness report:
Below is a chart with a breakdown of metrics included in the reports section:
In the reports section, Intercom customers are also able to:
- Filter data by custom date ranges
- Filter by country, tags, channels, and more
- Schedule daily, weekly, or monthly CSV reports
Intercom offers a few unique features to support customer engagement goals. They are described below.
|Product Tours||Product tours are designed to guide your users through your products. With this tool, you can point users to specific features on your site, include talk-through videos, and set interactive points of the tour to encourage users to engage.|
|Mobile Carousels||Mobile carousels allow you to set swipe-through actions within your mobile app. With mobile carousels, your users will be able to swipe through support messages, guides, and highlighted features.|
|A/B testing||A/B testing is the process of comparing two versions of something to see which one performs better. With Intercom, you can A/B test mobile carousels and ongoing outbound messages. This will allow you to optimize the performance of what your users will experience.|
Intercom offers over 200 pre-built app integrations in the Intercom App Store. Each plan comes with different built-in integrations—for example, the Accelerate plan offers integrations with Twitter, Facebook, Zendesk Support, and Salesforce, which the Start and Grow plans do not.
Below is a list of some of the integrations categories:
- Conversation Management
- Data & Enrichment
- Lead Capture
- Marketing Automation
- Surveys & Feedback
Intercom Customer Support
Intercom offers chat and email support to customers across all plans. However, we found the Intercom customer support team was not consistently available while we were testing the software. During our research, we noticed that this is a common customer complaint.
|Customer Support Channels||Live Chat, Email|
|Other Support Resources||Help Center, Webinars, Blog, Demo Videos, Community Forum|
|Application Status Page||Yes|
Intercom Alternatives & Competitors
Intercom vies with a few additional solutions that are similarly advanced, like LiveChat and Drift. Other competitors are listed below.
Is Intercom Right For You?
Intercom is a highly advanced customer engagement software that provides an all-around customer support experience.
Intercom is one of the most powerful tools on the market and is ideal for large or enterprise technology-forward businesses looking to generate and capture leads for the sales team. The advanced capabilities come at a cost, however, and smaller companies will likely be able to find live chat, chatbot, and email marketing capabilities in a different software at a more reasonable price. If you’re looking for an equally advanced but live chat-focused option, consider LiveChat. Alternatively, tawk.to and Crisp offer live chat capabilities for a much lower price.
If you are interested in trying Intercom’s Grow Plan, sign up for a 14-day free trial.