Did you ever feel like there’s a wall between you and your customers? Maybe it’s less like a wall and more like miles and miles of distance because you’re interacting over the internet? Direct communication is one of the most difficult obstacles to overcome in ecommerce, but as any face-to-face salesperson will tell you, it’s also one of the most important.

Much like its namesake, the software company Intercom enables and facilitates direct communication over long distances. Live chat, personalized messaging, help desk management, customer onboarding… the multi-armed suite of ecommerce tools provide support for your customer support.

But how well does it work compared to the other tools for live chat and messaging? This week, Divvit Reviews… Intercom.

What Does Intercom Do?

Intercom offers a variety of integrated products, but allows you to pick and choose only the ones you need. On their site, they break it down into 3 main products, which they combine in different ways to form more targeted “solution” packages. The 3 main base products are:

  • Respond — A management system for all your messaging needs across multiple channels, including social media, email and your site/app’s live chat.
  • Engage — A management system for organizing customers and engaging them with the right messages at the right time.
  • Educate — A content-building system that allows you to write and manage help desk articles.

By mixing and matching these tools (or selling them on their own), Intercom offers a few different “solution” packages:

  • Live Chat (Respond & Engage)
  • Customer Support (Respond & Educate)
  • Customer Engagement (Engage only)
  • Knowledge Base (Educate only)
  • Help Desk (Respond only)

Although a bit convoluted, the way they divide their products sidesteps customers paying for ones they don’t need. You’re able to purchase only the tools you want. However, the event limits, which we discuss below, can lead to you paying more as your company grows.

Features

Respond

  • Multi-channel; respond to messages from Facebook, Twitter or the on-site/on-app Intercom messenger from one master dashboard.
  • Team inbox for grouping team-members and assigning tasks, with tagging, mentions and notes on conversations.
  • Customer profiles explain who you’re talking to, where they’re located and gives a little data on their behavior.
  • iOS and Android apps for responding on the go.
  • Saved replies/canned responses for streamlining answers to common support questions.
  • Permissions to restrict access to certain team-members.

Engage

  • Push messages, emails, notes, chats and post within the app’s message editor.
  • Customer event tracking — monitor what target users do (and don’t do) for behavioral targeting.
  • Customer segmentation allows you to categorize and filter customers by behavior or other data using certain parameters.
  • Automate messages for customers that fulfill specific criteria.
  • Message scheduling for hitting the perfect time.
  • Emoji reactions for adding a little fun to conversations.
  • Custom email templates.
  • Smart campaigns let you plan out a series of automated responses for long-term goals.
  • Messaging analytics for tracking performances on different messages in relation to set goals, allowing you to optimize your customer support.
  • A/B testing on messaging choices for further optimization.

Educate

  • Compose or import Help Desk articles and manage them from a single source.
  • Chat directly with customers who haven’t found their answers in the Help Desk.
  • Control visibility and, to some extend, discoverability of individual articles.
  • Custom branding with options for logos, color schemes, and header images for Help Desk page.
  • Automatically collects feedback for optimization, including playful emoji article reactions from users.
  • Analytics on failed searches, for customers that didn’t find what they were looking for.
  • Help desk article search within team inbox.
  • Operator Bot — this automated chatbot suggests Help Desk articles for customers based on their query, perfect for your live chat’s off hours.

Intercom Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Customizable support portal.
  • Handle most customer support operations from one place.
  • More in-depth customer analysis and segmentation options than other live chat apps.

Cons

  • Pricing — Although Intercom discloses their pricing upfront, the most common complaint from user reviews is the additional costs due to limit barriers.
  • Analytics is lacking. Specifically, Intercom tells you how many times an event was triggered, but gives no time frame. For example, let’s say a customer used a certain feature a lot when they first started, but over time they grew annoyed with it and stopped using it. Intercom’s analytics would only register how many times the person used the feature, with nothing on how they ultimately became annoyed and stopped. That defeats part of the purpose of analytics-driven optimization.

Whom Does Intercom Help Most?

Intercom seems to be most popular for SaaS companies due to their demand for advanced customer support. SaaS companies usually have more technical questions, not to mention how helpful real-time conversations are when explaining how to resolve technical issues.

But really, Intercom can help online companies outside of SaaS. Everyone should be implementing live chat with today’s online landscape. Help desks are almost always a necessity as well. And automated outreach strategies can help save time, no matter what your content strategy is. In short, practically everyone can benefit from better customer support.

The only restriction, though, is the price. Thanks to the event limits, the more usage you get out of Intercom, the more you have to pay. This makes Intercom more suited for small to medium-sized companies.

How Much Does Intercom Cost?

According to the Intercom site, the 3 base ecommerce tools have their own prices, and the combination packages are sold by the sum total.

Source: Intercom

However, keep in mind that you can only track up to 120 events. This could be enough for smaller and even medium-sized businesses, but larger enterprises will quickly exceed this limit. That’s why Intercom is recommended mostly for smaller-sized companies.

Intercom: Final Verdict

It’s worth noting that Intercom receives mostly favorable reviews and feedback from its users. The suite of features is great for streamlining or simplifying your customer support management by consolidating it all in one place. This can be a huge time-saver, and can also reduce your overhead costs, which may make up for Intercom’s costs.

At the end of the day, Intercom offers quality products, and if their cost isn’t a factor, they will genuinely be useful. There’s a “sweet spot” for who benefits most from Intercom — smaller-sized companies — and the farther away from that your company is, the harder it gets to justify the cost. But for the right company, Intercom lets you have your cake and eat it too.

Matt Ellis

Freelance Content Creator
Matt is a freelance online content creator, specializing in eCommerce, content marketing, and web design. For over a decade he’s been sharing his industry knowledge through ebooks, website copy, and blog articles, just like this one.
Matt is a freelance online content creator, specializing in eCommerce, content marketing, and web design. For over a decade he’s been sharing his industry knowledge through ebooks, website copy, and blog articles, just like this one.