It ended with them charging us $1800 even though we explicitly said we just wanted the "Chat" option for $100 per month a couple of times. After a stressful evening they refunded us. It really did leave a bitter taste in our mouth.
I agree completely with the article. Intercom was a crutch for us to deal with the failings of our own product.
More often than not though, some customers just don't like digging through FAQ and KBs. They just prefer to get personal help.
1. We accidentally turned off our main Intercom in-trial campaign for a segment of users during an AB test and were surprised how much lower the conversion was. We re-ran the test ensuring both sides had our Intercom in-trial campaign on. It increased in-trial conversion by 25%.
2. We do pay a lot for Intercom (10 person support team, tens of thousands of users, hundreds of thousands of leads) but we also use it a god damn ton for new customer campaigns, activation, churn prevention, reactivation, etc and by in-app, email, and mobile notifications. Replacing all of this would not be cheap.
3. Intercom can definitely be a crutch for bad UX. But you'll only know of those problems if you're actually getting this feedback. It's then on you to have the internal process for addressing common questions or requests in order to reduce the volume of help requests for specific topics.
They'd probably show your webcam and mic feed, if they could without being obvious, too.
"Hey, can I help? You look confused."
I’ve used the product on multiple projects over the years and it’s matured a lot over time. We use it as a support tool and a way to identify qualified leads. It’s also handles our targeted email campaigns. Their support staff is incredibly on point as well. I personally think it’s a fantastic way to engage customers. Seeing that little bubble in the corner of every site kinda drives me crazy, but I know where to go if I have a question.
> It’s mostly about intercom as a concept, rather than a specific implementation.
We found that conversational engagement works the best for these leads, but Drift does a far better job than Intercom at this. Currently planning on migrating.
Every damn site seemed to have it installed, ended up adblocking all of its domains.
At different times, the surrounding copy was something like “Question? Suggestion? We’re at your service.” or “How can we improve this page? We’d love to know.”
It worked great and I’d do it again for any new app. People brought up issues large and small. The goal wasn’t to “engage” or “nurture” or whatever. We just wanted to respect visitors’ time, which meant being as easy to reach as possible.
I see now they put some more "unlock to get" things on their website but still their free offering is good enough. The only limit is after 20 live chats you get emails instead.
For us we use it mostly for getting the initial question (in offline mode) and then we take it further via email.
Also: how about a feedback@ or support@ email address, and link to it on your webpage? (The form mentioned above can work by sending email to this address, even, so everything goes to the same place.)
RFC 2142 defines "webmaster@" (alias: "www@") as the standard email contact. I think it was a good idea, but I don't know how common it is any more.
I like to report bugs whenever I find them, but it's surprisingly difficult to find any sort of feedback mechanism for most webpages. Half the time, "tweet sarcastically in frustration" is actually the best option.
They offer Freshdesk for a customer support portal/ticketing system, and Freshchat for live chat. Total cost is a fraction of what you’d pay for Intercom, and the products are continuously adding new features.
I'd love to see the actual numbers. The screenshot OP posted suggests they've been running A/B tests with 115 + 108 users, which is just not a big enough sample to derive any conclusions.
IMO Intercom's plans are too pricey once you've more than a few users, and its specialized competitors are usually better. But methinks it's a sane choice regardless for most early stage startups: you get a good enough version of just about every tool you need.
As to the other complaint (popup is too familiar) they might have been doing it wrong -- as in like a sales in a retail store showing up asking "can I help you?". Only show the popup when something interesting that you're digging into happens. And man the fort, to make sure there's someone answering at the other end when an actual user replies; else it's pointless.
> I'd love to see the actual numbers. The screenshot OP posted suggests they've been running A/B tests with 115 + 108 users, which is just not a big enough sample to derive any conclusions.
The screenshot is from the intercom.com website. Not related to our own experiment, which was run outside intercom.
I'm having trouble finding the actual raw experiment results, but I would imagine it covered 10s of thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands of participants, running for a month.
Regarding the other comments: yes, maybe we were doing it wrong. But we've given it way more attention and though than "hey, can I help you?" and really tried to target specific events etc. And also, we're a B2C so volumes are high but customer lifetime value is relatively low, which increases the acquisition costs.
I’m not a huge fan either, and I helped two startups move OFF Intercom just recently. But my issues with it today probably won’t be relevant three years from now.
But I think the fundamentals aren't minor. The end-user experience isn't drastically different now than 2 years ago. And our A/B test back then is likely to produce similar results today (although we're unlikely to test it again). I still feel that it's a crutch. And I think intercom is a victim of its own success, even more so today than a couple of years ago.
> Of course, intercom.io isn’t the only one now, and there are a few competitors in this space. The principle is pretty similar though. I think intercom was the most successful company doing this, or the first, or both. But it’s not really important. It’s mostly about intercom as a concept, rather than a specific implementation.
Their support is great, they allways get back to you.
We started using intercom for all outgoing communications especially email campaigns and ran into reporting bugs, built in templates not showing on outlook, events being not usable in mails ect.
You can only create a company via the API, which by the way loves to duplicate your contacts from time to time.
As a support tool, it is great our users are used to using the bubble to chat to us but we have moved the our mailing and crm elsewhere.
I think about intercom being very useful if you sell a low value product to a lot of clients, so large user base at $5 each.
- For support problems, resolving over chat is much quicker and personable. I think this leads to happier customers. Composing well thought out and well written emails back and forth eats up a huge amount of time in comparison.
- It's way easier to get to know your customers more with chat. You can quickly ask them a series of related questions and get an answer, whereas with email it's much more effort on both sides e.g. a series of question/answers like "What kind of website are you checking with the tool? Oh, so how many websites do you have? Would you find it more helpful if...?" is painful over email and they'd probably stop replying.
I looked at the free chat offerings from Crisp, Intercom, Drift and Tawk recently. I think until you're getting large numbers of chat users per day there's not a lot to decide between them. I mostly prefer Crisp because the admin interface responds quickly and settings are easy to find. It's pretty crazy how many features and settings they all have.
This. Exactly this. It's just like banner ad blindness. Sure, it'll work in the first year or so, but after that, people will start to turn blind to it.
We ended up getting Pipedrive for the CRM. Then we hooked up the new Pipedrive integration which is one click to generate a new user, and deal after they show interest with our bot or with us.
For support, we love it and so do our customers. I know there are a lot of chat solutions but it feels the best to me. The bonus is it is integrated with our Help Center (also Intercom) so it is very easy to send embedded articles right in the chat. Our customers love this :)
We are a small team and we were able to reduce the amount of support phone calls (they wanted a phone call to ask the simplist things) by answering quickly on live chat. This allowed us to be able to serve multiple customers at once in a async fashion.
Ended up with Pipedrive for sales, and zendesk for support. We still intercom for sales, but it's not impressing me that much.
Wanted everything in one place, but intercom was not the right tool.
IMHO, Intercom has excellent fit for early stage go-to-markets, but gets ripped out by specialized tools, purpose built and sold to line function (marketing, sales, support, etc)
We trialed freshchat/desk for few months but their app was very buggy and in one instance actually broke our (kwiksurveys) angular backend when their site went down due to some dodgy event hijack code if I recall.
We then found helpscout which I highly recommend as a low cost intercom alternative. The helpscout UI is great and the support team was faultless. It doesn't have any of the automation of intercom so we pair it with activecampaign until I can find something better.
On a related note we're about to sign up with chargebee as chargify / recurly want to bill 6x as much for a near identical if not worse product. If it's two things I hate it's a turnover tax, and having to have a 30 minute chat with a sales consultant.
They also don't have tools for lead gen or making calls to customers. It was a big pain having our calls go through skype. We'd have to take manual notes on the call and there was no good way to schedule follow ups so we ended up using a mish-mash of systems to do this.
Shameless plug: In the end, we started a competing product, MomentCRM, which has simple, predictable pricing, and spans the entire lifecycle of your user. No more data silos or "integration engineers"! I'm one of the founders, and I will move mountains to make sure you're happy if you decide to try it :)
When I was looking into this, I think live chat really is something where you want them to have a paid business model because of its importance.