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I use intercom to provide support for my service. Yes, it pops up and asks if you have questions on the homepage. Yes, it checks in on you after using the site for a week. But I get almost a hundred support requests and questions a week through it, and most weeks I get zero through Zendesk email.

For most small businesses like mine these chats go straight to the phones of the founders. You've got a direct line to the most knowledgeable person about the service.

So to your question, many people use them successfully.

This is my experience as well. I mainly installed Intercom for support, but it also works great for sales. I don’t initiate chats on my home page, but I do on my pricing page and I talk to high-intent potential customers every day. I pay Intercom because it works, regardless of what we HN techies think.

because it works, regardless of what we HN techies think

This literally describes 90% of successful marketing tactics.

And that's how we got the internet we have today - where venturing onto a random page without adblocker can consume all resources of your desktop and crash your mobile device, where browsers have to design functionality to shut up screaming pages and prevent sites from selling the visitor's data to the surveillance clearinghouses - in summary, where there's an ongoing cold war between the web users and web site builders trying to feed the former into the monetization machine. I wonder how many more useful things and technologies we could have if we didn't have to waste resources on it.

Even technical too. Take for example apps made in electron. HN and reddit quickly start squabbling about electron itself and quickly forget that value is perceived based on productivity or leisure. Unless and until the app is extra ordinarily egregious and the performance penalties outweigh the benefits, it really doesn’t matter.

We, software devs, can be unnecessarily pedantic and nitpicking.

> Unless and until the app is extra ordinarily egregious and the performance penalties outweigh the benefits, it really doesn’t matter.

On the short term, yes. But as soon as I'm not required to use Slack anymore, I will remove it from my Mac and advise anyone against it.

So on the long term, I'd say a business would be better off not making the balance so precarious.

The interesting question (in my opinion) is, while it works, who is bearing the hidden costs?

In this case, it's making the internet a less productive place to be. So many chat widgets I encounter are now used for growth marketing, not actual support, that whenever I see one I expect it to pop up and seize my attention at an inconvenient moment. Now that everyone is doing it, it's ruining it for everyone else, and something like this browser extension shows up.

If it works for you, then great, I suppose? But if I were the internet dictator I would have placed a ban on preemptive chat messages in these widgets years ago.

100% agree. The Drift widget on my SaaS is used a ton for support, sales questions, bug reports, you name it. It’s actually very effective and I like it. I don’t do the pop up thing with s noise though.

Same with us - we use it as a direct line of communication with our users, either incoming or existing. Intercom is a very valuable aspect of our support

I go further: if I have a question and don’t find a live chat widget, I usually navigate away immediately. Sorry but I’m very busy and I have no patience for sending emails and waiting for a response.

Biggest pet peeve is when they have a chat widget, it pops up, you figure, let me ask a question and then it says that nobody is available. No hours specified, no time zone listed, no email address where to send a request.

Chat widgets can be a good thing but its all about how you use them within the company... I'd say, definitely no popup, when nobody is available, just don't show the widget and redirect to a contact us form or email address. Make the support flow as dynamic as possible.

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