Lately, I’ve been on the lookout for live chat software as I am setting up an ecommerce store on my website.
Live chat is one of the most preferred forms of communication, especially among younger customers. Most live chat software even offer chatbots that help automate tasks, save you money, and increase sales.
One tool I tested and liked was Intercom. After installing it, I realized it was much more than a live chat software.
What is Intercom?
Intercom is a complete customer relationship platform used by 30,000+ companies. Its customers include IBM, Shopify, and Microsoft. You might have come across its live chat software on some sites. That’s what it’s known for, but it isn’t the only product it offers.
Intercom connects to several other products to help you communicate with your customers as a team, offer excellent support, build strong relationships, and even generate sales.
Best Suited For?
Intercom suits anyone who sells online and wants to add a channel to answer visitors’ questions, but it’s ideal for SaaS companies.
Intercom has five main plans. There is no free plan, but a 14-day trial is available. The Start plan costs $39 per month. It’s perfect for those who need simple chat software and only need one user.
To add users and use more communication features, subscribe to the Grow plan at $99 per month.
Both these plans are for small businesses, so the features are limited.
To access all features and have up to 10 users, subscribe to the larger plans, which start at $499 per month.
The bigger plans in the category also have the Product Tours feature. But if you pick a smaller plan, you can get Product Tours as an add-on for $199 per month.
You can also purchase Custom Bots, Resolution Bot, and Articles as add ons.
Intercom costs more than other live chat software like Drift and Freshchat, though early-stage companies can get advanced Intercom features for just $49 per month for up to one year (you need to apply to see if you qualify).
Here are some of Intercom’s best features.
The best-known feature is the live chat widget you’ve seen on websites. A window slides into view, often with a question related to the page you’re on, or a sound to grab your attention.
When customers respond, a real person or a bot will greet them. You can send emojis, use gifs, start a video call, share screens, and book meetings, depending on your plan.
The messages appear in your Intercom inbox, and your team can respond.
When I came across chatbots ages ago, they were very annoying. Most of the time, they didn’t provide the right answer. I always had to contact support. But they have come a long way now, and I sometimes prefer having a conversation with one if I am in a hurry like many people.
According to Intercom, chatbots can answer 33% of common questions. You can create custom chatbots that automatically ask questions and suggest answers by referring people to articles and knowledge base pages on your website.
If the bot doesn’t find an answer, it will route the visitor to a real person for better support. Even though a person is needed to answer the question, less time is used because the bot has already collected much of the information needed to provide an answer.
You can also train bots to serve calls to action and generate leads. Anyone can train and customize bots as you don’t have to mess around with codes.
Push Messages and Notification
You can set up both push messages and push notifications with Intercom.
Push messages: The messages you send to people who use your mobile app. Intercom lets you control the information you send and the pages customers will go to when they click the message.
Push notifications: Alerts sent to your users when you message them via chat. You can send the notifications to their mobile phone or email. For mobile notifications, it allows deep linking to send people to an exact page like a landing page or shopping cart. It works on both Android and iOS.
You can customize how the chat window appears and behaves.
In the customization, you can change the color to match your brand, set a language, and greet logged-in customers by name. You can also add business information, show office hours, display response times, and add a business logo.
Messages gather in an inbox that is built for teams to offer support together. You can set permissions and use separate inboxes for sales and support.
When customers respond to you via your website or mobile app, all of their responses will appear in the inbox, and your team can communicate with each other and respond either from the Intercom website or app.
Your team can also communicate with each other via the Slack integration.
To lessen the load on the support team, Intercom includes tools to set up a help center.
In the help center (often called a knowledge base or support wiki), users can get detailed answers to FAQs or learn more about a product.
Make the help center match your site with customization, including a name, brand colors, favicon, header, and logo. Customize the domain, add links to your website, and do so much more.
The help center editor is easy to use. You can add text, images, videos, and call to action buttons. The live chat pop-up can ask questions in the help center if people don’t find the answer.
You can also get your chatbot to direct people to the help center if they ask questions on another page on your website or app.
Do you like it when you see pop-ups that explain how the software you just signed up for works?
These are called Product tours. Intercom makes it easy to set up an interactive product tour without writing code. You can even add videos to these tours and explain each feature or page.
You can get people to take specific actions and use the software instead of just getting them to click and move to the next part.
Intercom collects data from all these features to help you better understand and support your customers. You can view how well your support team is performing and make improvements.
Intercom will also neatly organize customer data in profiles. It will help your team provide very personalized service, which can improve satisfaction and conversions. The data can also improve your marketing.
Intercom integrates with a lot of tools and apps. Some of the popular ones you will find useful are:
- Google Analytics
- Google Calendar
- Jira Cloud
Pros and Cons
I know there is a lot to take in. Here’s my list of some of the pros and cons of using Intercom.
Everything you need to support your customers: The biggest pro is you have everything you need to support your customers in one place. There’s no need to sign up for a bunch of software and hope there are integrations. You can offer live chat customer support, automate support with bots, create product tours, and set up a knowledge base with one tool. It also integrates with several tools for even more functionality.
Easy to set up and use: A problem I usually face with software with tons of features is adapting to the complexity. It takes me a while to understand them, and even when I do, they seem clunky because there’s so much going on, and nothing’s perfect.
But I found that with Intercom, everything is easy to use. If you have any questions, you can check out their help center, where there is a ton of information. The support team also gets back quickly with the live chat.
Ability to communicate from multiple channels: You can communicate with customers through various channels. It includes the Intercom website, Intercom mobile app, and Slack (via the integration).
It’s also possible for team members to talk with each other and offer better support.
Expensive: The only con I can think of is the price. It starts at $39 per month, but that’s just for live chat. If you pick plans that contain all or most features, be ready to pay $499+ per month. Also, there is no free plan.
If you use an Intercom alternative like Freshchat or Drift, you can start with a free plan. The features of the free plans are limited, but the paid plans have a low starting fee. Freshchat begins at $15 per month, and Drift at $20 per month.
If you’re on a tight budget, Intercom probably isn’t for you.
Quick Start Guide
Here’s a step-by-step guide to get started with Intercom.
1. Sign Up For a Trial
First, visit their pricing page, pick a plan you like, choose whether you want any add-ons, and sign up for a 14-day trial.
You can sign up for the “very small businesses” plans immediately. For the larger plans, you need to sign up for a demo first.
After you sign up, Intercom will ask you onboarding questions. Answer them for a better experience.
Intercom will use the information to create a personalized onboarding guide.
I chose that I am interested in offering better customer support. My guide was about setting up a live chat widget and some details about what my customers will see and how I can interact with them.
Their team also shared some video tutorials to help understand the software and features.
Go through all this information in detail as it will make things more manageable. It will take some time, but it’s worth it.
2. Set Up the Messenger
After you go through the tutorials, you will have a good idea of how Intercom works and where to find everything.
The most important thing you need to do is set up the messenger in the Messenger tab.
You can customize the welcome message, change the colors, display when you’re available, connect apps, and make more changes.
When it’s ready, select “Add your messenger” and get the code to add to your website.
To make it easy, it also has a WordPress plugin and an app for Shopify. If you want to activate Intercom on your apps, you can set it up there too.
When you finish, invite some team members to help you out.
3. Familiarize Yourself With the Inbox
Next, go to the Inbox along with your teammates and familiarize yourselves with the features.
Try to message yourself with the live chat widget, then use the onboarding tutorials to see how you can communicate as a team.
4. Create a Bot
Next, go into the Operator and set up a bot. In the beginning, you can set up a simple Task Bot.
After you gain some experience and insights, you can configure Custom and Resolution Bots.
5. Check Out Articles
Articles is the section where you can create the content for your Help Center.
You turn on the help center, create collections, and add articles to it. Creating the content will take some time, but try getting on it ASAP as it can save you a lot of time in the future. When people ask questions, you can send them here instead of writing it every time. You can also create bots that direct people here.
Your account is now ready, and you use it to serve your customers. As you gather data, you can go through the other tabs such as Contacts and Reports and make the most out of the information.
Offering exceptional customer service is paramount to running a successful business. Many companies fail at it. If you can get this right, you will have the edge over your competitors.
There are many tools out there that can help you offer better customer support. One of them is Intercom. You can find all the features you need in one place. It includes live chat, bots, a help center, integrations, and more.
The only drawback is that it costs more. If you have a good budget, I recommend you go ahead with it. If you are looking for a more affordable solution, check out the AppSumo store. We regularly have lifetime deals for customer support software.
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