Drift vs Intercom: Product Overview & Alternatives

Intercom and Drift are two popular software tools for customer service teams. But which one is superior? We take a look.
Published on: Nov 21, 2023
Last updated: Nov 21, 2023


  • 75% of consumers prefer online brand engagement post-pandemic, emphasizing the need for robust customer interaction platforms.
  • Drift and Intercom stand out as platforms to enhance customer experience, streamline support services, and drive growth.
  • Drift is a messaging platform for sales, marketing, and support, emphasizing real-time chat across various channels.
  • Live chat, chatbots, email playbooks, and conversation analysis are among the features that enhance customer communication on Drift.
  • Integrability, conversational marketing, and 24/7 service are Drift's advantages, while pricing and a learning curve are drawbacks.
  • Drift offers free, premium, and enterprise plans catering to different business needs.
  • Intercom's all-in-one conversational relationship platform combines automation and personal touch for effective customer service.
  • In-app messaging, custom bots, product tours, and outbound messages are features supporting seamless customer interactions on Intercom.
  • Versatile integration, humanized marketing, and 24/7 service are Intercom's strengths, while its high price point and adoption hurdles are drawbacks.
  • Intercom doesn't have a free plan, but its starter plan makes it an affordable option.
  • While Intercom has a vast app ecosystem (that includes 3rd party integrations for everything from cobrowsing to ticket merging), Drift's integrations are more limited.
  • Alternatives to both include Zendesk, Salesforce Service Desk, ThriveDesk, Freshdesk, Zoho Desk and Birdeye.

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The customer service game has changed big time.

In fact, according to a study by McKinsey, 75% of consumers prefer to engage with brands online since the pandemic. This marked shift necessitates robust, efficient customer interaction platforms that amplify customer experience, streamline customer support services, and, ultimately, drive growth.

Among the abundance of available options, two platforms stand out - Drift and Intercom.

In this guide, we'll compare Drift and Intercom's key features, pros and cons. We'll even scout some solid alternatives worth your consideration. Our goal? To help you blend cutting-edge tech with human connection. That way, you can confidently deliver out-of-this-world customer experiences.

Let's get into it.

What is Drift?


At its core, Drift is a messaging platform built for modern sales, marketing, and support teams. The focus? Seamless real-time chat across channels like websites, mobile, and SMS.

Drift also deploys chatbots to handle basic questions and point customers to helpful resources. This combination of automation and human connection streamlines the whole customer service process.

Today, Drift helps businesses connect with prospects in whatever way resonates - chat, video, voice, email. Their goal is to facilitate meaningful conversations that build trust and boost revenue.

Drift changed the game by getting back to basics - real talk with real people.

Drift Features

Drift offers some great features that streamline and improve customer communication.

Let's take a look:

  • Live Chat: This feature allows your customer service agents to engage and respond to customer inquiries in real-time, ensuring quick and effective problem resolution.
  • Chatbots: Drift's AI chatbots work around the clock, managing simple customer queries and issues — freeing up your customers' (and your service team's) time.
  • Email Playbooks: An automation tool for email marketing that lets you engage customers with highly relevant emails based on their interaction history with your business.
  • Conversation Analysis: Drift can automatically analyze conversations to gain insights, trends, and actionable data, which can be used to improve future customer interactions and business strategies.

Drift Pros

Let's look at some of the advantages that come with using Drift:

  • Easily Integratable: Drift integrates with numerous third-party applications, including CRM software, allowing businesses to boost productivity.
  • Conversational Marketing: With Drift, businesses can transform their approach towards customer service by focusing more on having meaningful conversations with customers.
  • Round-the-clock service: Drift's chatbots hold the fort at all hours, ensuring that customer questions are answered at any time of the day or night.

Drift Cons

Like any platform, Drift isn't without its downsides. Let's check them out:

  • Pricey for smaller businesses: Drift might not be the best fit for small businesses or startups on a budget because of its high-cost plans.
  • Steep learning curve: For non-tech savvies, the platform might seem a little complicated to get a hold of initially.
  • Integrations: In comparison with Intercom’s vast third-party integrations ecosystem, Drift’s integrations are limited. For example, Drift doesn’t have third-party integrations for cobrowsing (a technology that allows customer support agents to initiate in-app screen control calls with users live in their product) or session replays (a technology that records user sessions in an app so product and support teams can see what actions a user performed), making Drift a worse choice for technical support than something like Intercom.

Drift Pricing

Drift provides different pricing plans to offer different levels of service:

  • Free: The free plan gives you basic chat functionality with one seat. It's a perfect starter plan for businesses that want to try out conversational marketing and automation.
  • Premium: The premium plan allows for more customization and unlocks reporting capabilities. Costing $400/month, you are provided with two playbooks and up to 10 seats.
  • Enterprise: Specifically designed for larger businesses. The enterprise plan comes with a dedicated customer success manager, implementation manager, and much more.

There's a price comparison page on their website, linked here.

Drift User Reviews and Ratings

Drift earns an impressive 4.4 out of 5-star rating based on over 1,000 independent reviews.

Users mostly talk about its easy-to-use automation that simplifies customer communication by automatically routing inquiries for quick, knowledgeable support. The reviews confirm that Drift streamlines processes so service teams can focus on providing excellent service.

Drift Use Cases

Drift is incredibly versatile software that can improve customer service, strengthen relationships, and drive more proactive engagement.

Whether you're a startup thirsty for leads, a growing SMB nurturing leads, or an enterprise managing customer experience at scale, Drift has a plan for you.

By revolutionizing the way you interact with website visitors and app users, this powerful yet easy-to-use tool can help businesses of any size create meaningful connections that turn visitors into delighted customers.

What is Intercom?


Intercom pioneered chatbots way back in 2011 and never looked back.

Today, their all-in-one "conversational relationship platform" makes customer service easy. Combining automation and personal touch, Intercom offers chatbots, helpdesks, and proactive support so teams can deliver next-level service.

With a decade of perfecting messaging-based connections, Intercom is well on its way to achieving its mission to help businesses build meaningful relationships through seamless two-way conversations.

Their powerful yet easy-to-use platform keeps costs low, teams happy, and customers satisfied.

Intercom saw the future - conversational service - and they delivered big time.

Intercom Features

Intercom champions some great features to refine and escalate customer conversations. Let's explore them:

  • In-App Messaging: This enables your customer service heroes to chat in real-time with customers, effectively resolving issues at a rapid pace.
  • Custom Bots: Intercom's AI-backed bots help keep things smoothly ticking around the clock, effectively handling primary customer concerns - saving time for your customers and your team.
  • Product Tours: A powerful automated tool that educates new customers about your product, improving customer experience and boosting engagement.
  • Outbound Messages: Allows reaching out to customers with tailored and automated messages, fostering personalized customer relationships.

Intercom Pros

Let's take a look at the advantages that come with using Intercom:

  • Versatile Integration: Intercom melds seamlessly with various third-party applications, from survey software to cobrowsing and session replay software like Fullview accelerating business productivity and making technical support more efficient and cost-effective. With the Fullview integration, customer support agents can initiate an in-app cobrowsing call with users live in their product straight from Intercom; take control of their screen to solve problems; use annotation tools to illustrate features and uses; and use video, audio, and text chat to effortlessly resolve tickets. Fullview also inserts links to recordings of a user’s latest app sessions in every customer support ticket created in Intercom so customer support teams can watch them and see what steps a user took in their product.
  • Humanized Marketing: Intercom transforms the customer service landscape, allowing businesses to engage in meaningful, human conversations with customers.
  • 24/7 Service: Intercom bots are constant digital sentinels, ensuring every customer query gets an answer, day or night.

Intercom Cons

Every upside has a flipside. Intercom's are:

  • High Price Point: Intercom's pricing can bite a bit for startups or smaller businesses.
  • Adoption Hurdles: The platform might pose an initial challenge for users who aren't particularly tech-savvy.

Intercom Pricing

Intercom rolls out distinct pricing plans for different service levels:

  • Essential Plan: This plan costs $39 per seat per month and includes Intercom’s shared inbox, AI assistant, some basic chatbots are more. However, it doesn’t include multiple team inboxes, advanced workflows, or a multilingual help center.
  • Advanced Plan: The advanced plan paves the way for enhanced customization and extensive reporting features. Priced at $99/month, it proffers three playbooks and up to 20 seats. However, unlike the Expert plan, this plan doesn’t include workload management or multiple help centers.
  • Expert Plan: Tailor-made for sizable businesses, equipped with a dedicated customer success manager, implementation manager, and much more.

To crunch the numbers, here's their price comparison page.

Intercom User Reviews and Ratings

With almost 3,000 glowing reviews and a 4.5 out of 5-star rating, Intercom wins users over with its easy-to-use yet powerful interface. It gained the most praise for its intuitive user interface and the integration of AI tools in recent years.

Intercom Use Cases

Like water to any vessel, Intercom adapts to your business's unique needs.

Its powers can be used to transform customer service, forge stronger customer bonds, and drive more proactive engagement.

Intercom unleashes the potential for your customer experience revolution no matter your size or shape, so whether you're a curious startup, ambitious growing business, or enterprise giant, Intercom can profoundly change your customer service game.

Drift vs Intercom: The Main Differences

With so much overlap in features, picking between Drift vs Intercom can feel like a tough call.

Both platforms provide powerful messaging to transform customer connections, but under the hood, there are quite a few distinctions that might make one platform a better fit for your business.

Let's dive into the key differences.

  • Live Chat Customization and Triggers: Drift and Intercom each allow deep customization of the live chat widget and behavior-based triggers. However, Drift uniquely offers offline forms.
  • Chatbots and Automation: Both platforms enable chatbot interactions, but while Intercom focuses bots on utilizing knowledge bases, Drift leans its automation more towards lead recognition and qualification.
  • Customer Support Features: The support feature sets are pretty similar, including shared inboxes, knowledge bases, and automated assignments, but Intercom adds product tours - pop-up walkthroughs to guide users. Drift lacks this capability.
  • Integration: Intercom truly shines here, integrating with a vast array of popular software for diverse use cases - project management, CRM, CMS, scheduling, cobrowsing, session replays, console logs for troubleshooting, and more. Drift also has strong integrations, but not as many. Drift also doesn’t have any integrations for cobrowsing or session replays.
  • Marketing Features: Both enable automated campaign building, but Intercom can trigger sequenced chat or email messages. Drift focuses more on account-based routing, in-conversation meeting bookings, and IP recognition.
  • Sales Features: For sales, both have real-time notifications and CRM syncing. Drift steps sightly ahead with automated outreach sequences and lead scoring for enhanced sales automation.
  • Pricing: Intercom's per-user pricing can escalate costs with growth, while Drift's customized quotes stay opaque.

Your choice may come down to prioritizing specific features and business needs.

While both deliver extensive capabilities, they differ in applications and pricing models, meaning flexibility to fit different business types and stages.

Best Alternatives to Drift and Intercom

Finding the perfect customer engagement software is tough, with so many options out there.

Customer success, support, and product teams need tools tuned to their unique needs. While Drift and Intercom bring powerful options to the table, some promising alternatives pack a competitive punch when it comes to key capabilities.

Let's check out the contenders.



You've probably heard of this one.

Zendesk has become a real jack-of-all-trades in customer support solutions.

It goes way beyond just tickets by offering handy tools like multi-channel messaging, knowledge bases, chatbots, and product tours, and its slick interface makes it easy to connect with customers in a personal way.

Users love it, but some find the pricing expensive.

Zendesk's killer feature is how it brings everything together with its extensive app ecosystem. From the Fullview integration from technical support Swifteq for ticket merging and management — for true 360-degree customer relationships. We’ve covered 15 of the best Zendesk integrations before, so make sure to check that out if you’re building your Zendesk setup.

Zoho Desk


If you want reasonably-priced helpdesk software that feels like it was designed for connection, Zoho Desk is a great contender.

It covers all the basics you'd expect, like organizing tickets and live chat, but it really shines at building online communities and knowledge bases that feel helpful rather than canned.

Most users praise how much it offers for the price tag, but the one catch is that some feel the customer support itself could still use improvement. Another drawback is that it doesn’t have integrations for cobrowsing, session replays or console logs, meaning it’s less suited to technical support.



If you're on a tight budget, ThriveDesk brings an affordable option packed with features.

Unlike some clunky tools, it unifies the helpdesk, live chat, and knowledge base into one refreshingly simple interface.

As a relative newcomer, it still has room to grow, but it's quickly becoming a go-to for smaller teams wanting robust software without the enterprise price tag. But again, it may not be the best solution for software companies or technical support teams because it lacks integrations specifically for those functions.



For a smooth blend of practicality and power, Freshdesk hits the sweet spot.

It makes customer service feel engaging, not tedious, by offering gamified support tasks and an easy-to-navigate environment.

Reviews mention occasional bugs but largely seem impressed by its capabilities, like shared inboxes and multi-channel helpdesks.



When only industry-leading software will cut it, Salesforce brings enterprise-grade capabilities.

We're talking AI-powered automation, omnichannel support, tight integration across sales and service, and abundant customization for diverse business needs.

You do pay for the luxury in both price and learning curve, but for the right business, it brings unmatched service scalability.

Another big plus is that Salesforce does offer an integration for technical support.



If your top priority is managing customer feedback and reviews, Birdeye is purpose-built for it.

It consolidates surveys, referrals, listings, ticketing, and more in one reputable platform. The surveys and review management stand out in particular.

Some find the interface dated, but if shining online is your goal, Birdeye makes it far more manageable.


When it comes to customer engagement tools, Drift and Intercom are standouts, each with its unique strengths.

Drift shines for businesses leaning into marketing and sales automation and boasts robust features at a pocket-friendly price that growing companies can appreciate.

Intercom excels as an all-encompassing platform to streamline customer communication enterprise-wide. For larger organizations needing extensive integrations and rock-solid support, Intercom's comprehensive suite may warrant the investment.

Intercom also has an integration with Fullview. Delivering an efficient cobrowsing solution integrating seamlessly with modern CRM and support platforms, Fullview allows you to guide customers on their screens, meaning support is more efficient, and the human touch is still there.

Sources used: 

Sources last checked: 21-Nov-2023


Shifa Rahaman

Content Marketing Manager


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