That means fast, precise, and effective customer communication can set you leagues ahead of your competition.
But it's only possible with the right tool.
Over 25,000 businesses use Intercom to handle customer experience, sending and receiving half a billion messages monthly. However, there may be a better platform for you.
In this blog post, we’ll cover the pros, cons, features, and user reviews for Intercom and its best alternatives so that you can pick the right one for your customer experience team.
What is Intercom?
Intercom is a customer communication platform that streamlines interactions between a business and its customers.
The platform enables customer experience (CX) teams (like success, support, UI/UX) to engage, support, and converse with customers through integrated tools like live chat and customer engagement software.
Intercom boasts a variety of features designed to enhance customer experience and streamline business processes:
- Live Chat: This feature allows businesses to interact in real-time with their customers, providing immediate support and fostering customer satisfaction.
- Integration Capabilities: Intercom integrates with various popular business tools and platforms (like Salesforce CRM, Mailchimp marketing, and Fullview customer support), allowing businesses to augment their existing workflows.
- Chatbot Functionality: Intercom's advanced chatbot system can automate simple customer queries, leading to faster resolution times and increased team efficiency.
Alternatives offer similar, and in some cases, more advanced functionalities — we'll explore those soon.
- User-friendly Interface: Intercom boasts an intuitive and easy-to-use interface, making it accessible to teams with varying levels of technical expertise.
- Robust Integration Options: Intercom integrates with several other business tools and platforms, making it easier for businesses to add it to their CX stack.
- Advanced Analytics: Intercom can provide detailed analytics and reporting capabilities. This allows businesses to gain insights into customer behavior and make data-driven decisions to enhance CX.
- Cost: Users often criticize Intercom’s high pricing structure. While it offers a comprehensive suite of tools, smaller teams or those with budget constraints may find it prohibitive.
- Limited Customisation: While Intercom provides robust integration options, some users have reported limitations in terms of customization.
- Learning Curve: Despite its user-friendly interface, new users may face a steep learning curve to fully understand and utilize all of the platform's features effectively.
Intercom user reviews
Intercom enjoys a rating of 4.5/5 stars on G2.com.
A quick look at its reviews shows that Intercom users appreciate its user-friendly interface, simplifying ticket management and customer interactions. They also value the platform's organization tools, like macros and notes on tickets.
Some drawbacks include issues with delayed notifications, interface distortions, and limited mobile app features compared to the desktop version.
Here are some reviews, positive and negative:
- "I love how it makes things easier for me. I can be able to instantly use the macro to respond to common queries... I love how it makes emails look like chats which is very easy on the eyes. I also love the AI feature!" — Tintin G., Mid-Market, Verified Current User.
- "Notifications can be delayed. I don't like that the Intercom mobile app does not have all the same important features as on desktop - such as I cannot post pictures/gifs to notes when on mobile and I can not add a subject to the chat." — Jennifer B., Mid-Market, Verified Current User).
Intercom offers a cloud-based deployment that easily integrates with your website. However, its setup process, particularly for advanced features, might require some technical know-how and can be time-consuming.
Intercom works with over 350 integrations, offering compatibility with a broad spectrum of other digital tools in the market.
Some highlight integrations include:
- Salesforce Integration: Intercom's integration with Salesforce enhances CRM functionality by automating lead creation and synchronization.
- Fullview Integration: Fullview's integration with Intercom allows support agents to engage in cobrowsing and session replays with users, offering direct insight into the user experience preceding a problem. For complex issues, agents can initiate screen control sessions and offer real-time assistance without any downloads. This integration also provides access to console logs for detailed technical information, enabling the agent to offer personalized support. The Fullview integration aims to improve customer satisfaction and support efficiency by reducing user frustration and accelerating resolution time.
Intercom offers a range of pricing plans tailored to different business needs, each providing its own set of features. All prices are per seat.
- Essential Plan ($39 per seat/month): This plan is designed for individuals, startups, and small businesses. It includes features like a shared inbox, a ticketing system, and unlimited articles.
- Advanced Plan ($99 per seat/month): Targeted at growing support teams, this plan offers powerful automation tools and AI features. It includes everything in the Essential plan plus proactive support.
- Expert Plan ($139 per seat/month): Suitable for large support teams, this plan offers collaboration, security, and reporting tools. It includes all Advanced plan features and a company portal.
Why use an Intercom alternative?
While Intercom offers a robust set of features, there might be better fits for your team.
Your organization may have unique needs, budget constraints, and customer service strategies that would make you better off with alternatives.
Here are just a few reasons:
Intercom is pricey
Intercom's pricing structure, while comprehensive, is quite steep.
Even their most basic "Essential" plan starts at $39 per seat, per month, which can be a significant investment for startups or small businesses operating on a tight budget. Intercom might make sense for larger organizations seeking advanced features and tools, but it's cost-prohibitive otherwise.
It's worth exploring lower-cost (or even free!) alternatives that offer comparable features and capabilities.
Intercom can be difficult to get the hang of
User-friendly doesn't mean easy.
Reviewers have brought up the learning curve involved in making the most of Intercom, including technical language:
- "It's overwhelming! There's too much information on the screen. Even when I chat with the Intercom team, they give me various approaches, and it takes time to read and understand. Sometimes they use tricky words difficult for a non-tech person to read. — Small Business User in E-learning.
When customer support for your customer support software fails, it might be time to consider Intercom competitors.
Basic features are behind paywalls and require expensive upgrades
Some users have expressed frustration that seemingly basic features are unavailable without costly upgrades, leaving little to justify the price point:
- "All the basic support things like SLAs are behind a major paywall" — Mid-Market Business User in Healthcare.
Many users love Intercom's most basic features. The only issue is that many essential tools are only available to 'Expert Plan' subscribers.
Instant downgrades after canceling (even if you’ve paid for the whole month) and contracts that are hard to cancel
Another common complaint among users is the difficulty in canceling their Intercom subscription or downgrading to a lower-priced plan:
- "They lock you in with 12-month contracts, not possible to cancel. [...] Intercom sales told us, that to downgrade to Starter, they would delete our account and all data and we need to create a new account. — Kalev K., Product Marketing Manager.
These frustrating experiences have led many users to search for alternative customer support software with better pricing and contract terms.
Best alternatives to Intercom in 2024
Considering all these factors, it's evident that Intercom may not be the best fit for every organization out there. But don't worry; several alternatives can suit your needs, budgets, and business sizes.
Let's delve into the best alternatives to Intercom in 2024:
- Salesforce Service Cloud
(And heads up — we’ve already laid out the kinds of businesses we think would benefit from each of these tools. Keep an eye out to see if the descriptions match you!)
- Ticketing system: Zendesk offers an intuitive system that allows users to create tickets, assign them to agents, and track their progress.
- Knowledge base: Zendesk's knowledge base lets businesses create a self-service portal for customers to find answers to FAQs.
- Integrations library: Integrations with tools like Fullview can expand Zendesk's functionality for support teams by adding cobrowsing and session replay capabilities. These features can halve the time needed for support interactions by providing more context for agents.
- Ease of Use: Zendesk's interface is user-friendly and can be easily navigated even by non-technical users. This allows businesses to quickly onboard new agents without extensive training.
- Customization Options: With Zendesk, businesses can customize support processes according to their needs. This includes creating custom ticket fields, automation, and workflows.
- Third-party Integrations: Like Intercom, Zendesk has an extensive library of third-party integrations, so businesses can connect it with other tools and platforms they use in daily operations. Examples include Salesforce, Slack, and Fullview.
- Pricing: Like Intercom, Zendesk's pricing plans can be steep for small businesses or startups compared to Intercom. Some advanced features may require additional add-ons, which can raise the overall cost.
- Limited Chatbot Capabilities: Zendesk's chatbot feature is less advanced than Intercom's and may not be suitable for businesses relying heavily on AI-powered chatbots for customer support.
- Reporting Limitations: While Zendesk offers reporting and analytics, some users have needed more customization options. Advanced data analysis may require external tools or add-ons.
Zendesk user reviews
Zendesk receives high praise for its integrated dashboard, efficient prioritization features, and user-friendly interface, making it a favorite among mid-market to enterprise-level users. Its responsive support capabilities also make it popular among small business users.
- Suite Team Plan ($55 per agent/month): This entry-level plan includes a ticketing system, email, chat, voice, social messaging, and over 1,000 apps and integrations.
- Suite Growth Plan ($89 per agent/month): Building on the Team plan, it adds features like online support, digital onboarding resources, and business hours.
- Suite Professional Plan ($115 per agent/month): This plan includes everything in the Growth plan, plus custom and live analytics, and eligibility for the Advanced AI add-on.
Deploying Zendesk is straightforward and can be done in just a few minutes. The software is cloud-based, so there is no need for any hardware installation or maintenance.
- TeamViewer Enterprise for Support: With this integration, agents can access and control customers' devices to troubleshoot issues directly from Zendesk.
- Fullview for Support: A state-of-the-art cobrowsing solution for both logged-in and anonymous users. Fullview also extends functionality to third-party websites and file formats (like PDFs and spreadsheets) without needing any downloads from the user. Paired with its cross-browser and cross-platform compatibility, this integration lets agents view precisely what customers are seeing and take control to guide them visually.
How Zendesk compares to Intercom
- Zendesk's strength in creating detailed knowledge bases makes it ideal for companies dealing with frequent queries, as it empowers customers with self-help options, reducing direct support needs.
- Intercom's focus on direct communication tools might not adequately support businesses that require a strong emphasis on extensive self-help options for their customers.
Salesforce Service Cloud
Salesforce Service Cloud features
- Omni-Channel Routing: With this feature, agents can seamlessly handle multiple channels (e.g., email, chat, social media) in one place.
- Knowledge Management: This feature enables agents to access a centralized knowledge base, containing articles and FAQs.
- Incident Detection: This feature uses pre-added integrations to detect issues before they happen.
Salesforce Service Cloud pros
- Customizable and Scalable: Salesforce is highly customizable, allowing businesses to tailor the software according to their unique needs. Its scalability allows it to grow along with your business.
- Broad Integrations: With Salesforce's vast AppExchange ecosystem, you can easily integrate other tools and services into your support system, increasing efficiency. Tools like Fullview, Gainsight, and DocuSign all expand functionality.
- AI-Powered Chat Support: Salesforce uses AI to automate and improve support quality, ensuring that agents can focus on more complex tasks.
Salesforce Service Cloud cons
- Steep Learning Curve: Due to its extensive customization options, Salesforce can be challenging to learn and set up.
- Complex Pricing Structure: The cost of Salesforce Service Cloud can quickly add up, with additional features like Knowledge Management and Live Agent coming at an extra cost.
- Requires Extensive Training: As Salesforce is a robust platform, agents may require extensive training to get the hang of all its features.
Salesforce Service Cloud user reviews
- Salesforce Service Cloud is praised for its versatile support tools and seamless integrations, favored by many large businesses for boosting service team efficiency.
- While applauded for its features and customization, it's also noted for its high cost and complexity, presenting a learning curve for new users.
Salesforce Service Cloud pricing
- Starter Plan ($25/user/month): Providing basic case management, knowledge base, and service.
- Professional Plan ($80/user/month): Offering advanced CRM with features like Case Swarming and Omni-Channel Case Routing.
- Enterprise Plan ($165/user/month): Includes AI for Customer Service and a Self-Service Help Center.
For larger-scale needs, the Unlimited Plan at $330/user/month and Unlimited+ Plan at $500/user/month offer comprehensive CRM solutions with 24/7 support.
Salesforce Service Cloud deployment
Salesforce Service Cloud offers various deployment options, including cloud-based, on-premise, and hybrid.
Salesforce Service Cloud integrations
- Vonage: You can use Vonage's unified communications solutions to easily manage all customer interactions in one centralized platform.
- Fullview: The Fullview Integration on AppExchange offers in-depth insights into customer issues through session replays, enhanced by powerful filtering options for quick access to specific recordings. It automatically detects customer frustration and logs console errors or warnings during replays. An interactive video progress bar can also let agents jump directly to critical moments in the recordings, speeding up resolution times. Agents can also initiate zero-download cobrowsing calls straight from a Salesforce ticket to take control of a user’s screen and solve problems faster.
How Salesforce Service Cloud compares to Intercom
- Intercom is ideal for businesses prioritizing direct, real-time customer interactions with its user-friendly interface and engagement tools.
- Salesforce Service Cloud, in contrast, caters to larger or more complex operations needing an integrated CRM approach, offering comprehensive features like Omni-Channel Routing and Knowledge Management, but with a steeper learning curve and more intricate pricing.
- AI Sentiment Analysis: Dixa's AI allows agents to see the sentiment behind customer messages in real-time, helping them tailor their responses accordingly.
- Omnichannel Support: Dixa allows businesses to manage customer interactions across all channels in one place.
- Contextual Automation: Dixa's contextual automation feature uses customer data to automatically route conversations to the most suitable agent and provide relevant information.
- Integrations: Dixa integrates with a growing library of software, including an upcoming Fullview integration that will add cobrowsing features to the platform.
- Ease of use: Dixa's user-friendly interface and sentiment analysis allow for easy adoption and quick training for new agents.
- Responsive Support Team: Dixa's support team is known for being responsive and helpful in addressing customer concerns.
- Limited Customization: This might reduce your ability to tailor the platform to specific business needs.
- Lack of Advanced Reporting: While Dixa provides basic reporting tools, it lacks more advanced analytics features that may be useful for larger operations.
- Small User Base: Dixa is still a relatively new player in the market, with a smaller user base than other established competitors. This could mean less extensive feedback and support resources available.
Dixa user reviews
Users appreciate the efficient notification system, high-quality calls, and user-friendly web client. However, some mention the lack of quick response options as a downside.
Some users have mentioned occasional bugs and glitches, and being overwhelmed with the volume of new features Dixa will sometimes add.
Overall Dixa has received positive feedback on its features and customer service that goes above and beyond.
- Essential Plan ($39/agent/month): Offers basic communication tools and intelligent routing.
- Growth Plan: ($89/agent/month): Adds external knowledge bases and more channels.
- Ultimate Plan ($139/agent/month): Includes all features of Premium plus additional advanced services like bulk actions.
Note: these prices are for when you pay annually.
Dixa offers options for MacOS and Windows, both for small and large-scale deployment.
Dixa offers a healthy selection of integrations, including HubSpot, Salesforce, and more:
- Onepilot: This tools allows you to outsource your support to a team of experts for an additional fee.
- Fullview: This upcoming integration will add cobrowsing and session replay capabilities to the platform, allowing agents to see and interact with the customer's screen in real-time and post-resolution. Fullview is secure and 100% GDPR compliant, complete with privacy controls and data blurring— so your team can get started without worry (for free) within just a few minutes of setup.
How Dixa compares to Intercom
- Dixa offers AI Sentiment Analysis and omnichannel support, ideal for younger teams seeking AI-enhanced communication and seamless management across multiple channels, but its limited customization and fixed pricing may be restrictive.
- Intercom, excelling in real-time customer interactions with its user-friendly interface, is better suited for businesses prioritizing immediate, personalized customer engagement, despite not offering the advanced AI communication management found in Dixa.
Wrapping things up
The customer communication landscape emphasizes quick, effective engagement, a space where Intercom, despite its popularity and robust features, faces critiques for high costs, limited customization, and a learning curve.
- Zendesk: Offers extensive knowledge bases, but with limitations in chatbot capabilities. Recommended if you have several repeated customer inquiries.
- Salesforce Service Cloud: Provides a comprehensive CRM approach, yet complex in pricing and usability. Use this if you need an integrated, CRM-based solution with your other Salesforce tools.
- Dixa: Features AI Sentiment Analysis and omnichannel support, but restricted by its smaller user base. A good choice for smaller, but well-capitalized teams, starting out.
Choosing the right customer communication platform all boils down to knowing what your customers really need. It's all about balancing the features you want, how easy it is to use, and how much you're willing to pay.
- Salesforce Service Cloud
- Salesforce Service Cloud Pricing
- Salesforce Service Cloud Reviews on G2
- Salesforce AppExchange
- Dixa Homepage
- Dixa Pricing
- Dixa Reviews on Software Advice
- Intercom Reviews on G2
- Intercom Pricing
- Zendesk Support Suite Reviews on G2
- Zendesk Service
- Zendesk Pricing
Sources last check on: 28-Nov-2024