You must know that you don’t need an MBA in marketing to understand that stellar customer service is essential for the long-term success of your business. A stellar customer service to your real-time visitor will undoubtedly help increase the growth of your customer base as well as will create a memorable experience every time.
Where am I going with this?
You will get your answer soon.
According to Firstsource Survey –
“Web chat is becoming a new wave of customer relationship and management adoption tool.”
Through this survey, I got to know that – more than half of US customers prefer to resolve their issue through web-chat instead of calling the customer care handle. Web Chat is now widely used in various sectors like banking, healthcare, insurance, utilities, and education providers. The same way email automation got popular because of the burden it reduced to send transactional emails to the customers and prospective customers. With this kind of ticketing service helps improve customer relationship management.
You must have noticed those chat widgets on websites that are designed to help the visitors in their search or help them if they are stuck somewhere? Yes, that’s what I am talking about.
It somewhat looks like this:
Source: Primaseller Website
Small business and enterprises recognized this opportunity and started using this customer service software tool to interact while a customer is making a purchase or visited their website. This form of engagement turns the visitor into a lead and then to a potential customer. These potential customers are reached out by the information that has been garnered while chatting through emails or phone calls. It is a great way to find the best customer for your business.
If we closely look at the pattern, chat can be called as the first point of contact between the business and the customers. It is, however, imperative for the business owners and startups to use the Webchat tools which would provide them the ease and accessibility to talk to their customers.
This is how the cycle went on:
Webchat > Fill out form > Chat with the agent/customer support > Use that information for email marketing/ Phone call for pitching > Annoy them until they make a purchase.
On the part of customers, it should be as hassle-free as possible because.. let’s face it, we live in a world that doesn’t like waiting. How many times do you have to provide your information to enter the live chat, shouldn’t live chat just be “live chat” as it claims to?
A machine without actually solving the customers’ query in hand. This, in turn, led to frustration on the part of customers and the cycle of avoiding “chat service” altogether thus ruining all the sales and marketing efforts.
It is then Intercom came to the rescue of the startups who could sense that the chat is doing something wrong that is leading to customer disappointment. This innovative solution led to some of the creative use of the service and the clients who are using this tool.
In their blog post, they have clearly mentioned the case where the web chat service is lagging behind and how did they change the way web-chat was looked upon.
Just imagine, how great it would be to have a solution where you simplify communicating with your customers in a really easy way and get most out of your sales and marketing efforts. Intercom is the first and one of the best-preferred tool used by many small and medium business teams to integrate their live chat function, email marketing problems and all types of marketing automation needs.
Any critical email of a customer to track or follow up after a purchase is an essential feature for any business. Communicating with your customer should be hassle-free and easy. Customer facing applications like Intercom helped in customer communication efficiently and thoughtfully with the help of their live user data besides each chat message. And hence, automation helps to streamline, measure marketing campaigns and tasks effectively that would make you feel like you have an army of great marketers for working for you at your disposal.
Innovation doesn’t wait for anyone!
Intercom was lagging behind in website engagement and transactional emails. So, in this article, I am going to tell you the best Intercom alternatives to go for, for your business. I understand the nuances of running a successful business with a great customer support facility. We know that technology keeps changing and our hunger for a better product doesn’t end if rapid innovation is taking place in our surrounding.
In this post, we are going to talk about the three best intercom alternatives you should be using to run a smooth business – with their feature, integrations and pricing details.
Next, comes Help desks which have been implemented in a lot of ways by the business owners and startups. The best practices if followed by the businesses, then HelpDesk can actually meet the crucial need of the potential customers/visitors, that is, being operational and providing “Help”. Help Desk works in this way:
It issues tickets that would concern the department and the problem specific to that problem.
These tickets are used to know the information like who is taking care of the ticket, what is the current status of the ticket raised etc. This ticketing system is provided by many tools such as:
Chat tools are offered by the helpdesk providers itself. Chat is now considered as one of the features of the broad helpdesk. There are also independent tools like Zopim for just chatting based help for the visitors and tools like Userengage which provides a wholesome front-end support to the visitors that includes personalized email marketing platform, segmentation, marketing automation among others, that ultimately will help the business to communicate with the customers.
Let’s start with my first favorite Intercom alternative-
First Intercom Alternative: UserEngage.io (now user.com)
“Turn every visitor into a Happy Customer”
Is what claimed by this simple yet powerful marketing automation tool that automates live chat, email marketing, and visitors actions. They serve the biggies like Magento, WordPress, Shopify etc. According to the customer review, “All data, action events in one place. Understanding which will be able to take the right action at the right time. This intercom alternative will help power the live chat.
The features of UserEngage include:
- Personalized email marketing campaigns.
- Dynamic form – choose one or make your own.
Segment your visitor’s profile according to their interest/ stage/ demographic or any filter you want.
- Connect your account through the app on your phone – so that you respond to each and every message from your users without any delay. I have come across the pop-ups which pop up even after subscribing to the blog, but UserEngage have built the system which doesn’t show the popup to their subscribers. Clever, I must say.
- Email marketing is no longer referred to as SPAM as the system with dynamic segmentation, targeted made easy and personalized experiences, the subscribers will only be able to read the content that they want to read. Read their article on how to create a successful email marketing campaign and leave it to email marketing automation to deliver the best.
Cleverly built to help digital marketers manage their customer communication and reach out the potential clients effortlessly. The best solution to go for that integrates chat, email marketing, and marketing automation. UserEngage provides growth and customer satisfaction through the real-time chat feature. Simple marketing automation can also be done and repetitive tasks can be automated. Team communication can also be done through this tool. It also has a feature of an already visited page, so that a short note for that visitor can be “Hi, I checked you were checking out our pricing page, is there something we can do to clarify?”
All these actions can be used to make a funnel for your business that is superbly relevant to your visitor:
UserEngage comes with a dedicated plugin for your platform to simply integrate without any hassles. Be it your online store, CRM or team- communication software – UserEngage will integrate for your convenience. It provides database import through MailChimp, or Intercom or CSV file.
UserEngage’s pricing has been fixed to fit the bill for freelancers and startups. Starting at $49/mo, it can be a very viable option for the NGOs, hobbyists, and small businesses as well.
They offer a free trial for 14 days as well. Through this plan, the business owners can track 50k users per month. Get unlimited chat and conversation history which means, if you want to cross-check something from last year’s chat history, then you can easily browse through chats.
The most popular package that this Intercom alternative is selling is priced at $249/mo package. Apart from having the features that are in the basic package, clients will get to track up to 5k users per month as well as get an unlimited number of automations.
You get basic reporting for your business decisions and your language version as well. The integration will include shops and CMS like WordPress etc.
Update: Userengage is now GDPR and CCPA compliant and GDPR and CCPA Data Processing Addendum (“DPA”) is now a part of Userengage Service Agreement. Detail about overall data processing rights and all discussed here.
Second Intercom Alternative: FreshChat
Freshchat is the sixth product from Freshworks, a cloud-based business software. It is a modern messaging platform designed to revamp the conversational marketing and messaging experience for all businesses. The launch of Freshchat trades back to the acquisition of Konotor in December 2015. It was soon followed by another acquisition of a social chat platform, Chatimity in October 2016. Finally, the most recent chatbot startup acquisition of Joe Hukum laid down the foundation brick for Freshchat.
In the official announcement blog, Srikrishnan Ganesan who is responsible for building chat, noted: “While our earlier chat product was fully integrated with the helpdesk offering, we’ve had many customers who just wanted to use chat for sales and some others who wanted to use a single chat product across sales and support.” Other products from Freshwork’s desk include Freshdesk, Freshcaller, Freshservice, Freshsales, and Freshteam.
Features of Freshchat
Freshchat aims to revamp the way business sales and customer support interactions happen. It works on the core concept of capturing leads across websites and engaging with them smartly. To facilitate contextual and smart conversations, Freshchat offers a host of features.
You can record events like page visits, report downloads, and such to understand the what, where and how of your visitors. This also gives you a direct information of user properties (like geography, etc). Based on these user properties, you can segment and group your leads. Freshchat also helps in triggering engaging messages before your visitor loses interest in your brand. You can send targeted messages at the right time to the right customer.
Lead capturing and retention forms the core functionality of Freshchat, enabling you to onboard, educate, retain and re-engage your customers.
Freshchat also has bots for intelligent lead capturing even when your team is offline. You can customize the tone of your bot according to your business proposition, set expectations, and unburden your team from being around 24/7 to exchange pleasantries. The Freshchat bot is not just functional in giving out intelligent replies to your leads. It auto-uploads leads directly into your CRM so that your sales team never miss an opportunity.
Freshchat smartly helps in automatically assigning conversations to the right person within the team to resolve issues faster. Based on the current skills and conversations, conversations are assigned to specific team members. However, it remains in your discrete to set the conditions based on which the assignment will happen.
Your leads can find FAQs in multiple languages within the Freshchat messenger. It accelerates issue resolving process. Also, you can instantly take a feedback on your FAQs by asking for upvotes or downvotes. That way, you know if your FAQs are really doing the job.
Another unlikely feature in a chat service is that of team productivity. Freshchat facilitates team collaboration towards a common goal with features like
- Smart plugs to pull in all the context from external apps and systems within the conversation
- Canned response to common queries
- Labels to categorize and track conversations quickly
- Private notes to keep updates, take notes, record learnings, etc.
- Desktop notifications for both visitor and teams members on their immediate availability or activity
- Read receipts for team conversations
- Business hours to let your website visitors know when you are available
- Bulk actions including segmentation, assigning and responding to multiple conversations with one action
Without metrics and measurements, any effort goes in vain. Freshchat is no exception. The real-time dashboard that tracks your team’s performance and speed of response offers an overview of how things are proceeding. The customer ratings help to evaluate each team member’s performance. You can keep a track of all conversations across different days, time, week, etc. and compare the same with earlier reports to evaluate current trends.
The features of Freshchat clearly shows that Freshchat is not just about lead capturing. It is a smart, personalized and context-based chat service. The pricing plans are as follows:
‘Sprout’ is a free plan for up to 10 active members and unlimited contacts. The paid plans start at $19/active team member/month and go up to $49/team member/month. All the pricing plans (including the FREE plan) offer unlimited contacts, priority inbox, integrations with Facebook Messenger, Slack and Freshdesk, mobile app, and notifications (desktop and push notifications). When you upgrade to any of the paid plans, you get these and more features to explore.
Freshchat offers a robust integration list, bringing the best of all communications together. It offers integration with Slack, Facebook Messenger, ClearBit, Zendesk, and the entire Freshworks ecosystem. The app version of Freshchat enables you to send push notifications to team members to respond even when they are not active inside the app. Why stop customer interaction when you can continue selling and supporting on-the-go.
GDPR and CCPA update:
Freshchat is GDPR and CCPA compliant and to ensure that it has introduced the following features:
- Not store IPs: This will ensure that the user location never gets disclosed.
- Turn-off social profile enrichment: Obtaining and recording information from social media will no more be applicable.
- Opt out of analytics: No information will be sent to third parties for analytics.
Third Intercom Alternative: Boomtrain (Zeta global)
It classifies itself as “Artificial Intelligence for Marketers”
Boomtrain’s machine learning may be a rocket science but the tool help accumulates useful insights about the visitor and provides recommendations predictive through analytics that will deliver personal experiences to the website through emails and mobile communication.
Unique personalization algorithms will help the marketers track user behavior through track code and effectively use this superpower to Boom your email marketing automation better.
Sound’s cool eh? Let’s have a look at its features, integration, and pricing.
Features of Boomtrain:
On-site messaging service that helps a user interact and engage on site.
Source: YouTube; BoomTrain webinars
Boomtrain is an email marketing solution built around features such as an asynchronous tracking code to analyze visitor behavior, unique personalization algorithms, and workflow automation.
- Engage: Boomtrain helps website visitors to engage throughout the session in your site. The conclusion drew from past behavior, using analytics and machine learning, makes the conversation relevant and start relationships with business’s best foot forward.
- Retain: Helps retain your customers through real-time messaging. In turn, helps your valuable customers to keep coming back.
If you want to get started with Marketing Automation only; then the plan starts at $1,000 per month.
Marketing Automation with Artificial Intelligence solution costs $2,500 per month whereas; BoomTrain also has la carte options available for Onsite & In-app for $1,000 per month and Messenger / Lightbox at $500 per month each.
For enterprise; BoomTrain has custom prices available which cover fully customized AI-driven marketing engine to help deliver 1:1 experience across all online channels.
Fourth Intercom Alternative: Helpscout
This tool that has a logo which reminds of the Boy’s scout program – is here to help the marketers with their unique Knowledge base support system and HelpDesk. They have rightly built this in order to pinch every communication that is going out in the most perfect – personalized – way possible. Robo emails are long forgotten. Customers trust business interaction that has a human touch to it.
HelpScout learned that a typical help desk tool can give the business person countless headaches from the vast numbers of unhelpful automation, ticket numbers, and customer portals. These maze of obstructions in communicating with customers can cost you one frustrated customer. HelpScout has been very carefully hand-weaved by the best engineers to provide seamless customer experience as well as easy internal team communication.
Let’s have a look at what HelpScout has to offer to its customers with regards to Pricing, integration, and feature.
Helpscout comes with 40+ integration that will help your business integrate with your existing platform and deliver the best. Utilities, CRM, Analytics, Support, E-commerce and Invoicing, Marketing, Communication- Internal or External, – it facilitates integration with all the major player listed out in the above category.
- Knowledgebase: Compiles Docs that help your customer find a ready answer when needed by them. When all the frequently asked questions and best practices are there in one place, your potential customers find it easy to find answers to their query right away. A knowledge base is optimized for the right keyword entered in search bar by the visitor. This will help the doc URLs rise through the rankings in your domain as well, thus providing a complete SEO solution for your business.
This unique self-serving feature helps the customers find the solution themselves on-site without waiting for the support of your team. All guides and training videos are compiled in the place where customers prefer to find the answers themselves before contacting the support.
- Analytics: This knowledge measures the visitor searched terms on-site and failed search items that will ultimately improve the health of your docs and knowledge base.
Helpscout’s pricing has been fixed keeping in mind the pockets of small and medium enterprises which are focused on customer experiences. It is available in two pricing plans one is the Standard and the other is the plus. You get a 90-day free trial plan that is quite generous.
The standard plan is priced at $20 per user per month and the Plus plan is at $35 per user per month.
Bonus: Read HelpScout’s article on Customer Support salary Report for the year 2016. And how HelpScout can help you make your customer support team a little bit happier with their features. After all a happy employee means a happy customer.
Intercom vs Userengage.io
Coming to our initial discussion, Intercom alternatives, we are now going to compare the features of Intercom with UserEngage:
Today’s small and medium enterprises want top-notch customer desk support and hence the service providers up the ante through their competitive edge.
- Going through a wide variety of customer review, I am concluding to mark Userengage with an A+ in the subject of customer engagement over Intercom. Integration system for Intercom lacks in various system and applications.
- Languages in which the tools are available are –
– Intercom – USA, UK, Canada, and Europe
– UserEngage – USE, Canada, South Africa, Asia, Australia, China, Germany, India, Middle-East, Japan, and UK.
- Intercom provides only phone support while Userengage helps its customers through Live Chat Support and Phone as well.
- Pricing for Userengage starts with $49/ mo and Intercom comes with combined packages for its customers starting with $87/mo. A bit pricey for the NGO’s and hobbyists as we discussed above. Pricing for UserEngage is user-based and accelerates with the increase in users that are tracked monthly to give the best insights from interactions.
- Customer types for Intercom can vary from freelancers to Small business owners and medium business owners. While UserEnage is trusted by Small and Large Enterprises.
- We cannot create email campaigns in Intercom or spy cold email users – which can be done in Userengage.
- Marketing automation is possible in Userengage through its models, user paths-in-action, and Dynamic forms feature – all of which are absent in Intercom. Userengage also provides SMS service to its customers.
Intercom vs Boomtrain
At the surface, BoomTrain provides less service than Intercom.
BoomTrain offers user engaged live chat functionality that integrates machine learning to help marketers while Intercom provides –
- Email Marketing
- User Analytics at the same time
After acquiring Nudgespot, they have a good competitive advantage over Intercom and are now providing solutions similar to Intercom.
BoomTrain can be considered a cheap yet awesome alternative for Intercom that provides best in class marketing automation for the business.
Coming to the pricing front – Nudgespot/ BoomTrain doesn’t charge according to the number of customers or subscriber a business has. Starting with $500/mo, NudgeSpot also has a free trial based on which you can purchase the service later.
Intercom vs Zopim vs Olark
Zopim – One Picture is worth a thousand words:
Here is another picture to tell you why this shouldn’t be the case:
Not convinced, here is another picture to make you understand why Zopim failed to provide its customers the best of what they wanted:
Intercom simply helped address customer pain through direct communications without focusing on lead generation or building a subscribers lists – all of which will be dead if the visitor/customer doesn’t have her queries resolved at the earliest.
According to Hubspot inbound marketing,
“50% of buyers choose the vendor that responds first..”
It is the same with the end user consumer as well. Intercom is definitely using that to their advantage.
Olark Vs Zopim: Zopim might act like an old-school chat messenger with no theme change option to go with. Olark comes with a chat widget that can be designed as per your website and have a host of seasonal designs.
Zopim comes with a free plan – which can be a good cheap alternative for customer communication while Olark offers a wide of feature you’d expect from a live chat widget. Customer service for both the tools might be a problem as they don’t have 24*7*365 customer service coverage.
A gentle reminder: Userengage is still ruling the roost with the best-in-class service and pricing.
Intercom Vs Feshdesk
Source: Quora review
If your business focuses on multichannel customer support across email, phone and chat along with powerful analytics and insights then go for Freshdesk.
If your business is SaaS-based which is looking for automated emails and excellent marketing automation – then go for Intercom.
Lastly, if your business is looking just for Live chat real-time support – then go for Olark.
Olark won’t be your best bet if you are looking for the holistic customer solution. Here is trivia for you – Olark started out for e-commerce business only later branching out to provide service for small business and startups.
Freshdesk is a traditional messaging platform from India, that offers a solution to the knowledge base and ticketing system for your business.
To start with Intercom vs Helpscout – Intercom provides a mobile app for android device. I almost missed the ease of access from my device while using Helpscout.
For freelancers, Helpscout seems to be the preferred option over Intercom.
the support base of Helpscout is armed with the phone, online, knowledge base and video tutorials whereas I didn’t find the help of video tutorials or guide while using Intercom.
Pricing starts at $87/mo for Intercom while some of the basic features are offered free from Helpscout.
So we had a detailed discussion on three best Intercom alternatives. Which are your favorite tools for Helpdesk? – or basically connecting with our customers? Comment below!
Questions related to finding Intercom alternatives:
What are some good intercom alternatives?
Some good Intercom alternatives are ZenDesk, FreshChat and Zoho.
Which is a better live chat software intercom or Zendesk?
ZenDesk works well in areas like analytics and reports, fixed pricing irrespective of users, generous free trial plan and a great customer support. Talking about InterCom is great for email marketing, great UI and in-app messaging(that ZenDesk almost doesn’t have. For pricing Intercom is a bit expensive and Zendesk is more flexible with pricing.
How much does Intercom cost?
Below are the InterCom plans:
Start: $39/ mo
Grow : $99/mo
Is freshchat free?
Yes, freshchat has a sprout plan that is free. It allows 10 team members and unlimited contacts. Although the features that you get with it are pretty limited.
Which is a cheaper Intercom or userengage?
Intercom has 4 plans irrespective of the number of subscribers. While UserEngage pricing is based on the number of subscribers you have. UserEngage works really well for small businesses or startups.
How to choose the best chat for your business?
The best chat for your business is based on your personal needs and budget. Intercom and UserEngage are pretty good options.