Intercom is the best designed live chat application available. You can tell this because most other live chat providers have copied much of their design.
The application is also super-easy to set up and use.
The only downside - and the reason why I give it four stars and not five stars - is to do with the pricing. I've heard of quite a few customers who like the product but are surprised at how the cost has jumped from one month to another. This is because you are charged for how many leads or customers are being tracked if you have the Outbound Messages product, or the Custom Bot, Answer Bot or Product Tours add-ons.
If you only want to use live chat for customer support, then you can get by with the Team Inbox product, which charges by seat. However, if you want to use live chat to capture leads on your website and if unpredictable pricing is a dealbreaker for you, then I would recommend looking at an alternative solution with fixed, predictable pricing, such as Crisp.
Intercom's chat widget (the Intercom Messenger) offers users a first-rate live chat user experience on both mobile and desktop browsers.
Intercom has introduced a number of live chat innovations. One of these is removing the need for unfriendly pre-chat forms by embedding a small email capture form in the chat itself.
The chat interface for internal users or agents is well-laid out, with helpful contextual information about visitors and customers.
Intercom's service and marketing is based around 3 activities:
When you sign up, you are guided to select one of these core activities, or an "all-in-one" option and also to choose between 'Essential', 'Pro' or 'Premium' plans.
You are really choosing to buy one or both of the 'core products':
… and also optional 'add-on' products:
You need the Team Inbox core product if you want to use live chat for customer support.
Pricing is based on the number of seats you need. A 'seat' is a dedicated login for each person who needs to communicate with customers. (Other live chat providers also refer to 'agents').
Beyond the base price, which includes 2 seats, each additional seat costs $19 per month in the 'Essential' plan and $39 per month in the 'Pro' plan.
You need the Outbound Messages core product if you want to use live chat for customer engagement, or lead generation.
Pricing is based on the number of 'active people', defined as all leads and customers who've received, or sent a message, or who have logged into your product in the past 90 days.
The base price includes 200 'active people'. The price rises more or less linearly beyond that (see chart). Pricing for more than 20,000 people is available on request.
Upload your own logo; change background and action colors (buttons, links etc.); set wallpaper. Show Screenshot
The Intercom branded link can only be removed from the chat window if you upgrade to a Premium plan.
Office hours can be set for any given day or for weekdays or weekends. Customers see when you will next be available based on these hours. There is also an 'away mode' which reassigns replies to existing conversations to other users. This is useful if a user is on holiday, for example. Show Screenshot
Each team has its own space in the inbox, allowing members to manage any conversations assigned to the group. Show Screenshot
Complex assignment rules can be created based on any tag, segment or attribute about a lead, user or company, along with information about the message itself. Available with the Inbox Pro plan. Show Screenshot
Saved replies can be created from scratch, or from a chat message. They can be accessed via an icon, or by using the # shortcut. Custom variables also let you personalize the saved reply automatically. Show Screenshot
Visitors can be blocked and unblocked. Show Screenshot
Provides granular control of when the messenger is shown, letting you restrict chats to your most valuable or engaged leads. Show Screenshot
Intercom's contextual automatic messages can help you capture leads and target messages to promising prospects. This feature is available if you also purchase the Outbound Messages product. Show Screenshot
Users and conversations can easily be manually tagged. It is possible to search by tag and also to group users by tag. Show Screenshot
Provides detailed reports about new conversations (including by tag and busiest period); performance (volume, busiest period, replies sent, conversations closed, responsiveness metrics and conversation ratings and remarks from customers); and leads (new leads, leads by visitor messages, median first response to leads and Salesforce leads created (if you have the integration). Show Screenshot
Intercom's chatbot technology is known as Operator. It powers bots which can be purchased separately for resolving common questions from customers, qualify leads and automate common tasks.
You get a unique incoming email address (in the form email@example.com). You can set emails to forward to this address if your customers contact you via a support email address (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org). Show Screenshot
Intercom supports DKIM so you can send emails to customers from your own domain, rather than the intercom domain.
Intercom tracks a wide range of standard user attributes. Custom data attributes (data you send to Intercom about your users) are supported too. This data appears alongside your chat with a visitor or customer but can also be used to answer ad hoc questions like who signed up less than 30 days ago. It is also possible to use filters based on user data to send automated messages to qualified leads. Intercom has a special set of attributes to support lead qualification. Qualification data can be manually entered as you chat to website visitors. Intercom's chatbot ('Operator') can also automatically ask leads questions in order to qualify them. Show Screenshot
You can send a series of email, push and in-app messages to people based on their individual behaviour. This requires the Messages Pro plan. Show Screenshot
Data Processing Agreements have been updated to meet GDPR requirements. Self-certified under the EU-US Privacy Shield and the Swiss-US Privacy Shield. Data Protection Officer appointed. Has the necessary features in order that its customers can delete and export individual user data.
The live chat widget can be configured to be displayed in languages which your organisation supports (38 languages are supported). Used in combination with automatic assignment this means you can run a multi-lingual live chat and ensure chats are picked up by the right operator in your organisation. Show Screenshot
Has apps for both iOS and Android so you can reply to visitors and users, add notes and assign conversations whilst on the move. Show Screenshot
Adding help docs to your website or application requires the Articles product (pricing starts at $49 per month). The integration between articles and live chat is very good and you can even configure the Operator chatbot to automatically suggest help articles when a user asks a question and are waiting for a response. Show Screenshot
Intercom offers a well-documented REST API, webhooks and a framework for building apps to integrate into the Messenger.
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Review by Matt
Matt is a product manager with extensive experience in building and supporting software-as-a-service products. This includes implementing live chat for customer support and customer success teams.
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