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 others are either in the process of doing this, or will lose customers.)
The application is also super-easy to set up and use.
The only caveat is to do with the pricing. I've heard of quite a few customers who like the product but are surprised at how expensive it has become. This is because you are charged for how many leads or customers are being tracked. This is not a problem if you are a B2B SaaS company with high lifetime value (LTV) customers (for example a company like Intercom!). However, if you're in B2C and have a lot of website visitors and customers with a low LTV, or you have a seasonal business, then you might want to look at an alternative solution with fixed 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 is based around 3 "jobs to be done":
At sign up you have to select one job (or all) as a "base plan". Each job is sub-divided into Essential, Pro and Premium tiers.
However, once you have signed up it's clear that the base plans are just different bundles of Intercom Products.
To enable live chat for support you need the Inbox product, which starts at $38 per month for 1 seat. Additional seats start at $19 in the Pro tier.
(Teammates without a seat can reply to conversations. However, there are restrictions.)
If you want to use Intercom's live chat for acquiring customers you will need to sign up for the Messages product.
Pricing is based on the number of leads and users that received messages, started conversations, or logged in over the last 90 days. Pricing is therefore variable and potentially unpredictable depending on the nature of your business.
Upload your own logo; change background and action colors (buttons, links etc.); set wallpaper. The Intercom branded link can also be removed if you purchase the Pro plan. Show Screenshot
Disappointingly, the Intercom branded link can only be removed from the chat window if you upgrade to Inbox Premium or Messages Premium.
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 class-leading contextual automatic messages can help you capture leads and target messages to promising prospects. This feature is available if you also purchase the Messages plan. 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. 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.
Review by Matt
I've developed this site to help businesses like yours find the best software for your needs. My work is supported by affiliate commissions.