When does a support team become the most effective?
When they have the best support themselves.
Or at least a capable customer support platform to help them skip the manual in-app messaging.
Intercom is one of the many tools to claim they are the ones to do the job. But unlike most of the others, this tool claims to help almost all teams with a wide range of key features.
So here I am today, diving deep into what Intercom is and what it isn’t to help you find the best help desk software that fits your needs.
First, we should probably take a look at the key features, advantages, and disadvantages of Intercom; to set a base for comparisons later.
- Intercom is a widely known customer experience and live chat software that aims to reduce the workload of support teams.
- The tool combines a wide range of basic features such as a live messenger, knowledge bases, and email messages with each other, and adds automation and bots as the cherry on top.
- The tool also offers an add-on called “Intercom Product Tours” to help you create “interactive” product walkthroughs, but the add-on itself costs $199/month at its lowest, and doesnt deliver what $199/month DAP tools do.
- UserGuiding is the best alternative to this add-on since it costs $69/month, has a better range of features, and can be integrated with Intercom to use the data on both platforms.
- Other alternatives to Intercom are HubSpot, Zendesk, Crisp, Freshdesk, and Tidio.
What is Intercom used for?
Intercom is a widely known and capable customer service tool and live chat software that provides lots of features and leveraged customer satisfaction.
The tool also has a G2 rating of 4.4 and is trusted by giant companies such as Amazon, Facebook, Shopify, and Microsoft – making it one of the most popular messaging platforms.
While the tool is known mostly as a chat software, there is more than that to Intercom. It is a full package for almost any customer support team, and also useful for sales teams.
If you have a business website on which you also want to provide support, adopting a chat tool is the easiest and most convenient solution. Intercom allows you to use their chat feature through a chat widget.
Customizable Bots and Automation
If you get frequent questions and don’t want to reply to all those similar messages manually each time, you can use Intercom’s chatbots to decrease the average reply time.
You can also use automation for your outgoing emails which you can trigger by time or by action.
Although Intercom has been around for a while, they only launched their Intercom Product Tours feature in 2019. This feature allows you to create in-app onboarding walkthroughs that guide your users directly to the point where they like your product.
Help Center Articles
Using Intercom’s help center articles, you can bring a whole help website into a small chat box to act as a knowledge base and help users automatically and easily.
According to user comments on Reddit and HelpCrunch, Intercom’s pricing can range between $74/month (only for newly established companies with under 5 employees) and $999/month. Also, some features are billed separately and cost an additional monthly fee.
- Starter Plan: $74/month for small businesses
- Product Tours Add-On: $199/month
- WhatsApp Add-On: $9/user
- Surveys Add-On: $49/month
- Support Plan: Custom quotation upon request
- Engage Plan: Custom quotation upon request
- Convert Plan: Custom quotation upon request
“The Bots are very helpful to Qualify the type of data we are receiving in our customer support; and the best part is it is included in the plan – you don’t need to pay a lot of extra money to have this feature. And they are always improving this feature.”
“Sometimes notifications do not come through, especially if you are looking at another tab or using the mobile app. I also have an issue where every time I open Intercom, it shows an old chat that was closed months ago, I have to refresh to make it go away, but te next time I login, it is there again.”
4 Reasons Why You Might Need an Intercom Alternative
1- Fairly Expensive Pricing 💰
For a tool that doesn’t have a free plan and requests even more money for each feature, Intercom is very expensive compared to all the other competitors on this list (and those that aren’t on this list.)
There are even affordable alternatives that focus on one aspect of Intercom (such as product tours) and integrate with Intercom so that you can both keep your data and your budget up to par with expectations.
2- Insufficient Customer Support 🧑💼
Both in G2 and Cpaterra, most of the users (even those that rated 5 stars) complain that Intercom has horrible customer support. A tool that helps you smooth out communications with customers should be able to provide better and easier communication.
3- Limited Analytics Capabilities For Low-Tier Packages📉
You already know that Intercom charges per feature, but limiting analytics to premium plans is harsh, especially considering that the tool is a customer service platform and data is essential.
4- Limited User Onboarding and Guide Capabilities 🚢
Even though it is not Intercom’s main focus, there is a lack of UI elements in product tours. They do not give you many options, which means that you can’t use checklists, modals, or any other key UI elements for user onboarding.
Top Alternatives and Competitors of Intercom
- Help Scout
So, you’ve decided on using another tool than Intercom to meet your user onboarding and product analytics needs. Alright, these are the most popular alternatives to Intercom, and let’s start with the first tool on our list:
1- HubSpot Service Hub vs Intercom
It is very likely that a SaaS business (maybe including yours) already uses Hubspot.
This means that you can set-up their Service Hub in no time and start using their chat functionality and email marketing automation in no time.
Bear in mind that even though HubSpot service hub doesn’t charge per feature, each pricing tier unlocks prior limitations and if you have lots of end-users, the free plan might not be convenient enough for you.
- Freemium version available
- Starter Plan: $45/month for 2 users and free tools with no limits
- Professional Plan: $450/month for 5 users and advanced automation
- Enterprise plan: $1200/month for 10 users, custom support and optimization
“I like that everything is all in one location. I also appreciate how easy it is to automate workflows and to pair to our other customer management tools. The features are relatively intuitive.”
“As with anything this robust, the downside is getting everything set up as you’d want it. It can be difficult to get it going and understand how exactly to use the features. But, like anything else, once you get the hang of it, its fairly easy to use.”
2- Intercom vs. UserGuiding
UserGuiding is a thorough user onboarding and product adoption software that helps you educate and engage users faster.
UserGuiding is not a customer service tool like Intercom or Hubspot.
But since Intercom provides a product tours feature add-on for an unreasonably high price and limited function, UserGuiding deserves a spot as an intercom alternative.
The tool helps you get the most out of every single user that experiences your product, and carries them directly to the “Aha!” moment.
UserGuiding has also integrations with Intercom and HubSpot, so you can still benefit from their CRM features and customer success tools while having a great-looking product walkthrough that blends right in with your product.
The best part of UserGuiding, and the main reason why it is a much better option than Intercom Product Tours is the wide variety of engagement features that UserGuiding provides:
- Interactive Guides,
- Tooltips and hotspots,
- In-app messages and update banners,
- User checklists,
- In-app resource centers that can be integrated with Zendesk knowledge bases,
- NPS and customer satisfaction surveys,
- In-depth analytics and end-user tracking.
You get all those features for a very low price, and you can set up all that without a single line of code.
- 14-day free trial (no credit card required)
- Basic Plan: $69/month when billed annually for up to 2500 MAU
- Professional Plan: $299/month when billed annually for up to 20000 MAU with unlimited guides
- Custom Quotation Available for Larger Companies
“UserGuiding is a fantastic alternative to more “big-budget” solutions; and the good news is: that it does the same.”
“The localisation (translation) is still not a standard feature (to support 4 languages, you would have to create 4 different guides), but it does the job.”
UserGuiding also offers free migration services for your in-app content created using other software to minimize your switching costs.
Schedule a demo with one of our experts or start your free trial now:
3- Intercom vs Freshdesk
You can manage all your tickets that come in across all your platforms in one place: that is email, chatbot, live chat, social media, and even phone.
The software allows you to keep track of all conversations, prioritize tickets, tag topics, and automatically assign them to the most appropriate member of your team.
The platform also provides a powerful analytics suite, so you can easily see where your customers are having problems and need more proactive support, and where your support team is struggling to meet customer needs, so that you can prioritize investment.
- Free plan: $0 (up to 10 agents)
- 15-day free trial available for paid plans
- Growth plan: $15/user per month when billed annually ($18/user per month when billed monthly)
- Pro plan: $49/user per month when billed annually ($59/user per month when billed monthly)
- Enterprise plan: $79/user per month when billed annually ($95/user per month when billed monthly)
“The system creates requests and tickets automatically, for each communication channel, but also allows us to create tickets manually. It has automated routing, so that calls are routed to the agents trained to solve them.”
“I think the only big thing I would complain about is its price, if you want to update an agent or user, its costs are high. In any case, it has a very good free plan, its functions and tools are very extensive, this plan is very whether to obtain it or not.”
4- Intercom vs Zendesk
Zendesk is the mid-way of HubSpot and Intercom, and good news, it provides automation for cheaper prices as well.
Is Intercom like Zendesk? Yes, the Intercom is very similar to Zendesk, but only to the Zendesk for service Suite.
The Zendesk for Service Suite is an email marketing automation software that also provides an on-site chat solution.
You may have heard of Zendesk Chat before since it is their strongest card on the game. Compared to all the other tools on this list, Zendesk provides the best and highest rated life-chat feature among all.
Not only that, but it is also affordable, but if you heavily rely on emails, Zendesk might not be the one for you.
Zendesk offers six different tiers, three of which are for everyone and two for enterprises.
- Starting Plan: $19 per agent/month
- Suite Team: $49 per agent/month billed annually
- Suite Growth: $79 per agent/month billed annually
- Suite Professional: $99 per agent/month billed annually
- Suite Enterprise: $150 per agent/month billed annually
- It gets even more powerful: Additional enterprise-ready plans from $215 per agent/month billed annually
“Zendesk Support is the tool I most use daily and it “just works”. It helps us answer our clients while maintaining full context into currently faced difficulties and helping us ensure we don’t miss anything. It’s reliable, robust, and customizable. Customer service is helpful and always there when we’ve needed it.”
“Because the server is hosted by zendesk, reporting is obtuse even when using their tool and direct database calls cannot be made through explore, making the report building process much more complex than if the data was stored by the company itself.”
5- Intercom vs Help Scout
Help Scout is an affordable option that your growing team can quickly get up and running.
The tool has a very user-friendly and fun-to-use UI along with customer-centric features that make it easier to focus on each unique customer through customer profiles.
Their Shared Inbox feature, customization options and self-serve capabilities are rated highest among those in this list on G2.
If you’re out there looking for a simple yet robust tool with cool features, such as collision detection, try Help Scout as soon as possible.
Help Scout Pricing
- 15-day free trial available
- Standard plan: $20/month per user when billed annually ($25/month per user on monthly subscriptions)
- Plus plan: $35/month per user when billed annually ($40/month per user on monthly subscriptions)
- Company plan: $60/month per user when billed annually
Help Scout Reviews
“You can track stats to see which members of your team have helped the most people. I especially like the “merge threads” feature– users will often send in new emails instead of replying to the previous ones or will send in multiple emails about the same topic.”
“Sometimes there are bugs with drafts which can be frustrating because I rely heavily on my drafts being saved. I also wouldn’t mind a more pretty design and customizable colors for different user accounts.”
6- Intercom vs Crisp
Crisp is a great tool for small businesses who want to grow their email marketing efforts without breaking the bank.
The tool is an all-in-one software platform that provides a modern customer experience, generates more qualified leads, improves customer service, and increases customer satisfaction, resulting in a low-effort increase in sales.
Crisp’s top features include co-browsing, a CRM, a shared inbox, a chatbot, a ticketing system, and more.
But since the tool is a starter level tool, the features don’t have much depth to them, and you would need an upgrade (to a better solution) as you grow
- Basic plan: For free without time limitation for 2 seats
- Pro Plan: €25 per month
- Unlimited Plan:: €95/month
“I love the feature set they have, and the support is very responsive. We are using the service for 6 months since launched MVP and going to upgrade soon as the activity is increasing. I also love their different language feature as we are servicing clients globally.”
“It’s great to be able to create a custom status page for customers to track service status but it lacks a lot of customization in terms of layout and visual appearance beyond a simple white label page.”
7- Intercom vs Tidio
Tidio is a quick and easy to use tool that stands out with its integration options.
Tidio doesn’t offer advanced features or a full customer support experience. The tool specialized in chat functionality and in-app messages through live chat.
If your company heavily relies on emails and email marketing, this tool is not for you. But if your biggest strategy focuses on customer messaging, then Tidio will be a great and cheap alternative to Intercom.
- Free Plan: Free forever for up to 50 chats/month.
- Communicator Plan: $19/month per agent, includes analytics.
- Chatbots Plan: $39/month including chatbots for up to 40.000 conversations.
- Tidio+ Plan: $289/month including AI response bots and enterprise support.
“Tidio was amazing for my business as it allowed me to implement a support chat option into my website at a very low cost while maintaining user satisfaction and very user-friendly.”
“Some features are free in other live chats but you have to pay for it in Tidio. Analytics could be better detailed. The generation of bot responses gets me bugged 1 time.”
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the best alternatives to Intercom’s email automation?
The best alternatives to Intercom’s email automation and mailing feature are HubSpot, Zendesk, Help Scout, and Freshdesk.
And what are the best alternatives to Intercom’s product tours feature?
The best alternatives to Intercom’s product tours feature are UserGuiding, Appcues, and Pendo.
Can I use Intercom for free?
You can use Intercom’s free trial without any credit card information, but there are no unlimited free versions of Intercom.
What type of software is Intercom?
Intercom is a B2B SaaS Engagement OS.