Intercom is a chat solution that provides live chat and chatbots for websites and apps. The question is: Should you buy Intercom to create your chatbots?
Let’s dive in!
Table of Contents
What is Intercom?
Intercom describes itself as a Conversational Relationship Platform that gives you the opportunity to create better customer relationships.
They mainly provide three features: Live chat, Chatbots and a Help Desk.
In this review, I will mostly focus on live chat and chatbots. With Intercom, you have three kinds of chatbots:
- Task Bot – This chatbot will only interact if no teammates are assigned to the conversation or when a teammate has closed the conversation. For example, when you ask a question, the Task Bot automatically sends “Chatimize typically replies in a few minutes”.
- Custom Bot – This chatbot is a complete custom chatbot with specified flows and elements.
- Resolution Bot – This chatbot automatically replies to questions of your customers (based on keywords).
When you sign up at Intercom, Intercom provides you with a “quick-start guide” to help you get started with their platform, which is really useful:
Then when you’ve set up Intercom, you can create two kinds of chatbots: the Task Bot and the Custom Bot.
The Task Bot is a chatbot that will only interact with you if no live chat agents are available and is often an automatic message like “We typically respond in two hours”:
When you want to create a custom Bot (a chatbot flow with elements), Intercom makes use of a Block builder, with all the different blocks on the left and the content of the block on the right:
Once you have determined the content of your Custom Bot, you can also determine on what pages you want to show this chatbot flow, by adding Rules:
And ultimately determine the goal of the chatbot flow (that you can use for analytics):
Moreover, you can also preview your chatbot flow, before it actually goes live:
At first, the interface makes it a bit hard to set up your chatbot, because Intercom is such a large product (with chatbots, setting up helpdesk and more). Also, the interface uses terms like “Outbound” and “Operator” that aren’t explained (unless you search for it). The same is true for the chatbot names – they use Task Bot, Custom Bot and Resolution Bot – and you first need to find out which one you need to use.
So in general, the interface is really easy to use, but it is a bit hard in the beginning to set up your chatbot.
- Visual Flow BuilderCreate chatbot dialogs with a visual flow builder.
- Test chatbotIs it possible to test the chatbot before putting your new flows or changes live?
- Interface easy to use?Is the chatbot platform easy-to-use?
- Easy to setup a chatbot?Is it easy to set up your chatbot with this chatbot platform?
Intercom provides enough chatbot elements to create a good chatbot.
They lack some elements, such as Audio, Attachments and Galleries, but these are certainly not deal-breakers.
What I do like about the elements in Intercom, is that you can also display Helpdesk articles inside your chatbot:
- DelaysUse delays between messages in your chatbot
- ImagesCan you send images via your chatbot?
- VideoCan you send video via your chatbot?
- AudioCan you send audio via your chatbot?
- AttachmentsCan you send attachments via your chatbot?
- Gallery (Horizontal list)Show a gallery of cards inside your chatbot. A card consists of an image, title, subtitle and button.
- Vertical listShow a vertical list of items inside your chatbot
- EmojisCan you use emojis inside your chatbot?
- Persistent MenuCan you add a persistent menu to your chatbot?
- Quick RepliesCan you add quick replies to your chatbot where users can click on?
- ButtonsCan you add buttons to your chatbot where users can click on?
- Free text inputCan chatbot users freely type text to your chatbot whenever they want to?
- Location sharingCan users share their location inside the chatbot?
- Email validationWhen a chatbot user gives their email, can the platform validate it's a correct email address?
- Phone number validationWhen a chatbot user gives their phone number, can the platform validate it's a correct phone number?
- Date validationWhen a chatbot user gives a date, can the platform validate it's a correct date?
In Intercom, you can see a complete overview of everyone that chatted with your chatbot:
When you click on of your users, you can see their custom fields, tags, recent pages on your website they viewed and more:
With Intercom, you can just ask a question to the user and store the answer in a custom field or assign a tag.
Additionally, you can create your own user segments by filtering on specific custom fields and tags.
- Custom fieldsStore information from your chatbot users inside fields. For example, you can ask for someone's email and store it inside the "email" custom field.
- TagsAdd tags to users in your chatbot flows to organize and categorize contacts.
- User segmentsCan you create user segments based on custom fields and tags?
With Intercom, you can send a broadcast to your users, by using large Posts or Banners.
Unfortunately, you cannot create a sequence of messages, but it is possible to create Series, which we will cover later (in the Marketing section).
Moreover, it is not possible to use conditions in your chatbot flows, which is a drawback, because this would allow you to create personalized chatbot experiences.
Luckily, you can have a chatbot in multiple languages, but it is not easy to translate your chatbot.
- BroadcastsSend a message to all or a part of your chatbot users at a specific date and time
- SequencesSend messages on a pre-defined schedule with a certain time interval between those messages
- ConditionsMake checks in your chatbot flow based on if-then logic. For example, if the user has not given their email, ask for their email.
- Multiple languagesIs it possible to create a chatbot in multiple languages?
- Easy to translateCan you translate text to other languages without using a third-party platform and without creating duplicate flows?
AI & NLP
If you want to automatically reply to questions of your users, you need to use the Resolution Bot of Intercom.
With the Resolution Bot, you can train your chatbot on several questions, that will ultimately understand the intent of the user:
Unfortunately, it is not possible to use Entities with Intercom.
What I really like about Intercom, is that you can automatically import customer questions from Zendesk, which can give you a headstart on creating your first keywords:
- KeywordsTrigger chatbot flow based on certain words or phrases a user says to the chatbot.
- IntentsTrigger a chatbot flow by understanding the intent of the user.
- EntitiesCapture specific information from sentences. For example, if a user says "veggie pizza", the chatbot can understand it's not a regular pizza, but a veggie pizza.
- Dialogflow integrationDoes the chatbot platform provide a direct integration with Google's AI Platform?
Intercom provides three main channels to put your chatbot on:
- iOS app
- Android app
Moreover, with Intercom, you can automatically send email campaigns, such as a client onboarding campaign when someone becomes a new client.
Furthermore, Intercom provides additional channels that you can use with live chat, but you cannot use with your chatbot:
And this is a drawback, because you cannot create an omnichannel chatbot experience for your users.
- WebsiteCan you publish your chatbot on your website?
- Can you publish your chatbot on Facebook?
- Can you publish your chatbot on Instagram?
- Can you publish your chatbot on WhatsApp?
- TelegramCan you publish your chatbot on Telegram?
- SMSCan you publish your chatbot on SMS?
- SlackCan you publish your chatbot on Slack?
- SkypeCan you publish your chatbot on Skype?
- Can you publish your chatbot on email?
Intercom has a built-in live chat, which is the most important integration of any chatbot software:
Moreover, they even have their own App Store with over 100 direct integrations with other software applications:
What is so great about their App Store, is that every developer can contribute to it. For example, Intercom itself doesn’t provide a Telegram integration. But, by using an App in their App store, you can create this integration yourself.
If that’s not enough, you can use Zapier or Make (formerly Integromat) to integrate with almost any software application on earth.
Moreover, you can also create your own webhooks using the Intercom API.
- LivechatDirect integration with live chat, either via a built-in live chat functionality or a third-party live chat platform.
- ZapierDirect integration with Zapier, one of the largest integration platforms in the world.
- Make (formerly Integromat)Direct integration with Make (formerly Integromat), one of the largest integration platforms in the world.
- Google SheetsDirect integration with Google Sheets, to store or retrieve data from sheets.
- WebhooksCan you call a webhook inside your chatbot flow to send data to other applications?
Intercom mainly provides seven marketing possibilities with their product:
- Website widget
- Product Tours
- Mobile Push
- Mobile carousels
Let’s go by them one-by-one:
Intercom’s Website Widget
The website widget of Intercom is pretty advanced.
First of all, you can set up your widget so it matches the branding of your website:
Then, by using Chats, you can send personalized greeting messages to your users.
With Intercom Chats, you can send personalized greeting messages to your users:
By using Rules, you can set up different greeting messages per page and per type of user:
And these rules are pretty specific. You can even target people if they come from a specific ad (by using UTM parameters).
But that’s not it, you can also only show the greeting if the user has been on the page for a certain amount of seconds or when the last contact was.
Intercom Posts are pretty similar to Chats, but the difference is that the chat widget opens with a small post in it:
Also, you can create a large post that opens up as a pop-up:
Intercom Product Tours
This is one of the best marketing opportunities of Intercom, showing a tour of your product.
In my opinion, there is no better way of onboarding new customers than just showing them how to do it, step-by-step.
And it is also really simple to create a tour, you can just click on parts of your website and add instructions:
Intercom also provides Banners that you can put on your website.
Banners are highlighted sections on the top or bottom of your website that you can use to promote something, such as a discount:
Intercom Mobile Push
The Mobile Push of Intercom can only be used if you are using Intercom for your iOS or Android App.
With the Mobile Push, you can send a push notification to users who have the app on your phone:
Intercom Mobile Carousels
The Mobile Carousel of Intercom allows you to send a carousel of images when someone is opening your iOS or Android app.
For example, you can use the mobile carousel to display new features of your app:
Series is a visual campaign builder that allows you to send emails, posts, chatbot flows and product tours if the user meets some conditions.
For example, you can use Series to create an onboarding campaign for new customers:
- Facebook website widgetEmbed your chatbot as a Facebook Widget on your website.
- Native website widgetEmbed your chatbot as a native widget (your own branding & colors) on your website.
- Landing pagesCan you create a simple landing page to drive users to your chatbot?
- Facebook AdsStart a conversation with your chatbot when someone clicks on a Facebook Ad
- One-Time NotificationSend one-time notifications via Facebook Messenger for a topic that a chatbot user has opted-in for
- Facebook comments auto-replyAutomatically reply with your chatbot to users who comment on your Facebook Posts
- Button creatorAdd a button to your website to drive users to your chatbot
- Custom URLs for your chatbotGenerate a simple URL that can be shared anywhere to send users to your chatbot
The pricing of Intercom is a bit complicated and unclear.
Intercom provides the Start plan, which is $39 per month and comes only with their live chat feature. The next plan is the Grow plan, which is $99 per month and comes with their live chat, 5 live chat agents, email integration, help desk articles, Mobile Carousels, Banners, an article suggestion chatbot and a lead qualification chatbot (not enough to build a complete chatbot):
When you want to create your own custom chatbot, you need to go with one of their Conversational packages, which starts at $499 per month and includes 10 live chat agents, all the different kinds of chatbots, all the different channels, analytics and more:
What is weird about these last plans is that they don’t provide you with all the features of the platform. For example, in the Conversational Marketing plan, you don’t have the Series feature, but in the Conversational Customer engagement plan, you do have that feature. So it is unclear what it would cost you to have all the features of the platform.
Also, what happens with the price if we want more than 10 live chat agents? How much would that cost? That is also not provided on their website.
Then the last question regarding their pricing: Is $499 per month worth it? In my opinion, this depends on the number of people that use your chatbot and on our business. If you have enough users on your website or customers in your software application, this could be a very good deal. By using a chatbot you can save a lot of time on customer service or automatically qualify the leads that come into your chatbot.
- Free trialDoes the chatbot platform provide a free trial?
- Free planDoes the chatbot platform provide a free plan?
- Price per monthWhat is the lowest price per month for creating a chatbot on this platform?499
- Monthly pricing available?Is it possible to pay monthly?
- Money back guaranteeIs there a money-back guarantee in case you are not satisfied with the platform?
The analytics of Intercom are pretty extensive.
First of all, when you’ve set up a goal for your chatbot flow, you can see how many people reached that goal:
Moreover, you can see an analytics dashboard for all of the conversations with Intercom:
Intercom provides even so much analytics that I hardly can cover them all in this review, but they provide a lot.
There is only one I also want to point out: user input that the chatbot didn’t understand. By using “Training for the Resolution Bot”, you can analyze common questions users asked and determine an answer for them:
So yeah, they do really well on this category.
- DashboardDashboard that provides general analytics of your chatbot.
- User inputGet the input from users that your chatbot didn't understand.
- Sent messagesThe number of messages that were sent by your chatbot.
- Open rateThe percentage of chatbot users that opened a message inside your chatbot.
- Click rateThe percentage of chatbot users that click on a button inside your chatbot.
- Conversion rateThe percentage of users that converted through your chatbot. For example, the percentage of users that gave their email address
- Fall back rateThe percentage of interactions where the chatbot did not know an answer to a question.
- Custom dashboards/reportsCan you create your own dashboard or reports?
Intercom provides a Shopify integration that you can use to:
- Let users automatically get the order status in the chat widget
- Create orders from live chat
- Search for customers and products in live chat
Moreover, Intercom has a WooCommerce integration (built by ektagon, $15 per month) that allows you to sync data between WooCommerce and Intercom.
Also, you can accept payments by using the Stripe integration of Intercom.
- PaymentsCollect payments inside your chatbot
- ShopifyDirect integration with Shopify to get products, order information and cart data.
- WooCommerceDirect integration with WooCommerce to get products, order information and cart data.
- Buy directly within the chatbotAbility for chatbot users to buy products or services directly from a chatbot
- Cart abandonmentTrigger messages in the chatbot when a user abandons their cart on a website or inside the chatbot
Templates & Cloning
Intercom provides 7 templates to build your Custom Bot.
Unfortunately, you cannot create these templates yourself and share them with others.
On the other hand, it is possible to duplicate your chatbot flows and chatbot elements, so that you can easily reuse them.
- TemplatesHow many pre-built templates does the chatbot platform provide?7
- Make templateCan you make templates yourself?
- Share templateCan you share self-created templates with others?
- Duplicate chatbot flowsIs it possible to duplicate chatbot flows, so you can easily reuse them?
- Duplicate chatbot elementsIs it possible to duplicate chatbot elements, so you can easily reuse them?
Unfortunately, you cannot use any optimization in your chatbot flows, such as A/B Testing.
- A/B TestingCan you optimize your chatbot flows by performing A/B tests?
Intercom provides lots of tutorials explaining their platform and they have a huge documentation.
Moreover, they also provide support through live chat and email.
- TutorialsDoes the chatbot platform provide tutorials on how to use its platform?
- DocumentationDoes the chatbot platform provide documentation on how to use its platform?
- Customer supportDoes the chatbot platform provide customer support?
So, should you buy Intercom to create your chatbots?
Yes, you should.
Intercom has an easy-to-use interface, you can assign custom fields/tags and create user segments, has built-in AI & NLP, put your chatbot on your website and on your iOS/Android App, built-in live chat, has over 100 direct integrations, provides many marketing possibilities, eCommerce integrations and really advanced analytics.
There are only three drawbacks of Intercom.
In the beginning, Intercom can be overwhelming. Because of the various marketing opportunities they provide and the many features, I was clueless about where I needed to start. So don’t be surprised if it takes you some time to fully understand Intercom.
Second, if you want chat software that integrates all your chat channels in one solution, Intercom isn’t for you. With Intercom, you can only put your chatbot on your website or your App, but not on other channels, such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and SMS. It is possible to use these channels with live chat, but not with your chatbot.
Third, Intercom can be too expensive for you. Intercom provides many features and many marketing possibilities, which make it totally worth it to buy this chatbot builder. But, it could be the case that Intercom is too expensive, for example, when you don’t have enough users on your website or current customers.
Intercom is a good platform but their support is terrible—non existent. For a chat company, they will not reply for days. Weeks! We eventually moved to LiveChat which was a third of the price, less features, but better support and in the end, what we needed.
Hey Gerry! Thank you for sharing your experience. Could you tell me what kind of company you are and what you were looking in a chatbot platform?