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 Builder
- Test chatbot
- Interface easy to use?
- Easy to setup a chatbot?
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:
- Gallery (Horizontal list)
- Vertical list
- Persistent Menu
- Quick Replies
- Free text input
- Location sharing
- Email validation
- Phone number validation
- Date validation
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 fields
- User segments
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.
- Multiple languages
- Easy to translate
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:
- Dialogflow integration
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.
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.
- Google Sheets
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 widget
- Native website widget
- Landing pages
- Facebook Ads
- Facebook comments auto-reply
- Button creator
- Custom URLs for 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 trial
- Free plan
- Price per month499
- Monthly pricing available?
- Money back guarantee
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.
- User input
- User retention
- Sent messages
- Open rate
- Click rate
- Conversion rate
- Fall back rate
- Volunteer users
- Custom dashboards/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.
- Buy directly within the chatbot
- Cart abandonment
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.
- Make template
- Share template
- Duplicate chatbot flows
- Duplicate chatbot elements
Unfortunately, you cannot use any optimization in your chatbot flows, such as A/B Testing.
- A/B Testing
Intercom provides lots of tutorials explaining their platform and they have a huge documentation.
Moreover, they also provide support through live chat and email.
- 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.