A quick overview of Intercom
Intercom describes itself as the Engagement OS—a platform to connect businesses to their customers wherever they are. Instead of managing multiple channels, Intercom provides teams within a business with a unified inbox across chat, email, and more.
Who uses Intercom?
Intercom is used by over 25,000 customers, from e-commerce startups to Fortune 500 companies, including Amazon, Shopify, and Microsoft.
Notable Intercom features
Intercom offers a full suite of support and communication tools, from chat bots to a unified inbox. Here are a few of our favorite features:
- Live Chat and Bots: If you’ve ever started a chat on a website, there’s a good chance Intercom powered it. The platform provides businesses with live chat and interactive bots to connect customers with customer support agents, FAQs, automated responses to commonly asked questions, and more.
- The Inbox: Intercom brings all of your customer communication into one simple-to-use inbox. The Intercom Inbox enables businesses to create workflows to help automate customer journeys and tasks such as directing customers to relevant knowledge base articles.
- In-app messaging: Intercom offers app developers a powerful toolkit to build messaging directly into their apps. In-app messaging enables apps to send product update alerts, offer support, or promote new deals or products at the right place, at the right time, and with a look and feel that matches your user experience.
- Knowledge Base: Customers want fast answers. Businesses want to deliver exceptional customer experiences. Intercom provides businesses with the ability to create a centralized knowledge base that helps answer customer questions fast.
- Product Tours: Intercom’s Product Tours feature enables developers to create rich, interactive onboarding experiences. Reducing friction points for new users and accelerating a user’s time-to-value.
Intercom has an excellent reputation for a reason—but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some drawbacks. Here are 3 things to consider when you’re evaluating Intercom:
- Pricing: Intercom’s pricing is based on the number of seats and reach—the number of customers you send a message to. It can be challenging to calculate what your actual cost per month will be without speaking directly to an Intercom representative.
- Not a CRM replacement: While Intercom offers powerful customer communication tools, it can’t replace your existing CRM.
- Analytics: One common complaint we’ve seen is that Intercom’s analytics and reporting tools could be improved to provide businesses with better insights.
Intercom’s pricing is based on seats and reach. They don’t offer a free plan, but their Starter package provides the core tools to support, onboard, and engage customers for $74 per month. The Start package includes two seats with a maximum reach of 1,000 people, followed by $50 per month for each additional 1,000 people.
Intercom doesn’t provide public pricing for their Support, Engage, Convert, or Intercom for Enterprises packages.
Our selection criteria for Intercom alternatives
To highlight the best Intercom alternatives and help you in your software purchasing decision, we looked at a multitude of criteria with a focus on:
- Feature parity: All tools aren’t created equally, but all of the alternatives we’re featuring offer the same core functionality as Intercom.
- Customer reviews: The best way to choose an alternative is by asking those who use them daily. We pulled the best reviews from verified users on G2.
- Customer ratings: Using G2, we only include alternatives with a rating of 4+ out of 5 stars.
Here we go!
In today’s world, companies don’t control sales—customers do. That’s the drive behind Drift’s mission to provide powerful conversational communication tools focused on sales. Drift is used by over 50,000 customers, including Adobe, Okta, Mindbody, and more.
- Live chat: Drift lets you create multiple inboxes that can be used to group conversations by region, sales team, or to separate sales and support conversations.
- Drift’s live chat feature helps sales teams shorten sales cycles and improve conversion by connecting sales reps with leads right from a business’s website. Custom chat bots: Drift understands that each conversation is different and provides custom chat bots to provide the right answer or prompt at the right time.
- Conversation AI: Everyone deserves a break. Drift’s conversation AI enables businesses to create intelligent 24/7 chat bots to provide customer and sales support whenever your customers want to connect.
- Video: Drift Video empowers businesses to engage with prospects and customers using personalized videos and GIFs.
- Reporting: Drift’s reporting tools include website engagement metrics, insights, and analytics to help businesses improve everything from sales to support.
Drift’s pricing starts at $600 per month for 10 seats. They offer a limited free plan to try out the platform that supports up to 100 contacts.
⭐ 4.4/5 Based on 500+ verified customer reviews on G2
HubSpot Service Hub
Meeting customers when and where they need support is critical to any business. HubSpot Service Hub connects all your communication channels into one CRM to support sales, customer support, and more with automation and self-service tools.
“What makes HubSpot all-around great is the fact that everything is under one roof.”
- G2 reviewer
- Customer Portal: Give your customers a secure place to access the tools and resources they need, when they need them. This portal lets your team update customer tickets as they're tackled to keep support agents across the team in the loop.”
- Knowledge Base: Every business has a list of frequently asked questions or support tips and tricks. Turn that internal knowledge into customer-facing content with Hubspot Service Hub’s knowledge base.
- Omni-channel Messaging: Having multiple channels for communication can often confuse agents when they don’t have all the history they need to assist. HubSpot Service Hub’s omnichannel messaging brings email, chat, and Facebook Messenger together in one place for your team.
- Inbound Calling: Currently in beta, this feature allows businesses to receive inbound calls and track them within HubSpot.
- Live Chat: Connect your reps with your customers in real-time to assist with sales and support.
HubSpot offers over 1,000 integrations through the HubSpot App Marketplace, including:
- Constant Contact
HubSpot offers a free plan for Service Hub with paid plans ranging from $45 per month for two users to $1,200 per month for their enterprise plan with support for ten users.
⭐ 4.4/5 Based on 1,100 + verified customer reviews on G2
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Freshdesk is on a mission to make it easy for businesses to delight their customers and employees. Their cloud-based platform takes email, web, phone, chat, and social conversations and transforms them into tickets, so your reps have the context they need to provide the best support possible.
- Ticketing: Like Intercom and HubSpot Service Hub, Freshdesk lets you take customer communication from any channel and turn them into tickets. From there, you can assign those tickets to the right people in your business to resolve the issue quickly.
- Collaboration: Freshdesk’s built-in collaboration enables multiple agents to work on a ticket without losing visibility or history.
- Automation: Freshdesk lets you save time by automating everyday tasks and questions to help your customers find the correct info at the right time.
- Help Widget: The Help Widget can be embedded on any page to provide customers with answers or start a customer support ticket if needed.
- Analytics: Like our other alternatives, Freshdesk offers rich analytics to help optimize support flows and processes.
If you’re considering Freshdesk as a helpdesk solution, be sure to get a well-rounded understanding of the platform. Read about our top challenges with Freshdesk.
FreshDesk has over 1,000 integrations available in their Marketplace.
FreshDesk’s free plan includes support for up to 10 agents with email and social ticketing, a knowledge base, and ticket management. Their paid plans range from $15–$79 per agent per month.
⭐ 4.4/5 Based on 2,600+ verified customer reviews on G2
👉 Test drive Freshdesk in TestBox and compare it with the leading help desk software. No demos, no pitch decks. Evaluate software on your terms.
LiveChat is a full-service customer service platform that turns website visits into sales. Leading businesses, including McDonald’s, Mercedes Benz, and Unilever, use the platform.
- Chat tools: One of LiveChat’s more exciting features allows agents to see what a customer is typing before they hit the send button. This allows your agents to find the answer before the customer has finished typing their question.
- Customer engagement: LiveChat helps turn conversations into sales opportunities with personalized messaging based on customer profiles and behavior.
- LiveChat API: Talk to customers wherever they are by creating custom chat widgets for your website or mobile apps with the LiveChat API.
- Ticketing: LiveChat’s ticketing system can connect to chat, email, or through a form for after-hours support. Multiple agents can also collaborate on a ticket to help speed up issue resolution.
- eCommerce: Recommending a product in the chat is great. Showing the product details is even better. LiveChat lets you create custom product cards that can be shared across your channels.
LiveChat offers over 200 integrations in their Marketplace.
- Campaign Monitor
LiveChat has a 14-day free trial. Their monthly pricing ranges from $16–$50 per agent.
⭐ 4.5/5 Based on 700+ verified customer reviews on G2.
Since 2016, HelpCrunch’s platform has helped connect support, marketing, and sales teams with customers over email, chat, and social. HelpCrunch uses customer data to let agents and reps know what channel is best to boost engagement, provide excellent customer service, or convert conversations into leads.
- Live chat: HelpCrunch uses proactive messaging to engage customers before they even know they want to ask a question. You can also speed up your agents’ response times using pre-chat forms.
- Email marketing: HelpCrunch’s email marketing tools help automate email marketing campaigns, create newsletters, and can be used to respond to chats after the user has left your website.
- Pop-ups: Capture users’ attention as they leave your website with branded popups. You can also create targeted popups for authenticated users with HelpCrunch.
- Mobile Software Development Kits (SDK): Mobile is where users spend most of their time—HelpCrunch’s mobile SDKs for iOS and Android let you build branded chat features directly into your mobile apps.
HelpCrunch pricing ranges from $12–$20 per month per user.
⭐ 4.7/5 Based on 150+ verified customer reviews on G2.
LiveAgent is an all-in-one help desk software for customer support teams and is used by industry-leaders including BMW, Yamaha, and Huawei. The platform brings real-time chat, universal inbox, and over 175+ help desk features together along with a built-in CRM to keep track of critical customer data.
- Ticketing: LiveAgent’s universal inbox combines email, chat, and social channels into one channel that multiple agents can manage. The system converts requests into tickets and connects to its knowledge base tool to get answers to your customers at the click of a mouse.
- Live chat: LiveAgent’s chat feature includes proactive messaging, chat history, and analytics to help streamline your support process.
- Call center: With LiveChat’s call center, your agents can support customers with call-back requests, intelligent routing, transfers, and unlimited call recording so your business can see how agents perform and improve your support scripts.
LiveAgent pricing ranges from $15–$49 per agent per month.
⭐ 4.5/5 Based on 1,300+ verified customer reviews on G2.
- Visitor list: Tidio uses real-time visitor monitoring to identify what customers and prospects are looking at so you can start a conversation at the right time.
- Email inbox: Tidio offers the table-stakes feature of a single inbox that combines all your customer channels into one easy-to-manage dashboard.
- Shared inbox: As your business grows, so does your team. Tidio’s shared inbox lets multiple agents engage with a customer to provide answers and connect the customer or prospect with the right person.
- Instagram and Messenger chat bots: Tidio chat bots can send product suggestions to customers during the chat. The bots can even offer discounts based on behavior and targeting.
Tidio offers a free plan to get started with monthly plans from $19–$49.
⭐ 4.7/5 Based on 1,100+ verified customer reviews on G2.
Over 12,000 businesses, from Trello to Honey, use Help Scout to provide exceptional customer experiences. The proof is in the rankings—Help Scout was ranked Best ROI by customers on G2. One noticeable gap is Help Scout's lack of automation features.
- Live chat: All our alternatives have a live chat feature, and Help Scout is no different. Their Beacon product gives your customers options for how they want to contact you and can even take requests when you’re unavailable.
- Shared inbox: Help Scout uses a familiar email-like interface to make responding to customers easy—no matter how they contacted your support team.
- Knowledge base: Fewer conversations and happier customers. That’s what Help Scout says their knowledge base feature provides with an easy-to-use CMS and secure customer portal.
- Messaging: Help Scout’s messaging tool, Beacon, can be embedded on your website, enabling your customers to start a message or find answers from your knowledge base without searching for your contact info.
- CRM: You’ve built up a library of customer data with every interaction. Help Scout put that data alongside each customer support request so your agents have the complete picture.
- Google Apps
Help Scout has monthly plans ranging from $20 to $60 per user.
⭐ 4.4/5 Based on 350+ verified customer reviews on G2.
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Zendesk is often the first name that comes to mind when thinking about support platforms. More than 170,000 customers use them globally to provide support, sales, and engagement tools that build better customer relationships.
- Ticketing: Tickets are the core of every great customer support system. Zendesk’s ticketing is the central hub in the agent dashboard for all customer interactions, connecting all your channels to help your agents provide fantastic customer service.
- Conversation experiences: Zendesk offers widgets and an API to provide built-in chat across your website and mobile app. Their no-code and low-code tools let anyone build chat experiences that will amaze your customers.
- Knowledge base: Give a person an answer; you’ve helped for a day. Give a person access to a comprehensive knowledge base, and you’ve helped for a lifetime. Zendesk’s knowledge base makes it easy for customers to find answers on their terms.
- Voice: We may have gotten rid of our landlines, but when it comes to support channels, voice can often be the fastest way to get an answer. Zendesk offers built-in voice calls directly from their agent dashboard.
- Community forum: Customers today are comfortable—and sometimes prefer—to get answers from fellow users who have been there and done that. Zendesk allows your customers to collaborate in a branded community forum.
Zendesk offers apps and themes to customize your Zendesk experience. Some of the more popular integrations include:
Zendesk has a basic support plan for $19 per month, with advanced plans from $49–$99 per month. All of their plans have a free trial option.
⭐ 4.3/5 Based on 4,100+ verified customer reviews on G2.
👉 Test drive Zendesk in TestBox and compare it with the leading help desk software. No demos, no pitch decks. Evaluate software on your terms.
Your business is built on happy customers. Finding the right platform to connect with them is crucial and we hope this list is helpful. We also know that seeing is believing. With TestBox, you can test and compare different software products in just a few clicks. We’re also free to use. Compare and test help desk software side-by-side for free.