Our 3 biggest challenges with Intercom

Our 3 biggest challenges with Intercom
By Pedals | On Aug 01, 2022
3 min read

Every software has its challenges—the key is determining which are deal breakers for your team. This is easier said than done, especially with so many options to consider. 

Not sure where to start? Consider this an unbiased summary you can keep on hand throughout the evaluation process. So far, we’ve shared our thoughts on customer service software like: 

Today, we’re going over Intercom. 

In this article:

Known for its customizable chatbots, Intercom offers some seriously impressive features, and is a great solution for companies who interact most with customers through live chat. However, this platform is not without its challenges. 

Let's walk through three we think you should know about.

1. Heavily chat focused 

Intercom is structured differently than other customer support solutions. Chat is the platform’s core feature, which has some serious advantages. This comes in handy when integrations allow your customers to perform several actions within a chat window, rather than jump from tab-to-tab, including: 

  • Filling out forms
  • Checking an order status
  • Exploring your knowledge center
  • Launching product tours
  • Completing surveys

Experiences like this can make for a more seamless customer experience.

However, Intercom’s heavy chat focus can also be a disadvantage for some businesses. The solution doesn’t offer a traditional ticketing system, which can make it harder for customer service and support teams to streamline their backend operations in a familiar way. For instance, it can be challenging when customers communicate through multiple channels. Sometimes Intercom glitches and, instead of having a full history of a customer, it can treat the same conversation as multiple chats, making it harder to keep conversations organized across multiple customers.

Intercom can also feel restrictive when it comes to email:

If a customer is signed in to your app or website and has the left a live chat, Intercom will email them the conversation. The customer will then have the choice to return to the chat window, or reply directly to the email, converting it into a thread. However, agents are unable to forward a full chat transcript to customers after the conversation has closed. This would be especially useful if chats contain step-by-step instructions for troubleshooting.

Intercom also doesn’t currently offer the ability to redirect customers to an email contact form if live agents are unavailable after hours.

Our recommendation:

Intercom probably isn’t the right fit for teams looking for a full-fledged ticketing system. Instead, we suggest looking at platforms like Freshdesk or Zoho Desk. Alternatively, you can use one of Intercom’s many integrations to forward chats to Zendesk and convert them into tickets 

Test and compare customer support software before you buy

2. Slow ramp time

Intercom’s core chat-based features (both live and bots) feel intuitive, so it’s easy to set up and hit the ground running. However, more extensive functionality heavily depends on integrations, which can introduce more complexity (and room for error) to your onboarding—as well as slow down the process. We found the following to be especially complicated:

  • Knowledge bases
  • Reporting
  • Admin configuration

Although this falls outside of our team’s direct experience, it’s also worth noting that several G2 reviews reported lengthy delays when contacting Intercom’s customer support team.

Our recommendation:

Intercom has created a large supply of resources to help new users self-educate and get ramped up. However, an implementation expert can help your team get familiar with the tool even faster.

3. Unpredicable pricing

Intercom definitely isn’t the most cost effective option out there, although we feel their pricing structure is a bigger challenge than the specific dollar amount. New or advanced features—like automation rules and SLA’s— are typically locked behind plan upgrades, and your team will need to spring for the highest tier in order to use Intercom to its full capacity. 

This can make it difficult to budget effectively, with the true cost often being much higher than expected. In fact, the pricing structure is one of Intercom’s most frequent complaints on G2. Some reviewers also expressed frustration with Intercom enabling setup and configuration for advanced features, but then requiring an upgrade to actually use them.

Part of Intercom’s pricing structure is also focused on “people reached”. In other words, if your marketing team decides to launch the Intercom chat on the website, every visitor who interacts with the chat modal will be counted as a person reached. That means prices can (and do) escalate really fast.

Our recommendation:

When it comes to budgeting, Intercom is one tool that’s better to overestimate than underestimate. This makes it easier to get a more accurate sense of the total cost of ownership, which will increase if you want to leverage the full range of features. If Intercom is still cost prohibitive, we recommend looking at alternative solutions like Freshdesk or Zoho Desk.

Back to you

Intercom is a powerful tool with some incredible features, but it’s definitely not the right choice for every team. The best way to make an informed decision is to actually try it out for yourself. TestBox lets you bypass excessive demo calls and marketing materials by jumping directly into the software itself. In addition to comparing multiple solutions in one place, you can also view critical information on pricing, data security, and compliance. Get started for free

Sam's Face

Pedals is a beloved member of the TestBox team whose entire goal in life is to author amazingly helpful blog posts and to cameo on every piece of TestBox swag.

TestBox empowers you to have a self-serve, customer-led experience so you can buy new software and feel confident that you made the right choice. Currently focused on Customer Support, TestBox allows you to test out Zendesk, Freshdesk, HubSpot, Dixa, and other products side-by-side. It takes a matter of minutes to sign up and take these products for a test drive. Find out more at TestBox.com or follow on LinkedIn.