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"Pay 880$ per month" - Intercom

At SmartTask, we are coming to end of our Intercom startup plan. (They say cough up 880$ per month to continue. LOL! I wonder where they come up with such figures.)

And all these when we are live on Appsumo.

Anyways, I started look for alternatives.

I am looking for the following features

  • 👉 Ease of use

  • 👉 Company view, where you can see the plan they are on, how many users are associated with a particular company and their activities.

  • 👉 Event tracking > which member is most active > who's creating most tasks, comments, etc.

  • 👉 Custom Bots > send messages based on the action a visitor takes on the site.

  • 👉 Live Visitors view (I loved this about Drift)

  • 👉 Email sequences (Not a must, but if its linked to the events above it really helps having one single tool do it for us. Currently exploring customer.io for this purpose)

CHECKED OUT GOSQUARED, TIDIO, CRISP, GIST, FRESH CHAT.

I have to say, none come close to Intercom's capabilities:

Gosquared

Looks very blend, no popup notification came to me when I landed on there website.

  • 🧐They don't mention much about Email sequences
  • 👎No Company View
  • 🙃Booked a demo with them to see how it all works

Tidio

Looks more focused to online stores and wordpress not made for SaaS businesses.

  • 👌Very nice UI, UX
  • 👎No Company view
  • 👎No Email sequence
  • 👎Felt bots need to be done a little better. Instead of grouping all options in one. They should do something like Intercom and make it more human like.
  • 😤 No paste files / images in the chat area
  • 😤 No GIF support inbuilt.

Crisp

This really feels like made for developers and not for sales / marketing team

  • 👌 Looks good
  • 👌 GIF, file paste support.
  • 👌 Magic Browser
  • 👌 Custom Bots
  • 👌 Can send one of emails
  • 👎 Saved replies are to be stored with MARKDOWN!!! (Seriously, its time people move away from markdown given the rich text functionalities which are available)
  • 😤To attach a image in the saved replies view. I have to get a url and then do markdown
  • 😤 NO company view
  • 👎Chat are is so small at the bottom. (I wonder why)
  • 👎No Email sequence

Gist

This one promises everything, comes close to Intercom in that way. However, I am really worried with the stale support they have.

  • 👌Very nice UI, UX
  • 👌 GIF, file paste support.
  • 😕 Does have email sequence. (But formatting is limited)
  • 😤 NO company view
  • 😤 Bad customer service (My experience)
  • 👎I commented on their chat interface. After a while it disappeared.
  • 👎 There team chat interface is very blend. Contrast is not there, strain on the eyes.

Fresh Chat

This too offers everything. Is expensive not as much as Intercom though. Too blend for a Saas company it seems.

  • 👌Offers most of the features
  • 👌Robust
  • 👎Ugly landing screen
  • 😤 NO company view
  • 😤 Their bot is really a bot, atleast try and make it a little human. Remove the icon of bot atleast!
  • 👎 I personally am not getting a good feeling about this.

In the end I think Intercom has features which are pretty much a Saas company looks for. No one comes close to them. But 800$ per month is a charge we as a growing Saas company just can't afford.

We may stick to Intercom for chat and move to customer.io / active campaign for email sequences and event tracking.

Let me know guys what you think, if you have some other tools in mind do share.

  1. 4

    Nice quick review. From my part, I will start with using Tawk's free version, based on my research this is one the best free options available. In terms of my research and value for money, I see that crisp is the best option. I know intercom overall are maybe the best, but value to money? I doubt.

    1. 1

      Yes, I really like Crisp. Also thinking about User.com seems like a good tool too, not as expensive as Intercom.

  2. 3

    I think this post alone deserves another 6 month period of free trial as you are actually making good point to stick to Intercom. I hope you can share that with them this review and negotiate another 1 year period on their "startup plan" until you are able to afford the true value of their software.

    1. 1

      Haha, I hope so. I tried negotiating with them but they are very adamant and won't budge on pricing.

  3. 2

    Same thing happened to us at https://archbee.io

    Went with Crisp for chat and Customer.io for onboarding sequences :)

    1. 1

      Did you find any good option in place of customer.io ? As customer.io seems very expensive once your contact numbers increase.

      1. 1

        Yes, it's expensive, and we only have 4-5 months of credits left, so we're also looking for a replacement. But haven't looked into it so far.

  4. 2

    Woah, what an epic write-up, @shyamal890! 🤩

    I'd like to throw our product (Userlist) into the ring. I think we're getting close to what you're looking for so I'd love to hear your thoughts on it. Even if it's not a good fit for you, I'd be thrilled about getting a similar teardown of Userlist so we can see what still needs improvement.

    P.S.: I'm currently working on the company view part and hope to release it sometime soon. 😅

    1. 1

      Looks very interesting. Do you support HTML emails?

      Also tell me if I am right. You seem to be a competitor to customer.io

      1. 1

        We encourage simple HTML emails over heavily styled ones. If you're looking for fancy email templates, we're probably not a good fit. We do have a rich-text editor, though 😉

        We have a somewhat similar feature set as customer.io, but also support (one-way) in-app messaging.

  5. 2

    Had the same problems back in the day.

    Intercom is much too expensive. And the pricing is so abstract - I don't know how much I will pay anyway.

    That is why I have started undersend.com. This app is all about email sequencing for SAAS. You can think of it as customer.io and intercom emails alternative that is much more cheap and simple.

    If you want a demo I can book a call with you, just drop me a line

    1. 1

      Thanks a lot. However, it seems you don't have HTML editor right now? Its very important for us, as our sales team is not tech savvy.

      1. 1

        Can you tell me what do mean by HTML editor? We have rich text editor in which you can do basic text edit, make links, paste images etc.

        Do you need more?

        1. 1

          Yes, it should support full HTML emails. Try integrating an email HTML editor (may be editor.js) would work.

  6. 2

    User.com seems expensive. Only makes sense if you run a biz with high price point / few profiles stored in your CRM. Def also doesn’t work for b2c for the same reason. I usually try to avoid solutions that price based on number of contacts (ditto ESPs).

  7. 2

    Hi Shyamal!

    Im the Head of Marketing at FROGED.com did you see our tool?

    It's not spam, but wow we have all the features that you have mentioned💡

    It would be nice to discuss further and help you to scale your processes

    If you have any question, let me know 😄

    1. 1

      Hey, do you have a company view and drip email campaign?

      Something like this https://i.imgur.com/Z42GpC3.png

      1. 1

        Hi Shyamal!

        We have 2 types of e-mail inside the platform:

        • E-mail campaigns
        • Behavioral emails. This ones, are sended aftera trigger based on the behavior of your user. (e.g. After the sign up, launch a Welcome e-mail)

        Regarding the company view, I would like to know what are you looking...

        In our contacts area you'll see all your users with all the attributes (email, phone, company, etc) but you can also create custom attributes and events.

        This customer information will be always in your inbox once they open a conversation with your team

        Let me know if you see a good fit, it deserves a try 😄

        1. 1

          A single user can be part of many companies at the same time. Which means when I am looking at a particular user, I want to know which companies he is related to, what's the company's current plan, userlimit, current number of users, etc.

          This is one thing, I wonder why most of the chat tools don't have. Its a huge oversight and Intercom has just capitalized on it!

          1. 1

            Hi Shyamal, in fact, we are developing this kind of use case to split users and companies, it's not still inside but it's in our roadmap.

            If you have any other question, let me know :)

            1. 1

              Please let me know once its available.

    1. 1

      It still seems to be in nascent stage. And I frankly don't think such a crucial service should be offered free.

      1. 1

        Hey @shyamal890! I'm one of the founders/core maintainers of Papercups :)

        Would love to chat more to understand exactly what you need -- (we're only free right now for the most minimal use case)

  8. 1

    I believe you might find this helpful.
    https://satchel.com/live-chat/

  9. 1

    i just managed to talk them down into their Growth Plan..$99.
    More isn't worth it.
    We then had to build the Product Tours in 1 day ( saving $199/m )

  10. 1

    After the Intercom shakedown we switched to Crisp. It's almost as good. Your points are valid though.

    They will definitely not budge on pricing after the startup trial. They probably have a high conversion rate from 12-month trial completion to paid.

    Crisp has Drip campaigns / email sequences. They're just real bad. Like, painful to set up and only a developer can figure out their UI.

    And, you gotta love markdown to use any of it. Definitely just a couple of programmers who spent a couple years cloning Intercom.

    1. 1

      Ya, Crisp seems good as a Chat tool but even then its really missing the key feature - Company view. (This is one thing, I have been searching for. )

      I have been told by User.com team that they have this feature. Waiting for demo set for tomorrow.

  11. 1

    We are having the same problem with intercom at the moment. We grew from the start-up plan to the normal plan, indeed paying around 800$ a month. The pricing is quite steep but in my opinion worth every penny.

    The only problem is that you pay per user and there is no clear way to find out where these users come from and who is counted as a user and who isn't . This let to a price increase in two months of an extra 800 bucks without any explanation. And even if our user base would indeed double, it is still worth the money. trying to figure out where the spike comes from is impossible. I asked three weeks ago for an explanation and I'm still waiting for it.

    I looked into the other tools mentioned above and in the end all tools are extremely similar and most of them are also missing the most important features intercom offers. And that is the company view in my opinion. We do have the situation that one user has access to several companies. Did someone find a tool where the (multiple) company view(s) is/are supported?

    Looked into:
    Crips - Review looks good, nothing to add
    Freshchat - Not a good feeling
    Helpcrunch - Massive featuregap
    Messagebird - You have to develop too much yourself for a b2b envoirment
    Trengo - Most promising, but company view missing

    1. 1

      This let to a price increase in two months of an extra 800 bucks without any explanation. And even if our user base would indeed double, it is still worth the money. trying to figure out where the spike comes from is impossible.

      This sounds extremely shady on their part. User should at least know what he is paying for.

      1. 1

        To make it even better, we are still waiting for an answer...

    2. 1

      I agree, Company view is really critical since we too have a user who can be part of multiple companies at any point in time.

      But I simply can't justify the cost as we are a bootstrapped startup with a growing revenue.

  12. 1

    Great comparison!
    Why do you feel like intercom is the most suitable for SaaS, even when so expensive? Is it the features they offer? The design?

    And also, what is it that makes you think some of the other tools look bland? What are they missing?

    1. 1

      Just one thing is enough to tell you Intercom is more suitable to Saas businesses - Company view. No other tool provides.

      When I say bland, it means the UI / UX is not at par.

  13. 1

    Are you saying about CRISP CRM plan. As per their features they offer much more in automated campaign and lead management. We were planning to go with that.

    1. 1

      Have you tried Automated Drip campaigns on CRISP?

      1. 1

        Not yet, we are planning to launch in next summer so evaluated crisp, dashly and tidio. Intercom was way beyond our budget as we are bootstrapped.

  14. 1

    I don't have any specific option to offer, but I do like to point out that since you're so well familiar with Intercom, they have now anchored your perspective and you compare everything to their feature set.
    Try to think if all these features are what make the difference for your customers? Perhaps just a simple chat/kb with minimum capabilities will be enough?
    Pethaps you can use multiple tools for helpdesk and marketing and it will reduce the bill dramatically?

    1. 1

      You are right but one think which I now feels needs to be there in every chat tool is the company view.

      Its very helpful when you have a client talking to with you on chat. Its very crucial that you know the company details - plan, userlimit, expiry date, etc.

      This is something most of the chat tools are missing out on.

      1. 1

        There are services that provide this as a standalone service. Take a look at Clearbit for example and check which other services they are integrated with.
        You can probably hook them into many different tools, either directly or via Zapier and such integration platforms

    1. 1

      I frankly believe this tool should not be free as its too critical for a Saas business.

      But looks cool.

      1. 1

        Thats a weird argument in an era where mysql, postgresql, all programming languages, all web frameworks that i know are all free and open source, and probably more critical for a saas business. ;)

  15. 1

    Wow, $880 per month is insane to be honest. What real value does Intercom provide for you? Better conversion rates? More leads?

    1. 1

      They are totally built for SaaS. I see no other chat tool that offers Company View, Chat + Automated Sequences + Product tour.

      They have positioned and built their feature set brilliantly. No other chat tool comes close to them.

      1. 1

        I understand that, but from your experience, do all those features increase sales/conversion rates enough to justify the price?

        I personally leave/unsubscribe from any site that pops-out a chat window with someone saying high or sending me emails continously for a product that I no longer use.

  16. 1

    You can checkout Erxes - open source.
    https://erxes.io/

    Although there is a few seconds delay for the messages, probably this can be fixed.
    I use erxes.io for Telltrail - https://telltrail.ai if you want to see how it looks.

    1. 1

      Their signup process is so confusing never got it done rightly.

  17. 1

    Have you explored zendesk. Maybe that will help you.

    1. 1

      Zendesk is more enterprise. I am looking for a chat tool with company details of the person who triggered the chat.

  18. 1

    I am also in the same boat here @shyamal890. Having used intercom in my past, I knew of the sticker shock after the expiry of the startup plan. IMO, intercom is so differentiated from the rest (read their well articulated blog on their product development approach) that none of the competitors measure up to them.

    The best way forward is to take a leap of faith with one of their competitors, based on your feature and experience need or go with intercom.

    1. 1

      Absolutely @zephyr0 we are currently live on Appsumo. And with all these craziness we now have to shift away from Intercom.

      Currently thinking Crisp or User.com would do a good job.

      Waiting for other people to comment.

      1. 1

        @shyamal890 I'd appreciate if you add your review of user.com. Any reason you are not favoring Gist (I saw your comment on their UI & support not being great. Are there other reasons?)

        1. 1

          That's the main reason. Their support and I saw some comments I made on the chat disappear.

          I had emailed and messaged them last week to see if they have explanation for these issues. Till date no answer.

          Doesn't encourage me to look at them any further.

  19. 1

    I used Helpcrunch for a bit before moving to Intercom's startup plan. I think it's very close to Crisp, might be worth a look.

    1. 1

      I don't like the look very rustic.

      1. 2

        LOL yeah, that's what made me switch to Intercom. But I doubt I can afford the non-startup plan when the time runs out either.

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