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If you are running a startup, offering exceptional support can truly set your business apart. While Intercom has been a go-to for managing customer relationships, it's time to explore Intercom alternatives that better fit the evolving startup scene.
Intercom offers a seamless blend of automation and personalization to help startups connect with their customers. But talking about startups, we need much more than a customer relationship management tool. To smoothly manage our workflow, we require something that better aligns with our current business trajectory.
This blog is crafted with one mission: to guide you through the various options available, spotlighting the top alternatives to Intercom that are making a significant impact in 2023. Our research is thorough, drawing from user reviews, feature comparisons, and pricing analyses to ensure you have the information you need to make an informed decision.
And why, you might ask, is this quest so important?
To give you more, according to Hubspot customer data, a staggering 68% of customers are willing to pay a premium for products and services from a brand known for its stellar customer service. In the startup world, where all the interaction counts and every customer is a potential brand ambassador, this is a statistic you can't afford to ignore.
So, whether you're feeling the pinch of Intercom's pricing, seeking more robust integrations, or just curious about what else is out there, you're in the right place. Dive in, explore, and discover the best Intercom alternative support tools that could be the game-changers for your startup in 2023.
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Why should you go for an Intercom alternative?
Undoubtedly, Intercom has set a high standard when it comes to keeping up with modern customer communication challenges. The customer service software has a suite of tools that empower businesses to engage with their customers in meaningful ways. Thanks to its robust functionality, Intercom has become a popular choice among successful businesses.
However, as the startup ecosystem continues to evolve, some cracks have begun to appear in the Intercom façade. That's the reason you may need to explore the best Intercom alternatives.
Here is why you should go for an Intercom alternative if you are looking for the best customer service software for your business.
1. Overpriced and confusing pricing policy
Let’s be honest; we’re counting pennies here! Startups operate on tight budgets, and every dollar spent needs to bring tangible value. Intercom’s pricing model can be on the higher side, especially for early-stage startups. The tiered pricing can also be perplexing, with costs rising quickly as a startup grows and requires more advanced features.
Startups need transparent and scalable pricing models that grow with them without any hidden surprises. Thus, alternatives that offer clear, straightforward pricing can be more appealing, ensuring startups only pay for what they need.
2. Weak customer support
73% of consumers will switch to a competitor after multiple bad experiences. That’s the story from your customer’s side. How many will you tolerate, especially from your customer service tool provider?
Intercom’s G2 review is flooded with poor customer reviews. Users have reported experiencing slower response times and less-than-satisfactory resolutions from Intercom’s support team. For startups, a delayed response from customer service can mean lost sales and frustrated customers.
In fact, while starting up, the most required thing is a robust support system that is responsive and effective. Thus, Intercom alternatives that prioritize customer support and offer multiple communication channels can provide the reassurance startups need.
3. Lacks important integration
Startups often use various tools to manage their operations. A lack of integration between these tools and the customer support platform can lead to inefficiencies and a disjointed customer experience. Intercom may not integrate seamlessly with all the tools a startup uses. For example, Intercom needs a better two-way integration with Mixpanel. Also, it does not offer a smooth integration with LinkedIn's API system.
A customer service platform with extensive integrations can streamline workflows and enhance excellent customer service experience.
4. Unsatisfactory users' experience
The user experience can make or break a startup’s reputation. Some users have reported about Intercom’s complex user interface and issues with notification management. It can lead to missed messages and customer dissatisfaction.
Also, a complicated UI means you have to train your customer support team additionally. For startups, it will take additional resources before they can actually get used to the application. On the other hand, an Intercom alternative that prioritizes seamless and intuitive user experience can lead to happier customers and more efficient operations.
How to choose the best alternatives to Intercom?
It's easy; you must look after the factors that matter to you and your business. Talking about that, there are some basic stuff that you must check before you say, 'Aha! That's the one.'
- Ease of use: Both your customers and your internal team should find it easy to use
- Pricing: The pricing has to justify your startup's budget
- Some features that you think are absolutely essential to run your business
1. Ease of use: Like a breeze
While running startups, we’ve to manage with a lot on our plates, right? That’s why you need a tool that’s as easy to use as your favorite smartphone app. No one wants to spend hours figuring out how to send a message or set up a chatbot.
Look for customer service software with a clean interface, straightforward setup, and maybe even a handy tutorial to get you started. A free trial? Even better! Take it for a spin and see how it feels.
2. Pricing models suitable for bootstrapped to funded startups
80% of startups are bootstrapped. Therefore, following a tight budget is essential for most startups to ensure long-term sustainability and profitability. Whether you’re counting every penny or have a bit more financial wiggle room, you need a pricing model that makes sense for your startup’s stage and budget.
Talking about budget, it does not mean you can settle for any random cheap Intercom alternative. You must look for customer service platforms with transparent pricing and no hidden fees. Options that offer scalable plans are great, as they can grow with you from your bootstrapped beginnings to your funded future.
3. Features essential for modern startups
Modern startups require a tool that goes beyond basic customer support. Startups usually operate with small customer support teams requiring a lot of automation to complete mundane tasks without human intervention.
With that being said, AI-powered customer support chatbots can be a great solution for startups. AI chatbots can resolve up to 80% of customer queries instantly, helping you keep your customer support agents free for other important tasks.
Apart from chatbot capabilities, the best Intercom chat alternative for startups should offer you essential data and analytics on customer engagement so that you can create a data-driven support strategy. Also, an ideal customer support tool for start-ups should seamlessly integrate with multiple messaging platforms so that you can easily offer multi-channel support to your customers.
10 best Intercom alternatives
Best for: AI-powered customer interactions
Here comes the best alternative to Intercom, Botsonic! As one of the best AI chatbots from Writesonic, Botsonic stands out as a revolutionary customer support solution designed to serve the dynamic needs of modern startups. This AI-powered live chat support tool is ideal for businesses aiming to automate and enhance their customer communication.
Leveraging advanced Generative AI models like GPT-4 Botsonic ensures secure and precise responses. Using the AI chatbot builder, you can create a custom AI chatbot that not only understands but also reflects your brand's voice, allowing for a high degree of personalization in branding, colors, copy, and images. The chatbot can understand customer inquiries in 25+ languages and offer human-like responses.
The platform’s no-code setup ensures that even those without technical expertise can easily implement and manage their customer support systems. Botsonic can ensure seamless omnichannel conversations across various platforms. Simply connect it with embeddable widgets on your website or integrate it with WhatsApp, Slack, and Telegram, providing uninterrupted communication.
Moreover, Botsonic can ingest content from diverse sources, such as your important business files and any public URL, ensuring comprehensive and accurate responses. With built-in safeguards, the platform guarantees trustworthy and focused interactions, eliminating off-topic conversations and misleading responses.
The best thing about the AI bot is that it's not just limited to customer support; it offers unlimited use cases across various industries and applications, revolutionizing eCommerce experiences and supercharging lead generation. It also facilitates easy integration with your favorite tools, enhancing functionality and efficiency.
Botsonic can significantly reduce support volume, elevate and improve customer satisfaction, reduce costs, and empower self-service. With affordable pricing plans and a dedicated customer support team, Botsonic is committed to empowering startups with the tools they need to excel in customer engagement and support.
Top features of Botsonic
1. AI-powered solution: For startups, time and resources are of the essence. Botsonic’s integration of advanced Generative AI models like GPT-4 and NLP transforms the customer experience. The AI-powered chatbot can generate accurate and personalized automated messages as responses to your customer queries. This not only enables personalized communication with customers but also significantly reduces the workload on support teams. Thus, startups can allocate their resources more efficiently.
2. Easy setup: Startups often operate with limited technical resources. Botsonic’s user-friendly design requires no coding knowledge, making it an ideal Intercom alternative for startups. Especially for those looking to quickly and easily set up an AI-powered customer relationship management system. This ensures that even businesses with minimal technical expertise can enhance their customer support experience.
3. High customizability: Startups need to establish a strong brand identity, and Botsonic supports this by offering extensive customization options. From tailoring the chatbot’s appearance to align with brand aesthetics to training it with specific business data, startups can ensure that their customer communications are personalized and effective. Apart from that, the platform comes with a chat analytics feature that lets you check the chat history. So that you can understand what conversations your customers like and adjust your support strategy accordingly.
N.B: Botsonic gives you an easy way to train ChatGPT on your own data!
4. Exceptional customer support: In the fast-paced startup environment, having access to reliable support is crucial. Botsonic excels in this area, providing startups with a variety of support channels, including a Slack community and the option to request new features. This ensures that startups have the support they need to effectively use the tool and adapt it to their evolving needs.
5. Affordable pricing: Budget constraints are a common challenge for startups. Botsonic addresses this by offering a range of affordable pricing plans, including a free plan that allows startups to access one bot with up to 100 messages. This makes Botsonic one of the best free Intercom alternatives. The cost-effective pricing plan is curated for startups looking to delight their website visitors with round-the-clock live chat support without breaking the bank.
6. Seamless integration: For startups looking to create a cohesive tech ecosystem, Botsonic’s easy integration with a variety of tools is a significant advantage. This integration enhances the platform’s functionality and efficiency. With Botsonic, startups can connect the AI chatbot to their existing CRM systems, customer support software, and other essential tools without any hassle. Botsonic offers seamless Facebook messenger integration along with integration to Whatsapp business chat.
Best for: Conversational marketing & sales
Drift can transform the way you connect with your customers. As one of the best alternatives to Intercom, the customer support tool lets you make every conversation count with real-time engagement. It successfully stands out as a conversational AI marketing and sales platform and is designed to build meaningful connections with customers instantly.
As we all know, engaging leads when they’re most interested is the way to ensure no opportunity is missed. Drift just lets you do that. It helps users understand when and how to approach potential leads and ensures that every conversation is an opportunity to connect and convert.
Also, the platform offers easy Salesforce integration and a user-friendly dashboard. For many businesses, Drift’s ability to track “anonymous” users and reveal the companies behind them comes as a valuable feature.
However, the platform is not without its criticisms. While some users have mentioned a decline in the quality of their customer support and transparency, some users have directly pointed out the need for feature improvements. The chat feature, while functional, is basic and lacks common features. Also, it requires you to go through a laborious setup process to get the AI chatbot up and running.
- Allows users to engage with accounts instantly.
- The platform offers seamless integration with Salesforce
- It comes with an easy-to-navigate dashboard
- It lets you track and identify “anonymous” users.
- Noticeable decrease in the quality of customer support in terms of accessibility and effectiveness
- Chat functionality is pretty basic and lacks common features
- AI Chatbot needs a laborious setup process
- Some features need serious improvements.
Best for: Live chat and chatbots for e-commerce
The next we have on our list is Tidio. The platform positions itself as the top Intercom alternative tailored to work seamlessly as a live chat widget and e-commerce chatbot for businesses. Tidio is specifically designed to enhance online shopping experiences, ensuring that your customer inquiries are addressed promptly and efficiently. You can also receive real-time insights and notifications through its highly praised mobile application.
Tidio stands out for its affordability and generous pricing plans. As a free Intercom alternative, the live chat platform is accessible to freelancers and small business owners. And the best part? You get to check all the conversations with unlimited chat history. The platform’s integration capabilities, particularly with email providers, help with lead generation and effective customer management.
Learn how chatbots help in lead generation and get a list of the best lead-generation chatbots.
However, Tidio is not without its challenges. Some users have pointed out a learning curve in setting up chatbot flows and connecting various nodes. Additionally, the platform could be more useful if there are more default templates for different types of businesses. Also, there is space for improvement in the chat data download options and streamlining the data management process.
- Get real-time notifications through Tidio’s mobile application
- Has an intuitive interface and offers ready-made templates, making it easy to set up and navigate
- Affordable with a generous free plan
- Offers integration with email providers to ensure effective Lead Generation
- Setting up chatbot flows and connecting various nodes can be challenging for new users.
- The number of default templates is limited.
- The download options for chat data need to be streamlined for better data management.
Best for: Real-time customer support
LiveChat stands out as a decent alternative to Intercom, particularly for online businesses aiming to enhance customer satisfaction with live chat support. As one of the best customer service tools, LiveChat offers a robust support system where their support agents go above and beyond to educate and assist users. They ensure that every feature is maximized for optimal performance.
Apart from that, with LiveChat, you can organize and see customer profiles, see chat history, and report online interactions. It puts businesses at a significant advantage by allowing easy access and customization of data based on various parameters. You can use this to identify priority areas and optimize marketing strategies.
While LiveChat offers a plethora of features, some users have found the configuration of certain functionalities, such as sales tracking and Google event integration, to be complex and time-consuming.
Also, the live chat support tool is relatively expensive compared to its competitors. Apart from that, some users have reported occasional lags in receiving chat messages through the ticketing system.
- Let you ensure impeccable support with fast responses and real-time communication
- Seamlessly integrates with third-party tools like Whatsapp Business and Mailchimp
- Offers comprehensive reporting tools with customizable data for strategic planning
- Some features and functionalities can be complex
- Require more innovation, particularly in the rule engine
- Lags in receiving chat messages, leading to potential communication delays
- On the pricier side when compared to competitors
Best for: Multi-channel customer support
LiveAgent works best for businesses that need a robust multi-channel customer service platform. The Intercom alternative combines email, live chat widget, call, and social media interactions under a universal inbox. LiveAgent ensures that your support team does not miss any customer query. Plus, it has features like a desk ticketing system and a knowledge base to empower your support agents.
The platform’s predefined answers and canned messages help resolve repetitive customer issues swiftly and reduce ticket volume. LiveAgent’s intuitive design ensures a smooth user experience, even for those new to the platform.
However, some users have experienced occasional glitches, such as issues with selecting multiple predefined answers to a ticket. Others have mentioned a steep learning curve, suggesting that additional training materials could offer a smoother onboarding process.
- Robust automation features to reduce customer support tickets and improve engagement.
- Predefined answers and canned messages for quick resolution of repetitive issues.
- Intuitive and user-friendly design.
- Live chat support with real-time chat functionality and comprehensive CRM capabilities.
- Effective integrations, particularly with Slack, for improved team collaboration.
- Occasional glitches, such as issues with selecting multiple predefined answers.
- The steep learning curve for new users highlights a need for more training materials.
Best for: Email-based support & knowledge base
Helpscout is a customer service hub known for its email-centric support system and a comprehensive knowledge base, catering to businesses that rely heavily on email communications.
The help desk software is famous as one of the best Intercom alternatives, especially for businesses that prioritize a simple and user-friendly customer support experience. The customer support tool has a robust platform for setting up extensive knowledge bases, enabling customers to find answers independently.
Plus, you can add a live chat feature for real-time assistance. This dual approach significantly enhances the self-service support experience, leading to higher customer satisfaction and efficiency in resolving queries.
Help Scout’s intuitive layout and seamless app integrations have been designed with customer service agents in mind. The user-friendly design makes the daily help desk ticketing system and handling a much smoother process.
However, users have pointed out that the messaging platform still seems buggy at times, making it difficult to ensure a seamless experience for your customers. Apart from that user interface looks old and requires improvements with easy navigation features. Apart from that, major features such as integration with Messenger and other messaging platforms are only available on the Pro and Plus plans, which a lot of customers find to be expensive.
- Extensive knowledge base setup and live chat options for enhanced self-service support.
- User-friendly design tailored to the needs of customer service agents.
- Efficient email management across multiple workspaces.
- Comprehensive support solutions with valuable app integrations.
- Limited selection of knowledge base templates.
- Inbox UI could be improved for a better user experience.
- The learning curve associated with setting up workflows, with potential for accidental mass responses.
- Some features, such as the messenger integration, are limited to higher-tier plans.
Best for: Comprehensive customer service suite
Zendesk Support Suite works as a comprehensive customer support platform. The top Intercom alternative enables businesses to manage customers across various communication channels efficiently. It offers multi-channel support, allowing customers to reach out via email, chat, social media, or phone. Additionally, Zendesk provides a customizable help center, a community forum, and a knowledge base, empowering customers to find answers on their own.
The customer support platform comes with a user-friendly interface, automation tools, and customizable workflows to streamline support processes and improve response times. Zendesk also provides robust reporting, analytics, and customer management features, allowing businesses to gain insights into their customer support performance.
However, the tool has its own share of criticisms. Users have pointed out that the platform can be overwhelming due to its extensive features and capabilities. Additionally, the cost of Zendesk can be a concern for small businesses or startups.
- Multi-channel support ensures no customer query goes unanswered.
- Extensive integrations with other business tools and applications.
- Robust reporting and analytics help in making informed decisions.
- Customizable help centers, community forums, and knowledge bases empower customers to find answers independently.
- The platform can be overwhelming for new users.
- The cost can be a concern for small businesses or startups.
- Users have reported bugs that disrupt their workflow
Best for: Multi-website integration
Tawk.to is a versatile live chat software that excels in providing real-time communication solutions for businesses. With its capability to integrate chat transcripts across multiple websites, it ensures that customer interactions are streamlined and efficiently managed. This feature is particularly beneficial for businesses with a presence across various web domains, as it allows for centralized management of customer chats, ensuring no query goes unanswered. If you are looking for an Intercom's free alternative, then this can be your go-to option.
The user interface of Tawk.to is designed with simplicity and efficiency in mind, ensuring that even those new to live chat software can navigate and make use of its features with ease. The platform offers quick access to macros and shortcuts, significantly reducing response times and increasing the efficiency of live chat agents.
Despite all the advantages, Tawk.to is not without its drawbacks. Some users have reported issues with the reliability of notification alerts, occasionally leading to missed chats. Additionally, the platform’s dashboard can be overwhelming for new users due to the plethora of features and customization options available. The back end of the chat software could also benefit from more detailed visitor analytics, providing businesses with additional insights to better understand and serve their customers.
It comes as a freemium pricing model, but you can't really make use of all the essential features without paying hefty amounts. For example, you have to pay $19/month just to remove the Tawk.to branding from your chat widget. Now, if you want to offer personalized support and want to access the AI chatbot, it will cost you $1/hour. That makes things confusing, for sure.
- Tawk.to offers multi-website integration. Therefore, you can install it on numerous websites.
- Centralized Dashboard to streamline the communication process for support teams handling multiple websites.
- The platform is easy to navigate, with quick access to macros and shortcuts.
- Some users have reported unreliability in the notification alert settings, occasionally leading to missed chats.
- The back end could benefit from more detailed visitor analytics to provide additional insights for businesses.
- Claims to offer a free plan but is not of much use and has a pretty confusing pricing structure
Best For: Ticketing & customer support automation
Freshdesk is known for its robust ticketing system and automation features, streamlining customer support processes for businesses of all sizes. Part of the Freshworks suite, this help desk software is one of the best Intercom alternatives for startups that are looking for a comprehensive customer support solution. This support tool is designed to help businesses manage customer interactions and support tickets across various channels.
It comes with a unified platform that integrates customer support, sales, and marketing tools. That's how you can streamline workflows and ensure efficient communication with Freshdesk. In addition to the automation features, the software offers robust analytics and reporting tools, giving businesses the insights they need to continually improve their customer service.
However, when it comes to customization, the tool does not have much to offer. Apart from that, some users have also reported occasional glitches. You may find the tool costly, especially when you have to include additional features and agents.
- Brings together various customer engagement tools, including support, sales, and marketing, on a single platform.
- Reduces manual tasks and ensures timely responses, increasing overall efficiency.
- Offers extensive integration options with popular tools and platforms, creating a connected business ecosystem.
- Comes with a robust ticket management system to organize and resolve customer queries.
- Pricing structure to be on the higher side, especially as additional features and agents are added.
- There are occasional glitches, such as issues with canned responses and missing emails.
Best For: Integrated customer communication
HelpCrunch is a versatile customer communication platform that can transform the way your startup interacts with its customers. This Intercom alternative seamlessly integrates live chat, email marketing automation, and helpdesk functionalities to provide you with a unified solution. Thanks to its user-friendly interface and affordable pricing, HelpCrunch is an excellent choice for startups and established businesses aiming to improve their customer engagement and support.
HelpCrunch comes with a live chat feature to ensure that businesses can connect with their customers when they need it the most. That's how you can turn every interaction into an opportunity to build relationships and drive conversions. Additionally, the multilingual knowledge base and mobile app integration extend the platform’s reach, ensuring that support is available anytime, anywhere.
With its customizable chat widget, you can maintain brand consistency across all customer communication channels. The platform is so easy to use that teams can quickly adapt and make the most out of its extensive features. However, it’s not without its challenges. Some users have pointed out the need for clearer pricing on email credits and more advanced help desk functionalities. Additionally, the occasional stability issues and the lack of WhatsApp integration have been noted as areas for improvement.
- Let you connect with your customers in real time through the live chat feature.
- Works as a unified communication platform combining live chat, email marketing, and helpdesk functionalities.
- Easy to navigate, ensuring teams can quickly adapt and utilize all features.
- Maintain brand consistency and enhance customer experience with a customizable chat widget.
- Multilingual knowledge base and mobile app integration extend support availability.
- Some users find the pricing structure for email credits to be confusing.
- The help desk features could be more advanced to meet all business needs.
- Some users have reported bugs and stability issues.
- Currently lacks integration with popular messaging apps such as WhatsApp.
The Verdict: Selecting the best Intercom alternative for startups
In today’s competitive startup environment, exceptional customer support is crucial. While Intercom has been a popular choice, numerous alternatives align better with specific business needs and budgets. Botsonic is a versatile, AI-powered solution offering startups a customizable, user-friendly, and cost-effective tool to enhance customer interactions.
This guide has navigated through various options, highlighting their unique strengths and areas for improvement. The decision ultimately depends on your startup’s specific requirements and resources. Remember, investing in the right customer support tool is a strategic choice that can significantly influence your customer satisfaction and contribute to your startup’s growth trajectory. Choose wisely, and ensure your customers feel valued and supported at every step of their journey.