Intercom is a customer communications platform that allows you to message your customers, send emails, provide customer support, track message engagement, create apps, and set up chatbots. It helps you chat with both leads and existing customers.
However, many users complain about its lack of transparent pricing and frequent pricing updates. It can get expensive real quick, as you’ll need to pay separately for different services and features rather than pay a flat price for everything.
It’s almost impossible to know what you’ll pay each month, as your charges will vary based on services used, people reached, and more. That can make Intercom hard to budget for – most Intercom alternatives don’t use such confusing pricing schemes.
Besides being high-ticket, many people don’t feel like the quality of the customer support is adequate. Furthermore, it is missing some important features, like advanced SMS automation (even email automation on Intercom leaves much to be desired).
There are many Intercom alternatives to choose from, however, whether you don’t like the lack of clear and affordable pricing or are tired of waiting five days to get a response from the support team. Let’s get into them.
Crisp is a free and intuitive alternative to Intercom. It’s a chat tool and CRM platform built into one.
The shared inbox allows you to stay in touch with your contacts and customers, regardless of which channel they are using to communicate with you. Emails, Facebook Messenger chats, Twitter DMs, and more are all concentrated in one multichannel dashboard, allowing you to provide quick support to everyone.
Other supported channels include WhatsApp, Telegram, and LINE. You’ll be able to collaborate with team members in the shared inbox and even add notes to a chat, so other team members can provide their input or expertise.
You’ll no longer have to log into your social media accounts to interact with leads or customers there. Furthermore, you can save responses to questions that get asked frequently to save time or set up chatbots, so your customers feel heard even when you’re away.
It’s a good idea to set up alerts so that you or your team members don’t forget to reply to an open thread. You’ll get data on each lead and can even filter for the ones most likely to convert and target them first.
On your website, you can set up a live chat box and customize it to fit your needs. It integrates with the shared inbox as well as the other Crisp features.
As an example, when you set up a knowledge base, you can share knowledge base articles in the live chat.
The ticketing system also integrates with the shared inbox and allows your customers to feel listened to.
Automated emails and in-app messages will help you increase your conversion rate in a non-intrusive way. You’ll get in-depth tracking reports for your messages and campaigns, so you can improve the customer journey.
Another cool feature is the system status page, which will alert customers when your systems experience downtime, so they know to be patient.
As you may expect, the free version only includes basic features. Free accounts have access to the live website chat box, the team inbox, contact forms, and message notifications.
Even free accounts can have two members replying to messages from the shared inbox, and you’ll also be able to reply using the mobile apps.
Premium pricing, which includes channels like Telegram and Facebook Messenger as well as saved responses, automation, and other advanced features, starts at just $25/month. A 14-day free trial is available – see updated pricing here.
If you are using Intercom mostly to provide customer support, consider switching to Zendesk. Zendesk has one of the most robust support ticket systems in the world – it’s been around longer than Intercom, and businesses across all industries use it.
That’s not to say that Zendesk doesn’t include any sales and marketing communication features, because it does. However, ticketing systems and customer support have always been the bread and butter of Zendesk, and it excels at it.
Zendesk doesn’t just offer a more robust automated ticketing system than Intercom. It’s cheaper, supports more integrations, and gives you better insights and analytics.
It also gives you more customization options for your help center, with a variety of premium themes available to make you stand out.
Your agents will be able to manage and reply to all customer interactions – including live chat, email, social media, voicemails, and phone calls – from a single dashboard.
Zendesk’s phone solution allows you to respond to calls from your dashboard and reroute calls to the right agents based on voice response recognition software. Embedding a call option in your mobile app allows customers to call you from the app.
You’ll be able to build a helpful knowledge base and/or community forum, so customers can get help by themselves and from other community members. Furthermore, you can utilize the Zendesk Answer Bot in your emails, Slack, and other channels to help people get answers quickly, based on AI.
Zendesk also has a full-fledged CRM built into the platform, which allows you to track leads, schedule calls and meetings, and get more conversions. It integrates with the customer support platform, so you can transfer support threads to the sales team if an existing customer inquires about a new product.
Zendesk’s target market ranges from startups and small businesses to large corporations, with appropriate solutions for businesses of every size. Pricing starts at just $19/month for support features only, and it includes the centralized dashboard, automation, and more – see updated pricing here.
Explore the best open-source Zendesk alternatives.
It’s easy to find Intercom confusing and overwhelming, particularly if you own a small-time business. ProProfs Help Desk, on the other hand, is an intuitive help desk and live chat solution that is perfect for small and medium-sized businesses.
In fact, FinancesOnline awarded ProProfs Help Desk with the Great User Experience award in 2021.
Not only that, but ProProfs Help Desk offers a free help desk plan – free forever – while Intercom does not.
Using a shared inbox and automated workflows, you can get your customers the help they require quickly. The shared inbox enables responding to all channels from a single dashboard – it has a familiar interface that looks like a standard email client for improved efficiency.
The knowledge base allows you to cut down on incoming tickets, but when tickets do come in, you’ll be able to track them, assign them, prioritize them, and ensure ticket threads get resolved and closed in a timely manner.
Saved responses, ticket labels, parent/child tickets, and an internal knowledge base for your customer reps will also help you increase efficiency and improve the customer experience. You’ll also be able to set up online courses, including training videos and documents, for your support agents.
To ensure your customers enjoy a glitch-free experience, set up a bug tracking system that tracks bugs and flaws in your software.
If you only need a help desk, the survey maker, and basic live chat features, pricing is free for up to 100 tickets a month. The free plan is limited to basic features – it doesn’t include advanced tools like saved responses, ticket tracking, and ticket ratings.
Premium pricing for the software starts at just $10/month for small businesses with basic needs.
You can see updated pricing here – a 15-day trial is currently available. Click on the “Help Desk & Live Chat” tab to see the free plan.
Front is an Intercom alternative that supports SMS in the shared inbox, allowing you to respond to SMS messages, Facebook messages, Twitter DMs, emails from different customer-facing inboxes, and more from one dashboard.
With canned responses and automatic message routing based on predetermined rules, you’ll ensure customers get responses quickly, from the right agents.
Shared drafts allow you to collaborate with team members before sending a message – alternatively, you can leave notes on messages in the shared inbox.
Unlike Intercom, Front sets pricing per team member as opposed to how many people you reach. It even integrates with Intercom if you’re an existing Intercom customer, allowing you to reply to your Intercom messages from the Front inbox.
5. Help Scout
Help Scout is a great choice instead of Intercom if you need to get started with a help desk and customer messaging right away, with minimal downtime. Unlike Intercom, it makes it easy to get started, and the interface is simple.
One thing that Help Scout excels at is thread collaboration. Many platforms, including Intercom, allow you to add notes to replies or @mention a team member when responding to a client.
However, Help Scout adds a feature called Traffic Cop. Traffic Cop is there to ensure that when two team members are collaborating on a thread, they don’t sabotage each other’s previous work.
When you send a message to a client in a thread that someone else is also working on, Traffic Cop will hold your reply if the other team member already responded. You’ll get an opportunity to review your response and edit or discard your own response accordingly.
Using Help Scout, you can set up auto-replies and redirect threads to live agents based on keywords and preset rules. Canned responses and automated workflows help you increase productivity.
When responding to a customer, you’ll see their profile information, app activity, and past support interactions, so you can give them more personalized assistance.
Other features include help article databases, live chat, and advanced messaging analytics.
As pricing starts from just $20/month for two mailboxes and 25 users, Help Scout is the perfect alternative to Intercom for small businesses, though large enterprises may find the lack of advanced tools, like chatbots, problematic.
You can see updated pricing here.
Freshdesk is one of the few Intercom alternatives offering a free plan that includes an unlimited number of agents.
With a help widget, an AI-powered chat response bot, a robust ticketing system, automatically suggested support solutions, and a shared team inbox, you’ll be able to provide your customers with the support they are looking for.
Team collision detection makes sure that two support agents don’t get mixed up working on the same ticket. Thank you detection ensures closed support threads don’t get reopened when a customer responds with a thank you message.
The live chat (formerly known as Freshchat) allows you to set up automated chatbots and provide customers with live help. From a shared inbox, you can respond to messages from your website, LINE, Facebook, WhatsApp, and other platforms.
You can use your live chat to reach out to customers in need first by tracking which pages they have spent time on and how long they have spent on those pages.
Businesses can purchase numbers from over 90 countries when using the Freshdesk Contact Center (formerly Freshcaller). In just half a day, you can set up a call center, monitor and record conversations, keep track of the performance of your reps, and more.
As with the chat feature, AI bots are available to answer voice calls.
Like Intercom, Freshdesk lets you set up a sandbox test environment to try out new help center features without impacting your current activities.
One way Freshdesk stands out is that it also allows you to choose your datacenter where your data and records will be hosted.
The free plan not only includes email ticketing support, but social media ticketing support as well. In addition, it supports automated ticket routing and team collaboration.
See updated plans here.
HelpCrunch is an excellent alternative to Intercom that promises better customer support. Besides, it has some features that Intercom does not have, such as the ability to automatically resend unseen chat messages via email.
There is also no limit on how many contacts you can reach per month on HelpCrunch, unlike Intercom, which charges you for more contacts. HelpCrunch offers transparent pricing, which could be a breath of fresh air when switching from Intercom.
One thing worth considering is that HelpCrunch offers free migration when switching from Intercom or other help desk platforms. Submit a migration request or learn more about the migration service here.
Overall, HelpCrunch is intuitive and easy to get started with, whether you want to manage email communications, set up a chatbot, or create a help center. The chatbot is also fully customizable.
With pricing starting at a mere $12/month, HelpCrunch is one of the most affordable Intercom alternatives for small businesses. See updated pricing here.
If all you need is a chat solution, Olark will give you what you need at a fraction of the price of Intercom and with better customer support. Technical and customer live chat support is available to Olark customers, so you won’t have to wait days to get a response about a technical issue.
Twitter is another channel for contacting Olark support.
Olark is the perfect live chat solution for small businesses. It’s much easier to get started with it than with Intercom, and it’s less overwhelming.
Customers can fill out a short form before the chat starts, so you know what the issue is, and you can get a transcript of each chat and email summaries for quality assurance purposes.
You’ll be able to share files in chats, reassign chats to different team members, and see the customer’s profile while chatting with them.
While Intercom might be more suited for large enterprises that can handle such an expensive and powerful service, ecommerce stores might find Intercom a bit over the top for their needs. Enter Gorgias.
Gorgias is an Intercom alternative made specifically for Shopify stores. Being that ecommerce is its main focus, it is able to provide solutions hyper-tailored to the ecommerce industry.
Each plan includes an unlimited number of users, apps, and stores. However, Gorgias is just as optimized for a stay at home mom with a single ecommerce store as it is for a large Shopify brand.
The live chat and ticketing system allow you to set up automated replies to common questions about order updates, shipping, and other common ecommerce issues.
You can connect all your Shopify stores in one place and provide support for all of them at once. Furthermore, Gorgias integrates with Magento and provides around 30 integrations in total.
LiveChat is the perfect Intercom alternative for you if you need that extra support you just won’t get from the Intercom team. LiveChat provides support 24/7, so you can get technical help regardless of the time zone you are operating in.
Furthermore, it supports SMS. In your dashboard, you can reply to SMS messages, emails, Facebook Messenger chats, WhatsApp chats, and more.
While LiveChat is primarily a live chat solution (hence the name), it also can help you increase your sales. Using automation, you can pre-qualify leads using pre-chat surveys and track leads to see how chats bring in more conversions.
You’ll actually get the estimated ROI of each chat that leads to a sale. As LiveChat is optimized for ecommerce, you can seamlessly insert products into the chat box while conversing with a customer.
If you have a small ecommerce store, LiveChat is definitely a more optimal choice than Intercom. It integrates with WooCommerce, BigCommerce, and many other platforms.
Furthermore, it integrates with Mailchimp, Twilio, GetResponse, and other tools. Over 200 integrations are supported!
LiveAgent is another good Intercom alternative for small ecommerce businesses, being that it integrates with PrestaShop, Shopify, Squarespace, WordPress, and many others. Over 200 integrations are supported.
You can manage everything from one platform: emails, video calls, social media chats, Viber chats, live chat messages, and more.
With a cloud phone system for incoming and outgoing calls, you’ll get a complete help desk solution when you sign up with LiveAgent. When you use the chatbot, you’ll see when customers are typing in real time, so you can be prepared to respond.
On G2, users rated LiveAgent better than Intercom for ease of use, ease of setup, customer support, ease of doing business with, and the general direction the company is heading. It’s also a lot cheaper, both in general and for removing the Intercom/LiveAgent branding from the chat box.
You can see updated pricing here.
Some of you readers may be using Intercom for its product tours tools. While Intercom is a great customer messaging software, the product tour and onboarding tools it provides are pretty bare bones.
Product tours you can provide with Intercom include basic guides with “next” buttons, ideal for simple, uncomplicated products. Companies wanting to provide a more robust onboarding experience with advanced styling and product tour checklists will have to turn to a product like Chameleon.
Chameleon allows you to style your product tours with CSS or choose different fonts and styles. You don’t need to know code to create a tour, as you can use the code-free tour builder and templates.
Furthermore, you can segment customers based on actions and customize the product tours to different segments.
Element matching allows to ensure that customers get the right tour for the product page they are on. Users can navigate your website or app and go from one page to another without losing the tour.
Chameleon does support checklists in the tours; these checklists can ensure customers know the right steps to take before using your software.
In-app menu launchers, tooltips, and surveys are also supported.
You can still stick with Intercom for your customer messaging platform. In fact, Chameleon integrates with Intercom if you’d like to use it for the messaging aspect and send customer onboarding data to Intercom.
All in all, Chameleon is the best Intercom alternative for product tours and new user onboarding.
The best Intercom alternative is Crisp, due to its ease of use, free plan for small-time business owners, and excellent customer support.
It has an intuitive interface, and upgrading to a premium plan is always affordable, regardless of the size of your business.
Ben Levin is a Hubspot certified content marketing professional and SEO expert with 6 years of experience and a strong passion for writing and blogging. His areas of specialty include personal finance, tech, and marketing. He loves exploring new topics and has also written about HVAC repair to dog food recommendations. Ben is currently pursuing a bachelor’s in computer science, and his hobbies include motorcycling, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and Muay Thai.