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12 Intercom Alternatives on a Budget

Let’s take a look at Intercom alternatives that offer similar features at a better price.

Jane Portman
Jane Portman
Intercom alternatives that SaaS businesses can use

Are you looking for Intercom alternatives? Wondering whether there are better and more cost effective options in the market?

Intercom is a true success story. Started by four friends in a small shared office in Dublin's northside, the company went on to become a true market unicorn with over a thousand employees and an equally large customer base. So it's not surprising that countless businesses turn to the tool to boost customer communications, engagement, and satisfaction.

But the thing is, Intercom isn't for everyone. Especially for smaller businesses, the high cost and the complexity of the tool might not fit their current needs.

With this in mind, we thought it would be great to show you alternative options and still get the functionalities that you require for your business.

Before we get into those alternatives, let's first look at what Intercom brings to the table.

What is Intercom?

Intercom is an all-in-one customer communications platform which helps businesses build great relationships with customers through messaging and various other customer service channels.

With Intercom, you can:

  • Communicate with website visitors through live chat
  • Offer self-help options through a help desk or a knowledge base
  • Create a ticketing system
  • Use it for email marketing and send customers marketing and lifecycle messages
  • Build product onboarding tours and more.

In short, Intercom is a true customer engagement powerhouse. It's also one of the biggest success stories in SaaS, also built on their product.

And yet…

Intercom also falls short in many aspects of their product and operations

Many potential (and existing) customers have issues with the product that force them to seek an alternative.

What are these issues?

For one, Intercom's robustness is often too complex to understand fully. The complexity and all-in-one approach makes the tool harder to replace, an important consideration should you ever find yourself dissatisfied with the tool.

Many customers also find Intercom expensive. Plus, the company doesn't disclose its pricing fully, with the final cost being a combination of various factors such as usage levels and functionality. This approach means that it's easy for customers to rack up hefty bills for the software without even realizing it. This one thing alone makes up for an unscalable billing.

Here are just some of the pricing-related stories Intercom customers have shared.

Intercom Alternatives: Screenshot of a customer review about Intercom

Intercom Alternatives: Screenshot of a customer review about Intercom

We've seen reports and reviews mentioning issues with uncaring customer support too. This might not come as a surprise though. As the company continues to move upmarket, taking care of smaller customers may no longer be among its top priorities.

Intercom Alternatives: Screenshot of a customer review about Intercom

Customers also face issues with Intercom's email automation tools. The tool lacks strong event-based automation capabilities or the ability to manage company accounts, for example.

So what can you do if you want to support customers with the same set of features that Intercom offers but don't feel like the company's product is for you?

Here are some of the best options.

13 affordable Intercom alternatives

Intercom offers multiple modules, options, and functionality. And although there isn't a single tool that could replace it, many alternatives offer similar features.

We've listed some of the best alternatives to Intercom's functionality below. You can use these to create a customer communications stack that would work for your business.

#1. Userlist

Use for: email marketing automation, lifecycle email automation, and user onboarding.

Intercom Alternatives: Screenshot of Userlist homepage

Userlist (full disclaimer: this is our tool) is a complete email marketing and automation tool for SaaS. When we built Userlist, our goal was to offer SaaS founders all the functionality to engage and communicate with their users.

With Userlist, you can send one-time messages, set up behavior-based email campaigns, drip campaigns, send triggered emails, display in-app messages, onboard users, and more.

Pricing: Userlist offers a single, flexible plan that includes all of the tool's features. The plan starts at $99/month for up to 5,000 users, and it scales naturally as your business grows. We also offer a free trial, giving you access to Userlist's full functionality for 14 days.

#2. Userpilot

Use for: user onboarding tours.

Intercom Alternatives: Screenshot of Userpilot homepage

Email is just one way to onboard new users. But you may also want to display interactive product tours within the app to help customers realize its value right away. For that, Userpilot's onboarding features come in handy.

Userpilot allows you to create personalized product tours, tailor their flow to different customer personas, display contextual hints and tips, and display messages to draw new users' attention to the product's core features.

Pricing: Userpilot's pricing starts at $249/month for 2,500 monthly active users and includes all of the tool's functionality. Just like Userlist, the pricing scales as your user base grows.

#3. HelpCrunch

Use for: customer communications.

Intercom Alternatives: Screenshot of HelpCrunch homepage

One of the biggest challenges when trying to offer a great customer experience is communications. For one, different customers prefer to use different channels to engage with a brand. So depending on your user base, you might need a robust communications tool to scale the support or marketing initiatives.

Enter HelpCrunch, an all-in-one customer communication platform. HelpCrunch offers a whole range of tools to reach out to and engage with the customer base. With the tool, you can launch a live chat tool on the site, build a knowledge base or use the tool as help desk software.

Pricing: HelpCrunch offers various paid plans based on your desired functionality and the number of team members who'd be using the product. The starter plan starts at $23/month and includes one team member, 1,000 emails, three auto messages, and one chat widget per month.

#4. Drift

Use for: conversational marketing.

Intercom Alternatives: Screenshot of Drift homepage

Drift started as a live chat software. Today, the tool offers much more than the ability to have a chat conversation with website visitors. Its conversational marketing capabilities allow companies to personalize conversations, use chatbots to route customers correctly, and turn more visitors into leads in real-time.

Pricing: Drift offers a free plan, although its functionality is greatly limited. On top of that, the company offers different paid plans. However, it does not disclose those prices publicly.

#5. Help Scout

Use for: help desk and customer service.

Intercom Alternatives: Screenshot of HelpScout homepage

Many users prefer to solve whatever issues they find with a product themselves. So it's beyond imperative that you offer a way for them to access such information easily and then provide them with channels to reach out if they couldn't solve the problem otherwise.

That's what Help Scout helps with. This customer service software allows you to create self-help materials and gives you a full help desk to solve customer problems quickly.

Pricing: Help Scout pricing depends on the functionality and the number of users per month. The standard plan starts at $25/month and offers three mailboxes, live chat, and more.

#6. ClickDesk

Use for: voice and video chats.

Intercom Alternatives: Screenshot of ClickDesk homepage

Sometimes a traditional chat just isn't enough. For example, you offer a highly-technical product to non-technical customers. In that case, showing is often so much easier than telling, right? Or maybe you just want to offer a more personalized service, where customers and your support team can see and hear each other while chatting?

In that case, ClickDesk might be offering what you seek. ClickDesk is a unique live chat tool that gives you the ability to have voice and video chats instead. The software works just like any other live chat, except for the fact that customers can also call and see the agent they're speaking with.

Pricing: ClickDesk offers a free plan for up to 10 users. Its monthly paid plans start at $14.99 and differ by the included functionality.

#7. ZipMessage

Use for: Asynchronous video messaging.

Intercom Alternatives: Screenshot of ZipMessage homepage

Real-time video chat is amazing. Being able to see and interact with someone brings a conversation to a whole new level. But what if you need an option to send a video message to someone rather than have a real-time conversation?

That's what ZipMessage helps with perfectly. With this tool, you and your colleagues can record and share video messages that are then, in turn, displayed like a conversation thread. Anyone joining in could also see the communications on a single page and chime in if needed.

Pricing: ZipMessage offers a free plan. Its paid plans start at $19/month and feature more functionality than the free option.

#8. Zoho Desk

Use for: Help desk

Intercom Alternatives: Screenshot of Zoho Desk homepage

Zoho Desk is another alternative to Intercom's help desk. However, it offers a touch more than the unicorn brand. Zoho touts its help desk software as the industry's first context-aware help desk. In practical terms, the platform supports its capabilities with an AI-powered assistant to proactively triage support requests, analyze customer sentiments, and even spot anomalies in ticket traffic.

Pricing: Zoho Desk offers a free plan for up to 3 agents. Bigger businesses can purchase paid plans, starting at $14/month.

#9. Freshdesk Messaging (formerly Freshchat)

Use for: live chat and customer communication.

Intercom Alternatives: Screenshot of Freshdesk homepage

Freshchat used to be just a powerful live chat solution for small businesses. But the product has grown, and today, the company offers functionality rivaling some of the Intercom's core features. For example, you can use Freshdesk Messaging (as the tool is now called) to see all customer messages in one place, regardless of the channel they've used to send them. You can also build chatbots to automate visitor routing, answer customer questions, and use the live chat feature when an interaction with a real person would work better.

Pricing: The Messaging platform offers a free plan. Paid plans start at $15 per month.

#10. Olark

Use for: live chat.

Intercom Alternatives: Screenshot of Olark homepage

Unlike Drift or Freshchat, Olark focuses on live chat only. The platform does not introduce other channels or message types to engage customers, and that's fantastic. Why? Because that allows Olark to deliver an incredible set of features for companies looking to implement live chat on their websites and start converting visitors.

Olark offers incredible customization options, automation, searchable chat transcripts, custom chat forms, the ability to build your chatbots, and more. In short, it's a robust solution for those who need to implement a live chat and use other platforms to manage other channels.

Pricing: Olark costs $29/mo per seat, and you get access to all features for this price.

#11. Tidio

Use for: Live chat

Intercom Alternatives: Screenshot of Tidio homepage

Tidio takes a different approach compared to Olark. It's a powerful live chat tool and it offers everything you'd expect from a full-featured live chat solution and more.

But Tidio goes beyond that. The platform also allows you to create chatbots, communicate with customers via Facebook Messenger, and use a shared inbox to tame the chaos in customer service emails.

Pricing: Tidio offers a simple free plan. Paid plans start at $39/mo.

#12. Customerly

Use for: Managing customer relationships

Intercom Alternatives: Screenshot of Customerly homepage

The final Intercom alternative we want to tell you about is Customerly, a funnel-focused CRM and customer communications platform.

What sets Customerly apart is its capability to cover almost all aspects of customer satisfaction and engagement. The tool offers a powerful live chat, standalone help center, video chat capabilities, a support dashboard, and more. Plus, the tool can help you profile and score new leads, build dynamic customer segments and create behavioral funnels to communicate with them better.

Pricing: Customerly offers a very small free plan. Paid plans start at $29/mo.

And that’s it…

Now you know what products to use if you want to achieve the same results as Intercom promises but prefer not to buy their tool.

Good luck!

About the author
Jane Portman

Jane Portman is the co-founder of Userlist. Her mission is to help SaaS companies leverage the power of email marketing automation. Mom of three, Jane also enjoys scuba diving and runs two podcast shows: UI Breakfast and Better Done Than Perfect.

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