Best Intercom Alternatives in 2019

Learn To Drive Customer Success With Live Chat

Looking for an intercom alternative that’s easy on your pockets and doesn’t skip on any functionality? Well, we’ve done some homework and put together a list of 3 intercom alternatives that are packed with features and functionality you’d look for to engage visitors, convert prospects, and support customers as your business grows. 

First things first – What do you use Intercom for?

Intercom is used by many who look for a Live Chat and simple CRM that they can use to acquire customers and grow their business. Businesses that have a need for help desk ticketing and a knowledge base also have the option of purchasing add-ons to achieve that functionality. However, lots of businesses tend to use other 3rd party apps for other features such as help desk ticketing and knowledge base functionality.

Why go with 3rd party solutions?

As most of you may already know, Intercom is expensive and not every business feels Intercom’s equivalent of a Help Desk and Knowledge base is worth the price. Due to this many users look for cheaper alternatives to Intercom that are easier on the pockets.

Intercom charges for Visitors, not REAL users

If you’ve ever used Intercom and attempted to understand their pricing model, you’d have noticed that they count each visitor that you log into their system as a user. Over time, you will build up tens-of-thousands of logged users.

Intercom recently changed their pricing policy and now charge for “Active Users”. The definition however of an “Active User” is anyone you may have contacted at least once in the last 90 days.

This also includes any user that may have had their data updated. So, technically, each new visitor irrespective of engagement, counts as 1 user for at least 90 days.

Chatbots don’t solve problems, humans do.

Intercom offers chatbots and visitors expect bots to solve the issues they come with. A user typically spends a few minutes trying to find answers and soon realizes the bot is incapable of solving any issues but rather acts as a knowledge base with personality.

Visitors don’t consider your response time as a measurement of good customer experience, instead the time it takes to find a solution to whatever issue they came with is what they will take away from this experience. 

Intercom does not merge or organize conversations from the same user or organization

Unlike Kayako, Intercom does not merge conversations with a particular contact into a single thread.  Nor does Intercom do it on an organizational level, keeping conversations with an organization under one umbrella.  Many times agents using Intercom are not aware of what their colleagues may have communicated to a contact at a company. Not merging conversations creates such issues where one contact from a company may end up receiving different replies from different agents. 

What makes up Intercom’s solution?

Intercom’s solution is essentially Live Chat, Help desk with a shared inbox, Help center & knowledge base, Simple customer database for leads and contacts and of course, a chatbot.

Note: Chatbots cannot solve issues; instead they pass messages on to a human while your customer waits for someone to get back to them.

Now that we know of what Intercoms shortcomings are, here are some of the best Intercom alternatives you can move to in 2019


HelpCrunch is a decent Intercom alternative for anyone using intercom just for sales. You may not get all the functionality Intercom offers in add-ons but starting at $19/user/seat for live chat and email, it sets HelpCrunch apart as one of the more affordable solutions. 


However, if you’re using all of Intercom and are looking to move to a solution that packs similar features, then HelpCrunch may not the best fit as the solution lacks some of the features and functionality that Intercom offers in add-ons. 


Live chat (also an in-app messenger), Ticketing, Facebook and Twitter support, Help center (Self-help/Knowledge base)

Kayako’s Inbox plan starts at $15/user/seat and is a fully integrated feature-rich help desk with functionality all businesses look for to support their growing customer base.

Kayako’s entire product offering has something for everyone and is more geared towards customer service and support as opposed to just sales and lead gen. Keeping this in mind, you’ll notice that the heart of the solution is the help desk with live chat and a knowledge base. Being seamlessly integrated allows your agents to engage website visitors as they browse your site, as well as provide real-time service and support to existing customers.

Unlike most customer service and support solutions, Kayako is full-featured, fully integrated and holds nothing back. There are no expensive add-ons or hidden costs.  You get access to all the features and functionality your business would need to provide customer service to 1 or 1000 customers.

What’s more, Kayako offers a lot of customizations with the ability to integrate with over 800 third party applications. For those of you interested in working sales, know that Kayako has a native Salesforce integration in addition to other popular CRMs. A powerful API is also available should you want to embed live chat in your web-app and use it as an in-app messenger.

Kayako’s live chat is fully customizable and can be embedded in your help center, website and web-app/mobile app as an in-app messenger with the help of an API.Customize-Live-Chat-kayako-intercom-alternativeYou can also configure your live chat to proactively engage website visitors and prospects with pre-defined messages based on the following engagement rules:

  • Page URL – the URL the visitor is on
  • Browser language – the visitor’s browser language
  • Number of visits – the number of visits to a page within a session
  • Number of pages viewed – the number of pages visited within a session
  • Time on site (in min) – the time the visitor has spent on the site, in minutes
  • Time on page (in sec) – the time the visitor has spent on the page, in seconds
  • Business hours – the business hours for team from which the conversation is coming
  • Page title – the title of the page the visitor is on
  • Referrer URL – the URL of the page the visitor arrived from
  • City – the city the visitor’s IP address is in
  • Country – the country the visitor’s IP address is in
  • Engaged during this visit – whether the visitor has already been proactively engaged during this session 

And here’s what it looks like to a visitor or prospect visiting your website:


Unlike Intercom, Kayako merges conversations from the same contact into a single thread and associates those conversations with the organization that the contacts belong to. These may be accessed by any agent from the shared inbox view.


In a simple per seat/month cost you also get to create a beautiful Help Center to give your customers a single destination for support that’s available 24/7 – even if your team isn’t.self-service-help-center


Zendesk offers several products and add-ons depending on your need. These range from Live chat (Chat), Ticketing (Support), Knowledge base (Guide) and a Cloud call center (Talk).

At first glance their product offering appear to be overwhelming and can confuse anyone looking for a one size fits all solution.


Many of the products require some time to research and fully understand but when you do dive into each one you realize you’re getting the same if not more functionality at a slightly better price than Intercom. Zendesk also brings with it over a decade of market presence, great support and a stable product.

However, if you don’t have time to mix and match and want to keep things simple, you could always go with the complete Zendesk Suite that starts at $89/user/month (quite steep when compared to many of the other help desks out there). Zendesk-pricing-jan-2019For someone using all of Intercom, a comparison would need to be made with Zendesk’s all in one suite which is priced at $149/user/month for the enterprise plan. Intercom however, will end up costing $202/month with 2 seats included (Intercoms active user policy applies).



The solutions we talked about offer the features and functionality you would need to replace Intercom and continue growing your business by acquiring new customers and retaining old ones. All three products offer stable platforms that are tried and tested alternatives to Intercom. At the end of the day it’s your business needs and budget that will determine which solution is best suited to your use case.  

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About the author
Hamzah Tariq

Hamzah Tariq is a Marketing Manager at Kayako.

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