Messaging apps are now used more than any other type of app. This means launching a messaging app on any platform could be seen as either a significant opportunity or an overly competitive nightmare.
That isn’t stopping Intercom, which today launched its new messenger — an open platform that lets businesses develop applications within the product.
While other messaging solutions focus on the messages themselves, Intercom’s solution is designed to help sales, marketing, and support teams do more than chat. A business messaging system, Intercom has opened its platform to third-party apps within the product. Intercom users gain access to a library of apps with partners that include Google, Shopify, Stripe, Product Hunt, Atlassian, and Aircall.
Simplicity seems to be the order of the day for anyone wanting to make use of those partner apps.
“Similar to other app stores, it takes less than a minute for an Intercom customer to add an app to their Intercom messenger,” company VP Paul Adams told me.
And if you want to develop custom apps on the platform, that process appears to be reasonably painless too, although the tools available for app creation are not fully released at this time.
“For Intercom customers who want to build their own custom app for the messenger, they can do so on the new App Framework, which is currently in early access,” Adams said. “On the new framework, a developer can build an app and have it live in their messenger for their customers in just a few hours. If they want the app to be available publicly in the app store for other Intercom customers to use, the app store review process takes about ten days.”
Intercom’s messenger, then, is a business chat app that allows for sales, marketing, and support workflows that aid both prospective and existing customers visiting your website or ecommerce store.
“If you think about the customer life cycle, there are great use cases right the way through that, from people just browsing but interested in learning more to people ready to buy to people needing assistance,” Adams said. “For example, with people who are in the research phase of their purchase, you can use the MailChimp or Campaign Monitor app to collect their email and reach back out to them. With people ready to buy, the Google Meet or Aircall app allows you to have voice and video calls from within the Messenger. You could then go on and use the Stripe app to help convert people from a trial to a paying customer, or to manage or upgrade an existing subscription.”
As with other Intercom webchat services, a human doesn’t have to be available on the other end of the conversation to keep things moving.
“This is also all automated, so you can do things like have our Operator bot collect email addresses of people who are interested on your behalf, or if they are ready then request and schedule a demo for those important prospective customers and the sales team, all happening in the messenger 24/7 while you sleep,” Adams said.
The business messaging landscape is becoming noisy, with the likes of Slack, Facebook, Atlassian, Microsoft and more vying for market share.
“Just as they have done in our personal lives when we communicate with friends and family, messengers will soon become the primary and dominant way businesses and customers communicate,” Adams said. “Businesses want to be personal with customers, and they want to be authentic and real and human. Similarly, customers want that too and are choosing businesses that are transparent, personal, and authentic over ones that are not. Messengers are the best way to achieve this. Older technology like email, ticketing systems, and web forms will be replaced by powerful, customizable business messengers.”
Intercom Messenger, along with 12 launch apps, is available from today to all Intercom paid plan users.