Intercom is CRM for the Highly Engaged

There’s one particular strand of damaging optimism many technology startups share - the belief that unsatisfied customers will express their disapproval to the startup's founder.…

There’s one particular strand of damaging optimism many technology startups share - the belief that unsatisfied customers will express their disapproval to the startup's founder. The reality of the matter, according to Des Traynor, co-founder of CRM tool Intercom, is that, by the time an owner realizes a product’s shortcoming, the client is already gone. “For every one customer that gives negative feedback, five customers cancel,” Traynor said. “They might not be complaining - they might be scouring TechCrunch looking for the competitor.”

Intercom, founded by Traynor, Eoghan McCabe, David Barrett, and Ciaran Lee, is a customer relationship management tool for web application owners, who, in using the service, are able to browse and filter their users, then view those users’ profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and other networks. With this information comes app-specific enhancements, including when users signed up, last logged in, and where they’re located. Most importantly, though, it allows you to direct this knowledge toward engagement through in-app messaging, automated or not, opening the door to productive interactivity. Collectively, the information and your use of it is tracked through Intercom’s relationship metric - strengthen it, and you’re more likely to see paid upgrades, friend referrals, and feedback.

“We were originally a consultancy, then we built a product called Exceptional. We had thousands of users, but we really didn’t have a way to get to know them or engage them in a professional manner,” Traynor explained. “We believe that’s a problem, because it puts loyalty at risk because no one feels personally attached to anything.” By allowing for customer engagement while the app is in use, customers are able to provide feedback both positive and negative - gone are the days of feedback of limited use, when customers only made contact to express irreparable grievances. Accessibility is now the key. “It exposes positive customer incentive,” Traynor explained. “No one thinks, ‘I’m going to dig up the administrator of an application and write up a personal note.’ The application is the right place to do this, because you have them engaged.”

Integration is simple and a strength in its own right, finally void of a number of steps: no major code changes, no data imports, no API integration, and no database integration. Instead, JavaScript is dropped into HTML, and the information is sent to Intercom. As the brand expands, the team will will continue efforts to remain accessible to both start-ups and major corporations, with a scalable system dependent upon the number of users an app has. “Startups running A/B testing spend a lot of time waiting for customer B. In the early days, we say go for the early approach, and that’s how you can afford the customer base,” Traynor explained. “When you get into the hundreds of thousands, you can’t get as personal anymore.”

Intercom is still in private beta, as it has been since July 1st. The launch was successful, Traynor said, with an instant wave of owners hoping to take advantage of the free beta testing. In one or two months, that will change - SaaS pricing will unroll in the form of a monthly fee, the price subject to an app’s user numbers. For now, clients include Usabilla, StatsMix, Producteev, and DigMyData, with some early sign-ups still in the pipeline. Intercom will remain focused on web app owners, Traynor said, though the opportunity is there for expanded capabilities - under tight control, of course, to ensure that personal attachment.

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