Olark vs Intercom: Which Chat Support Platform Should You Choose?

(Last Updated On: October 6, 2018)

If you haven’t experienced them, you’ve probably seen at least one. Those moments you walk into a shop ready to buy, but ultimately walk out because you couldn’t get any help to make an informed decision. All sales agents were seemingly too busy to pay attention to you.

Sounds familiar? Well, let’s take it up a notch and look at it from an online store’s standpoint.

Now, imagine dedicating a lot of resources to prospecting and marketing. Then luckily it pays off, and your site manages to attract attention from a decent amount of leads.

So, here’s traffic composed of hoards of warm leads coming in hot. Quite exhilarating to say the least, but you already know that the hardest part is yet to come- the conversion process.

The typical conversion funnel is made up of several different stages. And apart from sharing the same goal, they have one thing in common. They are all driven by engagement.

It really is that simple. But quite a different tale when we come to the actual specifics.

Here’s the problem. Even when you optimize multiple contact channels, leads will always prefer the old-fashioned system of engaging live sales agents. Just like in a regular offline store.

And that’s precisely where live chat comes in. According to a survey by J.D power, 42% of online customers feel that live chat is the way to go, as opposed to email- which managed 23%- and social media, which is preferred by only 16%.

As a matter of fact, at least according to a FurstPerson study, the number of online consumers who won’t proceed to buy if live chat is unavailable is a staggering 77%.

Implementing it, on the other hand, will not only boost the conversion rate, but also drive corresponding customer loyalty. A different report by Emarketer established that as many as 63% of customers are willing to return to a site that provides live chat.

Admittedly, that’s a heck of a lot of impact by one small feature. Deep down you know that it all makes sense. Because you’ve felt that warm feeling when a sales agent walks over to you to offer help during shopping. Hence the subsequent live chat customer satisfaction rates, which are exceedingly phenomenal worldwide.

Live-chat-customer-satisfaction

If you asked marketers and sales agents, most of them will probably admit that they’d also prefer live chat over other contact channels. Principally because it’s simple and pretty straightforward. Plus, the results are almost instant.

But, here’s the kicker. Live chat is only simple if you’re just dealing with a handful of leads. It conversely becomes a complete nightmare when your site is consistently getting multiple hits round the clock.

With the global conversation rate averaging 2.35%, you cannot afford to ignore even a single possible lead. Each single traffic hit is a solid opportunity for a live chat, which leads to conversion then sales.

And that’s why they came up with live chat automation tools, which essentially act as magicians in their own right. They not only streamline the whole process, but also empower you with live insights. In some cases, they even engage and qualify leads automatically.

The precise functionalities and capabilities, however, depend on the specific service you subscribe to. And that’s a whole other complicated issue because the number of tools on the web can be overwhelming. I’ve been there.

I tell you what though. I’ll save you the trouble by reviewing two very prominent live chat tools- Olark and Intercom.

This piece compares their features, capabilities, and overall functionalities, plus their respective pricing strategies.

But first, let’s see what each service is all about.

Olark vs Intercom: Overview

Olark

Olark, to begin win, is a favorite to multiple online enterprises. It’s built to offer a simple, user-friendly system of engaging leads in real-time, proactive chat sessions.

That’s the primary objective. But it barely covers even half of what the solution is capable of.

Olark-Live-Chat

 

Apart from streamlined chats, Olark also comes with a host of powerful functions and impressive integrations that fundamentally facilitate customer relationship management. Basically, you’re able to leverage useful insights about your leads’ activities to drive conversion.

Olark’s history can be traced back to 2009, when it was founded as a live chat platform meant to optimize connections between businesses and their customers.

Its users have since loved its simplicity and holistic approach to the whole customer engagement process. Consequently, Olark has developed progressively for close to a decade now, to host more than 12,000 enterprises on its platform.

Intercom

Intercom is one of Olark’s primary competitors, with a platform that essentially combines behavioral targeting and user intelligence to see enterprises comprehend, boost, and profit from customer engagement.

Intercom

In addition to live chat, Intercom is developed to provide insights on customers and subsequently empower enterprises with just the right tools for personal communication. Among them is the ability to coordinate behavior-driven emails and targeted, in-app messages.

Interestingly, Intercom was founded two years after Olark, but subsequently grew to host double the number of users as the latter. It’s currently leveraged by more than 25,000 enterprises spanning across all ecommerce industries.

Verdict

Ok, I know what you’re thinking. From their overview details, Olark and Intercom seem like one and the same thing. Mirror solutions that might as well merge and operate under one brand name.

Oddly enough, that has pretty much been the case with all close competitors we’ve compared in the past.

But the truth? Olark and Intercom have distinctive features that set them apart. The overview here only scratches the surface.

So, let’s dig a little deeper to understand how their features compare, then subsequently establish their individual strengths and weaknesses.

Olark vs Intercom: Features

Interface

Olark

If you find dashboards built like cockpits to be confusing, you’ll definitely love how Olark is set up. In fact, it is, by far, one of the simplest live chat services on the web.

And it all begins from the base with the installation process. You don’t need an entire day of extensive coding to pin it onto your web pages. The process is as effortless as copying a piece of code, then paste it directly into your site’s framework.

The backend interface is designed to facilitate customer engagement through a pleasantly straightforward portal. It’s very neat and comes with only 4 tabs, which can be navigated easily. That principally makes the process of accessing settings, reports, transcripts, and introducing additional operators quite smooth.

Learning the ropes here, therefore, should only take you a couple of minutes at most.

To top it off, Olark has also considered users who might find the interface a bit too bland and boring. If you prefer some fireworks, you can easily customize the chat window’s positioning, button style, background color, and theme. It’s also possible to tweak the mobile version to come up with a completely different outlook.

Olark-design-chat

However, oddly enough, the whole concept of simplicity is seemingly thrown out of the window when it comes to window settings. It turns out that you can only operate the service from a separate window. And that, of course, makes it harder to shift between the settings, reports, and transcripts as you chat with customers.

Intercom

Intercom also makes a decent attempt at achieving a minimalistic interface. Although the end product is clean and organized, it’s nothing compared to Olark’s overall interface simplicity.

Intercom-Platform

Needless to say, it makes up for that by providing solid information on the primary dashboard. You can track your overall engagement outlook as soon as you log into the system.

Unfortunately, it might take you quite a while to learn the ropes here. The whole structure might seem a bit overwhelming at first, but everything eventually becomes clearer as you get used to Intercom’s management and tracking approach.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the biggest undoing here is a slightly complex navigation process. Intercom seems to have slightly veered from the principles of simplicity by trying to make everything accessible simultaneously. We get the point, but there are much simpler ways of achieving this.

Verdict

No contest here when it comes to the overall interface outlook and usability. Olark wins hands down. It’s much simpler, and it would take you minutes, if not seconds to learn how to navigate through the options.

Intercom is also fairly organized and quite informative right off the bat. But it loses points when it comes to navigation and straightforwardness. Its interface would take you much longer to become adequately proficient.

Insights and Tracking

Olark

Have you ever approached a random stranger to spark off a conversation but only said “Hi”, followed by a couple of sentences, then ended up staring at each other awkwardly?

Here’s the good news. You’re not alone. The most awkward part of any conversation, admittedly, is usually the beginning.  Even for typical extroverts, triggering a conversation with a stranger is more like a game of chances.

If you think that’s challenging enough, try live chatting with random strangers on the web. Unlike normal offline strangers, online users don’t have the patience to sit through a boring session of random questions. That’s why 55% of your traffic, on average, spend less than 15 seconds on your site.

Therefore, your only choice here for a real conversation that might eventually lead to a conversation is going straight to the point. And to help you with this, Olark makes the lead less of a stranger by giving you an insight into their browsing history.

You’ll get to know how they’ve been browsing around your site, pages they’ve checked out, and the amount of time they’ve spent moving around.

Olark-Browsing-History
But that’s not all. Apart from your website, you’ll also get information on other third party sites your leads have visited.

And get this. It’s all in real time. So, imagine being able to tell all the products your visitor might be interested in right off the bat.

And guess what? You don’t even need to ask them for names. Olark also provides details on your lead’s name, email address, and precise location.

Sound impressive, right?

Well, you’ll probably be more surprised to learn that the service also comes with a co-browsing function, which essentially grants you a front seat to your lead’s computer screen.

But don’t get me wrong. It’s not a system for hijacking PCs. As a matter of fact, you can only use this after your visitor has approved and granted permission.

Although it can be applied in physical product stores, it’s especially useful for businesses dealing with subscription services and digital products. By remotely taking control of your customer’s PC, you’ll be able to maneuver around and assist them better, as opposed to laying out a troubleshooting procedure in writing.

Eventually, after everything, customers can leave feedback. Consequently, you’ll be able to gauge the overall satisfaction rate, and tell whether your customers love you, or hate you.

This is what makes the difference between good and great customer service.

Intercom

Intercom is also not shy at all about following your visitors around. The tracker kicks in as soon your lead lands on the site.

Thanks to this, you get a real-time view of all actions taken by visitors. In addition to new visitors, you can track active visitors, and potential leads who are bouncing away.

Well, of course, this provides a broad field of different sets of visitors that require varying actions corresponding to their profiles. To help you organize and plan that accordingly, Intercom supports segmentation along customizable attributes.

Moving on to specific individuals, Intercom also provides relevant history information, plus specific details like browsing activity, geolocation, browser, operating system, contact, etc.

Intercom-Browsing

I liked the fact that I was able to additionally access my lead’s social media profiles. Now that’s one reliable platform to build a targeted marketing campaign from.

Intercom’s tracking tool also comes in handy when it comes to what it calls triggered messages. By monitoring all traffic activity, the tool essentially launches pre-defined campaigns targeting leads who perform specific actions like abandoning carts, declining discounts, leaving negative reviews etc.

Verdict

Olark does a commendable job at not only providing critical information on browsing activity and time spent in your website, but also insights about other third-party sites visited.  That combined with the co-browsing function makes it easier to offer timely customer service.

Sounds good for Olark. But Intercom is the mother of customer tracking and analytics. Its intelligence engine extends to cover a much broader field, which can be segmented for organized targeting. And speaking of targeting, Intercom also provides information on social media profiles, which is quite useful for targeted marketing campaigns. Overall, Intercom seemingly leans towards both CRM and marketing.

Reporting

Olark

To understand how your entire customer service strategy is performing, you’ll need factual reports on all the relevant elements. Then consequently capitalize on the findings for the subsequent decision-making processes.

Thankfully, Olark is built to provide informative reports on just the actual chats, but also overall agent performance.

On chats, the reporting process starts right at the top- the overall chat volume. This, of course, gives you a picture of the number of customers you’re attending to on a regular basis.

Fair enough. But the treasure lies in the actual conversations. That’s why Olark maintains a record of all the chats and their corresponding conversation details. Such a report is particularly useful in establishing standard conversation patterns that have been proven to drive conversions.

As you review conversation details, you’ll notice that the type of agent assigned certainly determines, to some extent, the subsequent live chat results.  And to help you assess this more intricately, Olark also provides agent performance details- going by the number of chats handled, number of chats an agent can coordinate simultaneously, plus the time spent on each.
Olark-Reporting
That said, the buck stops with the leads. Even when they don’t convert into actual customers, their experience, and final attitude largely determine if a live chat is successful or not. And for this, Olark requests customers to leave feedback immediately after a live chat. The overall satisfaction rate is then analyzed from the reports.

And the best thing is? You don’t have to wait at all. The reports are all real-time, so you can get the actual picture and overall performance of the site’s customer service as it happens. Any problem, therefore, is addressed and rectified immediately.

Intercom

Intercom’s reports also combine visitor and agent performance.

For starters, you can assess the number of visitors accessing your site and the fraction that eventually proceeds to actively use the live chat contact channel. As a result, you’ll be able to tell the significance of live chat to your specific target market, especially when you compare it to other contact channels.

Intercom-Reporting

The service further matches leads with their respective sources. Essentially, it establishes the number of leads generated from the system, plus the type of messages that have the highest conversion success rates when there are sent out to various target prospects.

Now, that should be extremely valuable to your CRM and marketing structures. But, to make it even more meaningful, consider third-party integrations like Salesforce. And you’ll be well on your way to a perfectly optimized lead conversion framework.

When it comes to the other side of reporting, it turns out Intercom is also not going easy on support agents. There’s simply no time to take an unauthorized break from work since everything is analyzed in real-time.

By reviewing how fast they respond to customer messages, you’ll be able to identify the most outstanding performers. And, on the other hand, employees who are seemingly sleeping on the job.

Going by the frequency and number of conversations at a time, administrators can also find details on the busiest hours. This is helpful in structuring agents’ shifts for both peak and off-peak times.

Verdict

Although there are slight differences when it comes to the actual fields, reports provided by Olark and Intercom are surprisingly almost similar. They both cover all the relevant traffic details, plus the performance levels of individual agents. Most importantly, the reports are real-time, so you can get the actual picture and overall performance of the site’s customer service as it happens

All things considered, this would have turned out to be a tie. But Intercom gains a slight edge over Olark because of the detailed report on leads and their respective sources.

Integrations

Olark

Olark can be integrated with:

  • Segment
  • GoSquared
  • Unbounce
  • 3Dcart
  • Volusion
  • Magento
  • Xcart
  • PrestaShop
  • TalkDesk
  • Groove
  • Elevio
  • Highrise
  • Zendesk
  • Salesforce Desk
  • BigCommerce
  • Nutshell
  • Salesforce
  • Google Analytics
  • Shopify

Intercom

Intercom, on the other hand, can be integrated with:

  • Grow
  • DriftRock
  • Stitch
  • Jira
  • Median
  • Fivetran
  • Droplr
  • Upscope
  • CloudApp
  • Insycle
  • SalesSeek
  • Smartlook
  • Blendo
  • Automate.io
  • Leadsbridge
  • Toky
  • Chameleon
  • Justcall
  • DataHero
  • StamPlay
  • PieSync
  • Notion
  • Meya
  • GeckoBoard
  • Adespresso
  • Microsoft Teams
  • Tray.io
  • Front
  • Privy
  • Nomnom
  • Landigi
  • Hull
  • AddCharts
  • Wootric
  • ProductBoard
  • AskNicely
  • AirCall
  • SatisMeter
  • Statbot
  • Shopify
  • FullStory
  • ChargeDesk
  • Trello
  • Marketo
  • MailChimp
  • MixPanel
  • Zendesk
  • Hipchat
  • Zapier
  • Stripe
  • WordPress
  • Clearbit Reveal
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Github
  • Slack
  • Segment
  • SalesforceIntercom-Integrations

Verdict

Going by the list of services and applications that Intercom and Olark can be integrated with, it’s pretty obvious that Intercom is much more extensive and holistic. You can combine it with applications ranging from social media, collaboration tools, CRM, CMS, ecommerce platforms and email marketing, to payment processors like Stripe.

Olark is also compatible with a decent amount of applications and business systems, but it doesn’t come close to Intercom’s capabilities. Apart from dominant CRM tools like Salesforce and Zendesk, it supports ecommerce platforms like Magento, Shopify, and BigCommerce, but WooCommerce is prominently missing from the list.

Overall Features

Olark

Basically, Olark comes with:

  • Developer API
  • Cobrowsing
  • Offline messaging
  • Sophisticated insights
  • Design customization
  • CRM and helpdesk integrations
  • Targeted chat
  • In-browser chat
  • Chat ratings

Intercom

Intercom fundamentally supports more features than Olark. They include:

  • User event tracking
  • Team inbox
  • Team assigning
  • Rich message composer
  • Real-time updates
  • Real-time performance monitoring
  • Personalized reply templates
  • Message tagging
  • Live user data
  • Key message grouping
  • Issue resolution
  • Intercom app for iOS
  • Inbound email address
  • In-app message/email composer
  • Email campaign creation
  • Customer user profiles
  • Conversation search
  • Behavior triggered messages
  • Audience segmentation
  • A/B testing

Olark vs Intercom: Pricing

Olark

Previously, Olark offered multiple pricing options in four principle plans- Ultimate, Platinum, Gold and, Bronze. Prices users paid depended on the number of payments per year. While monthly billing was the costliest, users who proceeded with bi-annual billing ended up paying the least for each of these plans.

Well, we’ve seen that approach with quite a number of services now. And let’s be honest. Although it encourages users to pay less for longer subscriptions, it’s a rather complicated system, especially when it applies to every single plan. Olark, for instance, ran on three different price options for each plan.

Thankfully, probably due to customer feedback, everything was streamlined. The pricing plan is now as simple and straightforward as Olark’s interface. There are three principal options:

  • Billed Monthly costs $17 per agent every month.
  • Billed Yearly saves you 12%, and you end up paying $15 per agent per month.
  • Billed Every 2 Years saves you 29% compared to Billed Monthly. By paying once every two years, you end up coughing up $12 per agent per month.Olark-Pricing

Each of these plans is standard with all the features provided by Olark. The only difference is what users end up paying according to their billing frequency.

And you know what? You can test all these features out for free. But only for a period of two weeks, which should be enough to get a feel of what Olark is all about.

Alternatively, and rather delightfully, you can also go for the separate free plan. Unfortunately, it only supports up to 20 chats a month, and doesn’t come with pre-chat survey, integrations, transcripts, reporting, shopping cart saver, agent groups, automated messages, shortcuts, and visitor list.

Olark-Features

Intercom

Intercom’s pricing strategy is quite interesting. Instead of setting subscriptions according to the number of users or scale of the features offered, pricing is based on the specialized set of features you choose.
Intercom-Pricing

The four sets of feature plans include:

  • Messages– At a cost of $53 per month, this grants you features you need to send messages to target prospects.
    Intercom-key-features
  • Inbox– At a cost of $53 per month, you get features for managing conversations with customers and leads.
    Intercom-Features
  • Articles– For $49 per month, you get to build a knowledge-base by creating and publishing relevant content.
    Intercom-Features-Help

Confusing? Well, I thought so too. Until I learned that you can combine two or three of them to pay the cumulative sum of the respective prices. All intercom offerings, for example, are available for $155 per month, which is a cumulative sum of all the three package prices.

However, you’re eligible for a reasonable discount if your enterprise is considerably small, according to Intercom’s qualification criteria. This would grant you all the features at $49 a month for up to one year.

And to help you make up your mind, Intercom also offers a 14-day free trial period. You can choose to test out one of the packages, or combine them on one trial account. The choice is yours.

Verdict

Evidently, Olark is significantly cheaper than Intercom.

Well, you could argue that the latter offers more features. But, a comprehensive assessment of their respective packages reveals that the difference in pricing is not proportional to the corresponding difference in features offered. So, Olark wins this round.

Olark vs Intercom: Summary

  • Olark is built to offer a simple, user-friendly system of engaging leads in real-time, proactive chat sessions. Apart from streamlined chats, Olark also comes with a host of powerful functions and impressive integrations that fundamentally facilitate customer relationship management.

Intercom is a platform that essentially combines behavioral targeting and user intelligence to see enterprises comprehend, boost, and profit from customer engagement. In addition to live chat, Intercom is developed to provide insights on customers and subsequently empower enterprises with just the right tools for personal communication.

  • No contest when it comes to the overall interface outlook and usability. Olark wins hands down. It’s much simpler, and it would take you minutes, if not seconds to learn how to navigate through the options.

Intercom is also fairly organized and quite informative right off the bat. But it loses points when it comes to navigation and straightforwardness. Its interface would take you much longer to become adequately proficient.

  • Olark does a commendable job at not only providing critical information on browsing activity and time spent in your website, but also insights about other third-party sites visited.  That combined with the co-browsing function makes it easier to offer timely customer service.

Sounds good for Olark. But Intercom is the mother of customer tracking and analytics. Its intelligence engine extends to cover a much broader field, which can be segmented for organized targeting. And speaking of targeting, Intercom also provides information on social media profiles, which is quite useful for targeted marketing campaigns. Overall, Intercom seemingly leans towards both CRM and marketing.

  • Although there are slight differences when it comes to the actual fields, reports provided by Olark and Intercom are surprisingly almost similar. They both cover all the relevant traffic details, plus the performance levels of individual agents. Most importantly, the reports are real-time, so you can get the actual picture and overall performance of the site’s customer service as it happens

All things considered, this would have turned out to be a tie. But Intercom gains a slight edge over Olark because of the detailed report on leads and their respective sources.

  • Going by the list of services and applications that Intercom and Olark can be integrated with, it’s pretty obvious that Intercom is much more extensive and holistic. You can combine it with applications ranging from social media, collaboration tools, CRM, CMS, ecommerce platforms and email marketing, to payment processors like Stripe.

Olark is also compatible with a decent amount of applications and business systems, but it doesn’t come close to Intercom’s capabilities. Apart from dominant CRM tools like Salesforce and Zendesk, it supports ecommerce platforms like Magento, Shopify, and BigCommerce, but WooCommerce is prominently missing from the list.

  • Evidently, Olark is significantly cheaper than Intercom.

Well, you could argue that the latter offers more features. But, a comprehensive assessment of their respective packages reveals that the difference in pricing is not proportional to the corresponding difference in features offered. So, Olark wins this round.

Have you tried any of these solutions? How was your experience?

 

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