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A new dawn for the business messenger

VP of Product, Intercom

Paul Adams

@padday

Main illustration: Kelly Carpenter and Danny Jones

Today is a big day for our customers. We’re releasing the biggest ever update to our Messenger. We’ve completely rethought how a messenger designed for business should work. And it goes way beyond chat.

With over 500 million conversations every month, we’ve long known that our Messenger provides a personal, mutually beneficial experience for both our customers and their customers. Most internet businesses want a personal way to communicate with customers; they just need the right tools to do it at scale.

As we looked into ways we could make our Messenger better for our customers, we started to see patterns and realized our Messenger is powering much more than just chatting. For example, we found in 1 in 7 Messenger conversations, people were sharing links to other work tools. This gave us great insight into the things people were trying to do, like booking meetings, getting on video calls, sharing announcements and helping customers sign up or make a purchase. We saw big opportunities to improve our Messenger so that these business goals were achievable right there in the Messenger, removing the need to share links around.

To give you a sense of the major changes, here are the three main ways in which our new Messenger has evolved beyond chat:

  • Home screen: It has a completely new area called Messenger Home, which acts like a front desk for your business, helping direct both prospective and existing customers to the best, fastest outcome, whether that is talking to a person or self-serving.
  • Messenger apps: The Messenger can now be integrated with the third-party apps and tools you use everyday. So you can do things like have people sign up to your app, book a meeting or take a payment, right there inside the Messenger. With a brand new App Store, you can find apps you know and love like Stripe, Shopify, Google Calendar and Google Meet.
  • And for the first time in any messenger, you can build your very own messenger app to integrate with your own products and tech stack so you can truly tailor the Messenger for your business.

With today’s changes, we believe we’re giving our customers a much better messenger that works for them, and we’re setting a new standard for business to customer communication.

 

Why messengers are the future of business to customer communication

A strong belief we have here at Intercom is that messengers will soon become the primary communication channel between internet businesses and their existing and prospective customers. Messengers will dominate our business communication, just as they have done in our personal lives.

Using a messenger (like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat) is now the primary way people communicate. In the blink of an eye relative to human history, messengers have left everything in their wake, from phone calls to email to SMS. In some cases, they have even surpassed face to face interactions.

Why did this happen? Messaging uniquely allows people not sharing the same physical space to interact in very human ways. It is personal, friendly, approachable, rich in emotion, real-time and expressive. It’s no surprise that it has taken over so fast.

In the foreseeable future, every internet business will use a messenger on their website and in their app as the primary way they interact with existing and prospective customers. This is because they can’t physically be with their customers but they want to communicate in human ways. Just like everyone’s friends and family are all on consumer messengers, customers will expect businesses to work in the same way the rest of their life works, with a messenger front and center.

The business messenger will diverge from the personal messenger in important ways

But what messengers can mean for businesses is much more than just being a personal way to communicate. They now have automation and bots built in, helping scale personal communication to millions of people, assisting them in getting what they need to get done, fast.

It’s at this intersection of personal conversations and intelligent automation where we see messengers for business diverging from the messengers in your personal life. Right now, messengers for business look and work the same as messengers for your personal life. But we know that what a business needs is very different to what your friends and family need. Unlike all other messengers to date, today’s new Intercom Messenger is designed from the ground up to uniquely work for a business.

We believe the shift to the business messenger is happening now. We’re seeing time and again that businesses are adding messengers to their websites and as a result they are winning more customers right then and there when people come to visit.

A detailed look at our new Messenger

The Home screen

One of the biggest changes you’ll notice in the new Messenger is a customizable home screen alongside your conversation list and individual conversations. Think of it as the perfect front desk for your website or app – one that lets you create tailored experiences for leads and customers when they open the Messenger.

The new Messenger home screen is the perfect front desk for your website or app

This means you can now:

  • Provide a personalized, welcoming experience for existing and prospective customers.
  • Enable users to get things done without having to start a conversation, like searching your help center right there in the Messenger without starting a conversation.
  • Create a new space to tell your business’ story and capture details from visitors.
  • Completely customize not just how your Messenger looks but also what it does.

Messenger apps

With the new Messenger comes the ability to add messenger apps to both the home screen and into conversations, making it infinitely customizable to whatever is most important to your business. This means full product experiences and independent workflows right inside the Messenger. So you can start calls with Google Meet and Aircall, capture leads with Campaign Monitor, receive payments with Stripe and much, much more.


Apps can also be added to conversations e.g. In the Intercom Inbox, the Stripe app can be used to upgrade a customer to a new subscription plan with a few quick clicks (on the right, you can see how it appears to your customer).

 

But what’s just as exciting is that you can build your own Messenger apps to suit your unique workflows – and enable entirely new ones. Our sales and customer support teams have already built some exciting apps of their own, and one of the most exciting parts of this launch will be seeing what our customers build in the coming months.

There is also much more to come from us. We’re building more apps, and we’re partnering with other companies you know and love to help them build apps. Very soon we’ll add the ability for our Operator bot to automatically insert apps based on criteria you define, and for you to insert apps into outbound auto messages.

The App Store

Opening up our Messenger to third-party apps also meant creating a centralized, unified place where customers could go to easily access and enable their apps. That’s why we built our all-new App Store where businesses will be able to discover, install and customize their apps.

Like all our other products, the App Store will continue to evolve after launch so that we continuously optimize app discovery and adoption.

 

A new dawn for the business messenger

We believe this is just the start of something that will grow much bigger. We believe this is a new dawn for the Messenger as the primary way internet businesses will communicate, whether that is to acquire new customers, help other customers become more engaged or provide support to others still.

If you’re as excited as us about the possibilities the new Messenger offers to grow your business, you can get started right here.