What we shipped: 2016 year in review

Main illustration: Justin Pervorse

Maybe because it was a leap year, or possibly due to the stronger office coffee…

But from adding a new product, to a complete overhaul of the Intercom Messenger and everything in between, 2016 has been a big year for product development at Intercom.

So what did the last year look like? We raised $50 million in funding to support our product-first mission, surpassed 15,000 customers and now have 1 billion Intercom end users. Yep, that’s about 1/7th of all humanity.

But let’s get back to what we shipped over the last year – all 366 days of it.

A new product to share your knowledge

With less than a month left in 2016, we launched our new knowledge base product, Articles. Although it might not be the best gift for your uncle this holiday season, it will certainly be a welcome change for your customers in 2017.

Articles use cases

We built Articles because a knowledge base product is a fundamental component of a complete, modern support solution. But the real story of Articles is how it leverages visitor feedback to consistently improve the support experience. It’s more insightful, proactive, and responsive for visitors and businesses alike. This is because feedback loops are woven into the very fabric of the product. As a whole, those insights let you know exactly where articles can improve and direct you to what you need to write next.

Articles reflects our belief that a help center shouldn’t be a dead-end experience – a customer should always get an answer. This required a fundamental shift away from viewing a help center as a static collection of “how-to” articles or printed user manuals. Instead, the product is built to constantly evolve, providing a modern, natural way to share, improve and add content that will delight and educate visitors. We did this in a few ways:

  • Article reactions at the end of each post let you measure how helpful articles are and prioritize content improvements.
  • Failed searches show you what people looked for but didn’t find.
    Failed searches
  • Rich feedback from conversations gives you the context you need to improve.
    Article feedback

Intercom Articles is even more powerful when accompanied by Intercom Respond. It gives support teams the ability to answer questions even faster by surfacing relevant articles in the message composer that can be inserted directly into conversations. The technology used here is machine-learning, meaning Articles continuously improves the suggestions it makes.
Smart suggestions

Campaigns got a whole lot smarter

We found most messaging tools used for marketing were either oversimplified and didn’t consider the behaviors of real people, or they’re overly complex, with intricate decision trees trying to account for every possible action. We thought we could do better. Our mission with Smart Campaigns was to retain ease-of-use, while automating the complexities required to make campaigns responsive to behavior, custom attributes and nonlinear customer experiences.

Smart Campaigns

Smart Campaigns uses an automated decision-making process allowing for two-way communication — tracking customer behavior and using that information to guide users to a predetermined goal. This lets you easily create and deliver a series of email, in-app and push messages to the right person, at the right place, at the right time. It’s great for nurturing leads, onboarding new signups, up-selling and re-engaging people.

We released the Messenger for business

In 2016, there were more than 200 million conversations started each month over Intercom. Ensuring that everyone of those experiences is positive, personal and meaningful is critically important. To meet that challenge, we released our all-new Messenger.

Updating the Intercom Messenger was a big step toward modernizing the communication experience that strengthens relationships between businesses and consumers online. It took more than a year to build, so we could make sure everything was just right.

The new Messenger peels back the anonymity that dominates business messaging. As a result you actually feel like you’re talking to a human. How did we do this? First, we focused on building authenticity and trust. With the new Intercom Messenger, customers see the name, profile picture and job title of the person they’re talking to. We also added an active status label so you know when someone’s available to talk.

Our iOS and Android apps do more

Last year, Intercom Conversations for iOS and Android made it possible to access and respond to conversations from your mobile device. Our 2016 updates made it possible to manage your entire inbox. Here’s what’s new:

  • Mentions Feed: View new mentions and access all past mentions
  • Navigation Menu: Access people, mentions and inboxes
  • Conversation Search: Search by keyword or tag
  • Access all your users and leads from the new People section
  • Teammate profile: add a profile picture, job title, personal bio and social accounts from your mobile device.

We added powerful integrations

With a rapidly growing customer base with a diverse set of business challenges, encouraging developers to build on the Intercom platform is an important step toward strengthening the Intercom ecosystem and providing more robust solutions to our customers. We were thrilled to announce the launch of our developer program this year that will provide greater support and help grow our developer community. Keep tabs on the latest approved integrations here.

For integrations built by Intercom, we created a new Integrations Hub inside the Intercom platform, which makes it easy to discover and manage integrations with the other tools you use to run your business. Here are four of the highly-requested integrations we built this year:

  • Facebook: Use Intercom to manage and respond to messages sent to your company Facebook page.
  • Twitter: See and reply to Direct Messages in your Team Inbox.
  • Trello: Add customers, companies and conversations from Intercom to feature requests and issues you track in Trello.
  • Shopify: Install our Messenger on your Shopify store and track your visitors’ actions as events in Intercom so you can better engage, convert and support them.

What will Intercom ship in 2017?

Only time will tell, but if the path we take looks anything like our roadmap, it will certainly be an exciting year to come. Stay tuned…

Illustration by Jon Stich

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