Intercom Launches Conversation Ratings to Boost Survey Responses

Intercom, developer of an in-app business messenger, has broadened its tool set with the release of a customer satisfaction survey feature, Conversation Ratings, whose goal is to accelerate customer response rates and help companies act on feedback to improve their service efforts.

Customer satisfaction surveys are not a groundbreaking concept, acknowledges Brian Donohue, group product manager at Intercom. Such features are already available in different shapes and sizes from various technology vendors. However, industry players tend to take an "overly formal, burdensome, and bureaucratic approach to support that feels like it's from ten years ago," Donohue says. Intercom, on the other hand, aims to be lightweight, simple, and human, while simulating the kinds of casual conversations customers tend to have in their personal lives.

When presented with a survey via Intercom's business messenger, customers are asked to rate the quality of their conversations from one to five using smiley-face emojis. They can respond  to the survey directly within the messenger interface, immediately after a chat session has ended on a company's website or mobile or web app. Or, if the customer has left the chat session entirely, the business can follow up with the same survey through email.

Donohue says that Intercom's approach differs from a route commonly taken by many companies, where they provide users with a choice of "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" options to indicate if the experience with their support agent was positive or negative. Given a scale of five emojis, customers will provide rawer and more nuanced feedback.

Customers also tend to respond to intuitive surveys at significantly higher rates, Donohue contends. Having held a beta-testing period among Intercom clients, Donohue notes that 46 percent of customers provide feedback, which is more than double the industry standard for CSAT surveys. "With email surveys, you're looking at around 20 percent as a standard, sometimes less than that," he says. The upside of getting higher response rates is that the feedback is more accurate and representative of a wider swath of the company's customer base, and not limited simply to those who can be bothered to fill out a detailed form. "When you optimize for the customer, the business benefits," Donohue says.

Team managers also benefit from the tool, as they can see all of their conversation ratings broken down by the number of respondents and percentages. They can also assess individual team members' performances. Since the information regarding each customers' rating is added to their profile, companies can use this information for segmentation purposes.    

Within Intercom, customers also have the option of following up with written comments to commend support agents on their performance. Proof that an agent's work has been appreciated can help to reduce churn rates in what is typically a tough and thankless profession, Donohue points out. A casual comment like "You made my day," for instance, "really impacts the support agent who's working day in and day out dealing with frustrated, angry customers," he says.

Donohue points out that Intercom works best for those companies that have all the details of the customers they're talking to on hand and aren't forced to rely on external tools to find them. This can be accomplished via integrations with email, Twitter, Facebook, and CRM systems, which enable users to export data directly into customer profiles that agents can access during live chat sessions.

The typical Intercom customers are small to midsize businesses whose support teams are staffed by anywhere between three and 20 people, says Donohue. These companies fall into both the B2B and B2C spaces.

Pricing for Intercom is based on the volume of users a company is supporting, rather than the number of seats it occupies on the software. "The rationale for that is that we feel that support is better when more people in a company are helping out customers," Donohue says.

The Conversation Ratings feature is now available to all Intercom Respond customers. In its suite, Intercom also offers a product called Engage, for proactively communicating with customers across channels; and Educate, for customer self-service and access to articles and knowledge bases.

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