Intercom — the customer messaging platform that allows website visitors to communicate with live agents — has announced a new developer program today, opening the door to a range of third-party solutions.
We’ve covered Intercom at length before. Throughout its journey — one that is funded to the tune of $116 million — the company has augmented its original customer service messaging platform with everything from lead generation solutions to smart marketing automation capabilities.
But Intercom admits it can’t create everything it wants to itself. It has already built more than 50 integrations with other products and services, and this new ecosystem further extends its functionality.
“We have a broad vision for Intercom,” Des Traynor, chief strategy officer and cofounder at Intercom, told me in an interview at Web Summit. “We’re simply not going to be able to do everything for everyone, so adding a developer network makes the most sense for us.”
For example, while Intercom allows for two-way messaging, customer support, lead capture, and marketing messages through its platform, it isn’t about to add everything an event organizer might need.
“If you’re a conference ticketing app using Intercom, for example, we’re just not going to fill all the gaps you need us to,” Traynor said. “Or maybe you want to gain more qualitative feedback on your support. Assessing net promoter score (NPS) is much easier through a partner that understands that area best.”
Opening the developer program ties into the launch of the Intercom store, where clients can pick and choose additional third-party capabilities. Partners that are certified by Intercom qualify for co-marketing, and Intercom is focusing on smaller developers for its initial launch.
“We can help smaller developers gain access to an existing audience if they build something fresh and useful,” Traynor said. That current audience? There are 15,000 customers currently, and Intercom claims it is adding 600 new customers every ten days.
When it comes to what Intercom is looking for from its new ecosystem, the advice from Traynor is simple.
“Build something that is universally useful, not just locally useful,” Traynor said. “That’s going to be the key to getting certified, and succeeding with our customers. When the Apple App Store first launched, developers created apps that just filled the functionality gaps Apple would (and could) eventually fill themselves, so avoid that.”
In addition to the announcement of the developer program, Intercom is also adding SMS as a notification channel today. Powered by Twilio’s SMS API, it offers the ability for customer support messages to start on the website but continue on SMS if an agent is unavailable for live chat. Previously, website visitors could request an email when a live agent becomes available or when someone responds to an existing thread.
Adding SMS may seem a little redundant in a world full of messaging apps, but for many territories and geographies, it still makes a lot of sense for notifications. The SMS message includes a link that takes the consumer to the full thread, allowing them to continue the conversation live.
Both the developer program and the new SMS capability, which is included as part of Intercom’s Acquire messaging product, are available from today.