Move from Intercom to Help Scout

Considering a switch from Intercom to Help Scout? Awesome, we’re happy to help you get your bearings and make a great decision either way. 

Things you should know

Expect fewer chats and conversations

We believe the best customer experience is one that gives people the information they need, right where they need it, so they can move on with their day. That’s why products like Beacon are designed to put instant answers (your Docs articles) front and center. 

It’s not uncommon for Intercom customers to switch and see up to a 50% reduction in conversations and chats from customers. There’s probably nothing wrong (technically speaking) if that happens to you, it’s just the difference in how we approach things. That said, you can always customize Beacon to be a bit more feedback-forward if you wish, but the default state is more focused on surfacing self-service answers.

We have a different approach to chat

Intercom treats all in-app conversations the same. Customers can start a conversation whether someone is available or not — and hear back in 1-2 minutes, 1-2 hours, or 1-2 days. There’s no real difference between a live chat and a conversation lasting multiple days. 

At Help Scout we found that customers have very different expectations for chat compared to email — expected response time is minutes instead of hours. So in Beacon, every chat has a clear beginning and end. People can only start a chat with you if someone is available to help out. And if no one is available, customers are asked to send an email so you can answer later, setting that expectation. 

In our experience, this approach makes chat a better experience for your customers, and it’s more scalable for your business. That said, it may take a little getting used to if you switch.

Mapping Features

A lot of the terminology — like conversations or saved replies — remains the same between Intercom and Help Scout. If you’ve been using Intercom’s Inbox product, Help Scout Inboxes won’t take a lot of getting used to. There are some differences to be aware of, though:

  • Statuses - Open and Closed are the only two statuses in Intercom. Help Scout has an additional status called Pending. It’s meant to be used when you are waiting to hear back or to send a response, but aren’t ready to mark it Closed.
  • Tags - Intercom allows you to tag People and Messages. Help Scout allows you to tag Conversations. 
  • Priority - Help Scout doesn’t have a ✭ (star) icon to denote Priority. However, you can leverage a feature like Custom Fields to set priority and much much more if you like. 

In Help Scout, you can’t Snooze a conversation just yet. But you can Forward them, Follow them (be notified of updates), and even view the original source. You can also do a bunch of things all at once with Manual Workflows

Finally, in Help Scout Inboxes all have an email address. You can manage multiple email addresses, teams, or brands with Inboxes in Help Scout, whereas in Intercom it would likely require a separate Workspace. If you’d like to forward multiple email addresses to a single Inbox, and even respond from multiple addresses, that’s no problem. Check out Aliases for more on that.

Messenger → Beacon

If you are using the Intercom API to send customer data and details to the sidebar, keep in mind you can do very similar things with Beacon.

To log custom fields (such as role, plan, etc.) to the Help Scout sidebar, you should use the Beacon(“identify”) method. And to save these details securely and give people access to previous conversations, make sure to enable Secure Mode. Beacon has an extensive JavaScript API, in addition to iOS and Android SDKs. You can control Beacon in some pretty fun and awesome ways with these tools.


Beacon suggestions are unique to Help Scout. They enable you to suggest relevant Docs articles based on the page URL your customers are viewing. You can add new URLs and suggestions in the Beacon Builder … no coding required. If you want to suggest content conditionally based on your own in-app logic, you can do so by leveraging the JavaScript API.

You can also open Docs articles in the Beacon from any link in your web site/app, using the Beacon(“article”) method

Importing your data

Head over to Import Emails or Tickets Into Help Scout to get started! 

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