Operator by Intercom

The bot for better customer experiences

get it
#4 Product of the WeekAugust 09, 2017
+1

Operator by Intercom is a customer service chatbot that handles simple tasks so you can focus on things only humans can do.

Around the web

Reviews

 
  • Jake CrumpCommunity Team with Product Hunt
    Pros: 

    This feature helps our team save time by automatically recommending articles we've already written. It's a real time saver.

    Cons: 

    I wish that we had more control over how and when it suggested articles.

    Intercom seems to always add features around the same time that I begin to want them. This was something I had recently been looking into for our team so I was quite happy when I saw this on the site. There are some aspects I wish I had more control over, but overall this is a fantastic addition to Intercom that I'm sure will help our team be more productive.

Discussion

You need to become a Contributor to join the discussion - Find out how.
Matt Hodges
Maker
@mattnhodges · Marketing at @Intercom
Hey hunters, Matt from Intercom here. We’re so incredibly excited to release our new bot, Operator. Unlike most chatbots, our bot has manners–it’s simple, smart, and tactful. We’ve designed Operator to never get in your customers’ way. Just like Amazon Alexa, Operator has a growing set of skills, including: - Set expectations based on your team’s availability - Collect contact information - Intelligently suggest help articles to answer questions - Automatically close answered conversations for you - Measure customer satisfaction This is just the beginning. We’re already working on new skills that we plan to ship in the near future, which for us means this year, not next ;) Operator is part of the Intercom platform, so if you’re already using an Intercom product, it’s free to get started. You can learn more about Operator here: https://www.intercom.com/operato...
Hugo Alves@ugo_alves · Product Manager
@mattnhodges will the skills be built only by intercom or will some kind of SDK/framework made available for teams to build their own skills?
Matt Hodges
Maker
@mattnhodges · Marketing at @Intercom
@ugo_alves I'd be lying if I said we haven't thought about that ;) Today is step one. We'll get there. Stay tuned 😀
Hugo Alves@ugo_alves · Product Manager
@mattnhodges of course, looking forward to it then :P
Théo Blochet@theoblochet · Product Guy. Currently @GetQonto
@mattnhodges It looks like the bulk of the features already existed in Intercom. Expectation setting, contact information collection, intelligent educate articles suggestion, customer satisfaction, and github integration pieces were already parts of intercom, just not branded as "Operator", and not coming from a "bot" in the conversation experience. However, I'm really excited and looking forward to the upcoming "Integrations" and "Skills management" features 🙌
Matt Hodges
Maker
@mattnhodges · Marketing at @Intercom
@theoblochet intelligent article suggestions in the Messenger and the ability to close conversations on your behalf are brand-new :)
Matt Hodges
Maker
@mattnhodges · Marketing at @Intercom
@theoblochet check out the quick video here for a quick overview https://app.intercom.io/a/change...
Chris Messina@chrismessina · 🏆 PH Community Member of the Year!
I'm annoyed. Intercom has been shitting on bots for ages and now they put out their own which is somehow "better"? I loved Intercom once. This smacks of arrogance and a lack of humility. Next time just keep your corporate mouth shut until you have something positive to say. 😡 😖 [1] https://blog.intercom.com/bots-v...
Eoghan McCabe
Maker
@eoghanmccabe · CEO at Intercom
@chrismessina Damn, Chris. Ouch. This really hurts. 😞 In my opinion, "shitting on bots" is an unfair description of our position. Our whole thesis is that businesses will benefit from being more personal and human with their customers. We're trying to fight transactional, fake, spammy crap. We've been skeptical that bots as they have been implemented thus far would not actually exacerbate these problems. That post you linked lays out part of that thesis, but also acknowledges that we do think bots have value: "Bots will augment conversations between humans … will help answer simple questions in win-win scenarios". This pitch for Operator is an extension of that thesis. Yes, it effectively says "our bot is better" (at some things, specifically the customer experience), but that's marketing. We need to make the case for why people should use our stuff over others'. And we feel like our pitch is actually honest. We're not trying to pretend our bot is anything it's not. We're actually specifically trying to position it as a limited bot. Sorry we pissed you off so much.
Zach TratarHiring@zachtratar · Zach Tratar
@chrismessina the article you listed has a somewhat strong tone in the headings, but accounts for it in the actual details: for example, saying that bots are good at repetitive tasks right now and will get more powerful over time. I wouldn't necessarily call that "shitting on bots for ages." And what's wrong with the word better? They didn't say "Hey our bot is better than all other bots," they just said "a bot for better customer experiences" -- very different. I think your tone comes off as dramatically more arrogant than theirs. But I might not have the context you have, or perhaps there are more articles worth referencing you didn't link.
Paul Adams
Maker
@padday · VP Product
@chrismessina wow Chris! There is no 'corporate' here 🙂 Just a bunch of people trying really hard to make something people find useful. Our launch today is the direct line execution of that post you linked that I wrote last year. I'd love to understand where you think the disconnect is. The thesis of the post: Humans are better than bots at some things, bots are better than humans at others. Let's understand that and work with it. Our launch today imo is that same idea in a product, rather than merely in writing. ps for others Chris and I used to work together 🙂
Jamie Lawrence@ideasasylum · Consultant CTO, Rails developer
@chrismessina fwiw, I totally agree with Intercom's stance on the type of chat bots we're starting to see. They're just telephone menus dressed up in poor natural language processing. Operator doesn't really fit in with the modern crop of bots—I probably wouldn't call it a bot at all. It seems more like a third-party assisting the user than a first-class participant. As it should be
Chris Messina@chrismessina · 🏆 PH Community Member of the Year!
@eoghanmccabe @padday normally I'm more measured in my tone and response, but I like Intercom (generally) too much to feel let down in this way. I'll own my inarticulation of why Operator ticked me off so much, so let me try again... First, for everyone else, I recorded a podcast for Intercom a while back while I was at Uber in which one of my theses was capably promoted: The conversational commerce hype is real. I have what I would consider a good relationship with the folks at Intercom — like @eoghanmccabe @padday. A good relationship is one where you can bring up things that you disagree with, respectfully, and talk things out (among other more positive things). Second, when I talk about "shitting on bots", I'm referring to this kind of stuff: "Much of the excitement around bots focuses on one of two things: [distribution and removing expensive humans from customer communication]." "So if bots can’t read between the lines and make us feel better, what are they actually good for? Turns out that with today’s and tomorrow’s technology, they are good for simple, low-level, repetitive questions and tasks. That’s it." — @padday -- "Every year in design circles, there’s a buzzword. This year, the buzzword is without question bots." "...When we experimented with building a bot, we gave [it] a name. [...] People hated this bot — found it off-putting and annoying. It was interrupting them, getting in the way of what they wanted (to talk to a real person), even though its interactions were very lightweight." —@EMCGUANE -- "Text-based messaging works best with a human on both sides of the conversation" —@HUGHDURKIN -- "Despite plenty of excitement it’s still unclear how conversational UIs can be made to work in a practical sense." —@THOUGHTWAX And then in today's announcement: "Bots are still a long way from competing with humans. When it comes to context, sentiment, subtle knowledge and big picture thinking, humans will continue to triumph for a long time to come. At Intercom, we are completely ok with that. We are betting that bots will augment, rather than replace humans in the long-term." —@MARK_V_RYAN I can get on board with that sentiment, and indeed, it aligns with much of what I've been saying for a while. It just feels like a bait and switch... like there's been this reluctance to admit or accept that bots are critical to Intercom's future, or to scaling Intercom's customers's needs, and that anything but human customer service reps on the other end of an Intercom chat thread is a fail (not to be *too* cynical, but Intercom charges on a per-seat basis, so the more human reps a company has, the more money they make). I mean, I know that Intercom takes a long time with their product development strategy, so it's not like this product just came about spontaneously. As they were penning the articles that contained the above quotes, they were working on this. Perhaps it's less their perspective that I disagree with than their disengagement with the broader bot and conversational product ecosystem. And now that they've launched their own bot platform, I'm just like left agast — yes, I agree with so much of their sentiments about the product experience of automated conversational experiences — but couldn't they have been more supportive and conciliatory along the way to encourage the dozens or hundreds of companies that have started in this space? Couldn't they have taken a more active role in defining this space? Maybe my expectations were set too high, or were too self- or industry-centric. I want to embrace Intercom Operator, like I've done with nearly all of Intercom's other products... I'm just lamenting how aloof they've been so far, and how it feels like their perspective was always Intercom-centric, instead of looking broadly at this shift, and guiding the industry forward, rather than sandbagging their plans until this moment. I'm not really that upset, I think I'm just reacting to the form over the substance. Operator is a good thing for my mission, FWIW (humanizing the experience of using technology). I just wish that the path to arrive at this moment had been different.
Peter ThomsonHiring@peterjthomson · Digital Strategist
@eoghanmccabe @padday @emcguane @hughdurkin @thoughtwax @mark_v_ryan @chrismessina "Bait and switch" is a strong way of putting it. But the tactic is real. Personally, I spotted this when Intercom spent most of 2016 criticising other people's bots, talking about how bots were over hyped, and asking every podcast guest about bots. It was a pretty strong tell that they were interested in the space. To be fair, they did the exact same thing with "live chat". And they were right. Live chat in general sucked. Intercom spent months talking about how much live chat sucked. Then they built their own version that was way better.
Matt Hodges
Maker
@mattnhodges · Marketing at @Intercom
@chrismessina bummed that you think our strategy here is to make more money :( If it were, we'd charge more for Operator, which we don't. FYI we don't charge on a per seat basis. You can have as many humans (reps) using Intercom as you like. I wanted to clear that up, so others who read this are not misinformed.
Chris Messina@chrismessina · 🏆 PH Community Member of the Year!
@mattnhodges that isn't what I think. But Intercom is expensive (I've been a paying customer in the past). Thank you for clearing up my misconception. Not trying to spread misinformation.
Tony Lucas@tonylucas · Founder, CEO, Converse AI
@eoghanmccabe @padday @emcguane @hughdurkin @thoughtwax @mark_v_ryan @chrismessina +1 on the Ecosystem point. I'm not concerned about this from a competitive point of view (I expected it to happen eventually), but actually engaging with the Ecosystem in a constructive way, rather than just using us for Product Ideas might be a good first step. I'm pretty sure we (Converse) were the first bot platform integrated into Intercom, as I did a demo of it to them in late November 2015(!) We are well into three figures in the number of companies that have integrated our Product with Intercom (at least for trying it out), and have tried to build a relationship, but with no success. Compare that to our strong relationships we have built with Facebook (Preferred Workplace Partner) & Google (Only third party bot platform directly integrated into their console) and it's a real shame as they can both see how we add additional value on top of their existing services. Only bringing this up here because I'm not sure my frustration will be seen any other way, oh well.
Paul Adams
Maker
@padday · VP Product
Hey Tony, We haven't made a deliberate decision to not engage with the ecosystem of other companies building bots, we simply have limited resources and have had to focus on many other things. Compared to Facebook or Google we're a tiny baby company, and we've no programs at all like they have for 3rd party developers. It's way too early for us, and we don't yet have anything close to the bandwidth to do it well. Someday I hope we will. Always happy to chat more if you want to mail me paul@intercom Cheers. @tonylucas
Andrew Orsich@anorsich · Co-Founder & developer @ Maqpie
As 👏 always, 👏 awesome 👏 job! 👏
Ben Lang@benln · Spoke
Congrats on the launch! Can't wait to try this out.
Alex Bauer@alexdbauer · Developer Advocate — Branch.io
I'm an existing Intercom customer, and I was a bit surprised this didn't ALREADY exist when I was looking a few weeks ago. Almost thought about adding Drift, but seems like that may no longer be necessary...🤓
Alex Bauer@alexdbauer · Developer Advocate — Branch.io
Drift allows reverse IP lookups to customize the initial message with company name — do you guys support this too, or have plans to do so?
Matt Hodges
Maker
@mattnhodges · Marketing at @Intercom
@alexdbauer I've experienced that myself. This really is just day one for Operator. We're already looking to understand ways to help you make your messages be more personal when it’s appropriate. Thanks for the suggestion :)