Intercom CRM Draws Support for Launch
Start-up CRM vendor Intercom has drawn interest--and support--for an automated CRM tool designed to help Web businesses connect more easily to their customers. The implications could extend well beyond Web-only firms.
As a broad range of small and midsize businesses (SMBs) add an online component to their business, they need to connect with those customers. This is true whether or not the company also has a brick-and-mortar storefront. The Intercom CRM is designed to provide a simple, easily applied tool for that purpose.
As reported by Leena Rao at TechCrunch, Intercom has drawn $1 million in seed funding from angel investors as it releases the free public beta version of its CRM tool. The company says that it had 1500 "active users" from 500 companies in private beta, who were using the Intercom CRM to track and stay in touch with more than one million customers.
Other firms in this space include LeadsTrek Software, AIMpromote, Optimum Source, and Picnic CRM. Because Intercom's software-as-a-service (SaaS) tool is so new, only now in public release, its precise place in this competitive landscape cannot yet be specified. But clearly Intercom is targeting firms that are looking for a simple, readily installed application that they can use to track and target their customers.
Filters allow consumer users of the app to be segmented into groups, which the business can then address in appropriate ways. The examples given range from sending specific messages to customers based on spending or the size of their Twitter followings.
According to Intercom's CEO and co-founder Eoghan McCabe, "Genuinely personal and personalized customer service is the most effective, long-lasting way for companies to differentiate their offering and fight commodification." McCabe also quotes Marc Andreeson on the theme that "all businesses become web businesses." CRM tools of this type have potential for use by hybrid firms that cater to both online and walk-in customers (who may be the same people).
Where IT Fits in
Whenever a business tool is pitched as easy to use, as the Intercom CRM implicitly is, eyebrows may be raised. The implicit message can be read as so easy you won't need IT. For the smallest firms, this may be the case. A tech consultant can insert the code in an app, or a tech-savvy employee can do so. And for very small firms, the basic capabilities of the tool are probably all they need.
But firms wishing to fully exploit the capabilities of CRM tools will need someone who is able to slice and dice the analytics information the tools provide. And in the real world, this will continue to mean having IT professionals on-site to do so.