How Intercom is breaking for me…

Sad IntercomIn my last post, I explained how Intercom is such a wonderful tool and makes my life as a product manager easier by making the following tasks straightforward:

  1. Intercom allows me to find the right users to do the three types of user research I need to discover, design and build useful features for my customers
  2. Intercom allows me to set up auto-message tips to send to my users based on whether they have done a particular action or not.

But, as I use Intercom more and more, I’m starting to realize there are certain limitations Intercom has (either by design or not), and I need to get around them somehow…

Here’s how Intercom is breaking for me:

Number of Events

Intercom currently limits you to tracking 120 events at any given time. When you first start using Intercom, you’re probably thinking “120 events?! Sweet!”, especially if you have a small product.

As your product gets bigger and bigger, you’ll want to track more events:

Just added a new feature where a user can commit 4 different actions? TRACK IT!

Just added a new product line or module where a user can commit 20 different actions? TRACK IT!

Just added a new upsell module where people can accept or decline the upsell? TRACK IT

As you can see, it’s very, very, very, very easy to get up to that 120 for one Product Manager with one Product Team. Now imagine this: there are three Product Managers with three Product Teams, and each of these teams wants to track new features they are building AND continue to monitor¬†existing features to see if there is an increase or decrease in usage!

 

 

BOOM! I guarantee all those 120 events are gone…

Element of Time

Want to know how many times a user has fired a particular event? No problem, Intercom captures the cumulative total of each event so you can quickly tell the following:

  1. Which users have done the following actions/events less than X times
  2. Which users have the done the following actions/events less than Y times

Being able to find users that are using and not using a feature is the first step to understanding how people use a certain feature, but usage can vary. For example, if I want to know which users have fired a certain event at least 50 times, Intercom will provide me with that list of users, but I cannot tell if there are users who are continuing to do this action or have stopped doing this action.

In other words, their usage can be any of the following:

 

Usage frequencies can vary

Usage frequencies can vary

 

Ideally, all my users have a similar usage pattern to what I’ve identified as “Usage Type C”, but Intercom will show me a whole bunch of As, Bs, Cs, and Ds mixed together.

Now when I interview customers, I would need to ask them how often they think they use a certain feature and hope they remember correctly…

 

So…how do I solve this?

I definitely don’t let these limitations (whether designed limitations or not), hold me back from understanding what my users are doing. But, to get around these restrictions, I have to use other tools, primarily¬†Mixpanel.

With Mixpanel, I can see all the events every fired, the frequency, certain pre-defined parameters (like which button), and the users who executed them.

Once I have Mixpanel showing me the data I’m interested in, I download it and import into Excel, where I can filter to the users I’m looking for.

Now, here’s the sucky part: I then go into Intercom, individually find and select the users I’m interested in and then send them a message to start a conversation.

 

Doing all this work wouldn’t be all too bad if I just had nothing else to do in my day. Unfortunately (or fortunately), I got a lot to do! I really do hope Intercom decides to make itself more useful for Product Managers!
Do you suffer from the same limitations? Are there other things you’d love Intecom to do to make your life easier?

 

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