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Document360-VS-Intercom

Looking for alternate to Intercom (Articles) in 2020?

Looking for alternate to Intercom (Articles) in 2020?

We often receive this question on our support “What is the difference between Intercom Articles vs Document360?” especially from people who are already using Intercom as their customer support product and started experiencing challenges of maintaining their knowledge base with their in-build Knowledge Base offering – Intercom Articles.

We will give a detailed explanation of why Document360 can be a good alternate to Intercom Articles with a clear and unbiased explanation. 

There is a fundamental difference between Intercom and Document360 that customers need to understand. Intercom is a massive product with a wide variety of offerings. They have solutions for Lead generation, customer engagement, Product Tour, and customer support. Their core offering is on Chat and in-app messaging. For Intercom, their knowledge base solution “Intercom Articles” is a small add-on to support all their main offerings.

Whereas, Document360 is designed as a solution purely to address one problem (very well), providing a great “knowledge base software“. So Document360 will have wider and deeper capabilities when compared to Intercom Articles when it comes to the self-service knowledge base.

Why do I choose Document360, when we already have Intercom?

This question will depend on your knowledge base requirement. If your requirements are straight forward just a simple bunch of documents to support your product written by just one or two people, Intercom Articles will be sufficient. But when you are growing, as your customer base increases your documentation needs will also increase significantly.  You’ll need more control and features.

Here are the few highlighted features that are missing are pretty basic on Intercom Articles. 

Version Control: Your knowledge base will be edited and published by a bigger team (engineering, marketing, support, etc). It’s important to have a complete version history of each knowledge base article, rather than overwriting it. You might lose some good content written by a previous writer. 

Workflow: You will need a level of the approval process. Before content is published someone needs to review and approve it.

SEO:  Your knowledge base is also a good marketing source. If you look at the importance of knowledge base SEO. So you’ll need capabilities like changing the slug (with keywords), meta title, meta description, sitemap, robot.txt, etc.

Realtime Search: Search is THE important aspect of a knowledge base, in Document360 a significant investment is made to make it as good as possible.

Category Manager and Rich Editor: Even though every product in the market will offer these, there is a huge difference in the structure and user experience. How many levels you can go deeper, drag and drop, rename, hide, can you upload videos, code, callouts (like error, warning), etc

Auditing and Notification: As your knowledge base grows, you need to have control of who is doing what in your KB. It shouldn’t be a black box.  ex: Someone deleted an article (it may be a good one generating 100’s of leads or blocking 100’s of customer support emails)

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Even though it’s handy to have one consolidated tool like Intercom for customer support, customer engagement, and lead generation, sometimes it’s better to pick up best in class relevant tools for each individual requirement. The knowledgebase is something you cannot keep switching, there are implications like losing search engine traffic. So, it’s better to pick the right one at the start, or at least switch it when you start noticing the above-mentioned challenges. 

Please note, Document360 can work together with Intercom, by using Document360 – Intercom application we released in the Intercom App Store. 

Features Comparision

The highlighted points above are pretty much applicable to any customer support product in the market that offers Knowledge Base like ZenDesk, FreshDesk, Help Scout, Crisp, etc.

Now let’s go a bit deeper and compare some of the core features of Document360 and how it differs from Intercom Articles. 

1. Category Management

For a knowledge base, how you structure and manage your categories is very important. One of the big challenges we have noticed on Intercom Articles category management is, it’s pretty hardcoded to only 2 levels. 

Collections > Sections > articles

Collections are top-level buckets like Getting Started, Installing Intercom, Account Management, etc. Here is the screenshot from Intercom’s own Help Center

Intercom Collections

Each Collection will have a group of Sections (Categories) and each section will have a group of Articles. Here is the screenshot of Sections (categories). 

Intercom Sections

This structure is not definitely suitable for growing SaaS businesses. You’ll need a flexible category management options like multiple levels of sub-categories. Take an example of the famous Stripe or Microsoft knowledge base

Stripe – category management Microsoft – Category Management
Stripe Docs Categories Microsoft Docs Categories

Also, for the knowledge base, a tree-view structure category view is much better, it provides the full depth of your knowledge base and makes it easy for the readers to navigate between various categories and articles. 

Even though Intercom Articles have a simple 3 layer hierarch it’s still not user friendly to manage it for writers. Articles need to be separately created and then they need to be added to the corresponding collections and sections. When you have 100’s of articles, it could easily become a challenge to manage. 

Document360 provides a complete flexible category management solution. There is no limit on the depth of the sub-categories (we got a soft limit of 6, so people don’t use it in the wrong way). It also comes with rich capabilities like inserting articles, categories easily on a specific level, indicators showing the state of the articles, hide, rename, delete, drag and drop move, etc. 

Document360 Category Manager

You can see some real examples of Document360 customers here  Customer.io, Spryker

2. Real-time search with the highlighter

The importance of a great Search in a knowledge base is understood. Every product in the market will claim they have search functionality. However, the quality of the search can vary significantly. It’s the difference between Google and others. 

Even though Intercom Articles comes with a decent search engine, it doesn’t provide real-time search. The user need to enter the search query and click enter, which brings a complete search result page. 

Whereas Document360 comes with a powerful real-time search that returns the key result with highlights within milliseconds. 

Intercom Articles Search

Intercom Articles Search Result

Document360 Search

Document360 Search

Search Analytics

Document360 comes with complete search analytics. It’s important to understand the keywords users are searching on your knowledge base, whether they are able to find the content or no results. This will help to improve your knowledge base over time. This is missing in Intercom Articles.

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3. Version Control

Version control is something very important on your knowledge base once a group of people is updating the content, else you risk content overwrites. 

Intercom Articles don’t come with any version control system. Every time a user edits and amend an article the previous content is simply overwritten, pretty dangerous!

In Document360, you get a full version control system with multiple draft versions, you can easily compare between versions, you can fork a new version from any previous version, and you can even delete unnecessary forked versions (if you have permission). A screenshot from the Document360 article revisions tab, you can clearly see the different revision the article has gone through, and who made the change. 

Document360 - Version historyDocument360 also comes with the Difference Viewer to compare the differences between any two revisions – clearly showing new content in green, the deleted portion in Red

Document360 - Difference viewer 4. Rich Editor

For people who are responsible for creating your knowledge base content, it’s important to give a great editing experience. Intercom Articles comes with a basic HTML editor with a minimal set of options. Being a multi-capability product, it looks like they made the choice to keep the options limited to an absolute minimum. 

But once your knowledge base starts to grow, then you will start seeing the requirements like

  • Inserting Code (with language highlighter)
  • Inserting callouts (like error, info, warning boxes)
  • Internal linking of articles
  • Inserting Videos directly (without using embed code)
  • Find and replace, etc

Document360 covers all of the above points and one of the unique features of Document360 editing experience is, it comes with two different editor choices. 

Markdown editor is a minimalist editor, that helps writers to focus purely on the content and not too much on formatting. You simply need to remember some basic commands and can produce great articles. 80-90% of your articles in your knowledge base will be pretty straight forward content with the standard structure like headers, paragraph text, and lists.

Document360 Markdown editor comes with realtime preview (as you type), and full-blown live preview (with design). 

Document360 - Markdown Editor

On the other hand, the WYSIWYG editor is a rich editor that allows you to do pretty much any level of formatting. Like rich tables, font color, background color, etc. 

Document360 allows you to switch between editors at the article level. 

Some nice features on Document360 Editor

  • You can add/remove different contributors to the article (can be made publicly visible)
  • You can set status indicator like New and Updated articles (and make it automatically go away after certain days)
  • Add attachments to the article (ex: PDF, Excel files)
  • Complete commenting and discussion between writers

5. SEO Configuration

Your knowledge base can become one of your key content for your SaaS product. It’s important to make sure your customers are able to find the content on search engines like Google. Let’s take an example if someone is searching “how invoices work in stripe“, here is how the results will look

Stripe search result

As you can see all the top results are coming directly from the “docs“. In order to achieve this, your knowledge base product must support certain things to make it optimized for search engines.

Intercom Articles don’t provide any options related to SEO.

On the other hand, Document360 comes with a lot of SEO focused features, lets take a quick look

In SEO, your keyword must be present in URL, header, and also important to configure meta-title and description (the description you see on the above search result). You can configure all of them at the article level. In addition, you can also configure exclusions (sometimes maybe you do not want the article to show up in Google)

Document360 - SEO Settings

Document360 also allows you to configure custom Robot.txt and Sitemap.xml files (few advanced SEO items) if in case you need them. 

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Non-core Features Comparision

All the above 5 points we discussed are really important for a good knowledge base product.

In addition, there are a lot of other features that come with Document360, they are a bit advanced, may not be required by every customer. However, as your product starts to scale and if you wanted to future proof choosing the correct knowledge base product for your SaaS then it will become essential features.

Let’s take a look at 10 advanced features that come in Document360 but not available in the Intercom Articles.

  1. Article Review Reminders  – When you publish an article, it’s common the content writers forget about it and never touch it again. Article Review Reminders help you to set a notification to owners after a period (ex: 3, 6 months, etc) to verify and either update the article or mark it with a future date.

2. Auditing and notification – When your knowledge base is maintained by a team of people, it becomes essential to keep track of who is doing what. Document360 audits all the events (you can even configure which ones to record), in addition, you can also configure notification via email, slack, webhook, etc.

3. Security and Roles – Document360 comes with a good security mechanism, you can allocate specific content writers to specific folders. You can define roles like editor, draft writer, etc. Ex: You might want to restrict regular writers from making SEO changes or you might restrict a folder (category) owned by the engineering team from the customer support team.

4. Private Knowledgebase – There may be a scenario, where you wanted to restrict your knowledge base not available in public. Your customers need to login to access it. This is possible in Document360, with complete reader management, including self-service and bulk-import for readers registration

5. Backup & RestoreDocument360 does backup on a daily basis, in addition, the users can also back up manually and restore the content from backup all within the portal. If someone in your team messed up your knowledge base, you can simply restore to an older version (like a time machine)

6. The Drive – Imagine having something equivalent of a Google Drive inside your knowledge base, that helps to organize all of your media assets like images, videos, PDF files, etc with a good folder structure. That’s exactly what Docuement360 Filemanger (now The Drive) capability is. Let’s take an example, you wanted to change a screenshot with the new one? The Drive helps you to change it in a central place. 

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7. Localization and Versions –  Document360 comes with a rich localization capability. It’s really deep and complete implementation. It also allows you to have multiple versions of your knowledge base. Example: You have a live version and your content team is working on the next major upgrade and they wanted to do it in parallel and then switch. The second example, you might have different versions of your product and need a knowledge base to support all the versions (ex: SQL Server 2012, SQL Server 2016)

8. Analytics – Document360 comes with rich inbuild analytics that shows various stats like your best performing article, author, category. Search analytics helps you understand the performance of your search in the knowledge base, what queries are used by your users, whether they are able to find the answer or not. Feedback analytics helps you to understand whether your users like/dislike the content and view the comments they left.

9. Home page builder – Document360 comes with drag and drop home page builder. This helps to build a great custom-looking home page for your knowledge base without any developer’s help. 

10. Variable and Snippets – Single sourcing and content reuse is a major thing when you have a sophisticated knowledge base. You do not want to copy & paste the content in multiple places. Variables and Snippets help you to achieve this. There are two use cases, a simple name/value pair content (variables), for example, You may not want to hardcode your product name on your articles, instead, you wanted to manage in a central place. The second scenario reusing a piece of content in multiple places (snippets), it could be a table, a code snippet, or even a piece of formatted content. 

Intercom Articles and Document360 can work together

It’s important to understand the context. The idea for us here is not to blame Intercom Articles with a bunch of missing features. Intercom Articles is complete customer support, customer engagement, and lead generation product, and knowledge base (Articles) is a small part. Hence they are going to have only a handful of features.

However, Document360 on the other hand is the focused product on knowledge base with a single mission of covering all aspects of the self-service knowledge base. So, it’s going to have deeper and wider capabilities to cover your knowledge base. 

There is one big advantage of using Intercom Articles as your knowledge base since there is a tight integration between the knowledge base and the other parts of the product like replying to chat messages, support emails,  etc. When the support agents are replying to customer support queries they can easily do a lookup in the knowledge base before writing their own reply.

This challenge is addressed by our Document360 – Intercom Integration App found in the Intercom App Store. The agents can do a direct lookup on the knowledge base built using Document360.

Intercom Agent Reply

It will be a better option to use Intercom for all your customer support, customer engagement, and lead generation requirements and use Document360 for your self-service knowledge base. 

Migration from Intercom Articles

We can migrate 100% of your content (all the collections, sections, and articles) safely into Document360 without losing any of your search engine rankings (thanks to our redirect capability). If you are interested either sign up for a 14 days trial or book a demo

 

Rated #1 Knowledge Base Software

Saravana Kumar

Author

Saravana Kumar is the Founder/CEO of Document360, a SaaS platform that helps your team create, collaborate, and publish a self-service knowledge base for your software product/project with ease.

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