Migrating from Intercom to Crisp, from a developers point of view

Recently Intercom announced their new pricing scheme which resulted in a 2X price increase for using the same product for me. I made a comment on Twitter about this price increase and the folks at Intercom were nice enough to reply.

They are the industry leader and have to do what is best for them. However, as a small business owner I had no choice but to move away from their product to minimize my overhead.

According to the Crisp website I wouldn’t lose any core functionality whatsoever and instead would GAIN value.

TL;DR Instead of paying ~$500 per month using Intercom with limited functionality, I switched to Crisp and gained access to Bots, Help Desk, and a Status Page for just $95 per month. By switching to Crisp exclusively, they save me at least $5,000-6,000 per year.

But before I get to the good stuff, let’s take a look at the stuff that isn’t so great.

Intercom is better at Design

The most obvious thing you will miss when moving to Crisp from Intercom is the difference in the interface. Intercom has such great attention to detail and has such a slick interface. It feels like a modern app and is the reason why I refer to Intercom as the industry leader in this space. (I don’t know if that is true or not, but that is my perception)

Every aspect of Intercom’s interface is better, including the floating help box where the customer interacts and the backend side of things. Everything from replying to tickets to setting up automated campaigns just feels better on Intercom.

Ticket Replies Should be Better

Let’s take an in depth look at ticket replies and how their interface falls short.

Crisp Ticket Reply

Why is the reply window box so small? The box should be much bigger and the whole screen itself is a bit more basic compared to Intercom. The method in which you close tickets is also a bit wonky. There is a color coated bar on the top of each ticket that you have to click on to close it.

Crisp will NOT autosave your responses as you type. This one will be missed because sometimes during a ticket we might get distracted or accidently close the tab.

There is no point and click interface for Saved Replies, so instead the only option is to type in the shortcut interface of “!texthere”. (Make sure your support team knows this ahead of time)

When creating new Message Shortcuts (aka Saved Replies), you have to go to a different area completely, which is under Settings. I can’t just quickly type one up without leaving this area and save it. In addition to that, it uses a markup language rather than a point and click interface to create links, images, and formatting. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it means that the average Joe might be a bit confused at first glance.

When you attempt to include an image in a Crisp ticket, it will automatically send the image in it’s own response. There is no option to add the image inline with your text response. Needless to say, it’s a bit cumbersome.

I often find myself accidently pressing the enter key twice while replying to a ticket in an attempt to start a new paragraph, but instead it sends my half-completed response to the customer. Whoops.

Limited Segments Functionality

Crisp does not have the ability to create segments like Intercom. On intercom, it was basically a mini database that I could interact with and create my own segments in a few clicks.

For example, I cannot easily save a new segment consisting of all of my users who are paying members that like football and have logged in the past week. That data can still be sent via the API and saved for a user, but you can’t manipulate it like on Intercom.

Instead it is much more basic and just lists your Contacts for a specific segment. If I wanted to duplicate that functionality, I’d have to add a custom segment via the API and assign this user a segment using my own code.

Automated Campaigns are Different

When I say different I mean this in a bad way. In Intercom I can add an automated campaign based on any user data entry I add via the API.

In Crisp, I can only set up Automated Campaigns based on Events that push via the API. So for example, I can’t set up an automated campaign for users who first logged in today or first appeared as a new trial member segment.

Instead I have to create a “New User” event and push it to the API. This requires additional work that I didn’t have to do before. I don’t like how this works and wish I can set up automated campaigns based on user data rather than Events, but it’s not the end of the world.

The way in which Intercom organizes campaigns is also better. I can create a campaign and call it “Onboarding User” and once I click that it’ll show the series of emails I send off.

In Crisp, it’s not like that and just lists all of the emails I have set up, and I don’t know what event they are attached to unless I click on it. Messy.

It’s Not All Bad, Seriously

I realize this entire article thus far is me nitpicking features that Crisp has in comparison to Intercom. After everything I have listed above, you would think that I hate Crisp. The truth is that I would still without a doubt migrate to Crisp.

In the end, the biggest functionality that you lose is the Segment interface, aside from that, everything else is there.

Bots Bots Bots

I had never used the Bots feature in Intercom simply because it was too expensive so I have nothing to compare it to. However, once I migrated to Crisp, I eventually set up my first bot after getting the core functionality working and was super excited to finally have this feature live on FantasySP.

It took a bit of time to understand the flow but they do have examples to go by and a good help section.

This should cut down on the same type of support tickets and make both the end user happy and the person answering support tickets happy.

Simpler Pricing

Switching to Crisp means no more dealing with additional packages. I don’t have to add the Help Desk package or the Bot package. I don’t have to worry about how many contacts I have added over at Crisp. I don’t have to worry about how many active contacts will affect the price during my busy season versus my low season.

Crisp has 2 plans to choose from and offers up a dedicated IP option. That’s it. Simple. Elegant. Straightforward. Honest. No complex (shady?) bullshit to deal with. No more guessing how much September will cost compared to May.

I am getting peace of mind at Crisp. Companies like Crisp who offer up simple pricing like this should be rewarded for doing the right thing.

I am on the cusp of a pricing rant and want to talk about email companies absurd pricing model, but I am going to reel myself back in.

Dedicated Email IP

So far I haven’t seen the need to add a Dedicated Email IP. All of the emails sent to my test email addresses arrived without any warnings and did land in the inbox.

Crisp recently launched a new analytics section that shows Campaign deliverability rates among other things. Based on what I see there, I am not overly concerned about deliverability rates as of writing this. However, I do wish that they included more in depth reporting for email bounces. Are they bounces because of invalid email addresses or because of another issue like AOL sucks? Crisp doesn’t tell you.

The price of the dedicated email address appears to have increased from $35 to $55 a month? I’m not 100% sure, but I remember seeing a much cheaper price just a few weeks ago.

Helpdesk Rocks

Another cool perk of Crisp is that they include the Helpdesk in their unlimited package for $95 a month. This is another feature I wish I could have used at Intercom, but again, the price was way too much to justify it.

So instead I was using GrooveHQ to handle the FAQ and help section, which was around $240 per year. Now I can finally ditch that additional expense and keep everything inside one interface to make it easier for my customers to get the help they need.

I am happy to report that the Crisp Helpdesk is possibly my favorite feature. It looks great. Writing and organizing articles is a snap. Not to mention, Crisp automatically includes a working certificate as soon as you create it.

Have a look at the FantasySP helpdesk.

Don’t forget about the Status Page

Yet again, Crisp proving why it has so much value. They also include a Status Page so you can easily inform your users of an outage. I personally don’t need to use this feature but I created a basic status page just for the email alerts.

The Crisp Support Team Rocks

When I first started researching which product to switch to I had a lot of questions. I contacted customer support multiple times and they were always extremely helpful. I’m not talking just generic questions that sales could handle, but real in depth questions a developer would ask about the API, etc.

Angelique was especially awesome when it came to answering my questions.

Wrap Up

Again, I want to reiterate that Crisp offers amazing value for a great product. A lot of the things I picked on in this article should not deter you from making the switch. I just wanted to let you know that there are some key differences.

In fact, you would be stupid not to switch in order to save thousands of dollars.

I understand a lot of companies are lazy and won’t make the switch and just swallow the additional cost like it’s no big deal. Heck, I didn’t want to migrate away either but money talks.

So if you take away anything from this post, hopefully you walk away knowing you’ll be in good hands over at Crisp.

A better way to vote for president

Before you get to reading this post, it’s important to consider that these are just ideas in order to make the process of voting for President better regardless of which candidate you support.

The truth is that people vote for the wrong reasons all the time, and I want to go through some of those reasons and how it could be fixed.

My ultimate goal is to force every American to vote logically for the candidate that will help them and the country.

Picking a side

Politics is one of the few topics where almost everyone has an opinion on but don’t necessarily know what the fuck they are talking about.  This is problem because they have to vote people in office.

So how do people end up becoming a Republican or Democrat?

Well, perhaps the best way to answer that question is to lead into other questions that are related.

Why do people end up rooting for a specific sports team?  Why do people end up with a specific religion?

All of those things tend to be heavily influenced based on location and/or the influence of their parents/siblings. But it’s more complicated than that.

Back in 2005 a gallup poll was conducted to see how many teens stay true to their parents political beliefs said, “71% say their social and political ideology is about the same as mom and dad’s”.

However, a new study concluded that “over half of all children in the U.S. either misperceive or reject their parents’ political party affiliations”.

The study authors also discovered that the more politics were discussed in the home, the likelihood that a child would correctly identify their parents’ party affiliations increased. It did not, however, increase the likelihood that they will adopt said affiliations.

Plenty of us have seen kids grow up to reflect their parent’s political beliefs, but that won’t always happen.

My personal belief is that politics are influenced by parents and only strong-minded individuals will learn for themselves as to what party to support. Similar to religion. Though some kids just want to rage against the machine, and I can understand that as well.

However, there is no question that where a person grows up and lives has a direct impact on their political affiliation.  Simply look at the results on the map after each presidential election.

If you break that down by counties, it almost perfectly pinpoints where major cities are vs rural areas.

Why does rural America vote Republican?  That’s a different topic all together that you can read about. However, research has found that “Trump does particularly well among older, white and non-college-educated Americans.”

What’s also interesting is that people who are “conservative prefer places where the population is more spread-out, while liberals prefer denser neighborhoods.” This according to a study done by Pew Research.

Politics is like Religion or Sports

I grew to learn on my own that Politics should be put in a different basket.  It’s not about who you support or who you root for.  You should not be picking a team at age 12 and just sticking with them through thick and thin like it’s the Cubs.  It’s about learning what’s the truth is and which party has the country’s best interest and your own best interest.

I realize that few people have the same type of thinking that I do when it comes to politics.  In fact, almost no one thinks that way.  Many people tend to look at politics as rooting for their sports team or religion.

Not everyone is into sports, so politics is essentially their sports team and they root hard for it. Blind love, blind devotion.  You know how every mom thinks their son or daughter is the best, most wonderful, smartest child alive? It’s like that.

And yet we wonder how people can be so blindly loyal to a political party and ignore the facts. Please.

If you live in Colorado you will be a Broncos fan.  What type of news would you like to hear about?  How their quarterback situation is in peril or that they have the best defense in the league? I wonder.

Studies have shown that people like to hear about news and facts that enforce their beliefs. A Broncos fan wants to hear news about how awesome their defense is and a Democrat wants to hear about how awesome the Democrats are.  It’s human nature.

But it also poses a problem. People tend to ignore facts if they do not support their beliefs.  If you start a debate based on facts, and the truth becomes inconvenient, then the person will completely ignore the facts and say they have “a right to their opinion”. Well of course.

Scientific American has new research entitled “The psychological advantage of unfalsifiability: The appeal of untestable religious and political ideologies”

What I am trying to get at is that people are biased and do not give a shit about facts or logic.  

The whole issue in regards to Fake News exists because people WANT to read about that news.  They do not care to take a moment to consider if it’s real or not.  To blame Facebook for allowing fake news to spread is like blaming Google for allowing fake newsletters to circulate through email.  Your crazy grandpa will still send the crazy newsletters. He doesn’t care that it’s fake.

Sure, Facebook can help label stories as fake, but will people even care?

A survey conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs said Americans are fooled 75% of the time by Fake News.

Ensuring people vote in their own best interest

It’s pretty obvious that most people are voting based on some type of bias and are not voting based on logic or the truth.  So how do we make sure that people vote for what’s in their best interest?

The answer is simple.  Remove the ability to vote for a candidate.  Yes, I know it sounds crazy, but hear me out.

If we remove the ability to vote directly for Hilary Clinton or Donald Trump then we must replace that with a new, more logical, method to vote.

mmmm, logic. sweet sweet logic.

The new way to vote for President should actually be a series of questions. First, start with some basic stuff like:

  1. How much money do you make?
  2. Where do you live?
  3. Size of household?
  4. How old are you?
  5. What is your sex?

If the voting is entirely electronic, then most of these questions should already be known after a person enters their social security number or scans their drivers license.  However, these questions could be asked again.

The second batch of questions is entirely politically based:

  1. Do you support stricter gun control?
  2. Do you support minimum wage hikes?
  3. Do you support a border wall for Mexico?
  4. What is your stance on nuclear power?
  5. Are you in favor of renewable energy?
  6. Do you support LGBT rights?
  7. Are you for or against abortion?
  8. Are you concerned about job growth?
  9. Are you for paid paternity and maternity leave?
  10. Is protecting the earth important to you?
  11. Are women’s right’s important to you?
  12. Do you think healthcare should provide free contraception?
  13. Do you think pre-existing conditions should effect health coverage?
  14. How do you view our country’s defense spending? A) Just Right B) Too much C) Not enough

This is just a small sample size of potential questions.  The questions will also need to be approved by both political parties to ensure they are fair and not pushing a person’s vote in one direction.

In order to eliminate someone’s bias, follow up questions will need to be asked based on their answers.   For example, a typical republican voter will always vote against stricter gun control.  They automatically equate gun control with something bad.

However, if you ask that person if they think semi-automatic weapons should be banned they may end up saying “yes”.  This would be leaning democratic.

If you ask that person if a person is on the “no fly list”, should they be allowed to purchase a gun? If they say “no”, then this would also be leaning democratic.

By answering these questions, the machine will calculate a political ranking for the person and vote on behalf of the person’s best interest automatically. 

Viola, that person just voted based on logic only.

Surely a republican might be pissed off if they voted democratic or vice versa, but you know what the best part is?  A print out, or email will be sent to the person breaking down every question they answered and provide the true facts and which party the answer leans towards.

Not only do you vote via this method, but you are also educated on the issues.

Skipping the questions

Obviously it is everyone’s right in the country to vote for president, so no matter what people need to be offered a way to vote.

But most people will want to skip the series of questions and already know who they want to vote for. Naturally, right?

No problem. They can do so as long as they agree to give up their tax break for the next 4 years in order to do so.  (Younger adults won’t care about this tax break, but that’s okay because we want young adults to vote.)

Their needs to be some type of financial penalty in order to vote directly for the candidate of their choice.  When it’s gonna cost the voter money to take this route, then most people will take the series of questions rather than give up money.

Better yet, show them how much money the will potentially give up based on their current salary.

Wrap Up

You will always see people voting against their own best interests unless you change the way people vote for president. And changing the way people vote for president will never ever happen.

Wait, what? Yes, I know my idea will never happen. But I figured I’d put it out there anyways.

If this new type of voting went into affect, you’d quickly see the Republican party move towards the middle of the political spectrum and less extreme. You’d see more of an emphasis on facts and less about spreading the bullshit on “bullshit mountain”.

In fact, ALL voting for government office should be done in this manner. And it should be a holiday for a day or even a week if that’s what it takes. Voting is one of the most important things a person can do and it’s so easily overlooked.

So where does this leave us?  In a world where facts don’t matter, logic is useless, and voters don’t understand what they are doing.

Enjoy 2017.

Twitter Card Summaries Roll Out to New Publishers

It appears as though Twitter is in the midst of rolling out Twitter Card Summaries for more publishers.  I have been seeing an increase in summaries shown in my Twitter feed from new accounts.  However, the rollout seems to be ongoing. No tech blogs have covered this as far as I know.  This post is to provide an update on what I’ve been seeing since I could not find any information out there.

So here is what I’ve seen so far:

Twitter.com does NOT seem to have Twitter Card support enabled for summaries (at one point they did), nor does TweetDeck. In fact, the only way to see Twitter Card Summaries right now appears to be on a mobile device and using the latest version of the Twitter app.  I have confirmed that they are working on the Android version, but I am not 100% sure if the iOS version shows them.

Summaries do not appear for every tweet posted, even though the meta tags are valid and the account is supported.  Some tweets end up with a summary, while others get ignored. I do not see any pattern to explain this.  My best guess is that they may be having trouble crawling the URLs and grabbing the meta data in a timely manner.

Here are tweets that show with summaries on the mobile app, though I’d be surprised if they show up inline below:

Tri Channel Not working on your GA-X58A-UD3R board?

So if you’ve just recently purchased the Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD3R motherboard and encountered an error saying “Recovering Lost memory”.  I bet that error only occurs when your attempting to use tri-channel?  Try to boot the machine with memory in just the first two memory groups closest to the CPU.  Does it show the full memory correctly?

It turns out that you could have a bent pin on your motherboard.  I had a bent one and thought I fixed it, but I was stuck with dual channel until I exchanged the board.

Do yourself a favor, exchange your board ASAP if you have a bent pin.  It’s causing tri-channel not to work.