When customers contact you, you may find yourself asking the same opening questions to clarify their issue, or taking the same actions like routing them to the right team. With Custom Bots from new conversations, you can accelerate your support by automating these initial interactions, so your support team can focus on resolving important issues.
How do Custom Bots work in new conversations?
When a customer starts a conversation with you in the Messenger, they’ll be able to choose from suggested replies that you’ve defined. They can clarify why they’re getting in touch, and provide extra info without needing to wait for a response, or take up your team’s time.
Note: If your suggested replies don't match a customer's issue, you can still give them the option to write a reply in the composer.
For example, if you know most of your conversations are support requests, feature requests, and bug reports you could create quick replies for these three options. Your bot will then collect any extra info you need and route them to the right team.
Or, if your customers have especially urgent issues, include them as quick replies to speed up resolution.
Create a Custom Bot that starts from new conversations
To get started, go to the Operator tab , then Custom Bots, and select ‘From new conversations’ on the left:
Then, click ‘New Custom Bot’ on the right:
Note: Custom bots come with a few templates. You can start from scratch or with a template and customize it to meet your needs.
To create, edit and set Custom Bots live you must have permission to send messages to more than one person at a time. Permissions are only available on certain Intercom plans. See our plans and pricing here.
Add a title
Your title should accurately describe your bot’s function, so your teammates can easily understand its purpose:
Choose a channel
If you'd like to show different Custom Bots to your users based on where they write in, you can choose from Web, iOS or Android under "Choose a channel":
If you choose "Web" as your channel, you can add a URL rule so your bot only triggers on conversations started from certain pages:
This allows you to give your users the most relevant options, in any context.
Next, choose your audience
You can target users based on any data you track about them. For example, you could target free users and include replies to help with signing up:
Note: This example uses a custom attribute, which you would need to add to Intercom.
Pro tip: You can add multiple Custom Bots to ensure you’re giving customers the right options when they write in. For example:
- ‘Signed up’ less than 30 days ago - Include common options for brand new users.
- ‘Browser language’ lets you create bots for support in multiple languages.
The more targeted you make your audience, the more effective your bot will be. You can also combine 'And' with 'Or' filters if you need more specific audience targeting.
Important: To ensure your customers see the right bot, make sure your filters are mutually exclusive, i.e. each user can only match the audience for one bot.
Next, design your bot
The first message in your bot is critical to ensuring your customers engage with it to get the support they need. Start with a clear question explaining the options they see:
Note: This example is based on the ‘Support Triage template’. 😉
Then add reply buttons for the most common reasons your customers contact you:
Note: You don’t need to cover every possible scenario, as customers can still write a reply in the composer if none of your suggested replies cover their question.
If you'd like to prevent customers from replying directly, you can disable the composer by checking this box:
Note: This option is only available on web, so you won't see it if your bot is targeted at your mobile app.
Now, you can direct users down new paths based on their replies. Each path lets you collect all the right information to help your customers.
Just click, ‘Choose a path’, then add a new path beside each reply button.
You can easily access and edit your new paths on the left-hand side:
These paths can ask for more information, or even provide quick answers to common questions, like this example which directs your customer to a path with specific steps to export their data:
When asking for more information you can allow your customers to type freely (or attach images), or collect data as a standard, or custom attribute. Just click ‘+ Add’ below the message:
Important: Attributes can only be added once by your customer. If a value already exists for the attribute, only a teammate can change it.
Build customized follow up actions
After each step in a path, you can trigger any of the following actions:
- Tag the customer.
- Tag the conversation.
- Assign the conversation to a specific inbox.
- Mark it as priority.
- Let Resolution Bot respond to any follow up questions.
If you have the Salesforce, HubSpot, or Marketo app installed in your Intercom account, you can also:
- Create a lead in Salesforce.
- Create a contact in HubSpot.
- Enrich a lead in Marketo.
Just click "+ Add" below the bot messages, and select from the list of actions:
Then, at the end of the path, you can choose to add more reply buttons to direct users onto a new path, or complete the path with follow up actions:
There are several follow up actions to choose from - tagging the conversation, assigning it to a team, sending an app, closing the conversation and more:
You can add as many follow up actions as you like. For example, if a user selects 'I'd like to report a bug', and has gone down a path to provide details, you could:
- Assign the conversation to your support engineers,
- Mark the conversation as priority,
- And add a ‘Bug report’ tag.
Note: You’ll need Intercom Inbox to use follow-up actions.
Tip: You can also add conditional follow up actions based on the data your Custom Bot collects. Check out this guide to find out more about conditional follow up rules.
Control when customers see your Custom Bots
If you only want to show your bot at certain times, you can set a trigger time:
This will help your team manage conversation volume during busy periods. Or, you could show bots outside of office hours so customers help themselves while you’re away. You can also select specific times to show your bots: :
Note: Trigger times are based on your workspace’s timezone.
To define a custom time, click the start time, then hold ‘shift’ and click the end time:
Your bot will then show for customers during the selected period:
Pro Tip: To find your busiest times, check out the ‘new conversations’ Inbox report., Then set up a Custom Bot to help your team, when they need it most.
How do Custom Bots work with Resolution Bot, assignment rules and Inbox?
Resolution Bot and Suggested help articles
If you use an assignment rule in your bot’s follow up actions, this will take precedence over any Inbox assignment rules you’ve set up.
If you don’t end your Custom Bot paths with an assignment rule, or if a user starts a new conversation, your Inbox assignment rules will apply to the conversation. If you have none, then the default inbox assignment rule will apply:
If you have conversation ratings enabled for users, Custom Bot messages are included in the word count required to trigger conversation ratings. If the conversation matches all the minimum requirements, then a conversation rating will send when it’s closed.
Service level agreements (SLAs) and First response time
Your team’s first response time, and SLA calculations will include the time that users spend interacting with Custom Bots by default. You can exclude time spent interacting with a bot from your SLAs by enabling the dedicated bot inbox. Learn how to enable the bot inbox here.
Best practices for using Custom Bots from new conversations
Custom Bots are perfect for triaging support questions, but there are more situations where you can use bots to give your customers the best possible experience:
If your company offers multiple products or services, a Custom Bot can help your customers self-select which product they need help with. That way, the teammate who picks up the conversation will already have this context.
Surface contextual information about an event, update, or outage
There are many things that can cause a surge in certain questions, like changes to your product’s layout, time sensitive events, or even an outage. With a Custom Bot you can proactively address these questions and share the answers up front.
- Offer more self-service support with Intercom Articles.
- Let Resolution Bot respond after your inbound Custom Bots.
- Find out all the other ways to leverage Custom Bots for your business.