Inbox rules let you automate actions in conversations for an efficient inbox and optimal customer experience. This article explains the different ways rules can be triggered, and how they interact with Bots, Messages etc.

For a guide to creating and managing your Inbox rules, see this article.

How are rules triggered?

When creating a new rule, you’ll choose the point in a conversation when you’d like it to fire. There are four events to choose from:

Note: It’s possible for multiple rules to be triggered by a single conversation.

Then, when a rule is triggered it will check if the conversation matches the filters you’ve set:

If the conversation matches the filters, your rule actions will be completed:

Five events to choose from

When a customer starts a new conversation

If a user or lead starts a brand new conversation, rules based on this event will trigger. This includes:

This does not include:

Important: This event only triggers rules on the very first message in a conversation. For this example, a rule based on the keyword ‘projects’ would not match, as the keyword is not in the first message:

Important: If a new conversation is assigned to a specific team, teammate or 'unassigned' by a ‘Custom Bot from new conversations’ or one of Operator’s Task Bots, assignment actions in these rules will not assign the conversation again.

When a customer replies to outbound content

If a user or lead replies to an outgoing message or bot that was sent from your workspace, rules based on this event will trigger. This includes:

This does not include:

  • Replies to teammates in existing conversations.

  • Replies to Custom Bots ‘from new conversations’.

  • Conversations started from articles on your Help Center.

Important:

  • If an outbound message or Custom Bot assigns a conversation to a specific team, teammate or "unassigned", assignment actions in these rules will not assign the conversation again.

  • If a message or bot has no assignment rules, then assignment actions in these rules will assign the conversation to the inbox of your choice.

When a customer sends any reply

Whenever a user or lead sends any message in a conversation, rules based on this event will trigger. This includes:

  • The very first message from a customer in a new conversation.

  • Any customer reply to an outbound message or Custom Bot.

  • If a customer sends multiple messages in a row, these rules will trigger for each individual message.

Important: Assignment actions in these rules will re-assign the conversation, even if it has already been assigned by a Message, a Custom Bot or another Inbox rule. We recommend using caution before adding assignment actions to rules triggered when a customer sends any reply.

When a new conversation hasn’t received a reply

When you create a rule based on this event, you’ll specify one of the following time periods:

  • 30 Seconds

  • 1 minute

  • 5 minutes

  • 15 minutes

When a customer starts a new conversation, or replies to outbound content, a timer will start for the specified period. If there has been no reply from a teammate in that timeframe, rules based on this event will trigger. If a teammate replies before the time limit is reached, rules based on this event will not run.

Important: The time is only counted from the first message a customer sends, it will not reset after additional messages so rules based on this event will only run once per conversation.

When a customer has been unresponsive

When you create a rule based on this event, you choose the time period and if a customer hasn't responded to a teammate for that period of time, the rule will trigger:

Multiple rules can be triggered by one conversation

Because many rules can fire for a single conversation, it’s important to understand which actions will occur, so you can prioritize your rules accordingly.

Take this conversation for example:

  • The first message triggers rules based on a customer starting a new conversation, or sending any reply.

  • The second message triggers rules based on a customer sending any reply.

  • After 5 minutes the conversation triggers rules for when a conversation ‘hasn’t received a reply in 5 minutes’.

  • The teammate reply doesn’t trigger any rules.

Tip: Read this article, and learn how to prioritize your rules correctly. 👌

Rules triggering in conversations with Bots

Task bots

Rules based on when a new conversation is started, will trigger before Task Bots are sent in the conversation. This includes:

  • Sharing your reply time.

  • Routing existing customers to support.

  • Asking for contact details.

  • Qualifying leads.

  • Suggesting help articles.

  • Getting context about issues up front.

Note: Rules based on when a customer sends any reply, will also trigger before Task Bots on the first message in a conversation.

Custom Bots & Resolution Bot

Rules based on ‘when a new conversation is started’ will trigger before Custom Bots or Resolution Bot interact with the conversation, but only for non-assignment actions.

The rules will trigger again after the Bot interaction is complete, and assignment actions will occur, if the Bot hasn’t assigned the conversation.

Rules based on ‘when a customer sends any reply’ will also run before the bot interaction, but will assign the conversation, even if the Bot has assigned it. These rules can assign conversations out of the bot inbox.

If a conversation is assigned to the Bot inbox, any rules based on when a customer hasn’t received a reply, will begin counting down after the conversation is assigned out of the Bot inbox.

Other things to keep in mind

Inbound emails to a specific teammate

If a conversation is started by a direct email to a teammate’s Intercom email address:

  • Rules based on when a new conversation is started will not perform any assignment actions.

  • Rules based on when a customer sends any reply will run assignment actions, and may re-assign the conversation away from the teammate.

Rules triggered by the REST API

You can manually trigger rules to perform assignment actions with the ‘run_assignment_rules’ API endpoint. A POST request to this endpoint will have different behaviour depending on if the conversation is inbound (started by a customer message) or outbound (started by a bot or outbound message):

  • Inbound conversations will run the assignment actions from rules that trigger when "A customer starts a new conversation”.

  • Outbound conversations will run the assignment actions from rules that trigger when “A customer replies to outbound content".

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