With the Intercom Messenger installed on your site or in your app you’re already offering your customers an easy, personal support experience. But, as your business grows you need to provide your team with simple, effective workflows so they can handle any number of more complex conversations without burnout or inefficiencies.
This is where conversation data attributes come in, enabling advanced Inbox workflows and automation. Let your team handle conversations efficiently and consistently, like with a traditional ticketing system, without losing the personal experience of the Messenger. You get the best of both worlds.
With the right conversation attributes, any conversation can be managed efficiently from start to finish. Your customers can provide context up front without the hassle of a form, and Inbox rules can update conversation attributes automatically. These attributes can then be used in Inbox views, rules, and reporting to design and manage different support workflows for different types of conversations.
Tip: If you’ve switched to Intercom from a traditional ticketing system, conversation data attributes are comparable to ‘custom ticket fields’. 👌
In this article we’ll work with three example conversation attributes:
Product area — Grouping conversations by different parts of your product allows you to have specialist teams handle different features, or break down your reports for a deeper insight into which areas have the most impact on your support team.
Type — Labelling different categories of conversation like ‘Bug’, ‘Feature request’, or ‘Question’ lets you see trends in real time views, or over time in reports.
Urgency — Defining an urgency for each conversation is the perfect way to ensure that every customer gets the right level of support. For example, you might consider all conversations from VIP customers as high urgency.
This article will explain:
How to create and use conversation attributes in the inbox.
How to collect them from your customers at the start of a conversation.
Using conversation attributes to build a custom view of your inbox.
How to set them automatically with Inbox rules.
How to filter your reports with them, for an in-depth understanding of the conversations your team are handling.
We’ll also finish with a checklist of steps you can follow to set up the ideal workflow in your own workspace. 🙌
Note: Some of the features outlined in this article are only available on certain Intercom plans. See our plans and pricing here.
Create and use conversation attributes in your inbox
To create a new conversation attribute, go to Settings > Your workspace data > Conversation data, and click ‘+ Create attribute’:
For our example ‘Product area’, let’s create a list attribute and add options for the different parts of the product (as the product changes we can always add or remove options):
Note: The name may be visible to customers if you collect this information in conversations.
Pro tip: Adding an emoji to each option makes the list easy to scan in your inbox. 😉
And that’s it. Just hit save and you’ll see your new attribute under ‘Conversation details’ in the inbox, where your team can easily set or update it as they chat with your customers:
Conversation tags & conversation attributes. What’s the difference?
Tags are very flexible, and applied to individual replies in a conversation. Useful for marking a particular part of the conversation so you can find it later.
Conversation data attributes are more structured, because you can define the data type that should apply: text, numbers, true/false or a list of values. They're perfect for ensuring consistency and categorising all of your conversations for reporting purposes. For example, by type, urgency, product area etc.
Number attributes let you attach a value to a conversation, for example if you have an attribute like “Order value”. You can then filter reports for conversations where order value is greater than a certain value.
List attributes allow you to have exactly one of a set of values. For example, if you have a “Priority” attribute it could be set to "high, medium, or low". You can then use these attributes as filters for Inbox views, and conversations will move in and out of views in real time.
Tags & conversation attributes can both be applied automatically by bots and Inbox rules, but only conversation attributes can be collected from your customers directly.
Collect conversation data up front from your customers
To save your teammates time you can collect conversation data up front from your customers, then based on their answers, automatically assign conversations to the right team with the right service level and priority:
It’s easy to set this up with the Support triage Task Bot. Just head to Operator > Task bots > For users, and choose the attributes you’d like to collect under ‘Get context about issues upfront’:
Note: You can collect up to three attributes with this task bot, from logged in users only.
Then, you can route and prioritize the conversation based on your customers’ responses. For this example, if the type is ‘Bug’, and the urgency is ‘High’, we’ll assign the conversation to the ‘VIP support’ team:
Pro tip: If you need to collect more information from your users or visitors, or you’d like to collect certain attributes conditionally, you can do this with a Custom Bot from new conversations.
Set conversation attributes automatically with Inbox rules
Conversation attributes can also be updated automatically by Inbox rules. For example, if a new message contains keywords like ‘Error’, ‘Bug’ or ‘Glitch’ rules can set the conversation type to ‘Bug’:
Or, you may want to infer certain attributes based on other conversation information. These examples set the ‘Product area’ conversation attribute based on the URL where a conversation is started:
Tip: Rules can be triggered throughout the entire conversation to keep your conversation data up to date as things progress.
To learn more about creating and managing Inbox rules, check out this article.
Set conversation attributes with macros
Conversation attributes can also be updated automatically actions in macros. For example, if a conversation is being escalated due to an error, your escalation macro could set the conversation type to ‘Bug report’:
Build a custom view of your inbox based on conversation attributes
Inbox views allow you to define a set of filters, then show all conversations that match those filters in real time. It’s easy to switch between views and keep an eye on urgent issues, your direct reports, or whichever conversations you consider most important.
As an example, imagine you’ve just released an update to the ‘Projects’ feature in your product, and you’d like to monitor all serious bugs being reported. This view uses all three conversation attributes to show conversations where:
Product area is ‘Projects’ and Type is ‘Bug’
Urgency is ‘Medium’ or ‘High’
Here’s a couple of other views we recommend :
Conversations with a high urgency — See a real time view of urgent conversations, to ensure your team has everything they need to handle them.
Longest waiting conversations — Highlight conversations that haven’t received a reply recently.
Conversations assigned to specific people — Look out for newer members of your team, who might need a hand. 😉
To learn more about creating and using Inbox views, read this article.
Filter your reports with conversation attributes
Conversation attributes not only speed up your inbox workflows but give you consistent, well-defined reporting, on exactly the points that matter to you and your team.
Filtering your Customer Support reports with conversation data lets you dig into specific areas, for actionable insights into how your team is performing.
To continue with the example from above, let’s say it’s been a week since you launched the update to your ‘Projects’ feature and you want to see how satisfied your customers have been with responses to their questions. Just filter the Customer satisfaction report for all conversations where:
Product area is ‘Projects’
Type is ‘Question’
Or, for an alternate approach, filter the Responsiveness report for all conversations where Type is ‘Bug’, and see how quickly these issues are being resolved. You can also subscribe to the report to monitor it on a regular basis:
Support manager’s checklist for Inbox excellence
Now that you know how to get the most out of conversation data it’s time to create your own attributes and set your workspace up for success. Just follow this simple checklist:
Define the right conversation data for your business
Create your first conversation attributes now.
Set conversation data automatically with Inbox rules
Ensure conversations are handled by the right people, in the right order, with all the right context.
Create views that show you exactly what you need to see
Create an Inbox view for a customized list of conversations.
Subscribe to the Conversations report
Get reports in your inbox once a week for regular insight into your support experience.
Bonus: Join the Interconnected community forum and chat with other power users for best practice advice, pro tips and more. 🚀