Using Front Chat
Front Chat is the simplest way for teams to manage live chat in Front. With the Front Chat application installed on your website, messages from your site visitors appear instantly in Front for follow up from your team.
Customize your chat widget
Front Chat also allows you to customize your branding with custom colors, logos, and header greetings. You can also set an automated welcome message to be pushed to every site visitor, and enable email capture with a custom prompt.
Below is a screen shot of each setting. You can edit these at any time in Settings > Team > Inboxes > select your Front Chat channel.
Set offline hours to hide your chat widget
Front Chat will be always be visible on your website by default. If you'd like to hide your chat application when your team isn't available (such as at night), set your Offline hours in your Front Chat channel settings.
Keep in mind that offline hours hides the widget from view, but does not turn off chat if a customer already has the widget open before your offline hours started, and have not refreshed the page. Customers will still be able to send you messages in the open widget, so best practice is to use an auto-response during your offline hours to set the expectation for when they will receive a response.
Capture visitor email address and name
There are three options for collecting email or name information from visitors using Front Chat:
- Prompt users to optionally leave their email address: Front will prompt anonymous users 10 seconds after a chat is initiated to enter their email address to be notified of a response. This is the default setting.
- Don’t prompt users for their email: the email prompt will be disabled. Email and name information will not be collected from anonymous users.
- Require users to provide contact information to start a chat: users will be required to provide their email or email and name before they’re allowing to begin chatting
Recognize logged in users
If you are using Front Chat in a web or desktop application and need to identify logged in users, after adding the code snippet you will need to complete an additional step in your setup.
Copy your Verification Secret from your channel settings. This token will be required to create a server-side generated HMAC, which you will use to compute a hash of your users' emails. This hash is what you will have to send to the Front Chat API to authenticate your users — the identity verification will fail unless a user hash is provided. More technical details can be found here.
To reject messages from users not logged in to your site or app, turn on the Only accept messages from logged in users toggle in your channel settings. If you want to accept messages from anonymous visitors browsing your site, do not enable this toggle.
Manage chat conversations across multiple websites
Your custom chat application can be installed on as many pages as you wish, from a same domain. All messages will flow into a single chat inbox, and the conversation will be persistent for the customer across your entire site.
Your sessions will however not be maintained over different domains or subdomains. To share an example:
- A session will be maintained across example.com, example.com/about, example.com/shop
- A session will not be maintained if moving from example.com to shop.example.com or app.example.com
If you are managing multiple domains or subdomains, you can handle chat conversations separately for each site by creating a separate chat channel for each site.
Customize each application to match each site's branding, install the appropriate scripts, and the chat conversations for each website can be handled in separate inboxes in Front.
Once you set up a Front Chat channel, your team can chat with your website visitors in real-time directly from Front. Use the same rules, analytics, tags, and workflows for Chat that you use for your other channels (email, SMS, Twitter, etc) in Front.
Match visitors with your Front contacts or CRM integrations
If the user is logged in and verified or enters their email in the email capture form, Front will search for that email address in your contacts. You can tell if a visitor has submitted their email if this message appears: "User submitted their email: firstname.lastname@example.org".
If the email address doesn't match an existing contact, a new contact will be created in Front. If the address matches an existing contact, the chat message will be linked to that contact's details. You can view all of their past conversations by choosing Contact details in your integrations panel.
If you have any integrations enabled that use an email address to identify records, those details will be displayed on the conversation as well. This applies to Front's CRM integrations: Salesforce, Pipedrive, Base, HubSpot, and Zoho.
If a site visitor does not enter their email address in the "Notify Me" prompt, the visitor will be anonymous unless you are using identity verification to pass user names and email addresses.
Transition conversations from chat to email
When a visitor enters their email address in the Notify Me flow, or has their verified identity set, Front can easily transition the conversation to email if they leave your site without following up.
When a Front user replies to a chat message and the visitor does not respond within 5 minutes, Front will automatically send an email transcript of the last 10 messages to the address the visitor submitted:
You can choose the email address your transcripts are sent from in your channel settings using the dropdown menu under Email capture. It must be sent from a team email channel that you have connected to Front. After setting up email capture in your Front settings, any new visitors to your site or a refresh of your site will get the email option.
When a site visitor replies to the email transcript, the message will arrive in your chosen shared email inbox in Front. It will not be assigned to anyone, but you can use rules to assign conversations automatically (see below).
Use rules and analytics
Here are some example rules for Front Chat to help you get started:
Respond to messages automatically during offline-hours
Assign chats in a round-robin
Assign email follow ups to the user who replied to the chat
For Inbox is, choose the email inbox that your chat transcripts are sent from. For Body Contains, enter the teammate's chat transcript signature. Chat transcript signatures are always "- [User] at Front."
Customize the feel of your conversations by sharing GIFs, using emojis, or sending files. Both Front users and website visitors can:
Send and receive plain text messages and click full urls
Choose attachments (image files up to 4mb) and preview images and GIFs
Send shared links to Google Docs or Dropbox files for other content types
See what page your visitor is on
Understand where your customer is on your website. Click the three dots on the right side of any message to Open visitor URL or Copy visitor URL.
You can see when a user is typing in the chatbox in real-time.
This is what the user sees when you add Front Chat to your website:
This is what you'll see when replying to the user in Front:
Lemuel, a teammate in Front, is replying to the user (named "Support Verified") from the Front chat inbox.
Frequently asked questions
Can I log Front chat messages into Salesforce?
Yes. You can use Front's rule engine to sync every inbound and outbound chat to Salesforce. The rule would look something like this: WHEN Inbound messages, IF Inbox is [chat inbox], THEN Send as task to Salesforce. In order for this to work, you will need to first have the Salesforce integration enabled in your settings. Salesforce will log the chat messages to the contact with a matching email address, similar to the logging email functionality Salesforce provides.
Front Chat is available on all plans.
All plans can use rule library templates to create rules pertaining to their Front Chat inbox. Custom rules are available only on the Prime plan or above. Analytics for Front Chat are available on the Prime plan or above. Some legacy plans with different names may also have these features.
Hi Cori - thanks for pointing me here! And thanks advance for your help. Two things...
(1) I'd really like to ask users to submit their email as the first step - making it required. Please tell me this is possible (fingers crossed...)
(2) When users are *not* identified, they're being assigned random, funny names. This is fine on the surface, but is becoming problematic when I start to use my bank of responses. For example... I just used a response that uses the name customization field, and if I hadn't caught it, I would have called my customer "Tangerine Rhinoceros" because that's what her "name" was, according to the chat. Advice?
Thanks for your help! =)
Hi Cori Morris
We have a situation where a lot of our users are already signed into our system before starting front chat. We want to be able to provide their IDs to front chat so they don't need to enter their emails again.
Is there a way to associate our users with front chat conversations without having to ask them for emails? If not, is there any plan to implement that?
Hey Cori Morris When is authenticated chat coming? Right now it's 100% worthless for anything private since you can type in anyone's email address. I need to be able to pass in the user's email along with a signature that Front can verify that my app signed it to be clear the user is who they say they are.
Cori Morris said:
1. Currently there's no way to require email, but we hope to make this improvement in the future.
Hi there, is there a way now to ask users to submit their email or name as the first step?
Another here just signed up for trial with Front and looks like I'll be going elsewhere based on no ability to require an email before starting a chat. Can I further suggest you consider ability to add pre-survey chat options, where admin can choose which fields are included in the survey (e.g. email address) and whether those fields are mandatory/non-mandatory. We like to include a phone number field too, and a sales/support selector, which could be used in Front to tag a chat, or direct it to a particular inbox.
I have sent these features to Front support for feedback, but I will post about them here for everyone to see.
The features/improvements are really needed for Front Chat!
- Display Read Status
- Three dots populating when a response is being typed
- Some sort of Mobile SDK for native apps (I know Front has custom channel route for chat, but it doesn't allow for images which is a deal-breaker https://help.frontapp.com/t/q52vgd/how-to-create-a-custom-channel-in-front#api-endpoints)
- Front Chat API allowing more fields to be passed via the 'identity' https://dev.frontapp.com/chat.html . Currently, it's allowing us to add Name, but it's not supported. I would be nice to be able to pass the contact field data.
- Front Chat allowing images to be pasted right into the text box on the user side just like the agent side. This is an easy improvement to make user experience better.
- Ability to send a unique live chat link to users to get in touch more efficiently.
Transition conversations from chat to email... If we can have the option for the email to appear in the same thread as the live chat instead of separate conversations this would be fantastic. Intercom does this well.