Use rules to set up auto-replies

Overview

Picture this: You're in the middle of a conversation with a customer and waiting for them to respond to your question. The day has flown by, and now it's 5:00pm. You still haven't received a response. You need to take the dogs for a walk and feed the children, so you end your work day. Your customer works all night, so they respond after hours. You don’t want your customer to be left hanging until the very next day. You want to let them know that you received their message, but you will followup in the morning. You can use rules to do this automatically.


How it works

When creating an auto-reply rule in Front, you have two options - send the reply once or send the reply always:

  • Once: it will only trigger if the reply will be the first outbound message in the conversation.
  • Always: it will send a reply every time the rule conditions are met, regardless of whether messages have been sent already.

The tricky part occurs when you can’t use once because you've already gone back and forth with the customer and it’s not the first outbound message in the conversation; and you can’t use always because you don’t want them to continue to get the auto-reply over and over if they keep writing in. There’s a trick to use always but only have it trigger once. The instructions below will show you how to accomplish this.

For more examples of popular rules and how to set them up, visit our Rules Directory.


Instructions

Step 1

Determine whether you need to create an individual rule or a team rule. Individual rules will apply to private conversations in your individual inbox. Team rules will apply to shared conversations in team inboxes.

Step 2

Go into your Settings and select My rules for individual rules, or Rules for team rules. Let's create a team rule for this example. 

Step 3

Click Add a team rule.

Step 4

Give your rule a name.

Step 5

In this example, we are setting up an auto-reply to be sent to all inbound messages, no matter if it's a new support inquiry, or we're in the middle of a thread already. The rule will have these elements:This rule is stating that any inbound message into the Support inbox that does not have the tag Holding response will be replied to with the canned response Support Inbox Holding Reply, and add the tag Holding response. Adding the tag is an important step so that if the customer replies to the auto-reply, they won't receive the auto-reply a second time.

You can customize the rule even further to specify days or times. For a full list of rule conditions, see the Guide to rule conditions.

Step 6

Once your rule is complete, click Save.

Step 7 (optional)

The conversation may continue for a few more days, and your customer might respond after hours again. If you want them to receive your auto-reply again, we suggest creating another rule to automatically remove the tag after a few days. The rule below is stating that any message that is tagged with Holding response and unreplied after 24 hours, remove the tag so that the first rule (in Step 5) can trigger again. This can be helpful for long email or chat threads. 

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