Begin the conversation

The opening of a conversation sets the tone for the interaction and sets expectations around what will be discussed. In conversations with Business Messages agents, the beginning of a conversation also lets users know what sorts of things the agent can do, which shapes their questions and refines their expectations.

When a user opens a conversation with an agent, the agent begins the conversation with a welcome message and can display conversation starters to help guide user questions down known or frequent paths. If a user tries to start a conversation outside of an agent's operating hours, the agent displays a offline message you can use to share alternative channels or suggest next steps. By leveraging these tools, you can increase your agent's reliability and usability.

Conversation starters

Agent- and location-level settings

You can specify welcome messages and conversation starters at two levels:

  • Agent-level conversational settings apply to all conversations with the agent, regardless of entry point.

    An agent-level welcome message might begin "Thanks for contacting Growing Tree Bank...". Agent-level conversation starters can focus on company-wide actions or information.

  • Location-level conversational settings override agent-level settings and only apply to conversations with that location over the PLACESHEET and MAPS entry points.

    A location-specific welcome message might begin "Thanks for contacting Growing Tree Bank on Amphitheatre Pkwy...". Conversation starters can focus on location-based actions or information. An offline message might mention when the location will next be open.


Agents and locations can specify separate settings for whichever locales they support. For example, an agent might specify a welcome message in English for the "en" locale and have the same message in Spanish for the "es" locale.

Business Messages processes and resolves a match between the user device's reported locale and the locales that an agent or location have any conversational settings for. Business Messages uses this resolved locale to display welcome messages, offline messages, and conversation starters as they are available.

This locale match is reported in each messages' resolvedLocale field, and you can specify an agent's or location's defaultLocale, which weights resolved locale matching. See Localization and locales.

Welcome message

The first message in a conversation between an agent and a user is the agent's welcome message. The welcome message automatically appears after a user starts a new conversation. A good welcome message sets the user's expectations for interacting with the agent. To edit a welcome message, see Update conversational settings.

Conversation starters

While a good welcome message covers an agent's functionality at a high level and is open-ended, good conversation starters guide users to frequent questions or known functionality.

Conversation starters appear as vertically stacked suggested replies and directly follow the welcome message. When a user taps a conversation starter, the agent receives predefined content and postback data that you set when you specify the starter.

If an agent supports automated functionality for a certain requests, conversation starters might map to those requests, letting you rely on known inputs for automation and send freeform user questions to live agents ready to answer.

An agent can have a maximum of 5 conversation starters, and each starter can have a maximum of 35 characters.

To add or edit conversation starters, see Update conversational settings.

Offline messages

When a user starts a conversation with an agent outside the agent's operating hours (as defined by MessagingAvailability), the user receives the agent's offline message. Only human representative availability is considered when triggering an offline message. Agents that only have bot representatives always send a welcome message. A good offline message

  • Shares why the agent is unavailable
  • Instructs the user on appropriate next steps or alternative contact channels
  • Matches the tone of the welcome message and conversation starters

Bad offline message

"Sorry, we're closed."

Good offline message

"We're closed right now, but we'll be available again tomorrow at 8AM. If you need urgent assistance, contact Support at +12223334444 or"

To edit an offline message, see Update conversational settings.

Update conversational settings

To update an agent's conversational settings for the default locale,

  1. Open the Business Communications Developer Console and sign in with your Business Messages Google account.
  2. Choose your agent.
  3. In the left navigation, click Agent information.
  4. Update fields under the following headings as necessary:

    • Privacy and phone number
    • Welcome message
    • Offline message
    • Conversation starters
    • Negative bot feedback message
  5. Click Save.