Begin the conversation

In conversations with Business Messages agents, the welcome message sets the tone for the interaction. It also lets users know what the agent can do, which shapes the user's questions and expectations.

The agent sends a welcome message each time the user opens a conversation. The agent can also display conversation starters to guide users down known or frequent paths.

If a user tries to start a conversation outside of an agent's operating hours, the agent displays an offline message you can use to share alternative channels or suggest next steps. By leveraging these settings, you can increase your agent's reliability and usability.

Conversation starters

Agent- and location-level settings

You can specify conversational settings at the level of the agent or location.

  • Agent level: These conversational settings apply to all conversations with the agent on all entry points.

    An agent-level welcome message might begin "Thanks for contacting Bridgepoint Runners..." Conversation starters can focus on company-wide actions or information.

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

    A location-level welcome message might begin "Thanks for contacting Bridgepoint Runners on Amphitheatre Pkwy..." Conversation starters can focus on location-based tasks 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 welcome message in Spanish for the "es" locale. Business Messages resolves a match between the user device's reported locale and the locales that an agent or location has any conversational settings for.

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

Business Messages uses the resolved locale to determine which conversational settings to apply.

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:

    • Welcome message
    • Offline message
    • Privacy policy
    • Conversation starters
  5. Click Save.