Begin the conversation

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In conversations with Business Messages agents, the greeting 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 greeting each time the user opens a conversation. The agent's default greeting consists of a welcome message. A greeting for Google Ads can have up to three welcome messages. Both the default greeting and greeting for Google Ads can also display conversation starters to guide users down conversation paths that your agent supports.

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 (using the default greeting): The default conversational settings apply to all conversations with the agent on all entry points.

    An agent-level default greeting might begin "Thanks for contacting Bridgepoint Runners..." Agent-level conversation starters can focus on company-wide actions or information.

  • Agent level (using a greeting for Google Ads): The greeting for Google Ads overrides the default greeting and locale settings. When you link a greeting to a message asset on Google Ads, the linked greeting displays for all users who tap "Chat" on the corresponding ad, regardless of the resolved locale.

    A greeting for Google Ads might begin "Thanks for contacting Bridgepoint Runners! Explore our top-selling men's shoes…" Ads-specific conversation starters can focus on promotional offers.

  • 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 greeting 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.

Locales

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

For all entry points except for the Google Ads entry point, Business Messages uses the resolved locale to determine which conversational settings to apply.

The Google Ads entry point works differently. When you link a greeting to a message asset on Google Ads, the linked greeting displays for all users who start a conversation from the corresponding ad, regardless of the resolved locale. Therefore, it's best to design your greeting for the same locale as your ad. Other conversational settings still depend on the resolved locale. These include the agent's offline message and privacy policy. For these settings, Business Messages only displays what you've configured for the resolved locale.

Greetings

A greeting is the first message, or set of messages, a user sees when they open a conversation. A greeting consists of at least one and up to three welcome messages. The greeting can also have up to five conversation starters.

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 support@gtb.com."

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.