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 follow up 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: rule will only trigger if the reply is for a single inbound message on a new conversation.
  • Always: rule 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 templates, see the rules library in the app.


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

Click the gear icon on the top right of Front and into the Company or Personal settings tab, depending on which space you are working with, and select Rules from the left menu.

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 message template 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.


Supported channels

At present, we support auto-replies in rules for the following channel types:

  • Email
  • Twitter (not Twitter DM)
  • SMS
  • Facebook
  • Intercom
  • Smooch
  • Front Chat
  • Custom channels
  • WhatsApp

Exceptions

Specifically for email messages, there are cases where you should expect auto-responses will not be sent, even if the rule conditions are all met.

Emails from no-reply@ addresses

Front will not sent auto-replies to messages received from no-reply@ / noreply@ addresses. noreply@ email addresses are often un-monitored inboxes.

Automated emails

There are various email headers which can be set to indicate an email was sent via an automated tool, rather than an individual (such as vacation responder emails, messages sent to members of a Google Group / distribution list, or automated marketing messages). In order to help prevent issues like auto-responder loops (two automatic responses perpetually replying to each other) Front will not send automatic replies to messages which were detected as being generated automatically. 


FAQs

Can rules send follow up auto-replies? 

Yes! Let's say you want to add an email that checks in with a customer after 2 days without a response to your first outreach. You could set up a rule as follows:


WHEN: Outbound Message is sent
IF: Oldest unreplied message is still unreplied after 2 days
THEN: Reply always with Follow up template. 

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