Auto-Replies: Time-Based Responders

Auto-Replies or as they are sometimes called, time-based responders, are integral to providing timely information to your customers and prospects. They are tools that can be there to reply to your customers when you cannot. 

Example Auto-Reply Uses

  • Out of Office - If dedicated lines or DIDs are being used, you can use an auto-reply to handle out of office SMS/MMS.
  • Business Hours of Operation - handling messages that come in outside of those hours
  • System or Service Outages - providing the first line of messaging during known issues or interruptions
  • Holidays - alerting your customers or prospects that your business is closed on a specific holiday

Auto-Reply Best Practices

As a general rule of thumb, it is important to have awareness of all of the responders you have configured across your phone lines. This will ensure that you do not have overlap and potentially create unintended responses to your customers. Our platform does not impose any limitations on the number of responders that you can setup on a given line. Responders include both Auto-Replies and Keyword Responders. 

  1. Make note of the number of Auto-Replies you have setup. If there are some that seem duplicative in purpose, make sure they are not overlapping on the same phone lines.
  2. Be thoughtful on how you use general Auto-Replies versus specific purpose ones. Depending on your Line Management strategy, you may find that it is only relevant for some lines to have a specific Auto-Reply.
  3. Most importantly, it is best practice not to have multiple Auto-Replies that are active in the same timeframe on the same line. Be deliberate with your purpose for the Auto-Reply and the time it is active.

Responder Prioritization

In the event that you have multiple responders configured on a phone line AND an inbound text message matches multiple responders, e.g. a Keyword Responder and an after hours Auto-Reply, our platform will prioritize sending the Keyword Responder over the Auto-Reply.

Setting Up an Auto-Reply

NOTE: Only Admin users can create Auto-Replies.

Navigate to the Responders menu in the header navigation and select "Auto-Replies" from the submenu. Once you are there, click on the "Add Auto-Reply" button in the top right corner of the page. Clicking on the button will open a modal form that will allow you to specify the important details of your Auto-Reply.

Name - This is simply a field that allows you to provide a recognizable name for the Auto-Reply that will help identify it's purpose.

Message - Within this text area, you can type up your message (up to 500 characters) and choose to add emojis or add an image.

Lines - This dropdown will allow you to select which phone lines this Auto-Reply will be active on. This provides a good amount of flexibility to specify which responders are active on which lines.

Schedule Type - Explained in more detail below, but in short, this allows you to specify the timeframe in which the Auto-Reply is to be active.

After configuring the details of your Auto-Reply, simply click the "Add" button in the modal and your responder is now active.

Schedule Types

We recognize that there are many reasons to setup an Auto-Reply. To that end, we wanted to provide a lot of flexibility but also make it easy to setup the schedule that suits your purpose. That is why we provide two options for Schedule Type within the Auto-Reply setup.

  1. Hours of Operation - This schedule type allows you to simply specify your business's hours of operation and the Auto-Reply will be activated to send OUTSIDE of your hours of operation. Rather than requiring you to define your "off hours" you simply have to tell us the hours where you will have live agents/users responding to messages and we will handle making sure the Auto-Reply sends outside of those hours.
  2. Custom Schedule - This schedule type enables you to specify the exact time frames you want the Auto-Reply to be activated and sending. 
  3. Holiday Schedule - This schedule type allows you to create Auto-Replies for holidays of your choice. You can adjust the start and end time for your holidays depending on your company's scheduled time off.

Floating Holidays

Specific holiday schedules will need to be updated on a yearly basis if they don't occur on the same day each year. For example, Thanksgiving is on a different day in November each year.

Editing & Deleting Auto-Replies

On the Auto-Replies page, you will see a few options for modifying your existing time-based responders.

  • Editing - To edit an auto-reply, simply click on the Edit button for the responder you'd like to modify. This will open a modal that will allow you to modify the Name, Message, Line assignments, and Schedule.
  • Enabling/Disabling - On the page, you will see a column that has a status toggle. By default, all newly created responders will be set to Enabled. There are some instances where it makes sense to disable an Auto-Reply. Disabling will retain the Auto-Reply but will deactivate it from sending messages on the assigned lines. This can be useful if you have Auto-Replies that you want to be able to turn on/off quickly without recreating them.
  • Deleting - If you want to permanently delete an Auto-Reply, you can click on the trash can icon next to the Edit button. You will get a confirmation modal confirming your desire to delete the responder. Please note: deleting a responder will immediately remove any associations to phone lines. An Auto-Reply is not recoverable once deleted.

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