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5+ things you cannot do using the Dialogflow Messenger integration

First published: June 2021 | Last Updated: Apr 2022

This article discusses things that you CANNOT do using the Dialogflow Messenger integration. I use Zoho SalesIQ for comparison because that will make it easier to visualize how other tools can provide these additional features. But please note that while Dialogflow Messenger is free, Zoho SalesIQ is paid software.

Recently, someone sent me this message and asked if they could do it in the BotFlo app:

Im trying to use this option to enhance dialogflow. Especially like change widgeticon, chatbot height and width. Im trying to find out there is any option for peer to peer communication within the system and also auto admin notification when user start to chat via dialog flow.

If you want to accomplish such tasks, you probably need to use a live chat + bot hybrid deployment on your website.

And while Zoho SalesIQ is not free, you will see that it is one of the best options for integrating a live chat + bot hybrid in your website.

This article also supposes that you are using SalesIQ as part of Zoho One. If you are using Zoho SalesIQ without enrolling in Zoho One, you are probably not getting the most out of your SalesIQ subscription anyway. Besides, depending on how you select the options, the Zoho One bundle price might come out cheaper than paying for a subset of Zoho apps!

You can integrate your Zoho SalesIQ chat widget with your Dialogflow ES chatbot with a single click by using Zoho’s built-in integration.

So adding a SalesIQ chatbot to your website is not any more complex than adding a Dialogflow Messenger bot.

Here is a list of things which are easy to do in Zoho SalesIQ but hard or not possible in Dialogflow Messenger integration. Of course, the Dialogflow Messenger is a free integration while Zoho SalesIQ is paid. So this article is only relevant for those who are willing to pay for these features.

Typing delay

A lot of people ask if it is possible to add a typing delay in Dialogflow Messenger. You can do some weird things like add a small delay in your webhook code and force this delay. There are at least two problems with this approach: you have added more points of failure (what if the webhook code goes down or has some error), and you cannot really produce the typing effect that you see in regular chat software.

Adding the typing delay is just a simple configuration setting in Zoho SalesIQ, and you can also specify the number of seconds for the delay.

Automatic reprompt after a certain amount of user inactivity

If the user stops interacting with your chatbot (and this happens often, for a lot of reasons), you might want the bot to reprompt the user and nudge them to continue the conversation.

This is very hard to implement in Dialogflow Messenger, and even if you do, your solution will probably not be very robust as it would rely entirely on client side JavaScript.

On the other hand, this is also a configuration setting in SalesIQ.

Automatically close the chat if user does not respond for a while

If the user abandons the chat, you might not be able to complete all the business logic unless you have a way to force the chat to end after a certain amount of inactivity.

Again, this is very challenging to implement in Dialogflow Messenger. And once again, this is just another configuration setting in Zoho SalesIQ.

Human handoff

SalesIQ not only allows handoff to a live agent, it is also really simple to add this into the SalesIQ live chat widget. Essentially, you just turn on a setting as you create your chatbot, and by default the bot will prompt if the user wants to connect to a live agent after every single reply.

This is what it looks like for the visitor.

This is a simple and effective way to allow the user to choose to speak to an agent if the bot isn’t able to answer their question.

Conversation history across browser session

The Dialogflow Messenger does not allow the visitor to preserve the conversation history across an entire session. When the user navigates to a different page on your website, they will restart the entire conversation and won’t be able to see their previous messages.

Zoho SalesIQ first started out as live chat software – so as you might expect, it allows the user to persist their conversation not just across pages, but even across visits (cookies need to be enabled on the user’s browser).

Autosave user information to CRM

Often, you would like to collect the user’s information and store it in a CRM of some kind. You need to build this yourself if you are using Dialogflow Messenger.

Since Zoho also has a CRM product (in fact, it is their flagship offering), user details get automatically synced with the CRM the moment they begin the conversation. You don’t have to code any additional logic to make this work.

Embed a contact form inside the chat widget

A prospective client recently asked me if it is possible to design a Dialogflow Messenger bot where you can embed a contact form inside the chat widget. The contact form was configured to save the information to Google Sheets, which was being used as the CRM.

In fact, I will say the overall ROI of building something like this isn’t going to be very good.

First of all, there isn’t any way to actually embed an external contact form inside the Dialogflow Messenger chat widget.

Second, if you decide to instead ask the user to fill out the information by typing inside the Messenger chat widget, you don’t get the bells and whistles of email validation and such. So you end up implementing additional logic inside your Dialogflow Messenger chat bot. What will you do if the user types something which isn’t in the email address format? You need additional logic to implement that.

Finally, one of my tips for people who are new to Dialogflow is to reduce NLU, especially for use cases where the alternatives are much easier to implement – like a contact form inside a chat widget.

Now, you cannot embed an external contact form inside the Zoho SalesIQ chat widget either. But you don’t have to.

What you CAN do is build the equivalent form very easily using the codeless Zobot bot builder, and

a) it will automatically get saved to Zoho CRM

b) you can write some simple scripts to save it to Google Sheets if that’s what you want to do. Although if you already had a full-fledged CRM, why would you need to use Google Sheets as a CRM?

By the way, all this is actually easier if you subscribe to the Zoho One suite.

View conversation logs

While the History feature in Dialogflow is adequate, you will find that being able to see the full conversation as it happened is much easier in SalesIQ when compared with Dialogflow Messenger. Besides, you can see both bot and live agent responses inside the same window.

Built in database

Zoho Creator is Zoho’s low code app development platform. You can use it as the backend database for your chatbot. Usually, this means that there is tighter integration between your backend and the chatbot functionality.

You can, for example, start from one of the prebuilt apps inside Zoho Creator and use it as the database for your app.

Form input with client side validation

A reader sent me this question:

I wanted to know about creating a form how you asked in Email and also how to get attachment option in Dialogflow messenger

In SalesIQ, you can ask for an email address and validate it client side before it is even sent to the server.

This isn’t possible in Dialogflow Messenger.

Disable text input for button choices

Sometimes when you want the user to select from one of two or more buttons, it helps to block user input.

If you need to add freeform input, you can always have a button called “Other” and collect the free form input in the next conversation turn.

This isn’t possible in Dialogflow Messenger. In contrast, this feature is already built in to Zoho SalesIQ.

Disable user input after conversation is complete

I got this question on YouTube:

Hello, how could I block the input where the user writes. I want to block it when my menu exits but I can’t access that html element to set disabled=true to block it. Can you help me???

Again, this isn’t possible in Dialogflow Messenger.

In the case of Zoho SalesIQ, you get to actually END the conversation, after which the text input gets disabled automatically.

File uploads

This is also not possible in Dialogflow Messenger.

In SalesIQ, this option is already included out of the box. Note: however, handling a file attachment inside your bot is quite tricky. If you plan to do that, your code will naturally become more complex.

Live chat features

When you use a live chat system to create your chatbot, you also get all the features of the live chat integration.

  • For example, you can have audio calls with your website visitors and even help them with remote assistance
  • You can get a notification when someone lands on your website, or on a specific page
  • You can automatically get an email of the transcript when visitor ends the chat

You cannot get such features (which are simple, standard options in live chat tools) if you use the Dialogflow Messenger integration.

<— End of article —>

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