Get your DialogFlow agent to initiate the conversation before user types a message

First published: Aug 2017 | Last Updated: May 2022

So let us understand the question:

When you work with Dialogflow you notice that it follows the “user types something -> agent replies with an answer” sequence. Suppose you wish to get the agent to say something before the user types anything, how do you do it?


In the example bot, the message appears in the chat window BEFORE the user types a message

In my CourseBot (seen above), I initiate the conversation by using the same ideas described on this page.

Dialogflow Built In Welcome Events

When you click inside the Event textbox in Dialogflow, you will notice in the autocomplete a bunch of CHANNEL_WELCOME events.

As you type out the word WELCOME, Dialogflow will autocomplete with the list of WELCOME events which are already available in Dialogflow (note: this might look different now when compared to when I created this GIF)

What are these welcome events?

In principle, this is the feature you should use to initiate conversations on different channels.

Take a look at this page in the documentation, for example:

Welcome events for different channel integrations

The reason I say “in principle”, is because I haven’t been able to successfully implement the bot automatically sending a message at the start of the conversation for some of the channels.

Here is a little report card.

About this website

BotFlo1 was created by Aravind Mohanoor as a website which provided training and tools for non-programmers who were2 building Dialogflow chatbots.

This website has now expanded into other topics in Natural Language Processing, including the recent Large Language Models (GPT etc.) with a special focus on helping non-programmers identify and use the right tool for their specific NLP task.

1 BotFlo was previously called MiningBusinessData. That is why you see that name in many videos

2 And still are building Dialogflow chatbots. Dialogflow ES first evolved into Dialogflow CX, and Dialogflow CX itself evolved to add Generative AI features in mid-2023

    • Dialogflow does not support out of band push notifications like what you are trying to do. The agent has to initiate the communication if it wants to receive a response.

  • Hey,
    I have integerated dailogflow with servicenow. and I have made a voice assistant android app which is connected to dailogflow. Can you tell me how can i do user authentication. (I don’t want to do it with gmail. I want to do it with servicenow username & pass). Thanks in Advance

  • I am able to test Facebook welcome event. I have created separate intent by name Welcome_Event and added ‘Facebook Welcome’ event and added text response for ‘Facebook Messenger’ channel. Now if i click on ‘Get Started’ button in Facebook messenger I can see the ‘Welcome_Event’ intent getting fired and correct welcome message!

  • Can DialogFlow initiate a message to any user (in particular, in telegrams) on some Action (for example, send a reminder by time)? In the documentation, it seems to be described as https://dialogflow.com/docs/events/custom-events. I tried using different (via POST request or WebHook) methods, but I only get the response to ACTION in the response to the request: detectIntent, although I specify same session on which the telegram user is connected. But the user does not receive anything in the telegrams on the event, no message. Why?

  • Hi Arvind,
    How can i send value in fulfilment and use globally for all function in fulfilment .is there any way to send value in fulfilment when chatbot button is click.Please suggest if any node js example exist please let me know.

    • That would be an entire course. If this is very urgent, you can get in touch via my contact form for paid 1-on-1 Skype consultation.

  • Hi Aravind,

    Hope you are doing good.
    I’m working on creating a chatbot using Dialogflow and FB messenger integration, wherein I have a requirement to get a picture as response from user and I need to save this picture.
    Can you suggest how this can be achieved?

  • Hi Arvind,
    I want to use integrated web demo iframe. Is there any way, in which i can pass the user name and password silently and authenticate it with the help of webhook and then fetch the profile and fetch the name and it should appeare when looged-in user open the chatpot – “Hi Ankur”

  • Aravind, this works perfectly for me, but I don’t understand how to use the API response.
    Would the response text be displayed somewhere automatically ? How and where are we supposed to print the text in our application (say, Web demo of DialogFlow)

    • You need to build out your own chat UI for a website chatbot. Dialogflow’s built in web demo integration doesn’t support this. As for other channels like FB and Slack, you will need to do build out a custom integration and also figure out how to use their APIs to push messages into the chat window. You can expect it to be quite a bit of work.

  • Hi, i try this in postman and i get the json response. But is there a way to see how i get the message from the bot in real time once i call this intent through the event?

    • It is quite reasonable to assume the response via Postman will be exactly the same that comes back if you were to use it inside your actual app. I would recommend building out the API call in the programming language of your choice, and look at the response object coming back. It will have the intent response (and all the associated info) and you can proceed to your next step.

  • Hi, Aravind! If I got it right, we have no options how to write to a FB or Telegram user without user’s request. However, it depends on using one-click integration. If I use custom integration with Telegram, FB Messenger – I can use events(as push notifications) only by:
    1. Generating and using SessionId.
    2. Having SenderId.
    How do you think – is it enough?

    • In theory, that is correct. I know for sure that it works for website chatbots, where I have direct experience. I am not sure if there are many people who have actually accomplished push notifications from Dialogflow to Telegram, FB Messenger etc. Be sure to read this article. Also ask on StackOverflow to verify if your approach will work (although I think you are on the right track). Finally, if you do get it working, please leave a comment below. I think many people might come to you for help at that point. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Hi Kirill…I am a student in Spain trying to develop a bot using Dialogflow, Firebase and Telegram. I have been trying for a while to get my Telegram bot to initiate a conversation periodically if the user doesn’t do so for a few days, do you know if this is possible? if so, could you please help me? I am desperate

    • You need to generate your own sessionID, and then (depending on your goal) make sure you use the same sessionID for a given session when interacting with the REST API.

  • Hello, I saw in your previous answer to Jon you highlighted there is no Push Notification concept in Dialogflow. In this case, can you kindly suggest me how I can exploit this feature with a Google Home device?
    Thanks in advance for your help.

      • Hello Aravind, thanks a lot for your prompt response.
        I think the new “notifications” feature won’t be usefull for my specifc purpose.

        Anyhow my previous question was intended about: how I can exploit the feature related to run an intent by invoking relevant “event” through call REST api (as per your example here above … “https://api.api.ai/v1/query?v=20150910&e=event_name&timezone=Europe/Paris
        &lang=en&sessionId=1234567890”) in order to experience the final effect on a “screen-less” device as Google Home speaker ?
        Finally,since my agent has been migrated to V2 API, I kindly request you how to submit the equivalent HTTP Rest invokation above with API V2 version (or if it is really needed…)

        Thanks again for your patience and I’m sorry for my bad english and for the previous misunderstanding.

  • Hi, I want to notify user that ‘user typing…’ before response displays in Dialogflow chatbot. Is it possible to implement using dialogflow event? Or any other way we can do it?

  • Great article. I’ve been looking for this capability for years! Is there a way you could use IFTTT to trigger the Event? For example if I unlocked my door using a smart lock that could send an IFTTT message could this trigger the event?

    • One important thing to remember when you do this is that the “response” from Dialogflow (that is, whatever is in the Response field inside the specific intent) will automatically be sent back to the requesting app. That is, there isn’t any concept of “push notifications” in Dialogflow. If you aren’t thinking of push notifications, then it will work OK.

    • In theory, you should be able to set up a scheduled task which runs a script at a particular time. The task will call Dialogflow’s REST API and invoke the corresponding Event using the /query endpoint. Would that work for your use case?