What is a default answer?
A default answer is a message that's automatically sent every time your chatbot doesn't understand the user's text message. It typically says something like Sorry, I didn't understand that, then offers navigation options to help the user find what they need in another way. Think of it as a 404 error on a website. It's a fallback response for when a user types out and sends a message your chatbot isn't set up to have an answer for.
What's the purpose of a default answer? 📚
The main purpose of a default answer is to prevent your users from hitting a "dead end," or silence from your bot. The default answer tells the user that the bot didn't understand their last message. That way, they know to try again another way (by typing in another message, returning to the main menu, selecting an available button or quick reply, etc.).
The default answer can help keep the conversation going even after a misunderstanding. If there's no default answer and the chatbot simply doesn't respond to a user's message, the user may get frustrated, confused, or not know what to do next. As a result, they might abandon the chat.
How to set up a default answer? 🔧
To set up the default answer, you need to navigate to the Set Up AI tab in Chatfuel and choose a flow or a block for Messenger and a flow for Instagram (Instagram Automation is only available in the Flow Builder).
New bots logic
When you create a new bot, there's a preset flow in the Flow Builder (otherwise known as the Flows tab under Automation), which is chosen as a default answer for Messenger in the Set Up AI tab. You can customize it and add other steps to this flow.
The preset flow only works as the default answer in Messenger. For Instagram, you have to create a separate Instagram flow and choose it in the Set Up Ai tab on the right.
Old bots (with Blocks tab still working) logic
In the old bots, there's still a specific block in the Blocks tab under Automation—Default Answer. This block is chosen by default in the Set Up Ai tab. You can choose that anytime and set up another block or a flow as the default answer.
How to deactivate the default answer
One common reason to remove the default answer altogether is if you or your team plan to personally intervene in the conversation to resolve a user's issue. In this case, the default answer would be unnecessary and would get in the way as you and the user are trying to chat directly.
To deactivate the default answer, simply navigate to the Set Up Ai tab under Automation and remove the chosen flow/block.
⚠️ Note that if you delete the specific Default Answer block from the Set Up Ai tab, but leave it turned on in the Blocks tab, it's still going to be sent to the users. So don't forget to turn it off in the Blocks tab to deactivate it completely.
What makes a great default answer
Setting up a default answer that simply says Sorry, I didn't understand that won't be very helpful for your users, because it doesn't give them the next step. Instead, a helpful default answer has three elements:
It tells the user what's happening. Sorry, I didn't understand that takes care of this part. A phrase like this acknowledges that the Messenger chatbot can't respond.
It manages the user's expectations. After that, it's often helpful to remind the user that they're chatting with a bot, not a human. Something, like I'm just a robot, can work.
It gives the user options. Finally, your default answer should give the user a way to continue the conversation. If your chatbot is equipped with AI, its default answer might tell the user to ask their question again, but in a different way. If your chatbot doesn't have AI, its default answer might come with buttons or quick replies as options for where they can navigate to next.
AI rules to take your default answer to the next level
If you want your chatbot to send a specific message (other than the default answer) when it receives certain keywords, you can do this in the Set Up AI tab. For example, if someone types in a message that says question, I have a question, help, ask a question, etc., you can set a relevant message (like a link to your FAQ block) to be sent in response.
Set the default answer to be sent only once or once a day
You may want the default answer to be sent only once or only once every 24 hours, even if the user continues to send messages the bot can't understand. Follow our instructions to do that.
Other customizations available in the Blocks tab
Randomization. If a user triggers your default answer multiple times, you may want them to receive different versions of it for variety. Here's how to set up randomized default answers.
Sending after time has elapsed. If the user abandons the chat and you want to bring them back with the default answer, you can set it to send later, after a certain amount of time has passed. You can do this by setting up the default answer as a sequence.