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Cross-Channel Communication

What happens if someone talks to you via a channel (e.g. WhatsApp), and then continues the conversation through the Intercom Messenger

Mohamed Elbadwihi avatar
Written by Mohamed Elbadwihi
Updated over a week ago

With Octopods, customers can simultaneously communicate with you via various channels without a problem. They can initiate a WhatsApp conversation, send you a message on Telegram, send you an SMS, or start a new conversation using the Intercom Messenger without a problem.

However, there is one scenario where a conflict can occur. Imagine the following:

Jennifer is a customer of yours who's been having conversations with you over the Intercom Messenger. You have her information, including her phone number, saved in her user profile.

One day, she decides to send you a WhatsApp message. When she does, we detect that the phone number already exists in your Intercom contact list, and we assume they're the same person:

We then create a new conversation in Intercom that is mapped to that incoming WhatsApp chat, allowing you to communicate with Jennifer over WhatsApp, from your Intercom inbox.

So far, everything is working fine!

At some point, Jennifer might leave her WhatsApp app and open the Intercom Messenger once again. Now, she will see an additional conversation โ€” the WhatsApp conversation she was having with you!

In this exact scenario, there's no way Octopods can hide this conversation from the Intercom Messenger.

The problem:

If, for some reason, Jennifer decides to use the Intercom Messenger to respond to the WhatsApp-mapped conversation, we will not be able to reflect that on her WhatsApp app. It's technically impossible. You will receive the message in Intercom just fine, but she will not see her own Intercom Messenger messages if she returns once again to WhatsApp. This can cause some confusion.

If, after that, she continues the conversation on WhatsApp once again, the conversation will proceed without an issue.

What problem it can cause for your team:

They will see this notice, even when 24 hours since their last interaction with a customer didn't pass:

This error occurs because you talked to your client in WhatsApp more than 24 hours ago, and then they went to your web site and continued conversation from there (or from mobile app or email).

To help you understand where messages are coming from you can use Intercom icons

If a message was sent via WhatsApp, your team won't see any icons next to the time indicator. Here's an example:

Now, if this customer reply from the Intercom Messenger, you'll see an icon, like this (the icon may change depending on where they reply from):

If you then reply to THAT, it'll go to both the Intercom Messenger and to WhatsApp, unless the 24 hour window has expired. If the window expires, it'll only go through to the Intercom Messenger, and you'll receive an error note. The customer's message ("Hey there again"), will not show up on their own WhatsApp, though, since that's impossible to do.

Here's what the other side of this looks like for the end-customer, looking at this conversation from the Intercom Messenger:

and from their personal WhatsApp:

Our suggestion is to add a notice on your Intercom Messenger to let people know that if they've contacted you via WhatsApp before, they should use a different thread, or continue via WhatsApp. You can use the "Welcome Message" or "Special Notice" features of the Intercom Messenger to achieve this.


It does not affect other conversations, such as new or independent Messenger conversations.

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