Introduction to Flow XO
Flow XO is a powerful and easy to use platform for building and hosting chatbots on a variety of different messaging channels, including your own website. We support Facebook Messenger, Telegram, SMS (via Twilio), Slack and provide an embeddable chat widget you can easily include in your website or app.
Flow XO is very flexible and can be used to create almost any kind of conversational experience for nearly any use case, such as lead generation, automating customer support inquiries, creating marketing sequences to nurture leads from discovery to purchase, and even works well for building internal tools help automated and standardize routine tasks you and your staff may commonly need to perform.
Through our large library of integrations with common apps, you have everything you need to seamlessly blend Flow XO chatbots into your automated marketing pipeline, your internal fulfillment processes, or any other aspect of your business that your chatbot needs to tie into.
Building a bot on Flow XO is a straightforward process. There are essentially 6 steps to follow to build and deploy a high-performance bot that will help your business achieve its goals. Like many things in business, however, good preparation is often the key to success - so please don't skip step # 1.
Typical Bot Building Process
|Design your chatbot: identify and document your bot's purpose and goals; brainstorm the conversational workflow necessary to fulfill those goals.|
|Build your workflow: translate the conversational workflow you have designed into one or more Flows using the Flow XO designer|
|Test and refine your bot's behavior: using the Test Console and the Interaction Log, run through every scenario in your bot's design. Test what happens when you enter unexpected inputs, fixing and tweaking along the way.|
|Connect your bot to a channel: this will make your flows available on an actual messaging platform such as Facebook, Telegram, your website, etc. Of course, you aren't limited to connecting your workflows to a single channel, you can connect as many channels as you want to the same workflows, ensuring a consistent experience across channels.|
|Market your bot: people need to find your bot before they can use it, so you will want to make sure you drive some traffic to your bot's messaging channel(s). You can use paid ads, send users links in e-mails via a CRM, embed the bot on your webpage, or apply any of a million digital marketing techniques to get the word out. If you are using Facebook Messenger, you can take advantage of our Web Tools to make your marketing job easier.|
|Monitor your bot's performance: continuously tweak and refine your flows over time to ensure the most users achieve the goals you have set for your bot as possible. Connect your bot to Google Analytics to monitor end users in realtime.|
What are Channels and what are Flows?
Channels and Flows are the main concepts in Flow XO. They combine to deliver a conversational experience to your users. Although very important, they are quite simple.
A Channel is a single connection to a messaging platform, or channel, such as Facebook Messenger, Slack, Telegram, etc. When your users send and receive messages to your automated conversations, they must do so through a connection. You can connect many channels to the same flows, and even connect the same channels to different flows to create different bots.
A Flow is an automated workflow that starts with some kind of trigger, usually receiving a message from a user, and proceed through a series of actions that run one after the other. You can link flows together to create conversational applications as simple or complex as you need them to be.
By default, Flows are not tied directly to Bots. A Flow defines your logic, and a Bot manages communication through a channel. Because the two are decoupled, you can run a single flow on many channels.
Available Platforms / Channels
|Facebook Messenger||Create a Messenger bot|
|Telegram||Create a Telegram bot|
|Twilio SMS||Create a Twilio SMS bot|
|Slack||Create a Slack bot|
|Web Messenger||Create a Web bot|
The most fundamental activity in Flow XO, and the one you will likely spend the most time doing, is building flows using our flow editor. We wrote a guide to help you get started on your flow building adventures which you can find here: https://support.flowxo.com/article/133-building-flows
Flow XO bots are composed of a few key ingredients you'll need to understand early on. These are:
|Channels||Channels are a single connection to a messaging platform, such as our embeddable Web Bots, Facebook Messenger, Telegram, etc. A "channel" is represented differently for each platform (for example, a Page in Facebook Messenger, a phone number for SMS/Twilio, a bot user for Telegram, etc.|
|Flows||A flow (as in workflow) is a series of actions your bot should take. These actions can be sending messages, interacting with external services, or even waiting for a future point in time to continue a conversation. In Flow XO, a 'Flow' is a way to organize one sequence of related actions. In all but very simple bots, your full workflow will consist of several Flow XO Flows, which can be linked together in various ways. Read about building flows here: https://support.flowxo.com/article/31-filters|
|Triggers|| A trigger is a specific condition that causes your bots to respond, via flows. Each flow begins with a trigger, and the kind of trigger and how it is configured determines what sorts of messages any given flow should respond to. For example, a 'New Message' trigger listens for certain phrases or keywords from your user, while a 'Catch All' flow will respond to any message that wasn't already understood by a previous trigger. There are many different kinds of triggers. Read more about triggers here: https://support.flowxo.com/article/246-triggers
|Actions||An action is, as the name suggests, something your bot does, such as serving a video to your user, writing data to a Google Sheets spreadsheet, asking your users a question, etc. Flows always start with a trigger and are followed with one or more actions that define how your chatbot should behave. Read more about actions here: https://support.flowxo.com/article/245-actions|
|Filters|| A filter, which can be applied to any action or trigger, can use a variety of data sources to control which flows or actions should be run in a particular scenario. Filters the primary mechanism in Flow XO for creating conditional logic (if this, then that) and branches in your conversations. The most common use of filters is to execute different branches of your workflow based on the choices your users make when interacting with your bot, but filters can be applied to a wide variety of data sources, and are therefore very powerful tools. Read more about filters here: https://support.flowxo.com/article/31-filters
|Attributes||Every one of your users is associated with a set of data that we call 'Attributes'. Attributes are just pieces of data that you tie to a user during your flows, and can be used in filters or message templates later. A very common use of attributes is to segment your users based on how they answer questions in your flows. For example, if you built a bot that recommends loan products based on credit score, you may store a user's credit category as an attribute. Then later on, if you want to send a broadcast to all users in a certain credit category, you can use that attribute in a filter inside of a broadcast to select a subset of your audience to receive the broadcast. Read more about attributes and how to user them here: https://support.flowxo.com/article/141-attributes and here: https://support.flowxo.com/article/163-using-attributes|
|Broadcasts||A broadcast is just a normal flow that is sent do all or a segment of your audience. You use broadcasts to send out mass communications to notify a group of users of something or to begin a conversation with a group of users. For example, you may create a broadcast to pitch prior purchasers of a certain product of an upcoming sale. Read more about broadcasts here: https://support.flowxo.com/article/160-broadcast|
|Integrations||Flow XO includes a large library of built-in integrations with third-party applications, such as Google Sheets, Mailchimp, Salesforce, and many more. Additionally, Flow XO includes a flexible HTTP integration that you can use to integrate Flow XO logic with your own applications or with third-party services we don't have a specific integration for. Our HTTP integration can also be used to integrate with integration as a service apps such as Zapier or Integromat, giving you access to thousands more software services. You will use integrations in your flows to update and read from external data sources such as Google Sheets, send your user's e-mails, add new leads to your CRM, etc. See our list of integration here: https://support.flowxo.com/category/3-integrations|
|Interactions||An "Interaction" is counted every time a Flow is run. For simple bots where the entire user interaction happens in a single Flow, an interaction is equivalent to one complete conversation with your end-users. For larger bots that may use several Flows to implement the complete end-user experience, the number of Interactions you will consume will depend on how deeply your users interact with your bots and how many flows are activated in a typical conversation.|
|Error Handling||Sometimes things go wrong, and you should have a firm understanding of how to handle errors in Flow XO, including configuring your account to notify you when errors do occur.|
Flow XO UI
Platform Tour Video
- Flows - create, edit, enable/disable your flows. Everything you need to build your chatbot logic.
- Channels - connect your flows to a messaging platform. See the list of platforms and how to connect a bot to each here.
- Broadcasts - start a new conversation with your whole audience (or a segment of your audience). Read more about how to do mass communications with your bot audiences here.
- Live Chat - communicate directly with your users across any bot channel from one spot. From the Live Chat interface you can respond to human handover requests, break in on a bot conversation, review past conversations for a user, or just watch as users converse with your bots. You can read more about live chat here.
- Users - manage your audiences. Review user data, search for users, and access historical conversation. Read more about managing users here.
- Interactions - the interaction log gives you access to the history of each of your flows as they are run. From here you can view in detail every step of a flow as it was executed, including input and out variables, any errors that occurred, and the timing of each step. This is the primary place you will go to troubleshoot and debug your chatbots.
- Analytics - here you will find a set of useful graphs and tables that give some insight into the performance of your chatbots.
- Web Tools - the Web Tools are a set of Facebook Messenger widgets that allow you to drive traffic to your bots. You can use these tools to assist in linking your bot to Facebook Ads, creating buttons directly into your Messenger bot, and more.
- Accounts - review any connections to third party services you have created as part of your flows
- Error Log - the error log provides a history of any errors your flows have encountered, as well as a graphical representation of errors by type, so you can quickly determine if your bots have any significant issues that need fixing. Read more about managing errors here: https://support.flowxo.com/article/241-handling-errors
- Profile - your profile page contains all your account settings. It's also where you upgrade/downgrade your account, change your password, etc.