Respond faster to web chats and streamline sales follow-up with automation

Web Chat
Citizen Automator
Revenue Operations

As a sales development rep (SDR) here at, my core responsibilities include outreach to prospective customers and lead qualification - ascertaining whether leads are ready to talk to sales. Between those two tasks, my calendar is pretty packed, but that hasn’t stopped me from finding new ways to improve our existing channels and processes. In this post, I’ll show you how I designed two automated workflows to reduce average response times and streamline follow-up in our web chat tool, all without any technical assistance.

Web chat services are an essential channel for inbound leads in high-performing sales organizations. But with an increasing number of tools and sources to keep track of, it can be tough for SDRs to ensure that we’re delivering timely and effective responses to incoming messages.

When I noticed our average response times in Intercom were higher than we’d like them to be, I started searching for solutions. We already had a Google Sheet set up with our roster of SDRs and the times they were scheduled to be actively responding to chats, but when you’re actively on calls and in meetings, it isn’t always easy to dig up a spreadsheet to reference every day. And to top it off, we had no way of ensuring SDRs changed their status to ‘away’ outside of working hours, which increased our overall response times significantly.

With these challenges in mind, I set out to reinvent our existing processes by designing an automated workflow to remind my fellow SDRs when they are scheduled to respond to chats, which also sets them to ‘away’ status outside of working hours. To do this, I used a General Automation Platform (GAP), which lets me integrate and automate multiple SaaS apps using a drag-and-drop, clicks-or-code interface. To someone without a technical background, the simplicity and flexibility of a GAP was essential in creating these processes without having to involve our engineering team.

In this walkthrough, I’ll show you the logic behind not only my web chat schedule alerts but also an additional workflow I created to add new leads to Outreach sequences directly inside your web chat service.

Automation use case #1: Improving web chat response times

Before creating this workflow, I first wrote up a list of the applications I’d integrate and the specific data I needed from them:

  • Spreadsheet (we use Google Sheets) - To reference our full list of SDRs and their schedules.
  • Web chat service (we use Intercom) - To check which SDRs are active and set all SDRs to ‘away’ outside of working hours.
  • Messaging platform (we use Slack) - To send periodic alerts during an SDR’s scheduled response period.

After gathering this information, I wove in custom logic between my connectors to create the following workflow:

SDR web chat 1 Integrating Google Sheets, Intercom, and Slack to send web chat schedule alerts.

Scheduled trigger - Our workflow starts with a scheduled trigger, which allows us to send a web chat alert every 30 minutes. You can easily modify this step to match your team’s schedule, or include a different triggering event altogether, such as a manual or callable trigger.

Outside working hours? - Next, we use a Boolean helper to determine if the current time is outside of working hours. Then, depending on the result (true or false), our workflow routes to one of two outcomes:

  • If true (meaning the current time is outside working hours), then set all SDRs as away in Intercom
  • If false (meaning the current time is not outside working hours), then get the name of the scheduled SDR from our spreadsheet

Check if active - Assuming our workflow is currently running during business hours, we then check our on-call SDR’s Intercom profile to determine if it is active or away. This lets us customize the Slack message that reminds the SDR to change their status.

Send alert - Finally, our workflow sends an alert to the on-duty SDR defined in our Google Sheet at the start of their shift. This provides our team with a passive reminder to hop into Intercom and respond to new messages, reducing our response rates and increasing process efficiency.

Response rates 2 Intercom schedule alert in Slack

Note: This process is one of many ways you can leverage automation to enhance your web chats. For more inspiration, check out this post on automating away chat spam, or this one on identifying anonymous leads.

Automation use case #2: Increasing sales productivity by directly adding leads to outbound sequences

Before creating this workflow, I once again documented the SaaS tools I needed:

  • Web chat service (Intercom) - To listen for notes, get chat information, and close chats.
  • Sales automation platform (we use Outreach) - To add new leads to an outreach sequence.

Anyone who has worked in sales development knows the value of automating manual tasks. If I spend less time moving data from one place to another, I can devote more to engaging with prospects and qualifying them for further outreach.

This workflow lets me add leads to an Outreach sequence directly in my web chat service, which is a great offering for “ghosted” leads that ended the conversation before we can follow up properly. In this outreach, we’ll typically send additional resources they might find helpful in their purchasing decision. To automate this process, our logic looks something like this:

SDR web chat 2 Integrating Intercom and Outreach to add leads to sequence via web chats.

Listen for note and get details - We start with an Intercom trigger, which listens for new notes matching our predetermined phrase: “Send to Outreach.” Then, we again call on Intercom to provide us with the details of the chat, including their contact information.

Already in sequence? - Next, we use a Boolean helper to check for existing records in Outreach that are currently in a sequence. Depending on the result, our workflow routes to one of two outcomes:

  • If true, send a private error message in Intercom.
  • If false, add this lead to a predetermined sequence in Outreach.

Send confirmation - Assuming our lead is not currently in a sequence, we then call Intercom one last time to send a confirmation message, which looks something like this:

Response rates 1 copy Sequence confirmation message in Intercom

This process cuts down on recurring manual data entry, which means our SDR team saves tons of time skipping manual tasks that they can use to prospect and qualify leads. Additionally, it ensures all relevant leads from web chats are entering Outreach sequences successfully.

Drive innovation in your role using automation

Now you’ve seen how someone with limited technical experience can create high-value workflows that reduce web chat response times and boost sales productivity, which ultimately lets SDR teams focus on successful prospecting, rather than time-consuming data entry.

And these are only a few of the many ways our team uses automation to enhance our sales motion and drive revenue growth. (For instance, in case you missed them, you can check out these additional articles to learn how to automate your sales deal desk as well as how to create automated SDR quota leaderboards). Find more automation inspiration by signing up for our next weekly group demo.

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