Contacts can only be active in one Messaging flow at a time, but what if you want to send a flow that can perform actions that do not require a response from the contact? You can do this with a Background flow.

Using Background flows comes in handy when you need to perform additional actions upon a contact or group but you don’t want to interrupt any active flows.

Building a Background Flow

First, you’ll click on the ‘Flows’ tab at the top of the browser:

Next, click the ‘Create Flow’ button:

Here, you’ll name your new flow and be sure to choose the flow type ‘Background’ from the dropdown menu:

After clicking ‘Create’, you’ll be redirected to the flow editor where you’ll build your flow. Here, you can create an infinite number of actions to place on contacts who pass through the flow. Remember that contacts cannot respond to Background flows, so you will not see Wait for Response as an option!

Actions in a Background Flow

Nearly every action that is possible in a Messaging flow is also possible in a Background flow. You will notice that Background flows do not allow for labeling incoming messages because contacts cannot send any responses to this type of flow. An action represents some action(s) taken on behalf of your flow. Essentially, they’re commands that allow you to:

  • Send a Message (will send a message and/or media attachment to active contacts who reach that node in your flow)
  • Send a Message to Someone Else (outside the interaction taking place)
  • Add an additional URN for the contact. A URN is an address for your contact like telephone number, email address, Telegram ID, etc.
  • Add Labels to Responses
  • Add and Update Contact Fields (with a value received in a response, for example)
  • Add or Remove Contacts from a Group
  • Call a Webhook
  • Send an Email
  • Set a Contact’s Preferred Language
  • Enter Another Flow Note that you can only enter other Background flows from within a Background flow.
  • Start Someone Else in a Flow
  • Open a ticket
  • Call Zapier
  • Create Splits, like splitting by a custom expression, by intent, by contact field, by channel, by random chance, by group membership, and more.

How It Works

In the image below, we see that a contact was started in a flow called “Registration”, but they were interrupted when a new flow called “Maternity Registration Reminders” was started:

This happened because a contact cannot be active in two Messaging flows at the same time.

To avoid this issue, you can choose to instead start a Background flow, which will run without interrupting active Messaging flows. Remember that the difference between a Messaging flow and a Background flow is that only Messaging flows can collect responses.

In the image below (reading from bottom to top), we see that the contact was not interrupted when the flow “Background Flow” was started. Why? Because a Background flow can run without interrupting active Messaging flows.

Starting a Background Flow

There are two options to start contacts in a Background flow.

  1. Start manually. This means you’ll start the flow from within the flow editor itself with the ‘Start Flow’ button to send immediately.
  1. Schedule the flow in the future. This is an excellent option for flows you’d like to schedule for later or, optionally, set to repeat daily, weekly, or monthly.

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