Omnichannel for Customer Service – Session Templates

Within Microsoft’s Omnichannel for Customer Service we can configure how sessions open. The product ships with some default templates that may be all you need but in this post I start to explore how you might want to amend session templates.

Each channel is linked to a workstream, each workstream is associated with a number of templates. Including a session template. When you create a workstream the template will default for you. But it can be changed.

Below you can see that I have opened my Live chat workstream and in the templates option I have connected to a custom session template.

My session template will control the title of the session, which tab is the anchor tab for the session and any additional tabs I’d like to open on session start. Plus I can associate (optionally) my template with one or more agent scripts.

The anchor tab is simply the first tab in the session. Often this will be the customer summary tab, although on entity sessions it might be the entity record which started the session. For most conversational channels our anchor tab will always be the default customer summary!

The out of the box templates include, for example, the ability to open a knowledge base search as an additional tab. There is also an option within the admin centre which lets us create additional custom application tab templates, so beyond the out of the box tabs you can start to create your own.

I wanted to experiment with this concept of creating a custom application tab and adding it into my own custom session. No doubt there are loads of variations you could consider! But below I will document my experiment which will hopefully explain the basic approach and maybe give you a few ideas.

My use case …. I decided that I would open a webpage (my blog) in a tab when a session opens. But rather than just opening the home page I wanted to filter the results based on a pre-chat survey. Meaning if the customer said they were interested in a particular Dynamics exam or they had an interest in Omnichannel the agent would see a set of blog posts which might be helpful.

Tip: My example is specific to my blog, but hopefully you can see how this concept could be applied to a company’s intranet or maybe a 3rd party knowledge management system etc etc. I am simply loading a url into an iframe and dynamically passing parameters to influence what gets loaded.

The steps involved in my example include;

  1. Create a pre-chat survey
  2. Create an application tab
  3. Create a session template
  4. Add the custom session template to my workstream.

Step One – Create a pre-chat survey

OK, so my first step wasn’t directly related to my session template setup. But I wanted my application tab to be configured to dynamically navigate based on a pre-chat survey question. So first I needed to create my question.

Below you can see that I’ve opened my chat channel and under the surveys tab I have enabled the pre-conversation survey option. I decided to also prompt for the customer’s name and email address. But the important field is the one I called “Question Type”.

Below you can see that my Question Type field was an option set. The customer could select between “Omnichannel”, “MB 210 Exam”, MB 200 Exam” and other options. I could have obviously made this list of options shorter or longer as required. Hopefully you can see that it is simply a list of options each one separated by a semi-colon.

Tip: Notice that the name field is “QuestionType”. (No space.) I needed to make a note of this as it would be used later!

Step Two – Create an application tab

Next I wanted to create a tab that would include my blog filtered on the question type result. You can see below that I have used the “Application Tabs” option within the Omnichannel Administration app to create a custom application template. I called mine “NeilParkhurst”. (Other names are available!!)

Application Title

The application title will show as the tab name to my agents. Here I entered the word “Blog” but also notice that I have added “{QuestionType}”. This will mean the question type entered by the customer in the pre-chat survey will show in my tab name.

Application Type

There are many application types, I may experiment with others and blog about those in future posts. I selected “ThirdPartyWebsite” (aka Website Url).

Other options include Custom control, Dashboard, Entity view, Entity record, Entity search and Web resource. You can learn more about these other types here.

Can Close

The “Can Close” option is simple enough, can the agent close this tab down or not! I wanted to allow the agent to close the tab but to force it remaining open simply enter “No”.

Parameters – data & URL

Notice I have two parameters. The url and the data.

My url is “”, so my blogs url.

The data field is any parameters I want to pass in. So this have a value of “?s={QuestionType}”. Adding “?s=” would trigger a search on my blog. Notice that I have included {QuestionType}, as this will dynamically change the search criteria based on the question the customer entered in the pre-chat survey.

Tip: You can read more about the possible replacement parameters within Omnichannel here.

Step Three – Create a session template

I was now ready to create my session template, my template is shown below. I created this using the “Sessions” option within the Omnichannel Administration app.

I set the title field to “{customerName} – {visitorLanguage}”, I did this really just to show how I can use replacement parameters in the title of the session!

My anchor tab is the out of the box one used on most sessions (omnichannel_customer360). As this will show the customer summary tab.

Then notice that under additional tabs I have added the custom tab I created earlier.

Tip: If you are using agent scripts you can also add any agent scripts into the session template!

Step Four – Add the custom session template to my workstream

My final simple step was to add my newly created session template into my workstream. So, in my live chat workstream I navigated to the templates tab and replaced the default chat session with the custom one I had just created.

Final Test

Having completed the steps above I tested the end result.

You can see below that one of my agents has started a chat, when the customer completed their pre-chat survey they said they were interested in omnichannel.

The standard “Customer Summary” tab opened but also my blog has opened with loads of posts about Omnichannel for Customer Service displayed. Hopefully therefore putting the agent in a great place to answer any questions the customer might have about Omnichannel for Customer Service.

Also notice that my session name includes details of the language for the customer. This might not be required but I though it was useful to show that I can add dynamic values into the session name, tab name and also dynamically control parameters passed to tabs that are opening.

I hope this simple example has shown the basics of creating a custom session and application tab within Omnichannel for Customer Service. I am sure you’ll be able to come up with some much better examples than this! If you do, please let me know about them. Enjoy.

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