Omnichannel for Customer Service – Quick Replies and Automated Messages

Microsoft’s Omnichannel for Customer Service includes many agent productivity aids, in this post I will look at how we can send quick replies and automated messages to customers.

It can help agents greatly to send standard / common messages to your customers quickly. These can be in the form of quick replies that the agent can pick from a list or automated messages. Automated messages would be triggered when as event happens, for example a standard greeting as soon as the agent joins the conversation.

Quick Replies

We actually have two types of quick replies, ones which are available to all agents and personal ones the agents can create themselves.

Additionally we can decide if the system wide quick replies are applicable to specific workstreams or all workstreams. This could be really useful as with diverse sets of agents and channels maybe you don’t offer all services on all channels. Some replies, therefore may only be applicable when talking to the customer on a specific channel like web chat, SMS, Twitter etc.

We create quick replies in the Omnichannel Administration app, as you can see below I have opened my admin app and selected the quick replies option.

Whilst testing this feature I did see that after making changes to the quick replies it can take 15 minutes before the agent sees the updated version. So be patient!

Out of the box you get numerous standard messages. When you first deploy Omnichannel for Customer Service you may need to review these to decide which are applicable to your business.

You may have notices that I have filtered my list of replies by language. This is important as no automatic localisation occurs. You may need to create multiple versions of a quick reply if you need to support multiple languages. At least “maybe” you do! As you do have another option available! Below you can see that my agent is talking to a French customer and I have enabled real-time translations. The agents reply of “Hello, how may I assist you?” is a quick reply. But as a translation is active it will be translated automatically.

When agents wish to use a quick reply they enter “/q” into the chat window. The system will then search for any replies which match whatever word they type next. Additionally if they add a “#” then a tag search will be triggered. This is a really useful feature to group messages. You can see below that I entered “/q #”, a list of tags has shown and I can see how many replies exist for each tag. Clicking the tag would show the associated messages.

Below you can see an example of the agent searching for a message. This also shows an example of a custom message. As out of the box we don’t get a quick reply to tell the customer to turn it off and back on! Additionally, when I created this custom message I opted for it to only display during certain types of conversations.

Below you can see how this quick reply looks in the Omnichannel Administration app.

I have given it a name and locale. (I mentioned languages above!) Next I have defined my message.

Importantly notice that in the work streams section I have added my live chat and twitter workstreams. Meaning this message will only be available when talking to customers on these channels / workstreams. If I’d wanted this message to show on all workstreams I’d simply leave this section blank.

I also added a tag of “Helpdesk”. So it is here that we can add one (or more) tags to help us categorise the replies. If you have a lot of replies I suggest the use of tags maybe essential to help agents quickly find appropriate messages.

Personal Quick Replies

If you’d like your agents to be able to create their own personal quick replies this has to be enabled by an administrator. Allowing agents to create phrases they commonly use as quick replies might be really helpful but in some regulated environments you may decide that you don’t want to allow agents to invent their own messaging.

For this reason, by default the ability to maintain personal quick replies maybe off. Therefore you will need to open the Omnichannel Administration app and check the “Personal Quick Replies” option that you’ll see under the heading of “Agent Experience”.

Once enabled, when an agent is the in Omnichannel for Customer Service app, they can use the “+” button to select the personalization option.

Here you can see that the agent can create their own replies which won’t be seen by other agents.

They can add locale and tags to the messages in the same way as I described for system wide quick replies.

Agents can search for personal quick replies in the same way as they do system wide messages. It is also possible to click on the “Personal” tab to see just their personal messages.

Automated Messages

Automated messages are a little different, as these are standard messages we’d like to trigger when certain events occur. Below I have shown my chat widget to demonstrate this. Two messages have automatically been sent to the customer. The first is “An agent will be with you in a moment”, this is an out of the box message. Then a message has been shown that says “Neil …. will make your life complete!”, is isn’t so standard!

Meaning we have two types of automated messages, out of the box ones and custom ones.

You cannot create out of the box automated messages, but you can tweak the text. And enable / disable them as required.

Below you can see that within the Omnichannel Administration app I can see these system automated messages in the “Automated messages” option which is under the heading of “Settings”. Notice that some messages are inactive, for example I can generate an automated message when an agent leaves a Twitter conversation but that message is currently inactive.

Custom automated messages are created on a channel by channel basis. Below you can see my custom message. Again in the Omnichannel Administration app, I have opened my live chat and on the Automated messages tab I have added a custom automated message.

When we create a message it is linked to a channel and trigger. The language will default to the language of the channel.

All I do is give the message a name, select a trigger event and then enter the text.

Notice that I have used a slug in my text which will be substituted with the agent name when the message is generated. We can actually use slugs like this in quick replies and automated messages.

The available slugs include {FullName{Customer}}, {LastName{Customer}}, {FullName{Agent}}, {FirstName{Agent}}, {LastName{Agent}}, {Nickname{Agent}}.

Note: Notice that there is a message recipient. This could be the customer or the agent. This concept does seem to apply with the system automatic messages. But currently I don’t believe we can alter this field for custom automatic messages. Meaning all custom automatic messages are aimed at the customer.

There are quite a few triggers you could select. Below you can see triggers include things like an agent joining the conversation, transferring the conversation  to another agent and more. I admit, haven’t experimented with all of these yet! But so far they have simply worked as I expected. One observation I have is that each trigger can only be listed as an automated message once.  I guess this makes sense as the trigger will happen once and will generate one message.


I hope this post has fully described the concepts of quick replies and automated messages. This felt (initially) like a very simply topic but as we have seen a variety of options exist meaning the creation of messages might need some careful thought in a real deployment. Although when doing a demo generally speaking the out of the box defaults will work just fine.

I have recently been working on a web chat implementation and I can say that deciding what messages should have quick replies and what the exact wording should be can be more involved than you’d expect! Real-world scenarios can result in high numbers of quick replies that must be maintained and tagged correctly to ensure the agents can offer the best possible service to customers. Additionally you may have some messages that have compliance / privacy implications and these will need to worded carefully.

The positive is that Omnichannel for Customer Service does provide us quite a few options to create the messages as required. So I have found these features to be both useful and comprehensive. Thanks Microsoft. Enjoy.

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