Omnichannel for Customer Service – reconnect with customers

Microsoft’s Omnichannel for Customer Service allows agents to chat with customers. Web chat is great but what if the customer is experiencing problems with their browser or laptop. After they restart the browser or laptop they’d need to start a new conversation with a new agent, right? Maybe not! As in this post I will explain how a customer can continue these chats with the same agent.

Imagine you are chatting with a customer explaining how to resolve an issue with their laptop or maybe with your website. You may need to ask them to clear the browser cache or maybe reboot their laptop. If this happened the conversation would normally end. The customer could then start a new conversation but that would get routed to the next available agent who probably would not know how to progress the conversation effectively.

The solution is for the agent to be able to share a reconnection link with the customer. Then if the conversation “pauses” the customer can use that link to re-engage with the same agent.

Imagine the scenario shown below, you want the customer to reboot their laptop. As shown the agent can simply share a link with the customer.

Tip: The link is in a quick reply. The agent doesn’t need to remember these links! I will explain more about creating this quick reply this in a minute.

The customer can now leave the conversation. After their laptop comes back on they can use the link to restart the conversation. Below you can see that the customer can open the link and just continue the conversation. As the agent hasn’t ended the conversation the chat simply continues with no interruption.

There are some limitations with this feature.

  • The agent can send a quick reply to the customer containing the reconnect URL. In my testing I found this seemed to only work with quick replies. I’d hoped I could email the link to the customer! I guess we could copy / paste the link into an email but I couldn’t get it to automatically populate into an email from a macro.
  • If the agent or the customer actually ends the conversation then you can’t reconnect. But I guess we’d expect that! If they do try and restart a completed conversation then either the customer will be presented with a chat widget to create a new conversation or redirected to a URL. (I will explain how to configure this soon.)

In my example I only tested this feature with unauthenticated chats. But if the customer is authenticated on your portal then we can automatically offer them the chance to reconnect to an existing chat. So that might mean they don’t even have to use the reconnect link! (They’d just click on the normal chat widget.)

Setup Process

In this next section I will explain how I configured this reconnect feature.

The process is quite simple, firstly I configured the reconnect settings on my web chat channel. And then I created a quick reply so my agents can easily share the reconnect link.

  1. Configure Web Chat Channel
  2. Create a Quick Reply

Step One – Configure Web Chat Channel

Below you can see that I have opened my chat widget. (You’ll find this in the chat option under the channels heading.)

You can see a section on my chat widget that includes the parameters I need to define for the reconnect logic.

Don’t forget that after making any change to these settings you may need to wait 15 minutes before the change takes effect. So be patient!

The settings you will need to set are described below …..

Turn on reconnect to previous chat – by default the reconnect feature will be disabled. To enable it you will need to set this option to “Yes”.

Reconnect time limit – notice this field is read-only! It will generally be defaulted to 15 minutes. The value for this field actually comes from your work stream and is the “Auto-close after inactivity” field.

Reconnect to previous agent for – I decided that if my customer used this link at any point up to the 15 minute limit then the chat would reconnect to the same agent. But I could have set the value smaller or larger value if required. To go beyond the 15 minute default you will need to increase the value of the “Auto-close after inactivity” field on your work stream.

Portal URL
– Enter the URL of your portal here. I don’t actually offer chat on every page on my portal, so I entered one of the pages that is enabled for chat. If your entire portal supports chat on every page then I guess you can enter just the homepage URL. Otherwise enter any page that supports chat.

Redirect URL
– The redirection link is optional. The idea here is to decide what will happen if the previous conversation has ended or the 15 minute timeline has expired. If you leave this field blank then the customer will simply be presented with a chat widget to start a new conversation. But you could decided to redirect them to a specific page if required.

Step Two – Create a Quick Reply

After I configured my reconnect settings I needed a quick reply to allow my agents to share the link to the customers.

Agents can access quick replies by entering “/q” and then a search term. You can see below that if my agent entered “/q reconnect” they would be presented with the reconnect url. Clicking this quick reply generates the URL and sends it to the customer.

Below you can see that I have used the quick replies option in the omnichannel administration app to create my quick reply.

Notice the message, as this contains the “slug” which will be automatically substituted with re reconnect url. The slug is “{ReconnectUrl{ReconnectID}}”.

Also notice that I have added my chat workstream as the only workstream for this quick reply. I did this because I have other channels defined and this reconnect logic is specific to web chat. Meaning I only wanted this quick reply to be available during a web chat. My agents, for example, wouldn’t be able to send the reconnect link if they were having an SMS conversation!

I also added a tag of “Reconnect”. Adding tags is optional but I like to always tag my quick replies. As this helps agents filter them.

Hopefully you can see that configuring this option is very simple.

Being able to reconnect like this might not be a major advantage in all scenarios. But if you are using Omnichannel for Customer Service to assist customers resolve issues on their laptops then it mighty suddenly become an essential feature. Enjoy!

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