Omnichannel for Customer Service – Outbound Voice Calling

I recently gave a demo of the new voice channel within Dynamics 365’s Omnichannel for Customer Service app. In that post I covered the basics of inbound calling. This time I will explain how to setup and make outbound calls.

Many contact centres will require outbound calling. Often the requirement will simply involve an agent manually starting a call to a customer. I guess it is this simple scenario that I will explain today!

But you might be aware that beyond this simple scenario we often have other more complex outbound calling requirements. Including predictive diallers for telesales or complex call back routing logic. Omnichannel voice is a relatively new feature of Dynamics 365, therefore I will flag at the start that some of these specific situations are not yet available. Or at least not available with purely out of the box features … I am sure you could build custom extensions to achieve almost any scenario. Plus, as Microsoft are investing rapidly in Omnichannel I think we can probably expect to see additional features very soon. (Note: previous statement was true in April 2022.)

Before you begin to configure outbound calling you will need a phone number (or multiple numbers) that has been enabled to make and receive calls. Below you can see that within the “Omnichannel admin center” I have used the phone numbers option and created a couple of numbers. When I acquired these numbers, I applied calling plans to allow the number to make and receive calls.

Queue Setup

Once I’d created my phone numbers and ensured they are enabled for outbound calling …. I next created an outbound queue. Actually, I am not sure this step is essential! As outbound and inbound could share a single queue. But by creating a separate queue for outbound you’ll be making it easy for supervisors to see which agents are engaged in outbound conversations.

Below you can see that again in the “Omnichannel admin center”, I have used the “Queues” option. Here I have said “+ New queue” and created a queue that I have called “Outbound Voice”.

Whilst creating my queue I simply gave it a name, set the type to “Voice” and assigned a group number.

FYI:
The group number is a mandatory field but serves little functional purpose! It is simply used to group your queues in a logical order. Say you have loads of queues you might want to group all of the voice queues together. And maybe all of the webchat together etc etc.

If we open my queue, you can see that I have simply added the user (or users) who will need to make outbound calls using this queue.

Capacity Profile

It is essential that you create a capacity profile that will be used for outbound calling …. As if you don’t outbound calling will not be available to the agent.

Essentially what you are going to do is create a capacity profile that will allow the operator to make outbound calls and at the same time block them from receiving additional inbound conversation notifications during the call.

In the “User Attributes” area of the “Omnichannel admin center” you will find the capacity profile option. Once located you can use the “Manage” option to create or edit your capacity profiles.

Below you can see that I’ve opted to work with the “Default voice outbound” capacity profile. Opening the profile will show that eth work item limit is 1. This means each user can make 1 outbound call at a time.

The reset frequency is “immediate”. This simply means that after ending a call the user will be immediately able to make (or take) another call. Notice that the reset frequency is read-only, meaning once set it cannot be changed.

Assignment blocking is set to “Yes”. With a work item limit of 1, this means that once in a call no other work items will be assigned to the user.

Once you have a correctly configured capacity profile you simply open the users option and assign all the users that need to make outbound calls.

Outbound Profile

Next you will want to create an outbound calling profile. This will define how outbound calls are made and who can make them.

In the “Agent Experience” area of the “Omnichannel admin center” you will find an option called “Outbound Profiles”. You the “Manage” option to configure your profiles.

You will create an outbound profile for each number. Below you can see that I have used the “+ New Profile” option.

I then give my profile a name and select a phone number.

Next, I give the number a label. This is the name the agents will see for this number.

I now link the queue I’ created for outbound calls and the capacity profile I have created to this outbound profile.

Clicking next gives me access to several options that control the behaviour of outbound calls. Including things like what hold music to use or if we want to automatically record and transcript calls.

Once you have completed the behaviour settings, you’ll see a summary of the profile which is being created. Assuming the values are correct you’ll just click “Save and close” to create the profile.

Making a Call

Once all the setup is complete and you’ve waited for 15 minutes it will be possible to make outbound calls.

Within the Customer Service Workspace, whenever a phone number field shows on a form the agent can use the “phone icon” to commence a call.

A dialog opens on the right-hand side of the screen. Here the agent can amend the phone number if required. This might be needed if, for example, the format of the phone number on the Dynamics 365 record is incorrect.

If just one outbound number is available, the agent will simply click the call button. But if you have multiple outgoing lines the agent can select any of the available numbers. Notice how they see the label we defined in the outbound calling profile!

After a short pause, a session will open, and the selected number will be dialled.

Tip:
It is also possible to dial any number by clicking the “Launch Dialer” button in the top bar of the customer service workspace. Doing this will open the dialog to dial the number and the agent will enter the number manually.

Below you can see that a session has started. And in the conversation panel I get my phone controls and can also see the call transcript etc. (Just as we’d expect with an inbound call.)

Also notice how the presence of my agent has automatically swapped to “Do not disturb”. As soon as the call finishes this will revert back to “Available”.

CREATE A PERSONAL NUMBER

It is possible to assign personal numbers to agents, this allows them to exclusively make calls from this number. (As long as the number is not a toll-free number!)

Instead of creating an outbound profile for the number. You can open the agents system user record. Below you can see that within the users option I have opened my record. Then in the Omnichannel tab I have added the number directly to this user.

When I view the phone numbers option you can see that instead of the number being assigned to an outbound profile it is now linked to my user record.

In this scenario I am not clear on how we can control the behaviour of the outbound calls. As far as I can tell the default outbound calling profile would apply to all personal numbers. I’d be happy to update this post or correct this statement if someone at Microsoft can confirm!

All in all, I am pleased with my initial experiments with outbound calling. For most of the common real-world outbound calling scenarios this functionality will be perfect. But as I suggested in my opening paragraphs, I have worked with some contact centers that had very specific and complex needs. Some of those more complex scenarios aren’t currently available out of the box. But maybe we will see more capabilities added in the fullness of time. Despite this I think this is a great start.

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