Omnichannel for Customer Service – Voice channel overflow

Microsoft’s Omnichannel voice channel for Dynamics 365 gives us great capabilities for contact centres. In this post I will consider what might happen if we have large numbers of customers waiting in a queue.

I am sure every contact centre manager will tell you that at times they may suffer from “excessive” calls. Meaning at some point we will want “overflow” logic to kick in to govern how to handle the growing number of queued calls.

We also need to define what will happen out of hours. As, we don’t want to frustrate customers by them waiting in a queue expecting an agent to pick up outside our operating times or on holidays.

For this post I am going to assume that you have already installed Omnichannel for Customer Service and that you have configured a phone number and a work stream.

There are three steps to configuring overflow / out of hours logic.

  1. Define when the overflow action to take
  2. Define the overflow conditions and opening hours
  3. Define what automated messages might be triggered

These steps are all quite straight forward. There is nothing complicated in configuring your overflow approach. But you may find that the settings are a little “spread around”. As we need to edit our workstream, its ruleset and the associated queue(s).

Step One – Define overflow actions

Below you can see that I have opened my workstream. The first setting I need to define is what action will happen if an overflow occurs.

To do this I need to open my “ruleset”. As indicated below.

In my example I have a very simple configuration. You may have many rulesets routing to multiple queues. By applying the overflow setting to the ruleset and queue we could configure the ability to have different logic for different teams of agents. Or maybe for different “classes” of customer.

Below you can see that I have opened my ruleset. It is here that I define the overflow action. We have three possible options;

  • Default – which I guess would mean that customers simply continue to wait until an agent answers
  • Transfer to external number – I assume you’d use this to route overflow calls to another contact centre. (Maybe you have a 3rd party provider that could offer additional capacity at peak times!
  • End call – this is the option I have selected. As I simply want to end the call with the customer. This might sound like poor customer service, but do we really want customers hanging on the phone for long periods. Wouldn’t it be better to simply ask them to call back later and end the call??

Step Two – Overflow conditions and Opening hour

Next, I open the “queue” associated with my ruleset. Here I will define my overflow condition.

You can see that I have defined a work item limit to 3. (In a real scenario you’d probably pick a much larger value.)

The idea here is to define how many customers can wait in the queue before we trigger an overflow situation. Meaning in my example once all my agents are busy three customers can wait in the queue. If a fourth tried to call, then the overflow action would be triggered.

Defining opening hours is optional! But if you do then we can control when this overflow logic will apply. By scrolling down slightly on the queue maintenance screen I can add working hours.

Use the “See more” option if you want to assign a different set of working hours.

Below you can see that I have defined a couple of working patterns. In my example I have simply defined the days of the week and times that we’ll be open. But one tip might be that you can also add holidays. Meaning you can define if you are open on Christmas Day etc etc.

Another tip I have in setting these operating hours is to pay close attention to the time zone. As you edit the working hours (or holidays) you use the “+New” option. Below you can see that whilst doing this I can define the time zone. I admit that when I first setup my system I had accidently selected the wrong time zone and therefore my out of hours logic kicked in an inappropriate times!

Step Three – Automated Messages

Having completed the first two steps your overflow logic will be functional. But if we are going to end the call out of hours or in an overflow situation maybe it would be “nice” to alert the customer.

We do that in the “workstream”.

Below you can see that I have returned to the main workstream page and then I select the edit option.

Within the workstream settings I now swap to the “behaviours” tab.

Towards the bottom of the behaviours tab you will find an option to add custom automated messages. These will be automatically “read” out to the customer when certain events happen.

I have therefore customized my messages for two events;

  • End conversation due to overflow – with this event I created a simple message that apologised and asks the customer to try later.
  • Out of operating hour message to customer – with this event I added a message that explains we are closed and suggested when the customer could call back.

At this point my overflow logic has been completed as I required! But you might want to also review the other events that can trigger automated messages. For each of these there will be an out of the box message or behaviour but for some you might want to consider amending the wording. (For example, the wording of the “holiday” message might benefit from a personalised message.)

I hope this post will have explain the basic setup you’ll need to consider for overflow and out of hours situations. I continue to be impressed with the new voice channel and hope to blog ore about it soon …. Enjoy.

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