Omnichannel for Customer Service – Voicemail

A great new feature in Microsoft’s Omnichannel for Customer Service app relates to allowing customers to leave voicemails. In this blog post I will explore this new feature.

Microsoft’s Omnichannel for Customer Service has included the voice channel for some time now! But the recently deployed 2022 Wave 2 release (aka October 2022) included a new feature to allow customers to leave voicemails for agents.

The idea being that during peak times or out of hours customers can leave voicemails. Voicemail boxes can be configured at a queue or agent level. Meaning a group of agents in a queue can have one voicemail box or individual agents.

Agents and administrators can then configure various settings such as welcome messages. Plus obviously playback messages customers have recorded.

Some features around voicemail you should be aware of include.

  • Voicemails can be a maximum of five minutes long.
  • The out-of-the-box voicemail prompt can be customized in the automated message or workstream settings.
  • Voicemails will always be transcribed!
  • If the customer is unable to record the voicemail, an automated message is played for the customer that informs the voicemail couldn’t be recorded and they should call back again.
  • To trigger voicemail, you must try to route to an agent. Voicemail is then triggered if the agent isn’t available. Meaning your IVR bot cannot offer a voicemail option.

Routing to voicemail can be configured to happen when a call is routed directly to an agent who isn’t available. Maybe they are offline, or their presence is on do not disturb. Or maybe the agent rejects the call which would force it to voicemail.

An alternative approach is to use the overflow settings on the queue. In this scenario if the queue length exceeds the maximum number of waiting calls or a call is received outside of the operating times for the queue then the customer will be routed to voicemail. I guess it maybe common to route all calls to voicemail is they are received outside your working hours.

Note: In my simple tests (of this preview feature) I didn’t manage to get the call to route to voicemail if rejected by the agent. But my overflow logic to route to voicemail out of hours worked perfectly. At this point I am unsure if this is a “limitation” of the preview or if I simply hadn’t configured something correctly! If / when I configure these options in a real environment I assume I might need to “experiment” with the routing / overflow logic a little more.

Manage Overflow options

I blogged about the overflow feature already! You can read that post here.

The overflow logic has recently been enhanced! New options include triggering our overflow actions if the estimated wait time is exceeded or the call is being routed out of hours. Also overflow happens we can now route to another queue.

For my tests, I added an overflow action to the queue I used for incoming voice calls. You can see below that if a customer was going to wait for more than 2 minutes I would route to voicemail.

I also configured a rule that would route all calls to voicemail outside of operating hours.

Configure Agent Experience Voicemail

You will first need to create an app profile and enable the inbox. We can then configure the inbox features to show voicemail to the agents.

You can see below that for the purpose of my tests I have created a new agent experience profile. You will find the option to do this in your “Customer Service admin center” under “workspaces”.

Below you can see that I have checked the “inbox” feature is enables and I have added voicemail.

When adding voicemail, I select the “Record type” as voicemail. And then I can opt to decide if the agent will see voicemails assigned to then, unassigned one and / or resolved. For my test I opted to included assigned and unassigned voicemail messages.

How does voicemail work??

A note at this point to explain the basic concept of how voicemail operates might be useful.

After a customer has left a voicemail, a record is created. This is going to link to the recording and transcript left by the customer.

Once that record is created, we can use record routing to route the voicemail within Omnichannel to users. The voicemail record includes an attribute called “VoicemailType”. We can use this to decide if the voice mail should be routed to a group (as triggered via the overflow action) or to an individual as triggered because the agent wasn’t available.

Usefully, out of the box two work streams are already created that will route these records. One for group voicemails and one for individual voicemails.

These two workstreams, in turn will route records to one of two queues.

The “Default group Voicemail Queue” will route to any agent in the queue based on them having the highest available capacity.

The “Default Individual Voicemail Queue” has a customer assignment rule to assign to the correct individual. (Note: Therefore, you will need to ensure all agents that can get individual voicemails are included in this queue.)

Automated Messages

You may (optionally) want to define what message is give to the user when routed to voicemail.

Below you can see that I have opened my workstream. I can now use the “edit” option to control the automated message settings.

After clicking edit, navigate to the behaviours tab. And scroll down.

Below you can see that I can define the wording I’d like to use on my prompt to the customer when we trigger voicemail.

FYI: I think the default is something like “Would you like to leave a voicemail”.

Using Voicemail

Now voicemail is configured. If a customer calls and an agent isn’t available, then the voicemail option will be triggered. Once a message has been left it will show in the agent’s “inbox”.

From here they could listen to the call and complete whatever follow-up tasks are required.

After handling the voicemail, they can mark it as closed. After closing the voicemail, it will disappear from the inbox. For me this happened, as I’d opted to exclude “resolved” messages from my inbox!

Conclusion

So, what do I think of this new feature!

Pretty much everything worked for me. Which is always a bonus with a preview feature. So that is a big tick.

The only challenge I had was routing to voicemail during operating hours. As I’d hoped if an agent rejected a call that the customer would be redirected to voicemail. For me that didn’t happen. As I said in my earlier note, I am unsure if this was because this is a preview feature or if I’d simply set something up wrong.

I understand there is a limitation that the IVR BOT cannot trigger voicemail. This is a shame as I can imagine scenarios when I’d like the BOT to give the customer a choice of waiting to speak to an agent or leaving a voicemail.

I would also love to see some additional features in the overflow logic. For example, if a customer has been waiting for “n” minutes it might be useful to ask them if they’d like to leave a voicemail or continue to hold.

Having made these observations, I will point out that Microsoft has also just released a call back capability. That may address some of the “edge cases” I am now considering. So maybe I should investigate that next!

Overall I think this is a great new feature and one I am looking forward to experimenting with further. Nice job Microsoft.

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