Operating hours are the solution to handle customer escalations outside of agent/team working hours. This can be differentiated against teams and timezones to support multi-region/team organizations, with a flexible solution shaped to your business model. This is available for both ticket and chat automation use cases.
This article covers:
- What are Operating Hours?
- Use Cases
- Building Escalation Flows with Operating hours
- Team Availability
- Next Steps
What are Operating Hours?
This is where you define your human agents' working hours. This is important as escalations from virtual to human agents can occur, and we need to know if it's worthwhile doing it. If your human agents have the weekend off you wouldn't want the virtual agent to say "Escalating you now, a human will be with you shortly" and then receive a failed escalations system reply. By already checking operating hours and agent availability they will receive an accurate response leading to a better experience - this is what Operating Hours achieves.
This is not a one-size catch-all type solution, you can also specify this across regions and teams providing a personalized experience based on the customers' needs.
You can find Operating Hours in Settings > Bot Settings > Operating Hours
From here, the create rule option allows you to create a rule defining the name, timezone, days, and times. The great thing is, that you select the capital city you would like to take the time from, so don't need to worry about daylight savings time causing issues.
To edit an existing rule, click the name to be taken back into the editor.
How do you leverage your newly created operating hours within dialogues to ensure escalations only happen during the local operating hours?
Rather than needing to create an OOH reply for all Intents and/or Template replies, you can do this by creating an escalation flow that can just be linked to existing Dialogues. Want to know more on how to link replies within your dialogues, check out our Linking Replies article.
This saves you from needing to recreate escalation flows in individual intents or can be adapted in your existing escalation template reply.
Consider the Below Use Cases
|Escalation Flows||Any time you have an escalation, beforehand check whether it is within operating hours and team availability.|
|Processes with Team-Specific Transfer Flows||Some teams work different hours and for those flows, you may need to change up the response. Create a template reply specific to that department, checking operating hours and team availability, to link to it in the dialogues that are impacted.|
|The Intent - I want to speak to a human||Sometimes customers just want to talk to a human, building within that reply to check team availability and operating hours is a great way to manage expectations.|
|System Replies - Welcome, Default, and Failed Escalation||If you want to manage expectations you can provide different responses based on whether a customer contacts you during the operating hours.|
Building Escalation Flows with Operating Hours
Before you start
Depending on your CRM, the team setup may be slightly different - below you can find a table of our more commonly used CRMs and their respective guides.
Note - Sunshine Conversations - this is currently not possible
In order to create your escalation dialogue with the operating hours' availability, you will need to have either an Intent or Template Reply for your escalation use case. Then you can proceed with the below steps.
- Navigate to your Intent/Template reply and edit the reply dialogue
- Within the respective language reply add an availability block.
- Select from the Rule drop-down which of the Operating Hours would you like to check the availability of before escalating.
- For the open and closed option define your follow-up communication.
- For the open branch, you will then want to add an escalation block afterward.
For the closed branch, you may wish to have follow-up options for the customer - you will find a suggestion in the image below on how you can handle this.
To ensure customer expectations are managed, even within operating hours, you may choose to check whether any agents are available before escalating and offering additional options if needed.
Note - This is not available for Ticket Automation as real-time team availability is not needed.
- Add an availability block
- Select Team Availability under the type drop-down or by clicking the green block bar, open up the side panel to make your selection there.
- Define the exact name of the transfer department/button ID or group ID, depending on which is relevant for your respective CRM, that we should check agent availability against.
- Create the following bot messages and add your escalation block after this message.
If agents in the defined group are available the bot will proceed down the open path.
If no agents in the defined group are available they will proceed down the closed path.
After this is completed you can then link to this reply from your other communication.
For those using Out of Hours (OOH) replies, these will need to be removed from those replies. For information on OOH check out the below articles.
Note - deactivating OOH and removing replies is only for customers who launched before July 2022. If you onboarded with Ultimate after this date, you will not see this legacy option.