Telephony Partners Key to Salesforce Omni-Channel Service Strategy

Salesforce's telephony partners can now implement external routing directly in Salesforce Omni-Channel. In the Summer 2017 release customers can request to have this feature enabled, and have their telephony partners handle routing across channels.

Prior to this release, Salesforce provided its own native Omni-Channel routing engine for chats, emails, co-browsing, Web form submissions, and more. This made it possible to blend media and cross-train agents to handle interactions from a variety of channels.

Until now, there had been a gap in how Salesforce Omni-Channel handled voice interactions. Because routing logic for phone calls lives in the ACD, it had been difficult to prioritize other live interactions with phone calls. This is because calls that were queued and routed via an ACD engine did not have visibility into other live interactions (such as chat) coming into Salesforce. As a result, agents were required to switch statuses between being ready for phone calls and being ready for other channel interactions, which was not ideal. This all changes with the Salesforce Summer '17 release.

Salesforce has been working closely with key telephony partners, including Avaya and Cisco. In February, for example, Avaya and Salesforce expanded their global alliance, with Salesforce providing Service Cloud APIs to allow joint Salesforce-Avaya customers to leverage Avaya routing across any channel. Now that telephony partners have access to the Service Cloud APIs they have visibility into both the call queue and interactions queuing from other channels in Salesforce. This enables telephony partners to prioritize and route live interactions including phone calls, chats, and more complex criteria.

Route Away

It will be exciting to see what types of routing capabilities telephony partners opt to build. The most common methods of routing in Salesforce Omni-Channel today include Least Active, where work items are sent to the agent who is working on the fewest number of items, and Most Available, where work items are sent to the agent who has the greatest difference between his or her capacity and currently open work items. These routing methods work in the context of setting different priority levels for each queue. Within each queue interactions are routed on a first-in, first-out basis. There are multiple layers of routing options, which opens up many possibilities for telephony partners.

The factors influencing which interaction is routed to an agent include inputs from the customer, the agent, and routing rules. Routing rules sit in between the customer and agent to facilitate the interaction. On the left hand of the equation the customer chooses the service channel. The customer type (VIP, for example) influences routing priority if the customer is identified prior to routing.

In the middle of the service equation, routing rules execute to determine if any skilled agents are available to handle this interaction (based on issue type and service channel). If so, the routing rules determine which on them is available to handle an interaction based on capacity. Then the routing rules determine who is best suited for the incoming interaction that the customer submitted (Least Active, Most Available, for example).

Logic Applied

There are various logic and tools telephony providers have historically used to prioritize calls. In a scenario where VIP customers should be prioritized, but not such that standard customers wait more than 10 minutes, it is typical to see two ACDs created -- one for VIP customers and one for standard customers. VIP customer calls are prioritized, but when the wait time of the standard queue hits 10 minutes then the two ACDs are quasi-merged and calls are then only routed by wait time. When the wait time decreases, VIP customers go to the front of the queue again.

When contact centers implement Omni-Channel routing rules with their telephony provider, they should consider both the type of customer, issue type, and service channel. For example, if chats and calls are being prioritized equally and ACDs are seeing high levels of abandonment for queued calls, it would make sense to increase the prioritization/weighting of calls over chats. Logically, customers have a lower wait tolerance while holding a phone to their ear listening to hold music compared to keeping a chat window open on their computer.

This should be taken with a grain of salt, and be built and refined around what you observe in your contact center. And, of course, there will always be exceptions for which you'll want to account. For instance, you may have a VIP customer chat and want his or her individual chat wait time to be less than your standard customer chat/call wait time. Now with external routing for Salesforce Omni-Channel, these examples and many more are a reality.