Handling ‘Out of Hours’

Let’s face it – we can be quite spoiled at times. As a customer, we can sometimes expect that companies be available 24/7 to service our requests, needs, issues, etc. That would be wonderful, wouldn’t it! Imagine that you have a mobile phone issue at 2am – you could call up your provider, and have it handled (or a new handset sent out) immediately. That would be quite nice!

Unfortunately the real world doesn’t (always) quite work like that. Of course there are companies that operate on a multi-national or even global scale, and there’s always customer service available (Amazon – I’m thinking of you right now!).

Previously I’ve gone into how we can set operating hours for a company, so that the ability to contact a customer support agent is only shown during these times. Take a look at Handling Company Hours for a refresher on this.

But sometimes not showing the ability to contact support could potentially be counter-productive. Customers may think that our website isn’t working properly, and possibly attempt to try to reach us through other means. This could quite well frustrate them.

Due to this, we have a nice little piece of functionality that’s now come out in Omnichannel. It’s small, simple, but yet quite brilliant in my humble opinion. This is the ability to have a chat widget available, but let customers know that that it’s currently out of company hours.

To activate this, we need to open the Chat record in the Omnichannel Administration Hub, and go to the Design tab:

Quite helpfully, the section is labelled ‘Offline’! How much better could we get.

We do need to understand that (at the time of writing this post) it’s currently in Preview, with all of the usual caveats around how that works.

We have several items available here:

  • Show widget during offline hours. This is what actually activates the setting – leaving this to false won’t do anything for us!
  • Theme colour. This allows us to set the specific theme to be used during ‘offline’ hours. It’s actually really helpful, as it serves/gives a very visual aspect to the customer to display that it’s out of hours
  • Title. The title of the chat widget, which will be displayed to the user
  • Subtitle. This allows us to place a subtitle as well, for the user to be able to see

So what does this then look like? Well, let’s take a look:

Personally I think that being able to set a theme colour for offline access gives it that little edge. Customers will become aware of this (subconsciously) when visiting the website, and come to the point of not even trying to start a chat when they see that it’s out of hours.

One MAJOR thing to bear in mind. We’re only going to be given the option to set this when we have a value set for Operating Hours. Without this being set, we won’t be shown this option. Go try it for yourself and see!

There’s not really much else to this, to be honest. But I’m liking it. I know that from a personal perspective I’ve been on various websites, and have no idea if the support chat is actually working or not. With this in place, I’m able to see that it is available for use at the correct time, and not have to wonder about it.

Have you ever thought about implementing something like this? Have you actually done so? I’d be really interested to hear from you about how you went about it – please drop a comment below!

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