You can set an availability schedule for your chat agents by enabling operating hours on your account. If you are also using offline forms, you can display this schedule to customers during your offline hours.
Understanding operating hours
When you enable operating hours, any agents signed in to Chat outside of the scheduled hours have their availability status set to Invisible. Agents cannot manually change their availability status during offline hours.
You can apply a single offline hours schedule across your entire account, or, if you have multiple departments enabled, you can apply customized schedules to each department. However, the operating hours applied to the entire account override the operating hours applied to departments.
By default, when operating hours are set, agents cannot receive messages from end users outside of the scheduled work hours.
Setting up operating hours
- From the dashboard, select Settings > Account > Operating Hours tab.
- In the upper-right corner of the page, click On.
- Select the type of schedule you want to set up for your account.
- Account schedule is a single schedule that applies to your entire account.
- Department schedules lets you apply multiple schedules to a department or apply multiple departments to a single schedule.
- Select a type of schedule from the Online Schedule drop-down menu:
- Daily: Allows you to set separate hours for each day of the week.
- Weekday/Weekend: Allows you to set the same hours for every weekday (Monday to Friday) and both weekend days (Saturday and Sunday).
- Ensure the check box is selected next to each day of the week that has operating hours. If a day has no operating hours at all, clear the check box next to it.
- Adjust the sliders next to the days to select the hours agents are available to chat. Note that operating hours must be at least one hour and can be scheduled in 15-minute increments.
- If you're using department schedules, click the link to also add departments to the schedule. Note that you must add at least one department to each schedule for department schedules to work.
- If you want to show your operating hours on to visitors on the chat widget when the widget is offline, select the Display Operating Hours check box. For details, see Displaying operating hours on the widget.
- Click Save Changes.
- For changes to take effect, make all agents log out, click your profile icon in the upper-right, thenn select Leave session, and log in again.
Displaying operating hours on the widget
If you've configured the Offline Form to appear (Settings > Widgets > Forms > Offline Form), you can also show operating hours show on your offline widget.
To display operating hours on the widget
- From the dashboard, select Settings > Account > Operating Hours tab.
- Select the Display Operating Hours check box.
- Click Save Changes.
Reviewing operating hours
Where you review your schedules after you've set them up depends on whether you're using account schedules or department schedules.
To review account schedule hours
- Go to Settings > Account > Operating Hours tab.
To review department schedule hours
- Go to Settings > Departments and click on the department with the schedule you want to review. The schedules appear in the Operating Hours section. The hours that appear here take into account all of the schedules applied to this apartment.
Quick question on this feature: Can you confirm the purpose of having department schedules setting up? To prevent agents from turning on chat outside or scheduled hours, or to prevent chat request to be initiated for that added department, or both?
There's a scenario where agent 1 is mapped to 2 service groups A and B, each has separate schedule. Group A's schedule is 24hrs while Group B's schedule is just 6hrs in the day.
Per checking I see that agent 1 can go online anytime as service group A should be available 24/7. But when agent 1 being online to serve group A's request will he/she receive requests coming from group B, saying that it's now already outside of the 6hrs scheduled for group B?
The purpose of department schedules is to keep the department from staying online beyond of the specified operating hours. So, in your scenario, Group B will go offline even if agent 1 is online, because it is already over the department's operating hours.
Thanks Diosa for your comment. I get it now.
Creating a schedule is available under Chat Professional and Zendesk Suite Professional. We suggest that you check your plan to verify if this function is included in your plan. If yes, please reach out to your Account Executive to have your account updated.
Do operating hours also apply to Zendesk Messaging or is it just Live Chat? If they do apply to Zendesk Messaging, how do they then work with Social Messaging? For example, if we had operating hours of 9am-5pm everyday, we couldn't stop a user sending a Facebook message outside of those hours. If agents were marked as Invisible (per the operating hours), what would happen to that Facebook message?
Additionally, I understand Departments aren't relevant for Zendesk Messaging but how could we set multiple operating hours schedules in that case, or could we only set it at the account level where ALL agents are shown as Online?
Hannah Voice Messaging does not rely on the Chat operating hours schedules, instead it uses business schedules set in Support and it is enforced by using a step inside of Flow Builder and a specific schedule. This gives you flexibility to set it how you like, some Messaging customers treat the channel differently from Chat where the account has urgency/more real time responses and it becomes more asynchronous where response time could be hours/days instead of seconds/minutes with Live Chat.
You can look at this post in setting up a schedule in Support: https://support.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/4408842938522-Setting-your-schedule-with-business-hours-and-holidays
Here is the post about flow builder and the business schedule condition: https://support.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/4408838909210-Using-Flow-Builder-to-create-bot-flows
I set up 2 department hours and when the first shift had their hours start they got this error. But the hours had just started for them.Anyideas?
Just curious for chat department operating hours - since Lite and Team plan does not have the capability to custom change the operating hours, what is the standard chat operating hours set for these packages?
Jah Tan For accounts without operating hours set, the status of the widget will be based on the statuses of the agents logged in. If you have one or more agents set to online/away, the widget will appear online and available to accept chat requests.
If the agent is in specific departments, the department status will be shown in the pre-chat form dropdown for the visitor to select.
Thank you for this, Ramin! Appreciate the info! :)
We may need to investigate further regarding this.
Kindly contact us using this article Contacting Zendesk Customer Support so we could check further and ask for further details about this matter.
We'll be waiting for you!
Have a good day!
It seems a bit complicated that Messaging scheduled can only be set by accessing the Chat system, rather than having a setting in Admin (like we do for Talk and for standard tickets, or main operation hours).
Can anyone explain why some settings are used in chat, and other settings are disabled or have to be accessed elsewhere?
I am Evelyne from Zendesk Support Team, thank you for posting this question. I totally understand that it’s a bit confusing to set the Operating hours for Messaging within the Chat tool.
The explanation for this is that Messaging has been built within the Chat product and operating hours are tied to the chat agent status. For this reason, operating hours for Messaging are currently accessed from the Chat Dashboard.
I hope my answer clarifies why operating hours are set up this way. If you want, you can create a product feedback post with your concerns and suggestions for our Product teams to view and for other customers to upvote.
I hope this helps!
Having two schedules for all departments seems to break something, causing the chat to stay offline completely.
How can we add a lunch break?
Have you already followed the steps in Recipe: Setting up a lunch schedule for Zendesk Chat?
If you are still experiencing an issue, don't hesitate to contact our support directly.
It looks like I will need to take a closer issue at this, so I have created a ticket on your behalf. Please, kindly look into your emails and we can continue from there!
We have set up operating hours however we're finding that once these hours have ended, if a client does not close their chat window they can reply at any time and reopen their chat even if it is after hours. Is there a way to stop this from happening? For example, we had a chat that ended at 4:30pm. The client never closed their chat window, our operating hours end at 4:45pm and she was able to send us another chat at 5:06 pm through the same window.
We really have no control over a chat visitor's behavior so it is normal to sometimes see chat visitors keeping the chat window open and becoming active again beyond operating hours. While we currently have no native way to avoid such scenarios, our team has come up with a workaround that helps prevent them, using a Chat Trigger.
Please check out this guide for more info and instructions - Recipe: Chat trigger to notify the end of operating hours
Feel free to contact Zendesk Customer Support if you'd need further assistance.
we have 2 departments with different operating hours.
When the first department is open, but the second one isnt, there is an option to leave an offline message for the second department, but the ticket that gets created has a tag zopim_offline_message, and thats all. There is no indication that the person chose the offline department and is leaving a message for them, so the ticket goes into our main queue. I also am not able to add a tag via the chat triggers, as the message has no information on the department chosen (even though its possible to choose the department on start and it says offline)...
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