How can I stop my customers from starting chats when I don't have any agents working? Can I hide the widget when my agents are offline?
You can prevent your customers from initiating chats when you do not have staff available to help them. To do this you can set up schedules and configure offline forms as alternatives to chat. The process for setting this up differ between live chat and messaging. Click on the tabs below for more information.
Don't know which you're using? See the article, Am I using live chat or messaging?
The first thing to note is that as long as all of your agents are logged out or have their status set to invisible in the chat dashboard or Agent Workspace then the option to start a chat will not be available to your customers. If you have not enabled any offline or contact forms then the widget will not appear on your website when your staff is offline.
However, you may want to be more prescriptive about when chat is available. Setting up operating hours allows you to automatically turn off chat based on a schedule.
There are a couple of additional workflows you might want to consider configuring when setting up operating hours:
- Define designated lunchbreak hours: Recipe: Setting up a lunch schedule for Zendesk Chat
- Notify customers when chat hours are about to end: Recipe: Chat trigger to notify the end of operating hours
- Prevent your customers from being routed to departments that are already offline: Can I stop visitors who load the widget before operating hours end from being routed to offline departments?
Once you've configured operating hours, you need to decide what the offline experience will be for your customers. Most Zendesk users choose to set up a form so that customers can still leave a message that can be responded to once staff has returned. This varies a little depending on the widget you are using.
Unsure about which widget you have? See the article: Which Zendesk widget do I have with my account and website?
With the Chat-only widget your only option is to present the customer with an offline form. This will send you an email with the content of your customer's message and store a copy in your chat history.
This is an example of what your customers would see when you're not online.
Web Widget (Classic)
With Web Widget (Classic) you can choose to either present the offline form as shown above or a more customizable contact form. The primary benefit of choosing to use a contact form is the ability to add additional custom fields and to create tickets from these requests.
This is an example of what your customers would see if you enabled the contact form and are offline. You can add additional fields to this form.
Still unsure about the differences between these forms? For more information, see the article: What is the difference between the offline form and contact form?
From your customer's perspective, a Messaging conversation is continuous. The conversation goes through periods of activity and inactivity but it has no clear end point. Messaging behaves more like conversations through social media apps where the conversation can be picked up at any time. As a result, there isn't an ability to turn off Messaging or to prevent customers from picking up where they left off. The Web Widget is also persistent and will always be available to accommodate bot conversations.
Instead, you can choose to notify your customers when you don't have staff available and set expectations about when they can expect to hear back. To do this, set up business hours and then create a business hours condition in your bot to send a message to your customers.
An example of what your customers will see when you're closed. You have full customization of this text.
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