We have multiple departments that cover completely different products. We can easily differentiate between these products based on URL. We currently set a department when a user loads the chat widget, based on URL. When the widget loads, that also determines if Live Chat is available (because agents are online) or not (because agents are offline, or all invisible).
However, our two departments do not share the same chat hours. When department 1 is offline, but an agent in department 2 is online, the live chat feature is available in the widget for users whose department is department 1. When they chat, it is routed to an offline department, putting them in a queue and eventually marking them as a missed chat. Since we like our chat feature to be a means for instant communication, and not a proxy for email-style Support tickets, and we don't want users waiting 1+ hours for a response to a chat, this is less than ideal.
The only alternative to avoid missed chats is to have department 2 serve the chat. Since department 2 handles a totally separate product, they are at a loss to help users and need to refer them to department 1 via Support tickets regardless.
In both instances, users are getting the short end of the stick, feeling as though their issue doesn't matter. And departments are wasting time either trying to answer questions they do not know the answer to, or placating angry users who feel their request took too long to answer. You cannot expect multiple departments in large organizations to be able to handle the same types of questions. While large companies may be able to ensure agents for each department are always online, that is not possible for smaller organizations. It would also be catastrophic for departments based around support language - imagine getting a chat in a foreign language you do not speak, when that language's department is offline!
The only third way would be a previously requested new feature, which is to allow two separate Zendesk Chat instances to link to 1 Support account. This would work for our needs, but is also not possible (at least, not without a hack that would cause you to lose most ticket information, including tags, which are crucial to analysis).
In conclusion, we are advocating for the following feature:
A department is set when a user lands on the page (or loads the widget) AND the widget is marked as available for live chat based on whether an agent for THAT set department is online. If agents in that set department are offline, show the contact us button instead of the live chat option.
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