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FAQ: Should you set up operating hours for your organization?


Operating hours are a way of ensuring that your customers have a consistent experience on your site even when your agents are not online. However, operating hours may not be best for every organization. Determine if operating hours is a good choice by learning about best practices and how operating hours work with Business Rules.

In this article:

  • Best Practices for Establishing Operating Hours 
  • Creating an After Hours Sequence Bot
  • Using Operating Hours in a Business Rule
  • Troubleshooting

Best Practices for Establishing Operating Hours 

Operating hours are most effective for routing visitors when you know that agents will be offline at a preset time. All Operating Hours-based routing occurs in a Business Rule, which may be set with additional conditions as well. Before setting up operating hours, you’ll need to determine if your organization is 24/7 or has dedicated working hours.

If your organization is 24/7 (or strives to be), you probably will not need to set up operating hours. Other Business Rule features, such as the Agent is Offline condition and SLAs, can be used to account for service gaps and delays.

If your organization has dedicated hours that all agents adhere to, you may want to set up operating hours at the account level. Setting up operating hours at the account level ensures a consistent experience for all agents.

If your organization has teams that operate at different hours, you may want to set up department level operating hours. For example, if you work with a distributed team, it may make sense to create departments by location (e.g., U.S. office, U.K. office) and then assign agents who belong to those offices. 

Note: If an agent is not in the same location that the department is located in (i.e., an agent lives in Texas, but is part of the California department), that agent should indicate their own time zone in their profile. Routing will still occur through the department operating hours and will be unaffected by the time zone the agent indicated in their profile. The timestamp for conversations on the Dashboard will display in whatever time zone the agent indicated in their profile.

Find out more about how to set up operating hours→

Creating an After Hours Sequence Bot

If you're utilizing operating hours, it may be a good idea to create a Sequence Bot to handle customer inquiries after hours. There are many ways to create a Sequence Bot for after hours customer support. Let’s walk through one bot that gives visitors the option to search the Knowledge Base, chat with a Conversational Bot, or set up an appointment with an agent.

Out of the Office Sequence Bot


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In this sequence, a visitor may choose what kind of after hours support they’d like to receive. There’s also an option for them to set up an appointment with an agent. 

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Closing the Conversation helps keep the Dashboard organized. 

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Widget apps and Chatbots assist in the self-service process.

How to Build

To build an out of the office Sequence Bot similar to the example above, go to Chatbots > Sequence Bot and create a new sequence by clicking on the ‘Create New Sequence Bot’ button. Choose ‘Blank Sequence’.

From the workflow page, open the Welcome branch by clicking on it. Click on ‘add another interaction’ and select ‘Add Bubble Actions’. Add ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ bubble actions. You won’t have any branches to connect them to yet, so keep them on the ‘Select branch’ option and save the branch.

Letting the Visitor Opt Out

Click on the plus sign (‘+’) at the bottom of the ‘No’ option. This will open a new branch menu. Write a helpful message, save it, and then create a new branch under that one. Delete the text field and click on ‘add another interaction’ > ‘Add Auto Actions’ > ‘Close Conversation’. Save the branch.

Creating Self Service Options

Click on the plus sign (‘+’) beneath the ‘Yes’ option and write helpful text in the text box, such as 'Please select one of the following options.'. Beneath the text box, click on ‘add another interaction’ and select ‘Add Bubble Actions’. Add three bubble actions and label them accordingly. You won’t have any branches to connect them to yet, so keep them on the ‘Select branch’ option. Save the branch.

Adding a Chatbot Branch

Beneath the ‘Chabot’ bubble option, click on the plus sign (‘+’) and, in the new branch, invite the visitor to ask questions. Then click on ‘add another interaction’ > ‘Add Auto Actions’ > ‘Invite Conversational Bot’. Choose the Conversational Bot you’d like to add and then save the branch.

Adding Widget Apps

Beneath the widget bubble option, click on the plus sign (‘+’) and, in the new branch, let the know they’ll be interacting with a widget app. Then click on ‘add another interaction’ > ‘Add Chat Widget’. Click on the ‘Choose widget’ link and select the appropriate widget app. Then save the branch.

Activating the Bot

Give your bot a name, and then click on the toggle to change the status from ‘Draft’ to ‘Published’. You’ll need to tie the chatbot to a Business Rule so that visitors can interact with it. 

Using Operating Hours in a Business Rule

There are many ways to build Business Rules to accommodate operating hours, but we typically recommend creating one Business Rule per entry channel. That way, all your logic is contained in one place.

To create a Business Rule that utilizes operating hours, go to Settings > Workflow > Business Rules. Click on ‘New Rule’ and choose ‘Chat’ as your entry Channel. Name, describe, and select your Business Rule’s trigger type.

Click on the plus sign (‘+’) below the entry channel and select ‘Operating Hours’. 

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The Operating Hours condition creates two branches: ‘Within’ and ‘Outside’. Assign actions or conditions to each.

For example, if you created a Sequence Bot similar to the ‘Out of the Office’ sequence bot, assign that bot to the ‘Outside’ option.

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You may also assign specific actions to different pages on your website. Select the ‘Condition’ action and add a visitor condition such as ‘Visitor Page Url’ to trigger different actions depending on what page a visitor is on.

Once you’re done, ‘Save Flow’ and then set the rule’s status to active (green, right).

Troubleshooting

You’ll likely test features after hours, so keep in mind that any Operating Hours will only activate in the hours they’ve been assigned to activate. For that reason, we recommend creating a department for testing purposes and adjusting the operating hours accordingly.

Have a specific question? Reach out to support@acquire.io.


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