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Auto Assignment: Automatic Assignment with respond.io

Román Filgueira García
Content Writer, Respond.io
November 15, 2021

Manually assigning agents to contacts can be a wearying task. Automatic Assignment facilitates the distribution of Inbound Conversations to the right agent in a team. Automating this process saves time and effort for the Users and Contacts, resulting in a better overall experience for them. Plus, automatically assigning contacts to agents is easy on our platform. In this article, we'll explain how to set up Auto Assignment using respond.io Workflows.

Intro to Automatic Assignment

The out of the box Contact Assignment behavior of the respond.io platform is picking. This means Conversations are assigned to agents without any established rule. Picking is different from Auto Assignment in the sense that it’s not a systematic method.

But as a company grows and matures, it'll encounter two challenges. First, distributing the conversations evenly among customer-facing agents. Second, ensuring the conversation quality is consistent.

When to Use Picking

Picking can work at very low Inbound Conversation volumes. For example, company owners have no problem answering a handful of messages per day when the business is small. This is a method that most small companies follow.

When to use Conversation Picking in a company
Picking is often used by small companies.

Picking is also a common practice when there isn't an established process. Agents can pick contacts or managers can manually assign agents to contacts. This can bring up certain issues, which will be discussed below.

Why Use Automatic Assignment

Picking comes with some potential problems. For instance, some agents will cherry-pick Inbound Conversations. They’ll choose the most convenient ones, leaving the difficult ones to other team members.

Manual picking also results in longer response and resolution times, consequently reducing productivity.

Besides, as conversation volume grows, Auto Assignment takes the load off managers in assigning contacts, allowing them to focus on reviewing conversations and assessing results.

That’s why we use Auto Assignment. In short, automating your Inbound Conversations has two key benefits:

  • Productivity: It saves time for both agents and managers. Plus, Customers will also benefit from quick, effective agent responses.
  • Consistency of quality: Agents become accountable for their conversations.
    In addition, Managers have more time to review conversations, focus on agents' resources and optimize Workflows.
Why use Auto Assignment for Inbound Conversations
Two reasons to use Auto Assignment strategies.

Now that the Auto Assignment benefits are clear, we'll explain how to create an Automatic Assignment Workflow for Inbound Conversations.

Create a Simple Inbound Conversations Workflow

Conversations started by Contacts are called Inbound Conversations. There are some Workflow basics to keep in mind before creating one.

Workflows must start with a Trigger, and Users can only make changes to it by selecting Trigger type and configurations. You must make sure that the Agents you want to assign are in a Team and you understand who those Agents are.

With that in mind, let’s create an Inbound Conversations Workflow for Automatic Assignment.

  1. Create a new Workflow and choose Conversation Opened as a Trigger.
  2. Add the Trigger Condition: Source Is Equal To Contact.
  3. Add an Assign to Step and select Assign to a User in a specific Team.
  4. Select Team.
A simple Inbound Conversations Workflow with respond.io
A simple Inbound Conversations Workflow with a Trigger and one Step.

With this setup, Inbound Conversations will trigger an Assign to Agent Step. Now, you should decide on the best strategy to assign Agents to Contacts. Let’s discuss the different ways we can configure Auto Assignment for Inbound Conversations.

Configuring Automatic Assignment

In this section, we will discuss methods to optimize Automatic Assignment for the needs and priorities of a specific team. If you have multiple teams, you’ll need to use Chat Routing strategies before jumping to Auto Assignment strategies.

Three recommended Auto Assignment configurations with respond.io Workflows Module
How to configure Automatic Assignment for different Teams.

Next, we’ll share how to adjust Auto Assignment logic for sales and different types of support teams. We’ll also give some recommendations on things you can do to make your Automatic Assignment even better.

Auto Assignment Logic for Sales Teams

Sales teams consider contacts as leads. And managers usually want them to be distributed evenly among all salespeople. Let’s see what is the best way to set up Auto Assignment for sales agents.

Auto-assignment for Sales best practices
Recommended settings for Sales.
  • Logic: Round Robin will assign leads evenly among the Sales Team.
  • Online Users Only: Off, so agents get leads even when away from their desk
  • Max Open Contact Limit: Off, so sales agents will continue getting Contacts assigned to them, even if they are having long conversations.

Auto Assignment Logic for Low-Cost Support Teams

Companies that view support teams as a cost center rather than an advantage are focused on reducing support costs. Support agents who follow this strategy deal with many simultaneous conversations. This is why they are also encouraged to resolve them as quickly as possible.

Auto-assignment for Low-cost support centers best practices
Recommended settings for Cost Center Support.
  • Logic: With Round Robin, a regular flow of conversations urges support agents to close them steadily.
  • Online Users Only: Off. Online Only On allows agents to have fewer Contacts assigned by being away from their desks or setting User Status to Busy.
  • Max Open Contact Limit: Off. Turning Max Open Contacts On allows agents to have fewer Contacts assigned by closing fewer Conversations.

Auto Assignment Logic for High-Quality Support Teams

Companies which view support teams as a competitive advantage are focused on providing great support. The following Automatic Assignment configuration is for companies that make excellent support their competitive edge.

Auto-Assignment for High-Quality support teams best practices
Recommended settings for High-quality support Teams.
  • Logic: Least Open Contacts. Assigning to the agent with the least open Contacts will make for quicker resolution times.
  • Online Users only: On. Assigning to agents who are away from their desks will decrease the first response time Contacts experience.
  • Max open Contact limit: On. This ensures Agents are able to give current Contacts the attention they need, before moving on to other Contacts.

These strategies are only for reference, and you can always customize the settings your way. Now, we'll share some helpful ways in which you can use Automatic Assignment Workflows.

3 Useful Auto Assignment Workflows

Setting the correct expectations will reduce the amount of dissatisfaction a contact feels when waiting - as long as those expectations are met later.

Three Auto Assignment Workflows you can build with respond.io Workflows Module
3 Automatic Assignment Workflows to improve customer satisfaction.

Applying these strategies correctly will increase the overall satisfaction Contacts experience from conversations. Once again, the following are only examples of what you can create with Workflows.

Auto Assignment: Assigned to Agent Message

Sometimes Agents may take a few additional minutes to respond after Automatic Assignment occurs. Due to the lack of context, Contacts might leave thinking no one is attending to them. This can be fixed by simply sending a message after the assignment occurs.

Assigned to Agent Message with respond.io
A message is sent indicating that an Agent has been assigned.

For that, you’ll need to create an Assign To Step and follow it with a Send a Message Step. There you should inform Contacts that they have been assigned to an Agent. Plus, we suggest including the agent’s name and the expected response time.

An Assign to Agent Message provides assurance to Contacts, who know they'll soon be talking to a person. Because of that, they will be willing to wait until they get a response.

Auto Assignment: Business Hours Away Message

Many companies are not available 24/7. While some people may be familiar with your business hours, less informed Contacts can take it as poor attentiveness. To avoid that, we suggest you set up the following Workflow.

Business Hours Away Message with respond.io
An Away Message is sent to Conversations Off-Business Hours.

Contacts who start Conversations outside of business hours are sent to a line after receiving an Away Message. This message should include your business hours and the expected response time. Additionally, you should ask for relevant info to get back to them.

A Business Hours Away Message sets the correct expectations for the Contact and reduces dissatisfaction experienced while waiting. Furthermore, it assures Contacts that they will receive support from agents as soon as possible.

Auto Assignment: Overcapacity Message

When Agents are at max capacity, Automatic Assignment takes longer than usual. This can cause Contacts to quit the Conversation, thinking that they won’t get the support they need. You can prevent that from happening with an Overcapacity Message.

After your main Assign To Step, enable a Timeout Branch and compose your message below. This message should include an apology for the wait, the Agents’ current status, and the expected response time. Next, add another Assign To Step to assign the queued Contact to an Agent with additional max Contacts.

Overcapacity messages with respond.io
An Overcapacity Message is sent, informing Contacts of Agents’ status.

You can do this by increasing the max Contacts assigned under Advanced Settings. Otherwise, it will affect the FIFO (First In, First Out) queuing system, pushing Contacts in the Failure: Timeout Branch all the way to the back of the line.

An Overcapacity Message lets Contacts know that they are not being ignored. Knowing the reason behind the wait provides them context of the situation. Often, this is what we need to prevent a Contact from abandoning the Conversation.

Final Thoughts on Automatic Assignment

Contact Assignment is easy for companies that have only one customer-facing Team. But bigger companies with several departments need more complex Workflows to route Contacts to the right Teams before assigning them to a relevant Agent.

In that case, respond.io Workflows offer plenty of possibilities. Our simple yet flexible Workflows Module is designed to work for businesses of all sizes. We suggest you check out our Chat Routing article, where we explain how to use different strategies to create Routing Workflows for your company.

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