Goal of this blog: To answer common customer inquiries concerning multiple user sessions within the Interaction Center.
Service organizations, like contact centers, for example, can require the ability to handle multiple interactions with customers simultaneously. Some highly skilled agents, for example, could handle up to five chat sessions at once! A more common scenario could be that an agent or user requires the ability to work on a chat in one session, reply to a pushed email in another session, while still having the option to answer an incoming call in a third session if this event should occur.
Is multi chat available in SAP CRM?
Multi-chat is standard functionality for the SAP CRM Interaction Center as of SAP CRM version 2007, SP02. Please see a video blog I published late in 2008 showcasing this functionality here.
Here is a screen shot showing multi-chat. Notice that three tabs at the top left of the screen shot.
What if I want our agents to be able to use different channels, like chat, email, telephone, etc. simultaneously to support customers?
Channel blending (multiple sessions) is available for customers as of Enhancement Pack 1 (EHP1) for SAP CRM 7.0. This functionality will allow agents to support multiple customers, via multiple communication channels, in separate tab sessions of the same browser window. This functionality is similar to the existing multi-chat capabilities delivered with CRM 2007 SP02. The current channels supported are chat, email, telephone, plus manual (non-channel, therefore manual account identification).
Additionally, configuration using IDI events to achieve some basic time reporting in multi session environments is possible on a project basis. However, please make a note that calculating handling times, if this is your requirement, could need extra configuration for desired reporting results. For example, if an agent toggles between multiple sessions, the handling time ‘keeps running’ for all sessions, regardless of which session an agent is currently working actively. Therefore, there are some new IC Events as part of SAP CRM EhP1, i.e. ‘EnterSession’ and ‘LeaveSession’ that can be used with IDI Event Reporting to facilitate recording handling times per session if this is your requirement. Below is a screen shot illustrating Multisession Event ID's.
In the past, an agent would need to finish sending an email interaction with one customer before accepting a telephone call from a second customer. This was true regardless if the email is received via a real-time screen pop push (via the ICI interface) or if the email is pulled manually from the Agent Inbox within the Interaction Center (via the SAPConnect interface).
The first session on the left is a manual session, and the second is an Inbound chat session.
What is the maximum amount of sessions that agents can use?
For CRM 2007, SP02 (or greater) an agent can use up to six sessions, for multi chat only.
For CRM 7.0, an agent can use up to six sessions, for multi-chat only.
For CRM 7.0 EHP1, agents can have up to six sessions. For example, depending on your requirements, agents can open up to five non-CTI sessions, say, for manual work, but the sixth session is reserved in case a call, email, or chat arrives via your CMS systems, so an agent always has a free session to accept it. Putting this another way, you can have six chat sessions, or three chat sessions plus two push emails plus one phone call. However, the amount of sessions allowed greatly depends on your CMS system and what they offer in terms of multiple sessions handling via their CMS system configuration. Check with your CMS vendor for what they allow in terms of session handling, per channel (chat, email, telephone) first. In a non-CTI scenario, an agent can have up to six manual sessions. For example, an agent could have three manual sessions, each for email pull scenarios, plus also three additional manual sessions either for an Inbound calls (again, non-CTI) or customer research as part of back-office work.
Can I configure more than 6 sessions? What are the multiple sessions configuration steps required?
The six session limit is hard coded, therefore more than six sessions cannot be configured. Additionally, based on your requirements and implementation, it may be important to review SAP Note 1597836. This note describes additional ICM kernel parameter adjustments for total number of HTTP(s) sessions allowed. As one example, if you use multiple sessions, but also you launch transactions via transaction launcher within the Interaction Center, this could cause you to go over the default limit of 6 HTTP(s) sessions allowed. Read the note carefully for instructions and options, but basically this note describes the ability to increase the amount to a maximum of 12 HTTP(s) sessions which could have many benefits depending on your implementation and which processes the IC agent follows. Again, this HTTP(s) ICM kernel session parameter is separate from the hard coded multiple session limit for agents within the Interaction Center and the above mentioned note provides the appropriate information to make this adjustment.
What is a manual session?
A manual session is one started by the agent, and is not a CTI session. This basically implies that in a manual session, the Account Identification process is performed manually by the agent, and the account and/or contact is not determined automatically by an email address, or via IVR, etc. A manual session can be started via the Communications Toolbar button ‘New Session’, which is available depending on your toolbar configuration.
Does each session have its own interaction record? I’m asking also in terms of reporting requirements.
Yes, each session is treated as exactly that, a separate session, with its own interaction record, and therefore each session would be treated also separately with regards to reporting. However, reporting will vary depending on whether you use CTI or not for channel integration, and depending on which CTI vendor is used, and handling time requirements could require extra IC Event configuration as stated above.
Which CTI vendors support multi-chat and multi-channel?
Since vendor offerings change so quickly, it is advised that you check with your CTI vendor, or potential CTI vendor(s) how they support multiple channels in general. We can always assist with questions concerning SAP’s CTI vendor, SAP Business Communications Management (BCM), if necessary.
Have you implemented multiple sessions as part of your contact center agents' business process within the Interaction Center? Which CMS system are you using and do you have feedback for SAP CRM Solution Management? We would like to hear from you, so please feel free to leave a comment below or email firstname.lastname@example.org.