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The SAP CRM Interaction Center supports multi-channel customer interactions in the domain of sales, marketing and service. In this blog entry, we will drill down into Interaction Center functionality, and take a closer look at the capabilities of the Interaction Center Agent Inbox. This blog will focus on the standard features and functions available with CRM 2007. A separate blog entry will be provided focusing on the new Agent Inbox features introduced with CRM 7.0.

Let us first review some background information. A customer may reach the Interaction Center in several ways, including by email, by phone, fax, and text messaged chat. Using SAP CRM Interaction Center, companies have the flexibility to enable customers to reach agents using either a push or a pull option. Taking e-mail as an example, the following graphic illustrates how these two options work:

Figure 1. Pull and Push options

 Figure 1. Push and Pull Options

With contact push, only one business communication process at a time is "pushed" to an agent in real time. Agents are alerted to pushed messages with a flashing Accept/Reject button on the screen. Besides email, a phone call or a chat request is also pushed to the agent in this way. With contact pull, as you can see in the above diagram indicated with blue arrows, incoming emails, letters, or faxes are listed in the Agent Inbox. Authorized agents can "pull" the item from the Agent Inbox to the workplace.

The Agent Inbox is the central point where the agents can search for and access emails and faxes. It also supports back-office clerks with business transactions, such as service tickets and CRM/ERP sales orders, cases, work items etc. See the screenshot below for clearer picture of how you can use Agent Inbox functionality to filter your messages.

Figure 2. Agent Inbox

Figure 2. Agent Inbox

You can search for messages using different search criteria, such as category, status, priority, and time period. The result is displayed in a tree view that allows an agent to expand each item to see any linked objects. To make it simple, companies can also predefine frequently used search criteria as a Quick Search to give agents a quick result list.  With CRM 7.0, a separate "Saved Searches" feature will be introduced allowing agents to define their own frequently used search criteria.

Once an agent selects an item from the result list and clicks the Interact button, the corresponding business partner is automatically identified and an Interaction Record is created.

I'd like to spend some time talking about how incoming emails - non-E-mail Response Management System (ERMS) - finally reach the Agent Inbox:

  1. An email reaches the SAPConnect component in your CRM environment
  2. The method IFRECEIVE of the business object ICAUISUPP method starts the (non-ERMS) workflow WS14000164, which creates work items for email, fax and letter.
  3. The workflow WS14000164 also determines which agents are selected to execute the email work item.
  4. The work items for email, fax and letter are displayed in the agent inbox.

For each step, there are necessary customizations and transactions to check if the step works properly. See the diagram below for the prerequisite settings that route emails to your agent's inbox.

Figure 3. Prerequisite Setting

Figure 3. Prerequisite Settings 

You may use the ERMS to help automatically route large volume incoming emails to the appropriate group of agents. It works as an enhancement of the email processing functionality. If you encounter any problem related to the Agent Inbox, please first remove the ERMS and test to see if the emails still get to the Agent Inbox. ERMS will not work properly unless the Agent Inbox is configured correctly. In case you need to do some trouble shooting, you can review the four steps mentioned above.

Please note that the Agent Inbox is a shared queue, which means all agents in the assigned group can see incoming e-mail. However, only one agent may process a given message at one time. Additionally, it is possible to run different agent inboxes in parallel with different purposes. For example, one inbox is for sales, and another for the service team.

For details please check the SAP note 882653 (FAQ).

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