Introducing Contact Center SMS

In this release, 8x8 Contact Center introduces communication via SMS inbound channels. SMS has become a popular channel of communication in customer service. Let’s say customers of a car insurance company want to check their claim status or send related inquiries, they can simply send SMS messages to an SMS number published by the insurance company. These messages are routed via SMS channels and chat queues to agents, and offered to them as chat interactions for responses. Agents can look up customer records if the message is from an existing customer. They can look up outstanding cases and history of interactions to handle the conversation effectively.

Audience

This guide is intended to educate:

  • 8x8 Contact Center admins about setting up SMS channels.
  • 8x8 Contact Center agents about handling SMS interactions via dedicated SMS channels.

Availability

The 8x8 Contact Center SMS feature is available to X Series customers (X7/X8) only. SMS channels for receiving SMS messages can be configured in 30 countries (see appendix). SMS messages can be sent to most countries in the world (note that the cost of sending messages to different countries varies based on the country, with the US and Canada being the least expensive).

Features

  • Connect and Communicate: As contact center agents, receive SMS messages from customers and communicate in real time.
  • Publish SMS numbers: Publish phone numbers having SMS-only or voice+SMS capabilities ( voice+SMS is available only in the US and Canada) which can be provisioned as SMS inbound channels by 8x8.
  • Route messages: Based on agent skills, route SMS messages via chat queues to available agents. Direct these messages to available agents based on rules/schedules/skills.
  • Engage with customers effectively: Allow agents to multitask and maximize their productivity by handling messages from up to six customers at a time.
  • Handle interactions more efficiently by accessing the customer record via screen pop. When an existing customer sends a message, quickly look up the popped customer record and learn about recent cases.
  • Track past activity: Save the SMS interactions in a chat transcript and automatically link it as a case to the right customer record for future reference. Agents always end SMS interactions.

Limitations

  • SMS conversations must be initiated by the customer (the external party). At this time, the agent cannot initiate an SMS conversation with a customer (or other external party).
  • We do not support SMS messaging to short code numbers currently. We support messaging to toll-free and regular phone numbers.
  • The messaging does not support images or emojis. It is plain text only.

Use Case

Acme Insure is a car insurance company that processes claims from insurers for traffic incidents. Their clients often reach out to their agents to file claims, inquire about the status of their claims, and other related questions. An insurance agent at Acme Insure, Robin, receives SMS messages from clients and responds to them in real time. During business hours, Robin and other agents interact with multiple customers simultaneously, increasing their productivity. For messages received during offline hours, Acme Insure sends an automatic response notifying the sender of Acme Insure’s business hours and requests them to connect during business hours. The company also wants to keep track of the communication trail with their clients. Hence, agents save their chat transcript before ending the conversation and link it to the customer record. This helps all agents to review the cases, understand the status, and assist the returning customers effectively.

For more details about SMS channels see our topics below: