Giuliano Biasci

by | Jun 30, 2020

Microsoft Enterprise Calendars enter the Imagicle Attendant Console.

Want more awesome content? Sign up for our newsletter.

Always know what’s up!
Exchange and Office365 lands in your Attendant Console.

Nowadays, for switchboard operators and contact center staff, the fluidity of work is essential to satisfy the growing number of requests coming from customers and greater articulation of the internal organization. 
When you need to forward a call to a colleague, you have to know in real-time if she/he is busy, and often the presence status is a sufficient indicator. But sometimes it’s not enough. The colleague may have a free phone but still, be busy in a meeting and not want to be disturbed. And what happens when the colleague is busy? The operator must answer the typical question: “When can I call her/him back?”. 
At that moment, being aware of the colleague’s plans for the day is an excellent resource to avoid wasting the time of the operator and the caller and offering satisfactory customer service.
With the Summer Release 2020, Imagicle’s Attendant Console will respond to this need by introducing integration with Office365 and Exchange calendars.
 
I am Giuliano Biasci, a member of the Unified Communication development team located in Viareggio. Today, I will tell you about the advantages of this functionality and why you will want to integrate it into your daily work.

A need-driven implementation.

When we started with the analysis phase, the idea seemed clear and the path well outlined, but we soon realized that the reality was different and that, although well hidden, the pitfalls were there.
Following an initial study, we described an implementation hypothesis that included the integration of a complete view of each colleague’s personal calendar in full Outlook style.
 
“Wonderful!” we thought. “The solution is comprehensive and covers all usage scenarios. With just a few clicks, the user will be able to view everything they see from Outlook.” 
We didn’t even have time to finish the sentence. We already knew something was wrong. As often (inevitably) happens, we had reasoned from a strictly technical point of view. What we had designed would have been just a bad copy of something that already exists and would not have added value to our product.
It was time to take a step back and analyze the need before the solution. We tried to change our point of view and put ourselves in the operator’s shoes. That is, who will actually use the functionality.
Then we asked ourselves: “What would I need to know in order to be more effective in responding to the callers and improving the service?” 
 
The answer was simple and can be summarized in two key pillars.
The necessary information was:
  • The real-time colleague availability;
  • When the colleague is available again to be contacted.
 
Now that the ideas were clear, we were on the right track. It was just a matter of finding a solution that could meet the identified need, embodying what are the main principles of Imagicle: faster, smarter, and easier!

A deep dive into the Attendant Console calendars.

The first step was to show colleagues’ current status. We have decided to make it available directly in the lists of colleagues, favorites, and in the results of the quick search.
In this way, when the operator answers a call, he could quickly access this information by looking for the colleague’s name. The choice of statuses and iconography follows that used by the Outlook and Exchange systems, so as not to confuse the user and bring her/him closer to the same user experience of the system that acts as a data provider.

The second step was to summarize the information from the daily events into a readable and compact panel. Aware that this panel would make a difference in the functionality’s effectiveness, we stepped back many times before getting to the final solution, which you can now see in the following screenshots.

The points we have discussed to get to a comprehensive solution are:
  • Speed of access. With a mouse’s simple movement over the calendar icon, the events panel appears without the need to click on it.
  • Summary: The panel’s header summarizes everything the operator must know to be able to answer to the interlocutor:
    • when the icon at the top-left is green, that the colleague is currently available; when it’s yellow, she/he is busy;
    • if the colleague is currently available, you can see when her/his next appointment is; if she/he is busy, when she/he will be available again.
  • Time horizon: the time frame chosen to display the upcoming events shows only current and future events. Although a larger time view would have provided more information, in most cases it would be of little use and would only create confusion.

Easy configuration.

Now that I’ve told you something about functionalities, it’s time to understand the solution’s versatility in terms of configuration. 
In fact, there are two users involved: the system administrator and the console operator. 
  • The administrator, from the IAS portal, can:
    • enable/Disable functionality for all clients;
    • select the type of data provider (Office 365 or Exchange);
    • set how often clients request updates from the provider.
  • The operator, from the console settings panel, can:
    • enable/disable the functionality for his client;
    • enter his account credentials to access the service

Conclusions.

Although this feature’s development took time and effort, working on it was an experience that enriched us in every way. Not only from a technical or professional point of view, but especially at a team level.
Working together on a daily basis to refine a solution that was becoming more and more mature, has helped the team spirit to grow.
We hope to have simplified the lives of our users, although we know this is only the beginning. In fact, this may not be the end of a job in itself, but the beginning of a trend that sees the Attendant Console more and more integrated towards third party systems.
 
Keep following us in the coming weeks!
You will discover one by one all the fantastic news of the Summer Release 2020 to get your communications off the ground!

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *