How to assign chats based on their difficulty

Distribute incoming chats more evenly between operators by adjusting the difficulty factor of a typical chat.

Difficulty balancing helps you control the combination of work items an operator can handle concurrently as well as how soon a chat queue reaches capacity by differentiating difficulty levels between typical incoming chats, based on department of origin, website or chat window.

When difficulty balancing is enabled, Automatic Chat Distribution takes chat difficulty into consideration by assigning a combination of fewer difficult and a greater number of less difficult items to operators until their queue limit has been reached or exceeded.

For example, tech support issues and general business inquiries may require different amount of time to resolve. Administrators can assess and review the difficulty of a chat using any metric of their choosing, such as on-call time or chat lines exchanged. Raising or lowering the difficulty factor can make operators more efficient and lessen visitor wait-time by routing chats that are appropriate to operator skill level, expertise, and workload.

Consider the following examples:

Scenario Outcome
  • Queue limit is 4
  • Operator receives 2 chats with difficulty 2

The operator is effectively handling 4 items, and will not receive any more chats as the limit has been reached.

  • Queue limit is 4
  • Operator receives the following chats in order:
    • 3 chats with difficulty 1
    • 2 chats with difficulty 0.75

All five chats are assigned to the operator, who is effectively handling 4.5 items. No further chats will be assigned as the limit has already been exceeded.

The effective weight of a chat in the queue is linearly proportional to its difficulty factor.

  • The factor ranges from 0 through 100. Decimal fractions are allowed.
  • The default difficulty is 1, representing average difficulty.

By design, difficulty-based distribution can cause an operator's limit to be exceeded. This can temporarily overload an operator; however, the behavior is expected, and aims to prevent difficult items from sitting in the queue for a prolonged period of time to ensure that visitors in the queue are treated fairly.

Difficulty can be applied in two ways:

  • At the department level as part of Automatic Chat Distribution (ACD)
  • At the chat level as part of the Chat Rules Engine

Chat rule difficulty prevails over department-level difficulty.

  1. To set difficulty at the department level as part of Automatic Chat Distribution (ACD):
    1. Create a department at Setup > Account Setup > General > Departments.
    2. On the New Department window, go to the Chat Distribution tab.
    3. Set the difficulty factor under Override default difficulty for this department.
    4. Save your changes.
  2. To set difficulty at the chat level as part of the Chat Rules Engine, refer to the instructions for managing chats according to rules: How to manage incoming chats according to rules (Chat Rules Engine).