Monday, February 24, 2014

Reinventing Departments

From day one P3chat had the notion of Departments. But we found out, based on your feedback, that it had limitations that made important scenarios tricky or impossible. Moreover, multiple Departments were available only on Advanced plan.

We decided to address these issues by re-thinking and re-implementing the concept of Departments. We are happy to present it today!

Problem Statement

So, what exactly was wrong with old-Departments?

Intuitively, we understand that Department is where several Operators (agents) are grouped together. That's correct, before and after the change, but old-Departments also played other roles, that complicated the adoption of this useful concept. Let me give you some examples.

First, our customers wanted different Operators on different pages (or websites). The answer was — create a Department. OK. But wait, I have to upgrade to Advanced plan, really? Bummer.

Second, what if we want several Departments on the same page? And maybe let users choose one before chat. The answer was: impossible. Each Department was bound to Widget HTML-code (in one-to-one relationship) and only one Widget code can be installed on HTML page. Bummer #2.
Case study: a common request from our users was to have Sales department and Tech support department, so that logged in customers can chat directly with IT-specialist when faced a problem.
Third example. What if we have different specialists, listed on the same page, and user should select one form the list and get to chat with him/her with just one click. Sorry, but no. It was impossible too, because of the same reasons: only one Department per page and online Operator within Departments is selected randomly (according to Priorities), when user starts live chat.
Case study: we had a request from a customer who wanted to have a list of physicians (doctors), all on one page, and user would select the exact doctor for live chat consultancy.
Enough problems, let's go to the solutions!

The Solution

You will not find the Departments at the top of P3chat Control Panel anymore. Now you can see Sites there:
Pic. 1 - Menu of P3chat Control Panel
Sites can be explained very simply: one Site = one Widget HTML-code. Indeed, intuitively, when you want P3chat on a different domain (or on the same domain, but different site section), you go on and create a new Site, grab new HTML-code and install it. This unlocks the possibility to customize each "site" separately: different welcome messages, window look-and-feel and so on.

One the other hand, Departments are now placed inside Sites. And their role is much more clearer — it just holds the Operators.

Let me clarify this: as previously, Operators are assigned to Departments, but now you can have several Departments within a single Site, all having as many operators as needed. Take a look at the picture:
Pic. 2 - Sites > Operators & Departments section
(Notice that [+] button at the bottom. Click it to create new Department.)

Let me emphasize this once again — you can have several Departments within one Site, or, put it another way, on the same page! This is the single most important implication of today's announcement.

Now, let's go on and see how to utilize this new property — several Departments on the same page — for your business needs. In other words, which steps it takes to address the issues I mentioned at the beginning of the article?

New Possibilities for Departments

If you have several Departments, how do visitors start dialog with certain Operators assigned to exact Department? The answer is — you have several options now.

First option. You can configure a Button for every Department individually:
Pic. 3 - Department settings > Customize Department Button
Once you have a Button, you can place its HTML-code at any part of the page — even the same page — and when user clicks that Button, it will open chat with the online member of that Department.
Note: every Department Button maintains the Online/Offline status of the department, so if all members of the Department are offline, clicking the button will open Offline Message window, even if operators from other departments may be online at that time.
Second option. As soon as you created a second Department within a Site and dropped some Operators into it, you just happen to finish the configuration of a Department List.

From now on, when user clicks general P3chat button (say, Float Button) he/she sees the Department List and is able to select the right Department from it:
Pic. 4 - P3chat Widget > Departments List
As you might guess, when user clicks the Department button in the list and the button is green (i.e. there are online Operators there), then she proceeds directly to chat. If selected Department is gray (offline), then user can leave an offline message. When you'll receive the message, the target Department name can be seen in the header.

That's all for today, pals. We understand that the whole topic of renaming may be tricky a bit, so we've compiled a list of frequently asked question we anticipate. Please find it below.

And, as usually, we'd love to answer all your questions in person via Live Chat, Offline Message or comments below.


  1. Do I need to change anything in my account if I don’t care about the feature?
    • Nope. Everything works just fine as before.
  2. How many Departments can I have in a single Site?
    • You can have up to 5 different Departments in one site. Please contact us if you want more.
  3. How Priorities work within Department?
    • They work the same way they worked within Site. That is, the Operator with the highest priority gets the first call, then when he/she is busy with a call, the Operator with the second-highest priority gets the call, and so on. If two Operators have the same Priority, then it’s a matter of dice who gets the first call.
  4. I’m on a Starter plan, can I have several Departments too?
    • Yes. For promotional reasons we allow 5 Departments on any plan, for a limited time.

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