Bot hand off to agent with Salesforce Live Chat Part 1

Hi everyone, one of the most requested features into modern implementations is a smooth transition from the automated response system (our lovely bot) to a human.

Our objective in fact is usually the following:

  1. Handle the customer request  first doing a qualification of the request (collect data, ask additional information)
  2. Now it can happen that the request can be handled with simple and repetitive solution and bot should exactly cover this scenario
  3. It can also happen that the request is so complex that can be handled only by a call center operator but we will make good usage of the operator’s time because he will be involved in an activity where he can bring a distinctive value

One the most used Call Center modules for human assistance on a case is Salesforce Live Chat and it makes sense to understand how we can make a transition from any bot implementation to Live Chat without requesting the customer to change UI, transition to another web page and more importantly to re-type all the information he wrote at the qualification state (so assuming that the triage has been done in the bot application we want to bring the entire conversation state from the bot to the live agent attention).

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Let’s start with the basics and see the “how to” from the beginning:

First you need a salesforce developer sandbox for your testing , you can request one for free here.

Once you have your sandbox you have to enable the live agent functionality, following the steps described here , please pay attention to each step and your last step should be this one .

You can try if everything works just creating a sample html page with javascript created by the buttons functionality and the deployment one (remember to put the deployment javascript at the end of the page before the closing body tag!).

If you want an unofficial guide to help you more check also this blog  or this other blog .

At this point you should have your live chat working nicely and we can now proceed to study the salesforce live agent rest api that allow us to us the live chat functionality programmatically.

If you look a bit to how the API works you will soon notice that this API has been design to be consumed mainly directly by final clients (web pages or mobile apps) while it lacks some Server to Server functionality like web-hooks , so in a nutshell it is very helpful if you want to build a branded web page or IOS/Android app for call center support but it a bit less helpful to use it for transitioning a conversation from a server application (our bot).

In order to use the api we need some info: your Salesforce Organization Id ,  your live agent deploymentId , live agent buttonId and finally the live agent api endpoint.

You can find this info here and in this guide.

Ok now can finally start with some coding 🙂 , I will use c# (running from a Mac) so I guess it can run on any platform .

First we need to do our first rest call to retrive the session ID for the new session, the session key for the new session, the affinity token for the session that’s passed in the header for all future requests and finally the clientPollTimeout that represents the number of seconds before you must make a Messages request before your Messages long polling loop times out and is terminated (we will understand this better later):

 private static async Task<ChatObj> createSession()
         {
             string sessionEndpoint = liveAgentEndPoint + liveAgentSessionRelativePath;
             HttpClient client = new HttpClient();
         client.DefaultRequestHeaders.Accept.Add(new MediaTypeWithQualityHeaderValue("application/json"));
             client.DefaultRequestHeaders.Add("X-LIVEAGENT-API-VERSION", liveAgentApiVersion);
             client.DefaultRequestHeaders.Add("X-LIVEAGENT-AFFINITY", "null");
             HttpResponseMessage response = await client.GetAsync(sessionEndpoint);
             JObject jObj = new JObject();
             if (response.IsSuccessStatusCode)
             {
                 string resp = await response.Content.ReadAsStringAsync();
                 jObj = JObject.Parse(resp);

            }
             response.Dispose();
             ChatObj chatObj = new ChatObj();
             chatObj.setSessionId((String)jObj.GetValue("id"));
             chatObj.setAffinityToken((String)jObj.GetValue("affinityToken"));
             chatObj.setSessionKey((String)jObj.GetValue("key"));
             chatObj.setButtonId(liveAgentButtonId);
             chatObj.setSequence(1);
             client.Dispose();
             return chatObj;
         }

Now that we have this information we can actually say to the live agent that we would like to start a chat session with him (!) and this requires another api call to request a chat visitor session and this session will be actually opened only when the live agent accepts the request into the salesforce console.

So first we do the request:

  private static async Task createChatRequest(ChatBag chatObj)
         {
             
             HttpClient client = new HttpClient();
             client.DefaultRequestHeaders.Accept.Add(new MediaTypeWithQualityHeaderValue("application/json"));
             client.DefaultRequestHeaders.Add("X-LIVEAGENT-API-VERSION", liveAgentApiVersion);
             client.DefaultRequestHeaders.Add("X-LIVEAGENT-AFFINITY", chatObj.getAffinityToken());
             client.DefaultRequestHeaders.Add("X-LIVEAGENT-SESSION-KEY", chatObj.getSessionKey());
             client.DefaultRequestHeaders.Add("X-LIVEAGENT-SEQUENCE", "1");
             JObject body = new JObject();
             body.Add(new JProperty("organizationId", liveAgentOrgId));
             body.Add(new JProperty("deploymentId", liveAgentDeploymentId));
             body.Add(new JProperty("buttonId", liveAgentButtonId));
             body.Add(new JProperty("sessionId", chatObj.getSessionId()));
             body.Add(new JProperty("trackingId", ""));
             body.Add(new JProperty("userAgent", "Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; Intel Mac OS X 10_11_6) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/50.0.2661.102 Safari/537.36"));
             body.Add(new JProperty("language", "en-US"));
             body.Add(new JProperty("screenResolution", "1440x900"));
             body.Add(new JProperty("visitorName", "ConsoleTest"));
             body.Add(new JProperty("prechatDetails", new List<String>()));
             body.Add(new JProperty("receiveQueueUpdates", true));
             body.Add(new JProperty("prechatEntities", new List<String>()));
             body.Add(new JProperty("isPost", true));
             StringContent cnt = new StringContent(body.ToString(), Encoding.UTF8, "application/json");
             HttpResponseMessage response = await client.PostAsync(liveAgentEndPoint + liveAgentChasitorRelativePath, cnt);
             if (response.IsSuccessStatusCode)
             {
                 string responseText = await response.Content.ReadAsStringAsync();
             }
             response.Dispose();
             client.Dispose();

        }

If everything went right we should receive an “OK” as response while we wait for the operator to actually accept the visitor session request.

An important thing to notice is that the API supports prechatDetails and prechatEntities objects that we can use to bring with us the conversation data that the customer had with the bot , so the live agent can look at this info and immediately help the customer with the right context without re-asking the same questions.

Since the process of approval to start the chat is not automatic but we have to wait for the live agent to accept, at this stage we have just to poll the Message api and wait for having the confirmation using a thread that calls the api in this way:

  private static async Task<ChatMessageResponse> receiveMessages(ChatBag chatObj)
         {
             ChatMessageResponse jObj = new ChatMessageResponse();
             HttpClient client = new HttpClient();
             client.DefaultRequestHeaders.Accept.Add(new MediaTypeWithQualityHeaderValue("application/json"));
             client.DefaultRequestHeaders.Add("X-LIVEAGENT-API-VERSION", liveAgentApiVersion);
             client.DefaultRequestHeaders.Add("X-LIVEAGENT-AFFINITY", chatObj.getAffinityToken());
             client.DefaultRequestHeaders.Add("X-LIVEAGENT-SESSION-KEY", chatObj.getSessionKey());

            HttpResponseMessage response = await client.GetAsync(liveAgentEndPoint + liveAgentMessagesRelativePath);
             if (response.IsSuccessStatusCode)
             {
                 string respText = await responseContent.ReadAsStringAsync();
                 jObj = JsonConvert.DeserializeObject<ChatMessageResponse>(respText);

                 if (jObj!=null)
                   {
                     var msgs = from x in jObj.messages
                                                             where x.type == "ChatRequestSuccess"
                                    select x;
                     foreach (Messages activity in msgs)
                     {
                         Console.WriteLine("VisitorId: " +activity.message.visitorId);
                     }
                     
                 }
             }
             response.Dispose();
             client.Dispose();
             return jObj;
         }

Ok so when we receive the ChatRequestSuccess Type message, this means that chat request was successful and routed to available agents .

To be completely sure that an agent really accepted our conversation we have to wait for the ChatEnstablished Type message where we can also read the name and the id of the agent answering us.

Ok now we can finally send an “Hello Mr Agent!” text to our Live Agent with this api:

  private static async Task sendTxtMessage(ChatBag chatObj,string textToSend)
         {
             
             HttpClient client = new HttpClient();
             client.DefaultRequestHeaders.Accept.Add(new MediaTypeWithQualityHeaderValue("application/json"));
             client.DefaultRequestHeaders.Add("X-LIVEAGENT-API-VERSION", liveAgentApiVersion);
             client.DefaultRequestHeaders.Add("X-LIVEAGENT-AFFINITY", chatObj.getAffinityToken());
             client.DefaultRequestHeaders.Add("X-LIVEAGENT-SESSION-KEY", chatObj.getSessionKey());
             JObject bodyT = new JObject();
             bodyT.Add(new JProperty("text", textToSend));
             StringContent cnt = new StringContent(bodyT.ToString(), Encoding.UTF8, "application/json");
             HttpResponseMessage response = await client.PostAsync(liveAgentEndPoint + liveAgentChasitorChatRelativePath, cnt);
             if (response.IsSuccessStatusCode)
             {
                 string respText = await responseStep2.Content.ReadAsStringAsync();
             }
             response.Dispose();
             client.Dispose();
         }

And we can receive the replies of the agent always using the same receive message polling technique but this time searching for  ChatMessage  type kind of messages.

In the next part of the article I will go through the integration with a bot and attempt to see how we can implement the hand off !

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