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From Chris Albanese: VRA Scheduling – Use Salesforce Scheduler and Visual Remote Assistant to provide virtual meetings

Salesforce Visual Remote Assistant (VRA) allows you to provide immediate assistance to your customers and employees over video chat. You can find much more information on VRA on Salesforce’s website at https://www.salesforce.com/products/service-cloud/features/visual-remote-assistant/

With the Winter ’22 release, VRA introduced a new feature to facilitate the scheduling of virtual appointments between agents or mobile workers and customers with Visual Remote Assistant. This means that if you are using Salesforce Field Service (SFS) or Salesforce Scheduler (Scheduler) you can now have VRA meetings automatically generated and shared with your customer at the time of appointment scheduling. For example, your customer can create an appointment today for a meeting next Tuesday at 9:00AM. When the appointment is created, the customer is sent a link for the Virtual Meeting that they will use at the time of the meeting.

Check out some more details on this below.

What comes in the VRA Scheduling package?

For customers who have purchased VRA and either SFS or Scheduler or both:

  • A separate managed package installed on top of VRA that contains the VRA Scheduling capabilities
    • Experience Cloud Lobby Component
      • for the user to await the start of the meeting
    • Service Appointment Component for VRA Scheduling
      • generates pop up reminder at time of appointment when the agent opens the Service Appointment
    • Custom Notification
      • to remind the Service Appointment Assigned Resource (agent) of their upcoming meeting
    • Session Lobby Invite object
    • Additions to the Visual Configuration setup screens to manage this feature
  • See VRA Installation and Configuration Manual and VRA Admin Manual for more info

Quick Video of it in action

See this video which illustrates what it can look like after a few simple configuration steps

Setting up VRA Scheduling for Salesforce Scheduler

Preliminary Things

  • Make sure Scheduler is enabled in your org
  • Determine when you want to generate VRA Scheduled Appointments
    • For example, if a user selects an Appointment Type of Video this would trigger the creation of the VRA Lobby Link
  • Plan a confirmation and reminder strategy
    • VRA Scheduling comes with a flow that you can use to send the initial confirmation via email
    • You may want to also send a reminder notification to your customer prior to the meeting, such as 1 hour before
  • Enable Digital Engagement so you can send SMS messages for the confirmation and reminder notifications
  • Install the latest versions of the packages

Object Model Changes

I made 2 small changes to the Service Appointment Object to add 2 text fields. This was done to simplify the sending of an SMS Message to the customer when scheduling a new virtual Service Appointment.

  • First Name – this text field stores the first name of the contact associated with the Service Appointment
  • Lobby Link – this text field stores the Session Lobby Invite url

Flow Setup

VRA Manage Lobby Invites
Configure the flow called VRA Manage Lobby Invites to meet your needs. This flow is configured out of the box to create, update and delete Session Lobby Invites based on the life cycle of a Service Appointment. You need to tailor the trigger criteria and the decision criteria to meet your needs.

Trigger Criteria
The flow triggers on Service Appointment and provides criteria that you can tailor. For Scheduler, I removed the work type criteria that is present and replaced it with Appointment Type = Virtual. Whenever a Service Appointment with Appointment Type = Virtual, this flow will fire.

Out of the Box Trigger Criteria

My criteria which is based on Appointment Type. Only Service Appointments with Appointment Type = video (this is the API value for Virtual meetings) will trigger this flow

Decision Criteria
The out of the box flow will create Session Lobby Link records when the Service Appointment is Dispatched. This applies nicely for Salesforce Field Service. For Scheduler, this may or may not apply, so edit this accordingly. I left this as is and created a supplemental flow (below this screen shot).

Supplemental Flow
I created an additional flow to accomplish 2 things: 1) make sure the SA has an email and phone saved to it and 2) change the status to Dispatched. This is to trigger the VRA Manage Lobby Invites flow.

It’s a triggered flow on SA whenever the SA is created and the Contact Id is present but the email address is not

Overview of flow. It retrieves the contact record from the SA and then updates the SA’s status, email and phone.

Update the SA status, email and phone

Session Lobby Link update flow
This is an additional flow which updates the lobby link to precisely share with the customer the experience site page containing the Lobby component. Out of the box, the link generated points to the experience site home page. This flow allowed me to put the Lobby component on a specific experience site page. This is not required, but it provided me with flexibility to put the lobby component on any page.

Overview of flow. Note that the last step is a Messaging Notification action to send an SMS message to the customer.

Updating the Lobby Link to the desired experience site page

Details of the formula used. It’s a simple text substitution to insert the specific experience site page. In my example, I placed the lobby component on a page called vra-lobby, so I’ve inserted that value into the url.

Updating the Service Appointment. In this step, I retrieve the Service Appointment using the Session Lobby Invite field called Record Id (not to be confused with Id). I’m updating my 2 custom fields to make the SMS messaging template easier to construct.

Messaging Template

This is the template I used. You can see I’m using the custom fields I created for First Name and the Lobby Link as well as the appointment start time.

Experience Cloud Changes

This was a simple change. I added a new page to my experience site called vra-lobby. I placed the Lobby Component on that page. I made sure that the page was accessible to a guest user.

Service Appointment Page Reminder Component

Add the Service Appointment reminder component to the Service Appointment page. This component requires no parameters. It generates a pop up notification when opening the SA to remind the user there is a virtual session that needs to start.

Summary

VRA Scheduling makes it easy to provide customers with links to a 2 way video session when scheduling an appointment.

Additional Notes about this Example

This is just a concept illustrator. You may want to add additional logic to your flows to send reminders to the customer along the channel of their choice. I’ve used SMS in my example, but making this more generic to support additional channels is recommended.

Appointment Reminders for the customer are not depicted in this example, but these would be easy to set up with a flow.

Tele or virtual Scenarios using Salesforce Scheduler

Salesforce Scheduler can be used to cover Tele scenario or Virtual scenarios too. Here is how…

Setup Steps

1. Create a Virtual Territory

Create a single territory which will be treated as a Virtual Territory and add your resources in here

2. Skip Territory flow

Click here to see how one can Skip the territory selection and hardcode the flow to select a virtual territory

3. Integrate with external Video conferencing providers

a. Click here to integrate Scheduler with Webex

b. Click here for Visual Remote Assistant


Note: There are other models too where you could have the same resource in multiple territories as a secondary resource. Now if a customer selects a face to face appointment, you could call a scheduling policy with only only Primary Resources flag and if your customer selects a video / phone call you could also have the Secondary Resources flag checked which will allow this customer to setup meetings with all your primary and secondary resources, there by giving you additional capacity.

Performance Considerations

Precision scheduling is a performance intensive affair and it considers several different elements while coming up with the available time slots – skills, skill levels, resource holidays, working hours, location, etc.

Performance improvements tips

1.Remove Event checks in Scheduling Policy

If you are not checking Salesforce Calendar for Resource Availability then disable it.

2.Reduce Time range

Reducing the time range that you fetch the Resources & Time Slots for, helps improve the performance of the Scheduler algorithm and allows you to query more eligible resources. Using this mechanism, you have certain controls present

Flows: Use Time slot multiplier to reduce the number of days you are querying for from 14 (default) to 7 by reducing this Time Slot Multiplier flow variable to 1. Click here for details

APIs: Use Start Time & End Time to reduce the number of days you are querying the system for (default is 31 days.) Click here for details

3.Appointment Distribution

Using the new capability introduced in Winter 22: Appointment Distribution

One of the biggest bottlenecks is the number of resources whose calendar needs to be checked. As the number of eligible resources increases, Salesforce scheduler takes longer to fetch the resource list. For a 14 day period it is recommended that we keep around 20 eligible resources ie: In other words 20 resources with the same skill in the service territory if you are using the out of the box flows.

If the above doesn’t give you the performance boost needed then consider the new capability introduced in Winter 22 which will only look for the calendar of the x least utilised resources at that point and hence circumvent this problem.
Since you are considering the least utilised resources and showing up their slots, you will likely get most of the available slots and automatically balance the workload of your resources.

Here x is configurable(Click here for release notes)
Use the new Number of Resources to Show (Appointment Distribution) attribute in flows. This attribute is available in the Select Service Resource, Select Service Appointment Time, and Select Service Resource and Service Appointment Time screen components. If you’re using APIs, use the resourceLimitApptDistribution parameter. This parameter is available in the getAppointmentCandidates REST API and the available-territory-slots Connect API.

A simple test allowed me to manage a territory of 300 resources too using this feature on the flows shipped with the product, as long as I restricted the number of eligible resources (x) to 20.

Note: The above figure could change based on customisations and the specific data shape so would recommend running a test or proof of concept on your specific setup before moving ahead.