Getting Started

Agent Quick Start Guide

Table of Contents

Agent Quick Start Guide

At Sparkcentral our mission is to help you work as efficiently as possible. People using the Sparkcentral platform serve more customers while feeling less overwhelmed. Not by turning you into a robot, but by providing you with a platform that is designed to handle asynchronous conversations.

Asynchronous? What? Let’s find out what this means. Typically, customer service teams are used to handle conversations on the phone or on live chat. Both of them are considered synchronous conversations. You ánd the customer need to be present at the same time. The difference with asynchronous conversations is that there is no need for you and the customer to be active in the conversation at the same time. That sounds like a minor difference, doesn’t it? It does, but this minor difference impacts the characteristics of the conversation between you and the customer.

  • With asynchronous conversations typically:
    The customer is in the lead. He or she decides the pace of the conversation. Sometimes a customer replies immediately, sometimes it takes hours or days to get back to you.
  • The end of a conversation is harder to define. You don’t “hang up” a WhatsApp conversation.
  • Conversations over messaging never end. Both parties can always pick up where they left off, without re-starting a session or re-introducing themselves.

Asynchronous workflow

In Sparkcentral you engage with your customers and audience from one streamlined queue. The workflow consists of three states:

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NEW | Conversations that have new interactions and need follow-up

PENDING | Conversations that are waiting for
customers to follow-up

RESOLVED | Conversations that don’t require any follow-up

The NEW queue is the only queue that needs your constant attention. Here’s why:

  • Conversations from all channels (that you have access to) appear in the NEW queue
  • Conversations that are sitting in the PENDING queue will appear in the NEW queue automatically when the customer gets back to you.
  • Conversations in the PENDING and RESOLVED queue that you proactively want to check on can be boomeranged back to the NEW queue by setting a reminder, called boomerang.

Service Level Agreements (SLA)

Sparkcentral has a feature called Service Level Agreements that allows you to see whether or not conversations are being handled within the agreed upon SLA’s. 

Agents can see the SLA status of a conversation in the queue. On each conversation where an SLA has been applied, we will show a badge with a color (gray orange, red) and time left before the SLA is breached or how long the conversation is already overdue.

 30m : A new conversation well within SLA has a gray badge with an indicator how much time remains before the SLA is breached.

 15m : If the conversation has been in your new queue for some time it turns orange if time is running out.

 -5m : If the SLA is breached the badge will turn red. The time will indicate how long ago the SLA was breached.



Log in to Sparkcentral 🖥

Now that you have some background on asynchronous messaging and know-how about our platform concept it is time to get a little more practical. Let’s get started! Open your Chrome browser and log in.
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When you log in to Sparkcentral you can now decide if you want to be Available or Away by default. If you are available, you will immediately get assigned the first conversation that is waiting in the New queue.

You can change your default availability preference in your Personal Settings. You can find your personal settings by clicking on your name in the top right corner and choosing My Settings from the menu.

Not ready to start handling the queue? Change your status from Available to Away (or one of the more specific statuses depending on your company settings).

Features & Functionalities

Tools that you’ll use daily should look modern and be familiar. The Conversation Timeline of the Sparkcentral Agent Desktop mimics the modern look & feel of a messaging conversation.

Reply box

The Reply Box is where you type in your messages.

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The Active channel identifier shows what channel the message is coming from. If you have multiple Facebook/ Twitter pages then it will show your handle/page name for that channel.

Assigning conversation ownership
If you need to assign the conversation to another agent (e.g to an agent that has a specific skill or assign it to a supervisor), then you can do a search query or scroll for the name, and assign it accordingly. The individual will then receive a notification that a message has been assigned to them.

Change message status
Pending – you set a conversation to pending status when you are waiting for more information from the customer or if you need some additional work (e.g if you need to get supervisors approval). Conversation will be moved to the Pending tab.

Resolve – you put a conversation to resolve status when you have completed or have answered all inquiries from the customer. By doing so the conversation will move to the Resolved tab.

You can define a length of time to move conversations back to New for follow-up. Here you can also add a quick note or reminder of why you set the boomerang.

Additional Reply box functionalities

  • Switch between public tweet or DM from reply box
  • Change the twitter handle you are replying from.
  • See who you are replying to, and control who else is being mentioned in a tweet.
  • Auto-complete name of contact in reply box
  • Insert emojis
  • Add GIFs
  • Create shortened link
  • Attach file
  • Add Twitter DM link to Tweets
  • Message length indicator wheel for Tweets

Conversation Pane

The Conversation Pane is the middle section where all the conversation history is going to take place.

When a message comes in, it creates what we call a Conversation. Conversations are broken up into a solid line.

At the top of every conversation shows a conversation header which contains labels for Topics, Customer segments, Status of conversation (new, pending, or resolved), and the Channel name. You can either add a Topic manually or if you have set a topic automation to be applied, then it will apply automatically.

Message Metadata
Metadata for each message shows timestamp, who sent it, the type of message (private message, Facebook wall post, Twitter direct message, etc.), and link to native site for public messages.

Contextual action menu
Hover over the inbound message to reveal contextual action menu:

  • Reply to message
  • Quote Tweet
  • Like public message
  • Block a thread – blocks further replies to a Tweet or Facebook post from coming in to the platform
  • Mask message – deletes contents of message from UI and our databases

Please Note: For replies to public messages, the original message is embedded with the reply to provide additional context as seen in the example.

Audit Trails
Audit trails show what actions were performed on a conversation, who performed the action, and when the action was performed.

If you prefer not to see the audit trails, you can disable them with the slider at the top of the conversation pane.

Conversation Notes
You can add internal NOTES to conversations. Notes are highlighted for visibility, and include metadata (user id and timestamp). Notes can be edited or deleted.

Copy a full conversation

In case you need to copy the contents of a conversation, you can now do so! Simply click on the button in the header of a conversation to copy all inbound and outbound messages for that particular conversation.

Attachments (such as files and images) will not be copied. Only the text of the messages.

When making a copy, a new window will open showing the exact text that will be copied to your clipboard. Click on the button to confirm.

And that’s it! You can now paste the copied content in an e-mail or elsewhere.

Contact Attributes & Knowledge Base

Contact & Knowledge Base located at the right-hand side of the page.

Contact Attributes
Contact attributes is a customizable list of attributes (both agent-provided and medium-provided). See everything you need to know about your customers, so you can provide personalized responses and build strong relationships. You can fill out, and store information on a contact that will persist after the conversation is resolved. Existing information can be edited or deleted.

  • Know who you’re talking to
  • Easy spot influencers & VIPS
  • Update relevant customer information

Please note: icons indicate if an attribute has been verified with the CRM, and is managed by the CRM, or is used to lookup contacts in the CRM.

Knowledge base
No need to type the same things on repeat. In addition to the team library, you can add snippets to your personal collection.

Simply click on the item you’d like to send and it shows up in the reply box. Ready for you to send or make some edits prior to sending it.

Keyboard shortcuts

Using shortcuts makes you more efficient at doing certain tasks on your computer. When you’re not necessarily reaching for the mouse every second and once you start using shortcuts each day, you’ll start noticing a boost to productivity.

When you’re logged in Press and hold ALT or Option and the list will show.

Keyboard shortcuts

Handle the queue

Typically, your queue is filtered Oldest to Newest. Which means the top conversation has the longest waiting time. If you are available the first conversation will be automatically assigned to you. When you are done handling this conversation, you’ll automatically move on to the next conversation. No need for you to select a conversation manually.

Example workflow

  1. Read the conversation
  2. Check contact attributes for valuable information
  3. Add relevant topics and tags
  4. Reply to the customer
  5. Leave a Note that will help you (or your colleague) to understand what the conversation is about.
  6. Update your CRM with a conversation registration
  7. Change the conversation status
    1. Pending
    2. Pending with Boomerang
    3. Resolved
    4. Resolved with Boomerang

Best practices

  • The customer is always leading. Communication is key. Don’t move a conversation to Pending or Resolved without communicating with the customer.
  • Only resolve conversations that need no follow-up at all. When in doubt? Use Pending.
  • When you’re done with one conversation, you automatically move to the next conversation. No need to use your mouse to navigate to another conversation.
  • Use boomerangs. Boomerangs will automatically show up in the new queue. No need for you to check the Pending queue. Keep your focus on the new queue only.
  • Use shortcut keys to work as efficiently as possible. Try working without using your mouse. Can you do it?
  • Use the “away/break” status every time you move away from Sparkcentral. Even if you bend over to help the person next to you. Available means available, right now, at this time, to interact with customers. It means you can be next in line to get a conversation assigned.

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