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Updated:January 25, 2015
Cisco® Unified Contact Center Express -- an integral component of the Cisco Unified Communications System -- offers an integrated, full-featured solution for managing customer contacts with all the benefits of the converged Cisco Unified IP Telephony architecture.
Cisco Unified Communications is a comprehensive IP communications system of voice, video, data, and mobility products and applications. It enables more effective, more secure, more personal communications that directly affect both sales and profitability. It brings people together by enabling a new way of communicating -- where your business moves with you, security is everywhere, and information is always available... whenever and wherever it is needed. Cisco Unified Communications is part of an integrated solution that includes network infrastructure, security, mobility, network management products, lifecycle services, flexible deployment and outsourced management options, end-user and partner financing packages, and third-party communications applications.
Cisco Unified Contact Center Express helps customers move into the next phase of customer contact -- beyond today's contact center to a Customer Interaction Network, a distributed, IP-based customer-service infrastructure that comprises a continuously evolving suite of innovative, multichannel services and customer-relationship-management (CRM) applications. These services and applications provide premium responsiveness and streamlined customer exchanges to help your organization deliver superior customer service. A Customer Interaction Network extends customer-service capabilities across the entire organization, giving your business a more integrated and collaborative approach to customer satisfaction and leading to better customer experience.
Cisco Unified Contact Center Express Overview
Cisco Unified Contact Center Express meets the needs of midmarket and enterprise branch or departmental companies that need easy-to-deploy, easy-to-use, secure, virtual, highly available, and sophisticated customer interaction management for up to 300 agents. Cisco Unified Contact Center Express support for powerful agent-based assisted service as well as fully integrated self-service applications results in reduced business costs and improved customer response by providing sophisticated and distributed automatic call distributor (ACD), interactive voice response (IVR), computer telephony integration (CTI), and agent and desktop services in a single-server, contact-center-in-a-box deployment while offering the flexibility to scale to larger, more demanding environments.
Cisco Unified Contact Center Express is provided in three versions: Standard, Enhanced, and Premium, to better match product functions with your customer contact interaction management requirements. All Cisco Unified Contact Center Express products are tightly integrated with Cisco Unified Communications Manager.
Routing Capabilities and Benefits
Maximum return on investment for contact centers is provided when your company's business rules can influence the behavior of the contact center. Cisco Unified Contact Center Express routing capabilities help enable categorization and prioritization of customer contacts in a way that best meets your business requirements to ensure that each contact is routed to the right agent at the right location the first time. Cisco Unified Contact Center Express routing supports a wide range of routing logic that can accurately target and selectively route different classes of contacts -- or even single out individual contacts for customized, prioritized routing treatment.
Call-routing behaviors based on conditional events such as time of day, day of week, or holiday routing as well as the ability to specify service levels and move contacts between agent groups and reprioritize contacts in queue based on your business rules are available.
The Cisco Unified Contact Center Express Premium product integration with your enterprise's customer database can ensure that the optimal routing decisions are made; the application can give agents extensive information on a per-contact basis through a CRM or other application screen pop.
Cisco Unified Workforce Optimization
Cisco Unified Workforce Optimization integrated with Cisco Unified Contact Center Express helps supervisors and other managers align contact center performance with business objectives by integrating workforce optimization within the team's daily work flow -- combining agent and supervisor desktop tools in a composite application with workforce optimization software to unify the entire customer interaction process.
Directly integrated with Cisco Supervisor Desktop, Cisco Unified Workforce Optimization unifies the tactical tools supervisors need to optimize team performance: Cisco Unified Workforce Optimization Workforce Management and Quality Management software. The workforce management component allows contact center managers to develop schedules for multiple sites, manage critical performance indicators, and manage real-time adherence to schedules. At the same time, the quality management piece provides a voice compliance and evaluation solution, with optional advanced quality management features such as screen recording for agent performance optimization and dispute resolution.
Computer Telephony Integration*
Cisco Unified Contact Center Express provides the ability to integrate with any CRM or other application that can run on the agent's Microsoft Windows desktop using keystroke macro emulation to automate the transfer of caller-entered information or integration through an external application action. Cisco Unified Contact Center Express provides powerful integration tools through support for custom Java classes and methods that can be invoked under real-time work-flow control. These features enable integration of Cisco Agent Desktop with other Windows-based applications such as Siebel with minimal software development.
In addition, Cisco Unified Contact Center Express Premium allows users to apply HTTP integration to provide integration and a screen pop with browser-based applications such as Salesforce.com running in the Cisco Agent Desktop embedded browser.
Cisco Unified Contact Center Express provides a powerful real-time programmable CTI that enables custom integration with Cisco Unified Contact Center Express ACD, IVR, and system phone device and agent configuration and management services.
IVR and Self-Service Capabilities and Benefits
Unlike many competitive products, Cisco Unified Contact Center Express does not require purchase of additional IVR services, but rather provides an integrated ready-to-use IVR solution. Every package provides an IVR queue point, custom call treatment, arbitrarily deep voice menus, custom voice prompts, and the ability to process customer phone keypad presses through dual tone multifrequency (DTMF) processing to make routing decisions or to present a screen pop to the agent.
Cisco Unified Contact Center Express Premium adds the ability to have true, sophisticated, fully automated self-service applications integrated with your agent-assisted contact interaction management. This critical feature helps enable significant cost reduction on a per-contact basis and provides significant flexibility in handling customer contacts.
Two full self-service IVR ports are packaged at no additional charge with each Cisco Unified Contact Center Express Premium seat. In addition, support is provided for adding advanced self-service technologies such as Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR), Text to Speech (TTS), and Voice Extensible Markup Language (VoiceXML), as well as providing support for real-time notification services through e-mail, fax, or paging and the ability to invoke custom work-flow processing (for example, Web-based call back) through HTTP requests.
Cisco Unified CallConnector for Microsoft Dynamics CRM
The Cisco Unified CallConnector for Microsoft Dynamics CRM, part of the Cisco Unified Communications System, is a free middleware application that integrates Cisco Unified Contact Center Express with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.5 (Microsoft CRM).
This integration with Microsoft CRM includes productivity-enhancement features for employees such as screen pops, Click to Dial, and call tracking. The call information collected by the Cisco Unified CallConnector for Microsoft Dynamics CRM allows companies to make better business decisions based on actual call metrics pertaining to employees or customers.
Agent Capabilities and Benefits
Each Cisco Unified Contact Center Express seat provides optimal flexibility in your contact center by providing full licensing to use the seat as either an agent or supervisor seat. Agent seats can be either PC or Cisco Unified IP phone-based agent stations. Each seat provides full licensing for Cisco Agent Desktop, Cisco IP Phone Agent, Cisco Supervisor Desktop, Cisco Desktop Administrator, Cisco Historical Reporting Client, and, for Enhanced and Premium, On-Demand Recording. Even if a PC failure occurs, an agent is fully licensed to continue working through the Cisco IP Phone Agent.
Cisco Unified Contact Center Express keeps the agent in touch with every call through critical data and call state information by providing the ability to present a screen pop to the agent for each call, which includes customer-entered data, as well as call state information describing how long the call has been connected to the ACD, how long the call has been in queue, and how long the agent has been talking with the caller.
Cisco Agent Desktop gives agents tools to access information and respond rapidly to customer requests. Voice contact work flows, the enterprise data pane, and the integrated browser display (screen pop) show agents customer data as calls are presented, preventing redirection of calls and the necessity for customers to repeat information. Task automation buttons and the personal phone directory allow agents to instantly activate frequently performed functions that shorten response time and automate after-call work to follow up on a customer inquiry. Collaboration tools such as chat and transfer of caller data help keep responses accurate.*
Cisco Unified Contact Center Express Enhanced and Premium additionally offer the ability to provide customer agent desktop work flows that process business rules based on critical call state events, the ability to invoke any CRM or other application able to run on the agent's Microsoft Windows desktop, and the ability to display information in the form of a screen pop from the ACD or IVR subsystem to that application.
Management Capabilities and Benefits
The ability of Cisco Supervisor Desktop to monitor critical performance metrics and actively chat, monitor, record, and send team messages allows managers to coach, train, and encourage agent behavior so that agents consistently perform the job function and process calls efficiently. The ability to send agents scrolling team messages and chat with individual members or the entire team enables supervisors to coach agent behavior, resolve problems, and instantly communicate business changes, allowing supervisors to coach agents unobtrusively on cross-sell and up-sell opportunities and helping agents resolve customer situations.
Within the supervisor desktop, contact center managers can see team performance, agent statistics, and status at a glance using easy-to-navigate tabbed pages and graphical reports. To coach agent behavior, they can silently monitor calls and offer encouragement using Chat. Call Recording can also be initiated for later review and training.
Supervisors can interrupt an agent's call to create a three-way conference, and then interact with both the caller and the agent to help resolve a concern. A supervisor can remove the agent from a call using the Call Intercept feature, allowing the supervisor and caller to complete the call on their own while the agent handles another customer request.
Supervisors can change an agent's state from their desktop. For example, agents may forget to make themselves available to take calls after a break or neglect to log out when away from their workstation for an extended period. With Cisco Supervisor Desktop, supervisors can easily log out missing agents or make unintentionally idle agents ready to take calls. This function is critical to highly distributed contact center deployments.
The Cisco Unified Contact Center Express Web-based administration provides a run-anywhere, enterprisewide point of control for single- or multisite contact centers. Cisco Unified Contact Center Express transparently integrates Cisco Unified Communications Manager-provisioned information and integrates with the Cisco Unified Communications Manager Web-based administration to provide cross access and a common design. Cisco Unified Contact Center Express Administration allows a wide range of real-time reporting statistics across all activity within the contact center, regardless of agent or supervisor location and for all calls in process.
The Cisco Unified Contact Center Express solution provides real-time and historical data necessary for mission-critical contact-center reporting. Real-time reports are provided both at the supervisor level (integrated with the Cisco Supervisor Desktop) on a per-agent team basis as well as at the Cisco Unified Contact Center Express Administration level across the entire contact center.
The Reporting function provides accurate and timely reports on contact-center activity, helping managers make informed decisions regarding staffing levels, contact handling procedures, and technology investments. Standard Reporting templates provide automatically operational functions for common reporting needs. Custom reports can extend the standard Reporting package to meet specific reporting needs. Furthermore, the open software architecture of Cisco Unified Contact Center Express allows for export of Reporting data in a variety of formats.
When Cisco Unified Contact Center Express is deployed with multiple servers, all servers are members of the Cisco Unified Contact Center Express cluster and can be viewed, monitored, and taken in and out of service.
Using open Internet standards and the inherent capabilities of Cisco devices, Cisco Unified Communications Management Suite helps network managers oversee their converged networks while maintaining confidence that their IP telephony environments, including Cisco Unified Contact Center Express, are performing as expected. Cisco Unified Communications Management Suite provides real-time, detailed fault analysis designed specifically for Cisco devices in the IP telephony environment. This focus on Cisco devices helps enable monitoring of Cisco Unified IP Telephony technology-based networks for a variety of fault conditions, analysis of these conditions, and notification of network managers through intelligent traps detailing the problem that has occurred. Functions supporting Cisco Unified Contact Center Express include server discovery, health statistics, subsystem process checks, application run-time status, and other critical network management capabilities.
System Capabilities and Benefits
Cisco Unified Contact Center Express software takes full advantage of industry-standard hardware platforms, giving you the benefits of many software functions at a modest hardware cost. The open architecture of the system, which includes an Open Database Connectivity (ODBC)-compliant database as well as Java interfaces for CTI applications, can integrate with existing contact-center solutions, preserving investments in traditional systems and providing a platform for future applications.
Redundant High Availability
Cisco Unified Contact Center Express offers high-availability redundancy for dual server cluster deployments, including support for automatic failover of inbound voice ACD, IVR, and desktop services as well as database replication and failover and load-balanced redundancy for on-demand recording servers.
Integrated Service Creation Environments
The Cisco Unified Contact Center Express Workflow Editor is the service creation and scripting environment for mapping business rules to call-flow behavior and call treatments. It can operate from any location on the enterprise WAN, and work flows can be uploaded and run on the Cisco Unified Contact Center Express server. This environment is a visual editor that provides a simple, drag-and-drop, easy-to-understand interface for building powerful, custom, business-communication applications.
Cisco Unified Contact Center Express can provide a contact-center-in-a-box for a single server or scale to support up to 300 agents in a multiserver cluster with a redundant high-availability option across a virtual multisite contact center.
Cisco Unified Contact Center Express supports a Cisco Customer Interaction Network based on the Cisco Unified Intelligent Contact Management and Cisco IPCC Gateway PG enabling pre-routing, post-routing, and centralized reporting for multiple Cisco Unified Contact Center Express systems across a Cisco Unified Communications WAN.
To help maintain network security in the contact center and throughout the enterprise, Cisco Unified Contact Center Express supports Cisco Security Agent as well as virus-detection software from the major antivirus software vendors. Cisco Security Agent is a host-based intrusion detection system that provides security to mission-critical enterprise servers and hosts. It provides benefits beyond conventional endpoint security solutions such as virus-scanning software and firewalls by identifying and preventing malicious behavior before it can occur. This process helps remove potential known and unknown security risks that threaten enterprise networks and applications. By analyzing behavior rather than relying on signature matching, Cisco Security Agent complements the capabilities of the antivirus software; together, they provide a robust solution to protect your network and reduce operational costs.
Cisco Unified Communications Services and Support
Using the Cisco Lifecycle Services approach, Cisco and its partners offer a broad portfolio of end-to-end services to support the Cisco Unified Communications System. These services are based on proven methodologies for deploying, operating, and optimizing IP communications solutions. Initial planning and design services, for example, can help you meet aggressive deployment schedules and minimize network disruption during implementation. Operate services reduce the risk of communications downtime with expert technical support, and optimize services enhance solution performance for operational excellence. Cisco and its partners offer a system-level service and support approach that can help you create and maintain a resilient, converged network that meets your business needs.
Cisco Unified Contact Center Express offers an integrated, full-featured solution for managing customer voice contacts while retaining all the benefits of fully converged Cisco Unified Communications deployment. Cisco Unified Contact Center Express delivers sophisticated call routing, management, and administration features for departmental, enterprise branch, or small to medium-sized enterprise customer-care needs.
Cisco Unified Contact Center Express offers ease of installation, configuration, and application hosting, as well as reduced business application integration complexity, ease of agent administration, increased agent flexibility, and network hosting efficiencies -- continuing the evolution toward a true Customer Interaction Network.