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Upgrading the Call Routing Systems for Contact Centers

Cisco maintains a dedicated infrastructure of call systems to serve the company’s 110 contact centers worldwide. Our infrastructure includes two Cisco Unified Intelligent Contact Management Enterprise (ICME) systems for global call routing and six Cisco Unified Communications Manager (UCM) systems for call handling within a region or a strategic company location.  

We have a lot of different contact center teams and, over the years, we weren’t consistent in the way we upgraded the Cisco UCM software at each of the sites, which led to several problems:

  • Too many different Cisco UCM versions for Cisco IT to support efficiently.
  • To meet their distinct operational needs, some contact centers customized the Cisco UCM systems with unique tools. These tools became increasingly difficult to manage from an IT perspective, and created an inconsistent experience for callers when they contacted different parts of the company.
  • The contact centers couldn’t take advantage of many new Cisco products, especially for collaboration, speech automation, and quality monitoring, or use certain applications that are only compatible with Microsoft Windows 7.

To address these issues, we needed to upgrade all of the Cisco UCM systems to the Release 8 software. In order to do that, we first needed to upgrade the central Cisco Unified ICME systems to Release 8.

We installed Release 8 software on both of our Cisco Unified ICME systems at the same time, taking our systems off-line for an upgrade window of only about 15 minutes. Although it wasn’t offline for long and we chose a time window that had low call volumes, we couldn’t afford to block customer calls completely. Instead, we used the regional Cisco UCM systems to receive calls, with limited ability to route calls within our network, until the upgraded Cisco Unified ICME systems came back online. Later, we started the upgrades to Release 8 software on our Cisco UCM systems at each of our contact centers. These upgrades are still in process and will be completed by June 2011.

When all of our contact center Cisco UCM systems are upgraded to Release 8, we will have a single standard environment to manage, which will make our jobs easier. We are also planning to take advantage of some of the new Release 8 features, which I have listed in this table.

System consistency

Improves security and makes the contact center systems easier for Cisco IT to support

Compatibility with other products

Contact center systems will support the latest Cisco IP Phone models, Microsoft Windows 7, and other tools

New contact center capabilities

Examples include automatic callbacks to customers who don’t want to wait in the queue, the ability of agents to manage their skill group memberships, and improved agent control of multiple phone lines

Ready for new technologies

Consistent implementation of Release 8 prepares the way for new communications technologies such as the Cisco Voice Portal (CVP), Cisco Open Recording Architecture (ORA), as well as operation under the Cisco Unified Computing System and virtualized servers (Cisco UCS)

 

As our experience shows, keeping contact center systems consistently up-to-date with the latest software releases brings the advantages of the latest product features, as well as easier adoption of current and future technologies.

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