Compare ShoreTel ECC and CISCO UCCX call back from queue scripts!

It is almost expected that a modern call or contact center be able to offer a “call back from Queue” option to your callers.  In fact some call centers are now offering a Call Back with no phone call required from your caller at all!  The caller can text a message to the call center and receive a text back with an approximate wait time until the next agent is ready!   Take the time to develop a custom “smartphone” application and the incoming text message can also contain  business appropriate CRM information like a client ID or policy number.
While you are waiting for your contact center to be updated with this advanced SMS text caller option, most modern contact centers can offer a “Call Back From Queue” option.

Generally, we want to capture the inbound call, route it to an available agent and if the agent is not available, we will play a customer care message to the caller and keep them in Queue.   Should an agent not become available in the next programmable period of time, we will play yet another customer care message, but this time we might invite them to “press 1” to arrange a call back without losing their place in queue.
Should the caller elect to activate this option,  they might then be asked to enter the number that they can be reached at when an agent becomes ready.

Optionally you can offer to call the customer back at a scheduled time in the future and also prompt them to enter a date and time for call back.   How this is accomplished is dictated to by the system that you are planing to use for your call center.   Generally, some kind of IVR functionality that can “prompt and collect digits”.   The ShoreTel ECC and the CISCO UCCX both enable this option though they do it quite differently.

ShoreTel offers a scripting tool that enables calling options through per-programmed routines encapsulated in high level Icons.  These Icons are interconnected on a pallet that graphically mirrors your call flow.   This is “brilliantly simple” and is often all that is required to establish control and options over your call center.   CISCO uses a scripting option based on Java and you will be more comfortable with this option if you have a background in software development.  CISCO is a bit more demanding then the ShoreTel scripting tools, but along with its complexity comes greater flexibility in feature definition.   In the hands of a talented programmer,  you will be able to create features that could not easily be encoded in a higher level graphical scripting tool.   The UCCX Scripts enable you to not only “prompt and collect” but also to “prompt and record”  the callers voice message for playback to the agent prior to placing the out bound return call.

Call Back from Queue is a useful customer service option in those business centers that care about customer satisfaction.  I would not expect to see this on the IRS toll free line, but rest assured that Charles Schwab will have it!   As the cost of keeping callers on the line continues to escalate with the cost of wireline facilities, you can expect other options to become more available.  The SMS option, being one, offers higher customer satisfaction potential while reducing the infrastructure costs associated with paying for more telephone lines than you have agents to handle the calls!  Keep your eye on this option as it is sure to change the nature and value of existing call center strategies!

Compare ShoreTel and CISCO – Extension Mobility Options!

Do you run a business in which the day shift and the night shift share the same telephone instrument?   This is a very common feature requirement in call centers, help desks and order lines.   In the Health Care Profession,  a very common staffing requirement is to rotate the  “front office” staff,  with  the “back office”e staff from time to time.   If your business or organizational requirements demand that you match a telephone extensions with specific named individuals for voice mail or activity tracking,  you need “Extension Mobility”.    If you want to travel between your geographically distributed office locations and you do not want to be tied down to a single telephone instrument at a specific desk location, you need “Office Anywhere”.      The ability to “log in” and make any phone in your business organizations VoIP deployment your phone is a very powerful and useful feature.

Both ShoreTel and CISCO offer this advanced functionality but they implement it in very different ways.   This is, in our humble opinion, the result of the “cultural” difference in their system architecture.   We have written on this subject before and it is one way in which the two systems distinguish themselves.   ShoreTel does not allow an extension to  exist without an associated user.   Such a phone is “anonymous” and, though registered and available as a system resource,  it can not be “called “as it does not have an extension number!   Until it is associated with a specific User, it has very limited capability.    It is the User that associates a “class of service” or set of permissions and an extension number to the phone.  CISCO separates the concept of a phone device from that of a User profile.   CISCO phones can in fact exist without being assigned to a User.   They can have an extension number, be called and make calls.   It is the Line Number or Extension number that determines the “class of service” or permissions available to that device.    Users are defined separately.   This is a subtle but very significant difference in these two systems.

“Extension Mobility”, on the other hand,  is an optional feature in a CISCO deployment and it requires configuration by a systems administrator.   Given the logical separation between a “device” and a “user” in CISCO, it is necessary that both entities must be configured for this feature to work properly.   Extension Mobility is an XML service in a CISCO deployment, that both the user and the device that a user might log into, must both subscribe.    An “Extension Mobility” profile must be created for any CISCO user who desires this licensed feature.   It might be possible to have a situation in which a User with an “Extension Mobility” profile, can not log into a different phone because that phone has not subscribed to the service.  Given that this is a licensed feature, it is not generally deployed on all phones during the installation.

“Office Anywhere” and “Extension Mobility” are excellent solutions for “hoteling” employees,  and “hot desk” environments where the staff moves between desks and do not have assigned seating.