Holiday Check script is a great learning tool!

Most VoIP Engineers are not necessarily Software Engineers, so bringing up a Contact Center and scripting it are usually done by two different types of engineers.   Scripting engineers tend to have backgrounds in software development with formal education in programming structure and practices.  A solid experience in Java, PHP, Perl, SQL and other languages is very different that having a background in IP networking, telecommunications, QOS and MPLS!   That is not to say their are not Engineers that can do it all,  but you can either be a mile wide and an inch deep or an inch wide and a mile deep!  You can’t be an expert in everything!

Scripting a Contact Center using the CISCO UCCX editor and related tools is an area of  specialization.   Most engineers carry around a basic set of “start up” scripts to get a new UCCX off the ground, but most clients have contact center requirements that require CRM, Website and advance database integration that requires some additional depth of expertise in the area of software development.  Altering call flow based on external data elements is an essential part of any contact center today.  The need to retrieve data from sources outside of the script, or to update sources once the script completes has become  the minimum daily adult requirement for contact center scripting!

There is a HolidayCheck script that has been kicking around the CISCO UCCX landscape forever.  We first saw it in the Windows based UCCX before Version 8+.   It is actually a great script as it demonstrates a number of Java elements that are outside the normal cut and paste scripting ability of many newbies.   You will need to understand XML, Xpath, String Manipulation, Date Contractors and some other advanced data handling options that this script uses to modify call flow based on the day being a holiday or not.   For this reason, it makes for an  excellent learning tool if you want to get in their and dig into the details.

The  Script uses a simple XML data file containing a list of dates that are declared to be Holidays.   Generally, the script is a sub flow, called on by a parent script to determine if we need to close for the day.   The script first finds out what is the date today, then goes through the XML date list comparing each entry with todays date to make a holiday determination.  If it gets through the entire date list without a match, the returned value is false.  If it finds a match the returned value is true!  Very simple, however the process uses about every programming trick in the book and for that reason it is fun to learn how the script works.  It is highly efficient using less than 15 lines of code to do its magic!

We have also found the script to be useful for deriving other uses built on the same constructors.  For example, finding out if we should be open or closed based on the time of day.  The Time of Day Java bean in the UCCX library is great if you want to open and close once on a particular day.  If you want to open at 7AM, close at 11 for lunch, then open again at 1PM and close at 5, it is a bit more difficult.  Creating an XML document with the schedule for a particular CSQ, is a lot more useful!  In fact we can economize on script reuse by pulling CSQ details from a QueueOptions.xml file and dramatically alter the details of a specific CSQ while reusing the same core script!  XML is the way to fly, especially if you can use HTML and web technology to feed your script user specific call flow details like “call me back at this number” please.

Do to this kind of scripting you need to have a handle on string manipulation, XML,  data type conversions and Xpath.   For this reason the HolidayCheck script is a great learning tool.   The video walks throughout the details of this script and provides, we hope, some useful instruction.   We don’t know who wrote the original script, but it has been plagiarized by us all and it is remarkable when it is studied by those who want to learn its secrets!

Members can download the script from the site!


Top 5 Trends Transforming your Contact Center!

The Contact Center is being transformed at a rate of change that is beyond the ability of current management strategies to identify and react.   Most contact centers are still using 1990 thinking in a 2020 world!  The adoption rate of Smartphones, customer satisfaction scores through social media,  wide availability of video options, and the mobility of customer demographics are terrorizing your call center and what are you doing about it?  Still routing phone calls based on Area Code?   Queueing Callers on more incoming telephone lines, while employing less customer service representatives?  Unless you are Google or the IRS, neither of which cares about customer service, you are about to become extinct!  Here are the top five Contact Center Killers of traditional business models!

(1) Scheduled Call Back  – The traditional strategy for customer retention has been to increase the size of the “catchers mitt” by adding more incoming telephone lines.    Nobody ever says lets increase the number of agents answering incoming calls, but they are always quick to add more incoming telephone lines!   All this does is increase customer frustration, pressure agents to short change the current customer interaction and drive abandoned calls through the statistical roof!   Do not even consider this option until you have explored all the other options listed below!

(2) Mobile Phones –  Without exception, unless your client demographic is that of the Jitterbug generation, your clients are mobile phone users!  This means they have advanced smartphone functionality, SMS or Text capability and they are web savvy!   Tap the functionality of these devices to increase customer satisfaction while reducing over all costs.   Text messages can be used to initiate the Call Back function in  your contact center!   Smart Aps can be created to help clients “self navigate” through your call tree, with the the push of a single button!   Get Smart Phone integration into your contact center yesterday!

(3) Video Support – High “touch” now means Video!   The traditional talk path is narrow, strangles information and is inappropriate for todays high speed, information rich customer contact strategies.  Video offers a deeper and richer personal experience.  When it comes to “show me”, “teach me” and “help me” scenarios, one call completion statistics escalate when video is part of the contact center arsenal of customer satisfaction tools.   Get your Frequently Asked Questions into video format, or risk being ignored by a generation that might be able to read, but find YouTube a faster route to problem resolution.

(4) Social Media – Twitter can do more to damage your reputation than a bad restaurant review on Yelp!  What social media monitoring tools are in your contact center arsenal?  What website integration options have you implemented?   Can your Customer Service Representatives  open a real time video conversation with someone who has hit your website, or just told all their FB friends what the current hold time is in your Contact Center?

(5) Home base agents – did you read (1) above?   The availability of hight speed network connectivity, now makes it possible to tap a labor pool that has nothing to do with driving distance to the office! Quality, trained and experienced Customer Service representatives are out there, living where they want to live and are available to the Call Center that has put distributed workforce connectivity solutions in place.  Down the hall, or across the country, you can provide the exact same supervision, monitoring, and training for a remote customer service representative that you provide for that boiler room Contact Center that you heat, air condition, power and remains your biggest disaster recovery and business continuity challenge!

At DrVoIP we create software integrations that enable solutions for these Contact Center terrorists.    No need to throw out your current ShoreTel ECC or CISCO UCCX, we can wrap these solutions around your existing facilities with rapid deployment prototype options that have high impact and low exploration costs.    Click or Call!