Frequently, questions come up in the Cisco Contact Center Express classes I teach concerning the ability of the system to perform this or that task. In this blog post, I will cover some of the more popular questions I get during class.
How do I configure holiday-based routing in Cisco Contact Center Express?
A dilemma that most Cisco Contact Center Express administrators face is how to route calls differently when the call center is closed. This can be done three different ways. The easiest way is by using the Switch step in scripts. The idea here is to use Java methods in a variable to extract the current date (and/or time, if applicable) from the system.
A String variable that contains the following will extract the current date from the system and stuff it into the variable at run time:
D[now] .month + “/” + D[now] .date + “/” + D[now] .year
This expression will yield a string of 12/17/2013, assuming today’s date is December 17, 2013.
This string variable can then be used in a Switch step, comparing today’s date to holiday dates listed in the Switch step. If today’s date matches a date in the Switch step, the script logic will drop to the branch representing that holiday. At that point, we can use a Play Prompt step to announce to the caller that today is a holiday, and then we can use a GoTo step to send the script logic to the end of the script, terminating it.
How do I set up emergency announcements in Cisco Contact Center Express?
Some call center administrators want to have a means by which a manager or supervisor can have scripts announce that the call center is opening late or is closed due to a local emergency, especially weather-related emergencies. To accomplish this, a script will need to be written to take the recording from the manager or administrator. The basic procedure here is that the manager or supervisor calls the emergency recorder script, records the announcement and the script, and then uploads the recording to the Contact Center Express repository.
In the meantime, every production script, such as those for IT Helpdesk or Accounts Payable, has a Play Prompt step at the beginning, somewhere immediately after the Accept step, that plays the emergency recording. The trick here is to be sure to check the radio button for “Continue on prompt errors” in the Play Prompt step that plays the emergency recording in every production script.
When the emergency passes and it’s time to go back to normal operations, the administrator simply deletes the emergency recording file from the repository. Since we checked the box for “Continue on prompt errors” in the Play Prompt step in every production script that plays the emergency recording, the production scripts will continue when the prompt is absent from the repository, and the caller will be none the wiser!
How do I set up announcing to callers their queue positions and wait times in Cisco Contact Center Express?
In some call centers, callers are asked to remain in queue, waiting for an agent to become available. In some businesses, these queue times can be pretty long. I’m frequently asked how to announce to callers their position in queue or their expected wait time.
Cisco Contact Center Express scripts feature a script step called Get Reporting Statistic. This step can be used to extract many different statistics from the system in real time while the script runs. You can configure this step to extract the caller’s position in queue and expected wait time, among other statistics.
In this example, we’ll look at announcing the position in queue to the caller. In the script snippet below, notice the Get Reporting Statistic step that extracts position in queue and stuffs the result into the variable called stat_PositionInQueue. After extracting the position number, we convert it to an ordinal (where “five” becomes “fifth” or “twenty-two” becomes “twenty-second”). We do this conversion so that the announcement sounds more natural to the caller. The conversion, as seen in the graphic, is done with a Create Generated Prompt step, where the variable stat_PositionInQueue is converted to the prompt variable called positionInQueueNumber. Finally, we use a Play Prompt step to announce the position in queue to the caller.
Note that the Play Prompt step in the graphic is actually a concatenation of three prompts. We first play a file called You_are_the.wav, which says, “You are the….” Next, we play the generated ordinal prompt from the variable positionInQueueNumber, such as “second.” Last, we play a file called Caller_in_line.wav, which says, “…caller in line.” As a result, the caller who is second in the queue hears, “You are the second caller in line.”
In my experience providing Cisco Contact Center Express training, people often ask, “Can Contact Center Express perform ‘X’ function?” I would rather we ask, “How can we program Contact Center Express to perform ‘X’ function?” With training on Cisco’s powerful and flexible scripting, you can learn to be quite clever.
Can I alert supervisors of long wait times?
From time to time, wait times for customers in queues can get long and aggravating in a call center. Customer satisfaction plunges when there are long wait times, agents get frustrated, and the call center experiences pressure.
In situations such as these, notifying someone in authority of callers’ long wait times is warranted. Supervisors and managers, armed with knowledge that wait times are high, can react immediately and make adjustments to relieve pressure on the offending queue by moving agents around.
One method to use for notification is e-mail. Cisco Contact Center Express has the capability, within a script, to create an e-mail and send it to any standard e-mail address. In addition, Contact Center Express scripts feature a script step called Get Reporting Statistic. This step can be used to extract many different statistics from the system in real time while the script runs. You can configure this step to extract the caller’s expected wait time, among other statistics. The graphic below is a snippet of a script showing execution of the Get Reporting Statistic step:
Note that this step gets the reporting statistic called Expected Wait Time for the Contact Service Queue (CSQ) from the Cisco IP Contact Center (IPCC) Express server and stuffs it into the variable called stat_ExpectedWaitTime.
We should now create a step that evaluates the expected wait time and determines whether it is too high. Here, we will use an If step:
Note that the If step evaluates the variable called stat_ExpectedWaitTime to see if it is greater than or equal to 360 seconds (6 minutes). If it is, we will send an e-mail to the supervisor.
We can now use e-mail steps within the script to send an e-mail to the supervisor. Looking at the following script snippet, we use the Create eMail step and the Send eMail step to notify the supervisor:
The Create eMail step creates the e-mail and has the following parameters set in the customizer:
Note the subject of the e-mail will be “Wait times are too high!” The body of the e-mail will say, “Wait times are” followed by the value of the stat_ExpectedWaitTime variable.
The Send eMail step will send the e-mail and has the following parameters set in the customizer:
Note that when sending the e-mail, the system will use the default “from” address set in the e-mail subsystem, and the e-mail will be sent to the address firstname.lastname@example.org. Any valid e-mail address will work here, and you can even represent the value as a variable.
The concepts for scripting this procedure are covered in the UCCXD and UCCXA classes I teach at Global Knowledge. This type of scripting results in more efficient management of the call center and enables better customer satisfaction.
UCCXD – Deploying Cisco Unified Contact Center Express v5.0
UCCXA - Cisco Unified Contact Center Express Advanced v4