• September 14, 2004
  • By Coreen Bailor, (former) Associate Editor, CRM Magazine

Cisco Targets CRM Integration

Cisco Systems is giving contact centers an early peek at what's under the Christmas tree. The call center giant announced today, about two months prior to its release, that version 3.0 of the Cisco Customer Voice Portal (CVP), formerly Cisco Internet Service Node, will be available in December. The CVP supports speech-enabled and touch-tone applications that can be integrated with back-end data and business rules accessible through the Web, using Java 2 Enterprise Edition and VoiceXML standards. One of the new version's major elements is that it allows customers to leverage their existing contact center investments. "Clearly no one today is willing to forklift out an extensive deployment of call center ACD, CTI, IVR functionality and replace it end-to-end with IP technology," says Steve McElderry, product line manager for Cisco's contact center business unit. "But what the Customer Voice Portal allows is a deployment model, where you can place the Customer Voice Portal in front of that technology and do the intelligent call routing that allows you to present these disparate ACDs as a single set of resources across the network, and do so while still integrating with the customer's CRM and CTI solutions." Companies can also integrate speech recognition tools to the CVP. Cisco's customers expressed their desire to lower operational costs, while improving customer service, which can sometimes be seen as competing objectives. McElderry contends that the CVP addresses both concerns. "You don't need to throw away that Avaya, or Symposium, or Aspect system," he says. "We can work along side it, essentially in front of it, providing a way to tie these systems together and including the existing CTI and even the IVR infrastructure that might already be in place." Cisco is also positioning the Customer Voice Portal as a part of what McElderry defines as a company's customer interaction network. Call centers have become contact centers, which have moved to the customer interaction network, "because you no longer really need to centralize these resources," he says. In addition, the CVP provides a voice XML based IVR and the ability to create a unified virtual contact center using an IP-based network to integrate the technologies, including disparate ACDs. As a result, customers should have the flexibility to migrate to IP as their business needs allow. The company also professes that integrating TDM/IP contact centers with the IP switching capability of the Customer Voice Portal will result in slicing telecom charges through toll bypass between locations, and eliminating take back and transfer charges, carrier announcement charges, and ICM dip charges. Additional features include queuing calls at the edge of the network and the ability to integrate existing IVR, ACD, and CTI agents. Cisco is already seeing customer interest: Nestle Waters North America, a Version 2.1 deployment, is a beta customer for Version 3.0. Related articles: Contact Center Market Absorbs IP Telephony
Speech Recognition Goes Primetime Do You Hear What I Hear? Genesys creates a voice portal; Avaya and Aspect also shout offerings; VXML is being heard.
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