Using Cisco IPC Express in Retail, Financial, and Healthcare Businesses

This section illustrates how Cisco IPC Express is used in the retail, financial, and healthcare industries. These case studies clarify the range and types of features available with Cisco IPC Express and how they are used in different business types. Additional industries that have found Cisco IPC Express an attractive option include education (schools), government agencies, and transportation firms.

The examples discussed in the following sections are also applicable to a wide range of small and medium businesses, such as law firms, accounting firms, and real-estate agencies. Some of the differences in small and medium business solutions are in the platforms, Cisco CME feature licenses, and phone licenses purchased because of the fewer number of users in the office. A smaller office size may also dictate the selection of analog connectivity to the PSTN rather than digital connectivity.

Retail Business

The retail sector is a highly competitive market. Retailers face intense cost and competitive pressures from the many players that exist in this space. In addition, the number of large discount stores and Internet-based companies in this market has grown, leading to price pressures that benefit customers but not retailers. Because of this, margins tend to be low. Retailers look for every opportunity to cut costs and increase per-store productivity and operations. One of the ways to decrease operational costs and increase productivity is with a streamlined IP telephony network.

Current Retail Networks

Retailers with a large number of stores and a QoS-enabled WAN are likely to deploy a centralized Cisco CallManager system for their needs. Many smaller retailers may prefer Cisco IPC Express for their call processing needs, particularly those with a limited need for store-to-store calls and infrequent communications with headquarters. WAN connections in the retail industry tend to be very low-bandwidth (56 kbps or less), lack QoS, or, in some cases, traverse the Internet via a VPN.

PSTN connectivity for retail stores depends on the size of the stores. FXO is common for smaller stores, and T1 is common for larger stores. Retailers' communication needs revolve around phones, because few businesses use PCs or laptops for the average employee in the store. Phone communication scenarios involve incoming calls from customers who are unable to stop by the store and who want to inquire about a particular item or about store hours or who want to speak to a particular person or department.

In a typical call scenario, an employee answers most incoming calls, because the human touch is important for business goals. The employee answers the calls, puts the caller on hold, uses a paging system to contact the right department or person, and then transfers the call to the proper department or employee who can help the customer.

Because a retailer's call processing system is the main source of communication with customers, the type of features supported dictates which communication system is purchased. A number of features are advantageous. These include paging, speed dial, call park and picking up a call, hookflash transfer to free up PSTN FXO trunks, multiple-line appearances, and support for wireless phones.

A store typically would use shared-line appearances on its phones, meaning that when a certain department receives a call, all the phones in that department ring. This allows any sales representative not assisting customers to pick up the call.

Voice mail systems typically are not used during regular business hours, because retailers strive to answer calls as they come in and to process the customer query immediately. Voice mail may be useful to certain store employees, such as managers and supervisors, to aid in communication with headquarters (for example, a broadcast message about new sales goals or special incentives).

Certain stores have a full-time manager who supervises the employees, walks around the store, and uses the phone frequently. In large warehouse-type stores, it can be a problem when the supervisor is paged but is located far from a wired phone, and the customer is put on hold for a long timeor worse, forgotten. Because of this, stores may equip their roaming managers with wireless phones.

When an AA exists, it is often a local AA that has menu options for personalized store hours and store direction and location information. There are few multilevel AA options, because it is desirable to have customers speak to a live person as soon as possible. Local AAs are very popular during nonbusiness hours when the AA menu either directs customers to a centralized call center or allows them to leave a voice message.

Many retailers have internal service requirements for how soon they respond to customer calls. These guidelines can include answering incoming calls by the third ring and not having customers put on hold for longer than two minutes. Retailers also like to create a hierarchical call response structure for certain departments. For example, if no sales associates are available to answer calls in the shoe department, these calls should be directed to the manager in that department. If no one is available, the calls revert to the operator.

Using Cisco IPC Express in a Retail Environment

The Cisco IPC Express solution lets retailers begin migrating new stores to an IP telephony solution. It also allows the flexibility of later deploying a centralized call processing model if the retailer decides this is a better deployment model.

A small retail store may use a Cisco 2801 IPC Express system enabled with VIC-4FXS/DID and VIC2-4FXO voice interface cards for fax and PSTN connectivity, respectively.

When customers are put on hold, a file stored on the router delivers music on hold (MOH). This file can easily be modified to include news of sale items and upcoming events during sales promotions. MOH can also connect to an external source, such as a CD player or radio.

Cisco UE AIM is added to the platform to deliver a cost-effective AA system. The AA delivers different menu options based on business hours. During regular business hours, the menu options present store hours, store directions, and the option to speak to a live operator. During nonbusiness hours, the menu options present store hours, store directions, and an option to leave a voice mail message.

A Cisco 7920 IP Phone is provided for the store manager and mobile employees within the store. It supports secure roaming across access points. It also supports up to six line appearances, similar to the Cisco 7960 IP Phone, and provides features such as hold, transfer, and conference.

A Cisco 7960G IP Phone with these same features is provided for the sales associates. A Cisco 7902G IP Phone with limited features is used in the break rooms and storerooms.

The IP phones are also equipped with a phone directory that lists important phone numbers, including nearby store sites. The directory is downloaded centrally from headquarters, easing provisioning when phone numbers change or additional stores are established.

Financial Services Business

The financial services industry in general has tended to be an early adopter of technology. Cisco IPC Express is ideal for small financial services businesses such as small banks, insurance companies, and credit unions.

Current Financial Services Network

The current financial institution network is fairly sophisticated. The WAN connectivity is typically a T1 pipe, with 64 kbps to 1.544 Mbps of bandwidth provisioned on it depending on the size of the office. The PSTN connectivity is also typically T1 for larger sites and analog FXO trunks for smaller sites. Cisco IPC Express call processing is ideal for either of these sites.

Smaller organizations, such as regional credit unions and insurance companies, typically field calls from local customers asking questions particular to the branch. Phones use the shared-line appearance feature to allow phones to ring on all desks. If representatives such as agents, cashiers, and tellers are unavailable to pick up the calls, the calls are cascaded using hunt groups to the supervisors and managers.

Similar to the retail industry, a receptionist is often preferred over an AA. An automated attendant is used outside regular business hours. Larger organizations, such as large banks, field calls from all over the country with centralized national call centers.

Certain banks have specific representatives they dedicate to their top customers. These calls receive priority, and hunt groups normally direct these calls to either a specific employee or the highest-ranking employee in a particular department.

In the banking industry, voice mail applications are often limited to bank managers, vice presidents, or other employees who find voice mail useful in their job. However, in a small insurance or mortgage company where all the employees are agents who interact with customers, all employees can be empowered with voice mailboxes.

The typical phone features used are call hold, transfer, speed dial, and shared-line appearances. Other features include intercom for assistants to communicate with managers, and paging to notify certain departments or break rooms when assistance is needed.

Using Cisco IPC Express in a Financial Services Business

A medium-sized credit union may use a Cisco IPC Express 2851 system enabled with VIC-4FXS/DID and VWIC-1MFT-1T1 voice interface cards for fax and PSTN connectivity, respectively. The T1 port provides connectivity to the WAN and PSTN, and the FXS ports are used for fax machines or analog phones.

Cisco UE AIM provides voice mail capability for the loan officer and office manager. Additional voice mailboxes can be provisioned for additional employees or when the credit union expands. Cisco UE also offers an integrated AA that can be customized for the credit union's needs.

A Cisco 7960G IP Phone is selected for the credit union tellers and office manager. The Cisco 7960G IP Phone has six line appearances and supports the myriad of features required by the credit union. A Cisco 7905G IP Phone with fewer buttons is provided for the break rooms and the lobby. A Cisco 7914 IP Phone Expansion Module is provided for the credit union receptionist, who must monitor and manage the various call states.

An integrated switch, such as the NM-16ESW-PWR, is used to connect and power the IP phones and provide connectivity to employee PCs.

Classes of service, also known as class of restriction, are defined for the Cisco 7960G IP Phones to allow only the loan officer and office manager to place long-distance calls. Lobby phones are restricted to local calls only. Account codes on the phones allow the credit union to track external calls and organize billing for specific services it provides to a customer.

IP phones are customized with XML applications that provide the latest interest rates and loan rates. When a customer calls the customer service department, a credit union representative can enter the customer's account number on the phone keypad and see details of the customer's account. This allows customer service to provide better service to higher-priority accounts.

Hunt groups are programmed to allow calls to be cascaded to the office manager when an employee is unavailable to answer them. A company-wide directory is also available on the phones to access any credit union employee with a few simple keystrokes.

Healthcare Services

Cisco IPC Express is ideal for small medical clinics or medical branch offices that are part of a larger network. These healthcare services clinics use IP telephony networks to reduce their operational costs and provide improved communication with greater staff mobility and reachability.

Current Healthcare Services Network

Healthcare services clinics and offices tend to have analog FXO lines to the PSTN and DSL access to the Internet. Small clinics typically have phones in every exam room; phones for doctors, nurses, and receptionists; and phones in common areas.

Typically, different classes of service are offered for doctors versus nurses. Popular phone features include wireless phones that allow doctors to roam around clinics. Other popular features include speed dials to connect to other extensions or departments within a medical clinic, hunt groups, and intercom.

Clinics typically interact frequently with nearby pharmacies using faxes and voice calls. Speed dials are commonly used to expedite these calls.

Phones may be available in the lobby, but long-distance calls are restricted on these phones. A required feature for the telephony system is intercom between doctors and nurses. Hunt groups are also required when receptionists are busy.

Using Cisco IPC Express in a Healthcare Services Network

A health clinic may use a Cisco IPC Express 2821 system enabled with VIC2-4FXO for PSTN access, a VIC-4FXS/DID for the fax machines, and a WIC-1ADSL interface card for DSL Internet connectivity.

The Cisco 7920 IP Phone is provided for doctors. This wireless phone allows doctors to continue being accessible while walking around the clinic. The same wireless access point that supports the Cisco 7920 IP Phone also allows doctors to access patient data and lab results using a wireless-enabled personal digital assistant (PDA) or portable computer.

The Cisco 7914 IP Phone Expansion Module is provided for the office receptionists to handle incoming calls from patients. In addition, the Cisco 7960G IP Phones are used for exam rooms and doctors' offices. The Cisco 7905G IP Phone is proposed for the nurses, the break room, and the lobby.

Different classes of service are defined for phones in the break room, lobby, and exam rooms. Long-distance calls are available only on doctors' phones.

Cisco UE's general-delivery mailboxes come in handy for the X-ray department and for the receptionists, who can use them to check for laboratory results and let patients schedule or change appointments.

Features available on the phones include speed dials to pharmacies and extensions for the receptionists, nurses, and doctors. Hunt groups are defined so that when a doctor's or nurse's phone is not answered, it is cascaded to the receptionist.

Key Cisco IPC Express Features

The features highlighted in this section were used in the different business scenarios just described. They can be modified to suit your particular business needs. A more complete list of Cisco IPC Express features can be found in Appendix A.

  • XML applications Customized XML applications can be written for Cisco IP phones to deliver information that would otherwise have required access to a PC. This allows retail stores to check the availability of items, healthcare clinics to check patient health history, and financial institutions to check account information or interest rates.
  • Call pickup Call pickup allows a business to easily answer a call that is ringing on a different phone or that someone has put on hold. The employee presses the pickup key on the IP phone and enters the number of the phone he or she wants to answer.
  • Call park When a call is parked, it is transferred to a "parking slot" number and put on hold until it is retrieved by another employee, who is paged with the call's park slot number.
  • Paging This feature is ideal for paging certain employees or for conveying important information to a group of employees. Paging groups can be designated for each group or department. When a paging number is called, each idle phone in that paging group is used in speakerphone mode, eliminating the need for an overhead paging mechanism.
  • Distinctive ringing IP phones have several types of ringing options so that in a busy business environment an employee can tell the phones apart. Supervisors have additional options such as monitor mode.
  • Shared-line appearance Shared-line appearances allow for better call coverage in a business. This feature allows several different phones to be configured with the same extension number. Ringing phones can then be answered by the closest available employee.
  • Multiple-line appearance This feature allows many lines to be configured on a single phone so that any of the incoming calls can be answered at that phone.
  • Speed dial Speed dial provides one-key dialing to a list of frequently dialed or important numbers. Up to 24 personal speed-dial numbers can be programmed on each IP phone. Speed-dial numbers can also be delivered to the phone via a central directory, making it easy to change a number and have that change reflected on the phone display of the next phone that accesses this directory.
  • Softkey customization This feature allows businesses to customize the phone features and remove the ones they don't want customers or certain employees to have access to. It can also prevent confusion for employees in specialized departments to have only the useful features at their phone displays.
  • Flash softkey for hookflash This functionality provides hookflash intervention to enable some services, such as three-way calling and call waiting. Three-way calling, for example, allows employees from two offices to speak with an employee at the head office.
  • Music on hold External callers who are put on hold can hear MOH audio streams supplied from an audio file or a live feed.
  • Distribution lists Distribution lists are lists of frequently called phone numbers and extensions to be used as broadcast recipients or voice mail recipients.
  • Wireless IP phones The Cisco 7920 Wireless IP Phone allows employees to roam a building but still be accessible for important calls.
  • Intercom This feature allows a doctor in an office or exam room to communicate with a nurse. It also lets a manager communicate with his or her administrative assistant directly without needing to dial an extension.
  • Hunt groups Hunt groups allow businesses to redirect calls that aren't being answered by an employee to another employee or his or her manager. Hunt groups can be sequential, or the longest idle phone can be selected for the next call.
  • Class of restriction Class of restriction is used to restrict certain call types, such as long-distance or international calls, from lobby phones, break room phones, and certain employee phones. It is also used to restrict calls to unwanted numbers (such as 900 numbers) for all phones.
  • Night service bell This feature allows organizations to cause a selected phone to ring whenever a certain number and its corresponding phones are called during a specific time period. This allows a night-shift supervisor or an employee working late to intercept calls to the operator or to a certain line.
  • Call blocking and override The call-blocking feature can prevent calls to a specific number during a specific time period, such as time, day, or date. This is useful to prevent calls to 900 numbers or to ensure that long-distance calls can be placed only during business hours. Call-blocking override lets you remove the call-blocking feature using a PIN.
  • Three-party conference calls Multiple three-party conference calls are supported based on the platform selected. Cisco CME also supports conference initiator drop-off, which allows participants in a conference to continue after the parties are introduced.
  • Called-name display This feature is important for businesses servicing different sets of clients, such as call centers or businesses with different departments. By identifying the number that a customer has called, the employee answering the call can respond with the appropriate greeting.
  • Do not disturb The do not disturb feature ensures that busy employees are not disturbed by ringing phones. They still see the details of the call and can answer it if necessary.
  • Account code A service-based business can enter account codes for specific customer calls. Account codes are available in the call detail records. They allow the organization to track calls as needed for billing purposes.

Other Cisco IP Telephony Solutions for the Enterprise Branch and Small and Medium Offices

Part I: Cisco IP Communications Express Overview

Introducing Cisco IPC Express

Building a Cisco IPC Express Network

Cisco IPC Express Architecture Overview

Part II: Feature Operation and Applications

Cisco IP Phone Options

Cisco CME Call Processing Features

Cisco CME PSTN Connectivity Options

Connecting Multiple Cisco CMEs with VoIP

Integrating Cisco CME with Cisco CallManager

Cisco IPC Express Automated Attendant Options

Cisco IPC Express Integrated Voice Mail

Cisco CME External Voice Mail Options

Additional External Applications with Cisco CME

Part III: Administration and Management

Cisco IPC Express General Administration and Initial System Setup

Configuring and Managing Cisco IPC Express Systems

Cisco IPC Express System Configuration Example

Part IV: Maintenance and Troubleshooting

Troubleshooting Basic Cisco IPC Express Features

Troubleshooting Advanced Cisco CME Features

Troubleshooting Cisco CME Network Integration

Troubleshooting Cisco UE System Features

Troubleshooting Cisco UE Automated Attendant

Troubleshooting Cisco UE Integrated Voice Mail Features

Part V: Appendixes

Appendix A. Cisco IPC Express Features, Releases, and Ordering Information

Appendix B. Sample Cisco UE AA Scripts

Appendix C. Cisco Unity Express Database Schema


Cisco IP Communications Express(c) CallManager Express with Cisco Unity Express
Cisco IP Communications Express: CallManager Express with Cisco Unity Express
ISBN: 158705180X
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2006
Pages: 236 © 2008-2020.
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