How Cisco Contact Center Express goes beyond a standard hunt group
If you’ve ever worked on the back end of a call center, you’ve likely heard of a hunt group.
A hunt group is a way to configure where calls go when a customer calls your customer service line. It is what determines how calls are distributed to which customer service representatives.
However, its capabilities end there, and it isn’t as comprehensive as call management applications, which provide control for your business’ call center.
Here at The KR Group, we recommend Cisco Unified Contact Center Express for Cisco BE6K or BE7K customers looking to organize the phone calls their contact center receives.
There are three main areas where Contact Center Express differs from a standard hunt group:
- Call algorithms
- Data reporting
- Agent statuses
We’ll go over these topics in more detail, but in a nutshell, a hunt group ends at a way to direct calls. Contact Center Express, on the other hand, has more features that go above and beyond call algorithms.
Contact Center Express vs. call hunt group: call algorithms
Both a standard hunt group and Contact Center Express rely on call algorithms to direct incoming calls to customer service representatives.
While hunt groups use a variety of call algorithms, Contact Center Express typically relies on one algorithm.
Call hunt groups use a variety of call algorithms.
With a hunt group, you have several options to configure incoming calls within your call center, including:
- Broadcast – All customer service representatives’ phones ring at the same time.
- Sequential – The first phone line on the hunt group lists rings, and the incoming call only moves down a linear list if the first line is busy.
- Circular – Incoming calls are alternates between lines within the hunt group.
- Longest idle – The call is directed to the customer service representative who has been available the longest.
There are many different rationales and thoughts behind implementing any of the above options, and a hunt group encompasses the setup of any of those options.
Contact Center Express relies on longest idle.
Contact Center Express typically relies on the longest idle call algorithm.
With the longest idle algorithm, Contact Center Express tracks how long a customer service representative has been available to take incoming calls and directs calls to the representatives with the longest available time.
Typically, this is the fairest way to distribute your business’s incoming calls.
When you use the broadcast call algorithm, you can’t account for how responsive individual customer service representatives are to phone calls.
Sequential and circular models distribute calls but don’t account for call times. Even if your customer service representative just wrapped up a call, these two models will still direct a call to them if they’re next in the queue.
Contact Center Express’s implementation with the longest idle algorithm ties into its data reporting and agent status features, which we’ll discuss later.
Contact Center Express vs. call hunt group: data reporting
Whether it’s for internal improvement, decisions, or tracking, data reporting is important to provide insight, set goals, and monitor performance.
Call center user information is no exception. While your call center supervisor can accumulate data with a standard hunt group, Contact Center Express’s data reporting abilities make it a far better option if numbers and statistics are important to you.
A standard hunt group requires manual data collection.
With a hunt group, collecting data on how your customer service representatives are receiving calls, but it’s a tedious, manual process.
With the different types of call algorithms, you might want to see if certain your customer service representatives (also called agents) are answering or not answering the phones more than others. This could help you make a decision to switch call algorithms or address issues with specific agents.
If you configured your hunt group through another manufacturer’s contact center, it may have an option for running reports. However, a hunt group configuration on its own does not offer automatic reports.
Contact Center Express offers many data reporting options.
Contact Center Express, on the other hand, includes an automatic way for supervisors to run reports on how customer service representatives accept calls and are available to take calls.
It’s data reporting features are more comprehensive than monitoring customer service representatives’ availability, though.
With Contact Center Express, you can run reports on the time each of your customer service representatives spends on the phone as available, busy, and ready to take calls.
You can also track how your customers are navigating within your call center to configure your call options to be optimal for your customers.
All of these features are tools to help you improve your call center experience.
Contact Center Express vs. call hunt group: agent statuses
In order to assign calls, Contact Center Express and hunt groups rely on knowing when your customer service representatives are on and off the phone.
A hunt group recognizes busy and available representatives.
A standard hunt group is able to assign incoming calls by registering if a customer service representative is busy or available.
The algorithm the hunt group uses to find an available line depends on those states to assign the call or move on to the next representative
Contact Center Express offers multiple agent statuses.
Contact Center Express integrates Cisco Finesse and takes availability states a step further and has many states for agents to choose from.
When agents are available to take calls, they can mark themselves as “ready,” and when they’re taking calls, they’ll automatically be marked as “talking.”
Customer service representatives also can mark themselves as “not ready” when they’re neither talking nor available. This state has corresponding reason codes to accommodate for wrapping up from a previous call, taking a break, or being at the end of their shift. These codes are also customizable either across your organization or per team.
The supervisor of the call center can view these statuses as well as decide if they are visible to the rest of the members of the call center.
Why is Cisco Contact Center Express better than a hunt group?
Setting up a standard hunt group within your call center is a good step for setting up how calls are directed to your customer service representatives, but its capabilities end there.
Contact Center Express has many more features, though, and if you want to know more, check out Cisco’s datasheet.