The contact center software runs on a dedicated server and provides automatic call distribution service (ACD), which is responsible for distribution of calls to different groups of organization apart from the interactive voice response (IVR) functionality.   Computer telephony integration (CTI) is used to extract previous history of caller w.r.t. to his contact details as well old case numbers so that agent interacting with caller would be able to handle the caller call more efficiently with having his previous information available handy.   Contact center software also provides integration with chat, email and web collaboration in order to facilitate a sole voice call center for many communication forms.

Before we go in detail of Cisco flavors of contact center software, we will have a look at some important features of standard contact center software which is important to understand from a CCNA Voice exam perspective.

ACD call routing and priority queuing – automatic call distributor (ACD) performs a critical task of matching the caller with the right agent the first time.  It performs call handling tailored to different classes of customers and even for individual customers and provides flexible, contact center operational profiles based on business needs.  Skill groups can be assigned to agents.  With one agent up to 100 skills can be assigned by their competency (up to 10 levels) in that particular skill.

Routing algorithms allow data driven routing based on customer data in databases; conditional routing such as time of the day, day of week, holidays, automatic number identification, customer entered data , wait time, calls in queue and so on.

Call priority queue feature allows moving calls up and down in a call queue at any time; this feature is commonly used for specific class of customers or even to handle a target group of customers.

Customer telephony integration (CTI) – allows retrieval of caller information.   Some of the major features of Cisco contact center software are mentioned below:

  • Call routing and comprehensive contact management.
  • Real-time reports.
  • Call monitoring / recording for auditing perspective.
  • Automatic call distribution with support of advanced features like conditional routing, call-in-queue , wait time messages, data displays , real-time data fetching and historical reporting.

Cisco Contact Center Software is available in two flavors: Contact Center Express Edition and Contact Center Enterprise Edition.

Cisco Contact Center Express Edition – Cisco Contact Center Express Edition is meant to address departmental, enterprise, branch or small or medium sized companies.  It provides sophisticated customer interaction management for 1 to 300 agents.  It provides a highly available virtual contact center with integrated self service application along with distributed automatic call distribution (ACD), interactive voice response (IVR), computer telephony integration (CTI) and agent and desktop services in a single server, contact center in a box.

Cisco Contact Center Express Edition comes in three versions standard, enhanced and premium.  Cisco Contact Center Enhanced version supports 300 full featured IVR ports with high availability provides automatic failover and redundancy for critical contact center functions such as active and standby service for ACD , IVR, CTI, desktop, monitoring, recording and database services.

Cisco Contact Center Express Edition provides enhanced, advanced programmable depth voice menus and custom caller handling in queue, such as playing the number of calls in a queue, expected wait time in queue, custom messaging, prompt and collect customer information, transfer to any other number or service or voicemail.

It supports integration of self service applications using dual tone multi-frequency and advanced speech recognition technologies like automatic speech recognition and text to speech feature with the contact center. It also supports integration with enterprise websites for real-time notification services for email, fax and paging services.

Cisco Contact Center Enterprise Edition – Cisco Contact Center Enterprise Edition delivers skill based contact routing, voice self service, computer telephony integration, and multichannel contact management.  It does segmentation of customers, monitors resources availability and intelligently delivers each contact to relevant resource in the enterprise.  The software profiles each customer contact using related data such as dialed number and calling line ID, caller entered digits, data submitted on a web form, and information obtained from a customer database lookup.  This also monitors the resources available in the contact center to meet customer needs, including agent skills and availability, interactive voice response status and queue lengths.  Some of the major features of contact center are as reviewed below:

Routing Function – Intelligent distribution of contacts and contact redirection is done on the basis of skill requirement; customer interaction is optimized by retaining collected customer data so that customer doesn’t need to repeat information every time he calls.

Customer Profile Routing – It can be integrated with customer relationship management application to extract customer database during routing.

Agent Desktop Integration with Contact Center – integration between agent desktop and contact center extends the real time collaboration, which helps agents and supervisors to collaborate with relevant collogues and subject matter experts.

Management Capabilities – let the supervisors to view agent states and call information, send text chat messages to agents interrupt or intercept calls, record conversations, and silently monitor agent calls for quality and responsiveness to callers.

Centralized Administration – The administrative interface allows agents to set up to handle voice, web, chat, and email contacts depending on skills sets assigned.  This let administrators to performance, defines and request reports and ensures system security.




To summarize table given below gives a comparison of Cisco contact center express and enterprise edition.


Contact Center  Express) 

Contact Center (Enterprise) 


High availability with automatic failover (queued calls and call data not preserved on active server failover to standby)

Fully fault tolerant with active-active synchronized redundant components. Servers can be split over WAN for geographical fault tolerance


Up to 300 agents per server, and up to 300 IVR ports per server

Up to 6000 agents and 3000 IVR ports per system using multiple servers


Inbound voice

Fully integrated web collaboration, email and outbound capability

CRM integration

CTI integration with any Microsoft windows application through key stroke macros

CRM support with Siebel, Oracle, or SAP using native drivers


Dynamic re-skilling interface for supervisors





Threshold with supervisor desktop and reporting




This concludes the function and role of auto attendant and IVRs in a VOIP environment, for our CCNA voice exam PREP.   This lesson helped us to understand how IVR and auto attendants work in a converged voice network and how they are used in business environments.  In the next CCNA voice exam topic, we will learn and understand the functionality of contact centers.