New VoIP System at CXtec Provides Better Customer Interaction

Over 70 percent of CXtecs sales are to established customers, which is a testament to the companys unwavering commitment to customer satisfaction. So as the end of support for CXtecs PBX software and voice mail system neared, maintaining quality customer communication was a high priority when choosing a new system. In fact, two local customers were asked to assist in the decision process.

Representatives from CXtecs outbound call center spend over 300,000 minutes per month on the phone with customers. It was critical that CXtec put into place the best system possible to ensure increased customer satisfaction, which ultimately will lead to more sales.

After a lengthy research process and several internal discussions, CXtec opted to implement VoIP. As a provider of new and pre-owned networking and voice equipment, including VoIP, this was a natural fit for CXtec.

When companies actually use the products they sell, it gives them a tremendous amount

of credibility, says Dean Bettinger, director of IT at CXtec. If VoIP works well for us when were talking to our customers, then weve proven its a viable solution for them to implement.

Walking the Talk

Based in Syracuse, N.Y., CXtec began exploring VoIP for a number of reasons. VoIP could enable and support the companys desire to expand its footprint, as it adds remote offices and hires sales reps to work out of their homes in cities around the country. VoIP offered advanced call routing and reporting, plus state of-the-art (audio, video and Web) conferencing capabilities, all of which would enable better interaction with customers and better facilitation for company meetings and training as CXtec grows.

Above all, VoIP would be a way for CXtec to demonstrate to customers how to successfully migrate communications systems and to illustrate the technologys value and performance.

Having VoIP throughout our offices would not only provide a high-tech, real-time demo for customers, but we would be able to explain to them how we implemented the solution. This would give us a huge edge over our competitors, Bettinger says.

Rather than upgrading its outdated PBX software, the company opted to invest in an advanced VoIP system that ultimately would provide far more return.

Cisco 7941G IP phone

Partnering for Success

CXtecs Professional Services team began researching VoIP systems from two different manufacturers. The company held multiple internal discussions about the pros and cons of each, and even invited two local customers to join in the deliberations. We were looking for outside perspective, and our customers asked

some interesting, valuable questions, Bettinger explains. Both of the customers are potential VoIP prospects, and they were able to experience the entire process firsthand.

The final decision on which system to implement came down to several factors, including technical, support and pricing, and CXtec ultimately decided to work with Cisco. Bettinger says the team was impressed with Ciscos advanced technology applications, including MeetingPlace, a complete conferencing solution that seamlessly integrates (audio, video and Web) conferencing capabilities.

Cisco also offers redundant call processors that can be shared among offices, so that if CXtec lost one location, VoIP would still operate from the other offices. Plus, Cisco SMARTnet allows CXtecs IT technicians to call directly for support, 24/7/365.

Ciscos technology offered many advantages that we were looking for, says Bettinger. With competitive pricing and an anticipated return on investment of less than 18 months, we knew we found our partner.

Executing the Plan

CXtec mapped out an aggressive implementation plan. The entire system, including infrastructure upgrades, voice cut-over and MeetingPlace, was to be installed in early 2006.

The first piece to tackle was the infrastructure: routers, switches and wireless network. CXtec needed to be able to support Quality of Service (QoS) throughout the network and also provide Power Over Ethernet on its switches. The wireless network was to provide guest Internet access, Corporate LAN access, and Cisco 7920 WiFi portable phones. The project received the green light in late December 2005, the infrastructure equipment was pre-configured prior to installation, and all three sites were migrated one evening in January 2006.

The voice system was cut-over during one weekend in February 2006. To make the transition smooth, to provide user training and to avoid any issues that might arise, both the old and new phone systems were available for use one week prior to the cut-over and two weeks after. With the exception of remote sales reps working from their homes, CXtec did not need the safety net of having its old PBX functioning after cut-over.

One challenge the team faced was configuring Ciscos IP Contact Center (IPCC) Express software, which turned out to be complex enough for CXtec to seek assistance from its partners.

For example, programming Phone Agent was quite a challenge. CXtec had wanted automated installation of each employees desktop instead of having to program each individually. In the end, CXtec had to program each workstation, as the ACD cues did not work the way CXtec had hoped.

Another challenge that was overcome prevented remote users from communicating with each other via soft phones installed on their laptop computers. Working directly with Cisco TAC, CXtec was able to resolve a hair-pinning issue on its firewall. Although this didnt affect a significant amount of calls, the company was able to implement a short-term workaround using Ciscos MeetingPlace to host conference calls between the users whenever necessary until the issue was resolved.

What shined throughout the entire process was the internal teamwork. Installing VoIP was an excellent team-building and learning experience for IT and our Professional Services group, who did the heavy lifting. Together, we successfully completed the project within our timeframe in addition to our normal IT workload, Bettinger says. It was a great preparatory exercise before installation at a large customer site.

Reaping the Benefits

Overall, the transition from PBX to VoIP was smooth. Everyone had dial tone, and was able to make and receive calls first thing on Monday after cut-over.

CXtec immediately began to reap the benefits of the system. With many users traveling between sites, and an increased number working from remote locations, the cutting-edge technologies allowed CXtec employees to perform more efficiently while providing them greater flexibility to perform. The new system even provided substantial cost savings right out of the box. Having spent nearly 40 person hours per month in moves, adds and changes on the old PBX, CXtec was able to cut substantial time from those tasks. By using Cisco IP phones, CXtec was able to free up data ports under each desk and allow users to move their phones to their new location without the added hassle of swapping any cables in the data center or reconfiguring phone accounts. In addition, a post rollout click to dial implementation provided CXtec with a greater user efficiency in their call center. From advanced disaster recovery, to the ability to meet face-to-face with clients via video conferencing, to higher productivity through gained efficiencies, CXtec was able to enjoy an immediate benefit from the VoIP implementation.

It was a large undertaking, but its important to keep our staff invigorated and challenged, Bettinger says. I believe that 2006 is the year of VoIP, and while many companies are thinking about doing it, CXtec has already done it!

Contact CXtec at +1 800 767 3282 or  

The Details


Support on CXtecs existing PBX software and voicemail system was ending, and the company was looking for a new system that would support its growth objectives and enhance its sales efforts.

Size of the System:

CXtecs 150 sales representatives each make as many as 100 calls per day, totaling more than 300,000 minutes of calls per month, on 450 phones among its three offices and remote personnel.


Invest in and internally implement a new Cisco VoIP system that offered an anticipated return on investment in 17 months and provided CXtec with a competitive edge, as the company sells VoIP to customers.

System Upgrade:

From Nortel Meridian 1 PBX and Meridian Mail voicemail system to Cisco Unified Call Manager, Cisco Unity Voice Messaging and Cisco IP Call Center Express Premium.

Products Implemented:

Cisco Unified CallManager

Cisco Unity Voice Messaging

Cisco IP Contact Center Express Premium

Cisco IP phones 7971, 7961, 7941, 7920 (WiFi phone), IP Communicator (soft phone)

Cisco AireSpace Wireless LAN (wireless controllers, wireless location appliance

Cisco 1120 and 1130 access points)

Cisco 6509 Core Switch

Cisco 3560 Power Over Ethernet switches

Cisco 2851 and 2821 Integrated Voice Routers

MeetingPlace (Cisco 8106 Conference Bridge, MeetingPlace Web software)

Video Conference (IP/VC 3511 MCU, VT Advantage Cameras)

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