20 years Cisco Contact Center with Bucher + Suter
Interview with Martin Wüthrich, CEO at Bucher + Suter
Exactly 20 years ago, Bucher + Suter installed the first Cisco Contact Center worldwide in a project with BKW (Bernische Kraftwerke). Learn from Martin Wüthrich, the project manager at Bucher + Suter, today’s CEO, what the challenges were back then and how the success story with Cisco began.
*Written by Vivian Schreyer, apprentice 4th year in mediamatics
How did the BKW project with Bucher + Suter and Cisco come to life?
The story begins with a former employee from the Nosergroup who moved to Cisco Systems. He was the one who established the contact between Bucher + Suter and Cisco.
BKW had just evaluated a new contact center solution. As a major international company, Cisco had helped us, thanks to our newly established contact, to get noticed by BKW and ultimately win the deal.
How did Bucher + Suter fare before the partnership with Cisco?
With our then self-developed call center called “darondo,” we had successfully mastered many smaller projects. We also came out on top in a few larger tenders. However, we were repeatedly passed on larger projects in the contact center sector because we were a young, small company with 12 employees.
The power of Cisco has helped us enormously in gaining reach.
What were the requirements for the BKW project?
The main requirement on the part of BKW was that its agents should be flexible. Meaning that they could work from all BKW locations. At that time, there was no out-of-the-box solution on the market. So, agents had to go to their personal site because their phones were connected there.
For how many agents and locations was the contact center set up?
Approximately 70 agents in the following locations: Ostermundigen, Nidau, Spiez, and Gstaad.
What products and components were installed in this project?
Basically, it was a classic UCCE; at that time, it was called IPCC, with the b+s deskphone as the frontend. We had also planned to install the Cisco IP IVR. Since this was not yet available, we installed the Bucher + Suter IVR. You can only imagine how much we programmed and practiced for nights on end.
What were the challenges during the project?
None, of course, everything went like clockwork… (smiles). When you look back to the year 2000 and realize where IT stood at that time, you can guess that a long list of challenges would jump out. But I’d prefer to tell an anecdote that might help set the scene.
Right at the beginning of the project, I had to fly to Cisco in Boston and complete a two-day support engineer training course before I received the CD with the required software.
Then it turned out that the quality of the beta software was very unstable. In the first week of operation, the agents were logged out just like that, up to 12 times a day.
The next challenge was the “warm transfer” function. This allows an agent, when forwarding a call, to first inform the target person and then put the call through. The function just wouldn’t run. Once again, we had to spend countless nights in the BKW basements. Luckily, today, we can laugh about it.
Was the project a success despite the challenges?
The project was not directly profitable for us financially, and the first few weeks were harrowing. The product quality was not good, and there were consistent problems, so new versions had to be installed all the time. But Cisco stood by us and delivered many patches. So, we laid the foundation for a 20-year partnership and a remarkable success story.
How does the partnership look?
The BKW project went live in October 2000, with Bucher + Suter on board. Even outside the country’s borders, the huge signal effect brought us many new deals – most of them in the enterprise segment. Since this project, we have grown from 12 to 180 employees at various locations. We have customers in over 60 countries with over 130,000 contact center licenses sold. And today, we are the largest Cisco Contact Center Partner in Europe.
So we are immensely proud when we look back. Thank you to all those who contributed back then!
Thanks for sharing your reflections on that time with us!