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Provide Service at Your Customer’s Convenience

107718_NW Infographic_04-27-15As consumers, we have many options in how we browse, research, and purchase products today.  We expect more freedom and flexibility in how we work with retail companies. Forward-looking companies strive to improve their customers’ experiences and provide flexibility without compromising quality.

However, some industries are considered conservative and rigid. Financial institutions are often seen this way. It’s ironic. Financial institutions brought us ATMs, online banking, bill payer, and generally made us more self-sufficient with our funds.

Unfortunately, areas such as mortgage lending remain high-touch and require a face-to-face meetings with customers. For banks, the challenge is that it doesn’t make sense to have an expert in every branch, which means mortgage experts typically travel among branches.  Customers may have access to a lending expert only once a week, or even every two weeks.  It’s difficult to do business that way.

Now, look at what Nationwide has accomplished in the area of mortgage lending.  Nationwide prides itself on customer service: It’s the world’s largest building society and services 1 of every 4 U.K. homes.  In order to grow and provide exceptional service to more households, Nationwide realized it would be better to
bring its mortgage experts to the customer.  They did this with video conferencing and the results have been spectacular.

Most impressive is the increase in customer satisfaction from meeting with consultants over video.  The experience and expertise remain the same, but providing experts at the customer’s convenience led to a significant improvement in ratings. And, additional business for Nationwide at lower cost.

I applaud Nationwide for not over-rotating on video.  They have successfully taken advantage of video to serve more members and bring home ownership to reality for those members on their terms.  They did this by continuing to provide “white glove” treatment to their members.

Upon arrival, customers are greeted by an employee who escorts them to the meeting room. The employee begins the video session, makes introductions, provides refreshments, and supports the process by managing documents, copies, signatures, and other branch-based tasks.

Video doesn’t replace the experience, it augments it.

There’s a saying that Read More »

Small Business – Make it Big with Positive Customer Experience

Last week, I had an opportunity to attend an event for small and medium-sized businesses. It was an amazing experience. The business leaders there shared a passion for their solutions and a desire to take their companies to the next level and “make it big”. In a technology-enabled world, the features and functionalities of a product or service typically do not provide a sustainable competitive advantage. It’s certainly possible to grow a company if planned well. So why do only a few small businesses succeed in “making it big”?  What differentiates companies and how do certain small companies become large enterprises?

The answer lies in understanding the end-customer behavior of such businesses. Typically, small companies expand based on their initial customers, who become their “brand ambassadors”. This is especially true with social media. Typical buying behavior no longer depends only on a supplier’s marketing activity. It’s largely driven by word-of-mouth from happy or unhappy customers.

Total Customer Experience                                                                  

Customers engage your business at multiple touchpoints – far more than ever before. And in the end, the total customer experiences across those touchpoints makes them happy or unhappy (Figure 1).

Figure 1 – Connecting the customer journey

Figure 1 – Connecting the customer journey

The “Total Customer Experience” for a particular customer becomes Read More »

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In Search of a Good Popsicle Story

FullSizeRender copyMy grandmother, now eight years passed, used to tell the best stories about Vietnam. I remember one about my grandfather who wooed her with a popsicle on one of his early visits. In the incessant heat of a mid-1940s Hanoi summer, this was a feat of magnificent proportions.

But it would be rude to eat it in front of him, she thought. So she set the popsicle aside on a plate to save until after he leaves. When later she went to retrieve it, she would only find a small puddle and stick where her popsicle once was. Through tears, she chastised her siblings for coveting the gift from her beloved. Then someone explained the power of refrigeration to her, and that sealed the deal. She decided my grandfather was a man of the world and would make a suitable husband.

Ah, in the middle of Silicon Valley, there’s no greater love story than one aided by technology. So, I racked my brain to extract a good one for the amusement of my future grandchildren. Could the power of video collaboration be as heart wrenching as the power of refrigeration? Read More »

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Introducing Cisco Remote Expert Mobile

It seems like once a week I come across an article about how mobile devices will revolutionize customer care. To some degree, the articles all share a theme: “Make your life simpler with anytime anywhere access to… your bank, insurance provider, even a doctor.

These articles are chock-full of facts and figures. They tell us consumers prefer to access customer care via mobile devices. And they report that companies are in their infancy when it comes to implementing improvements to meet this demand.

(And can you believe it? I’m almost finished with the introduction and I haven’t dropped the most bodacious customer-care buzzword of all: omnichannel!)

So much has been written about omnichannel that I don’t think I can add much more. Other than: As a consumer, I want it!  I want the consistent customer care experience that omnichannel promises as I move from one channel to another.

But if I’m being honest, what I really want is a complete end-to-end experience on whatever channel I happen to be on.

My options are limited if I’m logged into my banking app on my iPad and I need live help. I could use my phone and call into a queue, or request a call back, or maybe even start a chat session. But how is this making my life simpler?  I still have to re-authenticate myself, maybe go through an IVR process, explain what I’m looking for… You get the picture. Read More »

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How Cisco Scored a Spot on TWiST

If you don’t know about the podcast series, This Week in Startups (TWiST), hosted by my friend Jason Calacanis, it’s worth checking out. Jason is a legendary investor and media mogul who has his fingers in every part of the tech industry. Each week, he brings CEOs, business founders, venture capitalists, angel investors, and tech experts into his San Francisco studio to talk about the latest trends and happenings inside the world of Silicon Valley and beyond.

I first met Jason around 10 years ago in Los Angeles. We were playing poker at a friend’s game. His brash poker playing style matches his approach to investing: nothing ventured, nothing gained. But unlike his approach to prospective business ventures, in poker, Jason never met a hand he didn’t like.

Since I’m part of this little startup Cisco, I got to be a guest on the show last week, episode 552. Jason invited me on to talk about entrepreneurship and how it’s been finding its way into big companies. We covered it all – DIY video conferencing, our new business messaging app Cisco Spark (and how he thinks we can monetize it), why John Chambers gave me a job, our theories on mergers and acquisitions, how AirBnB is improving lives, Uber pooling, Luxe, and, actually, a lot more.

Read More »

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