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Social Networking and Customer Care

March 11, 2009 at 12:00 pm PST

I’ve lived in several places and my family is very distributed, so I’m an early adopter when it comes to using the Internet to communicate with my “social network.” My daughter’s first steps, first words, first potty training success are all catalogued and [securely] blogged for my distributed family to read. I have a feeling her grandmother sits in front of her computer hitting refresh waiting for the next blog entry. I experienced first-hand the power of the Internet to strengthen relationships before I ever heard the term “social networking,” but with the explosion of applications over the past few years I’ve begun thinking about how social networking impacts my line of work: customer care. A perennial theme in the customer care industry is “relationship” management. I talk to a lot of enterprise contact center customers, and frequently the discussion is around improving customer satisfaction with an aim toward the goal of establishing a strong relationship with customers. How can you even think about relationships these days without considering social networking technologies? They are popping up as the solution to everything. While I agree there’s something real happening in this area, it’s clearly still a work in progress when it comes to doing business. Read More »

Between Aspiration and Action

by Joe Burton, chief technology officer, Cisco Unified CommunicationsForrester coined an interesting term not too long ago: IT-To-BT Transformation. According to Alexander Peters of Forrester, ubiquitous computing and business technology (BT) are the two forces coming together that will transform the way CIOs organize and operate. Innovative organizations will move toward BT and reap the rewards of business efficiency, time to market, competitiveness and workforce productivity. In other words, they’ll fill the gap between aspiration and action. I believe a significant step toward becoming a BT-focused organization is the ability to design and build an architectural framework that will drive your business now and prepare you for what you may not know today that you need to deploy in the future. With 7 out of 10 firms investing in collaboration these days, enterprise architectural design decisions are being made now to support today’s and tomorrow’s collaboration tools: wikis, text messaging, IM, presence, IP telephony, web conferencing, telepresence, social networking, virtual worlds and more. Cisco’s approach is an”any to any” framework that will enable us to rapidly adopt any device, any application, for anyone on any network, anytime. The focus on BT enablement, and services rather than features, led us to the development and deployment of open Web 2.0 architecture that supports the speed and flexibility of cloud based services with the”ilities” that come from enterprise networks such as reliability and scalability. We’re using this”any to any” model, ourselves, to accelerate the rollout of new collaboration tools from Cisco’s product portfolio with home grown solutions from our IT organization and third party products. How are you”filling the gaps between aspiration and action”?

The Next Top Model

This morning, the news came in that Cisco TelePresence will be part of a Heidi Klum venture. The popular German TV show “Next Top Model” has a segment running next month with a contestant in LA talking to family back home in Hamburg. This “seminal event” got me thinking about how fast this market has blossomed. In just over two scant years TelePresence has gone from a corporate meeting tool to something else entirely. TelePresence has started all sorts of people thinking about new ways to collaborate and communicate. For example, singer Stubby (“The club all smash” is his hit single) used the public Cisco TelePresence Suites a few months ago for a music video shoot, and he’s now thinking about how he could use the technology as he tours and makes music. Not just for staying in touch with colleagues and family while on the road, but how he could use it for music production. Now, that’s a new way of thinking about collaboration technology.Other signs: NBA stars Shane Battier and Yao Ming used Cisco TelePresence for NBA China interviews from their home towns. The NHL uses it at hockey games for in-person interactions between fans, stars and sportscasters. How fun is that to be face to face with some of hockey’s greats? Read More »

Dear Unknown

Such was the salutation of a message sent to a friend recently. The heading of the message went on to state that Acme Corp. (name changed to protect the guilty) prided itself on a “personal” touch and differentiated customer service. This slight mishap, while clearly a marketing campaign automation failure, was a clear testament of how much harder an enterprise must strive for perfection when communicating with customers. Now more than ever, corporations are refocusing their energy on improving customer service by retraining customer care representatives, investing in enabling technologies and replacing aging legacy equipment. Clearly, Acme Corp. would have done better to avert such a faux pas. The reality is that today’s environment requires a reinvigorated look at how Customer Care organizations, in partnership with Marketing and IT, can evolve or even rethink their customer service strategy — a strategy which, in today’s economic climate, must aim to better understand the customer and adapt to her or his communication needs. Read More »

Confidence in Web Services

Sad to see the latest outage with Gmail; how confident should individuals and companies be in web services?At their best, web services allow a concentration of expertise and best-practice that many organizations might not have internally. Many individuals and small- or even medium-sized businesses do not achieve the”99.9%” uptime in their email systems -equivalent to less than 9 hours of service interruption per year -- that is often a minimum service-level standard in the web-services world. To make a simple comparison, in most countries people know that the service from their electricity company is simpler and more reliable than trying to run their own power station. Read More »