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
The “Total Customer Experience” for a particular customer becomes Read More »
My 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 »
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 »
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.
It has been more than a year since I started using Cisco Spark. And it has been a year of learning and changing how I work with my team…and I’m still learning. My focus and passion at Cisco is customer-care technology. I’m always thinking about how to apply new collaboration technologies to customer interaction:
Do new messaging applications like Cisco Spark belong in the contact center?
Should businesses be using them to communicate with customers?
On the first question: Absolutely.
Paul Stockford of Saddletree Research and I discussed this recently in, “Hip to Be Squared,” following the announcement of Cisco Spark.
Team collaboration is the fuel of a great contact center operation. Contact centers have always been and always will be about people. (Note: I’m a huge proponent of self-service as the first/best option for customer care. But as long as there are people, there will be a need for assisted-service contact centers).
Contact center management aims to maximize the productivity of customer care teams. And I confidently say from personal experience that Spark is a great team productivity tool. Read More »