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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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Should I Use Cisco Spark in my Contact Center?

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 »

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Cisco Spark: Room for Everyone

My mom…one of the best moms out there in my book.  She plans our fun family reunions, plays a mean game of golf, and keeps a busy household in order.  And she’s also a successful businesswoman with a very full plate.  She runs marketing and advertising for a small business and is an active member of the community.  She is constantly multitasking – jumping between projects and meetings on a host of different topics.  She is “collaborating” all the time.

As a marketer of collaboration products, I can’t help but analyze how people work – especially folks that may not know about all the great collaboration technology out there.  My mom happens to be one of those people.  I’ve actually seen her drive to the office to review some creative designs or spend an hour composing a long email when some simple messaging could have helped her get to the point faster.  And despite her ability to multi-task as any good mom can, I’ve noticed that she often puts small tasks on hold while over-rotating on a key deliverable, later ending up behind schedule because she’s “catching up.”  But all of this is not for a lack of familiarity with technology.  She definitely holds the role of the Chief Technology Officer for our family (sorry dad)!

Until we launched Cisco Spark, Read More »

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