Cisco Blogs


Cisco Blog > Retail

Delivering a Next-Generation Customer Experience

Hi, readers! You haven’t heard from me recently, as I’ve been travelling and talking to Cisco customers. My colleague Jason Bettinger and I recently had a wonderful time at CDM’s Customer Experience Summit in Chicago, IL. CDM Media Summits bring together leading C-level executives, analysts, and solution providers to network and attend interactive agenda sessions on the latest business topics and trends.

At the event, we gave the opening keynote presentation to address how enterprises can strive to meet the ever increasing demands of the customer.  The summit brought together some of the leading executives from a variety of industries to explore ways of confronting and overcoming current industry issues. This year’s conference focused on topics that enterprises must deal with now, not in the future:

  • Leveraging Big Data
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Predictive Analytics
  • Digital Interactive Marketing
  • Monetization of the Customer Experience
  • Customer Engagement Management Platforms

Increasingly, institutions are focusing on customer experience as their primary competitive advantage. Those with the highest customer experience ratings typically enjoy some of the best financial performances when compared to their competitors and research has demonstrated a high correlation between experience to loyalty and loyalty to profitability. Companies are asking themselves: How do we design and deliver differentiated customer experiences that truly matter? What expectations do today’s consumers have for customer care?

In our keynote, we showcased how new technologies that generate more positive outcomes in the customer experience era align with future business models across industries.  We discussed how consistency and personalization are critical to achieving new levels of customer experience and the factors that need to be considered when trying to achieve both.

Delivering a Next Generation Customer Experience Keynote

“Consistency may be one of the least inspirational topics for most managers. But it’s exceptionally powerful, especially at a time when retail channels are proliferating and consumer choice and empowerment are increasing.” -- McKinsey & Company

Today, institutions are being challenged to meet the ever-increasing demands of the customer, something that is becoming more complex. Many have found that addressing those demands requires more coordination than ever – it’s about moving to true customer collaboration throughout the customer journey and proactively engaging the customer by combining traditional tools with the power of the future.

Customers are driving how and when they interact and demanding an engaging experience. Therefore, organizations across all industries must evolve their customer care to align with new business models -- addressing customer experience imperatives with new capabilities. The keynote can be viewed here.

We received some great feedback from those who attended our keynote. Below are a few key themes we heard from attendees:

  • The importance of the customer is at the center of the ecosystem
  • Consistency and personalization are not mutually exclusive
  • Examples show that every industry is being impacted by the trends in the market today

As you can see, we had a great time at the Customer Experience Summit and we are already looking forward to next year’s conference. Did you attend? Let us know your feedback from the event in the comments section below.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Straight From NRF: Want Your Share of $100 Billion? Build Customer Trust

As I’m sure most of you know, Jon Stine presented this morning at NRF on the results of his fourth “Catch ‘Em and Keep ‘Em” survey, which is a highly respected study done each year to identify how shoppers are responding to retail technologies. As a followup to his NRF Big Ideas session, I’d like to reproduce here Jon’s blog on his findings and thoughts. Thank you, Jon!

Want Your Share of $100 Billion? Build Customer Trust
By Jon Stine

jostineTrust. It’s a powerful human emotion that often drives our behavior. The level of trust, or lack thereof, between a retailer and its customers can literally make or break the business. Given the importance of trust, many retailers are asking: How much do customers trust retailers? What are the benefits of increasing trust? How do retailers gather the information needed to provide the  personalized experiences many customers want, while maintaining and even building trusted relationships?

These questions are especially important given the critical juncture at which we find ourselves—the convergence of people, process, data, and things called the Internet of Everything (IoE).

To help retailers build customer trust in an increasingly digitally connected world, Cisco Consulting Services surveyed 1,174 consumers in its fourth annual Digital Shopping Behavior survey.* From a behavior perspective, shoppers are becoming more digital. In fact, eighty percent of respondents are what we call Digital Mass shoppers—people who research, browse, and purchase digitally. Within this group, Über Digitals, who almost always use a smartphone to shop, increased from 11 percent last year to 18 percent this year. Clearly, your customers are digital.

Before we discuss “how,” it is important to understand “why.” Our research showed $100 billion of IoE value was available for retailers in the United States to capture in 2013 by offering more personalized shopping experiences. If you missed your share, don’t worry. This number is expected to increase slightly in 2014. Realizing this value, however, isn’t easy.

When it comes to trust, retailers are starting from a low base. When asked, “How much would you trust these companies/institutions to protect your personal data and use it to provide something you value?” respondents ranked retailers second to last, at 31 percent—behind government agencies (37 percent), and ahead of Internet companies (18 percent).

Even so, shoppers want personalized experiences. When asked, “Which personalized experiences do you prefer?” respondents ranked promotions via touch-screen or smartphone first (Digital Mass: 46 percent; Über Digitals: 53 percent). This was followed by personalized products, personalized shopping lists, and personalized service.

So, how do we solve this dilemma between a lack of trust and the desire for personalized shopping experiences, which require the collection of personal information? For answers, let’s look at a few of the research findings.

  • Shoppers want personalized offers that are easy to use – Most people want to receive personalized offers via email at home. This suggests that shoppers — even Über Digitals — start the shopping process while they are in their home environment. The vision of in-store offers may simply not be in sync with the reality of shopper decision making and in-store behavior.
  • Shoppers are willing to share information – Both Digital Mass and Über Digital shoppers are willing to share past purchase history and basic personal information (name, age, etc.) with retailers to receive a more personalized shopping experience. Topping the list of acceptable information for retailers to use are time spent in the store, location in the store, and products you try but don’t buy.
  • Shoppers want something in return – To give personal information, however, shoppers must get something in return. By far, the top two factors that would lead shoppers to share more personal information are guaranteed percentage savings on their next purchase and specific dollar savings on their next purchase. Interestingly, a world-class privacy policy ranked third, 21 percent below the second choice for the Digital Mass, and 14 percent below the second response for Über Digitals.

Based on our experience working with many of the world’s leading retailers, there are three key takeaways and actions when it comes to building trust:

  1. Shopper trust must be earned. Retailers can do this by delivering a clear data policy and making the benefits of providing personal information transparent and easy to understand.
  2. IoE is already here. To capture your share of the $100 billion value at stake, develop a strategic plan that takes into account the information above.
  3. Über Digitals are too important to ignore. Selling to these shoppers requires an architecture and infrastructure that can support their increasing expectations for connected, digital shopping experiences.

To gain even more insights into developing trust in an IoE world, take a look at:

*  This year’s Cisco Consulting Digital Shopping Behavior survey includes responses from 1,174 consumers who are representative of the United States broadband population by age, income, and region. It is the fourth in a series of popular “Catch ‘Em and Keep ‘Em” studies by Cisco Consulting Services.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Omnianalytics for an Omnichannel World

At Cisco, we’re about ready for the NRF trade show being held in New York on Jan.  12-15. We’re at the show expo on Jan. 13-14, and will be featuring four company thought leaders in the highly popular annual Big Idea sessions. Kathryn Howe, retail senior advisor at Cisco, will be discussing one of the industry’s most forward-looking trends – how to utilize omnianalytics that help retailers extract the most data out of omnichannel environments.

Q: The concept of omnianalytics is a new one for many retailers. Can you tell us more about it?

A: In pursuit of the personalized customer experience, retailers are increasingly moving toward omnichannel selling across stores, websites, mobile platforms and applications, phones, kiosks, and so on. Each of these channels adds another layer to the customer experience, and each layer generates a new set of data. These data sets offer a new opportunity for stores to engage with the customer.  Omnianalytics is the process of managing and correlating these large amounts of data to transform your business.

Q: Why is this data so important?

A: For the first time in history, retailers can collect truly objective, quantifiable customer data. Traditional shop-alongs, simulations, and focus groups are inevitably somewhat inaccurate, as simply being observed can change shopper behavior. Today’s automated systems, on the other hand, collect completely unbiased information on dwell times, traffic patterns, and other behaviors. They are also extremely scalable, meaning that consistent metrics can be gathered across thousands of stores to provide very high quality data.

Q: What do you think are the most important topics you’ll discuss at NRF?

Knowing which metrics are game changers for your business is the art and science of executing on omnianalytics. We’ll talk about how to get started and how to understand which metrics you need for your business. We’ll also be joined by John Goedert of Starbucks, who provides a wonderful case study on how his company is using omnianalytics to drive consumer interactions.

Time and Place:

“Omnianalytics: Knowledge is Good, Now How Can It Transform My Business?” with Kathryn Howe takes place on Tuesday, Jan. 14, at 1:15-2:15 am, in Room 4 on Level 3 of the Expo Hall. For those who can’t be there, a recording of the session will be available after the show. Visit Cisco’s NRF website to learn more, and do take the time to stop by Cisco booth #1954.

I’ll see you at NRF!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Mobility in the Store – More Dollars, Less Intrusive

We’re rapidly closing in on the NRF trade show being held in New York on Jan. 12-15. Cisco is at the expo on Jan. 13-14, and will be featuring several company speakers at the popular annual Big Idea sessions. I am honored this year to be one of these speakers, and am pleased to be joined by Bob Friday, Cisco’s vice president/CTO for Enterprise Networking -- Mobility. Bob manages strategic wireless initiatives for Enterprise Wi-Fi, and we’ll be discussing the critical business issues of implementing mobile solutions in your store.

So what are the hot topics right now around mobility?

Retailers are going in some interesting directions here. Location awareness of customers is of course hot, hot, hot. Retailers want to learn from shopper behavior how they can best improve opportunities for sales. But, how can we do this without getting into the “creepy factor” of essentially stalking our customers down the aisles?

And, of course, every retailer wants to find shortcuts to ROI and monetization of the mobile platform. Part of this lies around the organization itself: It is common to see companies where IT and lines of business are simply not working together closely enough to get real value out of new technology. For example, I remember one store that was required by management to implement Wi-Fi. This was all well and good, but they didn’t implement any analytics for the new network. The result was that they have a cool technology but no idea of how to use it to engage shoppers, or even to identify how it is benefiting them.

In our session, Bob and I will discuss how you can use your Wi-Fi as a strategic asset – not just as the next awesome thing, but as a critical part of your engagement with shoppers. I’d like to also cover ideas on personalization vs. contextualization: This gets into how we can gather information without being intrusive. And we’ll talk about how to achieve ROI for your wireless investment and turn it into a new revenue driver. Please join us!

Time and Place:

 “Detect, Connect, Engage: Enhance Your Customer Experience with Mobility,” with me and Bob Friday takes place on Tuesday, Jan. 14, at 9:15-10:00 am, in Room 4 on Level 3 of the Expo Hall. For those who can’t be there, a recording of the session will be available after the show. Visit Cisco’s NRF website to learn more, and do take the time to stop by Cisco booth #1954.

I’ll see you at NRF!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Understanding the Internet of Everything for Retail

Here at Cisco we are busy getting ready to go to NRF next week, which is being held in New York on Jan.  12-15. Cisco is at the show expo on Jan. 13-14, and will be featuring four company thought leaders in the annual Big Idea sessions. I asked Lisa Fretwell, customer solution director at Cisco, to tell us more about her topic and the buzzphrase that’s beginning to penetrate the industry: The Internet of Everything.

Q: Lisa, what is the Internet of Everything?  

The Internet of Everything, or IOE, is the next step change in customer experience store efficiency and effectiveness, a way of thinking about stores and store technologies to derive the greatest possible benefit from every data point.  In the future there will a significant increase in the numbers of “things” connected to the Internet. Those new connections will create a huge amount of useful data that we can use to transform our processes and radically change the way that stores engage with customers. This next generation combines data, processes, people, and things to create significant new and additional value for the businesses.

Q: Why is IOE so important for retailers?

A: Remember years ago when the Internet came along and retailers said, “It will never take off”? Today’s transition to the Internet of Everything will be even larger and faster than the move to eCommerce or mCommerce, as it is enables rich customer experiences and a new era of operational productivity. IOE helps to optimize low margins and drive profitability by keeping stores ahead of high customer expectations. It accomplishes this by improving productivity through automated operations based on new data sources and sensors combined with smart analytics.

Q: What do you think are the most important topics you’ll discuss at NRF?

A: My goal is to help retailers start to understand the critical opportunity offered by IOE. I think it’s important for retailers to understand these new concepts and see what their competitors are doing. We’ll discuss what they need to do to get their business ready for IOE and how to get started – not just architectures, and connectivity, but how IT needs to rethink data and analytics platforms and how retail businesses can adapt to make the most of the brave new IOE world. To understand the economics of this, check out the white paper Embracing the Internet of Everything.

Time and Place:

“The Internet of Everything: What’s the Art of the Possible in Retail?” with Lisa Fretwell takes place on Monday, Jan. 13, at 2:00-3:00 pm, in Room 4 on Level 3 of the Expo Hall. For those who can’t be there, a recording of the session will be available after the show. Visit Cisco’s NRF website to learn more, and do take the time to stop by Cisco booth #1954.

I’ll see you at NRF!

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,