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“Hold Me Closer, Tony Danza” Customer Experience and Cisco Context Service

Due to a middle school crush, I became a fan of Elton John during the most prolific point in his career, releasing a series of records I still enjoy today.

Always looking to impress, I’d listen to the albums again and again looking to memorize the lyrics if the chance for a sing-along ever presented itself.  If a verse was hard to understand, I’d take my best shot, which occasionally produced comic results.

Little did I realize there’s a cottage industry of misheard song lyrics, with one of the most common being, “Hold me closer Tony Danza” from Elton’s song “Tiny Dancer”. Wow, talk about ruining the context of a song!

Context is an increasingly critical element of customer experience. The historical process of identifying and qualifying a customer during a real-time experience can backfire without context. Take my friend who called to report an outage on his cable service and was repeatedly upsold for an “enhanced” package during his queue time and agent interaction. We call this “doing the wrong thing right.”

Context provides the foundation for more personal, relevant and differentiated service – the battleground in the Experience Era.  Read More »

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What to Know: Virtual Face-to-Face Engagements for Midsize Business

Have you ever imaged what your company would look like if you only employed the best and the brightest employees? Midsize business leaders, just like enterprise companies, need to recruit and retain the most capable employees. They recognize that because today’s talent is on the move, the best employees may not be local.

There is a new understanding for midsize organizations: To remain competitive, they need new ways to support engaging face-to-face virtual interactions. Midmarket organizations also recognize that as employees juggle their time to have fulfilling careers, simplifying their ability to maintain a work-life balance is also important. Let’s face it: Connecting people on a very personal level is good for business.

KO12012So how will this help my business be more successful? Collaboration technology can amplify the value of each participant’s talents and contributions. It is this thinking that has led many midsize organizations with which I’ve spoken to use collaboration technologies to engage more personally with their customers, stakeholders, partners, and others (suppliers, consultants, or specialists) regardless of their location.

To put the cherry on top, it is now easier than ever to enable your dynamic workforce wherever they are. I’ve seen midmarket companies use Cisco collaboration technologies such as Sub-Zero and Vital Images to help improve their customer and employee engagements to drive revenue and success. Read More »

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Better Customer Service through Collaboration

Good news: Customers are becoming people in 2013. It’s prediction season. The blog world is ripe with posts of premonitions and predictions for every horizontal, vertical, and diagonal cross-section of business, science, and life in general.

The year’s predictions for customer service have a strong focus on people and experience. Look back just two years and you’ll see a greater emphasis on the process and operational pieces of the puzzle. Then, customers were essentially the sum of their activities and accounts. Today, they’re people and need to be treated as such, especially with the power that social media affords them to share opinions, feedback, and feelings about their interactions as your customer. (Feelings? Not those! Can I even mention those in a corporate post?!)

Some common phrases pop up in this year’s predictions: experience, multichannel, social media, differentiation, personalization, collaboration.

Contact centers are moving beyond transactions to relationships. Service is becoming a competitive differentiator. Creating more interactive and collaborative customer relationships is making a difference. Customer satisfaction is about more than making sure the customer gets the product and that the product works. It’s about creating loyalty so that customer comes back and becomes your advocate.

How can collaboration technology help along the way? The following use cases provide several options and benefits: Read More »

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Contact Center SIP Trunks Part 2 — Reducing Costs and Improving Call Control for Outsourced Contact Centers – Future Directions

In my  first blog I described how Cisco IT is interconnecting our outsourced Contact Centers using SIP trunks, replacing the more costly (and less effective) PSTN trunks.  In our first round of SIP trunk deployments we expect to save almost 25% of our current contact center calling costs (or $2M per year).  But there were other, less tangible benefits as well.
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Contact Center SIP Trunks Part 1 — Reducing Costs and Improving Call Control for Outsourced Contact Centers Today

Cisco has partnered with several outsourced vendors over the years for initial handling of many front-line calls and general information inquiries.  Connecting these vendor environments into a single Cisco customer contact environment is critical for good customer care, but costly and not always easy.  However, early this year we made a change:  we’re using SIP trunking and Cisco Unified Border Element to bring us much closer together, and save money into the bargain.

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