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Customer Loyalty is the Ultimate Goal, Not Just Satisfaction

Money is tight. Everyone wants to feel as if they are getting the most out of every dollar spent.  While brand perception and trust are vital, many insurers have refined their customer satisfaction focus to now pursue and measure customer loyalty.

Like many other industries, the insurance industry is experiencing diminished returns on traditional advertising designed to improve brand loyalty and fuel business growth. Ads are no longer a reliable means of driving new business especially with younger, tech-savvy consumers. As a younger generation begins to make insurance purchasing decisions, it is vital for insurance agencies to harness technology in order to connect with customers and build brand loyalty.

Now more than ever, insurance providers are struggling to increase customer retention and are in need of some help. A recent study conducted by Satmetrix gathered the average customer loyalty of various industries and found that insurance was one of the lowest, with a customer loyalty rate of 23 percent. It is likely there is a correlation between this percentage and the lack of technology insurers have to utilize that would strengthen relationships with existing customers. Consumers are clearly expecting more from their insurance companies and increasingly desire a more personalized and proactive touch.

So how can technology help? Read More »

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From the Front Lines: How IT Is Taking Advantage of the Cloud Today

The cloud is here and here to stay. No one expects a wholesale move to the cloud overnight, but I’ve been hearing recently from numerous customers whose journeys are well underway, and some common themes are emerging as businesses explore various deployment models. Business agility, flexibility and balance sheet liquidity will drive cloud adoption, and, as the popularity of hybrid models increases, users will demand a seamless end-user experience between the cloud and on-premise systems.

A few weeks ago, I included these themes in my predictions about the future of cloud collaboration. This week I had the chance to speak with two Cisco customers about why issues such as flexibility, cost savings and user experience drove them to deploy cloud collaboration technologies and other cloud solutions. Sheila Jordan, senior vice president, communication and collaboration IT, co-hosted the discussion with me and offered her insights from an IT perspective. She also recapped the discussion, sharing some specific tips for how IT managers can best take advantage of the cloud.

John Jackson, vice president of global infrastructure and vendor management for D+M Group, said that he can relate easily to the prediction about business agility, flexibility and cost when thinking back to his company’s decision to move to the cloud. D+M Group employs people in several different operating divisions around the world and grew through a series of acquisitions, leaving the company to globalize shared-services IT team that did not previously exist. Read More »

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Managing #Cloud-Based #Collaboration IT Solutions

Cloud-based collaboration IT solutions are a hot topic among my peers – with questions such as how do you make the transition to cloud, what solutions do you host in the cloud, how do you address security, and how do you manage legacy systems on premises in tandem with cloud solutions?

These are just a few of the discussion points that I addressed today in a media and analyst event with my Cisco colleague Eric Schoch, VP and GM, Cisco Cloud Collaboration, and two of our Cisco customers – the City of Charlotte, North Carolina and D+M Group.

Here are Eric’s cloud predictions and my tips for IT leaders:

 1.      Prediction:  In 2013, we’ll see the cloud conversation shift to flexibility and agility as primary drivers of adoption.

Tip #1

The perfect trifecta is collaboration in the cloud as it delivers big benefits, large reach and low risk. 

Or to state it another way:  mobile and social meet cloud.  Think about how collaboration is delivered – the consumption model is different.

Tip #2

Think cloud data center: this is another area of significant cost savings while offering flexible workloads – improving delivering of infrastructure services from weeks to minutes.

Flexibility and agility are very significant to IT professionals. IT will always be held to the total cost of ownership and reducing cost wherever it makes sense.  And, we also have to deliver solutions and services faster.  Cloud is the delivery mechanism to do this over time.

Read More »

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Who Cares About The Network When Collaborating?

You are probably thinking that the title of this blog seems a little bizarre given that I work at one of the largest networking companies in the world.  The truth is I felt compelled to write about the role of the network in today’s collaboration solutions because the importance of the network is not always apparent and well understood.

A good example of how network-enabled collaboration solutions can be used is that of a hospital or healthcare organization.  The hospital is only as good as its network of services, providers and the accompanying medical infrastructure that support the organization —  they all leverage each other in various different ways.  Physicians can take advantage of mind share and resources and have information at hand from different sources to make the right decisions.  This is what enables doctors and nurses to perform their best work and provide top quality care to the people they serve.

Collaboration technologies and solutions make that collaborative work environment a reality and aid in the diagnosis and care of patients — in some cases even being able to remotely provide medical care by a specialist that may be located half way around the world. The importance of the underlying network in this instance is critical to both physicians and patients alike.  How would the network have any effect on the use of interactive video in telemedicine? Well, let’s think of it from the experience point of view. What would the consequences be for a patient if the video stream they were using in a telemedicine consult was choppy or grainy and the doctor couldn’t get just the right view of the patient to make the right diagnosis?  Let’s just say I would not want to be the patient in this scenario.  A sub-par experience would be unacceptable because even minor details can have an enormous impact on a diagnosis or treatment plan. These collaborative exchanges are what ultimately give the patient the best experience and outcome possible for their individual treatment. A strong network foundation is critical to the delivery of the service and experience in this instance.

Collaboration technologies gaining significant traction in the enterprise today include streaming video, web conferencing and other forms of interactive and dynamic communications — known as rich media.  The reason for the uptick in their use is that they offer the most life like, “in-person” collaboration experiences possible today.  That is what people want and what ultimately drives them to be more engaged with one another.  As described above, the network is critical to the delivery of these types of media.   Not just any network architecture will suffice.  A network-based architecture optimized for rich media such as Cisco (medianet) provides the intelligent services needed in order to scale, optimize and enhance the performance of voice, video and data – all critical to the delivery of the collaboration experience.

What does this mean?  Read More »

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The Evolution of Immersive Video in the Retail Bank Branch

January 29, 2013 at 6:00 am PST

Increasingly over the past several months, I have been working with more and more retail banking clients. A common theme has emerged during these discussions that centers on video and collaboration in the branch. The top of mind question is, “how are banks using video in the branch to grow top line revenue in a very tightly regulated environment and with ever increasing downward pressure on fee revenues?”

As retail banks have slowly emerged from the global financial crisis of 2008, they are increasingly looking for ways to differentiate themselves with their products and services.  Studies show that the branch is still relevant in the eyes of the retail bank consumer, but the role the branch will play in the future is beginning to change.

Cisco’s IBSG team published a white paper on this topic, which covers the transformation that banks are currently going through. Retail banks are wrestling with moving from a multichannel environment to an omnichannel environment. The difference is, instead of offering a different experience and set of products and services across various delivery channels, they offer a more integrated and consistent experience across delivery channels. These traditional delivery channels include: branch, Internet and contact center to name a few. Currently, the mobile channel is growing in popularity and use, especially with new applications like remote deposit capture right from a mobile phone or tablet. Read More »

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