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Evolving from Customer Service to Customer Collaboration

May 9, 2012 at 6:13 am PST

Like many people, I’ve raised my expectations of the products I use and the companies with which I do business, both personally and professionally. As my choices of vendors have expanded, so have the criteria by which I measure them.

At one point, the smallest price tag won the battle. I didn’t always get the best result, but I saved some money. I can get a whole lot more store-brand ice cream for my dollar, but it’s never as good as Ben & Jerry’s New York Super Fudge Chunk. Never.

Product quality, convenience, brand reputation, price, previous experience, are all in the mix. Increasingly, customer service is taking a greater role. I want to work with companies that want to work with me.

Collaboration technology gives you more avenues to interact with and serve your customers. Make it easy to be your customers. The efforts are worth it. In a new white paper, titled “Turning Customer Service into Customer Collaboration,” ZK Research says “the time is now for companies to use collaboration tools to evolve customer service.” Read More »

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Cisco Wins Big in CRM Magazine Awards

The March 2012 issue of Customer Relationship Management Magazine presents the editors’ annual Service Leader awards.  Building on our success in previous contests, Cisco customer care products received awards in two categories this year.

For the first time ever, Cisco claimed the top spot among Interactive Voice Response vendors, standing out in particular for our “company direction and depth of functionality” in IVR.  This award underscores Cisco’s continued success in this market, where we were recognized last summer as the world’s leading IVR vendor.

Cisco was also applauded by CRM Magazine as a “Leader” in Contact Center Infrastructure.  Noted industry analyst Paul Stockford commented that, “In the past couple of years, Cisco has rocketed past the competition with a sharp focus on the future of the contact center and the demonstrated ability to deliver on its vision.”

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Keeping Your Future in Mind As You Invest in Enterprise Collaboration Solutions

Both mid-sized and large enterprises know the value of employee collaboration to increase productivity and give the business a “leg up” on its competitors. As more businesses make sizeable investments into collaboration technology, it’s important for them to select products and services that not only meet their unique needs but also encompasses a comprehensive solution from the ground up that caters specifically to increasingly mobile employees.

Today, Sprint announced the availability of Sprint Complete Collaboration, a bundled service that gives customers a full UC solution that can be quickly and easily deployed over an all IP network. This Sprint solution is based on Cisco’s Hosted Collaboration Solution which gives partners, including service providers and integrators, the ability to deploy multiple collaboration applications on one server in a virtualized environment and then host those applications for multiple client organizations. The solution is designed to be run from partner data centers.

What does this mean for the end users who are increasingly on the go? It means being able to access collaboration applications from any device (smart phone, laptop, tablet -- you name it) anywhere at any time. It’s instant collaboration designed for today’s distributed enterprise; a feat that is best achieved when an organization opts to deploy a collaboration solution that -- at its foundation -- is keeping the bigger picture in mind: that these days, employee collaboration is no longer bound by “office walls.”

Sprint’s news validates the demand for a collaboration solution that allows service providers to leverage their own infrastructure to differentiate and drive fixed mobile convergence. We announced this new feature last December with new mobile features to HCS. As one of our first customers to announce availability of this feature, we are thrilled to see that the market is seeing the value of extending this feature to their subscribers. 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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Study Shows that Cisco-based Contact Centers Perform Better and Save Money

A recent landmark study by BenchmarkPortal showed that Cisco-based contact centers have a nearly 17% lower average cost per call than contact centers not using Cisco.  A medium-to-large contact center can handle millions of calls a year, so these are tremendous savings.  At the same time, the study reveals that companies using Cisco-based contact centers enjoy customer satisfaction rates more than 3% greater than companies using other vendors’ technology.  Given that a fraction of a percentage increase in customer satisfaction can have a major positive impact on business profits, this too showcases why Cisco is creating such a buzz in the contact center market.  You can access a presentation of the study results here.

In less than ten years, Cisco has evolved from a newcomer in the customer care industry to a leading worldwide technology provider.  Last summer we were recognized for the first time as the world’s leading Interactive Voice Response (IVR) vendor.  Cisco is currently #2 in the worldwide contact center market, and we are driving aggressively toward number one.

Contact center is at the core of our collaboration strategy at Cisco.  We are delivering innovations in Customer Collaboration, which combines traditional contact center technology with key innovations in social media, Web 2.0 agent workspaces, video, and network-based recording and analytics to empower businesses to forge deeper, proactive relationships with their customers.

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