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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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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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Context is Everything in Customer Care

“Let’s eat grandma!”
“Let’s eat, grandma!”

Punctuation makes a difference, doesn’t it? So does context.

Photo by Takkk, Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Takkk, Wikimedia Commons

If you’re a basketball fan with March Madness on your mind, “Drive the lane!” might make you think of something a coach yells to his players. On the other hand, if you’re teaching your teenage son to drive, it means something else entirely. Context matters! (By the way, march madness also refers to the breeding season of the European hare; context is a tricky thing.)

What’s one of the most annoying things about calling a contact center? For me, it’s entering my account number to an interactive voice response (IVR) system and then having a customer service agent ask me to repeat it moments later. In his recent blog, Zack Taylor refers to this as a “Do It Again” moment. Come on, people! We put a man on the moon in 1969 (or not, if you’re a conspiracy buff), but we can’t get an IVR system to send account numbers to agents? Actually we can. But most businesses don’t because it’s been too difficult or costly. We’ll get back to that shortly. Read More »

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Context Matters: Announcing Context Service for Better Customer Care

“Hello, Mr. Famous, and thanks for calling 1-800-WeCanHelp! I see you bought three items from us last week, and you IM’d with our agent Chet yesterday when you had some questions about set-up. Are you calling about that same issue, or can I help you with something else?”

Calling customer service is never this painless or this easy. I usually start what can become a long, frustrating phone call by entering my account number into an interactive voice response (IVR) system. Typically, a customer service agent asks me to repeat it moments later. My call becomes a painful process of repetition. I provide numbers, ordering history, past calls to customer service, and loads of other information. And that’s before ever getting to how to solve the problem I called about in the first place.

But fast, painless, personal customer service is no longer just a dream.

Introducing Context Service for Cisco Contact Center

Today, we’re announcing Context Service for Cisco Contact Center, a cloud-based solution that tracks a customer’s critical contextual data and immediately delivers it to the service agent. Context Service integrates data from the various ways a customer can interact with your business – such as voice, chat, social media, email and web – to help the agent be better informed and make that service experience more appealing.

Context Service Diagram

With Context Service for Cisco Contact Center, a customer service agent has Read More »

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Ten Things to Consider for a Better Contact Center

The contact center is the front line for handling customer inquiries. Corporations large and small understand that it’s important to respond to inquiries quickly and effectively. A lot of money is budgeted for customer care departments to meet this growing need and respond via one or more customer contact channels. As evidenced by many stories in the news recently, one small, wrong move and your company could end up on the wrong side of a social media story gone viral. How many times have you heard of someone tweeting about being stuck in a plane on the runway for a few hours? It can make the nightly news and stir up bad publicity for the airline, potentially resulting in customer service headaches for months or years to come.

Many variables affect a contact center ecosystem including the underlying technology, staffing resources, real estate, etc. If your corporate contact center infrastructure is transforming or needs to transform, here are ten top issues you should consider: Read More »

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