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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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The Connected Life: The Art of the Possible in Insurance

Gathering and Harvesting New Data through “The Connected Life”

The Connected Life, the digital life is steadily emerging. Today’s insurance consumers are increasingly tech savvy and want services on demand and expect them to be readily accessible anywhere, anytime. Because of this, the insurance industry and more specifically, the personal property and casualty insurance sector, is experiencing a significant period of change and opportunity. The primary change agent in this disruption is the significant amount of specific data that an insurance organization can gain for individual policyholders or prospective policyholders in this era of the Internet of Everything.

An industry steeped in tradition, legacy systems, conservative business practices and risk avoidance is now faced with the need for significant, rapid adoption of new technology accompanied by new data analytics models. This change is in-progress and data from the connected car, connected home and connected person is being gathered. The challenge facing the Insurance organization is not the data gathering, but the management, mining and “harvesting” of this expansive data. In fact, Cisco acknowledges five pillars in this space: Connect, Collect, Analyze, Decide and Apply. Focusing only on the first two areas of Connect and Collect will not provide an advantage over competitors. The key focus areas that will bring true value to insurers are Analyze, Decide, and Apply.

Put simply, a competitive advantage can be achieved by those organizations who effectively “harvest” newly gathered data from connected life solutions. Virtually all property and casualty insurance organizations with a top 100 ranking are investigating, testing, piloting or commercially deploying “Big Data” initiatives. These data gathering initiatives include connected vehicle/telematics, connected home and connected health of the individual, and further include value-added offerings for the consumer, while providing the opportunity for insurers to learn a lot about the policyholder or a prospective policyholder. Read More »

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Enabling “The Easy” Button for Insurance

Nearly a year ago, I wrote a blog titled, “Mayday for Insurance and Financial Services,” where I detailed how next-generation customer experience capabilities, such as virtual interactions between business experts and customers, are transforming business processes – such as the “Mayday” button technology offered on Amazon’s Kindle Fire HDX. The purpose of that blog was to explain virtual interaction capabilities and discuss how they are likely to become integrated into the insurance industry in the near future. So what’s changed? Well, I’ve gone from blogging about the changes to come, to speaking at insurance industry conferences about how virtual transactions are now transforming how the industry does business and how Cisco is helping fuel these virtual interactions.

I attended the Property Insurance Report National Conference, and had many great discussions. The focus of the conference was on ways the property insurance world is changing, through consideration of new ideas and the utilization of new tools being built. It’s widely considered that with the arrival of better information and tools, the most sophisticated insurers will be able to separate themselves from those who don’t take these changes as seriously or employ them as skillfully. Features such as online video sales and support are working in the real world for other industries, so how they can be applied to insurance?

At the conference, I gave a keynote presentation titled, “Omni-Channel for Insurance – Virtual Enhanced Distribution & Service Channels”. The presentation specifically focused on how virtual interactions are transforming the insurance industry and improving customer experiences.

Read More »

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Championing the Case for Contact Center Analytics!

Contact centers have always been awash in data and data crunchers. But based on progress in data science, there is a renewed focus on analytics and how you can use it to differentiate your customer engagement strategy. When competitors offer similar products and use comparable technologies, your customer service strategy can offer meaningful advantage to your brand.

Using analytics appropriately, forward-looking companies can wring every last drop of value from their contact center processes.

Traditionally contact centers have used metrics like Average Hold Time (AHT), First Call Resolution (FCR), Abandon Rate, Occupancy, Adherence to manage the operation.

However, now they want to leverage additional data; what are the upsell opportunity, how much customers will pay; how many items each will buy in a lifetime; and what triggers will make people buy more.

Many contact centers now want to use additional data to answer more strategic questions, such as:  Read More »

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Simplifying Midsize Collaboration Deployments

feb 2015 midmarket blog image - guy walkingIn my last post I talked about the impact that low-effort experiences can have on customer satisfaction.  I singled out my home broadband provider for criticism, and so thought it only fair that I talk about a recent great experience I had with them.

Last month, my provider sent an email telling me that they’d proactively upgraded my home broadband service to 50Mbps.  All I had to do was replace my old cable modem/router.  The process couldn’t have been simpler.   The new modem was delivered with pre-configured settings. All I had to do was connect it, power up, and enter the network ID and password onto my devices.

Contrast this experience with lengthy and complicated installations that customers often face when installing multiple communications and collaboration solutions from multiple vendors.

For small and medium-sized businesses in particular, with smaller IT teams, it is critical that solutions are easy to deploy, manage, and use. So we’ve taken a different approach.

The Cisco Business Edition 6000 consolidates multiple virtualized collaboration applications into one server solution that is right-priced and right-sized for small to medium sized businesses.  IT departments can rapidly deploy voice, video, messaging, or presence solutions, starting with their highest-priority use cases — and add additional functionality later. Read More »

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