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Mayday for Insurance and Financial Services

According to Wikipedia, “mayday” is an emergency procedure word used internationally as a distress signal in voice procedure radio communications. It derives from the French expression “venez m’aider“, meaning “come to help me.” Most recently, the term has been used to describe a special feature Amazon now offers Kindle Fire HDX users when they need virtual support on their device. The user can simply touch the button on the Kindle screen and a contact center representative appears on the screen, where the customer can see, hear and talk with the Amazon customer service rep. It delivers personal help on-demand and in real-time.

Both uses of the word “mayday” described above apply to insurance and other financial services. It is indeed a “come to help me” signal that should be alerting insurance and financial services providers that the next-generation of customer experience capabilities is now here. We have seen the adoption pattern before—financial services customers now expect financial services firms to deliver similar services that they have access to through other industries.

The wait is over. In fact, retail banks are now rolling out similar “mayday” functionality to their customers through similar solutions that are driven by Cisco technology. As is the case with many technology trends, the “what could be” capabilities of the future are much closer than many realize. Consumers using virtual capabilities like FaceTime for social interaction are becoming much more likely to expect and use similar capabilities to interact with companies they do business with. Many workers today are also using virtual interaction to connect with colleagues to conduct business and perform their job functions. The fact is--virtual interaction has become much more common in our daily lives. Read More »

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Batman and the Customer Experience Center

The concept of the Customer Experience Center (CEC) is gaining attention in the customer care industry as the next logical step beyond the contact center.  Although a precise definition of the CEC is still under debate, a good starting point is to think of it as a set of technologies and business processes that deliver (hopefully superior) customer experience management, which Gartner defines as “the practice of designing and reacting to customer interactions to meet or exceed customer expectations and, thus, increase customer satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy.”

batman blog picIn the movie “Batman Begins“, Batman tells Rachel Dawes, “It’s not who I am underneath, but what I do that defines me.”  This statement offers an alternate way to think about the CEC--by considering what it does.  The emerging CEC encompasses Customer Collaboration by combining traditional contact center technology and processes with a range of collaboration technologies to empower businesses to forge deeper, more proactive relationships with their customers.  As such, the CEC moves beyond the traditional channels of interaction of the “contact center” to embrace new media and access methods desired by consumers, including video, mobile, and the social web.  Or the batphone.

The CEC has emerged because Read More »

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The New Price of Attracting and Retaining Insurance Customers

The insurance industry is facing a massive evolutionary shift driven by competition and changes in consumer preferences. The competitive battle is easy to see, as insurers delve out billions in advertising and marketing expenditures in an effort to attract and retain customers, while maintaining top of mind brand awareness and differentiation. And adding to the pile on--retail  banks are beginning to offer personal and commercial  policies, which means insurers are no longer only competing with one another, but banks as well.

Insurance fits into the broader context of how we live our lives. So, the same technology trends and innovations that are changing the way we interact with each other socially as well as with other products and services – travel, entertainment, automotive, to name a few–are changing the expectations we, as consumers, bring to the insurance experience. Customers want to interact with their insurance provider in the way they choose, at the time they choose, across any access channel with any device.     Read More »

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Banking Operating Models – Then and Now

A recent poll by American Banker Magazine reported on the impressions of the future of banking and generated some interesting perspectives about what the future will be like. While there were several insights, one comment especially captured the essence of the future:

The future model of banking will center around dramatically increased simplicity delivered through a mobile device (phone, tablet, wearable technology). The result will be an experience that makes banking part of other daily activities as opposed to a standalone event.

In other words, the business signs on our banks will now read “Open 24 Hours.”

How different this is, when compared to the operational model on which banks have operated for most of the time. Banks have their roots in a pre-Internet/pre-electronic communications era. Like many retail companies, banks were designed around a ‘brick and mortar’ physical model of operation and distribution. We can categorize this as the physical business operating model and the bank of now is heading towards anytime, anywhere access. Read More »

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Omnianalytics for an Omnichannel World

At Cisco, we’re about ready for the NRF trade show being held in New York on Jan.  12-15. We’re at the show expo on Jan. 13-14, and will be featuring four company thought leaders in the highly popular annual Big Idea sessions. Kathryn Howe, retail senior advisor at Cisco, will be discussing one of the industry’s most forward-looking trends – how to utilize omnianalytics that help retailers extract the most data out of omnichannel environments.

Q: The concept of omnianalytics is a new one for many retailers. Can you tell us more about it?

A: In pursuit of the personalized customer experience, retailers are increasingly moving toward omnichannel selling across stores, websites, mobile platforms and applications, phones, kiosks, and so on. Each of these channels adds another layer to the customer experience, and each layer generates a new set of data. These data sets offer a new opportunity for stores to engage with the customer.  Omnianalytics is the process of managing and correlating these large amounts of data to transform your business.

Q: Why is this data so important?

A: For the first time in history, retailers can collect truly objective, quantifiable customer data. Traditional shop-alongs, simulations, and focus groups are inevitably somewhat inaccurate, as simply being observed can change shopper behavior. Today’s automated systems, on the other hand, collect completely unbiased information on dwell times, traffic patterns, and other behaviors. They are also extremely scalable, meaning that consistent metrics can be gathered across thousands of stores to provide very high quality data.

Q: What do you think are the most important topics you’ll discuss at NRF?

Knowing which metrics are game changers for your business is the art and science of executing on omnianalytics. We’ll talk about how to get started and how to understand which metrics you need for your business. We’ll also be joined by John Goedert of Starbucks, who provides a wonderful case study on how his company is using omnianalytics to drive consumer interactions.

Time and Place:

“Omnianalytics: Knowledge is Good, Now How Can It Transform My Business?” with Kathryn Howe takes place on Tuesday, Jan. 14, at 1:15-2:15 am, in Room 4 on Level 3 of the Expo Hall. For those who can’t be there, a recording of the session will be available after the show. Visit Cisco’s NRF website to learn more, and do take the time to stop by Cisco booth #1954.

I’ll see you at NRF!

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