The Changing Face of Customer Collaboration

August 22, 2009 - 4 Comments

Cisco recently co-sponsored a survey which asked over 1800 consumers from six countries (USA, Canada, UK, France, Germany, and Australia) a set of questions focused on their perceptions of Speech Recognition and Self-Service as used for customer care. Although this is the third annual edition of the survey, this year marks the first time consumers were asked about the different channels they use to contact a business or organization for customer service.I was struck by the result that 44 per cent of the consumers surveyed said that they use online methods first (e.g., the web, e-mail, user forums, click-to-chat, etc.) to obtain customer service, whereas only 20 per cent said that they would choose the phone first. Even more striking, 52 per cent of respondents in the 16 to 34 age bracket (the new generation of consumers) indicated preference for using online methods first.By Murali SitaramVice President and General Manager, Cisco Customer Contact Center Business UnitDoes this mean that the traditional contact center is going away? Not at all, but I believe that it does underscore how important it is for businesses and organizations to provide customer care in the manner in which customers wish to be served. This goes far beyond what many have termed the “multi-channel contact center” and into the realm of what we call “Customer Collaboration”, where a wealth of collaboration technologies are applied that enable businesses and organizations to forge real relationships with their customers and elevate customer care to the next level.Customer Collaboration recognizes that customer interactions can take place in social media such as Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter. Customer Collaboration reaches customers in those networks, delivering proactive services where the customer is already comfortable. Customer Collaboration leverages state-of the-art video capabilities such as Telepresence to enable meaningful, person-to-person interactions between consumers and on-demand experts. Customer Collaboration leverages modern network smart-tagging methods to enable the formation of teams of experts on the fly that can proactively address customer needs. Customer Collaboration is boundary-less, real-time, multi-party, adaptive, and personal. Moreover, Customer Collaboration technologies will not only maintain and manage customer satisfaction but will also help with brand management in the future. Although Cisco’s vision for Customer Collaboration preceded the survey of those 1800 consumers, I found it gratifying to see the survey results confirming our initiative. I’m looking forward to realizing our vision of Customer Collaboration. It’s going to be quite a ride!

In an effort to keep conversations fresh, Cisco Blogs closes comments after 60 days. Please visit the Cisco Blogs hub page for the latest content.


  1. I agree with this the consumers survey which it is very useful but personally I would rather call contact center than use online methods. In my country (Thailand) the contact center is most important for customer service.

  2. You’ve picked up a theme that is both timely and relevant; that of brands actively engaging Customers in a form of interaction now looselytermed ‘Collaboration’. The rise of social media, and the confidence its spawned amongst internet users to engage,makes the possibilty of collaboration so much more of a reality. For the majority collaboration has been explored in a social context – through social media – rather than a corporate one. One of the best ways to encourage a quicker cross-over of the collaborative mindset, from social to corporate and back again, is to introduce the practice of greater collaboration within your own organisation first, so that colleagues can get more intune with colleagues when it comes to leveraging intellectual capital, both vertically and horizontally. Here at TogetherHubbub we are helping organisations do just that – by giving them the collaborate tools that work and, more importantly, we are encouraging a collaborative culture that through results establishes the notion of ‘we’ as being of paramount importance going forward. I wonder what you’ve done to date amongst colleagues within the Customer Care Team so that they ‘really’ get Collaboration and its benefits beyond being just the lastest buzzword?Jason BurrowsDirector, Together

  3. The survey question was: When you obtain customer service or other transactions from an organization, what best describes your usage pattern?”” The answer options were: “”Use online first””, “”Use phone first””, “”Depends on complexity””, and “”None of the Above””. “”Use online first”” received the greatest response from consumers, with a response rate of 44%.”

  4. What i would have liked to know was how specific the options were described to study respondents. Most of us would choose the fastest way to get customers service – whether it was by phone or online…. or?