When I think about what we’ve done recently to improve our customers’ experience with Cisco, the Cisco Support Website immediately jumps to mind. The web team actively consults customers and seeks new ways to improve the web support experience. I’ve invited Glenn Schleicher, who leads the team, to discuss our software download initiative and the impact our customers are seeing.

Glenn Schleicher By Guest Contributor Glenn Schleicher

As we try to fully appreciate how online pain points affect you, stories like this one really stick with us.

The “Overnight Wiring Closet” Remedy

Imagine that you are Cisco partner “Bill,” who shared this method for getting large UCS software images:  At the end of his day Bill would leave his laptop in his last customer’s wiring closet, start the download for the image he’d need the next day, hope it wouldn’t be interrupted overnight, and then retrieve the laptop in the morning before traveling to his next customer’s network upgrade.

Surely Cisco can do better than that in distributing software for its product lines.

What Customers Told Us

The time I spend selecting and downloading is cumbersome, slow and inefficient. Simplify!” 

Complaints like these were once common. Customers struggled with the complexity of selecting software on the Cisco Support Website, with pulling down ever-larger images in a process that seemed to crawl, and with time lost in having to restart interrupted downloads from the beginning.  So two years ago we scrapped the usual site upgrades and aimed instead for massive change.

We spoke directly with site users, pored over hundreds of comments, analyzed web behavior, convened customer and partner advisory boards, and looked to new web design techniques in the B2B and Consumer spaces.  Then we set to work.

What did we do – and did it make a difference?  I’ll share three things and let you decide.

“Cut the steps I must take to select software online.” 

First, we compressed selection and License Agreement steps, and added personal download history links that let you start saving files in one click versus 10.  The average time from when your visit begins to when the image is in your hands has decreased by 77 percent in one year. For the top task on Cisco.com – a task performed millions of times each month – you deserve no less.

“Speed up my downloads, and not just if I’m a stone’s throw away from a Cisco Data Center.” 

Next, to accelerate software delivery – even to remote corners of the globe – we moved 94 percent of our binary images to the cloud by 2013. This quadrupled average download speed worldwide. Experiences in Europe and emerging markets often exceeded those in North America (speeds up 76 percent in India, 80 percent in the U.K.).  As one customer remarks, “I just tried the new software download on Cisco Support Website. YES, YES, YES! Huge improvement!”

“Images are getting HUGE, and I need to download several at a time when I’m on the move.

We just introduced a download manager that enables graceful restarting at the point of interruption, streams multiple downloads concurrently, and delivers an extra boost in speed. Now users like “Bill” can download files in parallel, change locations, resume progress without having to restart, and abandon the “overnight wiring closet.”

One power user’s verdict –
“I just downloaded the recently released AnyConnect 3.1.04063 – all 25 files using the new download manager. Install was easy and it did work great.” – John Urbaneck, Principal Network Architect, Swick Technologies

What Next? You Tell Us.

We’re not done by any means. Web analytics do verify gains in productivity, and customer satisfaction scores have hit new highs. But we know numbers don’t tell the full story. So please share your thoughts on your current experience – and suggest what we should improve next.

Thank you for listening!


Curt Hill

Senior Vice President

Customer Assurance