No matter which lens you look through, it’s easy to see the importance of digital and the enormity of transformation taking place in the marketplace today. Both Gartner and Forrester predict that by 2020, 80% of the buying process is expected to occur without any direct human-to-human interaction. IDC says that the digital shift doesn’t only apply to B2C, with up to 92% of B2B buyers preferring to start their journey online. And when looking at digital preferences from a persona and organizational hierarchy perspective, SiriusDecisions says 34% of executive level buyers prefer to conduct online research before speaking with a colleague or industry analyst.

Watch the On-Demand Customer Success Talk webinar “Building a Foundation for Digital Engagement.”

While these indicators show how digital has become more relevant than ever in transforming customer engagement, we must keep in mind that none of these statistics hit the 100% mark. This will always be the case with digital transformation because every customer has their own preferences and is at a uniquely different point on their own journey. And that’s why we need to look at physical interaction alongside digital engagement as we optimize the way we reach each customer and strive, ultimately, to help them make more informed decisions.

Determining the right approach for your organization requires that you evaluate customer experience and recognize that there are two personas in any customer lifecycle: the buyer and the user.

Jan17 in blog

Define Your Engagement Model

Historically, when we have talked about selling, the focus was mainly on the point of sale and then we would move on. Today, we’re focused on linking the buyer journey to the user journey so that we can effectively deliver a full customer experience, achieve customer value realization and drive loyalty after the sale. The challenge is using the right method(s) of engagement to reach the customer at the right time, with the right message for their stage in the lifecycle—using the medium or communication channel they prefer.

Bringing all of this together begins with data. At Cisco, we typically look at three data sources to gather customer insights: external listening (to determine propensity to buy, for example), enterprise data (purchase and service contract history, for example) and telemetry data (utilization rates and more). Once you thread all of these data insights together against a single customer view, you can then begin building an end-to-end engagement model that maps to the customer journey—across the second chance attach, adopt, expand, renew and refresh stages.

For your biggest accounts, a high-touch engagement model is best, and a moderate touch model is the right approach when greater scaling is required. At other times a low-touch automated model is the optimal strategy. Digital is embedded in all of these, and the challenge lies in finding the best mix of human interaction versus digital engagement (and that’s where ongoing data insights and measurement come in). Always, the goal is to move adoption to a healthy level as soon as possible, and to deliver value as often as possible.

If a customer doesn’t see value within 90 days, there’s only a 10% chance they’ll remain loyal, according to Totango.

At Cisco, we use marketing, sales and customer success technology platforms to provide a framework for our digital foundation and optimize the mix of digital and physical interaction across our customer engagement processes. All of these platforms are driven by an ongoing influx of data and at the same time help us to create a trigger-based journey for the customer.

Build Your Digital Foundation

As we’ve moved forward in our own digital journey at Cisco, we’ve recognized that the digital economy has made sales and customer engagement processes more complex – not less. But we’ve also learned that the rewards of adapting for this new economy are more than worth it: the payout is huge in terms of building customer loyalty and driving the kind of value realization that has an impact on customer success. And that’s why we want to bring our partners along on the journey with us.

To learn how to get started, watch the on-demand webinar, “Building a Foundation for Digital Engagement


Steve Cox

Vice President, Employee Experience