This month, I’m excited to welcome a very special guest author to the We’re Listening blog series. Joe Pinto is Senior Vice President of Cisco’s Technical Services group, with responsibility for a wide array of programs that support customer experience excellence at Cisco, including technical assistance, onsite and spare part logistics, certifications including CCIE, and technical support resources. Throughout his nearly 24 years at Cisco, Joe has championed the customer experience in all aspects of Cisco’s business. He also initiated and continues to sponsor an Ease of Doing Business (EoDB) program within Cisco, with a cross-functional group that is dedicated to improving the end-to-end customer and partner experience.

Joe recently gave a great keynote address at the Walker B-to-B Customer Experience Summit that talked about how companies can improve EoDB for their customers and partners – I’ve asked him to share some of those thoughts here, as well as his overall takeaways from the conference. Read on, and don’t forget to comment with your thoughts and questions for Joe.

jpinto By Guest Contributor Joe Pinto

Last month, I delivered the keynote at the Walker B-to-B Customer Experience Summit. At the event, Walker announced the findings from their latest case study The Value of Making it Easy. Given this focus, it was a great opportunity to share Cisco’s approach to improving Ease of Doing Business (EoDB) in the customer and partner experience.  One section of my keynote that really resonated with the audience was my list of top ten EoDB learnings from the past couple of years:

10. Don’t ignore the problem hoping it will go away: get the data and have the real internal conversations.

9. Get serious: make a public commitment to customers and (if applicable) partners.

8. Keep focused: set expectations that this is a multi-year journey and keep it top-of-mind for the organization.

7. Start small and scrappy: get some low hanging fruit, build momentum, and publicly recognize the folks already doing great work.

6. But don’t stay small and scrappy: build a process and structure to move the big rocks.

5. Big change doesn’t have to mean big effort: simple policy or process changes can make a big difference.

4. Get executive buy-in early and often.

3. Measure progress and celebrate the wins along the way.

2. Include customers: don’t guess what EoDB means to them – ask.

1. You’re never done: build an EoDB structure that’s sustainable and embedded into the business. Think culture, not project.

This list is included in my presentation, which you can view here.

Joe at Walker It’s always great to participate at these events, both to share best practices and to learn how other organizations are approaching customer experience management, in high-tech and in other industries.

Some of my takeaways from the conference are:

  • Customers are expecting a consumer-like experience in their B2B interactions.
  • Customer experience improvements require transformative change. Significant cultural and operational shifts are required in order for an organization to truly put the customer experience at the forefront of how work gets prioritized, and how funding and resources get allocated, for example.
  • Customer experience management is a process – you are never done and it needs to always remain a focus.
  • Customers make financial decisions based on how easy a company is to work with:
    • 50% of customers surveyed rank EoDB as a top purchase criteria.
    • 60% of customers surveyed rank EoDB as a top purchase criteria for renewals.
    • [Source: “The Value of Making It Easy” – Walker Information 2014]

As I think about what I learned at this conference, the lessons struck close to home. At Cisco, EoDB is a top priority. We’ve made a lot of progress in the last couple of years, and our success has been based on how we’ve implemented the lessons learned:

  • Maintaining a focus on the end-to-end experience (versus taking a siloed / functional view)
  • Ensuring that the improvements we implement have a global reach
  • Having a rapid response by going after the experience “quick wins” to build support for EoDB as a company priority and to create immediate positive impact for our customers

With all that being said, I reflect on lesson #1: we’re never done. At Cisco, we continue to focus on key improvement areas (such as Software Licensing, Service Contract Management, and Install Base Data Quality, to name a few).  We’re making progress but we still have a long way to go to ensure we continually deliver an optimal experience to our customers and partners.

What do you think we should be focusing on to truly transform the Cisco experience?


Curt Hill

Senior Vice President

Customer Assurance