Feature Story

Taking a new road with the customer journey

Let's face it, dealing with customer service isn't always easy (or fun). Cisco is working to provide a better experience.

Let’s face it, if you need to contact customer service for something, you likely have low expectations. In most cases, you’ll end up communicating with a nameless, faceless person randomly assigned to your case.

Cisco’s customer service organization knows this feeling all too well and has spent the last couple of years doing a top down revamp to take away the pain points for customers, partners, and sales agents.  “We started to say we need to start treating our customers much more like a friendly face when they show up for help,” says Norm DePeau, Vice President of Customer Services. “That person is going to stay with you throughout the entire lifecycle of your order. From the moment you need help to the last time when it has been resolved.”

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DePeau compares it to when you take your car in for service. The garage has experts in back to fix everything from your tires to your transmission, but the person in front works to understand your problem before sending it off to get fixed. “We’re going to take the combination of your input with our knowledge of the systems and processes and put those together to ensure we don’t do a one-point solution, we look at the entire experience,” DePeau says. Think about it. You want someone who knows the history of your car, and not coming in blind every time you come to the garage.

" With the journey team model, we’re seeing the deep personal connection everyone wants to feel when they reach out to my team for help "

Customer Service has organized nearly 750 trained Journey Agents located around the world into twenty-three journey teams.  Each team is aligned to a specific country, theater, channel or segment, based upon our sales structure.  “I want every Journey Agent to feel a deep sense of ownership and personal accountability for the success of the Sales and Partners they support. With the journey team model, we’re seeing the deep personal connection everyone wants to feel when they reach out to my team for help,” DePeau added. 

John Keating is a sales account manager who covers a huge geographical area in Ontario, Canada. For him, the new customer service team has been a game changer that has saved him countless hours. “We have intimacy with the one agent who’s handling everything on the front lines,” Keating says. “If you’re a town manager that’s on the road like I am, it’s invaluable.” Before the new system was implemented in Canada, Keating would come home at the end of the day and still have an hour and a half of work to do responding to emails. That has all changed. “It’s amazing how efficient it makes me.”

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As a customer service agent in the contact center Nancy Villegas is on the front lines, making sure everyone’s needs are met. “Before we used to tell the customer ‘No we don’t do that, you need to open a separate case to get that specific issue resolved,’ but now we can take that issue and work it until the end,” Villegas explains. She admits it has been a steep learning curve but sees the benefit to the customers. “I have noticed that customers are happier so that part has been awesome,” Villegas says.  Another benefit is her customer service team, which services all of Canada, works more collaboratively and helps each other to get problems resolved. 

That’s exactly what DePeau envisioned with the revamped customer service center.  “I think the model we’ve shaped is much more aligned to the way people want to work today, which is not stick my face in front of a screen for eight hours solving problems because I’m good at one little thing,” DePeau says. “We want to interact with other people and through that we gain a sense of self-worth because we realize we are helping other people.”