Deepen Customer Engagement by Becoming More Customer Centric

CISCO

In the past, companies primarily used technology to benefit the business. Organisations were introspective about themselves, their work, and their growth strategies. Decision-makers boiled everything down to a single query: How will we make ourselves better? Not: What can we do to make things better for our customers?


But that focus has shifted outward over the past 15 years. Today's technology industries have realised they must focus on the customer experience (CX) rather than just the bottom line. They need to engage more deeply with their customers, create omnichannel messaging points, and develop a solid CX strategy built to last the test of time.

Today’s technology industries have realised they have to focus on the customer experience rather than just the bottom line.


Throughout this CX revolution, I've seen many organisations start to change in subtle, sometimes ingenious, ways. In particular, I've watched the Cisco Customer Experience team evolve and expand, and I've dramatically deepened my engagement with the company, with other customers, and ultimately, with the customers I serve.

Starting My Journey with Cisco Customer Experience

I have been working in the IT industry for more than 19 years, primarily focused on VoIP, contact centres, and unified communications. I moved from working as a Senior Systems Specialist at Nationwide Building Society, to a Technical Architect at BT, to an Advisory Solution Consultant at ServiceNow.


Along the way, I've been heavily involved with Cisco Advanced Services, which have been absorbed into what is now Cisco CX. While I was at Nationwide, we migrated away from a legacy PBX environment, working with consultants from Cisco Advanced Services to help us understand the best way to go about deployment. Another big project took place during the early days of wireless networking. The 802.11b standard had just come out, and we worked in a consultative manner with Cisco Advanced Services, who helped us understand how to map out, secure, and manage a wireless network. When I moved to BT, my relationship with Cisco grew deeper as it changed from consultancy to project-focused collaboration.


The biggest step in my relationship with Cisco CX has been through the Cisco Insider Advocates program (formerly known as the Global Gateway), Cisco's supercharged community of advocates where customers widen their professional network, learn about Cisco technology, and share their feedback and success stories. The Insider Advocates hub offers news about the latest developments while engaging customers with easily digestible, gamified, bite-sized information that leads them to more specialised Cisco resources on Cisco Community and Cisco.com. As I increased the time I spent on the Insider Advocates hub, I realised I'd walked through an open door that led straight to Cisco's in-demand teams. One of these was the Cisco Digital Experience team, who manages the Customer Experience (CX) channel in the hub.  

Gaining Access to the Experts Through the CX Channel

The Cisco Digital Experience team utilises the CX channel in the hub to engage with customers, collect their feedback, and connect them to the digital journeys and documents about the setup, installation, and use of various Cisco solutions. These invaluable resources reside on Cisco Community and Cisco.com pages, and enable self-serve capabilities for customers throughout deployments. These assets take people on a step-by-step journey through processes, empowering end users to do more themselves.  


Cisco users aren't experts on everything, but quite often, internal cost pressures mean that we have to do more on our own rather than hire external integrators. The Cisco Digital Experience team provides users with the information necessary to broaden skillsets and move towards proficiency. Users can then demonstrate what they can do without extra resources, thereby proving their worth to their employers. 


The Digital Experience team takes a lot of care developing this documentation, which offers a better experience than reading page after page of a 600-page PDF or Word document. Everything is easily accessible, which helps remove the fear and intimidation around such technology. One advocate, Marcel Janecek, recently completed an upgrade of Firepower 7.x based on a document created by the Digital Experience team in the Cisco Community. That's fantastic evidence of how successful the digital assets can be—and it encourages other people to do the same.


Another CX offer featured in the CX channel is Ask the Experts (ATXs), which is an hour-long presentation, demo, and Q&A session with CX engineers on deployment tips, best practices, and other ways to make the most of Cisco technology. These ATXs sessions are another way Cisco facilitates access to the best intel, enabling users to go deeper into a particular topic. I had completed a series of challenges (bite-sized modules) in the Insider Advocates hub on Cisco Secure Network Analytics (formerly Stealthwatch), which I had known nothing about before. Security isn't my area of expertise, but I wanted to know more after gaining some initial insight. I discovered through a challenge that there was an upcoming session on Cisco SecureX. Not only did I learn directly from the experts during the session, but I benefited from the questions asked by other users who were further along on their journey. By educating and leading us to digital assets and resources from the CX channel, Cisco gives us the best of Cisco CX intel and intelligence—and allows us to explore as we wish. 

Embracing the Value of Community

Feedback is the gift that keeps on giving. As I became more engaged with the CX channel within the Insider Advocates hub, I began to offer a lot of thoughtful feedback and detailed commentary—anything I could to build on what was there and do my part to make it better. The Digital Experience team puts so much time and effort into creating content, and it's the least I can do to provide a thoughtful and considered response. The community doesn't move forward without continuous, constructive feedback, and the Digital Experience team uses this feedback to improve products and enhance the user experience. 


I also began to publicly share more of my experiences and offer my expertise within the CX channel. Everyone has a different journey, which is the beauty of such a robust community where everyone has a voice and everyone can contribute. My engagement didn't go unnoticed. In November 2021, I was named CX Ambassador of the Year as part of Cisco’s 2021 Global Advocate Awards. 

Building a network of advocates with shared experiences and different skills make all the difference in the #technology industry.


The award was an honour, but also a pleasure. I get so much value from the community in terms of collaboration and pioneering solutions that I'm happy to sing the praises of the CX channel from the rooftops. I spend the time to raise awareness of the Insider Advocates program and the CX channel because the more people join, and the more people engage, the better the community becomes. Through the Insider Advocates program, I've built a network of other Cisco customers with shared experiences and different skills. I'm thrilled and proud to be a part of it.

Partnering with the Cisco Digital Experience Team

In my new role at ServiceNow, I've reached a new level of engagement with Cisco. The Cisco stack and ServiceNow stack are both great on their own, but they play nicely together in certain areas. One of these areas is optimising workflows and productivity through automation. Using the solutions together brings out the best of both products, and we have an integration with Cisco ACI.


The documentation around this integration and its benefits, however, is minimal on both sides. So I launched some discussions with the Cisco Digital Experience team to ask if there was an opportunity to co-create some content around that and future integrations. They liked the idea, and we've begun to work on artefacts and documentation. These assets will offer customers step-by-step instructions to activate the integrations so they can get the full host of benefits from both Cisco and ServiceNow solutions. 


With this new endeavour, I've crossed to the other side of the curtain. As a customer and user, I was always on the receiving end of content, whereas now I help create it. It's great to witness firsthand the go-to-market approach of the Cisco Digital Experience team and decide together how we shape content. Once we get to the end of the journey, we will determine whether we achieved our desired outcome, whether anything needs to change, and how to build a repeatable process for creating more of these digital assets.


These assets will enable all of us to create authentic value for our joint customers—similar to how Cisco continues to offer value and engage its customers.

CX as a Differentiator

CX was once trendy, but it's now entrenched in business strategy. There will always be competitors, but the companies that win over today's consumers aren't necessarily the flashiest or the loudest, just the ones with the best possible CX.

The companies that win over today’s consumers aren’t necessarily the flashiest or the loudest, just the ones with the best possible CX.


Cisco has been a remarkable example of how a company can deepen their engagement with customers over the years. Through the Insider Advocates program and the Digital Experience team, they've increased customer access to information and helped customers power through obstacles—delivering an unparalleled customer experience.