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Don’t lose out with a reactive CX in a digital world. Cisco CX SVP explains.

In the recent years, customer expectations have undergone a sea change. The interaction and consumption model is constantly changing and businesses are realigning their customer experience strategy. It is a bid by leaders to adapt to the model and accelerate customer success.

Chris Heckscher, Senior Vice President, Customer Experience-APJC, Cisco talks about the transformation business undergoes to provide services and value to customers in a cloud operated world, the role of DeepTech in the aforementioned deal, and the importance of the right CX culture and how it eventually ties back to employee engagement and satisfaction.

How is CX leading Cisco’s transformation as your customers now move to an increasingly cloud-operated world?

In the last two years during the Pandemic, Cisco has been at the center of helping organizations adapt quickly to this new reality and transforming at unprecedented speed. During this uncertain time, many of our customers have been challenged with transitioning to remote work, choosing the right cloud strategy, automating business processes, and protecting critical data.

At Cisco Customer Experience, we always start with a customer-first mindset and are committed to ensuring our customers get the maximum value from their technology and the best experience possible. We provide a powerful combination of human and digital intelligence to get our customers the outcomes that matter to them most, faster.

What role do you see deep technologies playing in this transformation? How can businesses use these technologies to differentiate and hone their CX as a competitive advantage?

I see Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning as the emerging technologies that will play a key role in this transformation, and we have leveraged both in our CX Portfolio. CX Cloud is Cisco’s unique approach of combining human and digital intelligence to accelerate customer success. This is a single pane of glass, a digital platform that provides our customers access to manage their technology solutions as well as a guided digital journey. This powerful digital experience fuelled by telemetry will focus on our customers’ most strategic use cases. The use case is the atomic unit that captures the intent of the customer and t includes contextual learning, best practices from Cisco and partners – all powered by AI & ML, and Cisco’s intellectual capital.

If the pandemic has shown the world anything, it’s that businesses need to be prepared for the unexpected. Priorities shifted overnight, forcing businesses to adopt new ways of work, build new products and services to meet new demand, establish a fully-remote work ecosystem—all at once. It also reinforced that this type of agility and flexibility does not just apply to infrastructure but to have the right talent to meet business needs today and in the future as well.

Cisco’s Business Critical Services (BCS) is aimed at ensuring that our customers continue to have access to Cisco’s talent, expertise, and analytics they need now and to help them plan their future technology. In addition to delivering expertise, BCS offers a real competitive edge to our customers, providing them real-time analytics, insights, and automation capabilities to help ensure their digital transformation efforts are successful and resilient.

How has your approach toward CX changed as new patterns emerge across technology consumption and business model transformation?

I believe customer success is fundamentally about accelerating time to value for our customers. They achieve that value leveraging the Cisco solutions we sell them; services and customer success are levers we can pull to drive that acceleration of value. 

We know our customers are changing the way they want to purchase and consume technology solutions. Customers who once depended on one-time products and services are now switching to subscriptions and as-a-service offerings.   

In our last quarter’s earnings report, recurring revenue was 80% of our total software revenue. Cisco currently has over $15B run rate software business which makes us the 6th largest enterprise software company in the world, growing at double digits.  This fundamental transformation on how customers purchase and consume requires a change in how Cisco conducts business. We are making significant investments in tools and consoles to arm our customer success and service delivery teams with insights and analytics around how our customers are using our technology so we can catalyse their time to value and business outcomes in new technology areas like 5G, hybrid cloud, AI, etc.

We know that for Cisco to be more successful at driving consumption and frictionless renewals, we’ve got to deliver value to our customers, not just once, but at each motion throughout the lifecycle. We have been adopting a Customer Lifecycle approach – one that will create an ongoing value exchange between Cisco and our customers and partners to help us achieve the outcomes we desire.

As the leader of Cisco’s APJC business, do you see your CX strategy varying across regions? What role does India play in this context?

Our goal is to deliver a consistent customer experience wherever you are in the world.  It’s hard to deliver consistency if you show up differently and with different roles region to region so we’ve created a Theatre Blueprint for each of our 23 global theatres. We have also re-imagined our services portfolio and combined the best of our current portfolio such as Smart Net Total Care with new lifecycle services such as CX Cloud, Success Tracks, Customer Success, and Business Critical Services. These new lifecycle services better align with what our customers are asking for and our transformation to a software, subscription, and services company. 

India plays a critical role for Cisco and our CX team for several reasons. Firstly, it’s a strategic market for Cisco. We have over 34,000 full-time and partner employees in India that support Sales, Engineering, and CX. Our global CX Center in Bangalore supports the delivery of our lifecycle services across APJC and globally. India has also been a market where we can pilot new offerings, including products and software solutions and services, and we will continue to leverage India as an innovation hub for emerging markets and the world.   

India is also one of our largest and fastest-growing markets for SaaS offerings such as Webex web conferencing solutions and the Duo Security platform. Hence, it’s a market that is ahead of the curve from a customer success perspective and helping our customers fast-track the adoption curve of our software and SaaS offerings. Many of our Customer Success global best practices have come out of the successes and lessons we’ve learned in India.  

How do you improve customer experience culture?

While face-to-face interactions are on pause by and large in our region, the expectations for customer experience haven’t changed and remain more important than ever. If anything, customer experience culture resurfaced as a priority across all company functions. Companies have been called to take a more holistic approach to their operations, and thereby, redefine the customer experience.

For years the services industry has largely been reactive. The customer has a need, issue, or challenge, and services companies would provide a proposal to address that. The new CX requires curiosity and a more proactive mindset along with services and offerings that are re-imagined for a digital world.

My true north in driving a great customer experience is to ensure this is top of mind for every employee in our organization. A successful company shapes customer experiences by embedding the fundamental value of positive employee experiences.

Creating a customer-centric culture rooted in positive employee experiences separates good companies from great companies. Companies that understand that will achieve business resiliency and marked differentiation in this new landscape now and in the future.

Vaishnavi Desai: