Chris Botting, Senior Director Product Development, Customer Collaboration, Cisco and Ross Daniels, Director of Marketing, Customer Collaboration, Cisco.
Cisco Directors, Chris Botting and Ross Daniels, stated that Cisco is globally the number two contact centre infrastructure provider with an estimated ACD market share of 18% globally, lagging number one provider Avaya who currently own an estimated share of over 35%. However, Cisco claims to be making inroads into Avaya's dominance. In the IVR market Cisco state they are ranked number one, and research from Gartner places Cisco in the 'Leaders' category within the Contact Centre Infrastructure Magic Quadrant.
Daniels highlighted Cisco's business performance within the ACD market. "Within the ACD business our share gains over the last couple of years have been impressive. We have jumped from number three or four to number two worldwide, and in certain markets, such as the US, we have closed the gap significantly on Avaya where Cisco has a market share of 29%."
Daniels continued, "Our projections have Cisco as number one in North America in the next 1-2 years. Our objective will then to be number one globally in the next 3-4 years."
When asked about Cisco's business focus Daniels confirmed that contact centres is now a key priority for Cisco. Daniels stated, "Cisco went through its own corporate struggles in 2011. Cisco came out of that having identified there had been too many priorities and too many things distracting us. There are now five priorities for the company, and the second of those priorities is Collaboration. There are four pillars under Collaboration, one of which is contact centre-or as we call it Customer Collaboration."
But Daniels admitted that the contact centres still struggle for attention across the broader Cisco business. He added, "For twenty years Cisco have been very successful selling and marketing 'boxes', talking to technical people about hardware solutions. Contact centre is about as opposite to that as you can get. First of all you do need people who can talk technology, but it is a bit more software oriented. Then you have to able to talk the Contact Centre Manager's and the Operations Manager's lingo."
In terms of Australia, Daniels and Botting highlighted that Australia is one market that has been recognised as one with significant opportunity for Cisco. Daniels stated, "We have lots of good things in place in this (Australian) market, a good solid product, good sales teams on the ground and a good set of partners. We have a lot things working on our side from a product, marketing, channel and sales point of view. With a little bit of extra investment we feel we can accelerate growth."
Along with greater support from Cisco's executive team and greater investment in the contact centre business, Daniels and Botting highlighted the role that product innovation has played in driving the positive contact centre business performance for Cisco. Daniels added, "We had a strong focus on innovation in 2010. We launched significant new products to the portfolio in November 2010 including our social solution, SocialMiner, a new agent desktop called Finesse and a new recording infrastructure called MediaSense. These were all big projects, and all wrapped around significant innovation. We hadn't been out to the Australian market with that much concentrated innovation in a long time." Daniels continued, "It was very well received."
Daniels went on to discuss how Cisco's focus has shifted. He stated, "As we have gone through 2011 our focus and message has shifted to innovation balanced with execution. This means focusing on the core products and developing solutions that are aimed at simplification to take advantage of the more 'mass market' opportunities."
Botting added, "There is more of a focus on operational simplification." Botting added, "Cisco Unified Contact Centre Express is a good example. For companies for whom contact centre is not their primary differentiator, Contact Centre Express is a nice turn-key all in one solution."
Botting continued, "What we have found is a section of the market that wants the attributes of our more powerful Cisco Unified Contact Centre Enterprise product but with the simplicity of Contact Centre Express. To target this need we have launched Packaged Contact Centre Enterprise in the last few months."
Botting concluded, "We think we have a really good opportunity, with Packaged Contact Centre Enterprise, in the Australian marketplace and the ability to deliver an easy sales cycle. Feedback from our Partner community has been very positive. We have turned what was traditionally a 12 month sales cycle into a four month cycle."
Cisco has identified the importance of simplification as a key message and has developed products and sales process to match. The contact centre world is becoming more complicated as the plethora of channels expands and customers demand better service. Therefore anything that makes life simpler for the contact centre should be welcome news.
Sean Douglas, head service delivery for American Express Global Business Travel's APAC operations says the company is seeing real benefits from its strategy or encouraging home-based customer service agents.
Douglas told Human Capital Magazine that some 75% of the division's staff are now working from home. "When a business traveller phones American Express Global Business Travel for assistance, they might be surprised to know that the counsellor they are speaking with is located on the Gold Coast, in Yass or in Cervantes in Western Australia," he said. "This is because the majority of our travel counsellors have gradually been moving from our offices to a virtual or home-based work environment."
Douglas said the initiative has increased the company's travel counsellor job satisfaction, improved their work-life balance, increased customer satisfaction and reduced overheads. "These are all great benefits, but truthfully, ones that we predicted and have been well-documented previously. The real surprises for us have been the noticeable increase in productivity and our ability to attract great talent."
The founders of e-commerce site Wowo have developed a customisable customer service platform for travelers to China.
The travel booking platform, dubbed Jetbay, promises a better and more immersive experience to international travelers. The site offers 300 bookable routes throughout China that are fully customisable, and travelers can build their own tour or have Jetbay recommend personalised routes based on their browsing history, Facebook data and provided preferences.
The service was developed because Jetbay believed tourists generally weren't getting the full experience China can provide, said Jetbay's COO James Tan. "We just want to give people a favorable image of traveling in China," Tan said. "We hear of horror stories of people going overseas -whether it's China or some other country - and they have a horrible experience, whether it's not getting home or not getting what they sign up for."
A Chinese conglomerate has helped fund two new weekly Queensland air services to Asia, with Qantas budget subsidiary Jetstar set to link the Gold Coast with the central Chinese city of Wuhan.
The route, which would begin services on September 29 subject to regulatory approval, would be serviced by a 335-seat Boeing 787 Dreamliner and be funded, in part, by a partnership with the Dalian Wanda Group.
The route would be driven by inbound travel, with Dalian Wanda Group selling integrated flight and holiday packages to the Gold Coast.
Jetstar Australia and New Zealand chief executive David Hall said China was an important tourism market for Australia.
"This new service opens up a direct link between South East Queensland and one of the largest travel markets in the world, delivering about 70,000 seats between China and the Gold Coast each year," he said.
The 9½-hour flights between the Gold Coast and Wuhan would operate on Tuesdays and Saturdays.
"We're expecting strong bookings throughout the week, as thousands of customers take the opportunity to travel to the sunny Gold Coast for a break during the long weekend," Mr Hall said.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the new service would provide seats for up to 35,000 passengers a year and add millions to the local economy.
"The new route represents an important aviation milestone for Queensland, marking the introduction of the first non-stop services from China into the Gold Coast," she said.
"Over two years the Wuhan-Gold Coast service has the potential to generate $53 million in visitor expenditure to the local economy, in turn supporting jobs and small business."
Gold Coast mayor Tom Tate said 60 per cent of all Chinese visitors to Queensland included the Gold Coast on their visit.
"City of Gold Coast has long recognised the opportunity of the Chinese market and working with Gold Coast Tourism has driven the push for direct flights," he said.
"Today's announcement is the culmination of a concerted campaign which will inject millions into the local economy and help create more local jobs."
Gold Coast Tourism chairman Paul Donovan said about 186,000 Chinese tourists visited the Gold Coast every year.
"China is Queensland's largest international market by visitor expenditure, with visitors spending $591 million in the year to September 2014," he said.