Cisco on Wednesday announced two products and a rich media capture platform to extend its contact center capabilities.
One product is SocialMiner, software that lets companies search the Web for relevant material. The other product is Cisco Finesse, a Web 2.0 collaboration desktop for customer care representatives.
Cisco’s network-based rich media capture platform supports the recording, playback, live streaming and storage to capture, preserve and mine conversations for business intelligence.
“We’ve been in the contact center business for about a decade, and this is an extension of that business,” John Hernandez, vice president and general manager of Cisco’s customer collaboration business unit, told CRM Buyer.
Details of the Products
Cisco SocialMiner lets companies search for postings on the open Web about their products, services or areas of expertise. It also lets companies focus campaign searches by sifting through social contacts based on preconfigured campaign filters.
SocialMiner also lets companies route social contacts to the appropriate customer care representatives or company experts. Further, it provides metrics for social media customer care activities and campaign and team reports.
Cisco Finesse combines traditional contact center functions with Cisco’s Quad enterprise social software. The architecture lets businesses integrate collaboration technology and business apps to give contact center agents more flexibility and access to a wider range of knowledge when dealing with customers.
“Think of Quad as Facebook for the enterprise,” Hernandez said. “We’re extending that capability for consumers to interact with companies.”
Will Finesse’s leveraging Web 2.0 architecture expose the enterprise to security breaches?
“We’ve purchased a variety of companies over the years — security companies, policy management vendors — and their engines are inherently a part of the Quad solution,” Hernandez pointed out.
When it’s released in early December, the media capture platform will be able to capture both sides of the conversation between a customer and an employee, Hernandez said. It will also be able to capture full-motion video. In spring, Cisco will add desktop capture and merge all the input from these various channels into a single record.
Why Unity Is Strength
“We’ve unified our various technologies around a collaboration center and added in social media so consumers can interact with companies,” Hernandez said.
“We saw that corporate customers had two or three or 10 or 20 people in a back room searching to find out what was happening on the open Web that related to their company. Some CRM players then came out with operational models but didn’t have an engagement model,” he added.
Cisco’s offerings let businesses search social networks on the open Web; prioritize the results according to what they’re searching for; summarize the results through a dashboard; and, through an algorithm, assign the results to the appropriate person to deal with. Only publicly posted information will be searched, Hernandez said.
“It’s not just finding information out there, but putting that information into an operational model that exists in the contact center and extending that model through marketing and sales,” Hernandez explained.
Salesforce.com, one of the major players in the CRM space, has offered social site monitoring tools for a while, Denis Pombriant, principal at Beagle Research, told CRM Buyer. “Salesforce has some nice functionality in the service cloud that monitor social sites and identify issues,” he elaborated. “It’s a blend of customers helping customers, a knowledge base, and vendor employees helping customers.”
Cisco appears to be leveraging a trend.
“Social media embedded into business applications and business processes is the hot idea these days, and many vendors want a part of it,” Pombriant remarked. “I think the majority of vendors are at the 1.0 level, but some have thought through the business processes better than others and they have an edge.”
Monitoring social media is seen by businesses as an important aspect of marketing and publicity. Many are hiring senior executives to monitor public postings on social media sites.
One such firm is Sony Corporation of America, which is seeking a director of social media communications to monitor, analyze and regularly engage in social media with respect to corporate issues initiatives in the United States.