Cisco Introduces Social Customer Care Tool

SocialMiner provides analytics that can guide corporate response to Tweets, Facebook posts, and other social media interactions with customers.

Dana Blankenhorn, Business Journalist

January 13, 2011

3 Min Read

Cisco Umi

Cisco Umi

Slideshow: Cisco Umi Takes Telepresence To The Home (click image for larger view and for slideshow)

Cisco introduced on Thursday a social media analytics tool called SocialMiner aimed at helping customer relations managers respond intelligently to what consumers do on social networks.

SocialMiner provides a dashboard that integrates with several social networks and Cisco's Finesse social customer care BI software.

In a press conference held through its Telepresence system, Cisco had Zone Labs CEO Petter Etholm describe how he used SocialMiner and his success. Much of what he said was repeated from a blog post Cisco posted Wednesday

Etholm emphasized that Zone Labs did a lot of study before proceeding, learning what Twitter or Facebook posts it should respond to, and what standard responses should be tried. It also enlisted in-house experts, including founder Barry Sears, to create an escalation system for social customer engagement. About one-third of the company's employees are engaged in customer service, he said.

Using the tool, customer service agents can monitor what is being said about them online and respond proactively. Respond to concerns about user privacy, Cisco executives noted that agents only respond to public posts, and Etholm said young consumers have developed a detailed netiquette in using social networks that companies must follow in order to succeed.

Cisco product manager Ruchi Gupta demonstrated the tool, working through a scenario with Marsal Gavalda of Nexidia, a Cisco partner working on speech analytics. Nexidia does real time speech analytics, so as a phone conversation progresses, they analyze it, which tips off business rules in Cisco Finesse.

Cisco Umi

Cisco Umi

Slideshow: Cisco Umi Takes Telepresence To The Home (click image for larger view and for slideshow)

Gupta played a business customer angry over network outages who was considering defecting to another carrier. Gavalda showed how a single tweet set up business rules leading to a conversation with a customer service rep and escalation of the problem to an account manager, who was alerted through an iPhone app and then entered a conference call.

John Hernandez, vice president and general manager of Cisco's customer management business unit, emphasized, "This is not a point solution to just mine social media. It is a holistic view of the customer experience. Integrate social media with a web 2.0 cockpit and you can identify who should respond, how, whether it should be escalated to voice or video."

"You navigate, telling the employee what to do next, bringing to the forefront of the agent next steps," said Hernandez. "When the agent got outside their comfort level, a mobile communication was sent to the next step of escalation, the account manager of the account. The business logic identified what needed attention, used any form of media needed to solve the problem, then launched business processes that can identify next steps as well as where to escalate. All of that is done seamlessly, a business process enabled by identifying the subject of the call in real time."

"The consumer does not want to navigate a company to find what they're looking for. With this companies can act proactively. This is just the start of creating a more holistic customer care plan," Hernandez concluded.

Cisco will be taking Social Miner and Finesse to market through its partners as part of bundled offerings. No pricing was announced.

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About the Author(s)

Dana Blankenhorn

Business Journalist

Dana Blankenhorn has been a business reporter since 1978. He has covered technology since 1982, the Internet since 1985, and open-source since 2005. For InformationWeek, he has mainly covered videoconferencing. He has written several books, some of which sold, and he currently covers the technology industry for TheStreet.Com. He lives in Atlanta.

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