Published: June 2019
Providing an exceptional customer experience is a must for any modern business. For Cisco, that includes delivering efficient technical support and swift issue resolution to our customers, and we are always working to improve that experience. More efficient technical support also creates benefits for Cisco, helping us to deepen customer loyalty and allowing us to make the best use of Cisco IT resources—especially, our engineers.The Cisco Customer Experience (CX) team recently identified an opportunity to create a better technical support experience for customers and partners using Cisco Collaboration applications. That solution, Cisco Iris, is being developed in partnership with Cisco IT. Cisco Iris is a connected, scalable, and distributed customer experience solution that forms the foundation for Cisco Collaboration customer value creation as part of a Telemetry and Insights effort in CX. It is built in a cross-functional collaborative development model, with multiple organizations within Cisco working together to create value for customers. Cisco Iris began as another product called TraceLogger, a log collection and management solution. TraceLogger accelerates troubleshooting responses—from days to minutes, in many cases—to customers whose calls are inadvertently dropped for technical or other reasons. The solution was one of the 2017 winners in the Cisco Innovator Award Program.
Cisco Collaboration partners and customers, who may have multiple Cisco Collaboration applications in their environment, are a clear use case for a solution like Cisco Iris. When they submit a service request, it can take up to 48 hours for Cisco engineers to identify the problem and provide a solution. The reason for the delay stems from inefficient log collection and uploading processes. “It can take several hours to collect the logs, and even longer to transfer the terabytes of data,” said Raees Shaikh, technical leader, Cisco CX. “Then, our engineers must sort through all of that data, much of which is not relevant to the specific issue they need to solve. By the time we get back to the customer, they may be, understandably, unhappy.”Cisco Iris, through on-demand data collection and advanced telemetry and metrics, can help technical support teams to provide rapid problem resolution for Cisco Collaboration customers and partners, according to Shaikh. Depending on a customers’ subscription model for support, the Cisco Iris solution can provide access to an automated technical support process, send proactive notifications about potential technical problems, or deliver predictive operational insights (see Figure 1).
“Through Cisco Iris, our goal is to deliver a differentiated customer experience by providing real-time proactive and reactive monitoring, diagnostics, and analytics capabilities”Shaikh
On-demand data collection through Cisco Iris can accelerate issue resolution and reduce the amount of back and forth between customers and engineers. When a Cisco Collaboration customer or partner who subscribes to technical support submits a service request, the engineer handling the case can automatically collect available data, including archived, normalized, and pre-processed data, from the customer’s deployed and registered connected products. (See Figure 2.) (Note: Cisco customers and partners opt-in for this data collection.) After collection, the data sets are augmented, and automatic analysis is performed for root cause analysis.
Collaboration customers and partners can also save time with self-diagnosis capabilities through Cisco Iris.
“Self-diagnosis is empowering because we know many of our customers prefer to solve problems on their own whenever possible, And it helps Cisco reduce time and costs as well. We estimate eachof our engineers will see a 30 percent increase in their overall productivity with Cisco Iris.”Shaikh
In addition to supporting faster issue resolution, Cisco Iris lets Cisco engineers proactively monitor the performance of Cisco products in a customer’s environment. When an issue arises, the engineers are notified so they can move quickly to help the customer resolve it before it leads to a more significant problem. And for customers who want to receive predictive operational insights about their environment, Cisco Iris can provide analytics and automation-powered recommendations for optimizing network policies, processes, and compliance.
Cisco Iris is in itself a story about collaboration. As the TraceLogger project, it was a team effort meant to solve a specific problem that was undermining Cisco’s ability to provide exceptional customer service. It wasn’t long after Cisco CX developed a proof of concept for TraceLogger that Cisco IT reached out to the team, looking for assistance in finding assurance and analytics products for collaboration that would scale to Cisco IT’s large collaboration environment.
“They told us about TraceLogger and invited us to try it, We later asked if we could have access to the software repository, so we could bring in some developers who could help take TraceLogger to the next level—and create the cross-functional collaborative development model for Cisco Iris.”Stephen Greszczyszyn, a collaboration architect at Cisco
He added, "That was the start of our partnership in helping to create Cisco Iris. And it gave us a huge head start on being able to get the tool that we wanted without having to start from zero and develop our own operational manageability tools." Jan Seynaeve, collaboration technical lead at Cisco, helped to enhance the scalability of Cisco Iris and ensure that the solution met Cisco IT standards for security before it was used in production.Other software developers that Cisco IT brought on to the Cisco Iris project include Jonty Preston, whose work includes automating tests and compliance checks for PEP8 compliance. (PEP8 is a collection of guidelines for how code should be styled and written to ensure consistency across teams of developers.) "Using the test results, I'm working with the team to refactor parts of the Cisco Iris codebase so that it better aligns with the PEP8 standards and results in more efficient and maintainable code," said Preston
A road map for delivery as well as development of the Cisco Iris product is currently in progress so that customers can access various levels of services based on their CX level contracts. The Cisco Iris solution was tested with 11 Cisco customers and partners, including Cisco IT, for three months in 2018. (Testing of the solution is ongoing in Cisco IT.) Initial feedback on Cisco Iris has been overwhelmingly positive, according to Shaikh. "We're excited about the future for Cisco Iris, and the new services and value that we are going to be able to provide because of it," said Shaikh. "And as our customers and partners begin to experience and learn more about those high-value services, we expect many will want to increase their subscription level for support." If that happens, the positive impact on Cisco’s bottom line could be significant, as there are more than 100,000 Cisco Collaboration customers and partners around the globe.
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