and Cisco Join Forces on Customer Service

Customer service solutions providers Cisco and announced a strategic alliance earlier this week that brings together their respective customer service solutions. The two companies worked on deep integrations of Cisco's collaboration, Internet of Things, and contact center platforms with Salesforce Sales Cloud, IoT Cloud, and Service Cloud. The goal for both companies is to augment each other's offerings for a more holistic slew of services.

"We're coming together in three key areas—collaboration, the Internet of Things, and customer service," John Hernandez, chief operations officer and senior vice president of Service Cloud at Salesforce, says. "Cisco has a strong market presence and brings a lot to the table. We are closely aligned on our messaging and have a similar vision of where we think the marketplace is going."

The two companies have built integrations between Cisco's Unified Contact Center Enterprise platform and the Salesforce Service Cloud to connect Cisco features, including intelligent call routing and multichannel contact management with Salesforce tools, such as its recently introduced Einstein for service platform, which injects artificial intelligence into the customer service arena. On the collaboration side, CiscoSpark and WebEx will also be integrated with Salesforce Service Cloud through the Salesforce Lightning Framework, and will enable customers to communicate through chat, video, and voice without leaving Salesforce and without using a plug-in.

The Internet of Things is another key area of focus for both companies, especially when it comes to delivering proactive customer care through connected devices. "We've all heard about the connected refrigerator, but the next phase is proactive service. Through a connection to the Internet, the refrigerator can send an alert that there's a problem with the ice maker, for example. That can then be extended to field service, and someone will be dispatched to fix it. It's about anticipating potential issues and being equipped to resolve them before it becomes an inconvenience for the end user," Hernandez explains.

To that end, Cisco Jasper and Salesforce IoT Cloud will be integrated for more real-time visibility into connected devices and more actionable insights for users. "Together, these solutions will empower companies to quickly and cost-effectively leverage billions of IoT data points to provide personalized, engaging experiences for customers, partners and employees," according to a company statement.

The companies are not yet prepared to talk about co-developing solutions, but that might happen down the line. For the time being, both companies are focusing on bringing existing solutions together "seamlessly," Hernandez says.

"Our goal is for technology to fade into the background so people can get their best work done," Rowan Trollope, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco's IoT and applications groups, said in a statement. "Cisco and Salesforce coming together to form a strategic alliance can eliminate the friction users experience today so they can become more productive."

Hernandez agrees: "It's about making sure that our mutual customers have better experiences while using our [respective] technologies," he says.

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Posted October 27, 2017