CERA Profiles: Using Content to Increase the Bottom Line

Cisco Uses Tech Zone to Meet Customer Demand for New Knowledge

Editor’s Note: The Customer Experience Recognition Awards made their debut in 2014 to recognize the role of content in creating great customer experience. Cisco Systems received the 2014 CERA for Customer Support/Technical Communication.

CERA-logo-150Information developers have long struggled with convincing companies that investing in documentation will have a positive impact on the bottom line. Innovative approaches can make all the difference, as evidenced in Cisco Systems’ far-reaching Tech Zone project. The content team responsible for Tech Zone decided to tap the knowledge and skills of over 2,300 engineers and experts to create content that would empower customers to find their own resolutions to network issues.

Originally used as an internal channel for real-time support solution sharing, The team modified and enhanced Cisco’s Tech Zone to meet the company’s desire to address its customers’ increasing demands for knowledge. The team approached the revamp with a solid methodology to address knowledge needs and streamline content creation and publishing. The company achieved its goal, and customer satisfaction reached a record high in July 2014.

In fulfilling its commitment to its customers, Cisco also surpassed its support investment deflection goal by more than 23%, from $14M to $17.3M. The company had known that quality content could save money, but it had underestimated just how much those savings could be.

In total, Tech Zone published 1,041 new documents during the course of the project. Metrics show that  Tech Zone content was referenced 21,174 times in support case notes over the course of a recent 6-month period. With this volume, the team discovered that the importance of content location and retrieval was one of the largest lessons learned: “It is critical to implement simple and consistent systems of tagging and labeling content,” noted Joann Harman, Content Strategist for support content on Cisco.com.

Cisco plans on modifying and augmenting the project in the future by automating content review process to further speed time to publish; expanding Tech Zone to additional Cisco teams and adopting into new workflows; and increasing the number of contributing Technical Content Engineers and Knowledge Champions.

Additionally, the company plans to emphasize their new understanding that “all content is ultimately customer-facing,” and the creation of high quality content begins with recognizing customer needs.

Tech Zone supports Cisco Systems customers in resolving their own problems with expert content authored by a global community of over 2,300 engineers

Tech Zone supports Cisco Systems customers in resolving their own problems with expert content authored by a global community of over 2,300 engineers

Stacey Plowright

Stacey Plowright is the current Communications Manager for STC Toronto. A soon-to-be graduate of the Technical Communication program at Seneca College, she has deep roots in both publishing and customer support. Stacey advocates strongly for clear, concise communication and seeks to provide knowledge to those who need it when they need it. She can be found on Google+, and through LinkedIn.

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