Tuesday, June 18, 2024
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CXBuzz Interview with Bryan Bedford, Global Leader, Customer Experience at Cisco

Hi Bryan, tell us about yourself and your background. 

For more than 20 years, I have been helping transform consumer and technology industries worldwide. I have launched and scaled industry-changing technologies and services in high-growth businesses throughout my career in IT, services, sports, media, and retail technology. I also love to talk, and I am very active on social media and as an industry speaker on various topics that impact the future of the customer experience.

In my current role with Cisco Systems, I lead a team within Cisco’s Global Partner Organization, focused on driving our Customer Experience (CX) portfolio and continuing to lead Cisco’s Sports & Entertainment partner GTM/Sales practice.  Additionally, I serve as CEO & Managing Director of The Bedford Agency, a College Sports Recruiting Company.

I earned my master’s degree from the University of Central Oklahoma and Bachelor of Science from Southern Nazarene University in Bethany.

I live in Oklahoma City, OK, with my wife, Desiree, and our two daughters Tessa (17) and Sadie (12) – and one cute 80lb poodle name Tigger! I am passionate about sports, community, family, Pearl Jam, U2 and tacos. I’m busy and grateful.

How did you start working in the customer experience space? 

I have worked in the customer experience space for most of my life.

My first job in high school was selling fruity drinks at our local sports arena, where I learned the power of hard work (shuffling up and down those arena steps was hard work). Customer service and fan/customer engagement was a big part of my first job experience.

Many years later (decades, really), that early customer work experience led me to become a Senior Sales Leader at a sports, media, and software firm. There, I was responsible for “mission-critical” products & services, such as Instant Replay – aka the fan-favorite of SEC games.

Can you tell us a little bit about your current role?

In my current role at Cisco (where I have been for nearly ten years), I lead Global Customer Experience Go-To-Market and Lifecycle Services for Cisco’s Global Partner Sales organization.

In this role, I help drive customer success practice development with our partners and drive solution selling of our CX portfolio with our regional partner sales members and channel community of 60,000 partners.

We have an outstanding global team that works together to accelerate our customers’ success and profitable growth for Cisco and our partners by delivering the industry’s best customer experience.

How can companies better listen and understand their customer base?

Companies can better listen and understand their customer base by making it a priority.

Listening to customers (and in Cisco’s case, that includes partners) is critical. Each year, we conduct numerous surveys with our customers and partners and run advisory boards to keep close to them. We also allow two-way communications so we can constantly receive feedback from our customers and partners in real-time.  As we listen, their input shapes our offerings, experiences, and engagements to meet the market’s demands.

What are some companies that you think are doing an excellent job at customer experience, and why?

The first company that comes to mind doing an excellent job at customer experience – and one I think most of the world became very fond of during the pandemic — is Netflix.  We jumped into the Netflix game a little over a year ago and boy have we worked hard to make up ground!

Netflix is a company disrupting an entire industry with amazing customer experience. Personalization is the key feature. Their algorithm does all the work by figuring out what suggestions are the best fit for you. They nailed mine! No commercials is a huge plus.

Amazon, IKEA, and Ritz-Carlton, places like the newly built Sofi Stadium know something about customer experience, too. These companies get that by solving customers’ needs and designing the online and offline experiences accordingly which makes for an excellent customer experience.

Understanding why people feel the way they do about your business is crucial when defining and refining your strategy. It helps you deliver a better customer experience and leaves a more durable mark on them.  Taking some time to write personal e-mails to your most important clients, crafting stories and engaging campaigns for your brand, improving the interaction across all the touchpoints, and offering personalized discounts on special occasions are just a few examples.

It’s about giving people exactly what they want, right when they want it.  As their priorities change, as newer trends and more innovative technologies emerge, businesses need to accommodate these transformations faster than ever. A positive customer service experience, however, is no longer enough: you need to be innovative to remain competitive – we all remember Blockbuster, Blackberry, Myspace, Radio Shack, Kodak…?

Many companies are currently undergoing digital transformation processes – what are your tips on a successful digital transformation?

At its core, digital transformation is the application of technology to build new business models, processes, software, and systems that results in more profitable revenue, more significant competitive advantage, and higher efficiency. Businesses achieve this by transforming business models, creating new customer experiences, and securing everything.

Flawless communication and an omnichannel approach to delight more customers is key to a successful digital transformation. More specific tips on a successful digital transformation include focusing on the following areas:

  • People, Process, and Culture – people with the right digital skills, updated processes, and an adaptive culture toward transforming their business and lifecycle.
  • Reimagined Value – tie digital investments to value realized.
  • Data and Analytics – expand cross-organization and customer visibility, both historical and in real-time.
  • Security – securely connect every transaction, communication, and endpoint across the value chain.
  • Orchestration – grow/shrink processes and operations on demand.
  • Technology and Data Architecture – use an integrated technology platform covering all technology needs.

The sales guy that I am, I would be remiss not to mention that Cisco provides the foundation for a successful digital transformation that consists of a comprehensive product and services portfolio, digital solutions, and a developer environment supported by a broad global ecosystem of partners. Cisco’s portfolio does bring together connectivity, security, automation, and analytics for a successful digital transformation.

What are some CX solutions or tools that you’re keeping your eyes on right now?

Well, for Cisco’s CX, we continue to evolve delivery options for our customers and partners. Many offers will provide flexible delivery options that allow eligible partners to play to their strengths across Cisco’s Success Portfolio and leverage their existing investments and capabilities.

For example, changes to our Business-Critical Services (BCS) over the past year are based on partner feedback to enable flexible delivery and partner extensions. BCS packaged tiers and add-ons can now be delivered to our partner to augment their offer and delivered to customers jointly. I have loved seeing more adoption of “premium services” that include bundles of Cisco and third-party ecosystem partners to offer a turnkey model for our joint customers.  At Cisco we call this Solution Support, but more importantly we call this a trusted engagement with our clients.

Partners who are more engaged in Cisco’s delivery offers have higher adoption, renewal, and retention rates and experience faster growth and higher profitability, which benefits both Cisco and partners. Cisco’s CX Cloud helps our customers navigate their digital transformation journey smoothly and get to business outcomes faster. And Cisco’s Partner Experience (CX and PX) Cloud is where partners get access to insights, they need to successfully set up their customer success practice and find new opportunities to grow their business.

Did you read any interesting books this past summer that you’d like to recommend?

Yes, an interesting book I read this past summer I’d like to recommend is “Keep Chopping Wood”-Kevin Deshazo. A great book about an ordinary approach to achieving extraordinary success.  I highly recommend it. It’s a quick read and powerful.

What is your favorite CX metric?

I watch three major metrics:  1. I like to monitor the “Understanding of our partners overall alignment and knowledge of our strategy” This helps me understand if our enablement, Go-to-Market strategy and amplification is working around CX.  2. I certainly need to monitor “Growth by offer of our portfolio”. 3. Lastly, I like tracking “Growth in partner investments (Specializations)” as this shows me that our partners are making a move towards building their customer success practice.

About the author

Efrat Vulfsons
Efrat Vulfsonshttps://www.prsoprano.com/
Efrat Vulfsons is the CEO & Co-Founder of PR Soprano and the editor of CXBuzz parallel to her soprano opera singing career. Efrat holds a B.F.A from the Jerusalem Music Academy in Opera Performance.


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