How not to sell a webinar platform

For reasons I won’t bore you with, a client needed a Cisco WebEx Training Centre licence really quickly, within a couple of days, so that I could deliver some training for them. I always joke that there’s no such thing as a training emergency… well this was more like training urgency!

No problem, I thought, I’ll just contact Cisco and get a licence sorted out. Should be done in the next day or two, ready for the training. Easy.

Pah.

Below I note just some of the interactions I had over three months – which, I hope you’ll be shocked to hear, never really came to a positive outcome. This is basically how not to do a customer journey for selling a webinar or virtual classroom platform.

25th June 2018

I phoned sales, but only got through to a German answer machine. I found out later that the phone system/voicemail was down. No problem, I’ll complete the online form and someone will get back to me. Of course, no one did. I tweeted @Webex about it and this was the conversation:

What I find annoying here is that I’ve contacted Cisco in a number of different ways, all saying it’s urgent, and no one got back to me. By the time Webex replied on Twitter it was past the end of my UK working day.

Lesson one:
If you are going to work globally, have the sales and support structure for those time zones and the staff to deal with the enquiries on a priority basis.

26th June 2018

I found out some UK resellers of Webex, so started calling them directly in order to get the licence sorted out that day. However most of the people I got through to, upon me saying “Hi there, I’d like to purchase a Cisco WebEx Training Centre licence please” responded with a long, drawn out version of “uhhhhm…”. Not really inspiring confidence.

I got some horrific prices for the licences that didn’t even including paying for telephony. One reseller told me it was a minimum of three-year deal. I was told in an email later, from Cisco Support “we can help you to sign as month to month contract and how ever you don’t need to sign for 3 year contract”.

I really wasn’t happy with the resellers having little or no idea of what I was talking about and the abhorrent prices. I did contact Webex direct through Twitter as they suggested:

So then I had a support ticket. A support ticket, so that I could buy a product!? Sounded ridiculous to me, but I wanted that licence for my client!

Lesson two:
It should never, ever, be this difficult to get consistent options and prices for products and services, and certainly shouldn’t take so long for companies to respond.

27th June 2018

By the time I got my support ticket, the deadline for getting a licence had passed. I needed it all setup by then as I was running the training. Luckily I found another solution by borrowing a friend’s Webex Training Centre licence. I was OK for what I needed then and there, but I still wanted to follow this up for two reasons:

  1. I wanted to know what the cost and terms were of a Cisco Webex Training Centre licence so that I can inform my clients when they ask me
  2. I also wanted to know what the support, sales and service was like (though I was already getting an idea) and just how long this would rumble on for

29th June 2018

I finally had a price for a monthly contract, around £140-150 a month. However the Cisco Cloud Support person still needed to engage with the sales to to quote the correct price. This was my response:

The support person said that they would engage the sales team and then… well not much happened really!

This discussion happened on Twitter:

I wasn’t alone! It wasn’t just me that was having this problem with buying a Cisco product. It felt good that I wasn’t alone, but doesn’t’ bode well for future potential customers.

12th July 2018

On the 12th July the support person asked if the UK sales team had contact me, to which my response was “Not yet. This has been going on a few weeks now!” Their response was:

Fantastic, a high priority. Things might get moving now!

You guessed it… four days later I’m going back to support to ask if I’m going to get a call. I was told someone had tried calling and that they would call back.

I contacted the support person on the 31st July to say I still hadn’t had a call:

At this point the whole situation is really just a farce!

3rd September 2018

I was getting a bit fed up by this point! I went back to the Twitter direct message to see if someone could force something through:

Later in September I did get some calls from UK resellers, at last. However the follow up I got was pretty appalling and lack lustre to the say the least.

Lesson three:
Whether you are the reseller or the company providing the products and services, there needs to be great information and communication and enthusiasm for the product. As I said above, you don’t know whether it’s just me or I’m representing a much larger potential purchase.

Summary

On the 25th June I filled in a form and contacted Webex on Twitter saying I had an urgent sale for their product. It was nearly three months later, after a LOT of badgering and tenacious follow up, that I finally got some details and contact, but nothing that encouraged me to want to buy from those companies.

I know that in this instance I’m talking about just one licence, and a lot of resellers probably only want to deal with larger companies. I get that. But say so. On your website or your form, ask what I want, state what you do, such as only selling in large bundles or whatever it is. Then I won’t waste your time and you won’t waste mine.

Was this the fault of Cisco Webex or the resellers? Obviously both. Why be a reseller and not know about a product or want to sell it? Why be a large company and have the shambles of a sales and support structure that I’ve highlighted here.

Whilst there are many features I appreciated about Webex Training Centre, and it can be a useful tool in some sectors due to various security restrictions, I can’t recommend it any more. There has been little or no updating or investment that I can see, including no support for PowerPoint animations (which is ridiculous and you can read the details here). But the main issue is what I’ve described here…

The customer experience I’ve had with Cisco Webex is disgusting and I can’t suggest to my clients that they go through this madness.

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