Lithys 2017: Cisco - Digital Design Excellence

Lithys 2017: Cisco - Digital Design Excellence

Historically, different services and different types of support (self-service, assisted) were separate instances. With so many different places to go for information within Cisco, finding it was often a challenge.  




Company:  Cisco                                        cisco_logo.png

Entry submitted by: Eddy Zielinski (Project Manager)

Community: Help Zone Community (an internal community)

Lithy category:  Digital Design Excellence



There’s never been a better time to simplify support at Cisco!


Cisco Systems Inc. is the worldwide leader in networking for the Internet. It is a multi-national corporation, with over 70,000 employees in more than 115 countries. Cisco's networking solutions connect people, computing devices and computer networks, allowing people to access or transfer information without regard to differences in time, place or type of computer system. Our mission is to shape the future of the Internet by creating unprecedented value and opportunity for our customers, employees, investors, and ecosystem partners.


The mission of Employee Services is to lift both employee productivity and experience to differentiate Cisco as an employer of choice, and one of the top places to work.  We accomplish this through strong partnerships with HR, IT, and Finance and by focusing on our stakeholders while digitizing our operations.


Help Zone is Cisco’s internal support platform. We deliver the foundational services that are critical to a straightforward and connected experience for the global employee-- financial services such as stock, payroll, facilities, and other employee services such as HR, benefits & technical support. Employee Services introduced Help Zone in December 2016.


Historically, different services and different types of support (self-service, assisted) were separate instances. With so many different places to go for information within Cisco, finding it was often a challenge. Employees needed a lot of time to navigate the intranet and find reliable information – often ending up on a page that is no longer maintained or even removed. In addition, you could not get to support information if you were not on the Cisco network. Help Zone is an extranet accessible 24x7 from any device, on or off VPN – it just requires SSO (single sign-on) to access.


The overall goal is to deliver an exceptional employee experience on a single platform by providing answers and support to employees without their having to open a support case. Help Zone is a single point of access for HR, Technical and Facilities support solutions through a variety of channels, including self-service articles, community interaction, and expert-assisted chat support. Once a thread is answered and closed, it becomes curated article content. Help Zone has a very robust knowledge base with over 5k articles. Our article content is governed and well maintained, with an annual review process in place to ensure the most current support information available to the employee.





Design process

Various cross-functional teams were involved in the design and implementation process. To achieve our design goals, a team of user experience architects contributed to the interface by following the principles of Human-Centered Design (HCD). A series of user studies were conducted to uncover user needs, and provided a design that was organized with easy to follow workflows. All elements are functional on different types of devices (responsive) to accommodate the preferences of our mobile workforce. The core Help Zone team leads continuous improvement efforts such as user studies, and insights gained from web analytics to discover and answer our changing user needs.


Unique Design Elements


Home Page


  • Used to proactively communicate with users - newsworthy information is displayed in the form of announcements
  • Easy access to popular resources or tools, as well as to check the status of your cases from the home page shortcut
  • Help Zone displays the most popular and most recent content from our 3 main regions
  • Search or browse for content, or go directly to desired support category (Technical, HR, Facilities)




Support Menu 

  • The persistent support menu follows users throughout their journey across the community site-wide
  • Floating tab sits on the bottom-right of all pages
  • Menu auto-opens for 30 seconds on homepage
  • Menu opens on hover or click/tap (mobile) to explain the benefits of each support option

Apart from the visible elements, back-end integrations with numerous tools have been implemented (four different case management systems) to allow for a seamless transition between self-service and assisted support. The single streamlined form to submit a case regardless of back-end case management system simplifies the process for the employee, saving time and frustration.


Knowledge Base

  • Easy-to-follow solutions written in natural language, written by experts and reviewed by editor/publishers before publication
  • Location-based results appear first
  • Multiple answer visibility under one article ID (Employee, Manager, and Support Agent levels of access)
  • Nano videos
  • Proactive chat offer for users who view a solution for over 60 seconds – at this level, the support agent chatting is a subject matter expert

Since go-live, we’ve seen a steady increase in the number of users. We received lots of positive (and often unsolicited) feedback. (Our previous platform had an adoption rate of 20% - Help Zone has more than doubled our user base).


Cumulative Visitors to HZ Home page

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TKB Visitors (users who viewed a solution)

























User Feedback

“I just wanted to share that I have just used the new Employee Services Help Zone for the first time. It was easy, fast, clear and modern – a great user experience from my perspective.”


“LOVE the Help Zone - Sooo much easier to navigate – BRAVO!!”


“Thanks for launching this user centric integrated portal. Looks fantastic!”