IT Innovation | April 7, 2015

Addicted to Services

By: Lauren Harris


In our Q3 earnings call, held in
March for the investment community, our CEO Mark Hurd mentioned a handful of
our new SaaS deals at Saudi Telecom, BAE Systems, Hawaiian Airlines, KPMG, and
FEMSA in Mexico - the world's largest independent Coca Cola bottler. These are
all certainly strong brands that we're very excited have in the Oracle family,
but in the world of 'as a Service,’ winning these new deals is actually the
easy part.

The point is that, for many of our customers, we're not selling 'things' any more, we're selling a service, and from a customer satisfaction point of view it's a completely different experience. People's favorite brands (think Harley-Davidson, Apple, or Dyson) almost always sell tangible things, and because you pay for them upfront you tend to really buy into them in more ways than one. But your experience with service brands – in whatever industries - is different and potentially more volatile. You try one hotel, and then another. Telecoms have lots of customer churn. You punch your remote and watch a different TV channel.

With Oracle firmly and increasingly in the service arena, we think about the
customer lifecycle differently. From provisioning through deployment, from
utilization through renewal, the service we provide must be so good as to be
almost invisible. Lots of marketing people might hate that ('invisibility'
isn't generally high on the list of brand traits they want to project), but
it's true. Remember the best service you ever received in a restaurant? You probably
don’t. Remember the time they accidentally poured wine in your lap? Oh yes, and
you never went there again. Service excellence requires something close to
perfection - never providing that excuse not to return. Obviously, service has
to deliver value, but in the same way as the almost-silent purr of a Rolls
Royce's engine does: unobtrusive but with world-class results.

How does this affect the way I think as Chief Customer Officer? I have always
been interested and involved in the full lifecycle of our customer
relationships, but Software as a Service has fundamentally changed that cycle.
We move from a relationship where there was often a temptation to be
project-based (evaluate, implement, run, and replace), to a permanent solution
that always presents customers with the latest version of our products, and
continually evolves to deliver the latest functionality. There's no longer any
excuse to step away from a customer, so our challenge is to re-engineer our
customer-facing processes to generate compulsive customer satisfaction
hand-in-hand with - hopefully - permanent addiction to our services. Winning
new deals doesn't keep me awake at night; my business is to help make them