Remember When Customer Service Felt Personal?

A guest post by John-Paul Saunders, Senior Director of Product Strategy at Oracle

There was a time when the one-to-one conversation was the ONLY way to interact with a customer. Businesses made an effort to quickly get to know us as patrons and establish a relationship in which to transact. They engaged us in meaningful dialogues, sometimes about helping make purchase decisions, sometimes about helping figure something out. But fundamentally it was about connecting. Sure, they cared about growth and profit, but the connection was always about us, the customers.

While online chat may be on the rise, many of the customer engagement mechanisms today miss that individual connection. Instead of personalizing the experience and making us feel special, respected, wanted, or important, we are prompted with robotic, impersonal invitations such as “CLICK HERE TO CHAT” or “DO YOU WANT TO CHAT NOW?” Imagine if someone tried to engage us in the store like that.

Even the heavy metal band Extreme knows that “More Than Words” are needed to build a relationship. I want businesses to show me they care. Use the ALL information about me, understand what it is I am trying to do, understand who I am, and most importantly understand when to engage with me. Proactive, personal, relevant, and engaging are more than words. They are guidelines on how to connect

Like most people today, I use many devices when I shop, buy, maintain, and recommend products. I go from an Apple PowerBook at work to a PC desktop at home, an iPhone in my car (yes, hands-free), to an Asus tablet at Starbucks. And when a business does engage with me as I use these tools, the conversation should be seamless across devices and lead to real value for me.

Admittedly, it is quite a challenge for you who manage businesses and care about customers. To do this right, your frontline agents (the modern-day version of the frock-wearing clerk in the general store) must be empowered with the right tools to effectively and personally interact in multiple conversations across different channels.

Some conversations should be proactively triggered, based on your understanding of my current need or status (i.e. what’s in my session history, shopping cart, location, channel), and some will be a bit more reactive based on our previous interactions (i.e. service level, purchases, service history). And here’s where the modern-day conversation gets really tricky: you should be able to move our conversation from social, to web, to chat, to co-browse, to phone, to email and back again in any order.

It should feel like one experience with contiguous and consistent answers. And those different conversations (that become the experience) demonstrate a high level of personalized service geared to my needs. It was simpler back in the good old days when there was was a lot less complexity to manage in customer interactions. The challenge you and your business face today is how to repurpose that complexity (which is a barrier to engaging in meaningful conversations with customers like me) into being a lever that can actually deepen your customer relationships.

A few weeks ago Oracle completed the November 2012 release of its Oracle RightNow CX Cloud Service, wrapping up another year’s worth of ground-breaking development for our industry-leading cloud-based Customer Service solutions. One of the main focuses of this year’s development was within the Oracle RightNow Chat Cloud Service, a powerful multi-channel chat solution. Now we’ve combined that with the Oracle Engagement Engine, a powerful tool for proactive and personalized rules and actions. The combined result gives you the ability to turn back the clock on how you engage in conversations with your customers to nurture the kinds of personal relationships with brands that we sorely miss today.

Learn more about the new Oracle RightNow Chat Cloud Service. What’s old is new again.

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