Thursday Oct 01, 2015

Why Millennials Don't Buy Black Friday

Millennials are killing the one-day holiday shopping event. It won’t be this year or the next, but it’s coming. 

The fact is, Black Friday and Cyber Monday aren’t really even one-day events anymore. “Holiday” has evolved in to a season of rolling discounts and events, with Amazon and other major retailers setting the pace by publishing their entire promotion schedule and lowest set seasonal prices right after Halloween.

The holiday season will always bring an element of shopping craziness, but the path to win the sales holiday sales war is changing. It’s no longer rock-bottom prices and doorbuster sales. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are great tools for retailers to get shoppers in their stores and not their competitors, but this model won’t hold up as millennials take center stage.

Millennials have shopped online their entire adult lives. In their eyes, Black Friday incentives rarely outweigh the hassle and frustration of setting foot in a crowded store, rolling the dice with limited options and inventory. They may take in the decorations with a gingerbread latte, and want a hands-on experience for select gifts, but the reality is they steer clear of the mall for holiday shopping.

Cyber Monday is more appealing to millennials, but it is still a one-day event that doesn’t excite them as much as it does older generations. Managing Cyber Monday sales and sitting at the computer in the early morning hours is becoming the new, stressful Black Friday sidewalk campground. Outside of being part of the competition and excitement, Millennials know they can get deals after Black Friday and Cyber Monday. They don’t want to be pressured to make buying decisions with certain retailers and certain products on specific days. Most of the population doesn’t have their act together in the days after Thanksgiving – and frankly, they don’t need to. In 2014, more shopping was done December 20th – 24th than during the hyped-up shopping days, and the deals continued to come right up until Christmas Eve.

As more and more Boomers gravitate to online shopping and Cyber Monday numbers continue to climb, retailers need to think three steps ahead to how they will address the next wave of shoppers - millennials (and it goes way beyond price).

The Millennial Shopper: Super Efficient, Lots of Expectations

What do millennials want during the holiday shopping season? Fewer of them are braving the stores to shop, so they take to screens. Millennials are mobile research experts/addicts. They get lots of targeted emails (an incredibly effective way to reach them) and know they can get deals on an ongoing basis. They’ll wait for sales. They’ll research all of their options. They’re not in a rush.

Millennials expect a deal. They expect free and fast shipping, which takes the pressure off to get gifts early in the season; they can screech in to the curb waiting for the right products and prices. 7-10 day standard shipping may as well be an eternity (or a non-starter if they’re shopping the week before Christmas), so shipping options must be fast, and pick up in store (if applicable) should be available. They also expect free returns. Many millennial shoppers over-buy with the intention of returning much of it. Managing this along with shipping is a major challenge and roadblock to innovation for many in retail ecommerce – but it’s critical to compete.

Millennials use technology to do their legwork. If they are price-conscious, they’ll use an app like Shopsavvy to crawl the Web.

They also tend to purchase large amounts of holiday gifts from a smaller number of retailers to simplify things and to get cleared for free shipping thresholds or tiered discounts.

Millennials love to discover new brands and new products through social media like Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook and word-of-mouth. As creative gifts and niche brands become widely available through sites like Etsy, hitting the perfect gift bull’s-eye with something unique can be more appealing than getting a deal.

These demanding shoppers will spend the most in the coming years. Standard retail tactics like discounts, sales, and events won’t guarantee success. It will become more about building relationships with brands that are easy to do business with.

Engaging Millennial Shoppers During Holiday (and Year Round)

How can retailers start selling to the millennial shopper now to get a jump-start on competitors? While discounts and coupons excite shoppers of all ages, think outside of pricing alone.

Be fast. If you can get the products shoppers want the fastest (at a fair price) – you win. Shoppers will spend more to get something the next day (or even same day in some markets) with a hard stop like December 25th. Checkout is still a huge barrier to conversion, so make the process painless – one page, few steps, limited questions (especially on mobile).

Over communicate. Email reaches a fever pitch in December, and while inboxes get flooded with noise, use this influential tool to differentiate your brand. You don’t need to extend rock-bottom prices, but keep an active email conversation to stay top of mind. Offer deals of the day. Integrate with social media. Extend exclusive VIP offers. Experiment with opt-in texts. Retailers like Target, Best Buy and JCPenney are have been collecting emails and phone numbers to send exclusive alerts.

Give options. Get ahold of your supply chain and make the digital customer experience frictionless. Millennials expect flexible fulfillment options (buy online pick up in store, fast shipping). Make returns simple (and free if you can). Be present on social media with an authentic brand message that allows shoppers to discover products.

To win millennial business, retailers must be easy to do business with during holiday and year round. Retailers must deliver a painless customer experience and lots of options. The days of retailers setting up their holiday Web sites and freezing code in the summer won’t be around forever. Brands should invest in solutions that grant them the agility to adapt versus curating static experiences. Experiment. Tell your brand story in an authentic way in an engaging, efficient shopping experience. Millennials expect it.

Wednesday Sep 30, 2015

New Microsite Featuring the Latest Oracle Service Cloud Content

Let's face it. You're busy. You don't have time to visit several different websites to research the latest customer service and support trends. You need one place to go where you can find information on topics like how to:

  • Engage customers online with seamless web and social self-service 
  • Empower contact center agents to deliver personal, omni-channel support
  • Equip field service techs to arrive on schedule and fix it right the first time

You're in luck! For the next week, all that information can be found on this microsite. Everything from how-to guides to customer case studies to side-by-side vendor comparsions. All right here for you -- in one convenient place.

 Visit the microsite today so you can deliver modern customer service to every customer, every time!

Tuesday Sep 29, 2015

9 Ways to Increase Your E-Commerce Site Revenue

My kids love when I tell them stories at bed time. Thankfully they don’t mind that I’m not that creative. I end up telling versions of the same stories over and over again. More specifically I retell bits and pieces of stories from larger narratives. The Chronicles of Narnia is the go-to in my house, and the details are critically important. Every now and again I need to go back and re-read those books because I realize my renditions of them aren’t having the effect they once did.

In a similar way, many of our customers get in the daily groove of selling their wares online and their growth starts to plateau. Promotions don’t have the effect they once had or product category revenues start to decline. You could call it a form of complacency but it’s more likely just the effects of managing complex businesses with limited resources. Occasionally as e-commerce professionals we need to be reminded a few basic principles to help maximize conversion and increase average order value. Here are 9 tips that will hopefully reinvigorate your sales and give them the jolt they might need.

1. Up-Sell vs. Cross-Sell

We have a wealth of tools and strategies to employ as commerce professionals and I’m the kind of guy that will use all the tools at my disposal to accomplish my goals, but sometime less is more. We don’t cross-sell and up-sell at the same time. They distract and detract from each other.

Let’s say a customer comes to my site looking for a generic category, say “drills”. Because he used a generic search term, he is probably not a brand shopper. That might means he will only be persuaded to buy the drill that best fits his needs or perhaps has the most appeal. My goal would be to use product descriptions, enhanced product details, promotional pricing or rich media to get him to buy the slightly more expensive product.

On the other hand, if those same customers come to my site looking for “Dewalt Drills” then I know they already have brand preferences.  I could try and up-sell them to the highest model Dewalt Drill, but I’d probably fare better letting him pick his own preference and cross-selling them some Dewalt branded accessories.

Bottom line:  up-sell customers who browse categories and cross-sell customers focused on specific products.

[Read More]

Six Questions to Ask When Considering Video Chat

By David Fulton, Director Product Management, Oracle Service Cloud

Video Chat has become an important topic of discussion recently with our customers, particularly given innovations in the service space, largely as a result of the ongoing consumerization of IT. Video chatting went mainstream in 2013 when Amazon launched a multimedia support experience – Mayday - on their Kindle Fire devices. Since then we’ve spoken with contact center leaders from companies all over the world who want to replicate the Mayday experience, and have had similar discussions with partners as they’ve anticipated demand and built offerings on top of our platform.

In these customer and partner conversations, we’ve explored the nuances of adopting video chat as a service channel, areas where it will be a good fit for a service organization, and some of the 'gotchas' that need to be navigated along the way. Here are six questions you’ll want to ask yourself if you’re thinking about implementing video chat:

1. Is your contact center video-ready?
Beyond the technology investments associated with adding video chat as a support channel, many companies find they have a great deal of work to do to make sure their contact center environment is also prepared to support video. Video agents need a quieter workspace with better lighting than some standard contact center set-ups. Additionally, these agents need a clean and uncluttered background, with careful consideration given to any internal materials or signage visible within the video frame.

2. Are your agents video-ready?
Video chatting is a fairly new skill-set in which agents can become proficient, and it may be hard to build a team of agents ready to support this channel out of the gate. Minimally, there will be significant training required to make sure these agents understand the techniques and procedures for effectively communicating through this medium. These agents will need to have the ability to properly visually represent the brand.

3. Are your customers ready?
Before deploying a video chat solution, it’s important for companies to research the technical capabilities of their customer base. Find out what percentage of customers have the equipment to support video chat, like a video camera on their PC or mobile device and the Internet bandwidth required to provide a good experience on that channel. Also, assess whether your customers have the technical aptitude to be comfortable using video to communicate with agents. Think about whether it makes sense to roll out video chat in a phased approach, starting with certain customer segments like VIPs or customers with tech-savvy attributes and behaviors.

4. What value will the video display add to your customer interactions?
Back in 2013 when companies earnestly started investigating video chat as a new service channel, in many cases, we discovered the use case companies were envisioning would be better served by co-browsing with customers instead of video chatting. Both tools utilize visual collaboration in order to communicate better and solve issues faster, but in some scenarios the ability for agents and customers to look at the same screen – vs. looking at each other – is the more impactful part of the interaction. In cases where companies are looking to build a rapport, to show parts and components via the video screen, or to just add a layer of personalization to the interaction, video is the right channel, and co-browsing can be added to enhance the service experience further. For cases where companies need agents and customers to look at the same materials at the same time in order to collaborate and solve issues together, co-browsing may be a better solution. In this scenario, video can even be a distraction to reaching a resolution rather than a helpful tool.

5. Do your agents need to see your customers?
When Amazon Mayday first launched, social media channels were overrun by commentary from consumers about how horrified or amused they were at the thought of Amazon agents being able to see them while they used their device – even though Amazon’s video channel was only one-way, with just the agents being visible, not customers. If your use case includes a rationale for letting your agents see your customers – two-way video – you’ll need to do a great deal of work to properly communicate with your customers about what to expect in order to ensure they’re comfortable. In most cases, one-way video makes the most sense, is the lowest risk, and achieves the goals companies have for incorporating video into the support experience.

6. What’s the adoption rate of video chat in your market?
While most companies still have the luxury of further evaluating video chat’s value and planning for a strategic roll-out, some industries and regions are adopting this medium at a faster pace, and video chat has become an important competitive differentiator. For example, financial services organizations in Europe are quickly adopting video chat as a standard support channel, and it’s become a necessity to have this technology available just to compete in this market. Keep an eye on the opportunity in your market to either be a leader in bringing this service to your customers or to make sure you don’t get left behind as your competitors start rolling out video chat.

Today, Oracle partners like OpenMethods and VoltDelta deliver an integrated Video Chat solution, connecting Oracle Service Cloud with the advanced voice and video capabilities of the Oracle WebRTC Session Controller. No matter where you are in the process of evaluating video chat for your organization, consider setting up some time with your account team to learn how Oracle Service Cloud can support your goals for enhancing web customer service.

Thursday Sep 24, 2015

The Customer Conversation: What's Changed, What Hasn't

Hanging in my home office is a framed relic of the past: A letter from the Standard Oil Company to a customer, dated 1912. “Gentlemen,” it begins. “Suggest you ship the 10 empty barrels to us, furnishing us with bill of lading, and we will credit your account upon receipt.”

A similar piece of correspondence today would likely take place in the form of an automatically generated email, or even a text message. A bar code or RFID code on the barrels – or package, or piece of equipment – would be scanned and trigger a message. The recipient is alerted, sees the message and knows the location of the asset in question, and goes on with his or her day.

How we communicate with companies and customers has certainly changed, but the reason for these conversations remains more or less the same. We all want to know as much as we can about the location of goods and the progress of work, and we want to use that information to make our lives easier or do our jobs faster.

As communication evolves, so do our expectations – and expectations today are higher than ever. The ability to track a package online seemed revolutionary just a few years ago. Now, clicking a tracking number to find out where your package has been, but not where it is, seems almost quaint by comparison. Quality of information is now inextricably linked to quality of service.

Today, more companies are realizing it’s a smart bet to emphasize customer care in the interest of keeping customers loyal. Because of our high expectations, it’s no longer acceptable to place callers on hold, tell them you’ll call them back, or to say you’ll respond to an email within the next 72 hours. Increasingly, customers want to solve problems so quickly that they’re willing to look for answers themselves, and for the most part, they’d prefer not to use the phone at all.

It’s tempting to think of great customer service as simply friendly people, but without a powerful engine to make sense of large amounts of information, even the friendliest people are at a loss to provide meaningful service. Tying together the call center, the web, and face-to-face interactions in the field is really only possible with technology designed to deliver a seamless service experience.

Ideally, the automated message of 2015 and the typed letter of more than 100 years ago should provide the customer with the same things – confidence, visibility and the feeling of being valued. The way we converse has changed, but the reasons for the conversation are the same.

Wednesday Sep 23, 2015

Take a Quick Tour of Oracle Service Cloud

What do you know about Oracle Service Cloud? You may have heard it delivers complete, out-of-the-box customer service. Or that it enables lasting, profitable customer relationships by delivering unified web, social and contact center experiences.

But that ‘marketing speak’ only gets you so far… To really understand what Oracle Service Cloud can do for your business, you have to take a test drive. Get behind the steering wheel and try out its capabilities.

Oracle Service Cloud’s Quick Tour Demo puts you in the driver’s seat. Click here to see firsthand how Oracle’s Web Customer Service can help you deliver the very best customer experience (CX)—while lowering costs and increasing conversions.

Choose ‘Show Me’ if you want a chauffeured experience. Or ‘Try It’ to navigate for yourself.

Want to see more? Then Sign up for a live demo customized to your needs.

Tuesday Sep 22, 2015

Learning How to Disrupt and Deliver Stellar Experiences at Gartner Customer 360

By Christine Randle, Analyst Relations, Oracle Service Cloud

Last week Gartner held its annual
Gartner Customer 360 Summit in San Diego. The event is well-worth attending and this year was no exception. The theme: “Delivering Great Customer Experiences at the Speed of Digital Business” had an agenda packed with both strategic and tactical content from leading analysts like Michael Maoz, Olive Huang and Jim Davies (just to name a few) to help attendees build powerful Customer Experience (CX) programs.

Oracle was onsite, and we were thrilled to have two of our marquee customers presenting at the event. BeachBody’s Louis Ross was on hand to share details about how the company has designed an agile customer-centric strategy for its over 16 million customers and 200,000 coaches that delivers seamless and personalized experiences.

And not only did LinkedIn’s Andy Yasutake present at the event, but he and his team of masterful customer operations professionals won a Gartner and 1to1 Media Customer Excellence Award for Innovation in Service!

Now, we’ve all heard of LinkedIn (unless you live under a rock), but what you may not know about is the company’s ‘Members First’ initiative (Hint: this is why they won the Gartner and 1to1 award). This program was developed by some seriously smart people at LinkedIn who are dedicated to delivering stellar member experiences to folks just like you! I mean, you’re a LinkedIn member, right?

So what is ‘Members First’? LinkedIn developed this program after recognizing the need to put more focus on its member community. So the company partnered with Oracle Service Cloud to develop a program built on the well-established trinity of people, process, and technology.  The goal: To boost member engagement and satisfaction across the globe.

The LinkedIn support team had been servicing members using reactive, manual processes, resulting in siloed data that was difficult to analyze and act on. As member growth exploded, Andy and his team realized that this approach was no longer sustainable and sprang into action, standing up its Global Customer Operations (GCO) team and developing four pillars for success: Prevention, deflection, efficiency, and adding value. Importantly, the program established a means for LinkedIn to actively listen to members’ direct and indirect feedback, identifying key trends and service gaps. This proactive approach allows the team to hone in on the most pressing issues both quickly and precisely.

And it’s working! With an 85% decrease in average initial response times and a 68% decrease in average resolution times, LinkedIn has achieved an impressive 23% increase in its CSAT scores, up from 6.6 to 8.1. Not too shabby!

Congratulations LinkedIn! This is a shining example of what happens when an organization lives and breathes customer experience.  For a more in-depth look at this award winning ‘Members First’ initiative, check out LinkedIn’s presentation from Gartner Customer 360. It’s chock full of real-world advice that you can leverage in your own organization. Need more? For added detail on exactly why LinkedIn is a leader in customer excellence, read the 1to1 Media article about the program. Then tell us how you plan to disrupt and deliver your own stellar customer or member experiences!

Monday Sep 21, 2015

CustomerThink Webcast Series: 3 Stages of Evolution to Becoming a Modern Customer Service Organization

Many businesses today are at some stage of their journey to delivering an optimal, differentiated Customer Experience (CX), with the vision of building sustainable growth and profits through stronger customer relationships and reliable business data. Getting a vision around the “what” you want to deliver is not easy. The next question is even harder: “How” to build, deliver and grow to reach your visionary state?

In this 3-part CustomerThink webcast series, CX thought leaders Kate Leggett (Forrester), Ray Wang (Constellation Research) and Bruce Temkin (Temkin Group) will guide you through the Roadmap to Modern Customer Service. They will help you:

  • Benchmark where you are in your industry
  • Identify the issues you need to solve and in what order
  • Invest in technologies that best meet your goals
  • Incrementally measure your success along the way

Register now

First Webcast: Get Going with Modern Customer Service
Thursday, Oct. 15, 10-11 am PT / 1-2 pm ET
Join Kate Leggett and JP Saunders as they discuss the first stage of the Roadmap to Modern Customer Service: Get Going. At this initial stage, organizations focus on moving from limited silo channels, to multiple channels of choice, so customers can engage on any device. They invest in channels and knowledge to improve interaction capabilities and reduce service volume and cost through greater operational efficiency.

Second Webcast: Get Better with Modern Customer Service
Thursday, Nov. 12, 10-11 am PT / 1-2 pm ET
Join Ray Wang and JP Saunders as they discuss the second stage of the Roadmap to Modern Customer Service: Get Better. At this next stage, organizations focus on transitioning from silo systems, to a unified platform that enables agents to deliver consistent, relevant, cross-channel service. Here they invest in contact center staff and processes to improve service quality, customer satisfaction and customer retention—leveraging the savings they’ve gained from the first stage.

Third Webcast: Get Ahead with Modern Customer Service
Thursday, Dec. 10, 10-11 am PT / 1-2 pm ET
Join Bruce Temkin and JP Saunders as they discuss the third stage of the Roadmap to Modern Customer Service: Get Ahead. At this advanced stage, organizations focus on evolving from anonymous service experiences to personalized, segmented engagements in every channel. They invest in data and analytics to create more opportunities for acquiring new customers at lower cost, and for expanding their relationships with brand advocates. This ability to monetize engagements enables companies to achieve sustainable growth and profits.

At the end of this series, you will come away knowing what to focus on, and how to measure your success—so you can start modernizing your customer service capabilities with a self-funding model right away!

Register today!

Speaker Biographies

Kate Leggett, Principal Analyst, Forrester Research
Kate serves Application Development & Delivery Professionals. She is a leading expert on customer relationship management (CRM) and customer service strategies, maturity, benchmarking, governance, and ROI. Kate has extensive industry experience, with more than 10 years of leadership at CRM and customer service software companies, where she held senior product marketing and product management roles.

R “Ray” Wang, Principal Analyst and Founder, Constellation Research
R "Ray" Wang is the author of the popular business strategy and technology blog "A Software Insider’s Point of View". With viewership in the 10's of millions of page views a year, his blog provides insight into how disruptive technologies and new business models such as digital transformation impact brands, enterprises, and organizations.

Bruce Temkin, CCXP, Managing Partner & Customer Experience Transformist, Temkin Group
Bruce Temkin is widely viewed as a customer experience visionary. He has worked with hundreds of large organizations on defining and accelerating their customer experience journeys. His company, Temkin Group, is a leading research and consultancy focused on enterprise-wide customer experience transformation. It helps many of the world’s largest brands lead their transformational journeys towards customer-centricity and build loyalty by engaging the hearts and minds of their customers, employees, and partners.

JP Saunders, Senior Director, CX Strategists, Oracle (Host)
In his current capacity, JP leads the go-to-market initiatives for the Oracle CX Cloud Service offering. A recognized thought leader, innovator and strategist, JP has over 16 years experience in SaaS, Customer Service, Customer Experience and CRM application development. JP joined Oracle through the RightNow acquisition where he led the Global Product Marketing team. Prior to that, JP lead Product Management for a Social CRM startup that was part of the Oracle Inner Circle partner. 

Tuesday Sep 15, 2015

3 Reasons and 12 Ways to Attract and Retain Millennial Sales Reps

A quick google search serves up almost two million articles directly related to Millennial-focused sales and marketing. This up and coming generation, aka Gen Y, is a highly coveted one—some estimates value current buying power at $1.3 trillion in the US and $10 trillion globally. Every day, more than 10,000 celebrate a 21st birthday. It’s no wonder brands want to crack the code on what appeals to the group.

As Millennials mature, the conversation has expanded beyond selling product to “selling employment.” By the year 2025, 3 out of every 4 workers will be Gen Y. When it comes to recruitment and retention, business leaders need the same mindset as marketers. In the workplace, a “lost customer” means an employee resignation. We all know the costs of attrition, especially in sales. Rep turnover is the enemy of sales productivity.

But do Millennials, sometimes branded as “lazy, entitled, narcissists,” even make good sales people?

[Read More]

Monday Sep 14, 2015

Transforming the Customer Experience with Field Service

Customer expectations for service are shifting – so much so that the customer experiences organizations deliver have become a critical competitive differentiator. Now, organizations are challenged to find new ways to enhance each interaction with customers. For those with mobile employees serving customers at their homes or businesses, there’s an opportunity to take customer relationships to the next level by investing in a modern field service strategy.

Think about it: most often, a field service appointment is the only face-to-face interaction an organization will have with customers. And, field service appointments typically occur during a critical point in the customer lifecycle – a customer has recently purchased a new product or service that needs to be installed, or the customer experiences a problem with a product or service purchased and it needs to be resolved. These interactions provide pivotal opportunities for organizations to build positive relationships with their customers, and ultimately increase retention, differentiate their brand and improve the bottom line.

With each field service event holding so much potential, organizations must ensure field service resources are empowered to provide the best experience possible. Interested in learning more about in the relationship between field services and improved customer satisfaction, and how to build a field service organization that takes advantage of this connection? Check out the Oracle Service Cloud white paper, titled “Field Service and Customer Care,” to understand:

  • How the customer landscape is changing and what’s driving this shift
  • How technology trends and the focus on customer success are transforming the traditional service model
  • What the new customer care model looks like and how field service fits in

Download the white paper here. And, for more information about Oracle Service Cloud’s field service management solution and the customer care benefits it provides, visit


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« October 2015