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Welcome to the Oracle CX blog:
The latest in customer experience strategy, technology, and innovation.

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Customer Experience Technology

The Wait Is Over - Enhanced Business Rules Are Available for CX B2C Service Customers!!!

If you’ re looking to further automate your business processes and reduce manual work and errors, you are really going to like the Enhanced Business Rules feature.  In this blog post, I will go over the CX B2C Service Enhanced Business Rules feature and address: What it is, The challenges it solves, and What we've done to help you automate business changes - easily and with no coding needed. What are Business Rules? Business rules are lists of statements that tell you whether you may or may not do something, or give you the criteria and conditions for making a decision. A business rule defines or constrains some aspect of business and always resolves to either true or false. Business rules describe the operations, definitions, and constraints that apply to an organization. A business rule is simply an “if-then-else” statement: If these conditions apply, then take this action. For example, if a customer has a billing question, then route the incident to an accounting staff member. If a new contact is from the East Coast, then send an automated answer from Knowledge Base, send surveys etc. Business rules can also include an Else clause. If the conditions of the rule are not met, the Else clause specifies the action that should be taken. For example, if a customer has a billing question, a rule can route the incident to accounting. If the question is not about billing (that is, the incident does not match the rule’s condition), you can add an Else clause to route it to technical support and escalate if needed. The ‘Business Rules’ feature is one of the most used features of B2C Service. What are Enhanced Business Rules? With the Enhanced Business Rules, we have addressed all the challenges that you had with the legacy business rules feature in .NET console. We have incorporated your input to address your needs. Here are a few key challenges that we have solved: You can now create business rules for custom objects, custom attributes. You can export and import rules from any instance via Element Manager. You can benefit from easy search options. You can benefit from exporting rules (including states, functions, variables) into csv. You can benefit from various usability enhancements. You can leverage advanced auditing information. You can find a complete comparison in the visual below: How do I access Enhanced Business Rules? Please note that the Enhanced Business Rules are accessible only from Web Client / Browser User Interface. From Browser UI - After assigning required permissions to the user, they will be visible in the navigation set. Upon clicking the Rules link, you will be taken to the dashboard that you can use to manage rules for the supported object. See it exemplified in the caption below. If your site is not enabled for this feature, please follow this page to get it enabled. Migration from Legacy to Enhanced Business Rules: If you access the Rules option in the Browser UI for the first time, you will be prompted for migration.  Please refer to the below image for more detail: Upon your confirmation, the rules will be easily migrated as per below image: After the successful migration, please verify all your rules, states, functions and variables. Here is an example screen shot from Enhanced Business Rules UI, with rule summary. What are the Objects supported in Enhanced Business Rules? Incident, Contact, Organization Custom Objects Answer, Opportunity, Task Chat (20C) The Wait is Over! If you are looking for configurations over coding, it's time to migrate to Enhanced Business Rules. Managing and Configuring business rules will no longer be a concern. Migration from legacy is just a few clicks away. Avoid all manual errors, with the advanced auditing capability and diagnosis Import/Export Business Rules from one instance to another instance or interface is just a few clicks away within your own process. Automate and save lots of time that would normally be spent on manual work. For more resources, please visit: Customer Connect - Webinar Recording (registration/password required) Presentation / Document Examples: References We are really interested in hearing your thoughts about this feature. Please leave your comments and suggestions on our customer connect forum. Thank you!

If you’ re looking to further automate your business processes and reduce manual work and errors, you are really going to like the Enhanced Business Rules feature.  In this blog post, I will go over...

Customer Service

5 Critical Considerations in the Wake of COVID-19

Co-authored by Thu Nguyen, Five9 We’ve been hearing for years that digital transformation is crucial for business success. But, with COVID-19, that need has accelerated because stay-at-home mandates have forced organizations to get remote teams up and running, allowing them to engage with their customers and internal teams. How will this transition permanently impact workflows, applications and communications? How can you plan for the next emergency and help your customers feel more secure? Here are five areas where companies should focus to ensure they’re ready for the next emergency so they can continue delivering outstanding customer service. 1 - Think Connected During a crisis such as COVID-19, corporate policies change rapidly. This impacts an organization’s entire technology stack – from commerce sites to service experiences, all the way through how a company maintains its financials. For example, because travel and physical retail businesses were almost completely shut down, many companies have waived fees, allowing customers to cancel trips or return items they didn’t need. These changes not only had to be communicated to customers via websites, social media and public relations, but also internally. Employees and systems need to learn how to execute these new changes despite major operational disruptions. Maintaining a collection of siloed, best-in-class solutions may have once been an economical strategy. But, when a wide variety of business processes suddenly change, it can be difficult to achieve speed and consistency. Having an end-to-end integrated solution from the front office to the back office will ensure you can rapidly evolve in response to any changing environments. 2 - Plan for a Crisis Customer service has evolved very rapidly the past 20 years, with technology playing a critical role in a customer service strategy. Automated processes and a system that "just works" helps the human side focus on customers’ needs. However, during a crisis, processes may change. Understanding where these changes may impact automated and manual processes is critical. Invest resources into creating and maintaining technology blueprints and design documentation will allow you to quickly identify where processes need to be temporarily changed throughout your organization. It may seem costly to include infrastructure security, Computer Telephony Infrastructure (CTI) and Interactive Voice Response (IVR) solutions as well as Work Force Management (WFM). However, these investments become invaluable when managing a crisis. 3 - Lead with Knowledge and Engage Intelligently A well-balanced digital strategy allows customers to engage with a brand anytime, anywhere. Balancing various digital channels or channel mix during an emergency can help relieve overloaded contact centers and lessen customer and agent frustration. At the core of every customer service engagement lies proper knowledge management.  Well-curated knowledge articles are your biggest allies during an emergency response. A sophisticated knowledge strategy will ensure everyone throughout the organization, from top executives to those on the front-lines, have consistent and current information. A well-designed knowledge management system can often answer 80% of customer inquiries, eliminating large volumes of requests into service centers. Although knowledge is very effective, many customers need more personalized answers and prefer to engage directly with the company, rather than search knowledge articles. In those cases, Intelligent Advice can help lead customers to the right personalized answer. Digital Assistants are smart enough to act as an agent and an integrated digital assistant can leverage the same knowledge and back-end systems as an agent. A well devised and integrated digital assistant strategy that leverages knowledge and intelligent advice can be pivotal to your emergency service action plan.  4 - Focus on the Right Real-Time Channels Once knowledge and automation are in place, identify which channels require the most attention. This is key to an emergency action plan. This mix will vary depending on each organization’s unique service ecosystem. Base your balance on the skillset of your agents with the channels that require the most resources. Keep in mind, customers will intuitively shift to channels that require the least amount of effort, even if it's not the channel of their choice. For example, If your IVR system is telling a customer there will be a 6 hour wait, they may decide to engage via chat or a messaging channel instead. But, this risks overwhelming that channel. Act early by launching an emergency resource plan to staff the right real-time channels and turn off hard-to-resource channels to provide better experiences and help manage service request volumes. 5 - Leverage Your Partner Ecosystem Rapid response and mission critical pivots come at a benefit and price. Scaling teams to react to a crisis may not be possible if the emergency limits the ability to hire and train new staff. Have service experts available on speed dial to create the momentum needed to react swiftly. Companies, like Five9, have quickly turned up customers with their contact center platform solution. Five9 has the ability to quickly migrate contact centers to the cloud. Some companies made the transition in under 48 hours. Five9 offers a transition plan that minimizes any business continuity risks, and enables employees to stay working, connected and safe. This type of response not only helps businesses react but can even save lives during the Covid-19 crisis. Understanding customer signals all the way through the customer journey and executing on those signals through technology will allow your organization to devise a business strategy that can survive and prosper in a crisis and help your prepare for the next one. Learn more about how Oracle CX Service and Five9 can help with your digital transformation.  

Co-authored by Thu Nguyen, Five9 We’ve been hearing for years that digital transformation is crucial for business success. But, with COVID-19, that need has accelerated because stay-at-home mandates...

Data Utilization & Analytics

Transforming to Customer Intelligent Marketing Part 1

Rapidly evolving technology and the effect of the mobile internet on daily lives have had a pretty profound impact on customers, who have developed new habits of exploring, discovering, connecting, and buying on the go. Customers now expect deliveries within 1 day, the same day or hours - answers within micro-seconds. In today’s world, it is not brands but consumers who are the real innovators, because they’ve embraced digital technologies to craft custom, personal experiences that conform to their lives.  All in real-time. In any order. On a whim. Standing in line. Any time of the day or night. Welcome to what we at Oracle call "The Experience Economy." Customer journeys are not linear. They switch moment to moment as they experiment fearlessly with your products and services and expect you to respond. The experience a brand provides its customer within this moment of engagement is more important than the actual product or service itself. Winning companies embrace this view. Transforming Your Customer Experience While marketers understand the customer’s expectations of a personalized experience, most struggle to ingest the amount of available customer data but have an even bigger challenge acting on that data. Most Marketers Generally, most marketers are segmenting and personalizing using about 5 customer attributes. The result is that every customer is treated the same and the brand experience is unremarkable. Think about buying a suit that comes in three sizes – small, medium and large. Consumers will only know that these brands “exist.” They see it. Maybe they try it and form some early opinion about it, but that’s all. Much like meeting a new person at a party, customers quickly lose interest and leave in search of a brand that offers a more meaningful relationship. To a customer, at best, they know that your brand exists. No big deal. Top 10% Marketers The top 10% of marketers use about 20 customer attributes to segment and personalize the marketing message. However, classifying customers using this relatively small number of attributes does not provide an accurate nor personal view of the customer. The human connection can fall flat. This is a suit that comes in more sizes, but is still purchased “off the rack”. For the top 10%, there is a chance for a customer relationship to develop. Consumers begin to attach deeper meaning or think about the brand in certain ways. Loyalty may be fragile, but is beginning to develop. Top 1% Marketers The top 1% of marketers are fanatical about data & customer attributes to always strive to make the “human” connection magical. In addition to capturing customer engagement and interaction data, these top 1% use identity resolution to accurately connect purchase, service, lifestyle and life-stage data to increase the number of usable customer attributes. These marketers use 100s of customer attributes and while these marketers start with segments similar to the data-driven marketer, they can enhance their use with advanced decisioning tools and predictive models to produce even more personalized human-connection messages. For the top 1%, customers might incorporate a business or a product into a part of their lives, or think of the brand as something that shapes or defines them. This is the fitted suit, tailored to exactly fit the customer. The World's Best Marketers The world’s best Marketers are always increasing the use of customer attributes to continuously delight their customers in new ways. For the world’s best - very few companies (or people!) are able to take the relationship beyond that. The brand is indispensable and would be forgiven no matter what happens. To customers, these brands are their first and only choice. These world-best class marketers use 1000s of attributes per customer in their decisioning tools and delivery systems to deliver superior experiences with massive, intelligent data. These marketers orchestrate marketing messages to produce contextual and nuanced communications that deliver exceptional customer experiences in a seamless and highly relevant context across advertising, marketing, commerce, loyalty, service and support. Customers develop strong feelings based on their experience and will actively defend and promote the brand. This is the tailored suit, but now customized with personal accessories to deliver a unique experience. The biggest predictor of brand success is the number of customer attributes used intelligently to deliver exceptional customer experiences! Your job as a brand is to accelerate the use of attributes to be able to thrive and win in your designated industry. Now More than Ever To say that the pandemic has changed our world seems cliché, but the impact on marketers is very real.  The stay-at-home orders and the closure of businesses had a sudden and immediate impact on marketing communications.  Notices of store closures and shifting policies replaced promotional messages overnight.  Customer behaviors changed as well.  There was a shift to online shopping, increased interest in home supplies, demand for delivery services and no-touch retail.  Brands who were already using AI and machine learning to determine best send time and product recommendations were able to identify and react to changes in customer behavior in real time.  Marketers who have more inputs and customer attributes will be able to learn faster.  This allows the marketers to spend more time focused on preparing for the next event – a return to business – and other more strategic marketing communications.  The marketers using the one-size-fits-all approach are scrambling to catch up, unable to meet the opportunity in the moment, before it's gone. Consider how many customer attributes you are really using in your marketing efforts and the customer experience you're creating.   If you are using about 5 attributes, you're not alone.  Can your business transform to provide exceptional customer experiences?  Look for my next blog post on developing your transformation action plan to learn more. Click to read - Oracle was named a leader in The Forrester Wave™: Email Marketing Service Providers, Q2 2020 Click here to learn more about Oracle CX Marketing products.

Rapidly evolving technology and the effect of the mobile internet on daily lives have had a pretty profound impact on customers, who have developed new habits of exploring, discovering, connecting,...

Customer Service

Don’t Keep Your Customers Waiting - Provide Answers Right Now!

Tips for leveraging Knowledge Management to provide answers and guidance to your customers during a time of crisis, when resources are strained. Is your company struggling to navigate the impact COVID-19 is having on your support organization? Depending on your business, customers probably have a lot of questions, such as “Is your company still open?,” “Can I order online?,” “How long will delivery take?,” “Can I do curbside pickup?,” and “What are your safety handling procedures?” Your support organization is probably feeling overwhelmed with these incoming requests, and might be dealing with resource restraints as well. As an Oracle Knowledge Management customer, you already know how dynamic the Oracle solution is in allowing you to deliver answers to your end-users as quickly as is necessary. But, you might not know about a few key features that could help you get answers to your end-users and customers even more effectively and with fewer support resources. Let’s look at five B2C Knowledge Management features that allow customers to solve their own product issues and answer their own questions which could help reduce the overall volume of requests. 1.    Fix at Top: Using the Display Position in Knowledge Foundation, you can choose Fix at Top. This will fix the answer at the top of the list regardless of the search being done. This feature could allow you to display the most important COVID-19 related answers you want your customers to see first when entering your support pages. This can increase customer satisfaction because how quickly a customer finds answers significantly impacts the customer experience. 2.    Knowledge Inlay: The new Top Answers Inlay lets B2C customers that use Knowledge Foundation access their knowledge articles from virtually anywhere. Place the inlay on a web page to let end-users search and view articles within your web site without requiring customers to enter the customer portal. The inlay is similar to the customer portal widget that displays popular answers, except, the inlay can be placed on any web page, and it only displays the top 10 answers. Providing a good service experience on any webpage means customers won’t need to navigate away from the buying experience to answer simple questions. This can lead to a competitive advantage and increase sales by providing a good service experience on any webpage. 3.    Ask a Question: Due to stay-at-home orders, large contact centers may have fewer agents available to answer the phone. Enabling the Ask a Question feature allows you to route questions to email that can be answered more easily by remote agents at any hour of the day or night. Allowing agents to respond to customer service requests through different channels improves efficiency, productivity, and provides a better customer experience. 4.    Smart Assistant: If you enable the Ask a Question feature, don’t forget to enable Smart Assistant. This will automatically search the knowledge base for answers to customer questions, and could result in quicker responses to avoid unnecessary escalation. Smart Assistant suggests answers based on the content analysis and questions. Reducing support workload and costs through self-service tools that allow customers to solve their own product issues deflects incoming calls, reducing the overall volume of requests and costs to the contact center. 5.    Standard Response: Configure a rule that can automatically send a standard response with knowledge base answers to the customer when they email you. This gives customers the opportunity to get an answer to their question quickly. Additionally, for assistance requests submitted through the Ask a Question page, you can have a standard text response display directly to your end-user when they submit the request. If the assistance request matches the rule criteria, then the standard response displays right on the web page, making it  easier for your customers. Implementing any or all of these features could help your organization address the challenges you face in delivering accurate, timely and consistent customer service during this time. Check out this quick read on Tips for Delivering Effortless Knowledge. Additionally, click here to check out our Help Center resources for more information on the features mentioned above.    

Tips for leveraging Knowledge Management to provide answers and guidance to your customers during a time of crisis, when resources are strained. Is your company struggling to navigate the impact...

CX News & Events

Oracle CX Customer Webinar Series

In times of change, customer service is in a prime position to provide advice, guide customers in their search for information, and to facilitate important decisions for individual customers. At the same time, customer service professionals are adopting new ways of working in a dynamic business environment. Oracle is collaborating with thousands of companies globally around service excellence. We are here to support with advice, inspiration and open dialogue. Join our CX Customer Webinar Series to take part in discussions around timely topics where we can provide advice on your questions, and the role and importance of customer service in an ever-changing world. Hear about the role of service in times of change: service driving business, new work environments and innovation of solutions addressing current challenges Discuss with service experts and other CX Service customers on best practices, challenges and solutions Get advice on where to turn for support and answers to your questions Click here to learn more and select the webinars you want to register for. Service in a Changing World. Customer service in time of high pressure and change 20 May, 2020, Start Time: 1:00 PM BST, Duration: 45 min Delivering Exceptional Customer Service when Working from Home - The New Normal. Trends, best practices and advice on working effectively, and leading business from home 3 June, 2020, Start Time: 1:00 PM BST, Duration: 45 min Augmenting the Service Center with Conversation. How to leverage chatbots and other conversational interfaces to drive dialogue and value. 17 June, 2020, Start Time: 1:00 PM BST, Duration: 45 min Learn more!

In times of change, customer service is in a prime position to provide advice, guide customers in their search for information, and to facilitate important decisions for individual customers. At the...

Customer Service

3 Approaches to Customer Service in a Time of Crisis

For organizations that are inundated by customer service inquiries due to COVID-19, it’s critical they understand what’s working and what isn’t, because they have to quickly pivot their customer service approach. Organizations need to rapidly respond to changing information and ease the shift from the contact center to provide remote service. Companies that can support new and unpredictable customer inquiries are those with flexible knowledge management solutions, configurable service center infrastructure, and have the ability to quickly automate rules and workflows. Here are three approaches organizations should consider: 1 - Provide Service Everywhere. Get information to your customers quickly. Start by frequently revisiting customer content to provide meaningful responses and interactions. Go beyond traditional service departments to provide knowledge content across the organization, not just the service center. Next, enable digital service channels. Include contextual knowledge that’s readily available on corporate sites and e-business processes. Also, leverage analytics to learn what content is effective and which isn’t working. 2 –Enable all employees to serve customers.  Move to an “all hands on deck” strategy. Enable employees in every department to react quickly to handle any call. It’s imperative to have a technology infrastructure that can easily transfer calls from your organization to anywhere, including employee’s homes. Remove the stress from your employees by helping them respond to customers with empathy and accuracy. Do this with simple, easy and effective employee experiences that empower them to answer inquires with little or no training. 3 - Automate and create new service experiences.  Automate the right experiences. As more organizations start their digital transformation, the importance of automation has accelerated.  Organizations that have already started are ahead of the game and better poised to adapt to this new way of operating. A good approach will determine which requests should be automated while making sure they don’t frustrate customers further. At Oracle, we're working with our customers to replicate the success of existing customer experiences and service departments and helping to apply those best practices across an entire organization. For example, Artificial Intelligent (AI) Solutions include conversational service via chatbots to answer questions 24/7 while reducing incoming chats and calls. Oracle Digital Assistant can help answer basic questions such as, “Where is my delivery?”, leaving your employees to concentrate on the more difficult customer inquiries. For customers seeking more personal advice, such as “Can I defer my payment this month?” – Oracle Intelligent Advisor can deliver tailored advice and decision automation consistently across channels. For organizations, Intelligent Advisor provides the agility for business users to quickly create rules that deliver personalized service to customers. It’s a big role to play. But, customer experience and service professionals can lead the way to ensure empathic, innovative and proactive approaches to service that help ease the challenges during and after a crisis situation. This blog is part of a series of blogs that will offer strategies, insights, best practices and tips to help organizations respond to customer questions and reduce frustration.  Click here to read "Work from Home will Become the New Normal: Are Your Prepared?"  

For organizations that are inundated by customer service inquiries due to COVID-19, it’s critical they understand what’s working and what isn’t, because they have to quickly pivot their customer...

Customer Experience Strategy

Path to CX Excellence – Commerce Edition

For better or worse, I’m what’s colloquially known as an elder millennial. I’m not part of the oft derided group that grew up staring at screens. I’m the part of the generation that came just before. My coming of age straddled the cusp of technology’s proliferation to the extent that we experienced the before and after effects rather uniquely. For example, before college, I had computer classes, but not computers in class. And when students started to use laptops as their personal computers in college, many educators resisted their use in the classroom due to uncertainty about how this emerging technology fit into the existing experience. Determining guiding principles such as recommendations, resources, and roadmaps should have been the responsibility of the institution, yet all too often individual teachers were left to fend for themselves. But, once more cohesive strategies finally emerged, the collegiate experience evolved quickly. The inclusion of technology shifted the use from supplemental resource to a requirement for homework, classroom activities, and even exams. By the time I graduated, some courses were held entirely online. What was once a siloed, variable mess, matured into something intentionally integrated and consistent, allowing students, educators, and institutions to benefit. This is one example of this shift, but it isn’t unique in the modern human experience. The continuous push to integrate technology holistically over the last few decades has helped mitigate the impact of unpredictable disruption, such as the current health crisis. This pull—or the abrupt shift to new instruction models—has been far less disruptive than it could have been had the necessary tools not already existed and been implemented. It’s more evident than ever that every type of organization must adopt new strategies as quickly as possible to continue to deliver consistent value to their stakeholders. The Evolution of Digital Commerce Digital commerce implementations have been on a similar three-decade long arc—some piecemeal, some strategic. While B2C organizations have dominated digital commerce growth and learned to develop it as a primary revenue generating channel, B2B organizations have been akin to the educators who were uncertain about how it fit into their existing experience. Without a unified vision for an enterprise-wide strategy, many B2B companies have generally tinkered around the edges of their digital experience without fully addressing their underlying challenges. The result is that their customers—B2B buyers—are increasingly frustrated with friction they view as unnecessary in the purchasing experience. They crave the familiarity and buyer-centric usability they are used to as consumers. This is forcing B2B organizations to adopt digital transformation quickly despite any entrenched complexity that makes it difficult to sell digitally. Looking forward, as B2B organizations catch up to their B2C counterparts, capabilities, maturity, and even customers for both business models will begin to converge. As part of our series on The Path to CX Excellence, we’re digging into each of the pillars of modern CX to examine how businesses that push to integrate technology more holistically across the customer experience are more prepared to adapt to unpredictability that would otherwise catch them on their heels. We’ve covered B2B Marketing, B2C Marketing, Sales, Service and Field Service. In this blog, we’ll lay out the Path to Commerce Excellence as it applies to any business model, whether B2C, B2B, or B2B2C. #1 Foundational Commerce is the most important stage to ensure sustainable future success. While short-term fixes may address immediate needs, intentionally or not, those once quick fixes frequently become deeply embedded over time. The long-term result is a complex, cobbled-together legacy technology stack that hinder a business’ ability to adapt to change in real time. Just as a unified approach to technology has supported the successes of modern higher education, companies must similarly move beyond siloed, use-case-specific solutions. Otherwise, the cost to customers is similar to that of the student experience mentioned—inconsistent, disconnected, and often unpleasant. The difference is that customers can go elsewhere easily. Many companies face an internal struggle that leaves them unable or unwilling to change. This stalemate is most clearly represented by the fact that 70% of CIOs want to keep existing solutions in place as long as possible, but 75% of C-suite executives understand the dire consequences of failing to update their technology. But without the appropriate foundation, the ability to adapt and keep pace with competitors is limited, and the cost of future changes will only increase. As the most interconnected element of the customer experience, addressing commerce technology may sound daunting, but the solution doesn’t need to be. Companies need two key elements to build the foundation that will enable future success: Scalable, agile technology Connected data, which is important to the customer experience and internal efficiency #2 Transactional Commerce shifts from technology capabilities to generating revenues from a new digital channel. At this stage, companies must strive to build trust and minimize friction in the customer experience to improve conversion rates and decrease customer acquisition costs (CAC). For a customer, efficiency starts from the moment their search begins helps determine whether or not customers can find your products. Once they land on your site, how do they move around? How do they find similar or complimentary products, or even different categories altogether? Robust search and navigation tools and product recommendations are critical capabilities for success. For complex products with variable selections like size, colors, or materials, customers should be guided through an intuitive flow to make those selections easily. Inventory should clearly indicate product availability and out-of-stocks to the customer, so they don’t make purchases that can’t be fulfilled. Friction is the enemy of conversion, so companies must root it out everywhere. A/B testing helps identify where customers fall off in the process and provides valuable insight to address it. Some customers get all the way to the end of an experience with a full shopping cart and then click away, making reengagement strategies vitally important. When 70% of carts are abandoned before a purchase is completed, a lot of investment is wasted if left unaddressed. Companies that view every click as an opportunity to gain or lose a customer will be better prepared to create value and build loyalty with each customer. As the transactional stage becomes more operationalized, companies can start optimizing their investments. #3 Optimized Commerce is where digital channels start to pay dividends. The site experience gets continuously better, and all the pieces align to move faster. But, the work isn’t over. When optimizing, companies are doing more with their existing investments to provide enhanced capabilities and expand into new markets and product categories, reaching more customers as a result. It’s important to note that any point solutions still being utilized are likely providing diminishing returns as a result of siloed data. Many companies that successfully navigate the first two stages with point solutions may suddenly find their growth limited. Optimization can only be achieved with fully integrated data across the front and back office applications, which enables companies to build more personalized experiences around the customer. Redefining Commerce For successful optimization, companies must evolve digital commerce beyond single transactions to a complete resource where customers come to research, purchase, subscribe, and manage their orders and accounts. This is how they build lasting mutual relationships that create more value for their customers and capture the returns as revenue. In the optimization stage, the scalability and agility of the foundational architecture becomes an undeniable competitive advantage as companies can launch new brand or country sites with ease using existing resources. Additionally, with a vast trove of connected customer and purchasing data, companies can identify other products and categories that may fulfill unmet customer needs. If the foundational stage is building the right machine, the transactional stage is putting it to work, and the optimization stage is getting the most value from those resources. As that value climbs, the door opens to innovation. #4 Innovative Commerce is when companies shift from standard value creation to highly differentiated customer experiences to tap into new growth opportunities and business models. Market leaders and disruptive trend setters are positioned to grab greater market share as 60% of those under 40 are more likely to buy from companies that invest in unique experiences. By its nature, innovative commerce is far less defined than previous stages, instead allowing for experimentation to surface new opportunities. Key KPIs at this level should be around the customer – recurring relationships, interconnected personalization that extends across the lifecycle, and commerce experiences on emerging channels. Like the education example at the top, innovation is where companies push the boundaries of their existing dynamic. By taking a proactive approach to identify how customer expectations are evolving, these companies spend far less time trying to catch up when it matters most. Making the Path Your Own At Oracle, we know that the Path to Commerce Excellence isn’t linear. Many of our customers experience different levels of success and maturity at each stage of this path all at the same time. But we use this progression as a framework to help our customers understand how to look at the opportunities ahead of them and what to prioritize. There’s never been a better time to ensure that your company is prepared to quickly adapt to the evolving ways that goods and services are bought and sold. Click here to find out more about how Oracle can help you leverage digital commerce to your advantage.    

For better or worse, I’m what’s colloquially known as an elder millennial. I’m not part of the oft derided group that grew up staring at screens. I’m the part of the generation that came just before....

Customer Experience Strategy

3 Ways that Subscription Management Impacts CFOs

Humans are hardwired to view uncertainty as a risk. It’s called the fight-or-flight response, and it’s part of our genetic make-up. This survival mechanism is brought on by a combination of stress as a reaction to life-threatening situations. Over the course of humanity, we have evolved in a variety of ways, but the fight-or-flight response remains. It’s part of the human existence. Our stress triggers have changed greatly, but to adapt to this response, we have also evolved to add a planning component to our lives. From planning meals as hunters and gatherers, to planning all aspects of our children’s lives, their education, we sacrifice while searching for ways to make sense of the changing world around us. But, there is no resisting the changing world. Our world is in constant motion, and if we want to survive, we have to adapt. These adaptations take on new nuances in the business world, especially when talking about how customers are consuming and wanting to make purchases. In the era of The Experience Economy, the idea of ownership is no longer viable. We have entered a new era, that is depicted in a recent blog post, “The End of Ownership.” What thrives in this new era is the power of recurring relationships through subscription management. When subscription management is brought up in a discussion, whether personal or business in nature, it always means a change in buying behavior. There is no one more interested in the impact buying in a business setting than the CFO. Subscription Management Means a Shift to Recurring Relationships. As a CFO, much of your job revolves on planning and forecasting. As you know, when buying relationships shift to subscriptions, you can no longer simply look at what closed this month or this quarter. You have to shift your view to fully look at all avenues of the future. This impacts how you allocate and spend money as you better understand what’s to come in the future. Below are three ways that subscription management impacts CFOs. ERP is the gold-standard system.  As CFO, your ERP system forms the basis of your company’s revenue existence. If any upstream inefficiencies or inaccuracies arise, and they aren’t stopped before they go downstream, this impacts the data in the ERP system. Thus, it’s vital that correct revenue recognition is kept in your organization’s ERP, not integrated through complex models outside ERP. These complex models fuel inaccuracies and hard-to-decipher integrations. It’s also important as a CFO that you not only have a clear view of the correct financial numbers and data but that you are also complying with all financial tracking regulations that investors require. Again, revenue recognition needs to be contained within the confines of the ERP. Maximize revenue through new relationship paths. As your business builds new types of relationships—those brought on by recurring revenue— you’ll need to understand which levers to pull to get maximum value from your goods and services, just as you did in a traditional model. By understanding and investing in the long-term life-time value of a customer, you are establishing pricing and contract terms with your sales team that will get the most value not just for you, but for your customers as well. New challenges will always arise. Certain complexities will always appear when adopting new business models, and this is especially true for those managing complex changes around subscriptions. These complexities in subscription management manifest as mid-month cancellations. Those types of cancellations can create chaos in financial systems if not handled correctly. For those just starting out with a subscription business model, they may turn to a simple offline model for tracking and monitoring, believing that this will be the easiest way to manage these challenges. However, chaos will rear its ugly head soon enough.  The best way to alleviate these challenges is to take an automated approach. Automation and supporting workflow can help sort out the cancellations and make sure the customer is billed correctly. In these challenging times of uncertainty, customers are making decisions to reduce anxieties and investments that can be difficult to validate. This influences many to take a subscription-based service that will give them the flexibility to scale up or down with the evolving needs of their business. There is no resisting the constant motion of the changing world. Adaption by forecasting and planning is the only way to truly evolve alongside uncertainty. To learn more about Subscription Management please visit here.      

Humans are hardwired to view uncertainty as a risk. It’s called the fight-or-flight response, and it’s part of our genetic make-up. This survival mechanism is brought on by a combination of stress...

Ask the Experts

Invalid Postal Addresses Impact Your Sales Team!

How are decaying postal addresses affecting your business?  One obvious answer is that your business is wasting budget on shipping and mailing to invalid addresses. Consider the following 3 stats according to the US Postal Service: 7% of Americans change addresses annually 45 million people move each year Approximately one out of every six families move each year What's less obvious is the critical impact invalid addresses have on your sales organization. Your sales teams heavily relay on precise location data; Accurate sales territory designations and assignments Sales and marketing driven campaigns Precise customer communications i.e. account statements, billing, rewards Key customer demographic information, including address data, is the fuel to built-in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning tools Oracle Customer Experience solutions like CX Sales are fueled by a real-time global address verification solution, Loqate. I recently spoke with Ashley Hillard, Key Account Manager at Loqate, GbG's Location intelligence unit, and briefly asked her about the solution and why businesses should focus on accurate postal address data. Q: Tell me about Loqate and its partnership with Oracle. A: We’ve been an Oracle Partner for over 10 years and we’re the leading developer of global address verification solutions. We curate and develop premium global location reference datasets and verification technology engines. Our partners use Loqate to continuously update, standardize and enrich addresses across their applications. We have a seamless integration with Oracle CX Sales and integrate with other third-party applications via REST APIs. Q: How does Loqate address verification work? A:  Our global data platform contains location reference data for all countries and territories in the world. We aggregate multiple reference data sources into a consistent and reliable single-best-record. To provide the full global coverage that our customers rely on, Loqate continuously curates official postal authorities, mapping, geospatial data sources and other relevant data sets to create our premium reference data. Q: What benefits does it bring to your customers? A: Bad data costs time and money. Accurate address data is a critical component to creating a complete view of data entities throughout your enterprise. Critical customer demographic information impacts businesses across all verticals. For sales organizations, address verification helps solve issues sales teams face with inaccurate CRM data, reduces time spent on manual data entry and optimizes territory planning and management. It also helps prevents incomplete and non-standardized data from being entered into your CRM. For example, at the point of record creation in Oracle CX Sales, ‘type ahead functionality’ ensures sales reps enter a valid postal address. As a result, businesses have found a reduction in data entry errors by 20%! Type ahead functionality and real time address verification allow reps to spend more time selling and less time entering data into their CRM – resulting in a reduction of data entry time by 78%. Sales organizations also need quality address data to ensure their sales territory plan is balanced and create the most opportunities for sales teams to succeed. Address verification can optimize the sales territory map, providing accurate location of customers and prospects as well as options for data-driven insights. Quality data enhances and improves the mapping process, resulting in a 30% enhanced targeting effectiveness. For more information on how your business can leverage Address Verification by Loqate with your CX Sales environment visit here.  

How are decaying postal addresses affecting your business?  One obvious answer is that your business is wasting budget on shipping and mailing to invalid addresses. Consider the following 3 stats...

Customer Experience Strategy

Content for the Sake of Content...Really!

In today’s Experience Economy, customers expect a seamless brand experience across all channels.  To meet this demand, companies are investing in their digital customer experience strategy. However when it comes to content, 84% of companies struggle to manage content across the enterprise. A scary question to ponder is ‘How much does bad content cost companies and damage brand reputations?’  As customer expectations continue to increase, companies must prioritize content management in order to meet the demands of their customers. Content is everywhere It’s chaos! Across marketing, commerce, sales, and service, business users are all asking the same questions. “Why is what I want so hard to find? Where’s the latest version? Is this content approved? Will this work on mobile?” That’s just the beginning. In 2019, over 140 million smart speakers were sold across the world. This is driving the production of more content, as experiences are no longer bound by a website. They are channel-agnostic and pageless. Unify content for consistent engagement When developing a content management strategy, companies need to be equipped with a single content hub that simplifies the way content is created, syndicated, and distributed. Oracle’s content management solution, CX Content, enables companies to deliver a seamless brand experience across all channels through a centralized platform that is connected across the enterprise. Leveraging state-of-the-art AI and machine learning, companies can now spend less time searching for content, and more time creating. Read why Oracle is a Leader Oracle’s Customer Experience is the most complete CX Suite on the market. Built on a common API first platform, companies using Oracle CX are able to unify experiences across the enterprise. Click here to find out why Forrester named Oracle as a Leader in the 2019 Forrester Wave for Digital Experience Platforms. See the 10 providers that matter most and how they stack up so you can make the right choice.    

In today’s Experience Economy, customers expect a seamless brand experience across all channels.  To meet this demand, companies are investing in their digital customer experience strategy. However...

Customer Experience Technology

Oracle Government 2.0 Helps Constituents and Business During Crisis.....and When We Return to Normal

Shelter-in-place orders are making it difficult for governments to continue operations at a time when citizens and businesses need more support and services than during normal times. Government agencies at all levels are facing several daunting challenges. Oracle Government 2.0 provides a state-of-the-art digital framework for modernizing government operations and citizen engagement that includes these key capabilities: Real-time information creation and distribution from all levels of government to the right citizens at the right time via all the right channels Easy and accurate personalized guidance on complex issues leading to specific actions and accurate information intake thereby reducing dependency on government employees’ time Streamlined Emergency Operations Center planning, coordination, and communication with automation and intelligence Effortless work-from-home planning, execution, and tracking with web and mobile based applications Elastic and reliable infrastructure that can reliably handle sudden huge spikes in work and communication demands Significantly lower noise and distraction generated by traditional communication tools such as email, tele-conferencing, Slack, etc. Several of our forward-thinking public sector customers have already embarked on their Government 2.0 digital transformation journeys with Oracle CX and Oracle Technology solutions, helping them rapidly adapt their operations and manage the necessary challenges without disruption. Oracle worked side-by-side with customers to quickly develop and launch solutions to assist governments in managing the COVID-19 situation and enable agencies to function effectively from remote locations. Through a combination of intelligent self-service automation, remote work orchestration, smart knowledge sharing, and guided assistance solutions, Oracle Government 2.0 solutions are designed to help government employees serve the needs of their citizens and businesses both in times of crisis and through recovery: Digital Response for Constituents: By rapidly responding to citizens’ needs, governments can build trust and deliver the assurances their communities need most in times of crisis. Oracle Digital Response for Constituents simplifies government communication with a solution that citizens can rely on to get instant, personalized advice that is up-to-date and consistent. Easy to administer and quick to deploy within days, Oracle’s solution eases the burden on government employees by redirecting constituents to intelligent self-service portals for complex issues, while enabling delivery of government services and guidance 24x7 via a multitude of digital channels. Government Service Continuity: Large and small government entities are challenged to function efficiently as more employees work remotely. To do so, it is becoming increasingly important to break down silos across various departments within the organization. Rising to this challenge requires new collaboration tools that enable prioritization, assignment, tracking, and execution of different workstreams. Oracle CX enables employees to function virtually using simple yet powerful service request, workflow, knowledge management, and intelligent advisor solutions. Learn more about Oracle’s “Virtual City Hall” solution recently launched for cities. Agile Recovery: Oracle Agile Recovery supports crisis recovery programs and processes end-to-end. Real-time, personalized advice across channels (including web, mobile, chat, among others) help constituents understand what support and benefits are available to them. Sophisticated applicant data verification helps to determine eligibility, calculate payments, and eliminate fraud and error. And, outcome analysis ensures initiatives are meeting intended goals, while case management assures unique long-term cases are managed effectively. By deploying these programs at scale, governments can assure constituents will receive what they need to recover quickly.   Oracle’s solutions can be delivered very quickly to assist with the pandemic crisis.  Oracle’s secure Cloud platform offers best-in-class security, compliance, elasticity and performance guarantees to ensure governments continue functioning effectively in normal and crisis environments. Learn more about how Oracle’s Government 2.0 solutions can help by clicking here. Click here to learn about Oracle's Virtual City Hall solution    

Shelter-in-place orders are making it difficult for governments to continue operations at a time when citizens and businesses need more support and services than during normal times. Government...

Customer Experience Strategy

Path to CX Excellence for B2C Marketers

My colleagues and I have recently been writing about “The Path to CX Excellence,” and the importance of brands thinking differently about their customers’ experiences (CX). One point of view we share is that brands today need to think about customer experience as the key point of differentiation to successfully attract, retain, and grow long term customer relationships. How every brand can have best-in-class experiences and set itself apart is unique for each organization. Leading the product marketing team for Oracle’s B2C CX Marketing solutions, I spend a lot of time speaking with marketers about how to improve their customer experiences and their ability to outcompete. Brand Evolution in the Experience Economy As business trends change and evolve, so do the expectations and reactions of the modern consumer. In today’s Experience Economy, customers expect brands to know them better than they know themselves! Customers expect seamless and personalized digital experiences across any channels at any time of day. Brands have always understood the value of deep customer relationships but more recently, they’ve been understanding how important a consistent, relevant, and timely experience is to retaining and growing their best customers. From the consumer point of view, the experience itself likely matters more today than the product or service being sold when deciding which brand to do business with. Customer data is the foundation of delivering a differentiated customer experience and boosting the brand’s revenues. The question for a brand is, “Where to start?” Marketing is highly complex and made up of dozens, if not hundreds of systems and touchpoints. If every engagement must be improved, how do you break down the problem so a successful plan can be built and executed? We understand how overwhelming this can be, and Oracle and our partners are dedicated to helping our customers navigate these complex paths and plans. One of our recent innovations is a maturity model that helps marketers assess the current state of their marketing, and create a defined vision for how to improve.  This “Path to Marketing Excellence” is the unique journey we see all marketers take when trying to achieve their goals by improving their customer engagements. Stage 1-  B2C Broadcast Marketing Every marketing practitioner wants to drive the best results for their business in the most efficient ways. Some of the highest returns for marketers beginning this journey is to increase their marketing efficiency through automation. Most marketers start out trying to increase their audience reach in well-established channels such as email. This leads to “batch and blast” one-size-fits-all emails with volume as the primary goal.  Many brands that exist in this state still find success in their campaigns because email outreach remains a primary and productive means of engaging consumers, and they can use marketing automation to increase their production efficiency and ROI. Marketers at this stage commonly experience difficulty scaling broadcast marketing initiatives over time.  Focusing only on increasing production efficiencies and growing your lists, leads to issues with sender reputation, opt-outs, and SPAM reports. As volume increases but relevancy doesn’t improve, more consumers are turned off by your messages and engage less over time. For this reason, marketers who have been operating at this level look to improve their results by moving to the next stage. Stage 2-  B2C Responsive Marketing Today’s consumers drive innovation and for them, every moment matters. Marketers must strive to build customer relationships in the narrow windows of time that consumers engage with your brand. Customers live on email, social, web, and offline channels, providing marketers multiple opportunities to increase engagement, improve conversions, and shorten the buying cycle. An email-only outreach method falls short with customers when you limit your engagement to only this single facet of their lives. Your customers expect you to engage with them across any channel of their choosing. Once you improve your baseline efficiencies in your primary marketing channels, you must branch out to engage in all possible channels a consumer might choose. In Responsive Marketing, a team evolves beyond simple marketing automation and begins to focus on improving conversion rates and optimizing customer journeys. The winning marketing teams I speak to find multiple paths to making marketing more responsive and in tune with consumer needs. One of the first ways is to add segmentation to transform batch and blast marketing. Segmenting target audiences allows marketing to tailor experiences that fit more closely with the specific interests of the consumer, rather than a one-size-fits-all engagement approach. CX can improve by making those segmented campaigns adaptive, and allowing different paths for different consumers based on their activities and interests. Expanding the outreach across all of the channels that matter helps consumers feel closer to getting exactly what they need at the right time and channel. Triggered marketing and behavioral re-targeting can be deployed to re-engage the consumer at the moment they show interest, and respond in a relevant and beneficial way. Many successful marketing teams at this level are engaging consumers across the channels that matter, and run sophisticated tests to optimize experiences. So, what motivates a marketing leader to continue pushing forward? The consumer and their expectations remain the motivating force. Consistency is a big factor for customer satisfaction with their brands. Consumers expect their experiences to be ever more tailored and relevant over time. Finding different offers, advice and information as they traverse email, mobile and web, leads to disconnected experiences and dissatisfied, less trusting consumers. The potential for disjointed messages across time or channels is the primary reason for marketing to keep pushing forward. “Customers don’t care if you claim you have omni-channel or multi-channel capabilities. They only care that they can connect with you, the way they want to connect with you, and when they want to connect with you. They go through the channel that’s easiest and most convenient for them.”  (Shep Hyken, Forbes) Stage 3 – B2C Relationship Marketing Relationship Marketing is the level where the success of consumer engagements are judged by how well they promote or detract from building long-term customer relationships. A chief part of the challenge at this stage is how to scale up the personalization already underway. This is where humans may struggle to keep up with the scope and speed of the information needed to understand and adapt to consumer behavior and context. Marketing begins to view success not just with KPIs such as ‘open’ or ‘conversion rates’, but in more holistic, consumer-specific metrics such as ‘repeat purchase rate’ and ‘customer lifetime value.’ Consumers expect brands to know them across every interaction and channel. Therefore, marketers need real-time data streams and solutions such as AI and machine learning to process and activate data fast enough to keep up with consumer expectations and actions. Brands that execute at this level understand the best consumer marketing experiences will determine which brands retain and grow their valuable customers. So, what would motivate a marketer to keep progressing? The answer, once again, lies in consumer expectations. Consumers don’t understand or care how the structure of your organization impacts their experiences. They just expect that whatever the context of their interaction with your brand, they’ll receive a consistent, relevant, and beneficial experience. If they engage with your support teams, they expect your marketing messages will reflect the context of their engagements. If they buy from your web site, they expect your loyalty program to be in tune and aware of their actions. Marketing must continuously evolve and improve, connecting across marketing, sales, loyalty, and service to fully understand the individual consumer experience and optimize it in real-time to changing customer conditions. The brands that  do this best will maximize revenue and customer lifetime value and build long-term customer loyalty. “To the customer, it’s all one big team: Customers don’t care which department they talk to when they need help. They just want to get their questions answered and their problems resolved.”  (Shep Hyken, Forbes) Stage 4- B2C Lifecycle Engagement Delivering a unified brand experience across all consumer touchpoints is the ultimate goal for almost every organization. This reduces customer churn and maximizes customer lifetime value by delivering a relevant, consistent, and timely experience at every interaction. Central to this stage of the journey is a data-first approach to understanding each individual consumer across every part of your organization. You must bring together information from their front office digital footprints, with other relevant information within your back-office systems. This data-centric, lifecycle focus, enables brands to continuously optimize experiences by gaining a deeper understanding of each person through all of the data signals they leave behind. To achieve this lifecycle awareness requires a complete and comprehensive customer profile, seamlessly connected in real-time across all touchpoints. An advanced orchestration layer must activate this information in real-time to deliver the most personalized, relevant, consistent, and timely experiences at any time or place a consumer wishes to engage. Brand loyalty is built not from short-term offers or discounts, but from a collection of beneficial experiences that add value to a consumer’s life. The most advanced marketers and business leaders understand this shift and the need to be at the leading edge of how brand differentiation and distinction is changing. The winners will be the brands who build trusted and loyal customer relationships where the customer experience itself sets the brand apart from the competition. “Delivering a meaningful and effortless CX can create and sustain customer satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy. It also increases customer lifetime value and improves profitability because it can cut customer acquisition costs and boost revenue.” -Gartner    

My colleagues and I have recently been writing about “The Path to CX Excellence,” and the importance of brands thinking differently about their customers’ experiences (CX). One point of view we share...

Customer Experience Strategy

Work from Home Will Become The New Normal: Are You Prepared?

Coauthored by Joe Testa, OpenMethods As organizations and government agencies grapple with work from home (WFH) strategies for their employees, often customer service agents, one thing is certain: these strategies will play a significant role in the future of the customer experience. While COVID-19 has forced many organizations into a WFH strategy – and a crash course in digital transformation – some organizations were already on this journey. As we move past COVID-19, organizations must prepare some form of full or partial WFH strategy. Or, at a minimum, be prepared to respond to the inevitable next disruption. Regardless, there is no going back to the old ways of doing business. As organizations think about the long-term viability of sending their agents home to work, consider these benefits that might lead you to adopt this strategy permanently: Business Continuity & Flexibility – Many contact centers struggle with addressing real-time variances in forecasted incidents and have limited capabilities to manage the impact on their customers. WFH strategies allow organizations to think about business continuity differently. This approach, for example, can reduce time associated with commuting or provide flexibility for part-time scheduling, giving organizations the ability to respond to staffing impacts more quickly. In Case of Emergency (Or Disaster), Break Glass – As organizations rethink how they respond to a significant business impact, WFH is set to become the standard to address call center disaster recovery needs or responses to major dislocations. With disbursed or distributed workforces, organizations can better manage specific geographic locations and provide a network of agents to support when customers need it the most. Talent Acquistion and Retention – WFH is becoming more of a necessity for some organizations to attract and retain a workforce in the gig economy. We’ve seen organizations that move to a WFH model significantly reduce employee turnover and increase job satisfaction. Furthermore, organizations can often attract a more skilled set of agents by broadening recruiting, allowing for more targeted searches and more accurate profile matching. This is particularly important for retailers looking for seasonal hires. By using a “just in time” model, they avoid the cost incurred with larger lead times created by restricting geographic hiring pools around brick-and-mortar facilities. “One of the most positive impacts of a WFH strategy I’ve seen comes from my time running customer experience for one of the nation’s largest sporting goods retailers. Our only call center had previously been located in a Houston suburb and we had just rolled out our WFH program a few months before Hurricane Harvey struck. As a result, we observed absolutely no service degradation during a critical time when our customers needed us most (for Hurricane preparedness items). Not only were we there for our customers, but we were there for our associates who could continue to work and see a paycheck during a very challenging time.” With the above benefits, it’s also important for organizations to consider the strategic and tactical challenges of moving to this model. The following are some of the system and process changes to keep in mind: Compliance Automation – There will justifiably be concern over how an organization will manage quality assurance in a new WFH world. For example,when an agent works in a centralized contact center or in a brick-and-mortar facility, they manage compliance (performance, quality and policy adherence) in a specific way. In addition, an agent supervisor has the benefit of walking around, having centralized management and enforcing policies. A new WFH approach requires a novel way of thinking and a broadened sense of compliance automation as a strategic advantage. Organizations should turn to technologies that are best suited to increase process capacity and compliance by automating much of what an agent would otherwise do manually to reduce complexity, mitigate agent errors, and avoid deviation from policy and procedures. These capabilities include guided assistance, a unified agent desktop with enhanced data integration, agent usability, knowledge management and incident management. By automating manual entries and routing agents through correct workflows, organizations can enable agent compliance in a distributed environment and provide the best resolution for customer engagements. Communication Enablement – In a centralized contact center setting, there is typically an agency supervisor ready and available to assist as needed. There is also a command center resource to address any scheduling adherence in real-time and in-person. However, in a more distributed call center environment, communicating daily changes, such as store hours/closures, new protocols or time-to-ship expectations, can challenge an organization’s communication strategy. Enabling capabilities such as push notifications to all or select agents, while allowing real-time changes to prompts and messaging as a condition evolves can help address this challenge. In addition, robust workflow and scripting capabilities combined with knowledge management strategies can ensure organizations are providing agents with the most current and up-to-date information. Agent Training & Enablement – Organizations that develop a stronger usability practice that more deeply understands agent and customer journeys can reduce training time by combining usability practice with the use of world class automation and workflow capabilities. Supporting the real-time creation of intuitive and automated resolution journeys and significantly reducing the need for point and click training helps agents focus more on the customer and their needs. A WFH strategy can significantly improve your customer and employee experience. We’ve seen such benefits as: Reduced agent churn and increased agent tenure Improved employee and customer satisfaction scores by 40% Reduced operation costs by 32% When we reach the other side of the current pandemic, the world of work and customer experience will have dramatically changed. Click here to learn how Oracle CX Service and Open Methods can help you proactively transform your agent workforce and be ready for the next planned or unplanned disruption.          

Coauthored by Joe Testa, OpenMethods As organizations and government agencies grapple with work from home (WFH) strategies for their employees, often customer service agents, one thing is certain:...

Customer Experience Technology

5 Ways Oracle CX Commerce Enables Business Flexibility

Each one of us has had to pivot in the last few months and find ways to navigate massive disruption. In digital commerce, disruption may be the status quo, but the keys to success during any transition are the ability to be flexible, agile and creative. Today’s climate makes the value of being nimble abundantly clear. To grow during unpredictable times, your business needs the flexibility to serve new needs, broaden your reach, test new strategies and scale for minimal effort and cost. When we built Oracle CX Commerce, our goal was to enable B2B and retail brands to quickly pivot in a dynamic, complex and rapidly changing market. Turns out that our customers are doing exactly that! Here are 5 ways Oracle CX Commerce customers have expanded their commerce footprint. 1.  Expand what you can handle. There has been an unprecedented surge in online traffic as buyers adjust to how they purchase. With store closures and shelter-in-place mandates, consumers are staying (and shopping) at home in mass. With B2B, buyers need self-service to keep their businesses moving. This digital shift as the core of business growth is not going away. A food distributor had site traffic increase 205% from February to April 2020 after increasing focus on direct-to-consumer sales. A retail customer saw average online daily sales increase 677% from February to April 2020 after temporarily closing retail storefronts. For our customers, serving a much larger online customer base overnight doesn’t mean buying servers, installing software or stressing about uptime.  It means Oracle takes care of it, elastically scaling to accommodate major increases in traffic volume without any disruption to site performance.  Our customers’ focus is solely on supporting their customers’ experience while CX Commerce makes them able to sell more and increase revenue. 2.  Expand your business using what you already own. Optimizing existing channels is important, but real growth comes from seizing opportunities when the market inevitably changes. Traditional business models are being disrupted. Distributors are temporarily closing their storefronts, therefore B2B manufacturers are selling direct to buyers. Same applies to consumer sales, where brands are going direct to shoppers as retail partners deal with store closures and uncertain futures. Meanwhile, our customers are creating new revenue streams on demand by leveraging their existing site. They can run B2C and B2B shopping experiences using the same platform. This means that to provision a new site, the brand can leverage and share existing layouts, widgets, catalogs, assets, customer profiles, merchandising rules, promotions and more. Launching a new site happens in hours and means re-using existing skills, components and integrations, and customizing what’s needed to distinguish the experience. Rapid site expansion also includes new brands, test programs, channels and locations. Retailers can launch pop-up shops, sub-brands, and test subscription programs using what they already own in a single instance of CX Commerce. 3.   Expand your global presence.  The ability to reach new markets fast opens up incredible opportunities for growth. If your organization sees an opportunity to bring products or services to a new part of the world, CX Commerce can customize an existing site and expand to a new country by supporting over 40 languages and 60 currencies with flexible payments options around the world. Numerous CX Commerce customers have quickly achieved a global presence, reaching new levels of profitability by serving new regions without starting from scratch. A single, centralized team can support global operations. Or, distributed teams can share components among themselves. 4.  Expand HQ-level productivity. Today’s work-from-home mandates are fueling tomorrow’s more-remote workforce. A huge benefit of the cloud is accessibility. Remote workers can access the same tools and perform the same tasks from anywhere, and productivity doesn’t lose a beat. With cloud-based commerce tools, business users can immediately update experiences to reflect changing circumstances, or, update site elements to capture opportunities. Business users can do it all from anywhere. Create new category pages with featured products. Enable localized offers and recommendations. Publishing content that communicates your corporate ethos Monitor near real-time analytics. Expanding your team is important. So is attracting new talent that can work from anywhere. CX Commerce is a modern, API-first platform that leverages micro-services and standards-based languages. This means you can cast a wide net and easily expand your team when looking to hire. No proprietary skills or languages are required. 5.  Expand 1:1 experiences. Retail and B2B commerce teams are striving to maintain normalcy for customers while stores and supply chains are disrupted. If a buyer’s experience is frictionless in a time of need, you may win a customer for life. CX Commerce allows business users to scale responsive selling experiences that adapt to every buyer, in real time.  Enriching lifetime data with live buyer clicks and supplemental behavioral data, sellers can deliver a bespoke experience to every single buyer, wherever they’re purchasing.  Personalization at scale is made possible by a balance of automation and hands-on control. Scaling targeted experiences to anonymous and known shoppers makes them feel known and values their time – and pays off big for sellers. A CX Commerce customer has recently seen its AOV increase 45%. Whether you run a B2B commerce program and need custom catalogs, offers, pricing and workflow, or are a B2C brand looking to deliver targeted product recommendations and offers, CX Commerce expands the group you deliver 1:1 experiences to include everyone. Buyers are used to getting what they want, on their terms. From here on out, digital commerce will be their go-to choice for purchasing. Commerce organizations need the agility of a young startup, even if they’re a generations-old company. In stable and unpredictable environments, there’s huge value in controlling costs and uptime while launching new revenue streams. Today’s winners are reliably delivering responsive selling experiences at scale.  Those struggling will have to keep pivoting. To learn more about how CX Commerce is impacting our customers’ businesses, head over to Oracle Customer Connect. (registration required) Oracle is in the Leader's Quadrant again in the latest Gartner Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce. Click to read now. (email address required)

Each one of us has had to pivot in the last few months and find ways to navigate massive disruption. In digital commerce, disruption may be the status quo, but the keys to success during any...

Customer Experience Strategy

The Path to CX Excellence for Service Organizations

My number one pet peeve when I call into a customer service department is one that I think everyone can relate to. You call the customer service number, carefully select your path through a maze of options, and explain your problem. This can take a while. You then find out that you have to be transferred to someone else and have to repeat everything you have just told the first representative you spoke to!  Being the customer experience diva that I am, I have no problem expressing my frustration every time this happens. It’s my time that I feel is not being valued. There’s got to be a better way! Running a customer service organization is not for the faint-hearted.  Companies have to satisfy their customers – while maintaining a close eye on service KPIs and protecting revenues. What’s more, consumers have become accustomed to getting answers at digital speed and experience. They expect instant gratification and want to choose how they engage with you.  When they don’t get the level of service they expect, they can share their bad experience via social media, which can go viral and damage a brand’s reputation.  This is all part of pleasing modern consumers in what Oracle calls the “Experience Economy.” The Experience Economy is driven by the way the world works today. People expect physical goods to arrive at their doors in a matter of hours, not days – and they expect answers to arrive on their mobile screens in a matter of milliseconds. In the Experience Economy, the customer is the innovator, not the enterprise. Technology lets customers create very personalized experiences. As people become more comfortable and facile with technology, they will create new ways of managing their daily lives and online experiences. And they will expect that kind of flexibility from every company they do business with. To be a world-class service organization in this 'Experience Era,” companies need to take care of the requirements of business, their customers and their service teams. It’s a careful balancing act to make sure that service employees are properly equipped and empowered to do their job while providing that human touch that customers expect today. That “human” element is, in many cases, now powered by deploying and scaling technology and automation – delicately, and strategically.   The Path to Service Nirvana It all starts with data. When I ask customers, “are you managing the data created by every customer point?”  I hear more “no” than “yes.” #1 – Inbound service is what most of us have been used to since the inception of a service department. You walk into a brick-and-mortar store. You talk to a cashier or a manager to resolve your grievance. Or, you call a service number. Their mindset is equivalent to putting out fires. Even in 2020, it's sadly familiar to repeat your information to a tele-rep. It’s like dealing with multiple companies.  This basic level of service is usually a team of contact center agents who are trained to react and resolve inbound inquiries. From an operational standpoint, these service departments implement processes and tactically manage data to understand how quickly they can resolve inbound inquiries. This approach is grounded in outdated measurement practices that don’t consider other customer touch points, nor propel the business forward. These management practices were designed before technology opened a new array of service options. To build a service foundation, you still need to master this step but also centralize your contact center applications to ensure you’re as efficient as possible when it comes to responding and closing inbound inquiries. Once organizations master inbound service, it’s time to look at automation and limited self-service capabilities to answer basic questions at scale. But in the experience economy, that won’t quite cut it.  Even though we’re all glued to our phones, we still crave to engage with people.  Any company that wants to go to the next level needs to balance humanity with that automation.  #2 – Foundational Service is a critical step where service organizations drive efficiencies and expand new interaction channels. Specifically, this means moving from a team of agents who resolve customer inquiries to a team that does so in the most efficient way possible by leveraging technology.  Teams scale their efforts by making knowledge available to customers and employees so answers are consistent across all touchpoints, whether in person or digital. A dynamic agent desktop connects all instances of service history from across different locations and applications.   A customer portal helps customers answer things on their own. A live chat bot interactively engages customers and guides them toward self-resolution.   A commerce web site has a chat pop-out that helps customers. You can automate several of these processes (e.g. answer a question, fill out a form) and this data resides in your service solution. This stage marks the first step toward delivering an integrated CX stack. Touchpoints across service teams are established and data from sales and marketing is connected to form a more comprehensive customer understanding. #3 – Advanced Service is maturing toward excellence when the organization connects all customer data as part of their service strategy. However, it’s not enough to just drive efficiencies when responding to customers. We have to respond on the right channel and calibrate our communications with each individual customer. Whether adding or removing them from marketing emails, upselling value-add products or thanking them for their business.  It’s about providing value and owning the customer relationship at every single touch.   Service agents make an impact in the business because they have a 360-degree understanding of each customer. Equipped with a conversational interface that personalizes each customer interaction, they’re empowered to fully help and resolve the customer’s issues and identify opportunities to enhance the customer experience.   At Oracle, we’ve seen the boost in service insights and increased efficiencies of 50% in handling customer requests through chat and knowledge. Some customers have reduced the burden on their contact center by as much as 40% and reduced average handling time by 50% with policy automation.  These results produce happier customers and significant cost savings. #4 Beyond Service means the new level of service transcends customer expectations and makes the brand stand out from the rest. Powered by data, and fueled by innovation and ingenuity, organizations at this stage leverage insights across all touchpoints and connected devices to deliver service engagements that were not possible just 5 years ago. Augmented reality helps customers and service employees by transposing images, information and content to form a customer's point of view. IoT device data proactively updates software that improves the customer experience and demonstrates "hands off" product innovation. Real time information equips service employees with a single, dynamic view of the customer. There isn’t a one size fits all approach at this stage. Instead, it’s an evolution to deliver the best service that makes sense for your business – and of course, it all revolves around data! Most importantly, we believe this can mean something different to every business, and the future of service will continually be reshaped as we partner with leading service organizations to get there together. In Conclusion Differentiating your brand with proactive, predictive service functions is now a reality. Service organizations that want to delight and keep customers should incrementally move through the milestones on the path to CX Excellence.  Service teams are positioned as trusted advisors. The brand provides value at every touch point. And customers are delighted at each and every step. Click to read the Forrester report  The Forrester Wave™: Customer Service Solutions, Q2 2019 Click to learn all about Oracle CX Service This is the latest in a series of blogs that expound on how organizations can use data to provide great customers experiences and profit in the experience economy.Click here for the first, which describes the concepts in this idea.  The second describes the path for B2B marketing while the third is for sales excellence.  The fourth is the path to excellence for field marketing organizations.        

My number one pet peeve when I call into a customer service department is one that I think everyone can relate to. You call the customer service number, carefully select your path through a maze of...

Customer Experience Technology

Oracle CX Sales Users Leverage Personal Assistant to Perform CRM Updates

Did you know that 79% of opportunity-related data collected by sales reps is never entered into their CRM?  That’s not hard to believe. Your reps’ days are busy and it’s hard for them to find the time to log into the CRM to make updates. As a result, business critical CRM data falls through the cracks. Here at Oracle, we make tools carefully designed for how sellers like to work. In fact, we empower reps to work from the systems and devices they already use, giving them a simple path to access and update CRM data. Well, last month, Microsoft announced that Microsoft Teams, their communication and collaboration platform, had 44 million daily active users, up from 20 million in November.   Putting the “I” in Teams With more and more CX Sales users leveraging Microsoft Teams, Oracle remains committed to empowering reps to work from the systems they already use. This is why Oracle is putting the “I” in teams with our out-of-the-box Oracle Sales Assistant integration with Microsoft Teams. The integration eliminates the need for a sales rep to switch between the two applications. Now, sales reps can update Oracle CX Sales directly in Teams simply by engaging the Oracle Sales Assistant, our chatbot designed to help sellers automate tasks. Updating the CRM has never been easier and now your business has access to all of the data it needs to remain competitive, making sure much less data falls through the cracks. Within Microsoft Teams, sales reps can: •    Leverage the Oracle Sales Assistant to view, create, and update tasks, appointments, opportunities, service requests, accounts & contacts •    Create an opportunity team to collaborate on an ongoing opportunity •    Set up push notifications and reminders to take action on upcoming events •    Receive real time alerts on account news via our account signal engine Oracle DataFox •    Quickly search for contacts, accounts, and opportunities leveraging smart lists that factor relevancy and user context into search results To learn more, click to read the press release. To leverage the integration with your current CX Sales environment, reach out to your Oracle account manager today.  

Did you know that 79% of opportunity-related data collected by sales reps is never entered into their CRM?  That’s not hard to believe. Your reps’ days are busy and it’s hard for them to find the...

Ask the Experts

Hold Onto Your Partner!

Judy Brocato “Would Beats by Dre – pay $20K for us to say that they are great?” Recording costs for this whole song could all be paid by Beats by Dre…” Unbeknownst to Dr. Dre, another billboard artist had published a song that inadvertently promoted his headphones. AJR may not be the most popular band, but on Spotify alone, they have a monthly following of 6.7 Million listeners.   Not all of us have the fame or luxury like Dr. Dre where random artists are popularizing our products, so we have to think more strategically on our methods and channels we use to sell our services. Think Differently: Partners First Believe it or not, your partner strategy and investment in partner tools may be even more important than your internal direct-sales strategy. Your internal sales team works for you. Your partners don’t. Internal sales are incentivized by your company and although it would be great if you had the best tools to enable them to optimize sales, they will find a way to sell regardless of your modern tools; albeit maybe not optimizing your potential. Partners are different. In most industries, if you don’t make it easy for them to sell your products or services, then they have alternatives and may be promoting your competitors or leave you altogether. Let me provide a brief explanation of how Partner Relationship Management (PRM) can work for you; to not only sell for you but also add more value than you would ever have known was possible.  Let’s start with planning. Partner Planning What do you know about your partners? Do you even know who they are? Do you know exactly how valuable your partners are? How likely are you to lose your partners to competitors? You first want to understand what you already have and where you want to go. What type of Partners do you already have? Create a list your Partner Types and Channels. i.e.  Agents, Branding, Consultants, Contractors, Delivery, Fulfillment, Field Service, Lead Generators, Marketing, Resellers. Once you have figured out your partner types, you want to consider the following for each type: Do you have a partner portal for your Channel Partners to log into to access important information, place orders, send or accept leads? How do you track success of each partner and partner type? Do you have a unique business plan for each partner or each partner type? How do you rank partners? Do you assess and score them? Do you promote top partners and alternatively provide additional support to new or under-performers? How do you train partners, standardize communication, and track certifications? How do you make it easy to co-brand your content with your partner’s services?  Does your co-branding promote your business and make your partner look good? Can you share development funds and campaigns? Can you perform SWOT analysis at a partner or at their customer level? If your partners are required to register their deals, how is deal registration tracked? Are all of your customer orders, information, customer data seamlessly integrated into your back-end systems? Answering these questions and prioritizing the key areas that fit to your overall business objectives will guide your partner plan and strategy. Each question above is an opportunity for your improvement. Whether you already have a partner program in place or are in the beginning stages, there is so much opportunity for growth and improvement when you have the right tools to enable your strategy. I highly recommend reviewing a demo of what PRM capabilities are available to you and understanding the potential financial impact these solutions can provide to your organization.  Making it easy for your partners to work for you promotes your business and makes them look good. The softer benefits of loyalty, branding, partner and employee satisfaction are additional music to the ears. Dr. Dre may not be tracking the benefits from his unknown “partner’s” viral promotion, but maybe he should. Perhaps he could track the type of revenue attributed to these few AJR fans and see how to capitalize more on this channel should sales ever slump. At $200-$350 a pair, it wouldn’t take long to pay off AJR’s recording costs. As in the words of the teenage AJR fan in my household (who owns a pair of Beats-by-Dre), “I’m just sayin’.” PRM is in my Top 3 Top Oracle Cloud Add-ons that add value to the business as the pay-off from the benefits greatly exceed the low licensing costs.  My KPI list below shows a sampling of benefit areas typically improved with a PRM solution. •    Margins – Up-sell & Cross-sell •    Win ratios •    Partner satisfaction rates •    Partner training time •    Program enrollment rates •    C-SAT Scores •    Conversion rates (Lead/Opp) •    Increased sales efficiency •    Increased time-to-market •    MDF optimization rates •    Loyalty •    Error rates •    Data quality error rates This post originally appeared on Judy’s CX Business Value Blog. It is being published here with permission from the author.    

Judy Brocato “Would Beats by Dre – pay $20K for us to say that they are great?” Recording costs for this whole song could all be paid by Beats by Dre…” Unbeknownst to Dr. Dre, another billboard artist...

Ask the Experts

Movable Ink and Oracle CX Help Marketers Create Data-Driven Experiences at Scale

More than 700 of the world’s most innovative brands rely on Movable Ink’s visual experience platform to automate the creation of personalized experiences for each customer across channels. I recently spoke with Bill Reinwald, Associate Director of Business Development and Partnerships at Movable Ink to discuss how retail marketers can use Movable Ink to pull data from Oracle CX Commerce directly into those highly-personalized campaigns. NM: Tell me about Movable Ink and what makes your solution unique. BR: Movable Ink helps digital marketing leaders supercharge their martech stacks to power data-driven, personalized experiences at scale with an extensive offering of out-of-the box partner integrations. Marketers can free their data from silos to generate intelligent creative with millions of unique variations. We’re a flexible system that allows for a marketer to input any data source and output infinite variations of a creative. I consider our platform to be an indispensable tool in the marketer’s tool belt. NM: Can you give an overview of Movable Ink’s integrations with Oracle? BR: Most people are probably familiar with our integration with Oracle Responsys, which allows marketers to insert Movable Ink’s content into Responsys-powered emails. We also integrate with CrowdTwist, a loyalty provider recently acquired by Oracle, to activate loyalty data within emails. Our newest integration allows marketers to access product information that’s stored in Oracle CX Commerce. When you think about a website with the product catalog, its hierarchy and the categories structure are all managed within a commerce cloud. Our integration allows CX Commerce users to tap into that data via an API and incorporate real-time product information into their campaigns. NM: What are some other ways marketers can use Movable Ink and Oracle CX Commerce in their campaigns? BR: Together, we help marketers make experiences as seamless as possible for the end-user. For example. marketers can integrate real-time inventory and product details like images, descriptions, and pricing. Marketers can even use this integration to ensure the product recommendations in an email campaign are in-stock or to enable more advanced capabilities like showing inventory by location or offering in-store pickup. As we explore more of the APIs and the capabilities that of Oracle CX Commerce, there’s potential to use an individual’s past purchases history to create more relevant marketing experiences. Marketers can also bring the three pillars together, incorporate Movable Ink with Oracle’s Loyalty, eCommerce, and ESP solutions to create a more integrated approach for their campaigns. NM: How does Movable Ink provide a better experience for eCommerce customers? BR: We help marketers increase their return on investment. The average email marketing manager can sit at their desks and use Movable Ink, and at the end of that project, they can report back to their superiors. With Movable Ink, DSW saw a 13% lift in engagement. That’s a huge story for any marketer. Movable Ink & Oracle Success Story: United Airlines On the other hand, you have time savings and efficiency. Our platform allows marketers to create countless creative variations, which opens up time to strategize. Our platform also helps marketers get the most out of the investments they’ve made. Marketers tend to have disjointed systems. Being able to activate the data in those different systems and incorporate it all into a single campaign is a game-changer. That’s where the Movable Ink stands out: our platform acts as the connecting piece between data sources. NM: How do you think Oracle and Movable Ink complement each other? BR: Brands have their own individual strategies and data. Not every Oracle Commerce Cloud integration for a client is going to look the same. Technically, our team is flexible and can work with any API to design a solution that is customized for the client using it. Our team is able to adapt to each brand’s challenges, strategies, and data to create customized solutions, and that’s definitely a benefit for the marketers involved. The Movable Ink platform can pull in data from any source and activate it in real-time, and for Oracle customers, we can make it even easier to access data directly from Commerce Cloud and seamlessly incorporate it into email campaigns. NM: What’s one piece of advice you would give to marketers in 2020? BR: Be open-minded to trying new things. Testing new technologies or new use cases may seem daunting, but the right team can make it painless and can help you prove the value of your ideas and help you scale to your full potential. Click to read about "The Impact of Emerging Technology on CX Excellence" and learn what over 400 global CX leaders are doing with AI, chatbots, virtual reality, and IoT. In light of COVID-19, Movable Ink’s Critical Messaging App is now available at no cost to Movable Ink clients.        

More than 700 of the world’s most innovative brands rely on Movable Ink’s visual experience platform to automate the creation of personalized experiences for each customer across channels. I recently...

Customer Experience Strategy

How Companies Can Rethink the Customer Experience Amid Current Conditions

Five years ago, a peer of mine opened a yoga studio with her husband. Within a year, their business grew to a point where her partner was able to leave his investment banking job and focus fully on their joint venture. That success was interrupted this year by COVID-19, which forced the studio to close its physical doors. But they didn’t shut down operations. They pivoted to an online, stay-at-home service model with subscriptions for live and on-demand classes. This change has sustained the business and allowed the couple to reach clients in multiple continents. After hearing their story, I wondered: “How will the coronavirus change the way other industries do business?” During March, brick and mortar retailers began closing stores across North America. As a result of social distancing, grocery delivery services saw incredible demand that pushed their workforces to capacity. The job market has responded with hiring increases across not just the grocery business, but also healthcare, package delivery, telecom, and other industries. The key takeaway? Businesses now have the chance to reduce their losses and better serve their customers through new channels. Specifically, they can do this by providing digital, self-service customer experiences. Several months ago, I met the VP of sales from a North American construction materials manufacturer who provided insight on representatives’ time spent on small, transactional reorders. These interactions drove up selling costs and reduced reps’ time on strategic deals. Even before no-contact orders became a health imperative, he understood the value that focus could bring his organization. Consultancy McKinsey cites e-commerce as one of several ways companies can reimagine the way they endure difficult times and simultaneously support their customers. Buying stuff isn’t the only thing affected by this global health crisis. Amid stay-at-home mandates, companies have to worry about insufficient headcount to carry on basic operations.  A peer recently told me about a service call he had with a major airline where he waited 2 hours to speak with a representative before the last leg of his transatlantic flight. Sounds exhausting, but at least he made it home safely. There are firms that are helping their customers and service teams combat this fatigue. For example, Exelon deployed a 24/7 chatbot in less than two weeks, improving its ability to quickly respond to customer requests such as billing and service outages. This could apply to numerous other industries. Exelon Readies AI Driven Chatbots for Millions of Customers Firms aren’t limiting their efforts to point solutions like chatbots. Many are undergoing big transformations to bring digital, self-service experiences to their clients, customers, and constituents. Two years ago, a large South American healthcare insurance company recognized a problem with meeting time-to-market goals. Customers had difficulty with the buying experience and service levels were below acceptable standards. To solve the problem, the insurer sold directly through e-commerce and utilized omnichannel services. The results were 2 million new online plan configurations per month. The company also dramatically increased its call center deflection rates. Every industry will face different challenges as we move through this time of uncertain buying and service behaviors. This uncertainty will create challenges, but also allow space for opportunities to re-evaluate the models organizations use to create great experiences for their customers. Based on what I’ve seen in the marketplace, these next-generation experiences will start with digital self-service throughout the customer lifecycle. Click here to learn more about how Oracle is committed to our customers and partners during these trying times.  Have You Joined The Experience Economy? Consider These 4 Tenets  

Five years ago, a peer of mine opened a yoga studio with her husband. Within a year, their business grew to a point where her partner was able to leave his investment banking job and focus fully on...

Customer Experience Strategy

The Path to CX Excellence for Field Service

Imagine your internet stops working. You call your provider and make arrangements for a technician to come to your home and fix it. When the scheduled day comes, you can’t leave your house until they arrive. It's stressful to wait. You’re unable to predict the actual time of their supposedly ‘scheduled’ visit. The whole ordeal is miserable. It wasn’t so long ago that broken Internet service was an issue I think my family experienced more often than the average American household! Nonetheless, waiting for our technician was agonizing because it seemed like an eternity waiting for them to arrive.  Sometimes, we often thought they forgot us and never called to notify us!   Fortunately, things have changed. Field service is undergoing a massive transformation. You can now order a field service delivery on your mobile device as conveniently as a ride-sharing app and choose a time that works for your busy schedule. The reason for this transformation and our heightened expectations can be explained by the customer-focused climate that we live in, which Oracle calls the “Experience Economy.” The Experience Economy is driven by the way the world works today. People expect physical goods to arrive at their doors in a matter of hours, not days – and they expect answers to arrive on their mobile screens in a matter of milliseconds. In the Experience Economy, the customer is the innovator, not the enterprise. Technology lets customers create very personalized experiences. As people become more comfortable and facile with technology, they will create new ways of managing their daily lives and online experiences. And they will expect that kind of flexibility from every company they do business with. Customer Service is a Brand Experience Customer service experiences influence our perceptions of a brand. 73% of consumers say a good experience is key in influencing their brand loyalties while 77% of consumers say that bad customer experiences diminish their quality of life! Waiting around for something to be fixed is frustrating. In the Experience Economy, reliable field service organizations that deliver exceptional service experiences differentiate their brand, capture more market share, and drive revenue. The path to CX excellence for Field Service has four stages. Winners will evolve from a traditional, reactive and dispatch-focused model to be a fully optimized, proactive field service operation that drives the business. This is the latest in a series of blogs that describe how organizations can build a culture of customer experience excellence. Click here for the first, which describes the concepts in this idea.  The second describes this path for B2B marketing while the third is for sales excellence. #1 Inbound Field Service is where the path to Field Service excellence begins. This is where field service organizations mostly just resolve incoming requests. Their primary directive is to minimize customer churn and typically use phone and email to engage with customers. Field service is siloed from the rest of the business and is restricted by paper-based, manual processes. Thus, field service teams have a hard time delivering timely and cost-effective services.  Inefficient planning lowers fleet capacity and hinders an organization’s ability to complete all of its jobs each day, creating a service backlog. Organizations haven’t yet realized the time and cost saving benefits that come from deploying scheduling automation software. Thus, they cannot achieve scale. Dispatch teams are slowed by manual processes and disconnected applications. They struggle to keep up with the growing number of incoming requests, leading to poor service experiences and frustration for customers and employees alike. To increase customer satisfaction and grow the business, organizations improve operational efficiencies. #2 Foundational Field Service moves toward real time management of field service engagements. Field service is less reactive and more controlled as procedures and processes are established to improve operational efficiencies. Field service organizations improve request management by deploying automation for scheduling and routing of their mobile resources, paving a more streamlined approach. They expand support channels with the specific goal of increasing customer satisfaction and decreasing response time. As customer requests grow in volume and complexity, field service orgs start to drive costs down while enhancing the tech experience to resolve field service requests quickly and efficiently. Customer self-service and Knowledge Management become new tools in their arsenal to decrease the number of incoming service requests and improve the customer experience. As the field service organization matures, field service KPIs become more defined. Organizations use their enhanced visibility into the field to measure the efficiency of their operations by monitoring KPIs such as; first time fix rates, travel time, completed jobs per tech per day, percentage of on-time SLAs, response times, mean time to repair, and customer satisfaction. Most field service organizations do a good job of responding to customer requests. However, disconnects between the field and the rest of the organization remain because siloed applications prevent an integrated approach. Organizations notice the diminishing returns from homegrown and point solutions while customers feel the pain from fragmented experiences. According to Gartner, 90% of marketers still struggle to seamlessly connect more than three channels at a time, making consistent service and coordination a major challenge. This encourages them to keep pushing forward. #3 Advanced Field Service drives strategic change across the entire organization by leveraging all service interactions for insight and focuses more on the field service strategy. We see greater attention paid to driving efficiencies and using advanced automation for scheduling and planning to maximize and manage field capacity. Focused on increasing customer acquisition and retention, field service organizations adopt emerging technologies to provide better customer experiences and enhance mobile field capabilities like embedded knowledge applications that support requests inside and outside the firewall. Organizations realize the value that comes from connecting service applications and field services across different lines of business. An integrated operation brings real-time visibility across all of the necessary field service elements. There’s noticeable improved collaboration and increased accountability among teams. The field service organization extends its operational growth, positively impacting the wider business without compromising effective delivery of service promises and SLAs. From Cost Center to Profit Center By expanding interaction channels and improving operational efficiency, organizations reduce operating costs and connect more channels such as chat, social, sales and commerce. Field service is transformed into a revenue-focused line of business that takes advantage of all customer engagement opportunities to increase sales. This hyper-focus on the operational transformation from a cost center to a revenue-generating line of business drives field service organizations to the next step of maturity. #4 Autonomous Field Service uses predictive insights to fuel connected customer experiences. The customer journey extends beyond service and connects marketing, commerce and loyalty. Field service organizations have the whole customer journey in scope. All processes are coordinated to provide coherent, personalized customer experiences across all touch points. Field service teams add value to the business through product and service innovations that increase first-time fix rates and drive more revenue.   Leaders explore new ways to expand customer self-service options and deliver pre-emptive field service.  Internet of Things, AI, machine learning and augmented reality are used to predict customers’ issues before they happen.  Per IDC, there will be over 41 billion connected IoT devices by 2025, generating over 79ZB of data by 2025. This has the potential to have a huge influence on your field service operations and how it will define your company. 68% of consumers say it increases their perception of a brand when companies send them proactive customer service notifications. This step is characterized with pervasive knowledge available across every customer touchpoint, empowering an autonomous mobile workforce to be self-sufficient and customer-focused. Customers are proactively supported across their preferred channel. Organizations in the Autonomous stage are redefining field service experiences to exceed customer expectations, create brand loyalty, and capture new revenue streams. Companies that drive better customer experiences are seeing significant revenue growth relative to their competitors that don’t. Brands that provide a superior customer experience bring in 5.7 times more revenue than competitors that lag in customer experience. In the Experience Economy, the path to CX excellence is the path that leads to exceptional field service. Click to learn more about how to transform your field service operation into a Profit Center. Click to learn from over 400 global CX leaders and read how they're using AI, chatbots, VR, and IoT to improve performance across key CX metrics.  

Imagine your internet stops working. You call your provider and make arrangements for a technician to come to your home and fix it. When the scheduled day comes, you can’t leave your house until...

Customer Experience Technology

Seriously, Where is My Technician?

This blog, originally published Dec. 2, 2019, has been updated with a new video. Companies like Uber and Lyft have been around for a few years now, and the impact they’ve had on the customer experience and the expectations around service can’t be overstated. In fact, the term “uberization” has been so overused, there is a certain exhaustion that comes with every mention. But, the impact has been substantial. The expected experience these services have created has carried over into industries like Field Service. This shouldn’t come as a big surprise. Field Service is the perfect example of how moving toward a more “uberized” experience can create a huge competitive differentiator. Keeping customers informed throughout the entire lifecycle of a field service engagement is something that all companies strive for, but also where most fall short. While updates can be provided via voice, SMS, and e-mail, the gold standard is to provide customers with the option to visually track, in real-time, the mobile worker on a map. Oracle Field Service was built from the ground up to take the customer experience to the next level. Recently rated a Leader for the 6th consecutive time in the Gartner Magic Quadrant, the report ranks us highest in our ability to execute. Oracle takes another big step toward providing exceptional field service with the November 2019 (19D) Release. We’re introducing native “Where’s My Technician” functionality – demonstrating our ongoing commitment to vision, execution, and to building a solution that’s configurable and flexible enough to evolve rapidly as changing customer expectations. This feature allows users to configure an Uber-like experience for their customers that matches their own branding as well as helps them build an experience and notification rules that match their field service processes. Customers receive notifications via email and/or SMS. They can also now follow the progress of the ever-critical ‘last mile’ of the service lifecycle, just as if they hailed a ride or ordered a pizza. Oracle Field Service proactively engages customers with their relevant appointment details such as the technician who will be arriving onsite with up-to-date location details of him or her on a map. This allows for a safe and transparent experience that meets the ever-increasing demands of customers. In addition, “Where’s My Technician” helps to reduce costs by allowing users to configure the functionality within their field service solution without relying on a systems integrator. Finally, giving customers total visibility means they'll be prepared when their field service rep arrives - and sets field service employees up for success. If you are interested in learning more about how the “Where’s My Technician Tracker” can help reduce costs, improve customer satisfaction, and provide a competitive advantage for your company – be sure to check our release readiness pages. To learn more about this exciting new feature click here. To learn more about Oracle Field Service, visit https://www.oracle.com/applications/customer-experience/service/field-service-management.  

This blog, originally published Dec. 2, 2019, has been updated with a new video. Companies like Uber and Lyft have been around for a few years now, and the impact they’ve had on the customer experience...

Customer Experience Strategy

The Path to CX Excellence for Sales Professionals

When I finished my undergraduate degree, I entered a workforce unlike any I’d been prepared for. My class entered the job market at the height of the 2009 Great Recession. Looking back, I didn’t understand many of the struggles my friends and I would face, but I soon realized things weren’t going to be as planned. Hindsight may be 20/20, but one thing I’ve learned is that in order to thrive in any environment, we must adapt and evolve! This is the newest in a series of blogs that describe how organizations can build a culture of customer experience excellence. Click here for the first and here to read about B2B marketing excellence. In this, I describe how a Sales organization can adapt and evolve to best enable their sales organization in order to compete in what Oracle calls the “Experience Economy.”  The customer relationship with brands is in constant evolution. As marketing, sales, commerce, and service professionals, we're forced to adapt to these shifts or risk extinction. That's never been more true than it is today. We’re living in the Experience Economy, where your customers’ experience with your brand is inseparable from the value of the goods and services you provide. The Experience Economy is driven by the way the world works today. People expect physical goods to arrive at their doors in a matter of hours, not days – and they expect answers to arrive on their mobile screens in a matter of milliseconds. Before I graduated, I took an internship with the university where I promoted events for all visiting speakers, artists and musicians.  Even though I was a sales and marketing beginner, I was willing to put in the labor-intensive grunt work to market to the masses through paid advertising, social media and other channels.  My first job after graduating was in technology sales. What I didn’t know then was that this role would continue to strengthen my learning curve well beyond my education. #1 Inbound Sales is where the path to Sales Excellence begins. The focus is to build a customer base through traditional channels. It could even be spreadsheet-based, with little or zero automation. When a customer calls, the answering rep takes their info and connects the product or service with the customer. Pretty basic stuff.  If you are an organization that is lucky enough to have an SFA tool, you may have integrated with mobile and email, but the sky is the limit from here. Again, most sales organizations begin by equipping their reps with a salesforce automation (SFA) tool, and then build off of that. Going beyond this initial step takes us to our second step in this path. #2 Foundational Sales is largely automating many business tasks associated with sales, like contact management, data sharing, order tracking and more.  SFA is often synonymous with CRM, although CRM doesn’t always automate all sales tasks.  The next logical step is to integrate vital functions that sales reps need in their daily lives, be it mobile access, email and real-time data. While these integrations expand and fortify the foundation, the organization still has to think ahead. This means leveraging tools that help with forecasting, quota management, incentive compensation, and territory management. Aligning sales and organizational business goals is critical. Sales teams leap forward from short-term thinking to strategizing around top tier accounts. These tools help reps feel confident they'll succeed through automation and guided-selling, while protecting margins and making their quotas. Mastering these capabilities helps put a hyper-focus on transforming your organization into a streamlined and efficient, revenue-focused business. After strengthening the core Sales foundation, the ideal next step is to differentiate your brand’s ability to personalize its communications across all your customers’ touch points. #3 Personalized Sales requires an organizational commitment where it’s clearly understood how Sales fit within and across every single department. This must be a transparent and collaborative process that is agreed to by all departments and communicated across the company. Sales and service teams need access to the most up-to-date customer data and history to make this successful. This requires integrating CRM and CPQ systems for downstream processes to get accurate financials and forecasting. This blend of historic and real-time data gives sales a fuller, more accurate picture of accounts and helps them to prepare and personalize customer interactions. The planning and forecasting benefits that result from this blend of data include sales planning and incentive compensation, quota, and territory management. A Sales organization that stays on top of these capabilities motivate and retain top talent, incentivize partners, and build upon a better forecasting process. After you’ve built the foundation and personalized functionality, you're well down the path to practice 'responsive selling.' Gone are the days of being reactionary to buyer needs and seller wants. You’ve now instilled a strong strategy and invested a tremendous amount of time and effort to maximize benefits from your sales investments. At this point, you are delivering a unified brand experience across all customer touch points. Activating customer intelligence in each micro-moment when your customer engages helps drive revenue growth. #4 Responsive Sales is the phase where elite sales organizations that practice responsive selling also adopt strategies that use AI for Sales and Guided Talk Tracks to access smart talking points for price optimization, which helps protect margins. All these innovations arm your sales organization to help exceed customer expectations.  The Experience Economy breaks our CX Sales strategy into a vision where buyers get what they want; Trusted Advice Answers on Demand Seamless Buying Experiences Sellers get what they need; Connected Data Guided Selling Tools Answers Anywhere Responsive Selling represents the pinnacle of success for sales organizations. It takes commitment from the top of the organization to create a company-wide culture and effort to propel the business there. For me, it took a rocky start that led me to change my surroundings and adapt to the market. I would not change a thing!  That initial pressure and stress taught me that you cannot stay stagnant. Instead, it motivated me to be in a constant state of evolution and learning. Click to learn more about how to optimize sales across all your channels.          

When I finished my undergraduate degree, I entered a workforce unlike any I’d been prepared for. My class entered the job market at the height of the 2009 Great Recession. Looking back, I...

Customer Experience Strategy

The Importance of Going Deep-Digital

Many of us are in a stay-at-home economy where we are digitally dependent to work, engage with our friends, get schooled, entertain ourselves, shop, and get support online, including telehealth.  In these circumstances, what can your company do to survive and get ahead? People are working and spending more time at home. A lot of that time is online, thus the importance of conducting business digitally. Ironically, the billions of dollars companies have spent in recent years to go digital have largely failed to bring transformational changes to their business models. According to Forbes and others, over 70% of companies have not achieved the transformational benefits they had hoped for despite collectively investing over $1.3 trillion in digital projects! So, what has to change with the way you’re doing digital? This doesn’t just mean you deploy a new piece of technology isolated from an underlying business process that you have to manage. You have to go ‘Deep-Digital’ which means new channels and interaction paradigms must connect with other systems that solve a customer need. Let’s look at some examples. Become savvy at digital listening and engagement. With more people spending more time online, it’s critical to read signals, identify customer needs, engage properly at the moment-of-need via the right channel and consistently serve well across all digital channels. Let’s presume I’m signaling on Facebook or a Google search where I'm considering buying an air purifier. A brand should seamlessly capture this signal, identify it with me, then initiate a message to educate and inform me, thus leading me to purchase. It’s not only an air purifier manufacturer who could benefit from this signal. An alternative provider such as an air filter or air freshener maker could divert me to buy their product instead. This would save me money and provide the same health benefits. Savvy digital operators can easily interrupt and lure customers away! These interactions happen via smartphones, browsers, Facebook, Instagram, a Google search page, etc. Being present, listening and engaging in all these channels will create winners. Do not forget delivering to promise! Identifying, engaging and selling to a customer isn’t enough. Their needs can only be satisfied if the product or service is delivered as promised.  Whether the purchase is made via chatbot, a mobile app or in a Facebook store, connecting that order to your supply chain and fulfillment systems is what ultimately delivers the product. Some things are easy to implement while others will require significant change. What’s important is that you go deep in deploying digital so that the solution fully solves customers’ needs and doesn’t frustrate them with partial or conflicting engagements. Look at data and processes in their entirety to get a holistic 360-degree view into what signals are real and what responses would be appropriate to take. Don't waste time and money on digital projects that don’t deliver results! Customer Experience solutions that read customer data signals exists today to support these changes to go deep with digital deployments. Can you afford to wait while more agile competitors sense the opportunities and move fast? As deployed today, digital channels like chatbots typically do hand-offs to traditional channels like call centers or stores for fulfillment. With traditional channels coming under tremendous pressure now, simple hand-offs leading to lengthy wait times on the phone or asking customers to go to a store are not going to work.  

Many of us are in a stay-at-home economy where we are digitally dependent to work, engage with our friends, get schooled, entertain ourselves, shop, and get support online, including telehealth.  In...

Customer Experience Technology

Connecting Customer Experiences with Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) is no longer represented by “Rosie the Robot” - the mechanical maid from the classic cartoon series “The Jetsons.” Nor is it the title character from the Will Smith film “I, Robot.” AI technology is real and it’s here today.  AI is the development of computer systems that perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, translation between languages and much more. AI is in our smartphones, our software, our home appliances and even our accessories. Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa and Apple Siri all allow people to use AI with digital assistants and chatbots.  The growth of AI is exploding.  Gartner predicts workplace growth where 25% of digital workers will use virtual employee assistants daily in just one year! Another study claims that by 2024 the “Smart Home Penetration Rate could be approximately 52.4%!”  One adopter using AI to innovate is Hermes, a fast-growing package delivery company from Germany. They used Oracle’s Digital Assistant to create a bot they named “Holly.” Holly is used to answer customer service questions, which reduces chat volumes and helps redefine their human support interactions. This in turn provides a better customer experience and makes them more efficient. Chris White, Director of Customer Experience from Hermes shared, “We’ve taken away the mundane activity and freed up the human agents to handle the tricky cases—especially those instances that require experience and sensitivity.” Holly handles simpler tasks so live agents can provide better quality of care to more complicated matters. This in turn helps Hermes scale the business faster. White explains, “Holly automates a huge volume of transactions with our customers and with our network of couriers.” AI Impacts Sales Traditional account and contact management is outdated in 2020. The need to go beyond salesforce automation with emerging technology such as Oracle Sales Assistant is now essential to today’s sophisticated sales professionals. Sales need tools to access and enter account information from mobile devices in real time so that equipped with the right information, reps can walk into an account knowing the right questions to ask. Thus they won’t waste time and can provide their customers with a better, more personalized experience. DB Schenker is a division of the German rail operator Deutsche Bahn AG that focuses on logistics. Operating in 72 countries, their sales executives can access information at any hour of the day, online or offline. Their 7,000 sales reps are equipped with a powerful mobile app that delivers a user experience they're excited about. Oracle CX Sales, used on desktop and mobile can help make their reps more relevant and productive by using AI and machine learning to access customer information with voice commands that inform 'next best step' recommendations to close deals faster. Creating Better, More Personal Experiences Heineken Urban Polo embraces Oracle's Chat Bot to give their attendees at live events a unique, personalized experience. Instead of broadcasting the same information to all, they opted for messaging to each individual customer, providing immediate positive feedback. Simon Wilson, the Managing Director at Heineken Urban Polo said that “Oracle Cloud has significantly enhanced the customer experience through more personalized communication. Attendees can get all the information they want, when they want, through the messaging tools they’re already using. The digital concierge has been very well received and we are looking to continue testing as we expand the event series later this year.” Artificial Intelligence is embedded into Oracle Cloud Solutions including Oracle Digital Assistants and Chatbots, that can take your business to the next level. Time is of the essence and executives need to quickly adapt to industry disruptions and consumer behaviors. As data grows at an exponential rate, technology is leveraged to analyze large amounts of data and help support faster, better-informed business decisions. Leveraging Oracle Cloud Solutions with AI Technology can help scale your business faster and provide a better connected experience with your employees and customers.    

Artificial intelligence (AI) is no longer represented by “Rosie the Robot” - the mechanical maid from the classic cartoon series “The Jetsons.” Nor is it the title character from the Will Smith film...

Customer Experience Strategy

The Path to CX Excellence for B2B Marketers

In our first blog that introduced “The Path to CX Excellence,”  we talked about every brand’s path being unique. The path you follow depends on your current business priorities across marketing, sales, commerce, services and field service. This blog explores the path an organization might take if they want to improve their B2B marketing. Thus its title “The Path to CX Excellence for B2B Marketers”…… In 1993, I was given my first email address while working for a small private company. It seemed like magic!  How could we have ever done business without this amazing communication tool? We used ACT! (Account Contact Tracking) to manage our contacts and sent “bulk” emails to groups of contacts to communicate about important business opportunities. It was an exciting, cost-efficient way to communicate - faster than the post office and cheaper than a phone call. As email popularity grew in the 90’s, we were hungry to add any business associates into the contact database. Too late to call a contact? No problem. Send an email! It changed the way we did business almost overnight. Marketers took advantage of this new channel and next built a presence on what we called the “World Wide Web” – aka the Internet. Thus began the digital age of marketing. Innovation Comes with Challenges In today’s Experience Economy, customers expect marketers to know them better than they know themselves. Customers expect seamless and personalized digital experiences – right now. As marketers, we often have obstacles in the way. Things such as siloed and bad customer data, disconnected point solutions, plus scale and performance issues that hinder the creation and measurement of how experiences are performing. It’s frustrating for even the most seasoned marketer. Now with the influx of new marketing experience expectations from buyers, it can be difficult to know where to begin. At Oracle, we’ve had a front row seat watching how many of our customers have addressed these challenges. From them, we’ve noted four specific stages of maturity in their strategies, programs, campaigns and how their various teams interact across the business. We call this the “Path to Marketing Excellence.” These four stages are consistent across; Business to business (B2B) sales, Large considered purchases, and Business to consumer purchases (B2C), with nuances for each. For this blog, the focus will be on B2B marketing teams.   #1 Broadcast Marketing is where the path to marketing excellence begins - at the most basic stage of marketing automation. The focus for the marketer here is to gain efficiencies in automating mass email communications across their contact database. Marketers are primarily focused on one to two channels, email and a website, where they hope to engage new prospects and current customers. If they have a CRM system, it may be integrated so they can pass contacts back and forth between marketing and sales. Most communications in this stage are ‘batch and blast,’ where the same messages are sent to all contacts at once. Here, marketers seek to reduce the costs of customer acquisition and improve marketing efficiencies - and why wouldn’t they? Email is still an incredibly effective channel and the return on investment is as high as 38:1! Unfortunately, this is only good as a short-term fix because 55% of the total emails sent across the globe are marked as SPAM because the messages are irrelevant to the person receiving them. Opt-outs increase and we begin to see deliverability issues. When this occurs, marketers realize they have to understand their customer’s interests better, which pushes them to the next stage. #2 Responsive Marketing is more of a conversation with customers and prospects than a one-way push. At this stage, marketers begin to react and respond to customer behaviors. They are collecting and engaging customers across multiple channels with the specific goal of increasing revenue and decreasing the time to buy. This works! According to Gartner, B2B marketing campaigns that integrate four or more digital channels will outperform single or dual-channel programs by 300%. By engaging customers on the channels they frequent most, it increases the likelihood they will interact more with an organization. Lead scoring and lead management are a part of this stage and we see specific strategies hone in on the right targeting and segmentation strategies that create the best audiences, based on each contact’s specific interests. The marketing team becomes more mature and begins tracking behaviors. If forms or pages are abandoned, they can do testing to better optimize their emails, landing pages and web experiences. They become smarter about their customer’s interests. They begin nurturing them by providing adaptive, more personalized campaigns designed to guide customers toward a specific experience path based on their interactions. Most marketers that fall into this stage do a good job of acquiring new leads. However, their efforts don’t see the highest ROI often due to a lack of message consistency across channels, making the experience feel broken. According to Gartner, 90% of marketers still struggle to seamlessly connect more than three channels at a time, making consistent messaging and coordination a major challenge - encouraging them to keep pushing to get to the next stage. #3 Relationship Marketing shows marketers embracing more AI-driven decision making to increase repeat purchases. Customer experiences are connected across marketing channels, increasing the relevancy of their marketing programs and offers. At the heart of this stage are advanced segmentation, strong ABM programs that increase marketing and sales alignment, send-time optimization, AI-driven offers and intelligent orchestration. This is very sophisticated marketing at this state of excellence. If you’re a B2B marketer, you’re likely enjoying great returns as B2B buyers who consume highly consistent information across multiple supplier channels are 4x more likely to complete a high value, low-regret purchase. There’s much more that should be considered. Data silos among marketing, sales and service can inflict a lot of pain on customers when the right hand of your organization doesn’t know what the left hand knows. The Experience Economy requires marketers to think beyond the traditional bounds of marketing, otherwise, this stage hits a wall. Remember, customers today only see a single brand experience. Nonetheless, most organizations still do not connect marketing, sales and service together, leaving gaps across the full experience. The New Battleground In the Experience Economy, the customer experience is the new battleground.  Not having data connected among marketing, sales and service puts your organization at risk of losing valuable cross-sell and upsell opportunities. It’s frustrating and infuriating your customers because of disruptions to their experience. “To the customer, it’s all one big team: Customers don’t care which department they talk to when they need help. They just want to get their questions answered and their problems resolved.” (Forbes) #4 Lifecycle Engagement is all about delivering a unified brand experience across all customer touchpoints. The ultimate goal is to maximize customer lifetime value and reduce customer churn by delivering a relevant, consistent and timely experience at each customer touchpoint. Central to this stage in the journey is a data-first approach that connects customer intelligence across marketing, sales, commerce, service and loyalty systems. With this comprehensive understanding of customers, marketers, sales reps and service reps are better able to have contextually relevant interactions with customers. Every time your customer engages with your brand, it increase your ability to outcompete your rivals in the market. Brands that are most successful at differentiating on customer experience are seeing real revenue growth relative to their competitors. Forrester tells us that CX leaders are driving as much as 5 times better revenue growth and their companies are outperforming those competitors who are considered to be CX “laggards”.  It’s all about revenue.  In the Experience Economy, the customer experience is the path to get there. One of our customers, Enigen, saw some amazing results by connecting their data across their marketing, sales and service teams. The Path to Marketing Excellence in B2B is not an easy path, but it’s a rewarding one.

In our first blog that introduced “The Path to CX Excellence,”  we talked about every brand’s path being unique. The path you follow depends on your current business priorities across...

Ask the Experts

Oracle CX Partner EyeFitU Helps Retailers Provide a Better Online Fashion Experience

I recently sat with Isabelle Ohnemus, the founder and CEO of EyeFitU, an Oracle ISV partner. We discussed how the EyeFitU size and fit finder helps businesses of every size, from small local stores to iconic brands, provide a better online retail customer experience. We also talked about how their solution helps retailers reduce customer returns, manage inventory and reduce their carbon footprint.  Sizing matters! 1. NM: What’s the big deal with sizing anyway?   IO: It’s a huge problem at so many levels. Since there’s no universal sizing system, every brand has its own. No two size charts are alike. Take jeans for example. A  size 8 jeans at one brand is different than a size 8 at another. As free shipping and online shopping increase, consumers are encouraged to buy multiple sizes of clothes and return those items that don’t fit. About 75% of fashion returns are because of size and fit where the value of the returned item can drop up to 50%! Returning items may annoy the customer but it’s also costly for the store and our environment. Solving the sizing problem would make shopping more personalized, generate fewer returns, reduce expenses and the carbon footprint for the retailer.  2. NM: Tell me about EyefitU. What makes your solution unique? IO: EyeFitU is a Size-as-a-Service platform for fashion retailers and apparel brands. Our patented cloud based SizeEngine™ AI Platform increases conversions, reduces returns and personalizes the shopping experience. We integrate each brand’s sizing information and tailor size recommendations specific to each individual per garment type at scale. As an approved Oracle extension for Oracle CX Commerce, our SizeEngine™ is customizable, omnichannel and based on the retailer’s proprietary size charts. What 's makes us so unique is how easy to use our solution is.  There's a 10 second on-boarding experience for the shopper, with no reference to other brands and sizing. We also offer a body-fit visualization per size and multiple profile option for a better family/gift shopping experience. Our patented Body Reference Model algorithm provides retailers with garment relevant body measurements per size request. EyeFitU also supports clienteling for shop assistants & can be fully integrated with smart mirrors: We also offer a variety of SizeAnalytics™ that allows retailers to learn more about their eCommerce customers, including and not limited to the following: Ultimately, EyeFitU’s SizeEngine™ allows for a better shopping experience for customers. But, we also provide the retailer with access to analytics for inventory management at the cross channel level. This results in lower fulfillment costs, reduces dead inventories and a lower carbon footprint.   3. NM: How does EyefitU provide an improved experience for eCommerce customers? IO: We offer quick onboarding with our SizeFinder™. There's no need for a customer to know their size with multiples brands as we provide a unique option to provide actual body measurements for even more precise size recommendations. Having the option to learn the correct size takes away the uncertainty of shopping when one doesn’t know their size. Our FitVisualizer™ allows each customer to see how each size will fit – tighter, looser or just right – and depending on their fit preferences, pick the size that’s right for them. Customers will have no need for ordering multiple sizes. Instead, they will shop with confidence and increase their basket size! 4. NM: What’s your vision for the next generation of retail? IO: We envision a move to better personalization and mobile for an incredible omnichannel experience. Not only will people increasingly shop from their phones, but mobile will play a role in the in-instore experience. With privacy laws evolving, customers will be in control of their own profiles, reducing concern around privacy and ultimately leading to more personalization. There will be a seamless customer experience across all channels as customers create and become their own channels. Collecting data sets from all channels will allow for a more effective single customer view to better personalize future customer engagement. Multiple orders and excessive returns will be replaced by convenience and personalization. Finally, sizing will begin to move away from the traditional sizing we’ve all grown to have a love/hate relationship with toward a system that better matches clothes to the body. Once you know your size in a certain brand, all is good and you can shop with confidence. But what about when you want to discover a new brand? As new technologies are developed to enable accurate body scanning, more brands will embrace size recommendation software to assist shopping online or in-store. Shopping for clothes itself will be quicker, more efficient and yield far fewer returns.          

I recently sat with Isabelle Ohnemus, the founder and CEO of EyeFitU, an Oracle ISV partner. We discussed how the EyeFitU size and fit finder helps businesses of every size, from small local stores to...

CX News & Events

Learn How Oracle Can Help You Outpace Change at Modern Customer Experience

Today’s customers are adopting digital technologies to create their own custom experiences faster than most brands can keep up.  In this regard, it is consumers, not brands, who are the real innovators in what Oracle calls the “Experience Economy.”   With plenty of choices, fickle customers can switch companies when they don’t get what they need and especially when they have a bad experience.  Research consistently shows that customers are willing to pay more for better experiences and CX is becoming an increasingly higher priority for companies.  The challenge to provide a superior customer experience begins with the intelligent use of data to empower your marketing, commerce, sales and service people across the entire organization in order to engage and please your customers.   Oracle is no exception. With this in mind, Oracle has for many years embarked on a journey to reinvent how we market, sell and service our customers.  As we’ve transitioned from being an on-premise provider of enterprise software to cloud services, we thus had to become the cloud company we urge our customers to be. Enter the Oracle@Oracle Experience We launched the Oracle@Oracle experience at Oracle OpenWorld 2019. These business focused sessions brought together Oracle’s sales, HR, finance, supply chain, and marketing leaders to share how we’ve transformed our business for the digital age. Over three days, thousands of attendees stopped by to hear how we used Oracle Cloud in our own CX journey, enabling Oracle to drive customer satisfaction in addition to greater visibility, better leads, increased revenue and efficiency. The Oracle@Oracle experience was so successful that we’re bringing it to Chicago to share our experience and show that technology and transformation can be pulled off at a Fortune 100 company with great scale and success. Join us to learn how Oracle transformed its operations by moving from multiple custom tools to aligning marketing, sales and solution engineering to the Oracle CX Platform. A sample of the metrics we’ll present include; 100% improved conversion rate due to machine learning and lead scoring.  70% of orders are now on standard terms. Gone are endless customizations.   85% reduction in research time by consolidating all account intelligence to presentation and optimizing service delivery. 70% of reps, up from 2%, can now complete quoting and contracting without assistance. Learn how Oracle’s results can translate to your organization.  Meet the Oracle presenters and experts and check out some of the sessions you’ll see in Chicago. How Oracle Transformed the Sales and Service Experience with Oracle CX Cloud Discover how Oracle fostered collaboration between Sales and Solution Engineering by leveraging the power of the CX platform, resulting in our own model: Solution Engineering as a Service. By connecting internal technical resources directly to sales opportunities utilizing Oracle Service Cloud, we achieved faster connectivity and seamless collaboration between the two groups, ultimately providing better service to our customers Martyn Langley, VP, Global Sales Operations, Systems & Enablement Paul Mikle, VP Global Sales Ops, Sales Systems & Process How Oracle Leverages Machine Learning to Transform Lead Management Hear how Oracle achieved a 2X increase in lead conversion using the power of machine learning and automated lead routing. Leveraging the Eloqua platform, lead scoring powered by machine learning and sales rep workflow automation, we vastly improved customer response time and conversion on inbound marketing leads. Oracle executives will share learnings on operational implementation, pitfalls, and the cultural change required to create business value from machine learning projects. Sanela Hodzic, VP, Sales Operations, Business Development Oracle's Journey to CX Cloud Learn about Oracle’s internal transition from multiple on-premise sales applications into a single modern CX experience, leveraging Oracle’s CX SaaS as well as the power and flexibility of the Oracle Cloud Platform. Oracle’s unique breadth of CX services can be combined with Oracle Cloud Platform to manage all core sales activities, provide personalization by role, and drive innovation in sales processes. Martyn Langley, VP, Global Sales Operations, Systems & Enablement Kip Parent, VP, Oracle Application Labs, CRM Solutions Partner Relationship Management with Oracle CX Sales Discover how Oracle is driving more business and collaboration with 22,000 partners by enabling them with flexible programs and enrollments, leveraging Oracle Partner Relationship Management and Oracle Sales Cloud. You'll learn how this platform has helped generate an additional 125,000 opportunities per annum, increasing customer success and growth for Oracle and its partners. Julie Tung - VP, A&C Program and Operations How Oracle Empowered Sales Managers Using Oracle CX Cloud Discover how Oracle Sales is driving real-time and data-driven deal review, ensuring forecast accuracy, and identifying coaching opportunities, all through the Oracle CX platform. Paul Mikle, VP Global Sales Ops, Sales Systems & Process Click here to learn more and register to attend Modern Customer Experience. Save the date to see the Markies finalists be announced!        

Today’s customers are adopting digital technologies to create their own custom experiences faster than most brands can keep up.  In this regard, it is consumers, not brands, who are the real...

CX News & Events

Get Connected and Start Your Journey to Modern CX Today!

Modern Customer Experience is the conference for CX legends who are boldly exploring new frontiers, navigating the choppy waters of change, discovering insights in your data and introducing new standards of excellence.   This year, we have an A-list of presenters ranging from industry influencers and analysts to Oracle leaders and experts and over 100 Oracle CX customers who will share their stories, successes and advice at every level of the conference. But ultimately, this is your conference, and we want to help you make the most of your investment and trek to Modern Customer Experience.   To that end, we are pleased to announce our 2020 CX Heroes program. This year, we are offering an online Modern CX 2020 experience available now. This online experience is hosted in the Oracle CX Hero Hub and is designed to help you get excited for conference; network with fellow attendees; find opportunities to share your expertise and success; and have fun. A few example activities include: Network with your peers through attendee introductions; sharing tips for making the most of Modern CX; and swapping session notes. Suggest, or lead, a meet up with your peers. Show off your expertise and see if you get selected for a video interview and a free, professional asset for your LinkedIn profile. Discover cool but easy-to-miss offerings happening across the conference, like Influencer Office Hours, customer displays, workshops and more. Participate in a virtual Chicago-sightseeing themed scavenger hunt. Wait, There's More! Your Hero Hub experience doesn’t end online. Our onsite CX Hero lounge will be back by popular demand in the ‘Experience Hub’ at McCormick Place. Stop by to get a professional headshot (or mix it up with a more casual, fun picture!); connect with your peers in Meetups; sample delicious goodies from Oracle customer Kraft-Heinz; get in touch with your creative side at the JoAnn’s craft booth; learn more about the Oracle CX Hero Hub, and much more!   While the online Hero Hub experience and onsite lounge are open to Modern CX attendees, we are excited to recognize our 2020 CX Heroes—event attendees who are speaking at Modern CX or are a 2020 Markie Award Finalist. We will notify them about their official 2020 CX Hero status and explain how to access exclusive opportunities to elevate your personal brand and grow your network (e.g. be featured in a keynote, repeat your breakout as a webinar).   So what are you waiting for? Begin your journey and join the Oracle CX Hero Hub to get started.    

Modern Customer Experience is the conference for CX legends who are boldly exploring new frontiers, navigating the choppy waters of change, discovering insights in your data and introducing new...

Customer Experience Strategy

A Look at the Convenience Aspect of the Experience Economy

What do Peloton, Instacart, Uber and Tide have in common? They’re all upstarts that focused on convenience and have disrupted their industries in doing so. Today, customers are empowered to buy using their mobile devices anytime, anywhere. In many circumstances, consumers won’t purchase from a company whose experience falls short of expectations. Imagine calling a taxi service and waiting 45 minutes for your ride to arrive. This was common a mere 10 years ago. A 2018 Business Insider article states that since 2014, the reimbursed ground transportation market share has shifted dramatically in favor of ride-share companies. The total rental car fleet owned 92% of the market in 2014, but shrank to 27.5% in less than 10 years. Customers want their purchase experiences to reflect their valuable time and money. That’s exactly what these four companies are doing to capture incredible amounts of market share. In the early 2000’s, Procter & Gamble recognized its largest brand in the fabric and household care division seemed limited. Tide laundry detergent had been around for more than 50 years, but it was no longer growing fast enough to support their needs due to a shift away from bigger brands and competition from startups and online rivals. The P&G Tide brand focused on another line of business, dry cleaning at the click of a button.  According to the US Department of Labor, the average American consumer spends more than an hour a day and up to 375 hours every year sorting, washing, drying and folding laundry. Tide Cleaners now has over 140 franchises that provide wash-and-fold services for college campuses and more than 700 drop-off lockers in apartment complexes, supermarkets, and schools, all serviced through their mobile application. P&G’s Vice President Sundar Raman, states, “Our goal with Tide Cleaners is to help people’s increasingly busy lives revolve more around what matters, and less around their laundry.” P&G has invested their money into our time and has made their footprint in the Convenience Economy, growing 12% more than the industry over the first six months of introducing Tide Cleaners. The Tide Cleaners brand now accounts for 2.5% of the U.S. dry-cleaning industry’s $9.1 billion in annual sales and is growing at a significant rate. Disrupting their industry with convenient services has been a success, but there is more to a successful line of business that these disrupters are adopting. Convenient services require a simple, yet profitable pricing method. The most profitable pricing strategies put customer value front and center and are guided by customer data that match customers’ purchase and usage habits.  It’s no surprise that subscription pricing is a thriving business model where the customer pays a fee to have access to a product or service over a given period of time. For example, Peloton’s pricing strategy has matched their convenient service model, elevating the overall experience for their customers. Purchase the bike for $0 down payment, $58 a month, 0% APR and pay a monthly subscription of $39/month for unlimited access to live or on-demand classes. That’s $97 a month for unlimited classes, not limited to a single person. Boutique spin gyms can range anywhere from $20 to $35 per class/per person. Peloton’s low overhead costs, due to no studio leases/amenities and no cleaning/front-desk staff allows them to provide a competitive hardware to subscription based pricing model that fits perfect with their at-home workout service. Peloton’s subscription revenue grew to $181.1 million in 2019, up from $80.3 million in 2018. Consumers will typically pay more for a convenient service, but Peloton customers are saving money and getting the at-home convenient workout they strive for. Now, instead of waking up and dreading your trip to the dry cleaners, gym and grocery store you can start your day by dropping your clothes off at a Tide Cleaners drop box, order your groceries from your mobile phone on Instacart, get your morning workout in on your Peloton bike and take your Uber to work. Time is money and consumers are expecting these types of services moving forward. Learn about how Oracle can help your organization enter the convenience economy by clicking here to read about Oracle Subscription Management and how it can help drive new business models and enable recurring relationships to generate additional revenue from your goods and services        

What do Peloton, Instacart, Uber and Tide have in common? They’re all upstarts that focused on convenience and have disrupted their industries in doing so. Today, customers are empowered to buy using...

Customer Service

Data is the Foundation for Differentiated Customer Service

Data has always been an important, albeit perhaps boring, aspect of customer experience. In today's world, data is increasingly becoming a mission critical asset for any business. After all, data is the new oil. Within the customer experience (CX) paradigm, data is a source of competitive differentiation when companies can use it to provide better, differentiated customer connections with their brand or service. However, this is not easy. Most businesses generate more data than they can handle. Companies that execute the right strategy when it comes to data, and leverage that data to offer their customers better experiences, will be best positioned to win. Enter Customer Service A crucial part of any successful CX strategy is customer service. The scope of customer service is rapidly expanding due to changing consumer expectations and evolving technologies. Traditional service channels like email or phone remain popular channels while modern digital channels like chat, social messaging, SMS and video chat have grown in popularity, driven by consumer adoption. Consumer expectations have also changed.  Customers want anyone working for your business to meet any potential need that they have. They do not care about different organizational boundaries. This impacts every touch point that customers may have, whether it’s the field service technician in their living room, the contact center agent, the hotel front-desk employee or the store staff. Consumers expect any and all contacts to be as knowledgeable and helpful as your tier-3 customer service specialist. This makes delivering a consistent customer service experience increasingly difficult. When it comes to delivering great customer service experiences consistently across channels, it becomes crucial to empower everyone in the enterprise to deliver good service by having access to the right information, customers records and processes. The Internet of Things  (IoT) creates a whole new dimension of customer service. Radically different than traditional customer service, IoT is rapidly becoming a channel by itself. Customer service agents can now connect to devices remotely to troubleshoot, review sensor data, and push new firmware updates. In this realm, we’re also seeing a paradigm shift by moving from reactive customer service to pre-emptive customer service. Connected devices stream sensor data to IoT cloud services that in turn apply machine learning algorithms to identify patterns and anomalies to predict failures that can be prevented by reaching out to customers pro-actively. All in all, delivering a great customer service today can be tremendously challenging. An essential part to this is having the right data strategy in place to orchestrate this complexity. Data is an important topic for both service and CX leaders, and not something to be outsourced to the CIO. Data needs to flow unhampered among processes to serve your customers. Ensuring that your customer data is correct increasingly requires a Customer Data Management discipline. Clean customer data in turn is a pre-requisite for AI to deliver on its promise and a fresh look at data-sources beyond the customer service space offers great opportunities for personalization. All this can be summarized under of the idea of data-driven service strategy, which is the name we’ll write this series under. Stay tuned for the next post in our data-driven service series of posts, in which we’ll talk about the importance of streamlining processes by connecting the front-office with the back-office.    

Data has always been an important, albeit perhaps boring, aspect of customer experience. In today's world, data is increasingly becoming a mission critical asset for any business. After all, data is...

Customer Experience Technology

The CRM Transformation from Rolodex to Dynamic Force

CRM is a commonly used, often satirized and misunderstood acronym in the enterprise front office. I have worked with CRM solutions for over 20 years and have heard these three letters represent ‘Costs Ridiculous Money', 'Can’t Remember Much', 'Customer Relationship Marketing', 'Contact Relationship Management’ and ‘Customer Relationship Management.' Clearly,  CRM means different things to different people. Sales teams typically think of CRM as an account and contact solution. Marketing tends to think it’s a campaign, lead or loyalty solution. I discovered users often consider CRM to be a ‘Big Brother surveillance tool - a way to collect tribal knowledge and reduce headcount, or an admin tool that provides no value to them. With all the different opinions of CRM, it’s no surprise companies have struggled to embrace the true value of a CRM solution.    This has been the case since the early 1990s. Like many organizations, my employer at the time tried multiple CRM solutions such as ACT!, Goldmine and Telemagic to gain a competitive edge. Upper management was convinced CRM would be the secret sauce that would provide valuable insight to our company. But, those same systems withheld insights from users. Due to that lack of transparency, absence of top-down evangelism and half-hearted investment in effective training, user adoption suffered. Fast-forward a decade to where the user-experience became a focus in the world of CRM. Vast, partner ecosystems were bolted on to enhance front-office functionality, such as incentive compensation, configure-to-order, and territory management. Although user adoption improved, this also produced duplicate, inaccurate, and siloed data from lack of integrations, reducing the credibility of business insights extracted from these systems. Does any of this sound familiar? If this is your company today, how do you reverse this stigma and begin to fix your CRM solution? CRM solutions are no longer an exclusive “account and contact” or “lead and opportunity” management tool. They have skyrocketed in capabilities, become a system of record, and continue to evolve to where CRMs are a lifeline to front office and back office. One organization I worked with realized that their multiple sales systems, siloed data and lack of collaboration across teams were creating bad customer experiences. However, they were able to transform their business using applications built on a unified data model with consistent user experiences. These allowed them to leverage data across the entire customer lifecycle from their back office to front office and with their partners.  They’ve also increased sales force adoption and productivity, enhanced account planning and collaboration across teams who now have real time insights that help them make smarter decisions at every step. They can leverage this data across to easily up-sell or cross-sell into existing customers.  They can do all of this anywhere, anytime, from any device. Companies can use CRM to align sales, marketing and service teams around creating great sales and customer experiences like never before. Together, they can create complete accounts and contacts helping each team be more personalized and engaged during the customer journey. Marketing can create targeted campaigns. Sales teams have more intelligent data to help them have more relevant conversations with their customers. Service has access to details to make the customer feel more like a human than a number. The unified sales, marketing and service model improves their productivity by sharing the same information leaving the customer with a personalized experience at every step in their customer lifecycle. To start creating your companies connected experience, click here to learn more.          

CRM is a commonly used, often satirized and misunderstood acronym in the enterprise front office. I have worked with CRM solutions for over 20 years and have heard these three letters represent ‘Costs...

Data Utilization & Analytics

Data Analytics and Insights Predictions for 2020 and Beyond

As we enter 2020 and a new decade, I’m very excited because data analytics is one of the most critical areas companies must leverage for competitive advantage.   Analytics and data have made their way to the executive suite to help inform key decisions that are now being made across all business functions.  With the great advancements being made in this space, I want to share my thoughts on four areas we’ll see breakthroughs in 2020 and beyond. #1 – Predictive intelligence -  Sales and marketing functions are integrating digital and in-person interactions to form greater customer understandings at an ever increasing pace.  Companies are making big bets on blending this data together with fitness data (firmographics, technographics, purchase history) and intent data (3rd party digital behavior data) to better identify ideal, profitable customer profiles and tailor content toward them. In addition, predictive intelligence will play a greater role in a brand’s ability for customer retention and renewals, loyalty, ability to upsell, cross-sell, get them to advocate and generally expand their business.   Also, knowing where and when customers engage with the competition will help identify early warning signals that demonstrate a potential competitive threat.  These predictive models will help align the customer’s real time business challenges with products and services that address their immediate needs.   #2 – The empowered organization - Businesses are using data and analytics to manage the business across the go-to market functions.  With companies spending millions of dollars across sales and marketing to drive revenue, it’s critical that data and analytics empower timely data-based decisions that help squeeze optimal returns for every dollar spent on go-to market execution.  Data and analytics go hand-in-glove with consistent global processes, measures, and a single analytics platform can help pave the way for a transparent enterprise at all levels and drive a greater empowered business environment. #3 – Automation of data governance - Keeping data governance front and center will continue to grow in importance.  Governments across the globe have data security as a key focal point and questions about how to protect personal data and track anonymous digital footprints will continue to be discussed and debated by regulators and law makers.   The challenge is that no global standard will be in place for data protection and governance. We in the analytics community need to utilize data responsibly and be in compliance so that our companies, employees, and customers are not at risk.  I anticipate more technology advances in data and analytics platforms will help drive better automation on data governance, rather than leaving businesses exposed to potential human error.   This will allow companies to experience the rewards of data and analytics while simultaneously being responsible and trusted data stewards.   #4 The Intelligent Sale – A complete digital customer experience from awareness to procurement may be old news in the B2C place, but in a complex B2B environment, this still remains more of a challenge. Nonetheless, I believe the same experience is within reach.  The complete automation of the demand-to-procure process (The Intelligent Sale) will be a focus point for B2B organizations.   With the insights we get from predictive intelligence, companies will know what products and services customers are interested in.  This data will connect to configuration, pricing, and quoting processes to automate a proposal for a customer.   The customer will then have the opportunity to accept the quote or adjust it, move onto the procurement process, and then close the deal.  All this can happen without any interaction from a sales rep.  While there are several areas where this is taking place today, it will be taken much further. The Intelligent end-to-end sale does present some challenges, but it’s an ideal opportunity that leverages data and analytics while saving time, money and human resources.   Technology and analytics platforms will continue to advance and play a large part in the constant evolution of how we use structured and unstructured data. Ultimately, the data and analytics community must prioritize our responsibility to think ethically about the consequences of this space and leverage these breakthroughs for positive outcomes and help make our world a better place. Machine learning and AI are powering the the next evolution of analytics.  Click here to discover more with the free O'Reilly book "What is Augmented Analytics?"  

As we enter 2020 and a new decade, I’m very excited because data analytics is one of the most critical areas companies must leverage for competitive advantage.   Analytics and data have made their way...

Retail & Commerce

Retail Sales Made Smarter - How DTC Brands Are Creating Seamless, Customer-First Experiences

Retailers are dealing with new challenges driven by technological disruption and the ever-increasing expectations of customers who crave personalization and instant gratification. The one trend that’s arguably impacting retailers the most is the emergence of innovative, digital-first competitors. Direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands have the power to innovate and quickly adapt to new customer behaviors and market conditions. Because they are relatively new companies, they aren’t burdened by the legacy technologies that traditional retailers have to deal with.  Companies like Casper, Rent the Runway, and Warby Parker began as online-only brands. But they quickly learned that in order to be in front of customers—they needed to have a physical store presence. After all, despite the undeniable increase in online sales over the past decade, they still only account for 14 percent of all global retail sales. These DTC brands have been successful with their brick-and-mortar investments because they are not weighed down by the outdated processes and infrastructure that hinder so many older brands. They’ve adopted innovative approaches to CX that utilize modern, best-in-class technology and processes, creating an agile approach to customer acquisition, engagement, and sales tactics across channels. Here are three ways that traditional retailers can learn from DTC brands, especially as their businesses scale and their store network expands. Lesson 1 - They’re Fixated on the Customer DTC founders developed their businesses to serve a very specific audience with a very specific product or service. Their entire business models and go-to-market strategies are designed to focus on a central brand promise, which includes solving their audience’s unique pain points or needs. For example, the co-founders behind Casper wanted to disrupt the mattress industry. For years, Casper focused on creating stellar mattresses for customers who wanted a good night’s sleep—without the hefty price tag. Social media and other marketing tactics illustrated this mission and today, the product line includes a range of supplementary sleep goods, including pillows, sheets, and sound machines. Data and deep customer understanding fuel short and long-term opportunities for the business, and help them prepare for spikes in product demand. This data is especially valuable as Casper establishes partnerships with retailers like Target and opens its own storefronts. Rent the Runway is an e-commerce fashion disruptor that creates comprehensive customer profiles that blend browsing, rental, and purchase data with customer information, such as measurements, size, and brand preferences. The company offers different subscription tiers like unlimited rentals and a monthly closet refresh, which add greater insight into consumers’ overall engagement and loyalty to the brand. These tiers, as well as their growing network of showrooms, add another layer of complexity to its supply chain operations. Data from across the organization helps the team understand which items, designers, sizes, and colors are in demand, fueling logistics, merchandising, marketing, and more. Lesson 2 - They Focus on the Omnichannel “Ripple Effect” The customer journey is no longer linear. Their behaviors and actions cannot be anticipated or expected. Retailers must be prepared to engage and serve these customers—regardless of where they are in the shopping journey. That is why 63 percent of DTC and 70 percent of traditional retailers are increasing their investment in customer data platforms. DTC brands have a clear advantage because as these once online-only brands expanded to brick-and-mortar storefronts, they also ensured that all channels and data sources were integrated. Thus, the customer has a seamless experience—especially as they transition from the website to the store, known as the “omnichannel ripple effect.” Associates are the face of the brand and must have the power to access everything they need to offer the best service—from e-commerce inventory information and purchasing capabilities to individual customer information. That is why Warby Parker equips store associates with mobile devices for quick and easy access to the eyewear brand’s digital properties. The in-store experience is rather traditional, touting floor-to-ceiling displays of different frame shapes, colors, and styles. Associates use mobile devices to access the e-commerce storefront and customer data, especially handy if shoppers complete in-store eye exams and need to update their profiles. Through one handheld device, associates can do everything they need to serve the customer. As traditional retailers empower associates to drive digital sales, they must consider the omnichannel ripple effect, reassessing how associates are measured and incentivized to drive transactions across all channels. Lesson 3 - They Embrace Agility Across the Organization DTC brands have embraced a culture that encourages creative thinking, even risk taking. Many employ a test-and-learn culture that accelerates innovation. They have developed the tech stack and cloud infrastructure to support it. And data is the cornerstone, so teams quickly gauge what works, what doesn’t, and how to respond. For example, disruptive makeup and skincare brand Glossier relies on omnichannel customer feedback and even a branded Slack channel to collect customer data, identify new opportunities for innovation, and decide what content they should create. Glossier made headlines with the announcement of its new COO, who was with Amazon for two decades. Most recently the VP of Sales and Marketing for Amazon Devices, Melissa Eamer is tasked with expanding the Glossier business, especially as it accelerates production of its highly unique, localized pop-up stores. Commerce Is at a Crossroads. Make Your Move! Although many industry figures preached about the Retail Apocalypse, IHL Group research indicates that the industry is actually facing a new and exciting era. For every store that closed another five opened, indicating that retail isn’t dead—it’s just being reimagined. As DTC brands open more stores and make headlines with their head-turning store concepts, it’s up to you to determine how you can reimagine the brand experience to drive customer interest, engagement, and, ultimately, conversions. Data is your secret ingredient to success. Are you using it to your advantage? Learn how Oracle CX Commerce has helped DTC brands and established retailers alike reimagine their customer experiences, and why it is a 20-year leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce.        

Retailers are dealing with new challenges driven by technological disruption and the ever-increasing expectations of customers who crave personalization and instant gratification. The one trend that’s...

Customer Experience

The Path to CX Excellence

Everything has changed with how consumers now engage with brands.  Oracle calls this the “Experience Economy,” where customers are the true innovators, not brands nor the enterprise. Why does this matter? This is because technology has empowered customers to discover and engage with brands in the way that is right for them. As customers become more adept with technology, they’ll keep creating new ways to manage their daily lives and online experiences. They expect or demand that kind of ease and flexibility from every company with which they do business. To meet these expectations, brands have to think differently and essentially consider the customer experience as their point of differentiation.  It may be impossible to actually anticipate what a customer needs at the very moment they need it, but it only takes one bad experience to lose a hard earned customer to a competitor. Customers expect a single, seamless brand experience across all channels and get frustrated when they feel like they’re talking with multiple different departments. For CX professionals, expectations have risen to where they are expected to know their customers even better than customers know themselves! One of the challenges from today’s digital experiences is that companies now have so much data about their customers, they often don’t even know how to use it! Therefore, disconnected customer data across marketing, sales, service, commerce and other systems can make understanding customers nearly impossible. This results in many lost opportunities to grow the relationship with the customer.  Defining CX Excellence Companies that put together a mature CX strategy should be able to compete no matter how much consumers and the business world change. They do this by capturing and managing customer data, using the right applications to serve customers, and equipping sales and service people with real time data, in full context. But what does CX Excellence actually mean? CX is complex because every brand’s path to excellence is unique. The path you follow depends on current business priorities across marketing, sales, commerce, services and field service. If you consider the less sophisticated end of the "Path to Excellence", processes are typically siloed, manual and are measured in terms of cost reductions and efficiency improvements. When starting out, customer experiences are typically static and use limited customer data to influence personalization. Data plays a critical role in driving CX excellence and successfully connecting data and intelligence is often the difference between success and failure. Brands that are successful in differentiating on the customer experience have mastered automation, connected processes across marketing, sales and service and successfully unified customer intelligence across all touch points. With their customer in the middle, these brands measure success in terms of customer lifetime value, customer satisfaction and revenue growth.  OK OK!  I Get it!  How can we get there from here!? The CX experts at Oracle have developed a fairly simple framework that can help you define your unique path, whether you start with marketing, sales, commerce or service. We will be exploring this topic over the coming months in the Path to CX Excellence blog series…. In the meantime, click here to read "The Impact of Emerging Technology on CX Excellence." This report has insights from a global survey of 400+ CX Visionaries.    

Everything has changed with how consumers now engage with brands.  Oracle calls this the “Experience Economy,” where customers are the true innovators, not brands nor the enterprise. Why does this...

CX News & Events

Forrester Report - Getting Customer Data Management Right

"It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts." – Sherlock Holmes, from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s, “A Scandal in Bohemia” Anyone who works with customers today knows the importance of complete customer data, or at least of having as much as possible in order to delight them. This is crucial because in today’s ‘experience economy’, fickle and demanding customers can shop, compare prices and switch brands instantly.  The importance of this full customer data view comes out in a new thought leadership paper written by Forrester Consulting titled “Getting Customer Data Management Right.” Forrester surveyed 337 marketing and advertising professionals in North America and Europe who are responsible for customer data, marketing analytics, and marketing/advertising technology. Key Findings Most firms have a version of a customer data platform (CDP) but don’t use it to its fullest capabilities. Marketers have an opportunity to improve their organizations customer data practices. Firms with better unified customer profiles experience better business results. Forrester notes that CDPs are marketing technologies that centralize customer data from multiple sources and make it available to systems of insight and engagement. Forrester created a Customer Profile Maturity Model that ranks survey recipients into three maturity levels; emerging, scaling and leading.  11% of firms were considered leaders, those that effectively use a CDP. Forrester concludes they are; 7.9 times more likely to see a revenue increase of more than 10% year to year compared to emerging firms. 2.6 times more likely than emerging companies to see increased business results, such as profitability, as a result of their unified data management. 2.5 times more likely to enjoy benefits like increased customer lifetime values. Forrester also notes that while leaders in the utilization of customer data platforms are best positioned for success, those that aren’t necessarily leaders absolutely have steps they can take to improve around customer data management.   Forrester puts forth some solid recommendations noted in this overview and fully detailed in the complete thought leadership paper that can be downloaded here. It can be a tough path to Customer Data Management success. Oracle has been helping brands gain value from their data assets for more than 40 years. Read about Oracle CX Cloud's newest offering called CX Unity, a Customer Intelligence Platform...  

"It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts." – Sherlock Holmes, from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s,...

Customer Experience Strategy

Book Review of Unlocking the Customer Value Chain by Thales Teixeira

Working with customers today requires speedy delivery of the product or service, but also mandates a full understanding of the customer experience itself. This ranges from how a customer discovers a brand, engages with the provider, consumes the product or service and also how the customer works through any service needs. I kept these elements in mind when I read "Unlocking the Customer Value Chain" by Harvard Business School professor Thales Teixeira. I felt it an excellent book and below are the things that I personally, not as any official Oracle endorsement, got out of the book. Overview Teixeira notes some key concepts in the beginning of the book that he expands upon throughout: It’s about customers, not technology. Each customer has a value chain to satisfy their needs and desires. Anyone working with or hoping to acquire a customer should know the discrete pieces of their customer value-chain. Decoupling is when a firm fulfills one of more pieces of that value chain in a better way for the customer than done previously. Business Models / Customer Value-Chain A key theme throughout the book, is innovation: not product or fulfillment innovation, but a customer-centric business model innovation, defined below. A business model specifies how a firm creates value (and for whom), and how it captures value (and from whom). A business model from the customer point of view: “A business model consists of the value a business creates for me, what it charges me in exchange for that value, and what value it erodes for me.” Incumbent companies should look at their own customer value chain and ask whether it can (A) deliver more value without charging more, (B) charge less, or (C) reduce eroded customer value without reducing either the offer or capture. Decoupling / Rebalancing If an incumbent falls short in any of these areas, it provides an opportunity for a new entrant to decouple the customer value-chain and take away a piece of the business in one of the customer-centric areas of value-creation, value-charging, or value-eroding. While successful businesses can be built by decoupling in any of these three areas, Teixeira notes that value-creating decouplers tend to have higher valuations. Another concept covered is “layering of innovation”, or, how the best approach to building a business is to first articulate the current standard, then develop the digital equivalent, and finally innovate on top of digital business models. Teixeira details the process of In how to go about decoupling,: 1.    Identify a target customer segment and its detailed customer value-chain. 2.    Classify the activities in that chain as either value creating, charging, or eroding. 3.    Identify weak links between the activities, places where the customer currently performs all activities with one vendor but would be willing to break some apart if it benefits them. 4.    Break the weak links. 5.    Predict how incumbents will respond, with two general categories of incumbent response are to recouple what was decoupled, or to preemptively decouple. This idea of an incumbent forcing recoupling, through actions such as lawsuits, should perhaps be a temporary one as it goes against customer desires, so an alternate path is rebalancing, a form of decoupling through altering the business model, with the below definition from the book: Rebalancing: Create value at every point where you attempt to capture value, and capture value at every point where you attempt to create value. The concept of rebalancing comes from looking in the value chain for leakage, defined as value created minus value charged. If found in large quantities, to try to address it through rebalancing. An example of this from the book is how Best Buy instituted supermarket-like slotting fees for manufacturers, charging them for prominent display space while still providing the same value to consumers.   Building disruptive businesses Teixeira covers the overriding importance of customer acquisition, even if through non-scalable approaches by keying in on customer-focused approaches to business creation. Examples below: •    Customer-side synergies: Cost reductions that the customer gains while consuming multiple activities provided by a single firm. •    CVC adjacencies: Activities immediately preceding and following those that a customer chose to decouple from an incumbent. •    Coupling: The act of sequentially adding and strengthening the links between adjacent customer activities captured from an incumbent. The second and third concepts above include verbiage around activities that have been decoupled, but the same ideas apply for an incumbent provider, in either scenario it’s not about provider focused activities, but rather customer value-chain focused activities, tying into the below concepts from Teixeira: •    Resource-centricity: Certain firm-owned resources are your most valuable possessions. All your major business decisions should help you expand and leverage these resources. •    Customer-centricity: Customers are your most valuable possessions. All major business decisions should enhance your ability to increase the number of customers and leverage them. The book notes how when a company does things not in the best interest of the customer, they’ll usually suffer.  Also, companies are generally not customer-centric, but people are. So, companies need to set up things so their employees have the incentive to be customer-centric. To hear Teixeira talk about his book, The Innovation Engine Podcast has an excellent interview with him.    

Working with customers today requires speedy delivery of the product or service, but also mandates a full understanding of the customer experience itself. This ranges from how a customer discovers a...

CPQ

Top 5 Reasons to Participate in Technology User Groups

Technology user groups are a great way to connect with communities of users who share common interests and challenges. User groups function as forums to actively share knowledge and experience, learn about new trends and technologies, hear from solution providers and create special interest workgroups. With every technology, it takes an effort to stay on top. Complacency won’t power a long-term prosperous career. User groups provide a great way to help you become recognized as a rising star in your field and among peers whose opinions really matter. Below are the top 5 reasons why you should participate in a user group related to your technology. #1 - Give Yourself a Technical Edge Peer-to-peer training and discussion groups offered by user groups are an effective way to learn and enhance your technology skills. Peer training isn’t driven by overt promotional or marketing influences. Therefore, the content is typically straightforward examples of how other users handle critical issues and get the most out of a particular solution. Most user groups offer web-based services for discussion, webinars, training and contacting other members. This makes engagement easy and very cost-effective. In addition, most user groups will offer multiple in-person meetings both at national and regional events. Ultimately, engaging in user groups allows you to gain greater value from the technology, learn from others, and improve your skills. #2 - Build Connections with Your Peers By far the biggest benefit of participating in a user group that covers your particular technology is the ability to interact with your industry peers. After all, user groups are comprised of people in your same area of expertise. Take advantage of the rare opportunity to interact with people who share the same idiosyncratic challenges, hassles, and knowledge that comes from working in your area of specialization. As a bonus, you’ll collaborate with people at various stages of their careers, giving you a chance to learn from some colleagues, while mentoring others earlier in their careers. An unstated reality in the modern work environment is that everyone is on the lookout for what may be the next big opportunity. User groups are comprised of people who want to network, expand their knowledge and ultimately become leaders in their industry. Therefore, they are a perfect place to identify your next role.  Make a special effort to reach out, exchange information, share stories and answer questions. The investment of your time and effort to interact will pay off in more ways than you may think! #3 - Gain New Knowledge User groups typically offer constant opportunities to learn something new. This may be 3rd party vendors brought in to cover certain technology questions, round table discussions for specific areas of concern, or members presenting specific learnings and stories to help others. These are opportunities to discover new things and recognize emerging trends before others can see them.  User groups are also a great resource for crowdsourcing answers to challenges you may face. Many user groups have workspaces where members can pose questions and get feedback. Use this resource. Many times what you might consider a very difficult issue has already been solved by others. #4 - See the Bigger Picture Employees who work with the same product day after day end up operating in siloes of knowledge that are limited to that particular solution area. User groups are a powerful way to break out of this dreaded silo and explore what is changing across industries and technologies. What trends could impact your business? How have other organizations addressed similar challenges? These are all topics that can be addressed in your user group. Gaining an understanding of this larger picture provides you with the opportunity to not only become a more valuable employee, but impress the boss as well #5 - Make an Impression on Your Boss Demonstrating that you actively seek to network, expand your knowledge and improve your value to the organization will most likely be noticed by your boss. Having your finger on the pulse of the technology, knowing the significant players from other companies and understanding how you can make a larger long term impact will impress your boss. This might be the most important benefit of all.   So, what are you waiting for? Technology user groups are a great way to meet people, learn along the way and it looks great on your resume. Luckily for you, Oracle has several user group communities you can participate with. •    Brand new Oracle CPQ User Group Community! - Learn more and sign up here •    Oracle Commerce User Group Community - Learn more and sign up here •   Click to find information on other Oracle user groups    

Technology user groups are a great way to connect with communities of users who share common interests and challenges. User groups function as forums to actively share knowledge and experience, learn...

Customer Service

Oracle is Positioned as a Leader in Worldwide Manufacturing Field Service Management Applications in IDC's 2019/2020 Marketscape

IDC has released their Marketscape report for Worldwide Manufacturing evaluating Field Service Management Applications. In the report, IDC evaluated Oracle Field Service and has named Oracle a leader in its ability to support the Manufacturing Industry. Manufacturers have always been a focus for field service solutions, but lately the industry has received more attention. Manufacturers often rely on advanced workflows and complex use cases, in order to maintain often complex and widespread assets. As the manufactures looks to future proof their service divisions - side of the business – there is much to consider, particularly finding the right field service management software. In the report, IDC breaks down why Oracle Field Service is a great fit for the manufacturing space. Oracle has always been ahead of its time when it comes to field service innovation. IDC has recognized our efforts, and cited innovation as one of the primary reasons for Oracles leadership position in the report. The report goes into some detail around how Oracle Field Service is a robust and flexible solution, and how it must design software to meet the changing dynamics in the manufacturing space. Click hear to read why IDC named Oracle Field Service as a Leader in their Marketscape report of Worldwide Manufacturing.    

IDC has released their Marketscape report for Worldwide Manufacturing evaluating Field Service Management Applications. In the report, IDC evaluated Oracle Field Service and has named Oracle a leader...

Sales

CRM Made Smarter by Evolving from a System of Record to a System of Recommendation

It’s no secret that today’s customers want to make purchases any way they choose. They want choices that include price and product configurations, new buying models such as subscriptions, and prefer brands that know when to offer hands-on help, especially as digital and sales-assisted buying experiences continue to blend. Great sales teams are advocates for their customers, and being a great advocate starts with getting better recommendations, not just better customer records, from your CRM. With a system of recommendation in place, sales teams can spend more time selling and less time preparing. When they can understand their buyers on a deeper, more meaningful level, they can work harder to cultivate a personalized buying experience that leaves customers happier and drives more revenue. The Old CRM is a System of Record To better understand their target buyers, sales teams have historically relied on customer relationship management (CRM) systems to hold data about prospects and customers. Integrations with other systems link other customer data such as marketing campaigns, service interactions, purchase behaviors, proposals, and more. When all key data is entered, cleaned and deduplicated, CRM acts as a powerful “system of record” that informs sales forecasting, commission modeling, outreach prioritization, and other areas of business. However, for CRMs to be useful, they must have good data. This is easier said than done because in reality, sales reps typically have to spend time manually entering data, a task which they hate! This means that data entry is often deprioritized, thus CRM data becomes stale and reps are less likely to use and update their CRM. When contacts are outdated, company profiles lack context, and pipeline/funnel data is incorrect, the value and influence of CRM plummets and the vicious cycle compounds. The New CRM is a System of Engagement and Recommendation Today’s customer buying journeys are less formulaic, more complex, individualized and curated. Therefore, sales reps don’t just need data; they need to be able to access and leverage incredibly timely and relevant insights that empower them to better sell and serve customers. According to recent SiriusDecisions research, “Improving sales rep productivity must be an ongoing pursuit for sales operations, sales enablement and sales leaders. However, sales organizations should move beyond a focus on increasing activity (e.g. “sending more emails and making more phone calls”) and seek to add insight and intelligence to buyer and customer interactions (e.g. when to send, what to send, how to send, whom to send to).” Enter the dream team Data-fueled AI can introduce automation that minimizes the time sales reps waste on non-valuable tasks like documenting follow-up activities. It can automate manual tasks like data quality and enrichment and improve the data set that drives its very own effectiveness. The result is things like surfacing recommendations that resonate with customers at the exact moment they are most likely to engage with the brand. Modern sales teams need a “system of recommendation.” Meet The System of Recommendation At Oracle, we apply a few key lenses to develop sales tech and applications that prioritize the needs of sales reps so that they can advocate for their customers. Rich data: Advanced CRM combines data from first, second, and third parties in order to create rich client and company profiles that support multiple areas of the business. Rich customer insights help sales better understand their prospects and customers and help colleagues in marketing, commerce, and service do the same. Rich data incorporates real-time signals about what’s happening for an individual, their organization, and their immediate world. Examples include knowing which trade shows that key customers and prospects will attend, technology they already own, and news announcements that indicate revenue growth or decline. Whole business revenue generation mindset: While CRM can integrate with other core business systems such as enterprise resource planning (ERP), a shared data model is even better when the entire business is engaged in generating revenue. With Oracle, customer data management (CDM) is the backbone of it all, providing a single point of truth about your customer. For example, consider how historical ERP and order data such as purchase history and renewal info can give a sales team insight to improve territory planning, individual rep incentives, and forecasting. This type of pre-planning and sales right-sizing provides a foundation on which marketing and account teams can plan, and for customer success teams to engage at the right time. User Experience: It’s widely agreed that for a CRM to be used, it must be easy to access, continuously updated, and optimized. It must offer a seamless experience on desktop or mobile. A true system of recommendation travels anywhere a rep goes, in a format that’s familiar, and arms them with insights on any channel as they engage with customers. Many core selling activities should be supported through voice and conversational UI. Smart and often simple UI changes can help create a faster path to that essential data and recommendations for sellers. Any element that can be automated, should be. Your CRM doesn’t need to look like a CRM. AI and Machine-Learning Recommendations: Powered by real-time continuously-updated data, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning capabilities are essential to providing a system of recommendation that helps sales close more business faster. These recommendations can range from surfacing the most relevant records at the most opportune moment to more advanced capabilities like next-best actions and win-probability calculations to help reps and managers proactively spot risk. The next wave of AI innovations will focus heavily on sentiment analysis and relationship intelligence, augmenting rich CRM data and surface new types of insights and recommendations that fine tune the selling process. Pretty soon, you may not recognize your CRM. Sophisticated selling organizations are taking a closer look at how richer data, better automation (actual sales automation), revenue operations, machine learning and major updates to user experience can give CRM a fresh new identity. Click here to learn how Oracle can help you reimagine your CRM strategy for the Experience Economy.          

It’s no secret that today’s customers want to make purchases any way they choose. They want choices that include price and product configurations, new buying models such as subscriptions, and...

Customer Experience Strategy

Brands Matter and Always Will

At a time when better, less expensive products and services are just a click or two away, conventional wisdom might be that brands are less important than they once were. That conventional wisdom is dead wrong. Vibrant brands—and not just the biggest ones like Coke, Mack Trucks, Target, and FedEx—are more important than ever in this digital world. But, with great power comes great responsibility to earn customers’ loyalty by engaging them in creative, non-intrusive, authentic, and subtle new ways. Engagement Plans Back in 2016, Samsung opened a 56,000-square-foot wonderland in New York filled with all sorts of cool things; auditorium seating for performances and special events, a gallery featuring curated content, and a broadcast studio. Guess what you won’t find there to this day? One single Samsung product for sale! Zach Overton, general manager of the center, told me when it opened, “Creating a flagship without retail might sound like a crazy idea. But, consumers today are seeking interactions and experiences rather than transactions.” Another brand that’s using unique ways to engage consumers is Macy’s, which created Story, a narrative-driven retail concept that “invites shoppers to explore emerging small-business brands.” Housed within various Macy’s stores across the US, the Story spaces get reinvented every two months based on different themes—the latest being, naturally, 'Home for the Holidays.' Get the Message? Brands must also get better at engaging with customers on their preferred channels and terms. For example, more than 60% of internet users in the US and UK prefer to use private messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger, Instagram Direct Messages, and WhatsApp to share content and take part in conversations, according to recent research by We Are Social and GlobalWebIndex. More than 2.5 billion people worldwide use at least one of those “dark social” (private) channels every month. If you listen closely, you can hear advertisers and marketers salivating over such a large pool of prospective buyers. However, they must be careful not to overload people with too much sales-y language on these private channels. Just like any other marketing channel, courting customers there is all about building relationships—providing consumers with helpful hints, entertaining them, and, of course, responding to any questions and complaints. You Give and You Get Marketing veteran Nikki Carlson, cofounder of ChicExecs Retail and Strategy Firm, wrote on Forbes that we’re now “in the middle of a do-good renaissance where brands give back.” When brands give back correctly and, more importantly, genuinely, their efforts can increase customer loyalty, Carlson notes. It also brings in new customers. In a global study conducted years ago by Cone Communications, 91% of the consumers surveyed said they were likely to switch to a brand that supports a good cause, given similar product price and quality. There’s no shortage of brands that give back to society. Two noteworthy examples are TOMS Shoes and Warby Parker, which donate a pair of shoes and glasses, respectively, for every pair they sell. Among lesser-known brands, Ivory Ella, an apparel and lifestyle brand, donates 10% of its annual profit toward saving the world’s elephants. But brands need to be careful not to overplay their goodness. Some companies, for instance, promote their eco-friendly products despite their full knowledge that those products harm the environment. Others publicly join the march toward a cure for cancer even though they use chemicals linked to the disease. And there’s a fine line between promoting the causes your company supports and being seen as exploiting those efforts for commercial gain. As mentioned earlier, with great brand power comes great responsibility: to market to customers and potential customers with the respect they deserve. Thus, brands will continue to matter. Click to learn about Oracle Marketing Cloud services    

At a time when better, less expensive products and services are just a click or two away, conventional wisdom might be that brands are less important than they once were. That conventional wisdom...

Ask the Experts

Oracle Customers are CX Heroes With the Metrics and Tattoos to Prove it

Modern Customer Experience is the biggest CX event of the year, and you—our customers—are the heart and soul of the conference. You inspire us year round, and we’re excited to welcome you back to the event in Chicago this year. Looking back, my favorite highlight from Modern CX 2019 happened after the conference when CIO Pedro Martini and Douglas Melo from WebContinental got #CXHero tattoos in Las Vegas to commemorate their conference experience. I wanted to catch up with these leaders and hear about their experience at Modern CX, and learn why a #CXHero tattoo strengthens their commitment to leading positive change. Tell me about your connection with Oracle. Pedro: In my early career, I worked as an Oracle DB Administrator, so my relationship was purely commercial—we bought Oracle databases. When I became CIO at WebContinental, we were using Oracle databases and my connection with Oracle was still a supplier-client relationship. Our relationship started to evolve into a partnership when we met with the Oracle team to see how Oracle solutions could help us solve our problems and grow our business. This led us to invest in Oracle Commerce. Douglas: My relationship started four years ago when we invested in Oracle Commerce. We realized our choice was bigger than an ecommerce platform, so I started focusing on how to get the most out of our Oracle CX investment and drive the best experience for our customers. Tell me about your experience at Modern Customer Experience 2019. Pedro: I went to Modern CX expecting another commercial conference, not a transformative paradigm shift. When I saw the capabilities available from Oracle, met product managers, and saw Oracle and its clients interacting in the Commerce Customer Advisory Board (CAB) and CX Hero program, my original perception of Oracle changed. This was a bigger opportunity to grow our relationship with Oracle into a true partnership and to collaborate with people who have the same values and goals to take care of their customers. Since Modern CX, we have grown our relationship with Oracle Brazil into a partnership. The Oracle Brazil team has seen this change in our mindset and embraced it as a new, different way to lead the business. Douglas:  It was an amazing experience being in Las Vegas for the first time, participating in the CAB, and attending the conference. Participating in the CAB provided such validation of our work. I started at WebContinental in 2008, so corralling 10 years of working and sharing our story with a rich team of commerce professionals was amazing. And it was a pleasant surprise to meet Erica and participate in the CX Hero program. It was more than we expected or hoped it would be. What made you decide to get a #CXHero tattoo? Pedro: I’ve been to countless conferences over the years, but Modern CX stood out. We wanted to remember this moment—this focus and belief in transformation—every day. Often, the daily tasks take us away from this focus, but we have to remember that we can do differently and do better. What is a better way to remember than getting a tattoo? Douglas: I would agree with Pedro. We wanted to record the moment we were going through…not only as a company, but individually and professionally. What informed the particular design of your tattoo? Pedro: Right before Modern CX week, we discovered Lee Canyon, a ski resort by Vegas. We didn’t expect to find snow in the desert, but we went and, some of our group of employees saw snow for the first time. So we choose the Lee Canyon logo with #CXHero for our tattoos: Snow was the perfect analogy, because in many ways, we’re in the middle of the desert with our ideas and projects that we’re working for every day. Going to Modern CX was like finding snow in the desert of our situation. #CXHero focuses on people, not just the company or the technology. Technology innovations aren’t enough. We need to change the behavior of people to make true change. We share this value and strive to take a people and behavior-first approach to leading change at WebContinental. Douglas: The tattoo is about sharing an awesome experience with Las Vegas, Lee Canyon, Modern CX, the CAB, the CX Hero program and Oracle as colleagues and friends. And it encourages us with the paradigm shifts we’re leading at our company. What advice do you have about leading change based on your experience at WebContinental? Pedro: The most important thing is to achieve a mutually beneficial situation where both parties benefit…the win-win, the true empathy among people. Find a way forward where teams can work together to achieve an objective for the company. Douglas: Everyone has personal interests and company interests, but if we focus on the higher company goals that we all share, we can grow the business together. It’s not easy, but it’s working. We’ve been growing more than 25% per year for the past 5 years and this year, we’ll grow more than 50%! We believe this fast-growth is happening because of our approach with change management and business positioning. Leading this type of change has been our personal #CXHero program. Look for Pedro and Douglas at Modern Customer Experience to hear their latest CX Hero exploits in selling through resellers and expanding into other countries. If you’re looking to inspire and shape Modern Customer Experience, you don’t have to get a tattoo to share your #CXHero story. Join the Oracle CX Hero Hub today to shape and find opportunities to participate in Modern Customer Experience 2020 today. Read more about WebContinental’s growth in Pedro’s recent article “Transform Your eCommerce Before You Need to:  How WebContinetal Competes in a Rapidly-Growing Market.”          

Modern Customer Experience is the biggest CX event of the year, and you—our customers—are the heart and soul of the conference. You inspire us year round, and we’re excited to welcome you back to the...

CPQ

The Future of CPQ in 2020 and Beyond

As we closed out 2019, I wanted to look ahead at how trends for Configure-Price-Quote (CPQ) show it's gaining momentum in 2020 and well beyond. In the next few years, I expect to see the value of CPQ extend further than simply enabling sales reps to “sell more, sell better, and sell differently.” Our customers have a greater opportunity with CPQ to make significant, positive organizational impacts. Further Eliminate Organizational Silos Efforts designed to drive efficiency improvements are often limited to specific solutions such as CRM or ERP. These may provide significant and immediate results but functionally-based investments that are driven by individual departments typically contribute to creating those dreaded organizational silos.   I’ve seen senior execs effectively eliminate organizational silos by leveraging Oracle CPQ as a logical bridge solution between disconnected CRM and ERP systems. Examples include visualizations, rules-based automation and price optimizations, which enable an organization to bring their entire front office together. This supports a strategic vision for their products, services, pricing and sales governance. In this way, Oracle CPQ accelerates an evolution toward great digital experiences that are driven by IT platforms.  We at Oracle expect to see much more of this over the coming decade. CPQ Experts Become Organizational Change Agents The role of coordinating strategies across departments and divisions is complicated by existing legacy IT systems and point solutions. These systems and architectures need to be integrated to power the selling functions of a business and align with an organization’s long-term business goals and KPIs. A core benefit of Oracle CPQ is the ability to empower dramatic impact on the organization. Aligning workflows to maximize efficiency, reduce errors, eliminate wasted time, remove unnecessary steps and improve profits will significantly change the organization. Plan for this and empower your CPQ Champion to become the “Change Agent” of the organization. Our customers that get the most value from CPQ view it as a process for organizational change across departments and we see this value-driving trend continuing in 2020.   Extension of Business Models Many organizations are exploring how to offer their customers new purchasing models such as pay-as-you-go service access, fixed, and consumption-based subscriptions, and balance draw-downs that allow consumers to adjust consumption as their needs grow or change. As legacy business models get disrupted, organizations will take the opportunity to innovate business models and engage buyers in closer recurring relationships. To do this, organizations must rethink internal systems and processes to accommodate offering products and services in recurring revenue models to support the complete customer lifecycle. Within Oracle CPQ, Subscription Ordering or Asset-Based Ordering functionality is used to sell tangible assets or services.  Sales users can create, modify, and terminate asset-based products using orders and assets stored in Oracle CPQ.   They can also reconfigure an order or create a follow-on order to make changes to an existing asset stored in Oracle CPQ. Enabling these new business models is another trend we expect to see expand in the coming decade. Increasing End-user Self-service for Complex B2B Transactions B2B buyers now expect a consistent, B2C-like sales experience. Therefore, in 2020 we expect to see more B2B end-user customers continue to demand the ability to create their own product or service configurations and get self-service quotes in real-time. Customers may choose to interact with a sales rep or, simply place their order. When B2B self-service transactions become more complex, we’ll see real-time visualization and augmented reality emerge as a key requirement to ensure users get the product or service they expect while also providing them with a better, more pleasurable experience.   We expect this self-service to be perfectly natural for repeat orders where the experience is personalized with previous purchase history, available product options, and logical cross-sell opportunities. The Bottom Line – Sell More and Sell Faster! CPQ is more than just a sales tool; it's a path for business transformation. It gets sales teams out into the field, in front of customers, and closes deals faster. It can be used as a self-service tool for the end-user; it can support a robust partner/distributor ecosystem, and it can be used to speed sales cycles and ensure that promises become realities.  It can also take an unprofitable deal turn it into a key contributor to your top and bottom line. In 2020 and beyond, we expect to see an increase in companies leveraging Oracle CPQ solutions for much broader organizational impact to eliminate functional silos, extend business models and enable end-user self-service.  All of this while growing revenue and margin on every order. Click here to learn more about Oracle CPQ.

As we closed out 2019, I wanted to look ahead at how trends for Configure-Price-Quote (CPQ) show it's gaining momentum in 2020 and well beyond. In the next few years, I expect to see the value of CPQ...

CX News & Events

Oracle Ranks #1 in 2019 Ventana Research Value Index for Sales Performance Management

Ventana Research has published its 2019 Value Index for Sales Performance Management (SPM), ranking Oracle as the top vendor on the list. Covering seven categories, the Value Index leverages unique methodology and research-based analytics to assess how well vendors’ offerings meet buyers’ requirements for software that enables and supports sales performance management. Companies that rank in the top three of in any category earn the designation of Value Index Leader, and Oracle is the only vendor to do so in all seven categories. What this means is that Oracle leads in every aspect of how SPM brings value to organizations – from general capabilities down to validation of our investment in this solution area. Read our recent blog Sales Forecasting, Made Smarter - How AI Improves Data Accuracy and Rep Accountability Some highlights from the categories Ventana looked at include: Usability: One aspect evaluated in this category is user experience, an area where Oracle is making significant investments. See our newly announced Digital Sales solution as a great example! Reliability & Adaptability: This category focuses on performance and scale, one of the top reasons some of the largest companies in the world choose Oracle for SPM. It’s also Oracle SPM’s proven ability to handle even the most large-scale, complex use cases. Part of the Oracle CX Sales solution, SPM use cases can extend seamlessly to partners and service teams. TCO/ROI: We have great customer stories and the best opportunity to meet with Oracle customers and learn how companies are improving payment accuracy, reducing disputes and more is to register today for Oracle Modern Customer Experience, happening in Chicago March 23-26. “It’s great to see Oracle ranked so highly in this Value Index,” says Nick Vautier, Director of Product Management for SPM at Oracle. “We believe that all the components of sales planning and performance management deliver significantly more value when they’re treated as a fully connected process, and we’re seeing a seismic shift in companies realizing the need for connected data in order to provide intelligent experiences.” Click here to learn more about Oracle’s connected Sales Planning and Performance Management solution. Download the Ventana Value Index for Sales Performance Management here. Oracle also ranks as a leader in the 2019 Forrester Wave for Sales Performance Management and the 2019 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Sales Performance Management.        

Ventana Research has published its 2019 Value Index for Sales Performance Management (SPM), ranking Oracle as the top vendor on the list. Covering seven categories, the Value Index leverages unique...

Customer Experience Technology

Partner Relationship Management Made Smarter – How to Maximize Partner Experience and Engagement

By Indrajit Sen, Director, Sales Cloud Product Management, Oracle More than 75% of world trade flows through indirect channels, according to research from a January 2019 Forrester blog post, "What I See Coming for the Channel in 2019" by Jay McBain, Principal Analyst of Channel Partnerships & Alliances. If your organization has a network of partners reselling your products and solutions, you’ve likely heard of or operated under the rule that 20% of partners generate 80% of sales. However, as the channel’s fiscal impact and influence continues to grow, McBain believes that “we are about to see an influx of investment in and attention on indirect sales by firms in all industries.” The size of companies’ networks can vary significantly—from tens to thousands of partners. Despite their size, vendors of all sizes must rethink their approach to partner management and engagement, especially as partner networks evolve and channel sales objectives and expectations increase. Couple this with the fact that 41% of senior executives responsible for partner relationships are not happy with their partner management process.  In the Experience Economy, channel leaders must question whether they’re giving partners everything they need to be successful throughout the entire customer lifecycle—including marketing, sales, and service. This is where an innovative partner relationship management (PRM) platform plays a critical role. Not all PRMs are Created Equal At the foundational level, PRM is designed to integrate everything your partner community needs to sell your products and services. It includes everything from on-boarding, to planning and enablement, as well as co-selling and co-marketing resources and content. PRM also gives partners tools for nurturing opportunities and closing deals fast. However, most PRM systems on the market are unwieldy and don’t consider new and ever-evolving user expectations. Like your direct sales team, your channel partners expect more from the tools and systems you provide. They're managing relationships with several other vendors at one time, so you must focus first and foremost on creating a superior experience for them. What does a great partner experience entail? A few key best practices rise to the top: Add value to the relationship.  Give them fast and easy access to opportunities as they emerge. Help them be successful.  Provide anytime, anywhere access to all the marketing tools and product resources they need to go-to-market effectively. Make it easy for them to partner with you. Ensure your tools and systems are easy to use and can easily integrate into their daily processes. Provide stellar service, every time. Allow them to access a knowledgeable expert from your team when they need additional support. While your PRM should address all these requirements, not all systems are created equal. In the Experience Economy, partners’ experience with your brand should hold the same weight as your customers. That means you must ensure that you’re understanding their needs and providing them with the tools and resources they need to have an excellent experience. 4 Ways Innovative PRM Augments the Partner Experience Think for a second about your end-customers’ behaviors and expectations. Are they largely using mobile devices to access information? Do they expect your brand to deliver timely and relevant messages through their preferred channels? Is personalization table stakes for winning their time and attention? Your answers are likely very similar for your partners. These behaviors and expectations have set new standards for PRM. A best-in-class solution helps you create an easy-to-use experience that is tailored to your brand but customized to the activities and tasks your partners care about most. Other critical capabilities include: Other critical capabilities include; Mobile accessibility: Ease of access via smartphones and tablets isn’t just a nice to have; it’s a requirement for today’s modern sales professional. PRM must give users access to all core capabilities, adapting the experience to the touch-and-zoom features of their mobile devices. For instance, through the partner portal, users should be able to easily review, accept, or reject deals; qualify and score leads; register new deals; update opportunities; generate quotes; and request marketing development funds (MDF). Rich insights and AI-powered capabilities: Data is only as good as the insights uncovered. Your PRM should allow partners to easily access and manipulate data through dashboards that help them uncover new insights and opportunities. Guided selling tools, alerts, and company intelligence powered by AI and machine learning take these insights to the next level, giving partners tactical recommendations and actions for success. Speed and clarity: As noted earlier, your partners are juggling multiple vendors at a time, so you’re competing for attention daily. Make it easy for them to work with you by ensuring your PRM allows them to quickly do business. This includes automatically assigning leads, self-service quotes, requesting discount approvals and marketing funds. Real-time digital and social collaboration: The lines between sales, service, and experience are blurred. To maintain channel partnerships and maximize revenue potential, you must establish a constant stream of communication and collaboration. That’s where digital and social capabilities come in handy, helping you connect with them on go-to-market activities, service requests, and other needs. When you meet these four criteria, you’re setting a powerful foundation for the partner experience; ultimately, leading to improved partner satisfaction and loyalty, increased channel sales and revenue, and greater insight into partner performance. Oracle PRM provides the stellar user experience needed to drive channel success. Integration with key data sources, including marketing, sales, service, and even back-office systems like ERP, help create a 360-degree view of your business—including your channel. Learn how Oracle can help you optimize partner relationships, performance, loyalty, and experience. Click here to learn more about Oracle Partner Relationship Management.    

By Indrajit Sen, Director, Sales Cloud Product Management, Oracle More than 75% of world trade flows through indirect channels, according to research from a January 2019 Forrester blog post, "What...

CX News & Events

Did Investments in Digital Pay Off During Cyberweek 2019?

This past week, most of us in the US were largely checked out--enjoying a holiday feast with friends and family and going through our wish lists. However, if you work for a brand or retailer, you likely weren’t totally relaxed. Cyberweek is make-it-or-break-it.  When sites get slow or go down all together, it does more than spoil the holiday fun. It costs millions! Our customers, partners, and operations teams make significant investments in strategy and technology to ensure a smooth holiday peak. Earlier this year, we partnered with CommerceNext and surveyed over 100 leading retailers and DTC brands regarding their investments for the 2019 holiday season. Top investment areas included customer acquisition, mobile optimization, and personalization. Based on data from retailers and brands using Oracle CX Commerce, those investments clearly paid off. Looking at our aggregated Oracle CX Commerce retail customers, here are some key takeaways from Cyberweek: Digital shows no signs of stopping. Each year we see fewer shoppers lining up in the cold for doorbusters and more shoppers using digital channels to grab the best gifts. Collectively, Oracle CX Commerce retail customers saw a 43% increase in traffic on Black Friday this year compared to 2018. The increase in traffic also resulted in not only higher revenue, but also higher average order value (AOV). This should make digital leaders happy since, according to our research with CommerceNext, 75% of brands were planning to increase their investments in acquisition marketing leading up to the holiday shopping season. Mobile is where it’s at. Mobile traffic continues to lead and it’s only getting larger. Let’s face it; we’re all addicted to our phones and they can serve as a convenient distraction. In fact, according to our research with CommerceNext, 57% of leading brands and retailers said they plan to invest more in mobile optimization this holiday season. Those investments seem to be paying off. Oracle CX Commerce retailers saw mobile traffic was up 57% compared to 2018. Black Friday isn’t the beginning. Promotions started before Black Friday this year, and shoppers bought in. The Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving saw the largest percentage increases YOY for traffic, orders, and AOV for retailers using Oracle CX Commerce. In fact, revenue two days before Thanksgiving jumped by 68% and AOV saw a lift of 37% compared to 2018. In addition, more people bought on Thanksgiving Day than in 2018. Looking at an aggregate of all retailers using Oracle CX Commerce, conversion increased 28% on Thanksgiving Day in 2019 compared to 2018.                  

This past week, most of us in the US were largely checked out--enjoying a holiday feast with friends and family and going through our wish lists. However, if you work for a brand or retailer, you...

Customer Experience Technology

Where is My Technician?

Companies like Uber and Lyft have been around for a few years now, and the impact they’ve had on the customer experience and the expectations around service can’t be overstated. In fact, the term “uberization” has been so overused, there is a certain exhaustion that comes with every mention. But, the impact has been substantial. The expected experience these services have created has carried over into industries like Field Service. This shouldn’t come as a big surprise. Field Service is the perfect example of how moving toward a more “uberized” experience can create a huge competitive differentiator. Keeping customers informed throughout the entire lifecycle of a field service engagement is something that all companies strive for, but also where most fall short. While updates can be provided via voice, SMS, and e-mail, the gold standard is to provide customers with the option to visually track, in real-time, the mobile worker on a map. Oracle Field Service was built from the ground up to take the customer experience to the next level. Recently rated a Leader for the 6th consecutive time in the Gartner Magic Quadrant, the report ranks us highest in our ability to execute. Oracle takes another big step toward providing exceptional field service with the November 2019 (19D) Release. We’re introducing native “Where’s My Technician” functionality – demonstrating our ongoing commitment to vision, execution, and to building a solution that’s configurable and flexible enough to evolve rapidly as changing customer expectations. This feature allows users to configure an Uber-like experience for their customers that matches their own branding as well as helps them build an experience and notification rules that match their field service processes. Customers receive notifications via email and/or SMS. They can also now follow the progress of the ever-critical ‘last mile’ of the service lifecycle, just as if they hailed a ride or ordered a pizza. Oracle Field Service proactively engages customers with their relevant appointment details such as the technician who will be arriving onsite with up-to-date location details of him or her on a map. This allows for a safe and transparent experience that meets the ever-increasing demands of customers. In addition, “Where’s My Technician” helps to reduce costs by allowing users to configure the functionality within their field service solution without relying on a systems integrator. Finally, giving customers total visibility means they'll be prepared when their field service rep arrives - and sets field service employees up for success. If you are interested in learning more about how the “Where’s My Technician Tracker” can help reduce costs, improve customer satisfaction, and provide a competitive advantage for your company – be sure to check our release readiness pages. To learn more about this exciting new feature click here. To learn more about Oracle Field Service, visit https://www.oracle.com/applications/customer-experience/service/field-service-management.  

Companies like Uber and Lyft have been around for a few years now, and the impact they’ve had on the customer experience and the expectations around service can’t be overstated. In fact, the...

CPQ

Gartner Names Oracle a Leader for Third Consecutive Year in the Magic Quadrant for Configure Price and Quote Applications Suites

Gartner has recognized Oracle as a Leader, positioned highest in Execution in the 2019 Magic Quadrant (MQ) for Configure, Price and Quote Application Suites. Analysts Mark Lewis and Christina Klock analyzed sixteen vendors and placed each in one of four categories: Leader, Challenger, Niche Player, or Visionary. This is the third year in a row that Oracle was placed a Leader. Oracle believes that placement in the leaders’ quadrant in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Configure, Price and Quote Applications Suites provides confirmation of Oracle’s CPQ market position that is the result of nearly two decades of continuous development investment against a visionary roadmap and the sophistication of a global Solution Implementation partner network. The real story though is underscored in the Gartner report by the premier placement on the ‘execution’ axis, is the value our customers get out of the Oracle CPQ Cloud solution. You can read the 12 ways Configure, Price, and Quote (CPQ) provides value in the recently published Oracle CX Blog post series. No. 1: Sell Faster No. 2: Five Ways to Control Margins No. 3: Better Looking Quotes and Proposals No. 4: Error Free Orders No. 5: Guided Selling No. 6: Improve the Deal Approval Process No. 7: Maximize Sales Opportunities No. 8: Asset Based Ordering No. 9: Five Ways to Reduce Administration No. 10: Insights Through Analytics No. 11: Auditability No. 12: Simplify the Complex How does Oracle CPQ stack up in the market? According to us, the position as a Leader in the Gartner CPQ MQ is one indication of the many strengths of Oracle CPQ that include; Oracle CPQ has proven performance at vast enterprise scale with customers who have complex requirements, lots of users, and high volumes of transactions. Oracle offers a Total Commerce suite of CX products that provide the benefit of being architected on a robust platform with capabilities around Adaptive Intelligence, analytics, extensibility, collaboration and seamless integration. CX platform innovations allow CPQ to address challenges faster and more effectively than other vendors. CPQ features such as Deal management, Price Optimization, System Configuration, Subscription Ordering and Subscription Management provide elegant solutions to business challenges that customers may not realize they have. Oracle's resources and robust software development practices ensure that CPQ Cloud invests more in development of the CPQ product than any other vendor, thus rendering the solution more valuable year after year. Oracle CPQ is supported around the world with local presence in almost every continent and country and provides customers with follow-the-sun, product-dedicated support personnel. Oracle's world-wide training and partner network ensure that CPQ Cloud customers have access to skilled, experienced implementation expertise. Oracle Configure, Price, and Quote - The CPQ Solution to Trust     Interested in digging deeper into the advanced functionalities of Oracle’s CPQ that enable successful sales transformation projects for customers around the globe? Contact us. We’ll be happy to show you how you can leverage Oracle CPQ to improve your bottom line. Click here to read the 2019 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Configure, Price and Quote Application Suites Click to read about Oracle Configure Price Quote Read the Executive Paper The Financial Impact of Selecting the Wrong CPQ Solution Gartner Magic Quadrant for Configure, Price and Quote Application Suites, Christina Klock, Mark Lewis, 28 October 2019- Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.            

Gartner has recognized Oracle as a Leader, positioned highest in Execution in the 2019 Magic Quadrant (MQ) for Configure, Price and Quote Application Suites. Analysts Mark Lewis and Christina...

Customer Experience

Meeting and Exceeding the Digital Expectations of Citizens

Public trust and faith in government across the globe needs a user-friendly boost.  Trust is underpinned by the different rules that cascade from a few things. Aspirational, high-level legislation, which begets Policy interpretations of the operational intent of said legislation, and then Regulation and execution. These rules for government decision-making may overlap, contradict themselves, or seem inaccurate and unfair. They’re also frequently complicated, not user-friendly, and sometimes require a lawyer’s degree to understand. Therefore, it’s difficult for the average citizen to understand and stay on the right side of them. Also, too often, citizens need to pay for expensive assistance to take legitimate advantage of the rules and programs. Many governments struggle with this complexity too. They rely on a very high level of bureaucratic competence, knowledge and experience. Their decisions need to be auditable to underpin the public trust. In return, they also require a high level of patience from its citizens. When it comes to online experiences, governments unfortunately too often serve citizens through IT-heavy, code-based systems that focus on IT efficiency instead of providing a wonderful customer experience that leaves them satisfied and happy. The Struggle to Keep up with Changing Expectations Against this backdrop, governments everywhere face an unprecedented challenge through disruption such as the ‘Experience Economy’. Citizens have been conditioned by their online consumer experiences to get positive, instant gratification. This is diametrically adverse to what governments have traditionally provided.  The struggle to keep up with these skyrocketing expectations is compounded because most governments are not funded adequately to meet the challenge, much less get ahead of it. This is because; Most government agencies lack the necessary competitive incentives that fuel innovation and funding in the private sector. Agencies that have relative or absolute monopolies produce resistance to real, customer-focused change. Governments struggle to keep pace with disruptive changes in industries such as banking, insurance, transport and travel. Oracle Policy Automation Solution Overview This all sounds pretty dire! But, there’s a way of meeting all these challenges simultaneously through the use of capabilities such as Oracle Policy Automation (OPA), a solution for capturing, managing, and deploying complex legislation and other document-based policies across channels and processes. With it, government agencies can: Enable the ‘legislation, policy or regulation’ owner to capture the rules in natural language without needing specialist IT skills. Test, refine and update rules to provide the outcomes intended. Empower citizen engagement through a ‘guided digital interview’ process similar to a one-on-one, interview with a subject matter expert through a variety of UIs (web, mobile, chatbot, smart-speaker etc). Provide a 100% accurate, auditable, complete and comprehensive decision report in natural language for every guided digital experience. Enable government employees to become ‘instant experts’ through the use of the guided digital interview approach. Safeguard against the loss of valuable knowledge when experienced employees leave. Reduce the number of employees necessary to handle citizen inquiries while redeploying those employees to higher-value tasks that focus on better citizen experiences and outcomes. Use the same rules that drive the guided digital interview to drive complex calculations for government benefits, payments and entitlements while reducing the potential for error and the time to distribute. Inject the rules and associated logic into existing internal/external online systems, enabling government to leverage existing investments. In Summary... Oracle Policy Automation enables government to deliver instantaneous, individualized services and advice to employees and citizens that is 100% accurate. It explains the interaction in clear language the user can understand. When you consider the demands of the Experience Economy and cohorts such as millennials, OPA is the ideal capability to help government meet its unenviable challenge. One final point: imagine if you migrated all legislation, policy and regulation to OPA — you could dramatically streamline the operation of government, dramatically reduce costs and dramatically increase public trust through the delivery of more accurate and understandable decisions. This blog was originally published in a different form in Government Technology Review      

Public trust and faith in government across the globe needs a user-friendly boost.  Trust is underpinned by the different rules that cascade from a few things. Aspirational, high-level legislation,...

Marketing

5 Lead Management Best Practices That Build Account Based Marketing Success

Co-written with Andrea Tucker, Director of Product Marketing, Oracle Marketing Cloud Lead generation and lead management both play an equally important role in fueling the revenue engine for your business. Where lead generation creates interest among your target audiences, lead management tracks, manages, and engages these leads to qualify them for sales. However, the rules of B2B engagement are quickly changing. Brands are embracing account-based marketing (ABM) strategies, which revolve around engaging the right buyers, not just generating thousands of unqualified leads. It brings together the right people in your organization to develop coordinated strategies for engaging, converting, and expanding target accounts. As B2B organizations prioritize lead quality over quantity, marketing and sales must take a sophisticated, data-driven approach to lead management. According to SiriusDecisions, there are three ways organizations can think about this: Large accounts: “A very small number of large existing or targeted accounts.” Some call this “one-to-one,” as this is when they employ highly targeted marketing and engagement tactics, such as including the company name in a piece of content, landing page, etc. Named accounts: “A moderate or larger number of defined existing or targeted accounts.” This is also known as “one-to-few” ABM. Industries/segments: “A moderate or larger number of new or existing accounts in the same vertical or other specific segment,” also known as “one-to-many” ABM. Effective lead management improves alignment between marketing and sales to better identify and prioritize high-quality leads for sales outreach. This means focusing on key accounts with a high intent to buy. However, few organizations have a solid process to successfully prioritize and identify those accounts, impacting the organization’s ability to reach and exceed revenue targets. 5 Core best practices to ABM success 1. Align sales and marketing around the buyer’s common goal. This has been a popular narrative in the B2B world as organizations work to create more seamless customer experiences across all channels. Every buyer journey is unique. Some may never interact with sales while others expect a high-touch, consultative experience. It’s up to sales and marketing to have unified goals and follow a cohesive brand story and approach to buyer engagement. Therefore, any combination of sales and marketing can be ready to assist buyers wherever they are in the decision-making process. “The job of defining shared goals may at first glance seem like a marketing job, but there’s a key role for sales operations to play.” says Steve Silver, Service Director of Sales Operations Strategies at SiriusDecisions. “Sales ops is in a unique position to reach across organizational boundaries and help synthesize revenue generation targets handed down by sales leaders, provide practical suggestions for mapping go-to-market strategy to account and territory assignments, plus translate these decisions into reliable sales forecasting data so that even finance is working from the same clear picture as sales and marketing.” 2. Prioritize accounts. In order to identify and prioritize the right accounts, you need robust, connected data. Company data including location, industry, and revenue, plus online signals such as new acquisitions, hires and funding rounds can help you select accounts that are most likely to buy—even when it may not seem obvious to your sales operations or demand generation team. This data should integrate into your CRM environment, so both sales and marketing have a comprehensive view of the accounts. Marketing can leverage these insights to fuel marketing campaigns while sales can use data to guide account and territory planning. Your ABM approach (one-to-one, one-to-few, and one-to-many) will dictate how many accounts you need to select. 3. Enrich account insights. Typically, sales and marketing have an established lead scoring method, aligning certain behaviors and actions to a numerical value. When leads and accounts reach a specific threshold, they’re officially qualified and handed off to sales. Both marketing and sales should contribute to the lead scoring methodology, accounting for the number of contacts within an account that engage with your brand. These metrics can help marketing and sales understand which accounts may have a higher propensity to buy. For marketing, this helps guide lead assignment. For sales, this helps reps prioritize the leads in their queue and determine where to focus their time and energy. When it’s time to engage, sales can pull from a wealth of account information and smart talking points to guide their conversations with these target accounts.   4. Tailor account engagement accordingly. In their conversations with prospects, sales reps can have deeper conversations focused on the specific contact’s unique situation within the organization. These can be more emotional insights that often funnel up to larger, account-wide issues such as the strategic direction of the broader business. Plus, marketing can relay important engagement metrics, such as an account’s behavioral interactions with campaigns and messaging, so sales knows what resonates. All of these insights transform the selling process from transactional to consultative, helping forge stronger customer relationships. Using innovative technology like artificial intelligence (AI), sales can receive automated actions on how to further engage a contact. 5. Measure and optimize. ABM isn’t just a one-off tactic. It’s an ongoing strategy that should influence the way your entire organization engages with accounts and buyers. That is why having access to real-time insights is critical to ongoing success. Data around campaign reach and impact, sales engagement, and results will help you gauge the impact of your ABM efforts and help you identify opportunities to cross-sell and up-sell within certain accounts. Reinventing Lead Management for the Experience Economy In the Experience Economy, marketing and sales should collaborate more closely to ensure they’re delivering on their brand’s promise and exceeding buyer expectations at every touchpoint. It’s the responsibility of marketing and sales to stop thinking simply in terms of lead handoff. Instead, they should think of new ways to collaborate to meet each and every buyer at their point of need. Oracle is dedicated to helping sales and marketing professionals thrive in this era and that’s why the company has once again been named a “Leader” in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for CRM Lead Management 2019. Most notably, Oracle has been recognized for native tools and solutions that support ABM strategies. The reason is because Oracle’s deep legacy in data drives product innovation. In the age of ABM, those insights are critical to driving client relationships and generating long-term value for the organization. Learn More! Download Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for CRM Lead Management 2019. You can also contact us to learn more about how the Oracle CX Suite of products can help you reach your sales and revenue goals with engaging, connected customer experiences. Gartner, Magic Quadrant for CRM Lead Management, Ilona Hansen, Julian Poulter, Noah Elkin, Christy Ferguson, 23 September 2019 Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.    

Co-written with Andrea Tucker, Director of Product Marketing, Oracle Marketing Cloud Lead generation and lead management both play an equally important role in fueling the revenue engine for your...

Customer Experience Technology

Oracle Introduces a New Approach to Digital Selling to Drive Sales Acceleration at Scale

Today’s digital buyers are more knowledgeable, self-sufficient and digitally-savvy than ever before. They are becoming increasingly immune to traditional, old-school sales pitches, and instead, expect engagements that are timely, relevant and highly personalized. Fortunately for buyers, today’s digitally-native sales professionals – most often millennials and Gen Z – have a very similar mentality. They are always on, always available, present across every channel, and they understand the types of sales engagements today’s savvy buyers expect. But while it all might sound harmonious, many sales reps still don’t have the right tools to rapidly assess, engage, qualify and convert leads. And when it comes to delivering the timely, relevant and highly personalized engagements buyers expect today, they often fall short. That’s why today we’re announcing that Oracle is developing a new digital sales solution uniquely designed for high-volume sellers, business development and account managers, with a user interface (UI) that drives user speed and efficiency, and intuitively guides the selling process. Here’s a quick look: High Velocity: A new UI helps sales reps qualify strong opportunities faster and move on from weak opportunities quickly. Efficiency-Driven: Automation, shortcuts and a digital assistant reduce mind-numbing data entry and endless clicks. Prescriptive: Proactive reminders, real-time updates and artificial intelligence (AI)-based recommendations make sales reps too relevant to ignore. Oracle Digital Sales will be our first CX application featuring Oracle’s new Redwood user experience, which we introduced recently at Oracle OpenWorld. It’s a company-wide effort that touches our products and our corporate brand (both physical and digital expressions).  Drawing on core tenets of Redwood, Oracle Digital Sales brings together an intuitive, guided selling experience, powerful AI, contextual data, automation, and integrated voice and sales communication tools in a beautiful, modern user experience that’s easy to use and intentionally designed to support how digital sellers work. It will help sales reps focus more of their time and energy on qualifying leads and advancing deals, while significantly reducing the rote data entry and clicking that’s required to find and update customer relationship management (CRM) records. For example, a sales rep using a traditional CRM solution would make upwards of 15 data entries and clicks to find a lead, make a call and enter notes. With our Oracle Digital Sales solution, we’ve integrated all of these activities into a single UI that takes just 4 data entries and clicks – and is more conducive to the way sales reps work and the tasks they need to accomplish. Taking a Deeper Dive One of the key elements of our next generation Redwood user experience is an emphasis on a universal search/conversation box, which is available throughout the entire Oracle Digital Sales solution UI (e.g. home screen, leads, opportunities, metrics, etc.). Sales reps can “Ask Oracle” to not only find key information such as which new leads have been assigned, but also add a product or update a price to a lead or opportunity without having to navigate to the transaction first. The action-oriented home screen is continuously updated with a notification stream of items requiring attention and quick links to take sales reps directly into records – so they can start working immediately. Within each record, a newsfeed displays every interaction in a single, contextual thread, including marketing campaign interactions, responses to emails, engagement metrics like which links were clicked, phone conversations, call transcripts, recordings, follow-up tasks, and appointments. With this consolidated view, sales reps are set up to have relevant, informed conversations every time they engage. AI is infused throughout to provide recommendations like which leads to tackle first or next best actions to take, in addition to the automatic scheduling of follow-up tasks. Sales managers and reps can also track their progress against peers with a new gamified dashboard for goal-setting. Managers can create and track sales challenges, and reps can see how they stack up against peers and get insight into which tactics are working for teammates. The Oracle Digital Sales solution is the latest addition to Oracle Customer Experience (CX) and the first CX application built using the Redwood user experience. It is a complete CRM/sales automation solution for today’s digital sellers, with AI-powered tools to optimize productivity, deliver exceptional buyer experiences and ultimately drive revenue growth. Interested in learning more? Join us at Modern Customer Experience to see the solution and hear from the companies using it. Safe Harbor Statement The preceding is intended to outline our general product direction. It is intended for information purposes only, and may not be incorporated into any contract. It is not a commitment to deliver any material, code, or functionality, and should not be relied upon in making purchasing decisions. The development, release, timing, and pricing of any features or functionality described for Oracle’s products may change and remains at the sole discretion of Oracle Corporation.            

Today’s digital buyers are more knowledgeable, self-sufficient and digitally-savvy than ever before. They are becoming increasingly immune to traditional, old-school sales pitches, and instead, expect...

Customer Experience Technology

Clean Up Dirty Data with Oracle Customer Data Management for B2C Service!

Co-written by Daniel Foppen, Sr. Principle Product Manager, Oracle CX Service Duplicate, siloed and out-of-sync customer data – otherwise known as rogue customer data – is a huge issue for brands worldwide. Not only does it hinder gaining a full view of a customer, it is costing brands millions of dollars each year. It is estimated that 20% to 40% of all customer records within an organization are duplicates, costing between $20 to $100 per duplicate annually! Do the math. If you have one million customer records and 30% are duplicates, you would have 300,000 duplicate records. If you take a cost of $50 per record, that means this costs the business $1.5M annually. To learn more about the various types of rogue customer data and how brands can save money, become more efficient and offer the personalized experiences customers expect today, watch our fun video that explains everything you’d want to know. Oracle Customer Data Management is Now Available! What’s the answer? We are announcing Oracle Customer Data Management (CDM) for B2C Service. Oracle’s CDM is a proven solution used successfully by many of Oracle’s B2B customers and now we are making this available for B2C organizations, which typically have a much larger number of customer records. This solution will give B2C enterprise brands the ability to create and maintain the “golden customer record” for tens of millions of customers in siloed systems. To dive deeper, the new CDM for B2C Service offers three components; Customer Data Hub: This is where brands can easily create and maintain a customer master record that is used by multiple systems. Data Quality: The real magic happens here – brands will be able to leverage AI-fueled tools to match and clean rogue data at the scale B2C enterprises command. Enrichment: Our enrichment capabilities ensure correct address information globally thanks to our friends at Loqate, the world’s largest provider of address verification services. Click to learn more about Oracle Customer Experience.                      

Co-written by Daniel Foppen, Sr. Principle Product Manager, Oracle CX Service Duplicate, siloed and out-of-sync customer data – otherwise known as rogue customer data – is a huge issue for...

CPQ

Oracle Positioned as a MQ Leader for its Ability to Execute and Completeness of Vision

Gartner analysts Mark Lewis and Christina Klock have named Oracle a Leader in the 2019 Gartner “Magic Quadrant (MQ) for Configure, Price and Quote Application Suites.” We believe that the report listing Oracle CPQ as a Leader is based on the following strengths: growth in market share, global market presence and ability to support complexity. According to Gartner’s research, the value customers get out of Oracle CPQ Cloud is underscored by the highest overall placement for its ability to execute. The importance of selecting the correct CPQ solution for your organization is highlighted in this report. Download the Financial Impact of Selecting the Wrong CPQ Solution Oracle CPQ strengths include: Oracle CPQ has proven performance at vast enterprise scale with customers who have complex requirements, lots of users, and high volumes of transactions. Oracle offers a Total Commerce suite of CX products that provide the benefit of being architected on a robust platform with capabilities around Adaptive Intelligence, analytics, extensibility, collaboration and seamless integration. The Oracle CX platform innovations allow CPQ to address challenges faster and more effectively than other vendors. CPQ features such as Deal management, Price Optimization, System Configuration, Subscription Ordering and Subscription Management provide elegant solutions to business challenges that customers may not realize they have. Oracle's resources and robust software development practices ensure that CPQ Cloud invests more in development of the CPQ product than any other vendor, thus rendering the solution more valuable year after year. Oracle CPQ is supported around the world with local presence in almost every continent and country and provides customers with follow-the-sun, product-dedicated support personnel. Oracle's world-wide training and partner network ensure that CPQ Cloud customers have access to skilled, experienced implementation expertise. Oracle Configure, Price, and Quote - The CPQ Solution to Trust     Click here to read the 2019 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Configure, Price and Quote Application Suites Web Site Oracle CPQ Click to read about Oracle Configure Price Quote                  

Gartner analysts Mark Lewis and Christina Klock have named Oracle a Leader in the 2019 Gartner “Magic Quadrant (MQ) for Configure, Price and Quote Application Suites.” We believe that the report...

Customer Experience Strategy

7 Business Trends for Successful Visual Customer Engagement

Mobile is the king form of consumer engagement, providing the quality real-time engagement consumers demand. This blog continues the discussion of how brands must augment their real time channels to harvest the benefits discussed in Humanize Your CX Strategy with Visual Engagement and The ROI of Visual Engagement. Let’s review 7 top video trends that can help brands’ support organizations deliver sophisticated, state-of-the-art customer experiences. 1 - Seamless Transition to Visual Engagement Consumers that engage with service teams through a phone call or an online chat need to leverage real-time engagement with the same agent during the entire interaction. The agent and the customer need to be able to intuitively transition to video engagement from their channel/device. For example, in the Field Service arena, field technicians often need to demonstrate a problem to another agent and thus transition their call to video to achieve quicker problem diagnostics and resolution. Similarly, buyers shopping on a retail web site may need co-navigational assistance augmented to a phone call to make an informed purchase.  2 - Privacy Control for Video Streaming Certain video streaming tools provide the ability for service agents to engage with customers.  But, compliance rules may regulate the privacy settings for such video streaming. Based on these privacy policies, service teams may need to enforce one-way video, keeping in mind the relevance of the video engagement, particularly if it is the consumer who intends to demo a problem. Alternatively, a common scenario may be where the consumer needs to view the agent’s video in order for the agent to demo a solution, review an inventory of items prior to purchase, or when the consumer doesn’t want to stream video for privacy reasons. 3 - In-App Video Integration Companies expect to be able to embed video engagement into their applications without ever compromising look, feel and performance. This enables consumers to easily contact customer service for video support with the fewest possible clicks. To build global customer adoption, vendors often publish a list of Android and iOS In-App SDK’s that enable seamless integration of video experience into the mobile apps of companies. 4 - Video Recordings and Transcriptions Within certain industry sectors, companies will need the ability to record client-based video interactions, subject to consumer consent. The need for recording comes with a set of stringent compliance requirements. For example, adherence to the General Data Protection Regulations requires companies doing business in the EU to ensure that all forms of confidential data, which includes video and audio recordings, are securely stored locally on servers within the respective countries, with advanced data encryption for security. Assuming this compliance, companies can leverage the outcomes of video recordings for several agent efficiency initiatives such as quality management, auditing and audio transcription. 5 - Visual Annotations Ongoing video interactions enable agents to identify problematic appliance parts or configurations during a session. This effective tool aids consumers in visually separating out the agent’s diagnosis on a problematic appliance or object from the broader video display. This enables the consumer to quickly engage on the specific problem for quicker resolution.  6 - Immersive Experiences Basic video engagement is an effective engagement channel that can help companies compete, differentiate and innovate in order to drive revenue. Companies can augment their video offerings with Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality (MR) experiences for both their mobile consumers as well as their field service technicians.   AR creates a digital twin of the real object in focus and enables field technicians to virtually break apart the object for diagnostic work, view contextual information on each part, diagnose and fix real problems with precision. 7 - Conversational Video Bots Chatbots in particular serve as a cost-effective means of virtual assistance with self-service. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) innovation empower conversational video bots with engagement skills identical to that of a physical agent. This results in a queue of virtual video agents that serve consumers with more precision developed through gradual knowledge influx, natural language processing and deep learning. What other CX trends can be improved with video?  Companies expect tools for video engagement to be equivalent with what’s available for voice and digital channels. This includes video conferencing, video transfers, video surveys and capabilities alike Oracle’s video solutions cater to multiple industry segments by providing out-of-the-box and extensible capabilities while also providing a robust omnichannel platform for continued video innovation. For more information on the capabilities of Oracle’s video solutions, please explore Oracle Service Cloud Video Chat and Live Experience Cloud.                

Mobile is the king form of consumer engagement, providing the quality real-time engagement consumers demand. This blog continues the discussion of how brands must augment their real time channels to...

Customer Experience Strategy

Sales Forecasting, Made Smarter - How AI Improves Data Accuracy and Rep Accountability

In this five part series - Sales Tools, Made Smarter - we'll explore how advances in sales tool technology are driving today's planning and performance management for leading sales professionals.  Part one examines new considerations and requirements for successful sales forecasting. When Q1 hits, the pressure is on for sales teams to work toward their goals. It is on sales operations and leadership to use historical and current data to establish reasonable quotas. There’s a science to creating goals that are realistic, yet motivating, especially as market trends emerge and demand fluctuates more rapidly. But the reality is, 71% of companies don’t have their compensation plans, territories, and quotas ready on day one of their fiscal years, according to WorldAtWork! In fact, it can take months to produce these plans, leaving sales teams stalled and frustrated. Sales ops leaders need a better, smarter way to identify their goals and priorities, and communicate them throughout the organization. Moreover, they must adopt better tools and processes to gauge how reps are performing and effectively refine quotas based on market, territory, and team shifts. What’s Veering Sales Organizations Off Course? The tools that sales ops have in place for tracking budget, headcount, territory, quota attainment and pipeline often fall short. Three common pain points that set sales organizations off course are: Culture: Given the performance-driven nature of sales, reps are always thinking about their quotas. This makes shifting direction and focus extremely difficult because they’re still using traditional tools and tactics to track their progress. Another, more significant cultural issue at play is that reps have a survival instinct to protect their data, born from mistrust due to deal and contact theft. As a result, they are far less likely to share updated contact and deal information with the broader team. Manual, disparate processes: Given the deep-rooted cultural issues that plague some sales organizations, reps are far more likely to jot down notes in a notebook or use their own private spreadsheet to track opportunities. Disconnected data, disparate tools and apps permeate the sales organization, prohibiting leadership from having a centralized, real-time view of performance and buyer engagement throughout the entire sales process. “Shallow” data: Over-reliance on different systems leads to a significant data accuracy issue. Opportunities aren’t updated in an accurate or timely fashion. Since sales organizations still rely on pipeline data to develop forecasts, that data is inherently inaccurate because reps largely use their gut instinct to determine whether a deal will actually close. Think about how many times sales reps have noted that a deal will close “any day now.” That day typically never comes because buyers are considering several solutions at the same time. Five reps at five different companies may think this buyer is likely to close, but only one can win the deal. These false projections lead to inaccurate forecasts and unmet quotas. AI to the Rescue Artificial intelligence (AI) can help sales ops develop more accurate and actionable forecasts. Using machine learning, forecasting technology can update forecasts based on specific behaviors or “red flags.” For example, if a deal is pushed several times, the system may indicate that it’s unlikely to close and remove it from the forecast. That way, leadership and sales won’t be thrown off if it falls through.  Additionally, an AI-powered forecasting solution can offer more in-depth planning capabilities. It can integrate with ERP, HR, and financial data, so executive and sales leadership can predict how the organization is likely to perform by rep, product, and territory. These more robust reports can reinforce priorities, empower sales to change direction, or provide valuable insights that will enable other areas of the organization to contribute. For instance, if sales are lagging in a specific territory, marketing and sales can collaborate to implement more targeted advertising and content campaigns to help generate interest and fill the pipeline. Or, sales and customer success reps can align to identify clients that are due for renewals and use data to have informed conversations that will drive cross-sells and up-sells. Perhaps most importantly, AI can help improve organizational alignment and rep performance. Real-time forecasting insights keep everyone on the same page. Executive leadership has transparency into actual performance and up-to-date forecasts, so they can see how the business is really doing. This creates a clear call-to-action for sales to stay on task and conduct the appropriate follow-ups with prospects in the pipeline. After all, even deals they’re “sure” are going close only really have a 20% to 25% chance of closing. If opportunities fall through—and they will—sales has the opportunity to engage other areas of the business (marketing, customer success, etc.) and develop an actionable plan for achieving their goals. Better Forecasts, Better Performance There are many solutions that aim to help businesses improve the quality and accuracy of their forecasts. However, they’re typically using pipeline data to fuel their AI predictions. As we noted earlier, relying solely on pipeline data to develop forecasts is extremely problematic and can lead to larger issues for your business. There is a better option available. Oracle helps sales teams sell smarter, using Predictive Planning & Performance Management that combines historical, trending, and predictive analysis. These insights empower your sales organization to evolve from outdated, intuition-based planning to data-centric processes that create more accurate territory plans and quota models. Learn how Oracle can help you harness the power of AI and embedded customer data management to improve data quality across planning, incentives, quotas, and territories—and, in turn, optimize sales performance as new market trends and opportunities emerge. Click here to learn more about Oracle Sales Planning and Performance Management.            

In this five part series - Sales Tools, Made Smarter - we'll explore how advances in sales tool technology are driving today's planning and performance management for leading sales professionals. ...

Customer Service

Artificial Intelligence and the Oracle CX Cloud – The Power Behind Informed and Productive Human Interactions

“The customer is always right.” My dad, a successful entrepreneur and businessman, must have said those words ten thousand times. While we can debate the accuracy of that statement, how customers believe they are treated and feel about a brand, is one of the strongest indicators of a company’s success. Delivering a positive customer experience requires acquiring and applying knowledge to personalize interactions and manage expectations at every single customer touch point. Today’s consumers are more than simply customers. They’re also innovators! With technology at their fingertips, they’re constantly experimenting with how they find and consume products and services before, during, and after a purchase. They want unlimited choices and unparalleled convenience—from answers provided within milliseconds, to purchases delivered within hours. The interactions that consumers have with your company are becoming even more important than what they actually buy. This is the Experience Economy, where customer service professionals must be equipped and empowered to provide exceptional person-to-person customer support. It is with this vision in mind that Oracle has built its CX products to enable brands to connect data and apply that intelligence at each customer interaction.  We believe that Forrester acknowledged this in their recent report. “Oracle’s vision for customer service focuses on how AI impacts the contact center workforce. This is a sound and timely vision as companies look to use AI to streamline repetitive tasks and free up agents to work on the harder inquiries and nurture customer relationships — ultimately transforming agents into brand advocates.” –The Forrester WaveTM: Customer Service Solutions, Q2 2019 Customer experience is not exclusively the domain of B2C brands. B2B customers now have the same high expectations, whether it’s subscription pricing for medical devices or self-service shopping for airplane parts. This transformation in how consumers interact with brands and cultivate personal relationships with them requires companies to reimagine everything, from their marketing and sales strategies to their revenue models. In today’s world, it’s less about whether or not the customer is “right”, because the customer is almost always informed. The challenge is making sure that your customer-focused teams are equipped with the knowledge necessary to personalize interactions and manage customer expectations. Oracle CX is powered by AI that combines customer, transactional, behavioral, sensor, and third-party data that helps companies deliver more creative, innovative, and engaging customer experiences.    Download The Forrester Wave™: Customer Service Solutions, Q2 2019 by clicking here. Learn more about Oracle CX solutions.          

“The customer is always right.” My dad, a successful entrepreneur and businessman, must have said those words ten thousand times. While we can debate the accuracy of that statement, how customers...

Ask the Experts

Customer Evangelism in the Experience Economy: Lessons from Lady Gaga, Lovesac, and Southwest Airlines

By Jackie Huba, bestselling author of three books on customer loyalty, including Monster Loyalty: How Lady Gaga Turns Followers into Fanatics Most everyone in business agrees that it’s increasingly difficult to create and keep loyal customers. With myriad product and service choices and countless ways to get them, including brick-and-mortar and ecommerce, it’s easy for fickle consumers to switch brands on a dime.   Now, the Experience Economy is creating yet another way to erode customer loyalty. Customers value their experiences with brands in parity with the brands’ products and services. It’s customers who are fully in charge of their brand experiences and dictate what they want, when, where, and how. Organizations trying to keep up with customers in the Experience Economy face a turbo-charged race. I maintain that the Experience Economy is where brands will gain not just loyalty, but evangelism—when authentic emotional connection is in the mix. Let’s unpack that. What customer loyalty is not: Loyalty programs. In many industries, we see “loyalty programs” centered on rewards or incentives. That doesn’t seem like loyalty to me, when the main motivation is collecting points. Think about airline loyalty programs. Are you in one? Do you truly love that airline and evangelize about it? If not, then the program doesn’t engender loyalty. It engenders repeat use. The Loyalty Ladder of Customer Behaviors What customer loyalty is: Jumping in to help when the ship goes down. I use a Loyalty Ladder model that progresses from customer satisfaction to retention to referrals, and then evangelism, where customers act as a volunteer sales force. Beyond that is ownership, in which customers literally feel like it is their job to support the company in any way.   Here’s an example with Southwest Airlines. After 9/11 when airlines weren’t flying, many were laying off personnel. Many of Southwest’s customers sent in checks, money, and returned flight certificates, explaining that they didn’t want to see their favorite Southwest gate agent or flight attendant laid off. Now that’s the Holy Grail everyone is trying to achieve in business.   The road to that Holy Grail isn’t just through products. It’s experiential, emotional connections. The most successful companies are those that are masters at the Experience Economy, creating exceptional customer experiences across all touchpoints and subsequent emotional connections with their customers. When customer experience involves the variability of employees, you can have absolute success—and absolute failure. When it comes to digital and ecommerce, we're getting increasingly better with technology to deliver an exceptional customer experience. Lately I’ve been pondering this question: How can companies in the Experience Economy create an authentic emotional connection—with or without human interaction? Answer: You have to sell something bigger than what you're actually selling. Here are three ways to sell that “something bigger” and elevate emotional experiences, thereby increasing customer evangelism.    1.    Lead with purpose. Research shows that companies with a purpose behind their products—a higher calling—are the ones that succeed. Jim Stengel and Millward Brown analyzed 10,000 companies and sifted out the top 50 that led with purpose. Tracking those companies’ performance against the S&P 500 revealed that these purpose-led companies outperformed the S&P 500 by 400 percent. Why? Leading with purpose creates an experiential, emotional connection with evangelistic customers who believe in the purpose.    For example, Lady Gaga recently launched a makeup line, but she is fervent that it isn't just another makeup line. She says it’s a way to discover who you really are through makeup, just as she did as a child. By watching her mother put on makeup, she realized she could create this Lady Gaga character—and ultimately gain confidence—through makeup.   2.    Embrace the un-sell. Another purpose-led brand is Lovesac. Realizing the need to protect the planet and not throw away furniture every five years, founder Shawn Nelson developed a line called Sactionals. His philosophy, Designed for Life, is that you buy one couch, and it lives with you for the rest of your life because it’s modular and upgradable. His reason for wanting you to buy from him is so that you buy less and save the planet from outdated, discarded furniture. And that's how he creates loyalty. 3.    Find someone people can root for. Not only is Lovesac purpose-led, but it’s founder-led, which is another smart strategy. Shawn Nelson is out there on social media, and people love him. He's gregarious, he's fun, and he's committed to the environment. Many people follow this company in large part because of him. But what if you are a large company without a Shawn Nelson? Find one. Personifying large brands is a challenge, but people love and root for people, so it’s worth the effort to find a spokesperson who delivers an emotional connection and can create word-of-mouth promotion. Customer evangelism, the level of loyalty in which customers voluntarily sell for you, starts with an authentic, emotional connection to your brand. Focusing on what the customer wants—a hallmark of the Experience Economy—will naturally lead to strategies that engender emotional connection.      Click here to read the eBook “Industry Experts Share Their Predictions for Customer Loyalty,” which features 7 loyalty trends sure to shake up the traditional points-for-purchases scheme.    

By Jackie Huba, bestselling author of three books on customer loyalty, including Monster Loyalty: How Lady Gaga Turns Followers into Fanatics Most everyone in business agrees that it’s...

Ask the Experts

Tapping into the Experience Economy - Trends and Best Practices with Dan Gingiss

Ignited by his marketing and customer experience (CX) background at Fortune 300 companies, Dan Gingiss is on a burning mission to “make the brand lovers louder than the haters by creating experiences they can’t wait to share with their friends and followers.” Gingiss is a keynote speaker, experience consultant, co-host of the “Experience This!” podcast, and contributor to Forbes with both of his ears keenly tuned to everything CX. That means he’s increasingly focused on the “Experience Economy”—a shift in power in which customers drive innovation and view their brand experiences as inseparable from a brand’s products and services. We asked what CX trends, tactics, and best practices are on his radar, and which brands are leading in this fascinating era. What best practices are separating the leaders from the pack? It may sound simplistic, but the first is essential: They are their own customer! Your consumer instincts will be pretty accurate with what your customers are thinking about their experience with you. The second insight is they understand that the customer journey is not linear. In the past, we researched, considered, bought, and used. But not anymore. It’s vital for companies to know there's a lot of back and forth, pauses and sideways. We go on tangents and look at competitors. Related to that is my third observation which is that leaders must eliminate organizational silos because those were built for a linear customer journey. Customers view organizations as a single experience. When we are organized in a siloed way, we create siloed customer experiences. Small changes make a big difference. Starting a CX program doesn't have to require millions of dollars in infrastructure. It’s about finding and fixing the small parts of your experience that cause customer pain. Is CX in B2B as important as in B2C? Yes, they’re equally important. I’m often asked, “I work for a B2B company. Does this apply to me?” My answer, which is not meant to sound sarcastic, is, “Are you marketing to humans?” Just because you’re in B2B doesn’t mean you're marketing to a building. The human you market to is a consumer who has had amazing CX experiences on a B2C level and expects the same from all companies, including B2B. Beyond the CX giants of Amazon, Netflix, and Uber, who else should we watch? I used to work for this company, and I swear they’re not paying me to say this, but Discover is a great example. It’s the nation’s smallest major credit card company, so leaders realized early on they needed an exceptional differentiator: customer experience. Discover is the only credit card company where the customer service is 100% based in the United States. When you call, the agent answers with, "Hi. I'm Sally in Phoenix." Oftentimes, the customer's first response is happiness that they're talking to someone in the US.   They also focus on simplicity of the digital experience. They found all the places that required two clicks and reduced them to one click. That and similar changes make it easy for consumers to do business with Discover. For example, a key customer pain point was that people didn't like being upsold when their call purpose was service, so Discover eliminated it. That was smart to say, “We know this is a painful part of our industry and we're no longer participating in it.” Starbucks has also done exceptional work drilling down to customers’ likes and dislikes. The first two “likes” are product consistency and a terrific rewards program. Also, they are one of the nation’s leaders in the prepaid market, because their mobile payment option is incredibly easy to use. Another company to watch is Imperfect Produce, based in San Francisco. They source fruits and vegetables farmers can't sell to supermarkets because they're not as pretty, but they’re just as tasty and nutritious. Imperfect Produce is absolutely nailing a social issue, with reminders that you're doing good for the world by helping farmers and eliminating food waste. They added gamification to their app so as you continue to buy from them, you can see how many pounds of produce you personally saved from the landfill, plus the equivalent CO2 and water savings from farmers not having to replant. What channels for augmenting CX are making a difference? You may have noticed a theme here that augmenting CX results in significant impacts. These companies I discussed combine multiple aspects of their business—remember eliminating silos?—into creating a great experience. Self-service channels such as Google, apps, and websites are important, particularly for Gen X and younger, as they prefer to solve problems themselves. Emailing, chatting, or—as a last-ditch effort—calling will be frustrating for them. Another trend is “private social”—social media direct messaging apps like Facebook Messenger or Twitter direct message. Companies like them because customers complain in private instead of in public on social media. Customers like them because they’re fast and easy with no active wait for an answer. Responses can sit in customers’ inboxes until they’re ready to read them. The Last Word Excelling in customer experience and the Experience Economy can be daunting, to be sure. However, industry leader Dan Gingiss distills his observations to a few key themes: embrace the Experience Economy in which customers are in charge, work together, and extend CX beyond B2C to B2B. For more information about how Oracle CX Unity helps businesses master the Experience Economy, click here.                

Ignited by his marketing and customer experience (CX) background at Fortune 300 companies, Dan Gingiss is on a burning mission to “make the brand lovers louder than the haters by creating experiences...

CX News & Events

Your Journey to Modern Customer Experience 2020 Starts Today

Mark your calendars! Modern Customer Experience 2020 is scheduled for March 23-26, 2020 in Chicago at the McCormick Place. From now through October 21, 2019 register for the event and get one free pass for a colleague. The more the merrier! Every year, attendees congregate at Modern Customer Experience to learn about industry trends, see product roadmaps, network with peers, and get inspired. They return home armed with the tools and insights to deliver legendary experiences and transform their own organizations. Our customers are the heart and soul of the event, and we want to include you in our planning process to make your investment in Modern Customer Experience even more valuable. Join us on this adventure, hosted in the Oracle CX Hero Hub, to shape our annual event in unprecedented ways. Example activities include: Shape meetups: Tell us which meetups you’re interested in participating in, suggest a new topic, or lead a meetup. Vote on training topics: Rank the training topics you’d like included in the agenda.   Tell us your presentation ideas:  Tell us about your presentation idea by submitting to the call for ideas here. Interested in speaking but not sure about the details? If you’re open to speaking but aren’t quite sure about all the details, let us know in the Oracle CX Hero Hub. We’ll share topics our team is planning to include this year, and you can let us know if you’d be interested in sharing your experience. Rank industry influencers you’d like to see: Whether it’s Jay Baer or Shep Hyken, Katie Martell or Bryan Kramer, vote on which industry influencers you’d like to hear from next year. Share your favorite conference experiences: Inspire our team by sharing valuable or cool conference experiences that you’ve had in the past. Share your musical taste and suggest an entertainer: Tell us what musical genre gets you moving and which artists or bands you’d love to see live. Coming soon! This is just the beginning of our journey together. Stay tuned as our expedition expands to cover Markie Award nominations, interviews, networking and more. Join your peers on a journey to influence and connect at Modern Customer Experience 2020. Check out the Oracle CX Hero Hub today for more details, or if you’re like to be invited, talk to your account executive for more details. Lastly, don’t forget to take advantage of our BOGO promotion, running now through October 21st.      

Mark your calendars! Modern Customer Experience 2020 is scheduled for March 23-26, 2020 in Chicago at the McCormick Place. From now through October 21, 2019 register for the event and get one free...

Customer Experience Strategy

You Must Answer These 3 Questions to Thrive in the Experience Economy

By Charlene Li, senior fellow at Altimeter, a Prophet Company and author of the new book, “The Disruption Mindset.” There is broad consensus that we are at the dawn of the Experience Economy. But, what does that mean exactly for your business? In a word, everything. A customer’s experience (CX) with a brand is inseparable from the value of the goods and services it provides. Mobile technology has put tremendous power in the hands of customers, turning the traditional top-down information flow on its head. At first when mobile turned things upside down, teams continued to execute outdated linear journeys while customers were already ahead of the curve and expected multichannel and nonlinear journeys. Ever-increasing expectations have turned customers into innovators who hunt down solutions to their needs and wants from innumerable sources. Successful enterprises are the ones that anticipate those needs and provide the precise solution customers seek. To get ahead of the game and become the disruptors—not the disrupted—organizations must have a strategic discussion that revolves around one key question: "How is focusing on customer experience going to fundamentally change everything we do?"         This question funnels into a deeper conversation that will guide your comprehensive experience strategy—something that is critical to surviving and thriving in this new economy.  Get and Stay Ahead with a CX Strategy Based on my research, most companies lack a strategy around customer experience. They might have 20 different initiatives, but these don’t necessarily roll up into a unified strategy. To create such a strategy, you should ask yourself three sets of questions: 1. Who is our future customer? Do we have a clear idea of our customer’s future needs and wants? Do we know how they think and feel? Peeling back the layers requires research: tracking customer journeys, gathering the voice of the customer (VoC), creating empathy maps, leveraging customer advisory boards, etc. This ultimately comes with a high degree of uncertainty. When I pose this question to people, they hesitate to respond, because they don’t want to be wrong. But the thing is, you don't have to be right! You just need a starting point—an educated guess—in order to evaluate whether your hypothesis right or wrong. 2. What kind of experience will we create for them? The specifics of your answer to this question will depend on numerous factors—not least of which is the answer to question one. There are a few criteria you must strive to meet. Consumers expect the buying experience to be highly personalized and will anticipate their needs. It must also be simple to navigate and allow for natural interaction (whether with a human being or an AI-powered bot). Brands must gather data and intelligence at every interaction and know their users intimately—not only what they want, but also how to reach them with the right messages at the right time on the right channel. 3. What are we investing in to make this experience possible? This is the tactical question. The tools and resources companies need to execute on creating a great customer experience might already be in-house, but I bet not all of them are. What additional resources and capabilities will you need? What can you do today to make that experience a reality tomorrow? But remember that unless that tactic is linked to a clear strategy, it’s unlikely that anything you do today will be fully effective. Technology Plays a Starring Role The last question raises the issue of technology. Every day, it seems, a new technology arises that companies must rush to embrace in order to reach their customers. But what I have seen when it comes to innovation in user experience, disruption is not about creating new technology from scratch. It’s about changing the relationship you have with your customer. To put it differently, it’s about using the available technology as a tool to shift that relationship and provide a new, better experience. Consider that some of the most-cited disruptors—Uber, Airbnb, and Amazon—didn't utilize revolutionary new technology. What they did was leverage available technology to revolutionize the customer experience. There are, nonetheless, capabilities that your technology must provide. The new model of information flow puts customers in control of the learning and purchasing path, so you need technology suited to that model. Your CX technology must engage at scale while still offering individual customers a natural, personalized experience on every channel, now, and in the future. It should support commerce everywhere, because in the Experience Economy, consumer interactions are increasingly pageless and occur within apps, social media, and in the car as easily as at home and on any device.                                                          To craft extraordinary experiences, your technology should also leverage AI to mine data for customer insights. It should use those insights to recognize and cater to the likes and dislikes of each individual without sacrificing speed or quality. It should support the entire customer experience from marketing to sales to service. The arrival of the Experience Economy, like any seismic change, is filled with opportunities as well as risks, with the rewards typically going to the bold. By placing CX at the center of your strategic efforts, you can transform your organization into a nimble, even disruptive competitive force!   The Oracle CX Cloud Suite is an integrated set of applications that span the entire customer lifecycle. To learn more about how Oracle CX Cloud can provide the seamless, personalized, and immediate experiences your customers expect, visit https://www.oracle.com/applications/customer-experience/platform/cx-unity.html.          

By Charlene Li, senior fellow at Altimeter, a Prophet Company and author of the new book, “The Disruption Mindset.” There is broad consensus that we are at the dawn of the Experience Economy. But, what...