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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...

Ask the Experts

Macty AI and ML Solutions Help Retailers Provide Great Customer Experiences

In my discussions with Oracle Commerce Cloud partners, I had the opportunity to catch up with Susana Zoghbi, Co-Founder & CEO of Macty.  This Brussels-based firm has an AI/ML-based app that provides customized product recommendations for fashions. She provides several interesting details on their innovations, use of artificial intelligence and machine learning,  and how it all portends for retailers to provide new and great experiences for their customers, both online and in stores. Tell me about Macty and what makes your solution unique? Macty is an Artificial Intelligence startup that leverages Computer Vision and Natural Language Processing to create new and delightful experiences for customers on one hand and improved sales for retailers on the other. Studies show that conversion rates are below 4% online. One reason is that it’s often difficult to express or describe what we want using only words. The search bar only allows textual queries, however, in addition to language, we all communicate using visual information.  How to leverage visual queries at the search bar?  This is where Macty can help.  Our state-of-the-art image and language processing tools enable shoppers to search your product collections using multi-modal information that ultimately leads to finding what they seek both online and offline. Our offering is unique because we offer access to a diverse suite of visionary solutions that empower retailers to access the cutting-edge of retail marketing technology to transform the customer experiences they can provide for their end user customers. Solutions like “Snap to Shop”, “Complete the Look” and “Tweak & Pick” give customers new ways to discover the products that they love. They are fun and delightful to use and foster engagement, creating deeper links between retailers and customers.  How does Macty provide a better experience for eCommerce customers? Macty makes eCommerce experiences more fun, engaging, and productive. Let me explain. Part of the fun of shoping is the thrill of finding a great product. That’s a big part of the experience. We empower retailers to differentiate themselves from the crowd and offer an exclusive, special experience to their customers. For example, our “Snap to Shop” solution enables shoppers to upload their pictures to your store.  Macty identifies the relevant items and matches them with the most visually similar in your collection. Snap to Shop blends many searches with one click to get the full outfit! This provides a high level of interactivity for customers and gives retailers the ability to surface multiple products based upon a single search. Technology has been integrating interactivity and customization into every other area of our daily lives, so retailers must maintain the pace with effective and seamless engagement to forge strong and long-lasting connections with their customers, too. Our “Tweak & Pick” solution is a great example of this. The user can upload an image of an item and then modify that item using words.  For instance, when I find a dress I like, but wish to modify the length of the skirt, I can use the image in combination with language to retrieve the perfect product. The solution helps retailers to surface the relevant items within their collection while giving the customer what she wants. We all love it when technology just works. But, there’s also got to be a level of effectiveness to tie everything together. Our Complete The Look solution is something many shoppers will find quite helpful when putting an outfit together.  Imagine you have a nice blouse at home, but you are looking for a new combination to spark your closet. You can take a picture of the item you own, upload it to your favorite store, and Macty will show you other products that will complement it, e.g., a nice skirt, shoes and accessories. All of our solutions exist to be as effective as possible and give retailers the helping hand that they need to surface more products and close more sales. Our seamless integration with Oracle Commerce Cloud, together with cutting-edge tools, all exist to inspire shoppers. Oracle Cloud and Macty Enhance Customer Experience with AI What does the next generation of retail marketing look like from your perspective? The next generation of retail marketing is certainly driven by artificial intelligence.  AI is becoming pervasive in all aspects of the retailers’ value chain.  From operational optimization, forecasting demand, adaptive storefronts with dynamic recommendations, AI provides the new competitive advantage for retailers. Findings from Juniper Research suggest that in retail, global spending on AI will leap from $2 billion in 2018 to an estimated $7.3 billion a year by 2022. Renowned thought leaders have named AI as the new electricity. Retailers call upon fresh technologies to bridge the gap between online and offline experiences to offer a cohesive customer purchase journey. Many customers now expect premium experiences both online and offline. We believe that retailers will have to offer unique shopping experiences to satisfy the customer demand for new experiences.   As these technologies are implemented, retailers can capitalize on the physical locations to give consumers new, fun and innovative experiences. How do you envision visual search impacting the in-store shopping experience? In large stores, instead of having to physically walk and explore the entire space, shoppers can discover products by providing an image of the item they seek to an interactive screen. Specifically, customers can already enjoy this experience when finding the perfect lingerie for an outfit. Users upload an image, and Macty retrieves the lingerie that matches it within the store.  Check out the video below of Macty Artificial Intelligence In the Store. In other instances, recommendations are presented through the power of augmented reality using technologies like smart mirrors, where you stand in front of a mirror and it reflects what you look like in a particular outfit. Does Macty have any new cool features, products, or major initiatives that you can share with us? We know that the fashion industry has a host of negative impacts on the environment and we hope that by revolutionizing how shoppers find what they want, the industry can move towards less waste and more efficient use of resources.   For example, one cool initiative we are working on consists of enabling users to design their outfit, through the generation of images in real time, given a textual description.  In this use case, a user can create and change an image of an outfit using their own language, until they are satisfied on how the outfit looks and are ready to order. We believe that this kind of technology has the potential of driving the fast –and often wasteful- mass production of clothing into an on-demand model, where only the items that will be purchased are manufactured.  It’s still a long road for this, but this truly excites us. The 2019 Digital Commerce Magic Quadrant represents the 10th consecutive evaluation in which Oracle has been named a leader in the market. Click here to get the full 2019 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce.  

In my discussions with Oracle Commerce Cloud partners, I had the opportunity to catch up with Susana Zoghbi, Co-Founder & CEO of Macty.  This Brussels-based firm has an AI/ML-based app that provides...

Customer Experience

How Technology Can Help You Become Your Customer’s Hero

By Adam Toporek, CTS Service Solutions, author of Be Your Customer's Hero To be your customers’ hero is both remarkably simple and extraordinarily difficult. It requires you to be there when customers need you and to create positive, emotional experiences for them. The challenge is even more daunting when attempting to create highly personal, emotional connections at scale. Today’s technology can help by allowing us to better understand customer behavior as well as the needs and desires of individual customers throughout their specific buying journeys. To be your customer’s hero, look to uncover the most impactful moments in that journey and anticipate your customers’ needs and desires so you can be there when they need you. The New Customer Journey The customer journey has changed. Customers no longer shop in silos, disconnected from other options. In most industries, customers have multiple ways to gather information and to evaluate competitive alternatives, moving effortlessly across search, social media, mobile, and stores throughout their browsing and buying journeys. The customer experience benchmark you need to reach is no longer set by your direct competitors. Rather, it's informed by the entire set of interactions with technology, media, and brands your customer experiences throughout his or her day. One thing that hasn’t changed is that the customer journey is largely emotional. A common misconception is that customers are rational actors who logically evaluate the pros and cons of any given purchase or interaction—ultimately reaching a decision based on that analysis. But the fact is that humans are emotional creatures. We tend to decide emotionally and justify our decisions rationally afterward. Exactly how you meet your customers’ emotional needs will vary not only from industry to industry, but also from company to company—and even from product to product. But, the objective remains the same: to generate positive emotion and minimize negative emotion at each interaction. The Twin Roles of AI Of course, all CX initiatives should be scalable and profitable, which is where modern technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and big data come into play. What kind of impact are such emerging technologies having on CX? AI, for example, is opening up some interesting possibilities for understanding and personalizing experiences at scale. With bots and smart digital assistants getting smarter every day, we can now make better decisions about not only where and how we engage with customers, but also when, helping us time customer interactions more effectively—whether it’s a follow-up, an upsell opportunity, or some form of offer. With the proper programming and strategy, AI can help us use the principles we understand about human nature, experience, and emotion, and create more targeted and more timely individual interactions. Experience First, Technology Second Despite the undeniable value of technology, it’s important to remember that it is not an end unto itself, but a tool for creating a better customer experience. The customer experience must lead the technology, and not the other way around. However, organizations cannot afford to stick their heads in the sand when it comes to emerging technologies. Technologies that facilitate more scalable interactions and better data integration are improving at breakneck speed. The organizations that do not embrace the technologies that are changing customer experience in their industry are likely to find themselves at a competitive disadvantage in very short order. In the end, an investment in CX is an investment in your ability to generate revenue and pull ahead of competitors. Want to stand out in your industry? Invest in the strategies and tools that allow you to be your customer’s hero at every important moment in the customer journey and watch as the positive word-of-mouth you generate becomes the best sales team in your organization. Oracle CX Cloud Suite is an integrated set of applications that span the entire customer lifecycle from marketing to sales, and commerce to service. 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/.      

By Adam Toporek, CTS Service Solutions, author of Be Your Customer's Hero To be your customers’ hero is both remarkably simple and extraordinarily difficult. It requires you to be there when customers...

Customer Experience Technology

The Best Approach for a Highly Successful Headless Architecture

In the first installment of our headless blog series, I wrote that making the right choices in your headless strategy could solidify and elevate your customer experience. I recently sat down with Matt Landau, VP of Software Development at Oracle, to discuss approaches you should be thinking about when it comes to headless commerce. Matt has built industry leading ecommerce platforms for over 20 years including ATG as well as Oracle Commerce Cloud. Today, Matt helps new and existing customers look at their sites and infrastructure architecture to help them deliver the most seamless and beneficial customer experiences. What do people mean when they talk about ‘headless commerce systems’ and how do these systems compare with traditional commerce platforms? Let me explain how commerce platforms tend to fall into one of three categories; tightly coupled, fully headless, or hybrid headless, sometimes referred to as ‘head-optional.’ Tightly Coupled In many traditional commerce platforms, the front-end presentation and the back-end business logic are tightly coupled.  The presentation is generated directly by the back-end and may be created directly in source code by using a page definition language like JSP, or with a server-side template engine like Velocity.   Historically, most ecommerce platforms fell into the tightly coupled category and were only able to generate front-end experiences for a very limited set of channels or devices without customization or additional tools. Fully Headless A fully headless system is API-only by design, with no built-in presentation layer.  All business functionality is exposed through APIs, typically REST endpoints.  The platform is designed to be integrated with a third-party presentation layer provided by a content management system (CMS), a digital experience platform (DXP), or a custom application in each channel you want to support.  Fully headless systems can support any channel or device for which a front end can be made available.   At first blush, fully headless platforms appear to provide the most flexibility in how you build out a solution.  The choice of languages, tools, and technologies is completely open.  However, both the cost and the technical challenges of integrating different front end and back end systems have to be taken into account.  There is also a long-term cost of ownership in maintaining the integration as the different components of the solution evolve independently of each other. Companies considering fully headless systems need to carefully assess the time, budget, and the technical expertise required to take on building and maintaining the front-end / back-end integration along with any custom applications they may need. Hybrid Headless Between these two extremes, we find the hybrid headless, or head-optional platforms like Oracle Commerce Cloud.  These systems provide a default presentation layer for one or more channels that you can use if you choose to. But, they also offer a complete API so they can behave as fully headless systems where it makes sense. In a well-designed hybrid headless platform, the presentation layer and the back end are loosely coupled through the platform APIs.  The presence of a default presentation layer serves as one proof point that the APIs are functionally complete and integrated with each other.  The most flexible hybrid headless systems provide a presentation layer that is itself extensible. This allows you to call APIs from other systems and integrate them into your user experience. These systems should allow you to extend the front end experience and back end functionality independently and as frequently as you desire. Hybrid headless systems offer a best-of-both-worlds approach because they provide the flexibility to choose the best approach for each channel based on your schedule, your budget, your technical capacity, and of course your business requirements. Where does Oracle Commerce Cloud fit in?   Oracle Commerce Cloud is a hybrid headless system with a fully extensible presentation layer. The default front-end communicates with the back-end entirely through public APIs.  If you choose to use it, you can build user experiences for the Web quickly and efficiently by arranging drag-and-drop components that are pre-wired into the Commerce Cloud APIs.  You can also create custom components that talk to anything.  They’re first-class citizens in the page, including the ability to drag and drop them onto a page and to interact with out-of-the-box components. If you choose to, you can ignore the built-in front end and use Commerce Cloud as a fully headless solution.  You can also mix and match approaches by using the default presentation layer for the web while using the API to support connections to mobile applications and to novel channels like chat bots, smart speakers, and smart home devices. Lastly, what would you say to a development or business team evaluating their approach to headless? The key is flexibility to choose the technical architecture that works best for you in each channel, rather than being locked into an all-or-nothing approach. Determining your approach does not need to be a polarizing discussion. Business teams and development teams need to look at headless as just another tool in their arsenal to deliver a better customer experience to their customers. The goal should be to have the greatest amount of agility with the least required ongoing maintenance. Check the results from our customers who have moved from ATG to Oracle Commerce Cloud.  Oracle was named a Leader in the 2019 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce.  Click here to get the full 2019 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce.               

In the first installment of our headless blog series, I wrote that making the right choices in your headless strategy could solidify and elevate your customer experience. I recently sat down with Matt...

Ask the Experts

B2B Buyers Want the B2C “Experience”

By Kali Kasprzyk, Director of Marketing at Echidna It’s a fact that the B2B landscape is changing. Business buyers increasingly expect a personalized, omnichannel purchasing experience wherever, whenever and however they want. The B2B buyer wants the B2C experience!                                                Did you know? 94% of B2B buyers conduct online research at some point in the buying process. Industry peers influence over 90% of all B2B buying decisions. 59% of buyers prefer to do research online instead of interacting with a sales rep. The obstacles are that most B2B commerce solutions are unable to address fundamental organizational selling needs such as; Offers that include complex configurations of products and services. Complex pre-approvals from various internal parties. Contract pricing or quoting before an order is placed. Pricing that is dependent on geography, quantity, currency or previous contracts. It used to be that you won a sale by being in the right market with an excellent product and service. Or, you stood out for being the lowest-cost producer. No longer.  Now companies need to create a competitive advantage and a solid foundation for future growth by putting customer centricity and experience at the heart of their business strategy. This requires striking the right balance between digital and human interactions with the business buyer. Complicating this evolution into a future-ready B2B commerce organization is that there are many approaches and options for the business process and technology. Evaluating the gap areas in your sales, support, and marketing processes will allow you to identify where to focus your strategy. One of the top weaknesses within the B2B market is the inability to serve customers how and where they want to be served. This is due to a lack of a streamlined, efficient, and effective way to provide the self-service, online experience that customers want. Overcoming this challenge by leading with a customer-centric mentality will empower your business well into the future. The path forward doesn’t require creating an entirely new solution. Instead, work towards automating tasks that are currently preventing your team from developing deeper client relationships. Using the e-commerce foundation you have built, you can integrate your commerce solution with CPQ technology to extend your offers to include richer, B2B sales scenarios. This will allow you to optimize efficiencies and experiences in one. With the sales journey generally longer and more complex with B2B transactions, integrating your e-commerce and CPQ technologies can offer the fluidity and transparency for both the sales representative and customer to have improved experiences. Sales representatives would then be able to: Spend time building trusted relationships with accounts. Personalize their outreach and become more innovative. Decrease order error rates. Have anywhere, anytime transactions now and in the future. Customers would be given the opportunity to: Streamline the buying experience, matching that of a B2C with in-depth search and configuration options at their fingertips. Buy online faster with pre-set customer discounts and unique product configurations. Buy smarter by using questions to find the right solution faster. Utilize personalized promotions tailored to match their business. Striking the right balance of human and digital interactions can be complicated in the B2B market and can make digital transformation efforts a unique challenge. Allowing B2B customers the flexibility to purchase on their own terms and enabling a seamless CPQ selling experience will be among the keys to success. Learn more on this topic by downloading the B2B Merchants Guide on e-commerce and CPQ technology with details on the Oracle Commerce Cloud and Oracle CPQ integration.              

By Kali Kasprzyk, Director of Marketing at Echidna It’s a fact that the B2B landscape is changing. Business buyers increasingly expect a personalized, omnichannel purchasing experience wherever,...

Ask the Experts

Embracing the Experience Economy: Exclusive Q&A with Oracle’s Rob Tarkoff and Michael Krigsman of CxOTalk

Q&A with Michael Krigsman and Rob Tarkoff In recent years, organizations have started to understand the importance of customer experience (CX) as a key differentiator. Driving this is the “Experience Economy,” a dramatic shift in the power that consumers have that is inspiring companies to rethink, retool, and revamp CX in entirely new ways. Data, intelligence, and experiences must all be connected across marketing, commerce, sales, and service in order to win in the Experience Economy. To unpack the notion of the Experience Economy and understand how organizations can thrive in it, CX industry analyst and CxOTalk podcast host Michael Krigsman interviewed Rob Tarkoff, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Oracle CX and Data Cloud. Here, we share highlights from their conversation.     Michael Krigsman: What is the Experience Economy, and how does it drive business model change? Rob Tarkoff: The Experience Economy is the phenomenon that consumers are fully in charge of their relationships with brands, and they are driving brand interactions in ways that are unique to them. It’s pushing technologies in ways we never envisioned.     Therefore, business models must change to be more responsive to customers’ desires and let them drive innovation, rather than force-fitting consumers into prescribed models of interaction. When it comes to service, for example, organizations must be predictive rather than reactive, and fix it before it’s broken. In marketing, we must target and serve customers in micro-moments of where they are—on social media, on the web, in apps, and more. It’s important to know that the Experience Economy will disrupt every industry and will be fundamental to the way organizations relate to revenue sources. For example, rather than buying a large asset like a car and seeing its value depreciate over time, consumers are gravitating toward subscribing to goods and services, and paying for use as needed.  How is the Experience Economy impacting CX strategies specifically? The Experience Economy is forcing organizations to completely rethink their CX strategies. As mentioned before, consumers are fully in charge of their brand relationships, and they hold their experiences with a brand in equal measure with the brand’s good and services. Customer journeys are dynamic, not linear as they often were before. Additionally, time is valued as the customer’s most precious resource. To address these behaviors and expectations, organizations must place customer experience data at the core of their business model and orchestrate data flows from all interaction points. This means that true customer experience doesn’t just impact employees who interface with customers for sales, marketing, and service. It impacts all areas, including finance, logistics, and supply chain. Organizations must recognize how to connect discrete processes in all areas and manage data flows to thoroughly understand customer needs, mindsets, and expectations—and deliver accordingly. What role does technology play in the Experience Economy? Technology is an enabler of change to thrive in the Experience Economy, but it’s actually not the most important part. The key is understanding and connecting data and insights that your customers are delivering about what matters to them. Equally important is acknowledging that disconnected data leads to disconnected customer experiences. An important part of successfully collecting and connecting data is keeping it safe. It’s paramount to maintain it as a protected company asset while it works to provide instantaneous access to real-time customer signals. The most difficult part of technology for organizations in this space is determining how to build policies, governance, and cooperation among departments to ensure that all necessary data is continuously available to employees at each point of customer interaction. What is Oracle CX Unity, and how is it helping organizations succeed in the Experience Economy? Oracle CX Unity is a customer intelligence platform that empowers whoever gets to the customer first—sales, marketing, commerce, service—with key intelligence to optimize processes for the customer. We offer a wide array of apps on top of the core system, so each of these professionals can orchestrate the optimal brand experience in the precise moment it’s needed. My colleague Des Cahill wrote about Oracle CX Cloud’s partner ecosystem and how it delivers value to our customers. What’s more, Oracle CX Unity delivers an engine that helps you build relevant content to ensure that content and experience are deeply connected and received via any device and format the customer needs. What final advice would you offer to organizations attempting to survive and thrive in the Experience Economy? Companies are still thinking of CX in a silo, trying to source best-of-breed applications from different players and acting as a system integrator to put it all together. Unless they want to do this full time, it’s best to find one or two trusted partners who can facilitate this process from end to end. Experience the full conversation between Michael Krigsman and Rob Tarkoff, and learn more about how Oracle CX Unity is helping organizations win in the Experience Economy at www.oracle.com/CX.                   

Q&A with Michael Krigsman and Rob Tarkoff In recent years, organizations have started to understand the importance of customer experience (CX) as a key differentiator. Driving this is the “Experience...

Ask the Experts

CX Measurement in the Experience Economy: 10 KPIs to Know

By Roy Atkinson In today’s Experience Economy, customers value their experience with brands just as much as good and services. It’s a paradigm shift in which customers lead product and service innovation as they define, on their own terms, how they discover, engage with, and consume those products and services. Powered by connected customer intelligence, the Experience Economy marks a new era of engagement for organizations. Does it also upend how they measure success? Customer experience (CX) analyst and writer at HDI Roy Atkinson provides his insights. Q: The Experience Economy, marked by the convergence of so many different channels and shifting behaviors of consumers, is both an exciting and a confusing time for CX professionals. What do you see as the most exciting and complex challenges? A: I’m excited about the new technologies that allow organizations to conquer an increasingly important challenge: Getting a handle on omnichannel. What I mean by omnichannel is bringing data from all customer channels to create a common data pool so professionals can get a true 360-degree view of the customer. Our multichannel world makes that difficult, with interactions coming through social media, telephone, web chat, and more. The teams handling those individual channels often don't communicate, so there’s no comprehensive view of the customer, resulting in a disjointed customer experience.   Q: Do you think confusion about the concept of omnichannel versus multichannel has led to slow adoption of integrating customer touchpoint data? A: I do. An organization may proudly report that it’s talking to customers through 14 channels and wonder what the problem is. The number of channels isn’t the problem. It’s that the huge amount of data they’re getting from those 14 channels is not integrated. Alternatively, real omnichannel provides a way to bring those data into a centralized database and add structure to the data so that they can be more easily accessed and understood by everyone in the organization. Q: As companies evolve to a centralized, end-to-end data pool to thrive in the Experience Economy, what key performance indicators (KPIs) should they be pursuing? A: Let’s back up a little. First and foremost, organizations must ask themselves, “What business are we in?” Not every business truly knows the answer to this question. For example, hardware stores need to ask, “Are we selling hardware or are we helping people improve their homes?” That kind of company outlook makes a difference to the customer because it influences every interaction and every subsequent measurement. Secondly, companies should frame CX metrics around their specific organizational goals, not general paint-by-number metrics. Once organizations finalize their goals, they need to determine what CX success looks like and the KPIs will flow from there.   Following are some CX KPIs to consider, listed from least to most important, in my opinion.   10.    Traditional customer satisfaction score, using a question such as “How would you rate this interaction?” It has little use in the broadest measurement of CX. 9.    I’m not a big fan of net promoter score, a metric based on a single question, “How likely is it that you would recommend our company/product/service to a friend or colleague?” Here’s why: Everyone goes after the customers that ranked 9 or 10, the ones most likely to promote. However, I believe you should go after the 7s and 8s, because they can tell you what can be done to convert them into promoters. 8.    Customer effort score gauges how easy or how difficult it is for customers to do business with you, which is critical to know in the Experience Economy. 7.    Quality measures need to rank heavily, so include product return rates, delivery timeliness, and fulfillment. 6.    Net value score is important because it measures you against the competition. Ask, “How would you rate our company's products/services/ benefits compared to other suppliers of similar products and services?”   5.    Loyalty and advocacy can be insightful and go beyond net promoter score as long as you follow up with those near full loyalty and advocacy to find out what you can do to flip the switch. 4.    Customer attrition or churn. 3.    Customer referrals, which refers to people who have actually spread the word about your brand, products and services. 2.    Employee satisfaction is key because of its strong correlation with customer experience, satisfaction, and loyalty. If your employees have a great experience with and strong connection to your brand, they will convey those feelings as they interact with your customers. 1.    Repeat business is the big one. Everyone wants customers to return and produce lifetime value. Q: Do you have any final thoughts or best practices for brands as they look for ways to improve their CX measurement in this new Experience Economy? A: Measure the right things, but not everything. Once you've measured it, try to tell a story. For example, let's say your call center’s call times increased 30% last week. Don’t just look at the what, but the why. For example, maybe there was a flood and people couldn’t get to work. As a result, the call center agents who were actually in the office had to spend more time speaking with customers. When you add that context, it completely changes the outlook of the data point and offers a potential solution. Senior management could realize they need to allow call center agents to work from home in an emergency, so the call center volume is more evenly spread. These metrics, while elementary, presented a problem that would have a profound impact on the business if it wasn’t addressed correctly. Because senior management looked at the full story, they were able to develop a practical solution. Atkinson said that “real omnichannel provides a way to bring those data into a centralized database and add structure to it so that it can be more easily accessed and understood by everyone in the organization.” Oracle CX Unity delivers this omnichannel solution. To learn more, visit oracle.com/cx-unity.           

By Roy Atkinson In today’s Experience Economy, customers value their experience with brands just as much as good and services. It’s a paradigm shift in which customers lead product and service...

CX News & Events

Commerce and CPQ and Subscriptions Session Highlights for Oracle OpenWorld 2019

Oracle OpenWorld 2019 is just around the corner! I hope to see you September 16-19, Moscone Convention Center, San Francisco. If you are in charge of selling to customer through digital touchpoints – whether with Commerce, CPQ, Subscriptions or Loyalty programs, or some combination thereof -- the effectiveness and efficiency of the selling process can make-or-break the capacity of your business to achieve critical corporate goals, from the moment a customer demonstrates interest to make a purchase, to the moment they ‘click-to-buy or collect’, approve a custom quote, or submit a purchase order. Here are some Open World sessions we think will help you navigate and optimize all the selling opportunities that lie at every customer interaction across the enterprise. Master the New Science of Sales Wednesday, Sept 17, 9:00 AM - 10:30 AM | Moscone West - Room 2012      Katrina Haynes-Gosek, Vice President, CX Product Management, Oracle      Catherine You, Vice President, Sales Cloud, Oracle      Martyn Langley, VP, Global Sales Operations, Systems & Enablement, Oracle In this session learn Oracle’s vision, latest product innovations, and roadmap for Oracle’s CX sales solutions. Guided selling and connected CRM intelligence will take the guesswork out of sales. Your current sales processes will become obsolete—and sooner than you think. Sales leaders will use new capabilities to make smarter decisions about sales planning, forecasting, discounting, deal acceleration, and more. Your sales reps will get more customer intelligence and prescriptive advice at every stage to help them close more deals. Learn how tools will enable a new breed of digital sellers to fuel your growth. Digital Commerce: Building Your Path to the Future Wednesday, September 17, 03:45 PM - 05:15 PM | Moscone West - Room 2000            Katrina Haynes-Gosek, Vice President, CX Product Management, Oracle            Ian Davis, VP Commerce Product Management, Oracle            Fazal Gupta, Director CPQ Cloud Product Management, Oracle            Alistair Galbraith, Senior Director, CX Product Strategy, Oracle This session is geared for those selling online. The history of digital commerce and online selling is intertwined with constant innovation in a broad ecosystem of applications. Today selling online is synonymous with customizing complex products and service, picking your own buying model, and building brand loyalty—all while exceeding customer expectations in B2C and B2B businesses. In this session learn from the Oracle product leadership about the latest and forthcoming innovations in commerce, CPQ, loyalty, and subscriptions offerings and see an integrated demo of how they come together and how Oracle CX can help pave your path to the future. PRO5613 Monday September 16 Delivering Superior Digital Experiences with Commerce and CPQ 01:45 PM - 02:30 PM | Moscone West - Room 2024             Gary Kirschner, Oracle             Jeri Kelley, Director, Product Strategy, Oracle Join this session to understand how Oracle is unifying commerce and CPQ capabilities to enable rich digital experiences with innovative features such as complex configurable products, 3D visualization, and asset-based ordering.PRO5614 Oracle’s Business Transformation 02:30 PM - 03:30 PM | Moscone West (Level 2) - Business Transformation Theater,             Doug Kehring, Executive Vice President, Corporate Operations, Oracle In this session hear details on how Oracle has transformed the customer and employee experiences with Oracle Cloud, including benefits achieved and lessons learned.THT6527. CPQ Supercharges Sales Productivity, Accelerates Sales, and Improves Margins 02:45 PM - 03:30 PM | Moscone West - Room 2024B             Chris Shutts, VP, Development, Oracle Fazal Gupta, Oracle CPQ enables your sales team to work smarter and respond faster by offering the right solutions to the right customers at the right price. Oracle’s best-in-class CPQ solution provides AI-powered deal management, win optimization, and price optimization, giving staff essential information at critical decision points to improve margins and increase sales productivity. Staff can accurately create and capture orders for complex products or services, or even use multitiered structures and nested submodels to generate polished, professional quotes within minutes. In this session discover the brilliance of Oracle’s CPQ solution.PRO5687 Tuesday September 17 Anatomy of a Transformation: Transforming the Customer Buying Experience 10:45 AM - 11:30 AM | Moscone West (Level 2) - Business Transformation Theater             Josh Kamenecka, GVP, NAA Solution Engineering, ERP, Oracle             Baki Yasar, Senior Director, OAL ERP Quote to Order, Oracle             Manoj Varadarajan, SVP, Global Finance Operations, Oracle In this session hear a conversation on how Oracle reimagined its customers’ buying experience and the results of transforming the experience with Oracle CPQ Cloud.THT6528 Modern Quoting Experience with Oracle CPQ Cloud 11:30 AM - 12:15 PM | Moscone West (Level 2) - Customer Experience Theater,             Aoife Radburn, VP Sales, Partner & Consulting Support, Global Quoting Practices, Oracle Learn how Oracle transformed the sales rep experience and increased deal velocity via simplified ordering documents, agreements, streamlined approvals and self-service quoting, delivered through CPQ (Configure, Price and Quote) and Sales Cloud. THT6553 The Importance of Connect CX in an Experience Economy 03:15 PM - 04:00 PM | Moscone West - Room 2009C                   Guru Muzumdar, Sr. Director, Product Management, Oracle This session provides an overview of various components in Oracle’s CX platform that help drive connected data, intelligence, and experiences across all channels of interactions. Learn about the end-to-end business process and flows that are delivered using the platform. This session explores how the Oracle CX Cloud provides a platform that enables you to integrate Oracle CX Cloud to other applications (cloud and on-premise) in your organization. Discover exciting machine learning–based automatic recommendations, prebuilt recipes, and robotic process automation to more easily connect your business faster. Also hear customer case studies on how they connected Oracle CX into their business with Oracle Integration Cloud. CON5611 Oracle’s Business Transformation 04:45 PM - 05:45 PM | Moscone West (Level 2) - Business Transformation Theater             Doug Kehring, Executive Vice President, Corporate Operations, Oracle In this session hear details on how Oracle has transformed the customer and employee experiences with Oracle Cloud, including benefits achieved and lessons learned.THT6527. Wednesday September 18 Create and Reward Your Best Customers with Commerce and Loyalty 09:00 AM - 09:45 AM | Moscone West - Room 2009B             Sonia Wadhwa, Senior Director, Product Management, Siebel CRM, Oracle             Narayana Machiraju Venkata, Oracle             Alice Dungey, Senior Manager, Southwest Airlines In the experience economy, it takes more than great products to win customers again and again. Brands and retailers need to capitalize on shopper micromoments of inspiration across web, mobile, voice, and other channels of engagement. In this session learn how commerce, loyalty, and marketing work together to create experiences designed to create and reward your best customers. PRO5615 Monetizing Products and Services with Subscription Billing 10:00 AM - 10:45 AM | Moscone West - Room 2011B             Chris Shutts, VP, Development, Oracle             Tapomoy Dey, Senior Director, Financials Development, Oracle             Vijay Rajkumar, Oracle In this session learn how to monetize your products/services by developing agile billing models that enable you to automate your revenue streams. Oracle Subscription Management Cloud supports thousands of models of pricing, delivery, billing, and multiple customer touchpoints while integrating front- and back-office processes to support recurring revenue- and usage-based services seamlessly across your organization on one highly efficient platform. Learn more about how these solutions enable you to evolve your digital business. PRO5952 Take advantage of the OOW opportunities to attend CX sessions to learn, explore and network with fellow attendees at the conference!      

Oracle OpenWorld 2019 is just around the corner! I hope to see you September 16-19, Moscone Convention Center, San Francisco.If you are in charge of selling to customer through digital touchpoints –...

Customer Experience Strategy

3 Ways to Build a Data Strategy Fit for the Experience Economy

History has shown us that time and again, innovation is synonymous with revenue. Think Apple, Starbucks, and Disney. The question is “what” or “who” is at the origin of innovation? The answer in the digital world is Data.  What does data have to do with innovation? In a word, everything. For today’s customers—both B2C and B2B—the experience they have with brands outweighs the actual usage or consumption of products and services, particularly if you honor the customer's most scarce and treasured resource: time. When you make interacting with your brand seamless, customers will latch on and guide you where you need to innovate. Customers are the true originators of innovation. This is the crux of a business transformation and we categorize this as the  Experience Economy. Not only are customers your innovators, they’re also fully in charge of their relationship with you. They dictate what, when, and how they consume your product. Successful brands are those that gather intelligence at every interaction and know their customers intimately so they can resonate with them on a deeper level. Listen to your customers at every step and they will drive you to innovation—and synonymously, revenue. However, with every step—including sales, marketing, service, commerce, and numerous back office functions—harnessing data into a holistic, actionable view of the customer is much easier said than done. Data Is at the Center of the Experience Economy Succeeding in the Experience Economy is about discovering, engaging, consuming, and serving at the highest level—with data at the center. With a large enough data set that merges customers’ digital footprints with contextual third-party data, algorithms can start to read customers’ intent signals and find patterns to best anticipate their needs. Then, organizations can meet those needs with personalized interactions. The more attributes you can track for a customer and the more connected those attributes are to the overall experience, the more value you can deliver. This will help improve customer engagement, loyalty, and, ultimately, revenue. In order to do that, we must align the data with a solid data strategy. Data Strategy Challenges to Conquer and Win in the Experience Economy A data strategy starts with determining your business goals in the context of operating in the Experience Economy. How are you going to create value, and for whom? Where are you going to capture value, and from whom? Then consider and identify where the value points should be.  What data will you use to design the customer experience? Will it be your own first-party data, or second - or third-party data? Or, maybe a it's a combination of all three?  The task of integrating, analyzing, and leveraging data to optimize customer experiences and reach business goals is not easy. Not only do organizations face internal hurdles with disparate data sets and no way of turning their data into an actionable asset, but today’s external data environment doesn’t make it any easier. Several challenges reside between business goals and their actualization when it comes to data. 1. Data structure: Because customer journeys in the Experience Economy are non-linear and data comes from numerous sources, data is fragmented and often unstructured. 2. Data acquisition: In addition to synthesizing their own data from numerous internal sources, companies can acquire third-party data from the high volume of digital connections around the world. This anonymous, consented, aggregate data from Internet of Things (IoT) devices like wearables and smart home assistants, adds context to first-party data to better understand deeper customer psychographics, predict future actions, and deliver the most value across channels. 3. Data security and governance: Organizations using data must follow existing and emerging data privacy regulations, such as the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and California’s Consumer Privacy Act. These new laws dictate how organizations can collect, store, and use customer data, and give consumers the power to “be forgotten” by brands. Organizations must follow these guidelines or risk fines, legal action, or worse, damaged brand perception and loyalty. To that end, data security also has a tremendous impact on consumer trust. Organizations must ensure they have the proper security protocols in place as they expand their use of customer data. As cyber threats become more sophisticated, security must be an ongoing priority across all areas of the organization.    How Oracle CX Unity Empowers a Unified Data Strategy Oracle CX Unity, fueled by the Oracle CX Cloud, can democratize data so that everyone has the same opportunity to compete and drive revenue in the Experience Economy. It unifies disparate data touchpoints across the entire customer experience without disrupting current in-house transactional systems. Organizations’ first-party data can be hydrated with third-party data from Oracle’s marketplace—the world’s largest—in strict compliance with all domestic and international regulations. In turn, organizations can deliver seamless experiences and hyper-personalization—requirements for thriving in the Experience Economy.        

History has shown us that time and again, innovation is synonymous with revenue. Think Apple, Starbucks, and Disney. The question is “what” or “who” is at the origin of innovation? The answer in the...

CX News & Events

CX Sales at Oracle OpenWorld 2019

September 16-19, Moscone Convention Center, San Francisco It’s that time of year again – Oracle OpenWorld 2019 is upon us! But OpenWorld isn’t the only thing that’s here. We’re now living in the Experience Economy, where customers expect interactions to be perfectly timed and personalized specifically to them. That means that whoever gets to the customer first must be empowered to help them, whatever they need. For CX Sales leaders and professionals, a data-driven approach to CX, fully integrated revenue optimization across the organization, account intelligence, AI and integrated planning will take center stage as they transform their business to excel in the Experience Economy. We’ll highlight what you need to not only succeed, but to lead, in this new normal. As always, this year’s event will feature live keynote sessions from Oracle executives like Larry Ellison and Steve Miranda – and once again, the customer appreciate event is sure to wow. CloudFest 19 attendees will get to jam all night with John Mayer and Flo Rida. Rob Tarkoff, EVP CRM/CX Cloud, Oracle will join Steve Miranda, Executive Vice President, Applications Development, Oracle, and several customers in a session that will challenge you to think. Can you feel the tidal wave of change bearing down on everything you do? It’s affecting your business models, technology, and customer expectations—and the speed is only accelerating. What if there were a way to make this constant change work to your advantage? What if there was a solution that lets you embrace change and reinvigorate your business? Take a deep breath and explore how Oracle Cloud apps can help you stay ahead of changing expectations. Solution Keynote: How to Turn Change into Opportunity with Oracle Cloud Apps [SOL5599], Tuesday, September 17th, 11:15am-12:45pm, Moscone North – Hall F Later, Rob will lead the opening CX keynote with a deeper look at how understanding your customers better than your competitors is the key to your organization’s success in the Experience Economy. Data as a Strategic Advantage in the Experience Economy [GEN5929], Tuesday, September 17th, 4:45am-6:15pm, Moscone West – Room 2006/2008 Don’t miss the CX Sales General Session, led by Katrina Haynes-Gosek, Vice President, CX Product Management, Oracle. You’ll hear Oracle’s vision, latest product innovations, and roadmap for Oracle’s CX sales solutions. Guided selling and connected CRM intelligence are taking the guesswork out of sales. Your current sales processes will become obsolete—and sooner than you think. Don’t miss out on an exclusive look at the tools that will enable a new breed of digital sellers to fuel your growth. Master the New Science of Sales [PRO5667], Wednesday, September 18th, 9:00am-10:30am, Moscone West, Room 2012 If you are in Sales, you also won’t want to miss these sessions curated just for you! Completing the Customer Profile: A Multidimensional Data Discussion [PAN6370], Wednesday, September 18th, 4:45pm-5:30pm, Moscone West – Room 3001 CX Sales Success Stories: What No One Told You About Cross-CX Initiatives [PAN5668], Thursday, September 19th, 9:00am-9:45am, Moscone West – Room 2010 Of course, mastering the new science and art of selling is an essential skill to prevailing in the Experience Economy. In the Experience Economy, enterprises no longer drive innovation. Customers do – and they’re raising the bar at a rapid pace. They’re immune to sales pitches, they will shop and transact anywhere at any time, and they expect problems to fix themselves. They have limited attention spans and are very protective of their time. Your only goal should be to design rich and satisfying experiences that respect their time. Join Joe Fuster, Group Vice President, CX Cloud Business Group, Oracle, as shares how to empower marketing, commerce, sales, and service—whoever gets to the customer first. Learn How to Prevail in the Experience Economy [CON4937], Monday, September 16th, 1:45pm-2:30pm, Moscone West, Room 2022B As a company, Oracle knows what it takes to plan and execute sales strategy at scale. Hear from Oracle leaders who have implemented Oracle CX Sales solutions to drive success. Sales Compensation Leveraging Oracle Fusion Incentive Compensation [THT6548], Monday, September 16th, 9:00am-9:45am, Moscone West (Level 2) – Customer Experience Theater Partner Relationship Management [THT6549], Monday, September 16th, 10:00am-10:45am, Moscone West (Level 2) – Customer Experience Theater Transition to a Modern CX Platform [THT6552], Monday, September 16th, 1:00pm-1:45pm, Moscone West (Level 2) – Customer Experience Theater Modern Quoting Experience with Oracle CPQ Cloud [THT6553], Tuesday, September 17th, 11:30am-12:15pm, Moscone West (Level 2) – Customer Experience Theater Sales Intelligence, Our Path to the Cloud [THT6562], Wednesday, September 18th, 3:00pm-3:45pm, Moscone West (Level 2) – Customer Experience Theater Sales Manager Central [THT6563], Wednesday, September 18th, 4:00pm-4:45pm, Moscone West (Level 2) – Customer Experience Theater Through the power of artificial intelligence and smart data, enterprises can amplify their business results to stay ahead of the competition. Smart data and modern, AI-enabled approaches to CRM management have unlocked a new wave of sales productivity, helping businesses across the globe make their data work for them, rather the other way around. Join our account intelligence and AI experts as they dive into how Oracle is making guided selling a reality. The AI-Powered CRM: See Smart Data in Action with Oracle DataFox [THT5524], Tuesday, September 17th, 2:00pm-2:20pm, Moscone West (Level 2) – Cloud Applications Theater The Science of CX: Building an AI and Smart Data Strategy [CON5517], Tuesday, September 17th, 3:15pm-4:00pm, Moscone West – Room 2009B Step into the Future with Adaptive Intelligent Apps and Smart Data [GEN5511], Tuesday, September 17th, 3:15pm-4:00pm, Moscone West – Room 2006/2008 Fireside Chat: AI Success, Fact or Fiction? [PAN5512], Tuesday, September 17th, 4:15pm-5:00pm, Moscone West – Room 2002 Unify Your Customer Intelligence for the AI Era [CON4938], Wednesday, September 18th, 11:15am-12:00pm, Moscone West – Room 2022B Of course, sales teams need to execute well to stay ahead of the competition. The secret to accelerated sales execution is to start before you even begin. Nimble planning and management reporting for crucial processes such as sales forecasting, account segmentation, quota and territory management, and compensation modeling provide an edge. Join these sessions to learn how Oracle’s sales planning and performance management solutions help sales operations optimize their resources from day one. Maximize Productivity with Territory Management [THT6556], Tuesday, September 17th, 2:30pm-3:15pm, Moscone West (Level 2) – Customer Experience Theater Sales and Marketing Planning with Oracle EPM Cloud [PRO5555], Thursday, September 19th, 12:15pm-1:00pm, Moscone West – Room 2007A Each year, Oracle OpenWorld attendees come for the major product announcements, to hear our vision for the future, see cutting edge-technology, plus learn, explore and network with peers. Be sure to stop by Moscone West, Level 2, for a demo of Oracle's Sales solutions.  Don't miss your opportunity - we'll see you in San Francisco!

September 16-19, Moscone Convention Center, San Francisco It’s that time of year again – Oracle OpenWorld 2019 is upon us! But OpenWorld isn’t the only thing that’s here. We’re now living in the...

Data Utilization & Analytics

Defining the Customer Intelligence Platform and Why You Should Care

Have you ever been talking with a service person and had to repeat yourself?  Of course you have. We all have, and we all hate it. It still happens even in 2019 and when it happens once, that’s one time too many. When we engage with a brand, we don’t care how its service or marketing departments are set up. We just want our issues resolved, quickly.  When each and every interaction with a brand is an opportunity to please and delight that customer, forcing them to provide the same information again and again creates a terrible brand experience. The problem begins with the data! When every customer interaction operates as its own distinct conversation, each touch – marketing, sales, logistics, delivery, service, loyalty - produces more siloed data, making a single view of the customer impossible. Without a single view of the customer, delivering a great, consistent experience across the customer journey itself is impossible. Consumer Data Platform (CDP) Solutions Fall Short CDPs have emerged with a promise that they’ll enable marketers to unify their customer data across their organization, and activate audiences across the broader ecosystem to deliver consistent experiences across channels. CDPs are the latest step in the evolution of data management systems that use data from platforms such as CRM systems and data management platforms to help you get a 360-degree view of your customers, and deliver unified customer experiences. But, point CDP solutions generally fail to provide a unified customer profile to all systems across the enterprise. The key problem is they’re too narrowly focused and do not consider the entire end-to-end customer experience across marketing, sales, service, loyalty, commerce, etc. The customer information contained in a CDP is of value to everyone across the company, not just to marketing. In its October 2018 report “For B2C Marketers, Customer Data Platforms Overpromise and Underdeliver.” Forrester states that “CDPs lack crucial capabilities to solve for identity resolution, data hygiene, and cross-channel orchestration.” The analyst firm further notes that without these capabilities, CDPs “can’t meet enterprise B2C marketers’ expectations for personalized and targeted customer engagement.” The Next Evolution Is The Customer Intelligence Platform (CIP) CIPs incorporate anonymous, third-party data as well as first-party known data to provide a complete understanding of the customer. They have a layer of intelligence that uses machine learning for predictive models and recommendations to produce more powerful and actionable insights. CIPs share those insights with any other system to enable sales, service, marketing, commerce, field service, finance, social and others with more, better intelligence. For example, if a customer is interacting with a service agent to report an issue, it’s imperative the sales system informs the agent that this is a high value customer who just made a major purchase. Similarly, if a customer has an open support ticket, it’s crucial that marketing system informs the marketer to not to include that customer in a marketing campaign until their issue is resolved. It’s infuriating to get a marketing email from a brand asking you to refer a friend or consider an additional purchase, when you're having service issues. This approach enables the brand to optimize customer engagement and helps to improve customer satisfaction and increases customer lifetime value. The Oracle Customer Intelligence Platform The customer relationship with brands is in constant motion. As marketing, sales, commerce, and service professionals, we must adapt to these shifts or they’ll take their business elsewhere. At Oracle, we launched our customer intelligence system at OpenWorld 2018, called CX Unity. It's a behavioral, transactional system that allows you to dive into the key intelligence about your customers and use it to optimize a process, whether service, sales, marketing or commerce. CX Unity applies that data-driven intelligence to determine the next best experience by feeding those actions directly into Oracle and non-Oracle applications. The Power of a Customer Intelligence Platform Connected Customer Profiles Oracle CX Unity connects and unifies all of your customer data together in context, in motion, and in real-time, regardless of source or size. This ensures that each and every customer interaction is data-driven. Across the entire customer lifecycle, we are identifying and building profiles, capturing each customer’s key event data to help better understand passions, interests, needs and attentions. With built-in ID resolution, CX Unity unifies and resolves customer identities across all disparate systems to build a single, unified customer profile for each customer. It captures events based on behavioral data, not just profile ID’s that it collects, but it analyzes what those profiles are doing behaviorally at the granular, individual level in real time. Enriched for Personalization While most marketers’ view of the customer may stop and end here, there is so much more about your customers that you simply just can’t glean from various sources.  CX Unity has an enrichment layer that provides seamless access to the world’s largest 3rd party data market, the Oracle Data Cloud. You can learn much more about your customers such as geo-demographics, estimated net worth, family size, offline shopping behaviors, intent and much more. Augment your connected customer profiles with data enrichment that blends second and third party probabilistic data with first party deterministic data to provide a true understanding of your customers’ intent for hyper-personalization. Intent-curated Segmentation A single view of the customer is great. But, that view doesn't mean much unless it’s actionable. With built-in predictive modeling and machine learning algorithms, CX Unity provides deep, granular, segmentation-of-one scale across as much data as you want, in real time. With segmentation as a core offering, it allows you to centralize audience creation and then execute those audiences across your entire CX ecosystem. AI/Machine Learning is natively embedded, allowing you to pick the best audiences for your campaigns. Actionable Customer Analytics Detailed analytics provide a deep understanding on why something performed the way it did. Often, causality is still hard to identify when you are looking at terabytes of engagement data. A detailed root cause analysis helps you optimize your campaigns by taking actions straight from the analytics. Seamless Experiences After you decide what experiences you want to serve your customers, you have to actually deliver them. Customers don’t think in channels. They expect an individualized experience wherever, whenever and however they interact with the brand. Great experiences should be delivered through every channel - direct mail, contact center, email, mobile, social, your website, and through advertising channels like search and display. CX Unity enables one-to-one personalization at scale. Create faster time to value with out-of-the-box integrations and a push-button ability to build and publish segments into Oracle and non-Oracle applications. More and more, we see the most innovative companies are starting to compete on this type of holistic experience, and Oracle is the only vendor that has the pre-integrated and industry leading solutions across this entire range of CX. You don’t need to take our word for it, we were cited as a leader in The Forrester Wave™: Digital Experience Platforms, Q3 2019. Your customers deserve a great experience whenever they interact with your brand. CX Unity enables companies to deliver contextually aware and highly personalized experiences that delight customers whenever and however they engage with them, improving customer satisfaction and increasing greater customer lifetime value. For more information, visit oracle.com/cx-unity              

Have you ever been talking with a service person and had to repeat yourself?  Of course you have. We all have, and we all hate it. It still happens even in 2019 and when it happens once, that’s one...

Ask the Experts

How Intelipost Revolutionized the Logistics Industry in Brazil and is Coming to a Market Near You

Brazil’s freight market has been transformed thanks to Intelipost’s SaaS solution that’s managing a fragmented logistics network of over 70k companies. And Intelipost has no intention of stopping with the Brazilian market as they’re also developing with international scale in mind. In this Q&A, I interview Stefan Rehm, Founder of Oracle Cloud Marketplace Technology Partner, Intelipost. We cover the role that freight management plays in the overall customer experience and how new innovations like blockchain will further revolutionize the industry and push the envelope of what we consider to be a good experience. Q - Tell us about Intelipost and what makes your solution unique. Intelipost was founded by Gabriel Drummond and me in 2014 with the purpose of solving one of Brazil’s biggest logistics problems: the lack of a standard freight market, especially given Brazil’s vast size, combined with a large number of small delivery players made freight process management difficult. While the country has plenty of logistics companies, very few provide cross-country service and even fewer have transparent processes around pricing and tracking. We set out to fix this by building a single platform, SaaS solution to facilitate the management of the entire shipping process from quoting to reverse logistics and auditing. After 5 years of hard work integrating with the various transport providers, today Intelipost is a leading technology company in transportation management and intelligence, integrating e-commerce, marketplaces, retailers, industries, and carriers to provide total visibility of order statuses in a real-time schedule. Based in trustworthy cloud technologies, the platform currently integrates with 2,000+ stores and 350+ carriers, resulting in annual reoccurring revenue of $3M per year. Q - How does Intelipost help provide a better experience for eCommerce customers? An end user customer checks the status of their delivery an average of seven times throughout the process. With the Intelipost solution, shippers, such as e-commerce businesses, retailers, and wholesalers, can track all business deliveries and automate the associated order status notifications to keep customers informed throughout the entire shipment journey. Keeping the customer informed helps the Customer Service Line focus on proactive actions in the event of delivery problems and improve the final delivery experience. Q - Intelipost has also been part of the Oracle Global Startup Program. Can you tell us about that experience? This opportunity has enabled us to learn a great deal while collaborating with other startups that are developing solutions that will have a real impact on the market. We’re working closely with Oracle’s strategic professionals to develop new ideas that will improve business areas like sales and marketing, as well as expose us to new sales opportunities with Oracle. We’re very proud to be the first Brazilian company to launch on Oracle’s Global Marketplace Platform. Q - During your time in Oracle’s accelerator, you developed a blockchain solution that tracks an asset throughout the supply chain cycle. Could you provide some details on this solution and discuss why it’s disruptive? Last year we participated in the Logistics Tech Challenge, an event where 23 different possible uses of blockchain were detected in different spheres of transport and freight. Meaning that several gaps were identified that can be addressed through the use of blockchain. With our blockchain solution, we were able to deliver a faster integration time than our current solution. Blockchain also helps to simplify the process of auditing and validation and enables a more secure supply chain cycle that is less susceptible to fraud. Finally, by centralizing the transit information, anyone with the access key has full, real-time visibility into a package’s status along the route to its final destination. To better understand how Intelipost is leveraging blockchain, take a look at this video. Q - What does the next generation of logistics management look like from your perspective? Thinking forward, the next generation of logistics management is bigger than Intelipost and does not just depend on us. I believe we will have to work together with other companies and shippers to dedicate ourselves to the consolidation of the logistics community by building new technologies (like blockchain) and integrating them into the market in order to positively impact the overall customer experience. Stefan Rehm is the founder of Intelipost, a leading SaaS freight management platform.  Prior to Intellipost, Rehm worked at Google and IBM before joining the venture capiutal firm Project-A Ventures. Arriving in Brazil in 2012, he participated in the investment of various ecommerce companies where he learned firsthand the difficulty of logistics in Brazil and recognized it as a good entrepreneurial opportunity. Click here to read Intelipost's Oracle Cloud marketplace listing.

Brazil’s freight market has been transformed thanks to Intelipost’s SaaS solution that’s managing a fragmented logistics network of over 70k companies. And Intelipost has no intention of stopping with...

Customer Experience

The ROI of Visual Engagement

In my last blog, Humanize your CX Strategy with Visual Engagement, I discussed the positive impact that visual engagement can bring to a company’s omnichannel CX strategy. Let’s break it down further to understand the significant return of investment (ROI) attained from customer adoption of visual channels. Companies that adopt visual channels could expect to see a wide range of benefits. Higher Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) Research indicates that visual engagement is a powerful real-time concept that enables agents and their customers to reduce conversation clutter, better understand each other, and drastically save time in problem resolution. This drives an overall positive customer experience and leads to higher customer satisfaction (CSAT) rates for the company. Improved Net Promoter Score (NPS) Companies use CSAT as a foundational measurement to help aim for long-term customer loyalty. Companies often conduct frequent surveys of their high-value customers to ensure their continued product and service satisfaction. An important metric of such surveys is the Net Promoter Score (NPS). Visual channels go a long way toward increasing long-term NPS, initially originating from high CSAT. Reduced Visitor Abandonment Rate In the retail sector, a positive online shopping experience is often the most important factor when it comes to converting web site visitors into buyers. Companies make significant investments toward creating simple and seamless user experiences for their online visitors. By combining a great user experience with helpful services options, companies can significantly reduce visitor abandonment rates. Companies can increase their conversions rates by up to 2.5X with the inclusion of visual channels to assist the overall visitor experience. Reduced Customer Churn While it’s extremely rewarding for companies to successfully convert web site visitors into buyers, it is equally important to nurture, delight and retain existing customers through smart customer service. Research shows that companies have experienced 9.5X customer retention rates after the adoption of visual channels to differentiate their customer service, from competitors that lacked these channels. Higher First Call Resolution (FCR) Rate Imagine when a customer has to repeatedly call the customer service department on the same topic multiple times because their original problem wasn’t resolved the first time. It’s happened to all of us. This is a classic recipe for customer anger, stress, frustration and churn! The essence of visual engagement is all about being able to see, engage and resolve customer issues and goes a long way toward promoting first call resolution (FCR) and preventing customer callbacks. Increased Brand Recognition & Differentiation Adding visual channels to a company’s omnichannel portfolio can increase popularity, loyalty and brand advocacy from delighted customers through differentiated customer service. Higher Upsell and Cross-Sell Opportunities With companies reaping the benefit of long-term customer loyalty and brand recognition from visual channel adoption, sales and marketing departments are more empowered to upsell and cross-sell the company’s products. Companies in the late stages of maturity with visual channel adoption have experienced an impressive 81% higher year-on-year increase in revenue than their revenue prior to adopting visual channels. Conclusion As you can see, the bang for the buck with visual engagement is evident. Oracle Service Cloud recognizes the positive impact that visual channels bring to a customer’s omnichannel portfolio, and enables video chat, co-browse, and screen sharing capabilities to bolster the overall customer experience. For more information on the use cases, features and capabilities of these offerings, please refer the Video Chat Data Sheet and Co-browse Data Sheet or simply leave a comment and I’ll respond.  

In my last blog, Humanize your CX Strategy with Visual Engagement, I discussed the positive impact that visual engagement can bring to a company’s omnichannel CX strategy. Let’s break it down further...

Data Utilization & Analytics

The New Rules and Tools for Sales Success - It’s All about the Data!

Sales teams: Are you still sending out high-volume, impersonalized email blasts to potential customers? That’s no way to win and serve customers in today’s world. There has been a revolutionary shift in how consumers make purchase decisions. In today’s Experience Economy, it’s personalize or die. The Experience Economy is everywhere, and it means that consumers now want more than just the delivery of goods and services—they expect companies and brands to deliver an exceptional, memorable, and engaging buying experience along the way. These expectations aren’t just when consumers are shopping online or browsing through Netflix. The lines between B2B and B2C buying habits are blurring, which means B2B buyers now expect easy, B2C-like consumption. For them, the process of purchasing a complex machine or service needs to be as convenient as receiving groceries ordered online two hours ago. Price is no longer the all-important element in the buying process. Today, it’s just one element of that journey. Businesses have to earn the trust of their customers and establish deeper and more direct relationships with them. The Experience Economy Engine So, what’s the engine powering the Experience Economy's hyper-personalized buying journey? The answer is artificial intelligence (AI) and clean, smart data. The power of any AI application lies in the data it consumes. By tapping data-driven AI, forward-thinking organizations are making better decisions faster to meet their customer needs and bypass the competition. Adopting AI empowers teams, makes them more effective, and saves time by automating steps and predicting outcomes. For example, AI allows machines to take over mundane tasks such as filling in Excel sheets, monitoring orders, scheduling meetings, and qualifying leads so sales reps can focus on more important work: building relationships, winning new customers, and growing existing accounts. AI can not only identify leads, but also predict solutions and suggest products that a potential customer may need. It can help businesses digitally connect with customers through tools such as chatbots, which can help interpret buyers' questions and complete orders for them. By using AI to respond quickly and efficiently to messages, customers feel valued, which translates into continued engagement—and, ultimately, repeat business. Full-Circle Customer Experience In other words, those without this powerful tool are destined to be left behind. They will continue to have little insight about the lead they’re about to call or the company they are trying to do business with. They also won’t know if someone else in their seat two years ago already spoke to that potential customer. That’s not a good customer experience. While AI is a must-have tool, it’s important to understand that it’s only as good as the data feeding it. That’s why having clean, robust, and consistently updated data in your CRM and marketing automation systems is crucial for teams employing AI. For instance, basic data includes where a company is located, its size, details about past interactions, and whether it’s growing or not. This is important data to have and must be updated continually. Deeper, contextual data, however, will provide more nuanced and actionable information. For example, it can automatically inform a salesperson when an organization experiences a change that could trigger a purchase need and decision. Let’s say a company just hired a new chief security officer. A software security sales rep would want to know this right away. Why? Because new leaders typically want to shake things up and buying new equipment, software, or services is often a first step. An AI program would automatically give you a real-time alert on this change in leadership. This type of automated and instant information can be a goldmine for the professional sales rep because they’re able to deliver what the customer wants exactly when they need it. This is what winning looks like in the Experience Economy. The idea of jumping into AI and big data can seem intimidating, but the smart way to bring AI into a business is to start small. Most important, AI is a powerful weapon rendered useless if the data in the CRM and in applications isn’t reliable or accurate. So, get going by adding a little automation here, an AI widget that makes suggestions there. Slowly but surely, your organization will start getting deeper, real-time insights on buyers and will be ready to engage customers in an enhanced personalized experience that offers a unique competitive advantage. Click to read The Impact of Emerging Technology on CX Excellence. We surveyed 465 global CX professionals to understand how how emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, digital assistants, and augmented reality will affect customer loyalty and brand performance within the next five years.  

Sales teams: Are you still sending out high-volume, impersonalized email blasts to potential customers? That’s no way to win and serve customers in today’s world. There has been a revolutionary shift...

Customer Experience Strategy

How to Thrive in the Experience Economy—and How Oracle CX Unity Is More than a CDP

Today’s customers—both B2B and B2C—are firmly in the driver’s seat of the “Experience Economy,” a once-in-a-generation shift of power from brands to buyers. Customers place more value in the customer experience (CX) than in the goods and services themselves—and they’re adopting new technologies to get exactly what they want, where, when, and how they want it. As such, their customer journey is no longer predictable and linear. The B2C and B2B worlds have morphed into B2Me, where friction can make or break your customer relationships. With customers driving the evolution of CX at breakneck speeds, how can businesses keep pace, let alone thrive? The answer lies within their customer data—countless data points from many different sources (sales, marketing, service, commerce, point of sale, field service, finance, community, social, etc.). The problem? Harnessing that data into a single, dynamic view of the customer so you can market to a segment of one, on an enterprise scale. Unpacking Customer Data Platforms Data is the currency of the Experience Economy. The ability to organize it, gain insights from it, and then use it as fuel to power contextual experiences across the customer journey—whatever path that takes—is critical.  Entering the scene in recent years are customer data platforms (CDPs). CDPs are software solutions designed to create a single, unified, and continuous customer database accessible by other systems throughout the organization. They should allow for a comprehensive view of each customer, yielding the ability to offer personalized content and customized delivery. They should be able to predict a customer’s future actions as well, allowing for more personalized experiences throughout the customer’s journey. CDPs are usually managed by marketers and are structured to support campaign management, marketing analyses, and business intelligence. But many enterprises are not achieving these results with existing CDP solutions on the market. Most CDPs are offered by startups whose solutions can address only narrow marketing use cases in either B2B or B2C scenarios, but not both. Most fail to create a truly singular view of the customer, as they are able to incorporate only marketing digital interaction data and nothing else. Their models and algorithms aren’t modifiable by the customer, providing a “one size fits all” approach that doesn’t work across industries and business models. More recently, we’ve seen the entry of enterprise content and CRM vendors into the CDP space that promise to deliver true CDP solutions. At Oracle, we think delivering an enterprise-grade CDP—a customer intelligence platform—isn’t about point solutions, content, or CRM—it’s about expertise in managing data at scale. It is an extremely difficult engineering task to corral demographic data, transactional data, and behavioral data and to integrate it across devices and channels to create a complete, connected, insightful, and actionable customer profile. That’s why thriving in the Experience Economy requires a partner that has data at the core of its business—and its solutions. More Than a CDP: Oracle CX Unity Customer Intelligence Platform  Oracle CX Unity helps enterprises thrive in the Experience Economy by weaving their disparate customer data—from marketing, sales, commerce, and service—into strategic intelligence. It merges online, offline, and third-party data to create a single source of real-time customer truth, helping eliminate the “blind spots” that prevent so many enterprises from better understanding their customers and delivering richer interactions.  What’s more, CX Unity goes one step further than the broader CDP market by applying built-in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to prescribe the optimal experience within existing business processes. Here are some real-life scenarios that illustrate the Oracle CX Unity difference: You’re ready to execute a marketing campaign. Since Oracle CX Unity ingests service records, you might want to suppress customers who are having significant service issues, allowing their sole experience with your brand to be focused on their upcoming solution. You manage your company’s website and know that 70 percent of your visits are anonymous. Wouldn’t it be great to turn half of that 70 percent into known visitors? Oracle CX Unity can help.  Your customer Rick buys wine from your online retail business. In addition to knowing that Rick enjoys wine, a third-party data source from Oracle CX Unity tells you that he also likes fine foods, hiking, and travel. Now you can build a deeper, richer relationship with Rick by offering content and products that speak to all his preferences. You’re a sales representative for an insurance company that just released a new product. In Oracle CX Unity, you can see at a glance which existing customers are most engaged and have the greatest propensity for this new product. Offering a connected customer profile, comprehensive customer intelligence, and personalization across the entire customer experience, Oracle CX Unity allows your brand to drive at the same hypersonic speeds as your customers. Learn more about how Oracle CX Unity can help you create personalized, differentiated customer experiences.   Click to read The Impact of Emerging Technology on CX Excellence. We surveyed 465 global CX professionals to understand how how emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, digital assistants, and augmented reality will affect customer loyalty and brand performance within the next five years.  

Today’s customers—both B2B and B2C—are firmly in the driver’s seat of the “Experience Economy,” a once-in-a-generation shift of power from brands to buyers. Customers place more value in the customer...

Customer Success Stories

Have You Joined The Experience Economy? Consider These 4 Tenets

Attracting customers and keeping them happy requires companies to do more than just churn out new and innovative products. It requires them to build a deeper understanding of how customers will consume those products, whether to grow their businesses or enrich their personal lives. "This is the essence of the 'experience economy, '" says Oracle Executive Vice President Rob Tarkoff, who is in charge of Oracle’s CX strategy and development. Unlike the industrial and service economies, “in the experience economy customers are the innovators in the way they engage with brands and how they use their offerings,” he said. To cash in on the experience economy, Tarkoff advises companies to adopt artificial intelligence to instantly capture data about their customers, apply analytics to that data in real time, and then immediately present relevant offers. “That will be your competitive advantage,” Tarkoff said. But to deliver such capabilities, companies’ “customer-facing business functions need to be silo-free, and connected to customers along a marketing, sales, service, and commerce continuum,” he said. Tarkoff shared four tenets of the experience economy: 1. Help customers discover exactly what they’re looking for—in the precise moments they need it. Exceptional customer experiences begin with “hyper-personalization,” a practice that goes beyond audience segmentation. Rather than target people based on common attributes or demographic groupings, companies need to capture their customers’ browsing patterns, content interests, and purchase histories in precise “micro-moments,” and then respond with tailored offers in milliseconds.  2. Facilitate ways for customers to engage with your company, on their terms. For Boston-based Radius Bank, “it’s really important to provide a community bank feeling, while also having state-of-the-art technologies to support a self-service, digital banking business model,” says Christina Shortall, vice president of customer experience. In addition to letting its customers across the US deposit checks and pay bills from their mobile devices, the bank’s website features a self-service searchable knowledge base, an automated email response form, and a chatbot named Rae. Using Oracle Service Cloud Digital Assistant, Radius customers can ask Rae how to open a savings account or find their tax documents. If for some reason Rae can’t answer their questions, the application triggers an escalation to a live agent.   Since rolling out the virtual assistant, the bank’s Net Promoter Score, a measure of a company’s customer loyalty, has increased 20%. 3. Let customers subscribe to your range of products, rather than make them pay to own specific ones. Can’t decide whether to buy an SUV for your family or lease a convertible for yourself? For about $2,700 a month, a 32-day minimum commitment, and a $575 activation fee, BMW will let you drive them both. The German carmaker introduced a tiered subscription service last April that lets customers switch among five or six different vehicles as many times as they want. The subscription covers insurance, maintenance, and roadside assistance. Using in-vehicle sensors, BMW tracks the mileage, fuel consumption, and fluid levels of each vehicle and then crafts a pricing plan that includes monthly allowances, with the ability to tack on fees if drivers exceed their subscription limits. “The business opportunity to build recurring customer relationships and predictable revenue streams is tremendous,” Tarkoff says. 4. Create an integrated service organization to build relationships with more loyal, higher-margin customers. At Brother International, the 65-year-old manufacturer of printers, sewing machines, and label makers, great customer service is becoming everyone’s responsibility. By consolidating its digital marketing, direct e-commerce, and customer service operations into a single customer experience center of excellence, the company’s customer-facing employees will be able to see, for example, new social posts as they come in from Q&As and reviews on the sites of its retail partners. Depending on the type of comment, a service agent, marketer, or sales rep can directly engage with each customer. “We’re able to see exactly which products or features our customers love, and which ones they’re having problems with,” says Jessica Campbell, program manager of customer experience at Brother. “We’re also able to see what those problems are, and then not only quickly resolve the individual incident, but also analyze all of the feedback from each of our customers so that we can either re-engineer our products or change the way we support them,” Campbell says. In the experience economy, every department shares ownership of the customer, Oracle’s Tarkoff says. “Whoever gets to the customer first,” he says, “needs to be given the tools and authority to earn her trust, win her business, and keep her happy.” Read the full article on Forbes here.      

Attracting customers and keeping them happy requires companies to do more than just churn out new and innovative products. It requires them to build a deeper understanding of how customers...

Ask the Experts

How Pierce Washington Helps B2B Organizations Create B2C-Like Experiences

Consumers were quick to adopt the convenience offered by online shopping, and now B2B customers want the same. Some products simply pair better together and that’s certainly proven to be the case for B2B commerce and Configure, Price, Quote Solutions. In this Q&A, I interview Austin Lowry, Vice President, eCommerce with Oracle Commerce Cloud System Integration Partner, Pierce Washington. He dives into what differentiates a B2B customer from their B2C counterpart and how Pierce Washington helps meet the unique needs of this customer group. We all know that retailers and merchants are facing major disruption. What are some of the biggest challenges and opportunities for more traditional B2B organizations? I think distributors are the businesses truly feeling that first wave of disruption, and it’s similar to what the retail industry has been facing for a few years now. Retail customers searching for a feature rich, more convenient shopping experience turn to Amazon because it’s a convenient, one-stop shop. Or they go direct to the manufacturer, which can provide a premium experience because of their intimate product knowledge. B2B isn’t that dissimilar as distributors, like Grainger and Ferguson, innovate on their eCommerce offerings. As a result of this success, Amazon has been finding its way into the B2B space while at the same time manufacturers are becoming less afraid of channel conflict and going directly to customers. That’s not to say that manufacturers are immune to disruption. Distributors and customers are comparing experiences, which make it easier to find local dealers, repair information, replacement parts, or to self-service the sales cycle online. These are experiences they leverage when given a choice. Product quality and cost are no longer the lone deciding factors for customers. What types of solutions are available for these B2B organizations? We are just now starting to see B2B point solutions come together to create connected experiences. eCommerce platforms that support B2B, Configure Price Quote solutions, and self-service portals have been in the market for over a decade as separate, disparate solutions. The change we’re seeing is these point solutions coming together to create a seamless customer experience. It’s great when a customer can request a quote, order a product, and check their order status online. But, do they really have to log into three different systems to do each task? Connecting these systems is the key to improving margins and the customer experience. Oracle is really leading this space in creating connected customer experiences. By putting these products under the CX umbrella, we’re seeing businesses provide the same experience regardless of the channel the customer interacts with. With new offerings from Oracle such as CX Unity, we can now leverage customer information across channels. The customer that requests a quote online can be provided a quote in the field by a salesperson, have a reminder sent about the open quote through email marketing, return to the website to complete the transaction, and then receive a confirmation follow up via phone. All of this happens with perfect information about who the customer is and how they interacted at every step along the way, with AI powering the next best experience. We know that B2B organizations want to offer more B2C-like experiences. How do you help them achieve this? When we talk about B2C-like experiences, it’s important to define what we want to borrow from B2C and apply to B2B. The two key concepts I believe B2B buyers are seeking are omnichannel experiences and the ability for self-service. Omnichannel in B2C essentially means that a retailer should provide the same experience regardless of the channel the customer chooses to engage. For instance, in-store and voice assistant experiences should be consistent because the customer thinks they’re the same. The B2B buyer has come to expect the same experience as that of B2C customers. They don’t care that your website and ERP systems aren’t the same. They want the ability to buy online, contact Sales to modify an order, and then check the status of all orders regardless of whether they were placed online or by phone. Further, when they go online to order replacement parts, they should be presented with options based on the seller’s knowledge of what that customer already owns. In the same way most customers have been trained by Amazon, they don’t need to talk to someone to self-service themselves. That may mean using search and guided navigation to find products or accessing order history through an online account to re-order products. Or, it may mean using a configurator to walk through a complex product configuration and order process. Your customers have a job to do and they simply want to do it as quickly and easily as a B2C buying experience. How does a B2B customer’s expectations of the buying experience differ from those of a B2C customer? While B2B customers want an experience that’s as fast and as easy as a B2C experience, you also have to keep in mind that a B2B customer is doing a job. While we as consumers may need easy access to our order history to reorder our favorite replacement water filter, B2B customers have tasks to fulfill, like restocking, maintenance jobs, or finding the exact replacement part required for a piece of custom manufactured equipment. In addition, B2B customers need an even higher level of personalization than B2C customers! B2B customers expect a product catalog, pricing, and even product content that are tailored specifically to them. They don’t have time to waste filtering through options that don’t apply or that may be wrong and end up costing time and money. This means that it’s even more important in B2B that all customer touch points and data be integrated. ERP, commerce, CPQ, CRM, service, and marketing teams and technology all have to work together to provide that unified experience. How does an integrated CPQ and Commerce solution address the needs of a B2B buyer? The combination of these two products allows the B2B buyer to speed up and streamline what may be a very manual and difficult process today. By guiding the buyer through the configuration process, they’ll have more confidence in the final purchase, which can be initiated when it’s convenient for them. Because Oracle has merged CPQ and Commerce into a tightly integrated solution, the experience a customer may have with a salesperson will now be fully consistent with their online experience. The product they configure online and request a quote for will be the same configuration that a salesperson would advise, discount, and return a quote on. This ability to request, review, and accept quotes that reflect their negotiated pricing without having to hunt down a salesperson is a huge step forward in the customer experience. Here at Pierce Washington, we have also automated Price Agreement negotiations through CPQ that can then be exposed to customers directly in Commerce. How does a well-integrated CPQ and Commerce solution improve internal business processes? The value of CPQ and Commerce goes well beyond the customer experience. Without these tools working together, businesses struggle to connect the dots in the sales process. Sellers have to fall back on manual processes, which are costly and error-prone. The self-service model also means shorter sales cycles and a lower cost of sale for sellers. What types of B2B businesses or product offerings are the perfect fit for a CPQ + OCC solution? Any business that wants to improve efficiency in the sales cycle by enabling customer self-service and by automating internal workflows is a good fit. The complexity of the goods being sold either by requiring configuration, complex pricing rules, or the generation of contracts or other documents only strengthens the need for an integrated solution. Some key verticals that can benefit from integrating these products include manufacturing, telco, and even financial services. B2B implementations are often complex. Do you have any guidance on how to get started? This is an area Pierce Washington has guided many, many customers through over the years. It starts with understanding what the functional requirements are for the website. Do you need real-time inventory or is a daily refresh sufficient? Do you have pricing tiers you can apply to groups of customers or do you need real-time pricing integration to solutions like E-Business Suite Advanced Pricing? Once we understand the requirements, we can walk through each integration and discuss options, methods, and technology. We begin every project with a Foundations phase to understand and document how everything will work before we begin our implementation. Austin Lowry is the VP, eCommerce at Pierce Washington. Austin has over 15 years of eCommerce experience; first as a practitioner running eCommerce at AutoZone and for the last 8 years working in eCommerce product management, sales engineering, and implementation consulting. He is responsible for the OCC practice at Pierce Washington.  

Consumers were quick to adopt the convenience offered by online shopping, and now B2B customers want the same. Some products simply pair better together and that’s certainly proven to be the case...

Customer Experience

Is SaaS eCommerce Really Ready for You?

Considerations for moving from ATG (or IBM & hybris) to Oracle Commerce Cloud This is the million-dollar question we’ve heard more frequently in 2019 from major brands and retailers with large IT teams that manage on-premise infrastructure and highly-customized licensed software.  Others license a “cloud” version and use a third-party hosting provider to offload some of the operational hassle and maintenance. But, all of them have struggled with their timeline of this inevitable decision. Some want to go headless and modernize quickly with APIs and services, others are looking to move to an all-new platform. The increasing urgency of these conversations in 2019 is because the cost and time to manage the technology is creating technical debt. This debt is dragging down the speed of innovation and the basic delivery required to keep up with new, disruptive competitors. So, when do you want to leverage a SaaS eCommerce platform like Oracle Commerce Cloud? Having these conversations is not sales-y in nature. Instead, unique recommendations are given depending on the brand’s goals, the stage of their eCommerce platform, and what they want to keep and leave behind from their stack.  Many of them have made major investments in our on-premise platform, Oracle Commerce (ATG) over the last 5, 10, even 20 years. They want to know what to do next. Even if you’re not on ATG or you’re using other licensed eCommerce software like IBM WebSphere or SAP hybris, this framework can help you. Your business chose the platform they did for a reason. It was stable and proven, flexible and extensible, and had powerful features and tooling. ATG in particular was a platform that propelled growth of the biggest brands on the planet, and they reaped the rewards from having a superset of capabilities. Common challenges Implementations were long and costly. Managing an upgrade schedule could be tedious and disruptive. Running the platform required expensive Java and ATG-specific expertise. And, the platform was designed during the first era of eCommerce, so the architectural model didn’t account for agility. There’s a lack of separation between front-end experience and backend capabilities. Limited architectural guiderails may have lead to overly-customized applications. These challenges have become the guiding development principles of Oracle Commerce Cloud. We’ve built a services-based SaaS eCommerce application unlike any other, and use our proven heritage to revolutionize how our customers do business. I’ll give you some insight to where we are, how we got here, and why leveraging Oracle Commerce Cloud may be the right move for you. Guiding Principles of Oracle Commerce Cloud 1. Make the hard things easy. Build end-to-end features. The on-premise product has a lot of great capabilities, but in many cases, it’s too hard to get them in front of the shopper. Personalization is an example of this in the on-premise product.  For example, it has a powerful customer segmentation engine. But, to actually build an end-to-end case, you need a range of skills, including database to extend the shopper profile to hold personalization data. You also need XML skills to update repository definitions, Java skills to capture interesting data, and front end JSP skills to put targeters on the page.  It’s too cumbersome. In Commerce Cloud, we do this a lot better.  It’s easier to extend data objects like the profile. It collects useful personalization data out-of-the-box and adding personalized content to a page is a drag-and-drop operation. Common tasks that took weeks to implement in on-prem can literally be done in minutes. Why is that important to us?  Obviously, it makes it easier for you to manage the day to day changes in your online experience.  But just as importantly, it frees your development teams from a lot of these day to day changes and allows them to focus on strategic differentiators. Personalization is one example. Built-in AI can supercharge your personalization to known and anonymous shoppers. Building experiences is now drag-and-drop in a beautiful business user UI. Preview is unified. Managing search is drastically streamlined. The notion of Projects is gone. We’ve also consolidated technology that used to require third party apps in to the single Commerce Cloud subscription cost. Features like AB testing, AI, SEO, CDN, image scaling and more are done in a single place within a single UI. You can also run B2C and B2B experiences in a single platform. Not only does Commerce Cloud reduce cost and complexity of your site, unification delivers better results for less work, informed by a single source of data. 2. Keep what’s worked, replace what hasn’t. Commerce Cloud is not just the on-prem product slapped onto an Oracle server and called a cloud solution, but it does share many underlying components with its on-prem sibling. Foundational code for services like catalog management, order, shipping, and payment structures, pricing, and promotions has been used extensively by high-volume customers and been battle-tested. We know these systems work. They scale so we can quickly build new capabilities on a rock-solid foundation, which contributes to the pace of innovation in the roadmap.  But, we’re not afraid to re-architect and re-implement parts of the system that need it. We put a premium on modernizing the interfaces between the product and our customers.  That’s why everything in Commerce Cloud is API-first. It’s also why; We provide Web hooks as integration points all throughout the product. The out-of-the-box customizable Storefront and Agent Console tools are based on open source JavaScript libraries. We support PCI-compliant extensibility through an embedded Node.js server. 3. Extensibility Everywhere We wanted to build a system that developers can love. The Oracle Commerce (ATG) on-prem product is a giant Lego set for developers. Almost every part of it is open and accessible, and you can make it do practically anything. That sort of extensibility is integrated on the Oracle Commerce Cloud Development team. While we don’t believe mucking around inside the JVM is what teams should be doing for real value, the goal of Commerce Cloud is to provide as much extensibility as possible and to bring the same kind of flexibility to Commerce Cloud as we have in on-premise. Commerce Cloud has a unique flexible model where its API-first architecture is natively headless and supports microservices architectures, if desired. Storefront customization is done via Server-side extensibility leveraging Node.js, to maintain upgradeability with our frequent push-updates.  We leverage standards-based frameworks like HTML5, CSS and JavaScript. And, we have adapters with plug-ins for low-code integrations to Oracle and third-party applications. Evolving the extensibility of Commerce Cloud will always be a key part of our roadmap. We already we have extensibility at the data layer, the business logic layer, and at the user interface layer. And yet, we always strive for more. 4. Eliminate barriers to adoption Lastly, we want to do everything possible to accelerate adoption of the platform and new features. Our push updates offer the opportunity to get releases into customers’ hands far more quickly than we could with on-prem. We want to make sure they can adopt them as quickly as we release them. Some of that revolves around making features easy to use and some of it involves a borderline fanatical focus on backward-compatibility. A lot of it comes down to making upgrades far easier than they are in on-prem today. One of the big advantages of cloud is we can apply patches and upgrades for you.  Another is that Oracle teams have access to customers’ pre-release and production environments.  That means we can do pre-release testing with select customer environments, giving us sanity checks to make sure an upgrade isn’t going to break your extensions or customizations.  It also means that if a problem does show up in production, we can often clone the production environment to investigate, which makes the process of reproducing and fixing issues far more efficient. Commerce Cloud is a true SaaS application offered in a flexible subscription model that allows customers to get going fast without the massive CapEx budget of the legacy days. Implementations are much briefer, business users have more control and access, IT has more ability to  impact the day to day business and get kudos for real innovation. We’ll call that a win-win. In a nutshell… These guiding principles help our customers change how they deliver and grow their business. With Oracle Commerce Cloud, you can: Run headless with services or leverage the entire platform. Enjoy total freedom to customize and extend the experience while maintaining upgradability. Enable business with all-new drag-and-drop UIs. Reduce cost and stack clutter with out-of-the-box features included in subscription. Gain more insight, control and automation with built in AI, AB testing, and reporting. Deliver mobile-first experiences with Responsive / Adaptive. Support B2C and B2B experiences in one unified platform, with a single toolset. Offload all security, compliance and performance requirements to Oracle. Shorter implementation times and elimination of upgrade management with push updates. Make finding expertise easier with modern, open standards-based development (HTML5, CSS, JavaScript). The results from our customers who have moved from ATG to Oracle Commerce Cloud speak from themselves. Check out some of their stories here, and reach out at any time if you’re interested in starting a conversation about what Commerce Cloud can do for you.    

Considerations for moving from ATG (or IBM & hybris) to Oracle Commerce Cloud This is the million-dollar question we’ve heard more frequently in 2019 from major brands and retailers with large IT teams...

Customer Experience

Humanize Your CX Strategy with Visual Engagement

Customer Service is the backbone of any company – large or small. An effective CX strategy focuses on empowering service teams with the right tools and training towards driving long term customer satisfaction and loyalty, while also ensuring the best engagement experience for the company’s web site visitors and customers. These factors are essential to the success of the company’s brand and revenue growth. Today’s customers expect to be able to engage with customer service agents from anywhere, on any device, and use their communication channel of choice. Therefore, it is imperative to provide them with a simplified, seamless and connected omnichannel experience throughout their engagement journey. To achieve a successful outcome, companies commonly seek to adopt a unified omnichannel platform that cohesively pulls together all channels under the same umbrella and intelligently enables seamless transitions from one channel to another, for service agents and customers. Leveraging visual engagement solutions within the same platform adds a personalized touch and ensures service differentiation while reducing confusion or miscommunication. What is Visual Engagement? Visual Engagement is a powerful, real time collaboration concept that combines video, co-browsing, screen sharing and/or screen annotations experiences. The augmentation of visual channels to a phone call or chat allows the agent and the customer to drive personalized, precise and rapid problem resolution. The concept hinges on the simple foundation that 'a picture is worth a thousand words' and is widely adopted across industry verticals that include Retail, Field Service, Finance, Telco and Healthcare. Industry Examples: Real Life Scenarios In recent years, there has been an increase in global adoption of visual engagement solutions among companies across several industry verticals. For retailers, the online shopping experience is often the deciding factor in converting web site visitors into buyers. Visitors navigating a retail web site to purchase a product frequently encounter situations that need clarification from customer service. Being able to self-serve using search capabilities on the web site and having the option of escalating to customer service to quickly engage with an agent in real-time aids in quicker problem resolution and customer satisfaction. In the field service arena, contractors or field technicians who are dispatched to remote sites for repairs solely rely on being able to engage with customer service through their mobile devices. These technicians often place a call into customer service for questions, and in complex repair scenarios, may need to engage through video with another technician, in order to show the problematic appliance or product. The combination of mobile and video chat come to the rescue here for a quick and satisfactory outcome, and can play a vital role in preventing the customer from returning the merchandise. Customers of financial institutions such as banks, brokerage firms, and insurance companies often rely on collaborative real-time engagement with customer service for form-filling assistance or co-navigating a complex section of the web site. Oftentimes, financial rules and regulations can be confusing to a customer. Thus, Visual Engagement in the form of co-browsing and video chat are effective tools that quickly assist the customer. Within Healthcare, doctor - patient engagement through video is becoming an increasingly common and preferred communication channel. Patients looking for clarifications to their medical conditions or prescriptions can quickly video chat with their doctor to obtain those clarifications without back and forth email exchange or miscommunications. SaaS companies also adopt visual engagement as an effective tool in on-boarding and training new clients to effectively replace onsite physical training by remote assistance, and lower on-boarding costs. Realizing the ROI of Visual Engagement Let’s review some of the common visual engagement benefits. Higher Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) Higher Net Promoter Score (NPS) Reduced visitor abandonment rate on web sites Reduced Customer Churn Increased Customer Loyalty Higher First Call Resolution (FCR) rates More Upsell and Cross Sell opportunities for the company’s products Brand recognition and differentiation Visual Engagement with Oracle Service Cloud I’ve compiled ­five core benefi­ts within Oracle Service Cloud as the top reasons to consider visual engagement in your service enterprise. Oracle recognizes that visual engagement technologies allow for an effective omnichannel customer journey, and offers a powerful value addition. With the least amount of effort, companies can easily procure and deploy video chat and co-browse for enhanced real time collaboration between their agents and customers. For the complete list of features, capabilities, and benefits associated with this offering, please review our Video Chat Data Sheet and/or Co-browse Data Sheet. No matter the industry or company size, direct communication with customers through visual channels humanizes the customer experience, by ensuring personalization and improves problem resolution and precision, which goes a long way in building customer satisfaction, loyalty, brand popularity and revenue growth for your company.      

Customer Service is the backbone of any company – large or small. An effective CX strategy focuses on empowering service teams with the right tools and training towards driving long term customer...

CX News & Events

Early Bird Pricing for Insight 2019 Ends in 3 Days - Thursday, July 11!

Don’t miss taking advantage of the early bird pricing for Insight 2019, the annual event for Commerce Pros, the official Oracle Commerce User Group! Insight 2019 will be at the Hilton Austin in Austin, Texas from August 26-28, 2019 and is the only event dedicated to Oracle Commerce and Oracle Commerce Cloud.  Join over 200 Oracle Commerce and Oracle Commerce Cloud customers, partners, product management, and other digital leaders in learning about the upcoming product roadmap, best practices, practical guidance, how-tos, innovations, and much more!  Take advantage of over 45 sessions, pre-conference training, hands-on Oracle Commerce Cloud lab, and 20+ hours of networking. More than 25 sponsors and exhibitors will be featured on site. Five keynote sessions have been announced, including Katrina Gosek and Ian Davis from Oracle CX Product Strategy and Oracle Commerce Product Management. Session topics include: Motorola Talks Oracle Commerce Cloud and CPQ Improving the B2B Experience Using Oracle Commerce Cloud Personalization with Oracle Commerce Cloud Preventing Ecommerce Payment Fraud PWA: The Next Generation Interface After Headless Customizing Oracle Commerce Cloud with Webhooks and Server-Side Extensions Leveraging Oracle Content and Oracle Commerce Cloud Together to Drive Improved Customer experiences The Secret to Using Oracle Commerce Cloud with Oracle CPQ, ERP, and Other Solutions When and How to Integrate 3rd Party Cloud-Based Microservices with Oracle Commerce Migrating from Oracle Commerce On-Premise to Oracle Commerce Cloud How 100+ Leading Retailers Are Investing in Digital Commerce And much more! To make things easy for you, the team at Commerce Pros has created an Advance Programs that you can use to plan your conference — one for Oracle Commerce Cloud customers and one for Oracle Commerce On-Premise customers. Oracle Commerce Cloud Advance Program: https://joom.ag/iLCe   Oracle Commerce On-Premise Advance Program: https://joom.ag/LLCe Register here before Early Bird rates expire at 11:59pmEST on Thursday, July 11!  Rates increase $300 on Friday, July 12.  Bring 3 team members and receive a complimentary 2019 Commerce Pros membership and save 10% on registration fees! NOTE: Hotel Cutoff at Hilton Austin is July 26: www.commercepros.org/insight/hotel For more information or to utilize concierge registration, email jesse.howard@commercepros.org

Don’t miss taking advantage of the early bird pricing for Insight 2019, the annual event for Commerce Pros, the official Oracle Commerce User Group! Insight 2019 will be at the Hilton Austin...

Retail & Commerce

Defining Headless Commerce

Over the last few years in helping companies roll out new commerce initiatives I’ve run into a conversation from some of my more technically advanced customers who tell me, “We want headless!” There’s been a lot of buzz in the market as well. But what does it mean to go headless? What are the advantages and the challenges? This is the first of a series of articles where I’ll talk with experts and examine the pros and cons of a headless approach. My goal is to empower my fellow commerce professionals to make the right choice for their team and for their business. First, let’s establish, what is Headless? I’m not talking about the horseman from “Sleepy Hollow.” Headless, or Headless Commerce, uses a commerce platform without a customer-facing front end. It delivers functionality via APIs and then the “head” is run by another system, like a Content Management System or a native mobile application. This is only one flavor of headless. Another option is a hybrid headless approach where you use your commerce platform to deliver web-based experiences and then use the APIs to enable new channels and experiences like augmented reality and IoT. Technical Drivers of Headless Technical teams are quite often overrun with requests for new features, performance improvements, and system stability requirements as well as technical debt. In turn, they’re usually working with a legacy, monolithic ecommerce platform that makes it hard to keep up with the needs of their business users. They see headless as a way to be more agile in how they handle their workload. When they see new technologies like React, they can pick their own front-end implementation to reduce time to deploy new features and acquire new skills and talent on their teams. They also see decoupling the functionality from the experience as a way to swap in new components more easily and with less integration. We all know the pace at which technology is changing. What is fast and cool today is slow and dated tomorrow. Technology churn is something these teams are always juggling. The move to headless gives them the power to change up components of their experience without altering others. This way, they can retain their core ecommerce system with the history of promotions and data that they have used for their success. Business Drivers of Headless Two main needs drive the business-side of the headless discussion: agility and differentiation. The need for agility stems from constantly changing customer expectations and the need to quickly expand into emergent channels, like voice assistants, mobile applications and third-party sales channels. At the same time, customer experience is key, so most companies want to have a unique interactive experience that doesn’t look like every other commerce store. The average business user doesn’t care how the technical team supports them to achieve these goals. They just need them to make them happen. But, they do care about having the tools to make changes on their own, quickly. Most business teams need to make these changes on their site in hours, days and weeks, not months or years. The traditional, monolithic platforms haven’t supported the speed necessary. In addition, most of the commerce business teams I talk to tell me business tooling is just as important as making the experience customized. If the tools they have are intuitive and easy to use, it makes their jobs easier and they can focus more on what to do, not how to do it. Speed and Flexibility Headless can be one way to get that result but it can also have its own drawbacks. It works well for teams that have a large development staff, or a partner on retainer to assist in the development of features and functions across their multiple systems, like the Commerce platform and the content management system (CMS). Teams also need to cover all their bases. Quite often, you may realize too late that a key piece of functionality is missing or not connected. In headless environments, business teams often find themselves playing hopscotch through different interfaces to do the simplest of site updates and changes. To launch a product on their store, they need to; add pricing and product information into the core ecommerce platform, upload imagery to a Digital Asset Management system, and then publish via a third party tool for their CMS. This can severely slow down their productivity and make it difficult to train new team members. How can you best use a headless architecture to truly improve your customer experience without a large development team or a mishmash of site management tools? We’ll discuss this over the next few articles where I’ll answer the following questions. What is the architecture for a highly successful headless approach? How can I easily add new channels to my system? Is my team ready for headless? What is the best approach to flexibility and speed in a modern commerce team? Click to read "What is Headless Commerce?" Click to Learn more about the Oracle Commerce Cloud            

Over the last few years in helping companies roll out new commerce initiatives I’ve run into a conversation from some of my more technically advanced customers who tell me, “We want headless!” There’s...

CX News & Events

Join this Webinar as Westrock Describe their B2B Online Commerce Success!

Listen to Westrock discuss their digital transformation triumphs as they transitioned into selling their products fully online! Join us to learn how WestRock Company, one of the nation’s leading corrugated and paperboard manufacturers and distributors, transitioned their sales approach for their smaller clients from manual, very labor intensive processes like phone, fax, email, and field sales reps, to a much more compelling, automated, and personalized experience for each of their customers by introducing B2B online eCommerce. Watch LIVE as our expert podcast panel discuss the business drivers that pushed WestRock to move into online eCommerce, the internal and external challenges associated with doing so, and ultimately the great value and benefit to both WestRock and its customers in making the leap… and see and hear all of this in just 30 minutes in a very concise and engaging audio/video broadcast! Click here to register today! Paul Zaher, VP eCommerce, WestRock  Paul joined WestRock in 2016 and leads the company’s Digital Customer Experience initiative. In this role, he is responsible for delivering new digital solutions for customers and employees and changing the ways that WestRock engages with its customers. Prior to joining WestRock, Paul held leadership roles at Dunkin’ Brands and Limited Brands. Jay Atkinson, Senior Principal B2B Product Strategist, Oracle Commerce Jay has been in eCommerce for over 18 years. He has spent time working as a retailer, consultant and product manager, doing design, development and strategy. Over the course of his career he’s worked with Sony, Ticketmaster, CVS, Home Depot, Costco, Office Depot and many others. His roots are in UX & Design, however, he is just as comfortable talking about code and servers.  Mike Graziano, SVP Sales, Marketing & Client Services, TAISTech Mike (“Graz”) joined TAISTech in 2012 where he leads the Sales, Marketing, and Partnership activities for the company. Major account wins under his tenure at TAISTech include WestRock, Lululemon, Vitamin Shoppe, CORT, Rue 21, Things Remembered and Visionworks. His eCommerce roots date to 1997, and prior to joining TAISTech, he held leadership positions at several leading digital agencies.  

Listen to Westrock discuss their digital transformation triumphs as they transitioned into selling their products fully online! Join us to learn how WestRock Company, one of the nation’s leading...

Customer Experience

CX Visionaries are Using Tomorrow’s Customer Engagement Channels Today

Oracle recently surveyed 477 senior CX executives form across the globe to discuss their firm’s customer experience capabilities and business results.  We wanted to understand the correlation between CX performance and the maturation of emerging technologies and validate the extent to which adopters are driving business success. Further, we also wanted to understand what distinguishes the leaders who are aligned with CX best practices.  We published these insights in a brand new report titled The Impact of Emerging Technology on CX Excellence: Insights from Oracle’s Global Survey of Customer Experience Visionaries. The "emerging technologies" we discuss are artificial intelligence and machine learning, digital assistants and chatbots, augmented reality and virtual reality, and the Internet of Things.     What Does it all Mean? The report discusses a broad spectrum of topics related to the use of emerging technologies for CX.  It's clear that brands are adopting these technologies at a rapid pace. You can use this report to better understand how and why organizations are applying these technologies to improve the customer experience and to create urgency within your organization to transform its CX technology portfolio, and learn from your peers how to maximize your success. If you’re interested in learning how Organizations are turning to emerging technologies to deliver the innovative, distinctive, and differentiated brand experiences that modern customers demand, download The Impact of Emerging Technology on CX Excellence – Insights from Oracle’s Global Survey of Customer Experience Visionaries, today.      

Oracle recently surveyed 477 senior CX executives form across the globe to discuss their firm’s customer experience capabilities and business results.  We wanted to understand the correlation between...

Ask the Experts

Worldpay and How Payments Can Impact the Customer Experience

Technology continues to shape the way we shop and conduct business. For consumers, the expectation is that the way we transact will keep pace with innovation, and remain seamless behind the scenes. In this Q&A, I spoke with Oracle Commerce Cloud partner, Worldpay, Spiros Theodossiou, SVP of Product. He shares insights into some of the changes underway in the payment industry and predicts what the future of payments may hold. 1. I think there is often a perception that payments just happen. You take out your debit or credit card, swipe or enter in the details, and press ‘enter.’ I imagine that it’s a bit more complex than this. Technology and payment methods are rapidly changing the commerce and payments landscape. If you accept payments, it can be more than a little bewildering and downright intimidating at times to try and keep up with everything you need to know. Consumers often don’t realize the number of steps and separate entities involved in their credit or debit card transactions. We just pull out our cards, things somehow magically work, and we continue on our way. The industry has done a good job of masking this behind-the-scenes complexity and making it increasingly seamless – but not perfect – to consumers and for businesses. 2. I’ve read that the average authorization rate for card-not-present transactions, or eCommerce, is lower than for card-present, or point-of-sale transactions. In your experience, what does the cost of declined transactions look like to businesses you work with? Also, what are Worldpay and others in the payment industry doing to improve acceptance rates? According to a report from Javelin Strategy and Research, false-positive declines impacted nearly 7% of all consumers – just in the U.S. alone last year. The large number of issuers and vague declined reasons can make authorization strategies difficult. Unfortunately, this means that many organizations are leaving lots of money on the table. Increasingly, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are being incorporated into payment processing solutions to present information in the right formats to help organizations maximize approvals on their initial authorizations – thereby increasing their approval rates and getting a corresponding lift in revenue. 3. The annual Worldpay Global Payments Report highlights the increasing number of payment methods across the globe, varying from region to region and often country to country.  What are some examples of new and exciting payment methods for merchants?  And given that the common method of payment can vary from country to country, what does this mean for businesses that are thinking about global expansion?  Our most recent Global Payments Report, published in Q4 of 2018, reveals a complex payments landscape brimming with diversity. Alternative payment methods are rising to meet the needs of consumers online, led by digital wallets and bank transfers. Though its long reign of supremacy is nearing its end, cash remains the leading payment method at the point of sale. This multifaceted landscape opens doors for organizations to increase consumer satisfaction by offering the right mix of payment options that are most appropriate for a given geographic region. Digital wallets have vaulted to the forefront of payments by offering seamless convenience. We expect continued growth in China and a surge of adoption in North America to propel digital wallets to become the leading eCommerce payment method globally by 2022. Bank transfers are also growing in popularity as an online payment method. Factors contributing to the growth of bank transfers include convenience for consumers, lower costs of acceptance and fewer chargebacks for merchants. There is also a regulatory push from PSD2/Open Banking mandates in Europe, and a rise of banked populations in emerging markets. Being aware of payment preferences and differences in consumer behavior across geographies is key to anyone contemplating global expansion. 4. Do you see the world going cashless? There are businesses going this route, but there are also real societal concerns, prompting some cities to ensure businesses offer cash options. In some parts of the world – China's major cities, for example – mobile payments are already the preferred way to pay for just about everything as mobile phones and QR codes have largely replaced cash, and card schemes aren’t accepted by many smaller retailers. But, will using cash as a payment option ever entirely go away everywhere on the planet? It’s hard to see that happening in the short term, and perhaps even in the long term. But, who knows? That’s what makes this industry so fascinating. 5. If you had three tips for companies thinking about their payment strategies for 2019, what would those be?   Regarding payment strategies, the three primary areas of focus can probably best be summarized by what we like to call the three “Rs” – reach, revenue, and responsiveness. Reach – By introducing more payment options and acceptance currencies, organizations can engage more customers, enter new markets and expand their global footprint. Revenue – Companies need to leverage data more effectively to boost revenue. Data can be used to increase card authorizations and reduce the cost of acceptance. Responsiveness – Businesses can stay ahead of the curve with effective payment analytics and expert advice, thus becoming increasingly proactive and responsive to their customers’ needs and market shifts. 6. Lastly, what do we have to look forward to over the next 5 years in how we shop and make purchases? What was made abundantly clear from the research as part of our 2018 Global Payments Report is that in the next half-decade the ongoing adoption of digital wallets around the globe, such as WeChat Pay and Alipay in China, will be quite pervasive. We also see a corresponding rise in mobile commerce, or mCommerce, as merchants need to offer customers compelling mobile experiences. Research studies found that consumers are seeking a more luxurious and personalized service on their mobile devices, and are willing to pay a premium for it. What’s interesting is that this preference was strongest in emerging markets. For example, 62% of consumers in China indicated they would pay for a “five-star” service compared to just 37% in the United States. All of this means that understanding consumer behavior in different parts of the world, staying on top of payment landscape shifts, and offering localized, and even customized, payment experiences are important factors in the success of any global eCommerce business. Spiros Theodossiou is the SVP of Product at Worldpay. Spiros is responsible for defining and executing on the product vision and roadmap, aligning to the company goal of ‘advancing the ways the world pays.’ Spiros and the Worldpay team are focused on helping businesses grow by breaking through borders to simplify payments.        

Technology continues to shape the way we shop and conduct business. For consumers, the expectation is that the way we transact will keep pace with innovation, and remain seamless behind the scenes. In...

Customer Experience

Are You Ready to Shape the Future of Planning?

The planning and zoning landscape has changed dramatically.  The sharing-economy, increased focus on sustainability, shortage of affordable housing and demographic changes are affecting how communities are shaped and how cities are planned. The public’s changing expectations of customer service demands that interactions with government be simple and transparent.  Meanwhile, regulatory changes continue to impact all aspects of planning and zoning in your community.  In short, planning and zoning has entered a whole new era of complexity. Keeping up with these changes, especially when faced with resource constraints, is a constant challenge.  Meanwhile, the existing systems were not designed for many of the challenges you face.  I attended the American Planning Association's National Planning Conference in San Francisco in mid-April (NPC19).  There, passionate planners from agencies like yours acknowledged the importance of effectively leveraging modern technology to better serve the people who live in, work in, and visit their communities.  What I’m hearing from planners like you is that your legacy planning and zoning systems were never intended for this level and rate of change. And it's frustrating to try to address the future of your community using a solution from the past.  Because the real challenge is that we are working with an outdated toolset.   Oracle Public Sector Community Development But what if you could change all that?  What if together we gave planning and zoning the modernization it deserves?  And what if we could move from a chaotic set of complex inter-dependencies to a new normal of collaborative, inclusive, and transparent planning?  What if you knew your planning solutions addressed your needs because you contributed to their creation and evolution? Be a Visionary Partner Help define the Oracle Public Sector Community Development solution.  It was my pleasure to introduce the dawn of a new era of planning and zoning at NPC19.  It was exciting to hear planners validate how they can use modern technology and focused capabilities like spatially-enabled transactions, proximity-based public notifications, easy scheduling of pre-application consultation meetings, and visibility into hearing calendars for review boards to improve the planning lifecycle. As part of our continuous delivery of new capabilities, Oracle is constantly adding new features to this purpose-built cloud solution, designed specifically to address your needs.  Oracle is looking for strategic, visionary planners to co-create and contribute to its direction.  This is a unique opportunity to shape the future of planning and influence how Oracle's strong depth and breadth of technology including artificial intelligence, blockchain, machine learning, and other emerging technologies, is leveraged. Amy Lee demonstrates the latest Planning and Zoning capabilities at APA NPC19  Together we can tackle the questions that matter most to you.  How do we better engage the public and manage the planning application process in a way that is fair, transparent, and effective?  How do we balance growth and development with maintaining the community's vision amidst changing codes, policies, and practices? How do we leverage a modern, true cloud solution that is continually updated with new capabilities? What kind of planner are you?  What drives your planning initiatives? If you're a planner who is ready to address the challenges facing your community, to be a visionary, and to contribute to the next generation of planning solutions, then Oracle wants to work with you.  How can we reshape the future of planning together?  Our journey together starts here. Read the Oracle press release Local Governments to Modernize Community Development Read the brochure Building Government for the 21st Century  

The planning and zoning landscape has changed dramatically.  The sharing-economy, increased focus on sustainability, shortage of affordable housing and demographic changes are affecting how...

Customer Experience Strategy

How to Put the New X in Your CX

It’s one of the most highly discussed and universally lauded endeavors among leading brands among every industry. Deliver a consistent, frictionless customer experience from online discovery through digital or guided purchase and post-sales, or risk your competitive foothold. Yet, it’s not clear just how to execute on the goal of seamlessly connecting marketing and sales. With so many differing opinions and competing departmental mandates, it’s no surprise sales and marketing leaders struggle with where to start. Of course, there are other considerations too, including legacy systems, ineffective processes and workflows that can quickly take your CX from mediocre to unacceptable. I recently met with Kayleigh Halko, CX Product Strategist at Oracle. We had the opportunity to talk about this in detail during an informal interview. 1. Why is connecting sales and marketing so important for an effective CX strategy? Today, so much of the buying process takes place before a customer ever connects with a person at your organization. Customers now have endless options to find information and self-educate before they engage on a “channel” that puts the buyer on the radar of sales or marketing. That’s all before they become part of an official sales strategy or marketing campaign. It means that when a customer finally reaches out and asks for support in the buying journey, whoever gets to the buyer first – whether that’s a marketing professional or a sales representative – must be prepared to help. Connected sales and marketing becomes incredibly important in that context. Outside of technical considerations, bridging the gap between these two organizations with common goals and external messages is the most important aspect to get correct. 2. What are some of the disconnects across sales and marketing? How do they contribute to friction in terms of overall CX?                                             Historically, sales and marketing organizations have operated with different goals, processes and cultures. Marketing would focus on acquisition activities such as leads, MQLs etc. Sales would focus heavily on opportunities and contacts and other selling activities. These respective professionals developed industry-standard sales stages and progression models with clearly defined hand-offs; such as how a MQL becomes a sales accepted lead (SAL). You may get clearly defined goals for either sales or marketing, and possibly even high-performing teams on both sides with a deceptively “seamless” experience for the customer. But, that overall CX will break the moment a customer needs help if marketing and sales aren’t co-owners of the complete customer experience – not just their own piece in it. 3. What are the new opportunities to influence brand perceptions? Since so much of the buyer’s journey today is self-guided, this creates the first opportunity where marketing and sale teams can unite around go-to-marketing planning. The goal should be to deliver a unified message to the market that creates enough value for a buyer to raise their hand and express interest. Then, it’s up to the collective group to decide which new channels, whether mobile commerce, messaging apps, service or maintenance calls, deserve the most proactive attention. The second opportunity is to empower every brand representative on every channel to deliver the same value message, and also, to answer any question. This includes standard channels like a company’s website or the sales rep making the first call to a new lead. This also includes new channels. For example, perhaps the mobile commerce storefront allows a buyer to start a shopping basket online. Then, she calls a rep to help complete that order when it gets tricky to navigate the right SKU. Or, within their favorite messaging app, a customer asks for support, requests a link to an FAQ, and reorders a commonly purchased item. Or when a field technician is onsite, he can replace a part on a broken machine. But, he can also use his tablet to pull up a web catalogue to show the customer a retrofit upgrade to the machine that enables IoT parts ordering. This opens an opportunity that allows him and his sales counterpart to split the commission. 4. If a company doesn’t typically upsell to existing customers, why care about CX? Our world is shifting to subscription-based models across every industry. While many businesses won’t upsell or cross sell in the traditional course of doing business, customers want things on demand with the ability to re-evaluate their options as they go. This means that even when a sale is closed– it’s never really finished. That’s why you need to think about CX throughout the customer lifecycle. In the traditional linear view, marketing is concerned with the discovery phase. Sales would focus during the acquisition phase. Service or field service only care after the sale was made. But, because the buyer journey is now less linear, we’re seeing marketing and sales collaborating both with each other and also with the rest of the organization to play a larger role in customer success and ongoing engagement, even after the sale is made. In the Experience Economy, churn is no longer just for cable and telecom companies. 5. Should a company start with sales, or with marketing?                                     This is an important question and the answer will be different for every organization. Sales and marketing are both driving a buying experience, which is now part of a continuous process. The initial point of becoming a customer is a small moment of the buyer’s journey. What we really need to think about is how sales and marketing can work together to guide a buyer through a continuous journey while adding value in new ways at every touch point. The place to start is with a shared set of goals and a common strategy. That will determine where you’ll need to emphasize points of customer engagement. This may lead to a clear answer of whether sales or marketing will need to set the tone and take the lead when it comes to defining processes and choosing technology. 6. How should CX leaders merge the human and technology effort into a cohesive set of activities?                          When you think about how people and technology work together, first look at current processes. Ask why they exist.  Then quickly assess whether those processes work or require an update. Once you’re properly focused on the correct processes and behavior, the opportunity is for new technology to improve shortcomings or knowledge gaps. Another place to look is where technology can help to automate cumbersome data entry or manual processes so your talented sales and marketing professionals can focus on creative sales and marketing. Rather than view technology as a driver for behavioral change, why not use it as a way to support what you’ve already defined as the desired behavior? If you’re clear on this, start by searching for the right technology that works perfectly for your strategy, rather than adapting technology to fit bad habits. Forget about trying to force behavior to fit technology. One customer recently told me that she’s very focused on selecting the technology that she feels supports the commercial goals of her business. From there, her main priority is driving adoption for that technology and ensuring it’s used for the purpose it was intended. That is the fastest path to success. Check out some recent analyst reports describing Oracle's CX products. The Forrester Wave™: CRM Suites, Q4 2018 gave Oracle the highest score of any vendor in the current offering category. Gartner recognizes Oracle strong commitment to innovation in the marketing industry, and a continual drive to execute on our vision as a ‘Leader’ in the Magic Quadrant for CRM Lead Management. Oracle Named a Leader in 2019 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Field Service Management        

It’s one of the most highly discussed and universally lauded endeavors among leading brands among every industry. Deliver a consistent, frictionless customer experience from online discovery through...

Customer Experience

The Bots & The Bees – Digital Assistance for Superior Sales

“I’m running on fumes right now.”  “Wow, that customer I called was NOT happy.” “Ugh, I hate having to log interactions.” These are a few of the unpleasant thoughts many sellers express on a daily basis. I would know, because they were some of my own thoughts when I was in sales. Your sellers probably think the same, since most days they continue to perform the same processes from punch-in to punch-out like the noble worker bee. Upper management may brush off complaints like these, but that doesn’t make them any less valid. Times have changed, customer expectations continue to change, and so the nature of how we do sales needs to change. With the rise of AI building up to an explosive overhaul across all industries, early adoption of supplementary applications will be critical to improve a variety of sales aspects. I recently sat down with Michelle Brusyo, Sr. Manager for Oracle CX Strategy. We explored how providing a little assistance can turn any worker bee into hive royalty. Q: In terms of Artificial Intelligence, Chatbots, and Digital Assistants - can you explain how these technologies differentiate and/or work together? A: Artificial or Adaptive Intelligence (AI) often refers to a scope of analytics and decisions made by technology that’s beyond the capacity of the human mind. It can also describe a conversational interface to understand and communicate with someone through natural language processing. AI is the power source that enables Chatbots and Digital Assistants to understand the user’s intent. Knowing a user’s travel profile, personal preferences, meeting schedules, or prioritizing sales accounts are all examples of how AI learns to help provide a personalized experience. In terms of the difference between Chatbots and Digital Assistants, there is some nuance, but these terms are often used interchangeably. The main difference is that a Chatbot is usually a single-purpose, user-initiated computer program designed to simulate a human conversation. A Digital Assistant however is often multi-purpose, can be bot-initiated, and goes beyond simple conversations. Digital Assistants are powered by AI to make intelligent predictions and recommendations. Q: So Digital Assistants have a variety of use cases whereas Chatbots are often used for one specific use case, but both are backed by Artificial Intelligence. Can you tell me what the cause is behind the development of these innovative tools? A: The most important driver is to get things done easier and faster throughout the business. It’s about automating routine tasks – whether simple or complex – to improve productivity and free people up to do the work that matters. For example, imagine you’re a sales rep who’s still at home getting ready in the morning. You’re thinking about what your day is going to look like. What if you could just pick up your phone, verbally ask it for your ‘Sales Briefing’, and seconds later be scanning through a list of your open tasks, activities and opportunities for the day? Within seconds, you’d have a solid handle on what your day looks like without having to log in to anything or clicking around for information. That’s the type of automation that starts to simplify a sales rep’s day. As we go deeper on delivering those types of interactions, it starts to really free that rep’s time to shift their focus on the art of selling. Q: Okay, so it’s all about automation to handle the workload that eats up time. But how do you convince the sales teams to adopt and use the Digital Assistants to support their performance? A: There are two important concepts needed to ensure Digital Assistants deliver strong business value to the sales organization: It has to be significantly easier to use than the normal way of doing the tasks it aims to automate. Sales reps don’t have a second to waste on figuring out how to use something new; they’ll only do so if they can see an immediate pay-off. Your Digital Assistant has to be available 24/7, on any device, with nothing to install. Even better, if a sales team has already adopted collaboration tools; make the Digital Assistant an embedded part of that experience so it enhances existing tools vs. introducing new ones. Digital Assistants will be at their most powerful when they are embedded in the full employee experience, even beyond Sales. With all the data and context gained by creating a bot experience across multiple business areas, the Digital Assistant becomes even smarter and provides better insight and guidance. Imagine a single bot that an employee can interact with to get their daily sales briefing, plan a business trip, and submit expense reports. That is becoming the new, faster and simpler way to get things done, drive adoption, and again, free the sales team to focus on sales activities. Q: These capabilities could be useful, but they also sound like a real investment. Why would companies want to adopt these tools earlier on? A: What will your sales teams do with their time once they do no longer have to get out their laptop, log in, run a report, type in an update, etc.? We talk so much about how sales and customer expectations have changed and how reps need to deliver a different kind of value as a trusted advisor. This may be true, but how do you empower reps to do that? You do it by automating the grunt work and allow them to pursue more important tasks such as catching up on industry news, writing articles, helping a client build a business case for an expansion and so on. This will help them grow as a sales rep, which in turn will help them achieve real results for the company. Conclusion See how adding a bit of digital assistance will allow your sales teams to achieve better results, while improving their own individual performance and skill sets? These tools enable sales reps to learn more, do more, and have knowledge readily available, leading to benefits like improved productivity, employee satisfaction, and revenue generation. Stop buzzing around blindly and learn more about how Oracle may be able to help you build your AI and bot/assistant strategy in the resources below. This is a chance to invest in your own beehive to make the sweetest of all nectars ($$$). Learn More About Oracle Digital Assistant: Press Release: Oracle Delivers Personalized Digital Assistants for the Enterprise Oracle Digital Assistant Data Sheet Digital Assistant on cloud.oracle.com      

“I’m running on fumes right now.”  “Wow, that customer I called was NOT happy.” “Ugh, I hate having to log interactions.” These are a few of the unpleasant thoughts many sellers express on a daily basis....

CPQ

6 Myths About Configure-Price-Quote Debunked

By Graham McInnes, Senior Principal Product Manager, Oracle Configure-Price-Quote (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. The CPQ vendor ecosystem has exploded in recent years and with that growth so has the noise and misinformation. So let’s take a moment to debunk some of the myths that are floating around about Oracle CPQ Cloud. Myth: CPQ vendors are all the same. Truth: It is a crazy market now full of new upstarts, tentative alliances, crumbling partnerships, assurances/exaggeration, over simplification, and one-size-fits-all offers. A CPQ solution touches many facets of an organization, so not vetting a vendor thoroughly could lead to a spectacular failure. And this could mean many things, not just situation where the customer refused to sign off on the go-live. It could very well mean low user adoption by the sales team or that the data and the reports produced by the news are not trusted. The fact of the matter is that CPQ solutions are different—very different. Oracle CPQ is trusted by over 400 well-known brand names and used by more than 400,000 employees. You can trust us. Myth: Other vendors say CPQ projects are easy. Truth: Signing the contract is easy. Initializing an instance of the software is easy. Other CPQ vendors may minimize the importance of implementation and integration and then come back and attempt to rescope the project. This is the same thing as them providing you with a square peg and asking you to smash it through a round hole. Beware; sometimes the simplicity of the purchase leads you down the wrong path.   See how CPQ can benefit your growing business.   Myth: Oracle CPQ Cloud implementations are lengthy. Truth: Implementation can take as little as four weeks. The reality is that companies, systems, and processes can be complex, especially if a variety of solutions have been cobbled together to solve problems as they arise. We acknowledge this. Simplification and integration is what we are good at. Actual go-live timing depends on the scope of the rollout; what products are covered, which processes are included, what documents/reports need to be created, and what parts of the ecosystem need to be connected to gain value. We will work with you to determine what roll out plan is best for you. It may be a multi-phased approach with quick hits along the way or more of a “big-bang” approach. Whatever works for your business needs. Myth: Oracle CPQ Cloud is complex. Truth: We have a loyal customer base with ultra-complex product variations and world-class pricing complexity. But the reason Oracle CPQ is used by these businesses is not because the product is complex, it’s because the solution easily handles complexity. That doesn’t mean Oracle CPQ Cloud is complex. Our solution can comfortably handle both simple products/simple pricing scenarios and complicated products/complicated pricing structures. How you implement is your choice; you can start simple to achieve an early ROI and build up the use of CPQ as your business grows. It’s up to you. Myth: Oracle CPQ Cloud will force fit business process changes. Truth: You should never change your business to fit the capabilities of a particular application. If our competition is guiding you towards ‘Best Practices’ it may be that their CPQ cannot handle your particular business processes or needs. Rolling out a CPQ Cloud solution isn’t just “automating” certain specific process with a new tool. That only serves to shift your bottlenecks elsewhere because that process is a little faster. You need a CPQ tool that can communicate and share data with all your systems, supporting your company in how you want to do business, not the other way around. Myth: Oracle CPQ Cloud is a challenging product. Truth: A well-executed CPQ Cloud implementation introduces process efficiencies that touch many parts of the company. For many organizations, a CPQ project is the first time they have had the opportunity to map out their entire process flow including all parties involved, system challenges, approval points, wild card dependencies, integration and transition points, and commonly accepted process disturbances unique to the organization. This usually means organizational changes and that is challenging.  That doesn’t mean that CPQ is challenging or complex. In fact, CPQ is often the first part of a larger ‘get going, get better, get ahead’ initiatives at growing companies. Gartner positions Oracle CPQ Cloud as a leader. Read the 2018 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Configure, Price and Quote Application Suites report.    

By Graham McInnes, Senior Principal Product Manager, Oracle Configure-Price-Quote (CPQ) is more than just a sales tool, it's a path for business transformation. It gets sales teams out into the field,...

Customer Experience

True Confessions 2 – How One Brand Engaged Me After I Weaponized Social Media Against Them

My son plays youth hockey, which requires spending a lot of money on equipment and uniforms.   He and his teammates were excited about wearing their new hockey sweaters, which are fancy like the pros, with embroidered names, logos and numbers. But, when it arrived, it was extremely small. After squeezing into it, this thing looked like a tube top on him! Turns out that among his 15 teammates, 9 of them got the wrong size!  Major disappointment set in fast. Add to it a flurry of angry parents and coaches.  With the first game only 10 days away, we discovered replacement jerseys would take 3 weeks to be delivered! This is Unacceptable! If you read my luggage revenge story, you know this meant the manufacturer we ordered from would catch hell from me. This is a small firm and reviews matter. So, I blasted them on social media with a 1-star review. I was brutally honest, pulling heartstrings about how they screwed over an entire team of kids. After describing their business and customer experience failures, I vowed do everything in my power to kill off any future business for them with every sports club in the area, potentially inflicting thousands of lost hockey sweater sales. Within 48 hours, they replied to my review: "Hi Karl. We are sorry to hear that you did not have a positive experience ordering our product. Is it possible to share which store you purchased your product from, where you are located, and any information on the jerseys you purchased (and what happened) so that I can look into your situation properly?" This was a good start as they did everything right.  They read my review, asked me for details in public, and attempted to understand the issue. Therefore, I made the conversation private and sent them the details. Within 24 hours they responded. They nailed it. They made a firm commitment that they were working on the problem. They accepted blame, explained how the original error was missed, and acknowledged its snowball effect. Their delivery time was a 'conservative estimate.' They didn’t want to be wrong twice! They avoided any mention of cost and made it clear they were doing everything possible to get the product to the kids before their first game. They provided me with a timeline for an update, openly thanked me for my feedback, and closed on a positive note. I thanked them for their detailed response and candor. The next two days day came. Still no delivery. We arrived at the arena for our first game with the original sweaters in hand, ready to cut them up to make them fit if necessary. Just as the kids were getting dressed, their head coach walked in with two big boxes filled with replacement jerseys! Hooray!!!!!!!!!!!  The kids were thrilled, played great, and won their first game of the season. I mean, look at that face! I made it a point to send a direct message and relay my thanks for a job well done and send them the picture above. Then, I deleted my angry post and wrote a new review, reflecting the hard work that the company put forward. A couple of days later I got a reply. “Hey Karl, I hope that you enjoyed your weekend. Thank you for your understanding and for the update review. We really appreciate it. We are sorry again for the inconvenience caused by the sizing issue and are glad that we were able to resolve it for you. Thanks for the pic and good luck with the upcoming season.” I was impressed that they read my message and my review.  They were 100% on top of everything revolving around their business. All in all, it was an interesting, positive customer experience. So, I thought it would be good to break down how this company approached social media when it had been weaponized against them. They know what social media means to their business. Positive feedback and experiences make a big difference to their business model. They didn’t force a channel change on their customer. They didn’t shy away from a public conversation. They understood that articulating what’s happening is paramount to their customer. They don’t shy away from the hard realities of B2B2C businesses. They realize there is a customer at the end of the chain who though not your direct customer, is the end customer, and they matter. They were human, and didn't recite from a script or a manual. They engaged with a real person from start to finish. They never over-promised. They didn’t mention the costs associated to fixing the problem, and never ever put the financial aspects of the business over the customer experience or their end customer. They enabled people to fix the problem, not hide it. With the right solution, this technology gap could have been avoided. Of course human error can still creep into this. I recommend that through a unified commerce platform, and potentially an Artificial Intelligence (AI) platform, the order could have been placed without a human in the middle B2B. The AI could be used to validate the anomaly of 99% of an order being the same size, and flag the order for human intervention to help solve the problem. If you act like this company did, social media is unlikely to be used as a weapon against your brand. Click here to read the Gartner report and learn how social drives the relationship between customers and brands.      

My son plays youth hockey, which requires spending a lot of money on equipment and uniforms.   He and his teammates were excited about wearing their new hockey sweaters, which are fancy like the pros,...

Customer Experience

Oracle Named a Leader in 2019 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Field Service Management

We at Oracle are excited to once again be named a 'Leader' in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Field Service Management, based on our ability to execute and completeness of vision. According to Gartner, the vendors in this report were raecognized based on how they “reflect customers’ new expectations in areas such as digital technician support, outcome-based service business models, and AI-driven scheduling and decision support. When assessing vendors, look for packaging of multiple technologies and proven results.” Gartner Leader Criteria Per Gartner report, "Leaders demonstrate a market-defining vision of how technology can help service professionals achieve business objectives. Leaders have the ability to fulfill their vision through products, services, ecosystems and solid business results in the form of revenue and earnings. They have strong partner programs, which are formalized and “gamified,” and they track proof of renewal every year. Leaders have significant, successful reference customer deployments in North America, EMEA and Asia/Pacific in a wide variety of industries, with multiple proof points above 2,000 users. They have a robust native scheduling engine that is scalable to thousands of employee and third-party technicians. They also have strong and innovative technology-based service enablers (such as IoT enablement, social collaboration, AI-driven decision support and chatbots), and end-customer engagement tools for, and coverage (either directly or through certified partners) of, all six categories of FSM capability. Leaders have many successful integrations with multiple systems of record (especially ERP and CRM systems) from multiple providers; and many deployments in multitenant deployment models. Other providers measure themselves against the Leaders and emulate their strategies and tactics. Leaders demonstrate market strength, based on installed-base depth, and they affect market trends in terms of all the criteria by which they are evaluated. Leaders’ software users often consider that they are gaining a competitive advantage over others in their industry." Learn more about Oracle’s position in this year’s Magic Quadrant and what the field service market looks like today by downloading the full report. Follow us on Twitter @OracleServCloud and @OracleCX for product updates and industry news. Gartner Magic Quadrant for Field Service Management, Jim Robinson, 16 April 2019 This graphic was published by Gartner, Inc. as part of a larger research document and should be evaluated in the context of the entire document. The Gartner document is available upon request from Oracle.      

We at Oracle are excited to once again be named a 'Leader' in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Field Service Management, based on our ability to execute and completeness of vision. According to Gartner,...

Customer Service

Let’s Talk - How Customer Service Can Nurture a Five Star Conversation

When was the last time you enjoyed calling customer service? Were you pleased with the outcome of the conversation?  Was your issue resolved through that phone call? I would venture to say that for most customers, their experience with a customer service agent varies between memorable to not pleasant. As a leader in charge of a contact center, what are the forces driving these perceptions and what you can do to change them? Everyone would agree that a good conversation has positive effects, like an improved mood, for example.  When people have fun, their muscles relax and different parts of their brain react. However, more conversations are moving to digital channels and people are slowly forgetting how to have real conversations. At the same time, I believe we’re starting to see that people long to have meaningful dialogue and connect with other humans. Over recent years, technology advancements in the service arena have been improving self-service mechanisms within the customer service paradigm. Examples include Self-Service Portals, troubleshooting flows, Self-learning Answer Search, Virtual Assistants, Knowledge, Intelligent Advice, Communities and so forth. These have become a fixed staple of a savvy customer service strategy. Furthermore, new concepts such as predictive and pre-emptive service through the IoT have been added to the mix, driving self-service and automation even further. What does this mean for contact centers? Predictions about the demise of contact centers have been made for 15-20 years now. Nonetheless, many leaders have come to realize that contact centers are not going anywhere. In fact, live customer service is making a comeback although frankly, it never went away. The customer channel mix has broadened with new communication channels picking up momentum. But, customers will still continue to rely on people to solve their issues and get advice. As self-service and automation have accelerated over the last two decades, the contact center has gone through ruthless cycles of efficiency improvements. ‘Efficiency’ used to be the only factor taken into account when running a contact center. The metric ‘average handling time’ was the golden KPI. Entire consulting industries were invented to help contact centers become shining beacons of efficiency. The CRM software world followed suit and invested heavily in making everything as efficient as possible. Computer Telephony Integration, Scripting, Desktop Automation, Workflow, the 360˚ view, context from web interactions, handling multiple live chat interactions in parallel, call analysis, hot keys and so forth. All of these advancements have made the jobs of agents tremendously more efficient. Shaving off a second or two here and there over a long time has made everything more efficient. Diminishing returns However, there comes a point when a human agent can’t become ever more efficient in picking up the phone and solving a problem for the customer. This is where cracks in the efficiency mantra become visible. When agents have an ambitious average handling time target and corresponding incentives to adhere to, that’s the moment conversations become judged as ‘too long.’ Therefore, these conversations tend to be wrapped in a hurry. A likely result is the problem isn’t solved and the customer needs to call back another time. That subsequent call is a lost opportunity for a ‘first call resolution’, especially when pressured agents start connecting the customer to non-existent departments and the customer hears the dreaded "One moment please, I’m going to transfer you to the appropriate department" … beep-beep-click. The relentless drive to pursue more efficiency has created a world where very few customers can recall the last time they enjoyed calling customer service! We can do better! As customer service leaders, we need to aim higher!  Let’s try to get our customers to actually enjoy the conversation when they call customer service. Imagine what happens when two people have a conversation they enjoy! Trust is created. Then imagine the improvements to the perception of your brand! Just think about the conversations you have with your friends.  You listen and demonstrate the mutual respect and willingness to hear the other out. Wouldn’t it be great if we can do something that will increase the trust between your customers and your organization? A simple thing that helps build that trust is to encourage conversation and eliminate metrics that restrict conversations, like the average handling time measurement. Click here to learn how to build a next generation contact center! Empower your agents and master first contact resolution.     

When was the last time you enjoyed calling customer service? Were you pleased with the outcome of the conversation?  Was your issue resolved through that phone call? I would venture to say that for...

Customer Experience Technology

Keeping Score with Sportable Scoreboards

Thirty three years ago, Mike Cowen was sitting in the bleachers watching his son’s baseball game, when he noticed the diamond didn’t have a scoreboard. In fact, many of the places where his kids played sports lacked score-keeping devices. As a self-professed data geek, Cowen decided to invent a battery-powered, portable contraption that he could bring along to games. And with that, Sportable Scoreboards was born. From its start in a California garage to today’s 40,000 square foot facility in Murray, Kentucky, Sportable Scoreboards is home to 60 dedicated employees who are eager to see exciting numbers on the board. Their commitment to the company’s success has propelled Sportable to become one of the major players in the youth and high school market over the last three decades. To continue this momentum, Cowen, now chairman of the board, recently challenged his team to double its growth over the next five years. Sportable manufactures 6,000 made-to-order scoreboards each year for every indoor and outdoor sport imaginable. By doubling its production, Sportable hopes to positively impact twice as many communities across America. “There are hundreds of thousands of young people that are able to compete on an athletic field with a scoreboard that validates their experience and says ‘what you’re doing matters,’” Mike Daniel, Sportable’s president explained. “And quite frankly, that tells us that what we’re doing matters as well.” Sportable’s customers are our country’s communities. They are high school athletic directors and coaches with limited or non-existent budgets. They are parks and recreation departments who rely on government funding for their sports programs. They are parents and Little League officials who put on bake sales and car washes to raise money for a scoreboard. So how does a business plan to double in size in a market that may not be able to afford the product it sells? Sportable takes pride in meeting its customers on their own playing fields. To do so, the company created a Score Rewards program that helps schools sell advertising space on their scoreboard to offset costs. They also implemented a long-term finance program for more expensive models. But in order to double down on growth, Sportable realized it had to transform the way it operated, in hopes of finding efficiencies and cost savings that it could pass on to its customers. “We had to make radical change and radical improvements to get from where we are currently to where we want to be,” Daniel said. “We don’t want incremental change, we want to transform the way we address our business very fundamentally. There are inefficiencies, there are opportunities, and there are ways for us to reach our customers that we’ve never focused on before.” Sportable Scoreboards Grows and Transforms with Oracle SaaS Sportable recognized the need to up its game. Its front and back office software was outdated. The company was maintaining a dozen disparate, legacy systems that didn’t talk to each other. Costly to manage, the customized integrations between each weren’t sustainable for future growth. Each line of business was operating with duplicate records, process inefficiencies, and manual data entry. Cowen’s challenge to take Sportable to the next level led the company to retire its on-premises systems and overhaul its entire business – from marketing, sales, quoting, and customer service to finance, accounting, procurement, and order management – in a move to Oracle Cloud. “Our owner and leadership team decided that it was time for us to make a bid toward growth, and what we were seeking was a single source of truth,” recalled Micah Sugg, director of IT. This data transparency and accuracy has had an immediate impact at Sportable. By integrating Oracle Marketing Cloud and Oracle Engagement Cloud, website traffic increased and sales reps are pursuing higher quality leads. Order precision improved with Oracle CPQ Cloud and Oracle ERP Cloud, reducing waste and required man power. Oracle Order Management Cloud, Oracle Manufacturing Cloud, and Oracle Supply Chain Cloud help ease order fulfillment, shipping the right product to the right customer, quickly. For the first time ever, accounting and financial teams can access the same data as their colleagues in sales and service with Oracle Financials Cloud, eliminating confusion caused by thousands of duplicate records. Sugg’s IT department is also reducing costs, no longer relying on a third party for server maintenance and set-up. Freed from the day-to-day business system maintenance, Sugg’s team is increasingly focusing on product development, exploring IoT-enabled scoreboards among other emerging technologies. Additionally, this single source of truth enables Sportable’s management team to quickly generate reports for strategic planning. “We’ve really freed up time to be more intentional about where we’re going and what we’re going to do, because that intentionality takes time,” Sugg explained. Sportable has also transformed its customer experience, removing the barriers and complexity of finding a product that meets its customers’ unique needs at an affordable price point. The company can now guide each school or parks director through a simple quoting and order process, shipping a scoreboard–configured for lights, horns, and team colors–to the field or arena in just 10 days. (Its competitors take twice as long to deliver a product.) Should the customer encounter any issues with set-up or maintenance, Sportable’s service department is on hand 24/7 so the inquiring coach or parent can get back to what’s really important–game day. At the end of the day, there’s no higher priority than Friday’s hockey game or Saturday’s soccer tournament. A scoreboard is just one part of that experience, but it’s a profound one. “There's nothing better than going past a football game on a Friday night and seeing our scoreboard in front of thousands of people,” Cowen said. “We’re united by the fact that we all love kids, we love sports, and we want the best programs that we can offer. Sportable is a part of that. We feel very proud about that.” Learn more about Sportable Scoreboard’s business transformation amidst a growing youth sports market on Forbes.    

Thirty three years ago, Mike Cowen was sitting in the bleachers watching his son’s baseball game, when he noticed the diamond didn’t have a scoreboard. In fact, many of the places where his kids...

Customer Experience Technology

DaVinci’s Code to Blending Science and Art to Master Sales

When the name “Leonardo” is mentioned, most think of paintings such as the Mona Lisa.  Or, for those of us born in the 80’s, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle may come to mind as well.  But, taking hard shelled reptiles and one well-known masterpiece of a painting aside, there has never been a better example of the blending of science and art than in the creations of Leonardo Da Vinci, whose repertoire and accomplishments put most Nobel Prize winners to shame. He’s credited for inventing the parachute, helicopter and tank. He’s the epitome of a Renaissance man. It’s the blend of art and science that many tech and software solutions seek to appeal to the masses. Jobs did it with Apple. Elon Musk created Tesla. While these solutions have a function, the very aesthetic of their form is art, whether you’re looking at a car or an iOS. This balance of form and function, science and art, has also been the basis for the future of Sales at Oracle. We’ve had to evolve our thinking because buyers have changed. They’re savvier, smarter, and have more information at their fingertips than ever. So, we’ve had to become more than just a software solution based on analytics and quantitative research. We’ve tapped into the artistic imagination in order to give our sales customers tools to innovate. And, we’ve also mastered the new science of sales. Customers are the new innovators. The traditional sales model has been impacted by: Buyers disrupting traditional B2B sales models Growing preference for digital sales engagement and commerce Consumption shifting from ownership to subscription Therefore, sales leaders should enable and stabilize the scientific function of their Sales teams with an artistic form. This means leaders should enable more intelligent engagement, and provide seamless experiences and answers from anywhere. AI and Machine Learning can lead intelligent engagement by guiding sales reps through every stage. AI for Sales can give next best offers, best sales actions, forecast accuracy and deal acceleration. It can also give reps smart talking points to help them build intelligent conversations and story telling. Seamless experiences means connecting all experiences from leads to renewals. Going beyond the traditional, configure, price & quote solutions, commonly known for generating quotes and orders, Oracle CPQ Cloud goes deeper with deal management. Beyond solely winning the deal, CPQ takes an optimal risk and reward trade off to bring in the most revenue. “Deal Management takes a very pointed look at AI. We are interested in knowing what is the optimal discount percentage to actually provide optimal revenue.” – Chris Haussler, Director of Product Management, CPQ Cloud Go Beyond CRM Sales leaders should be able to provide answers anywhere, instantly. Oracle Sales Performance Management is the predictive quota planning and forecasting solution that is ranked as the leader in the 2019 Forrester Wave. Sales professionals can quickly update records and capture follow ups, including taking detailed next best actions recommended by AI. And now we can take it a step further with Oracle Sales Performance Management to help companies be more flexible, accountable and responsive to improve sales effectiveness and achieve targeted revenue goals.  If you want to be a bit more Da Vinci like in life, go beyond sales force automation and master the new science of sales, click here to read on.

When the name “Leonardo” is mentioned, most think of paintings such as the Mona Lisa.  Or, for those of us born in the 80’s, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle may come to mind as well.  But, taking hard...

CPQ

What CPQ Can Really Do For You – No. 12: Simplify the Complex

Do you ever feel that running, or working for a business, has become a really complex operation? The things and services that are sold need to have enough variations to give individual customers exactly what they need. Even the simplest of tasks can be made challenging by the layers of administration and the demands of others in your own organization. It can feel overwhelmingly complicated. But, there is something that can help. One of the overarching benefits of Configure, Price, and Quote (CPQ) technology is its ability to cut through the clutter that builds up in an organization’s processes by helping to simplify what you and your team need to do. When I speak to people about simplification, they often respond with “OK.  That’s very well and good.  But my business just isn’t simple.” This is a fair challenge.  Sometimes the sophistication of product combinations can be a true competitive advantage. Simplification is not the same as simplicity. It refers to the art of making things as simple as they need to be, and no more. It’s in line with the concepts of ‘Lean Manufacturing’ and I think it’s best exemplified by this famous quote from Steve Jobs. “Simple can be harder than complex. You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But, it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.” Implementing CPQ is often transformative because it provides a lens through which to look at many processes and how they all link together. A well-designed CPQ solution that replaces older systems can strip away the layers of process inefficiency that build up. It ensures every team has just the information it needs to work at peak performance. Let’s consider the impact on the sales team. Simplification through CPQ means that selecting and selling the right product for your customer is a process that can’t go wrong. This is because; Bad product selections are eliminated before they cause problems for customers or back-office teams. Options can be limited to those available for specific customers at this specific moment, avoiding confusion and overwhelming them. Product training information is provided right when a salesperson is considering options, removing the need for folders full of reference materials that never get looked at. The benefits of simplification extend to other teams too. IT departments gain a degree of control without extensive investment because; Sensitive data is excised from sprawling spreadsheets and held efficiently in a central controllable system, reducing the risk of data breaches and inaccuracies. Cloud-based SaaS solutions are quick and easy to implement. Service levels of the core application are managed and assured by the vendor. No additional infrastructure is needed. Integration conforms to standards and highlights inefficiencies in data structures, driving a coherent architecture that moves data around the organization. Finance teams also find that CPQ can simplify their operations. This is because; It becomes easy for pricing analysts and deal approvers to see precisely what the deal means for the business. Facts can be clearly laid out, without obfuscation from Sales. Margin and revenue dashboards provide the right information to those who are authorized to see it. Deal management tools provide insight and comparisons with the contexts of history, the deal itself, or future predictions, without needing to set up separate, complex analytical tools. Approval process clarity ensures all necessary authorizations are in place. Workflow as a whole can be inspected, highlighting areas of process inefficiency. All approvals gain a full, automatic audit trail. We’ve talked before about the benefits of CPQ to downstream systems which all reap the benefits of the simplifications that can be made at the start of the process. CPQ provides the lens through which you can inspect your company’s products, services and workflow to get them into your customers’ hands. It allows to you to remove all the clutter from the beginning of the sales process so that the perfect arrangement and flow enables you to deliver your promises. CPQ gives your very own “Zen Garden” for business. Download Walpole Partnership's free, in-depth e-book: The Complete Configure Price Quote (CPQ) Guide for Sales Professionals. Learn about how CPQ can help beat your current sales challenges, choose the right system, and how it can simplify the complex.  Read the brand new Oracle eBook "3 Ways to Drive Sales With CPQ" Download the entire "CPQ Cloud's Top 12 Benefits" blog series by clicking here! * Originally published on walpolepartnership.com    

Do you ever feel that running, or working for a business, has become a really complex operation? The things and services that are sold need to have enough variations to give individual...

Customer Experience Strategy

2019 CX Checklist: How Well Do You Know Your Customer?

How can you keep your customers loyal? Neither products nor even price are the main differentiators anymore. The way to build loyalty and trust is by constantly providing customers with great brand experiences. The key ingredient to knowing your customers is to create a unified, intimate view of them. Just like any other relationship, once you understand what is important to the other, likes, dislikes, priorities, preferences, and many other things, you can form a bond that lasts. It also means admitting your own flaws and try to identify the areas you fall short. What do you already know right now about your customer? Where are your blind spots in their customer experience? Our 2019 checklist “How Well Do You Know Your Customers” will help you answer these questions. Checklist: How Well Do You Know Your Customers? What was their last purchase? When did you last talk with them? Do you know what they are saying about you? Did they use that special offer you sent? Are you able to identify them every time they are on your site or in store? Are they an unhappy customer? Do they have an open support ticket? Do you use all their data to personalize their experiences with your brand? Are you able to identify which customers are new and have high-potential for your loyalty programs? Can you identify your at-risk customers who are likely to leave for a competitor?   Why is a unified view of your customer important? Every customer is unique.  The way each of your customers engages with your brand is incredibly different. Without a complete view of your customer and how they interact with your brand, you can’t provide them with an experience that delights, entertains, and satisfies them. There is nothing more frustrating than receiving a promotional email when you’re in the middle of a messy support issue. There is nothing more impersonal than being asked to join a brand’s reward program when you have been a loyal member for years. It only takes one bad experience to lose your customer forever, and perhaps everybody they know as well. Fragmented data means fragmented experiences.  However, connected data with intelligence leads to connected experiences, helping you reduce churn by turning issue resolution into issue avoidance, opening new revenue streams. Providing a consistent experience across Marketing, Sales, and Service enables you to deliver customer-aware marketing to improve customer satisfaction by making happy customers happier, retaining at-risk customers, and winning back lost revenue from competitors.  To know your customers is to keep your customers.   Oracle CX Unity Oracle CX Unity is a Customer Intelligence Platform for real-time CX. It enables CX Professionals to deliver contextually aware and highly personalized experiences that delight customers whenever and however they engage with a brand. CX Unity consolidates offline, online, and 3rd party data into a dynamic and connected customer profile, and applies machine learning to contextually derive the next best customer experience. CX Unity checks 10/10 on the 2019 “How Well Do You Know Your Customers?” checklist. Read more about Oracle CX Unity.        

How can you keep your customers loyal? Neither products nor even price are the main differentiators anymore. The way to build loyalty and trust is by constantly providing customers with great brand...

CPQ

What CPQ Can Really Do For You – No. 11: Auditability

We previously touched on the importance of auditing pricing and deal construction processes. In our previous article on the benefits of putting your approvals into a CPQ system, we referred to the audit trail that can be logged and generated by a well-designed CPQ system. The benefits don’t stop there. In this exploration into the real value of CPQ, let’s go a little deeper into the many ways CPQ can assist your organization’s auditability. If you are in an area of a business that gets audited, we’re sure it’s not something that you look forward to. Being audited takes up a lot of time and can be stressful as something could be unearthed that gets your department into trouble. There is the chance that your practices could be exposed as ’in need of improvement.’  Finally, it’s a real pain to dig through old documents and folders to try and piece together the story of why someone did what they did, especially when it was several years ago.  We know audits are a necessary evil and are needed for an organization to prosper.  We all dread the thought that our company might be caught up in a scandal like, like price-fixing, ripping off pensions, insider trading or serious accounting frauds like Enron.  In fact, it was scandals like Enron’s that gave rise to stricter audit requirements in the early 2000s, like Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX).  This set a high standard required for internal controls, and exerted much tougher penalties for board members who fail to ensure that financial statements are accurate. The role of pricing decisions (e.g. who authorized what and when), and the accuracy of revenue reporting becomes paramount when evidencing compliance with audit arrangements such as this. Enter the CPQ to Slay the Audit Dragon At this point, a CPQ system can be the simple answer to your audit needs. All requests for discounts, and the way revenue is allocated across products and services are documented. All approvals can be attributed to an individual, time stamped and with reasons captured at the time of approval. More importantly, it provides the ability to show an auditor the entire history of a decision.  It connects the dots from a signed deal all the way to reported revenue at the click of a button.  This means you have nothing to hide and a clear understanding of the decisions. This is music to an auditor’s ears. It builds confidence in the process and means any anomalies can be quickly analyzed too. When you have all this information securely stored in the cloud under access control, with a tamper-proof process, that means it’s been designed with integrity in mind. It makes the process of passing an audit so much easier. All the anxiety and pain mentioned above just disappears. Auditors are no longer the enemy. You will find they can actually help advise on improvements to the rules in your system to make future audits even more enjoyable. Yes, that’s right, enjoyable audits! New Good Friend So CPQ is an auditor’s friend, and an auditee’s friend too. It doesn’t just apply to the big-scale audit requirements like SOX, but any organization that’s auditable.  Whether you’re a telecommunications company affected by IFRS 15, an organization impacted by GDPR, or any one of a thousand other guidelines, rules or quality policies that get checked - having data and decisions stored in a CPQ system will make you appreciate audits too. Read the brand new Oracle eBook "3 Ways to Drive Sales With CPQ" Download the entire "CPQ Cloud's Top 12 Benefits" blog series by clicking here! *Originally published on walpolepartnership.com  

We previously touched on the importance of auditing pricing and deal construction processes. In our previous article on the benefits of putting your approvals into a CPQ system, we referred to the...

Customer Experience Technology

Chatbot Requirements for Better Collaboration for an Evolving Field Workforce

Chat and chat bots are currently all the rage as a key interaction channel with customers. So why don’t more companies leverage them to enable field collaboration? I’ll bet you’ve been serviced online through some sort of chat channel.  You browse a website and research an item that you can’t live without. Suddenly, a chat window appears with a virtual or actual agent ready to help you. Chat serves your customers by being a proactive sales application or it can act as a halfway point for customer service situations that fall between a full self-service agent and a live voice agent. Most field workers use some form of mobile device chat capability to fulfill the needs of their workload.  These devices usually enable some sort of standalone chat/SMS capability that can be used in an ad hoc manner by the field. In fact, back office (e.g. dispatch) staff can also reach out directly to field workers via one-on-one mobile device chat.  As a result, companies that deploy chat solutions that are designed to improve the efficiencies of the field become at best, an afterthought, rather than a vital piece of the puzzle. The truth is that, as operations continue to evolve, a more efficient model is required that enables the field workforce to work more independently. This will likely include expanded remote capabilities to power flexible and omni-directional communications that will be required for success. Real collaboration requires a broad and integrated chat solution that connects field workers and the supporting back office teams in an intelligent and efficient manner.  The robust collaboration capabilities for the field workforce should support the following: One to One and One to Many Conversations – Field operations should be able to chat with other field workers, managers, and dispatchers.  These communications should be configurable per user or groups via permissions.  The ability to broadcast specific, one-way messages to the entire organization is key. Location Awareness – Collaboration communications capabilities should take location into account since all modern mobile devices are location aware.  This includes the ability for a field worker to send out a call for assistance to any colleagues within X miles of his/her current location.  Additionally, a dispatcher could send an urgent job request only to field workers currently within the job’s locale. Video Capabilities – The ability to share photos, attachments, and support live video makes issue resolution more efficient. When a remote colleague can view the issue at hand and effectively provide assistance to a field worker, this prevents the need to double-dispatch additional assistance, postpone or reschedule the job. Assignments and Transfers with Contextual Awareness – You want to support job assignments and transfers among field workers with full awareness of the required skillsets, work zones, and potentially other process constraints.  Resources and gear such as tools, set top boxes and spare parts should be easily transferrable among field workers without breaking any pre-defined business rules. Assignments and transfers can be done by dragging and dropping a job or an inventory object from the field service solution directly into an open chat session. Helpdesks – Helpdesks should be available and configurable to enable teams to staff a specific function, like dispatch, in a flexible manner. Demand and resource balancing can take place for any field requests for assistance.  A field worker needn’t reach out to a specific person. Instead, Helpdesk assigns a subject matter expert, representing a specific function to address the issue in a timely and effective manner.  Members of the Helpdesk can accept and close inbound requests and transfer chats among themselves as appropriate. Access Points – An effective collaboration capability provides convenient ‘access’ or launch points to communicate with the appropriate colleague, with full context, whenever necessary. This should be configurable so that companies can tailor capabilities to their particular and evolving operations processes. Metrics and Reporting – You’ll want to collect data around usage and provide robust reporting. Archive conversational content for future analyses.  Metrics can range from the number of field worker requests for assistance, to how often a work assignment was rejected, to the average response time duration it took to respond to a Helpdesk request. As proof that a field workforce collaboration-based chat approach can really deliver business value, some companies have reported that they have achieved: Up to 75% reduction in call volumes to the back office Up to 75% response time reduction for inbound field requests (based on the ability to support simultaneous chats versus single voice calls) Dramatic improvements (on the order of 20-25%) in dispatcher/back office staff to field worker ratios A collaborative chat solution both enhances your customers’ experience and can be a key capability to drive an improved employee experience in support of field workforce operations.  To ignore its use may negatively affect your customers and employees while damaging your brand. Is a chat-based collaboration capability something that your field workforce would thrive on?  I look forward to your comments! We Can Help! Oracle’s Customer Success Advanced Services can guide your success with your Oracle SaaS solution. We are 100% focused on helping customers achieve faster value and realization of business objectives. Find out more and contact us by clicking here. Build a chatbot within minutes by clicking here! #OracleFieldService #OracleSaaS #OracleEmp          

Chat and chat bots are currently all the rage as a key interaction channel with customers. So why don’t more companies leverage them to enable field collaboration? I’ll bet you’ve been serviced online...

Customer Experience Strategy

Modernizing the B2B Buying Experience

How can you keep up to date? By now we all know that in B2B, the sales experience is a bit dated; Formalities, long processes and impersonal selling. Now don’t get us wrong, we know that B2B selling is far more complex and grueling than it seems, but does it have to be? With the emergence of modern buyers, perhaps our strategies should change. Modern buyers It’s official, modern buyers are now less influenced by traditional sales and marketing techniques than ever, as well as being even more skeptical of whether you can deliver real value. These modern buyers are more educated and informed than that of their senior counterparts. They spend more time online and know exactly what they want to look for in a business they buy from. As 18-39 year olds come into job roles that allow them to be decision makers in a business, your strategy needs to change. This new demographic of B2B buyers, on average, complete 74% of buyer research online before initial contact. With this information, we should be providing rich content and information online now more than ever; constantly updating and updating it again to give buyers everything they need to decide, whenever and wherever they want it. There now should be an ‘always open’ mindset to your organization, something the B2B buying experience has been lacking. Make it easier! B2B sales need to be made easier on the buyer. Making more information accessible throughout the sales process also needs to be streamlined and made less complicated. Buyers today want everything to be more transparent, so they know they can trust you to deliver real value to their business. Streamlining the complicated process as well as giving access to things such as order history and instant payment makes the buying process easier and requires less complicated workflow. Giving buyers an easier experience is something B2B should really take from B2C in the coming age. Relevance As well as giving the buyers an easier experience, B2B could learn other things from B2C. With modern buyers, relevance is key. (No, we don’t mean that you should create “memes” to go with your business). The way to add relevance to the buyer experience is by leveraging the data that you possess on your buyers or leads and fortifying it with additional insights.  By leveraging that data, you have the ability to personalize the customer buying experience. You can anticipate what they want before they even know that they want it. This means that you’re more likely to convert leads into sales when the buyer trusts that you are on the same page as them. Never underestimate the power of relevance and similarities in your strategy. Market to the modern buyer and know your audience In terms of engaging the modern buyer, there is an imminent need to market like every customer is the most important customer to you. Buyers want more transparency. They want a trustworthy business. One way to build up that trust and relationship is to make them feel more important. Treating your buyers like a B2C would market to their customers is the way forward. Personalized and targeted messages based off the data your organization has are the best way to go about this. Once that relationship is built with the buyer through this, they are even more likely to return to you in the future, encouraging loyalty and keeping the retention of the modern buyer. What are you doing to ensure your organization has a great data strategy so you can provide them with the absolute best customer experience your organization is capable of? Read more about how B2B Marketing Depends Upon Relationship Building Click here to learn how to deliver preferred B2B customer experiences with agile technology. * Originally published on bpiondemand.com

How can you keep up to date? By now we all know that in B2B, the sales experience is a bit dated; Formalities, long processes and impersonal selling. Now don’t get us wrong, we know that B2B selling...

CPQ

What CPQ Can Really Do For You – No. 10: Insights Through Analytics

In the next part of our series exploring the benefits of implementing a Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ) system, we’re going to look at quote analytics, reporting, and the related topic of Artificial Intelligence (AI).  In the context of CPQ, we’ll see what they're really all about. When we consider the amount of data that passes through a CPQ system, it’s clear why many CPQ vendors are keen to stake a claim to the creation and automation of intelligence around all that information. Typically a CPQ system will hold or touch data on customers, selling prices, costs, product and part quantities, approvals and many others. When analyzed correctly, this data can yield great insights into many metrics. For example, win-rates and achieved prices could be inspected to help influence future pricing decisions. If you regularly win deals in a sector at or above a given price, then it may make sense to set discount limits to that price. You can also use the data inside a CPQ system to look internally and make your processes more efficient. For example, by tracking the amount of time a deal spends with different approvers or in different stages of its lifecycle, you can highlight bottlenecks. These may be due to inefficiencies or perhaps it’s just that your Finance Director is too busy to approve all the deals that he’s sitting on.  One solution is to empower someone more junior to make the decisions. One of the biggest complaints a salesperson has is when their deals take longer to approve internally than by customers! It makes sense to look at the facts, see if they have a point, then take appropriate action to get your business flowing faster. It's Still about the Data Within most CPQ systems there are a range of analytical tools that can help you extract insights. You can look to simple reporting where any attributes stored can be reported in a tabular manner and perhaps exported to a spreadsheet for deeper analysis and cross-fertilization with other data sets. This is fast, simple and gives most organizations the ability to get information out with ease. Beyond that, there are now many tools that can give you a real-time understanding of your data during the deal construction process. Using the example above regarding price optimization, you could present a scatter graph to your salespeople of ‘won’ prices in their sector or territory by deal size to let them make their own estimate of how much discount to give.  Or, you could even generate a simple regression curve to show the ‘best-fit’ of prices. These are useful insights that can help a salesperson make an informed decision. You can go further still with data-cube export functionality to allow the full CPQ data-set to be taken into a specialist Business Intelligence or data warehouse application. While this is incredibly powerful, it requires a specialist team to work with the tools and the data to get the best out of it. Personally I’m a little wary of vendors that claim to give full AI at the click of a button. Machine learning can undoubtedly bring huge benefits (although if, like me you watch too much sci-fi, you’ll know it can bring huge risks too!), and I am sure this area will develop. However, if you truly want to get deep and automated analysis of all your data, you need to be prepared to invest further in the specialist teams to set it up. If you too are wondering what the hype about AI in sales and marketing really means, I also suggest you read the wise words of Alex Low who articulates this so much more eloquently than I could ever manage. In conclusion, CPQ tools give a wonderful opportunity to gain insights into your customers, sales and internal processes Read the brand new Oracle eBook "3 Ways to Drive Sales With CPQ" Download the entire "CPQ Cloud's Top 12 Benefits" blog series by clicking here! Originally published on walpolepartnership.com

In the next part of our series exploring the benefits of implementing a Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ) system, we’re going to look at quote analytics, reporting, and the related topic of Artificial...

Customer Experience Strategy

True Confessions - How I Weaponized Social Media Against a Brand

For many years, I traveled internationally about 250 days a year, living out of various suitcases. My luggage was central to my universe.  When your itinerary makes many stops to different cities and countries, the return trip home without your favorite luggage by your side can be a living hell.  That’s exactly what happened to me and I used social media as a weapon when I went to war against one of my favorite brands.  Here’s my story. During some downtime at home, I took my favorite carryon bag to the store to get the handle fixed because it was coming apart. The store employees knew me well.  They also knew that I spent over a thousand dollars a year in their store, so they waived the shipping charge for the repairs.  They wrote up the job and sent me on my way. It’s the kind of great customer experience we all love. They know who I am, what value I represent and they go out of their way to make sure everything is easy for me.  Since a repair usually takes 2-3 weeks; I figured I’d have the bag back before my next trip. However, after a few weeks, I hadn’t seen it. So, I called the store and asked them to check on it for me. They said they’d get back to me as soon as possible. They called me later that day, informing me that my bag was destroyed! They were honest about their mistake, but the best they could do for me was to ship me the new version of that bag in 4 weeks. I had to fly again in two days.  The person on the phone seemed to have done his best, but I was still out my favorite bag, or any carryon bag for that matter. While they did everything they could to help me, I was not happy with the company, so I took my grievance to social media to make the exchange public. Using Social Media as a Weapon On the company’s main social media page, I brutally shamed them in my post. To make sure it got noticed, I called in my fellow road warriors to pile onto their misery. Within a day it was the most popular post on their page. People I didn’t even know chimed in. This post had real legs real quick! Two days later, they finally responded to the post by emailing me.  Big mistake.  When someone communicates with you publicly, do not force a change of channels, ever! Their email was a polite attempt to bribe me with a $50 coupon, to go away. Smelling weakness, I took their attempt to privatize the conversation and I posted the email exchange into the comments of my original post, calling them out on their shifty tactics. My fellow road warriors had a field day with this.  The company tried once again to privatize the exchange and sent me another email to placate me.   Once again, I posted the exchange and the Internet went after them even harder. They even had the audacity in their email to suggest, “If I have additional comments, feel free to mail us a letter.” Seriously.    In the interest of peace, I sent them a direct message with the precise details of where we were at the time, which included the following; I emphasized that I’d been a loyal customer for several years.  Their staff was fantastic and did everything to help me replace the bag. However, the replacement bag they offered was a terrible, low-quality product.  Compared to its predecessor, it was so cheap that “they should be ashamed to sell it to their customers.” They responded the same day that a member of their staff would contact me directly. I informed them I was traveling abroad for 2 weeks, but I gave them my details so they could contact me. They….never….contacted…me!!!  So, I unloaded vitriol on them via social media again.  This time, there was total silence. Two Weeks Later At a conference, I gave a presentation and mentioned this specific customer experience to the 500 attendees.  Moments later as I walked away from the room, I got a call from the company. The person on the phone made it clear, “I don’t know what happened. All I know is I’ve been told to try and fix it.” At this point, this ordeal had been going on for months. The person on the other end of the phone knew nothing about the situation. The company kept changing channels.  They desperately wanted to throw money at the problem and make it go away. Know When to Cut Your Losses While I would never be a customer of theirs ever again, I still wanted answers. Like, why had they failed so badly across the board in their processes? I was given nothing for my terrible experience but apologies, but this poor guy knew it was his job to fall on the sword, and he did it politely. At the end of the day, a store credit was sent to my store in NY for “any carry-on bag that you want.” A Tale of Warning Misunderstanding how social media works, or having it backfire against you can cause immeasurable brand damage.  One bad experience is all it takes to lose a customer. And remember, it’s not just that one customer. It’s every person that customer knows throughout their network. Further, when I researched this article, I found my comments from over 4 years ago. The Internet never forgets.   Technology can help a great deal, but only when companies are willing to change their policies to work in today’s experience economy. The instant you choose company policy over customer experience, you’ll feel the brunt of social media being used against you. Lastly, when I had a broken handle on one of their competitor’s bags, not once but twice, each time it was fixed in less than 48 hours and at no cost to me. They have a customer for life! Read about how social data can make your marketing better!                

For many years, I traveled internationally about 250 days a year, living out of various suitcases. My luggage was central to my universe.  When your itinerary makes many stops to different cities and...

CPQ

What CPQ Can Really Do For You – No. 9: 5 Ways to Reduce Administration

Show me a salesperson who craves more administration and I’ll show you someone who won’t hit their target. Admin is an anathema to most salespeople. Trying to avoid doing lots of admin might be one of the main reasons they moved into sales in the first place. There are five main ways that implementing a CPQ system can save administration time: 1) Rekeying Information CPQ is generally integrated with a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. So, it’s straightforward for all account information, names and addresses, etc., to be passed seamlessly from CRM to CPQ. In return, once the deal is in a CPQ system, the products, prices and status of the deal can be automatically synced back into the CRM. This reduces the need for careful updating of two separate systems, and it also reduces errors. 2) Forecasting In most organizations, forecasting is frequently dealt with in a whole team meeting where each person in turn states what deals they’re bringing in this week or month, and the value of them. It’s often necessary to treat forecasting like this so that a sales manager can inspect the deals and make their own judgment on whether they’ll really close, or not. I’ve seen this process reduced significantly in organizations that are disciplined in the adoption of CPQ. By putting the detail of a deal into a CPQ system and seeking approvals for non-standard elements in advance, salespeople and managers are more collaborative throughout a deal’s lifecycle, building confidence in it or challenging it in a more productive way. If the customer requirements change, all systems get updated and managers have more confidence in the data in the system. It’s a more straightforward process all round. 3) Quote/Proposal Creation Of course, a CPQ system will offer a major reduction in the administration required to generate a quote or proposal document. All deal information can be used in well-branded templates, allowing the time taken to create an accurate proposal to be reduced from perhaps days, to minutes. A sales person can spend their limited time crafting a personalized cover letter that will have impact.  Their time is better spent than collating details of the product or service, or searching around for the prices and facts of a deal. 4) Automated Approvals I’ve mentioned before the beneficial effect on approvals that CPQ can bring.  For many salespeople, chasing people to say ‘yes’ to a deal is a time-consuming and unnecessary overhead.  This can mean returning to the office to find people who are hiding behind voicemail or not responding to emails. Having a transparent and automated approval mechanism can highlight when approves are holding up deals. It can also breed a culture of support for salespeople if implemented correctly. 5) Order Processing Finally, once the salesperson has gotten the customer to say ‘yes’ and sign the order, they then have the challenge of getting the order processed. Without CPQ, this can be a manual system.  It’s just not right when you have to prepare internal order paperwork with more information and double check that everything is correct, when what you really you should be drinking champagne to celebrate! A CPQ system that is integrated with Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) or order management can provide all the information that the downstream systems require…. fully validated, error free, and all at the press of a button. Overall, the streamlining of administration and moving it away from frontline sales can only be a good thing for an organization. I’ve heard sales people refer to themselves as ‘the highest paid admin clerk,’ which is both sad and frustrating. Take the tasks away, systemize them, automate them and let CPQ free your salespeople to sell. What are you doing to help unburden your salespeople from excess administration? Download the entire "CPQ Cloud's Top 12 Benefits" blog series by clicking here! Click here to learn more about Oracle CPQ. Originally published on walpolepartnership.com  

Show me a salesperson who craves more administration and I’ll show you someone who won’t hit their target. Admin is an anathema to most salespeople. Trying to avoid doing lots of admin might be one of...