Thursday Apr 10, 2014

Part 3 of 6: The Art Of Easy: Easy Decisions For Complex Problems by Heike Lorenz

Making complex decisions EASY, by automating your service policies allows your organization to efficiently ensure the correct decisions are being applied to the right people.

Like the hit British TV Series Little Britain suggests, when “Computer Says No”, you can be left wondering why?

It's not easy to automate your Customer Service polices, let alone do it a way that is transparent, consistent and cost effective. Especially if you are working within environments where markets conditions and regulations change frequently. Get it wrong and you are left with compliance problems and customer complaints – and that's a costly outcome!

So while you may not be striving to change the decision from a “NO” to a “YES” for your customer, you should be looking to get to that answer quicker for them, with a complete explanation as to why it's a “NO”, have the traceability of what answer was given at that time, have the peace of mind that the answer is accurate, AND do it all at the lowest cost to your business – Simple right?!

So how do you achieve this? There are three core areas of consideration:

1. Centralize & Automate

2. Personalize & Optimize

3. Analyze & Adapt

#1 Centralize & Automate

One method is to grab all of your policy documents, throw them at a team of costly developers to move into a database, code the logic around them, and hope what comes out is maintainable, accurate and accessible to the right audiences. Or, maybe not.

A simpler method is to take your original policy documents and import them into a policy automation tool that will help a business user through a step-by-step process to model the rules. Once developed, they can be tested, modified, published and updated within a few clicks. A solution that can empower your agents with dynamic interviewing tools, and your customers with a self-service approach, across channels, in any language, and on any device.

But that is only part of the whole picture.

#2 Personalize & Optimize

A simple decision process could be easily managed by one or two published FAQs, whereas a complex decision process requires you to take into account many personal attributes about that specific customer – and by definition those attributes can't be applied through static views. Getting a customer to repeat information, or worse not even taking into consideration critical information that is provided within the interaction and personalizes the response, is a fast way to get them to abandon the process, or worse leave you!

You must ensure that your automated policies can be optimized to dynamically adapt to every customer’s unique situation and attributes – be that channel, device, location, language, or other more personal characteristics that are shared prior and during the interaction. After all, each answer should be uniquely theirs, explaining in detail why the decision was reached, with everything taken into consideration.

#3 Analyze & Adapt

The saying “data rich and insight poor” is one that often fits with the word “Compliance” – businesses can easily be more focused on capturing volumes of data for compliance, and less on making the data actionable. The flip side of that is “data poor”, when businesses must scramble to get the data needed to ensure compliance, as an afterthought! And we all know that having insight without ability for timely action, is a missed opportunity to improve, avoid, or sustain compliance.

As your policies change, or you introduce new policies, often the requirements to capture data can change too. Adapting to environmental or organizational changes requires you to gather the right data to deliver the right insight for action. The right tools are required in order to apply that insight in a timely, measurable, and effective manner. The right volume of accessible data is also needed to remain compliant with regulatory business or industry Customer Service standards during periodic audits. So you must have a solution that can adapt with scale, demand, change, and archive. A solution that can actually automate your service policies for insight, compliance, and agility – making it easy.

Putting all these pieces together lets you truly automate the nurturing of trusted relationships with your customers during complex decision-making processes, through transparent and personalized interactions. Giving your business confidence that in even the most demanding markets, you are remaining compliant, in a cost-effective and efficient way.

The Oracle Service Cloud empowers your business to care, take action and succeed in your Web Customer Service initiatives and become a Modern Customer Service organization.

Tuesday Apr 08, 2014

3 Secrets to Innovation...and why we believe we were were recognized by an independent analyst firm By David Vap

Innovation starts with seeing things differently than others. It starts with looking at a problem, and finding a way to dramatically change for the better.

Benjamin Franklin knew that. Ben wasn’t just a great visionary, he was a practical experimenter. He focused on needs—such as saving lives—when he invented the lightning rod. He understood the complex nature of electricity, and transformed that knowledge into a real, practical solution that helped everyone. He said it best, “well done is better than well said.”

That’s why Benjamin Franklin inspires us. While our innovation focus is a little different, we value connecting the dots between seeing a possibility and doing something about it. Customer Service is mission critical, and it’s hard to do really well. Real people are impacted every day when they can’t get their needs met – from the serious to the whimsical. From the need to know when your medication shipment arrives at your house to returning that shirt that was a size too small.

Our 3 secrets of innovation? 1) Focus on making what’s hard simple. 2) Solve real problems for real people. 3) Don’t just spin a good vision. Do something about it.

[Read More]

2014 B2B Commerce Survey Reveals B2B Businesses Continue to Struggle With Complexity While Increasing Focus on the Customer to Drive Growth

The results are in!  We surveyed B2B commerce IT and business professionals to see where their organizations have invested in the last year, challenges they are facing, and key investment areas for 2014 and beyond.  Here are some of my key take-aways from this year’s survey:

Complexity grows in 2014 as businesses strive to increase market share
B2B organizations have always operated in complex environments – even before the internet came along.  Now having to contend with new and growing digital channels opens up new forms of complexity. 28% of survey respondents support 10 + brands / websites online and 31% support 5 + languages adding to the complexity of their business.  Complexity across pricing, products, channels, online experiences, and back-end systems all remain a challenge for businesses selling to other businesses through digital channels with 98% of respondents dealing with complexity in their org. 

Online channel drives revenue in 2013 BUT is expected to take an even bigger piece of the pie in 2014
There is still a lot of opportunity for growth with only 39% of respondents seeing 20% or more of their revenue coming from the digital touch points.  Survey respondents agree with 86% expecting at least 5-10% growth online in 2014.  But, how will businesses achieve growth in their online channel?  Many respondents believe that their customers are looking for key capabilities such as custom pricelists, search & navigation, and mobile web/apps when buying online.  To provide these features B2B organizations are making a higher investment in their commerce infrastructure and multi-channel tools. 

Customer satisfaction not only a priority in 2014, but a key success metric
Growing market share was the top priority in 2013 and still is for 2014, but other company-centric priorities of 2013, such as growing profit margins, have shifted to include more customer-focused areas such as customer loyalty and retention and increasing the cross-channel experience.  For example, only 8% of respondents said customer loyalty and retention was their top area of focus in 2013, but 45% said it was going to be one of their top priorities in 2014.  And, 28% of respondents say they measure customer loyalty as a key measure of success.   The impact that B2C experiences are having on B2B expectations still remains important in 2014 with 77% of respondents agreeing that customer expectations have changed due to B2C practices. 

Mobile is now table stakes for customer experience, but not yet driving significant direct revenue
Mobile is no longer a nice to have in B2B but is beginning to be a must have to meet customer expectations.  40% of respondents said that mobile is a key capability B2B buyers need but only 2% of respondents said that mobile is drove significant revenue in 2013.   I predict that mobile will begin to be a key revenue driver for B2B commerce in 2014.   Do you agree?  

Want to see the complete survey results, click here to join a live webcast April 16th.
[Read More]

Monday Apr 07, 2014

“2014 Trends in B2C Commerce” Survey Shows Large Investment in Loyalty, Content, Omnichannel

Hard to imagine ‘tis the season to plan for holiday 2014. The good news: the Oracle Commerce team is sharing new insights as to where online organizations have invested in the last year, YOY performance, and key investment areas for 2104 and 2015.

Each year, Oracle releases a “Trends in B2C Commerce” survey to hundreds of IT and business professionals. This year’s survey results showed returning core themes from 2013 results -- with a few surprises. For the third year in a row, investing in the customer experience ranked as the top priority. What’s interesting is that it’s not necessarily the same “CX” as in years past (focused on the linking cross-channel experiences). Firms have already put significant investment in to the first phase of their CX initiatives, and are now moving on to invest in really knowing the customer. In 2014 and 2015, investing in the customer experience hinges on loyalty.

Loyalty is the number one way retailers can protect themselves from the Amazon effect. Email remains a top investment area, as well as personalized promotions, which have emerged as a focus area to combat price competition. Loyalty is also changing how B2C firms measure success; prioritizing customer retention and new customer acquisition in addition to traditional commerce KPIs (i.e.: conversation rates, order values). Nearly half of respondents stated that customer retention is now their second most important success metric behind revenue, followed by customer acquisition, conversion rates, and order values – a significant shift in behavior. While there is much focus on building relationships with customers to increase loyalty, a huge challenge for organizations is the lack of visibility to the customer, their preferences, and their relationship with the brand as a whole (across channels).

Another interesting development over the last year is the importance of blending content in to the commerce experience, with 59% of respondents reporting a heavy investment in rich digital content to enhance the overall customer experience, increase purchase confidence, overcome competitive sites, and to help with SEO efforts. Content within the commerce experience is seen as critical to engagement whether visitors want to explore a brand or conduct a transaction. Now, internal teams realize they must organize their processes, teams, and technology in a centralized fashion to deliver transactional and exploratory experiences together in a single experience.

The third core theme emerging from the survey results is the omnichannel experience, which firms cite as critical to their success, but difficult to manage and measure. Based on revenue breakdowns, respondents confirmed the assumption that channels are used in tandem for purchases and this is seen as a positive thing (for instance, citing in-store cannibalization as only a minor threat). Retailers embrace omnichannel and it’s positive impact to their bottom line, but how companies connect the customer experience across siloed business units and touchpoints remains is a top challenge to overcome.

For complete survey results, click here to join a live webcast April 16.

Thursday Apr 03, 2014

Checklist for Sales and Sales Operations Leaders

You’re running a sales or sales operations team. You get invited to a number of events—or are spending time out of the office with customers. That’s your job.

Another invitation comes along. You quickly scan it, thinking “what’s in this for me?

The Checklist

  • New Ideas: Do you look outside your company, to industry thought leaders and your sales peers for new ideas?

  • Career Planning: Is it important to look ahead—for your business and your career—to understand where Selling is headed and how it’s changing your job?

  • Translating Plans to Action: Is there something you could learn from your peers—running Sales organizations like yours—about doing things faster, closing more big-ticket deals?

[Read More]

Part 2 of 6: The Art Of Easy: What Happens When Easy Goes Wrong? by David Fulton

Easy doesn't begin with Customer Service.  It begins with customer expectation. They expected easy, but it is not! They haven’t given up though because they bought your promise of easy. And now is your chance to redeem yourself by making it easy again.

Your business is relying on you. That’s a lot of pressure! So, where to start? Well, a good place to start is to recognize the relationship between what is considered ‘easy’ and the time each party is willing to invest in getting to resolution.

Valuing your customer’s time can be more valuable (to your business) than your own time, in terms of relationships, reputation, performance, acquisition and profits. Forrester Research has recognized – that valuing a customer’s time is the single most important contribution you can make to delivering a great customer experience.1

That rule applies across all touch points of course, not just Customer Self-Service

So how do we value customer’s time by making it easy with a Customer Self Service approach? One of the most common and simple approaches is to throw up a bunch of FAQs on a web page. This may be easy for your business, but in today’s complex world, it can be far from easy for your customers, particularly if those FAQs are difficult to find, awkward to read, and void of any personal relevance that makes them actionable.

What started off as a way to reduce costs by enabling your customers to self-serve answers can quickly end up costing you more. Why? Because a frustrated customer is harder to serve, solve, and soothe. When it goes wrong, it’s your job to make it easy again and get it right.

The Art of Easy is making a complex resolution process both simple for a consumer to navigate and easy for you to deliver. However, location, device, need, communication skills, online profile, preferred channels, customer value, etc., all make a 'one size fits all' approach pretty difficult to pull off. 

Satisfying both sides of the Art is Easy coin, i.e. scaling your business objectives efficiently and effectively while serving your customer’s needs, is the modern Web Self-Service Dilemma, and most businesses today are failing in the execution.  

We believe that there are five key tenets to The Art of Easy within Customer Self-Service in order to be a Modern Customer Service business:

  1. Make connecting simple – Provide choice of channel
  2. Tailor the experience - Build for device of choice
  3. Segment appropriately – Know who you are serving
  4. Understand early – Know if the customer CAN self-serve to resolve
  5. Be proactive – Engage at the right time to avoid frustration

Square peg, round channel: To address those tenets, you need a solution that provides multiple choices for customers to help themselves and get the assistance they need along the way. Having only one-way is the fast path to the exit for many, as one size doesn't fit all.

Available in any color, as long as it is black: When you can’t connect on the device of choice, you make it hard to connect. If you want to avoid frustrating costs and higher abandonment rates, you must have a solution that can be tailored to the experience of your customer’s device. You may find forgiveness if you at least look like you made an effort to provide some mobile device support, for example!

A Segment of One: While a customer may be able get around having only one device and one channel supported, only supporting one “customer” type (not anonymous) is an unmovable roadblock to the experience they need. Chances are that your business (Marketing) already has an effective simple segmentation model that isn't being leveraged in Customer Service. Once you find it, you can use a solution that builds explorative pathways to the fastest resolution based on your different customer types.

Let’s Start Again from the Top: At the height of frustration from any Customer Service Interaction is the need to repeat information, and then to have what you repeated, ignored! And don't expect the customer to tell you what you never took the time to ask in the first place. Avoid frustration by having solutions that guide customers to help you understand how best to help them and that are capable of course-correcting to the right channel.

Don’t make me angry!: Either you are bugging your customer with constant pop-up invitations to chat, or you are sitting in a back room, waiting for them to have a total melt down before you assist. Where is the balance? Every good Customer Service rep knows when to wait, when to watch and when to engage at the right time. Your online customer service technology needs to have this same well-honed arsenal of proactive intuition. Change the “CHAT NOW” to “Are you trying to xxx? I can help you with that!”

What happens when EASY goes wrong? What should happen is that you make it easy again, restoring the faith of your customers and re-establishing trust in your promise. The Oracle Service Cloud empowers your business to care, take action and succeed in your Web Customer Service initiatives and become a Modern Customer Service organization.

For more information, please visit our website.

1Understand Communication Channel Needs To Craft Your Customer Service Strategy, Kate Leggett, Forrester Research Inc, March 11, 2013


Wednesday Apr 02, 2014

CX @ OpenWorld Call for Customer Success Stories is Now Open - by Scott Ewart

Oracle OpenWorld is Oracle’s flagship customer conference, and CX @ OpenWorld is our CX focused conference within a conference designed for all Oracle’s CX customers: (Sales, Service, Marketing, Social, Commerce, Siebel, CPQ, Knowledge). This is where we highlight all of our products, our product roadmaps, the technical side of our software, integration among the entire Oracle suite of CX products, as well as celebrate and learn from our customers’ stories and successes. Our main theme this year is “Modern Customer Experience Transforming Your Business”, and we are looking for sessions that align with the theme of transforming the customer experience, how you have accomplished providing your customers with a great exposure to your business from start to finish, and integration of the entire customer experience lifecycle (marketing, sales, social, commerce, CPQ, service, Knowledge)

This year, customers and partners are invited to submit sessions that describe your experience in a case study format. We want to hear the details around what questions you asked yourselves before embarking on a project, what goals you wanted to achieve, and why that was important to your business.

Of particular interest to our audience at this conference is how you have achieved your goals, including the implementation process, and the business value gained as a result. We want you to describe different aspects of your implementations. We want you to tell us the evaluations you did when you compared products and decided on your path to move forward. We want you to share your successes with us and other Oracle customers that can learn from your experience.

We are interested in the HOW you got things accomplished. We do not want to hear a commercial for a particular implementation methodology with a particular partner; we DO want to hear about how your partnership enabled success in the project, and win-win situations.

This year, especially, we want to hear about the decisions you made to integrate your solutions. Are you using your existing solutions and adding Cloud solutions on top of them? Have you shifted your entire business to the Cloud? How are you integrating the solutions you are using? We want to hear about the other solutions in your environment – are you integrated with more than one cloud inside CX (Marketing, Sales, Service)? Please share these stories with us.

At CX @ OpenWorld, it is our hope that we create a community of all CX professionals and technicians where people want to hear from each other, connect with each other, and build relationships by sharing stories and solutions. By sharing your story, you also get the additional benefit of bringing recognition to your company and to you as a professional in the industry.

Session submissions are due by April 15, 2014. Please submit your abstract here.

Tuesday Mar 25, 2014

Part 1 of 6: The Art of Easy: Make It Easy To Deliver Great Customer Service Experiences by JP Saunders

Modern Customer Service is helping businesses to differentiate and grow in today’s competitive market. Why? Because your success gets accelerated when you take care of the people that make you successful. Modern Customer Service is about just that, taking care of your customers, and your people that support them.  To do that, you need to make it EASY to deliver great experiences, time and time again.

Businesses that make it “look” easy, stand out, because they consistently deliver experiences so memorable that their customers feel compelled to share them. But ask any of them how they do it, and you will quickly learn that the ART of EASY really isn’t EASY at all - or we would all be doing it! The most common business challenge stems from underestimating the complexity of simplicity, which can be devastating to the customer’s experience.

EASY is an ART. And it requires a deep understanding to get the right results - understanding of your business and of your customer, which can be applied in your cultural skills. Your canvas is the combination of every engagement channel you have where the picture of your brand gets painted. Your pallet of colors is the collection of your people, knowledge and data. Your brushes are the technologies that blend all together. In order to make “EASY”, beautiful and repeatable, you need solutions that provide a paint by numbers approach.

In this six part blog series, we will help guide you in managing the complexity of your customer service business challenges, while avoiding the common pitfalls, and deliver the type of great experiences that your customers will want to share with others. Experiences that are easily repeatable by you, and hard for your competitors to replicate.  We will show you how Oracle Service Cloud empowers your business to care, take action and succeed in your Web, Contact Center, Knowledge, Policy, and Cloud customer service initiatives, to become a Modern Customer Service organization.

Tuesday Mar 11, 2014

B2B Leaders Weather the Storm for Oracle B2B Commerce Summit

Guest Post by Justin King, B2B Commerce Evangelist 

Despite the approach of (yet another) winter storm on the East Coast, and freezing temperatures in the Chicago area, Oracle hosted theB2B Commerce Summit at the Chicago Fairmont Millennial Park on February 13. Joined by more than 150 attendees—most of whom hold Director-level titles at B2B organizations—the event focused on how B2B professionals can better use eCommerce to engage their customers.

With the Summit theme, "The Balance between Customer Experience and Complexity," the conference content centered around providing exceptional customer experiences amidst complex commerce requirements. Although B2B companies have complex customers, products, internal processes and internal systems, delivering unique and engaging customer experience is of utmost importance—and continues to be a critical competitive differentiator. Some key themes at the event included: 

[Read More]

Wednesday Mar 05, 2014

Mobile Web for the Masses

There’s no arguing that mobile is a big deal. We’ve all heard the stats about crazy mobile adoption over the last 4-5 years, particularly in retail. But one thing still isn’t totally clear: whether mobile Websites or native mobile apps are the way to go for retailers.

comScore cites
that consumers spend 55% of their time with retailers on mobile devices, outpacing computers  – and this isn’t general online surfing (which is far higher), it’s shopping. Some, including myself, argue that mobile is the lynchpin of a retailer’s omnichannel strategy. Smartphones perfectly link the in-store experience with the digital world – or at least, they should.

[Read More]
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