Tuesday Oct 20, 2015

Join Over 20 Oracle Service Cloud Customer and Solution Sessions at OpenWorld 2015!

Outstanding service is still the top reason customers recommend a business. And the Oracle Service Cloud team is excited to once again join the Oracle OpenWorld 2015 customer experience (CX) activities to talk about how to deliver outstanding service anywhere, anytime to today’s customers.  The team is hosting more than 20 sessions on how to differentiate your brand by unifying web, social, contact-center and field service experiences to help develop lasting, profitable customer relationships.  Please join us in San Francisco, October 25th-29th in Moscone West, on the 2nd floor to:  

  • Hear how top organizations like HQ Air Reserve Personnel Center, LinkedIn, SiriusXM, and others are delivering consistent, positive customer service across all channels with cost-effective assisted and self-service experiences.
  • Discover how to engage with customers by using live chat, co-browse, social, web, mobile and field service to provide personalized, reliable, and adaptive service, delivering the right answers at the right time.
  • Learn about the latest that Oracle Service Cloud offers including updates to advanced knowledge capabilities and how integration with sales, marketing, and commerce applications can help differentiate your brand with modern customer service.

OpenWorld 2015 attendees will also gain access to discussions on pressing service industry trends with analyst thought leaders such as Kate Leggett of Forrester Research.  In addition to in depth service solution demos and best practices, attendees will be able to gather insights into upcoming Oracle Service Cloud product strategy.  All of the sessions are designed to help drive continual business value for service professionals by simply outlining how to get going, get better, and get ahead with innovative customer service.  For more information about CX Central and to attend this year’s valuable Oracle Service Cloud sessions, please visit and register here.

Friday Oct 16, 2015

Nov 4 Webcast with Analyst Aly Pinder: Modern Field Service Adds Value for Customers by Shelby Lastowski

You know delivering exceptional customer service is a differentiator for your company, and modernizing your field service team is top of mind. But how do you know which investments have the biggest impact? Join Aly Pinder Jr., leading Field Service Analyst at Aberdeen, and Jeff Wartgow, Director of Product Management at Oracle as they discuss:

  • The evolution of field service from reactive to predictive
  • The changing face of service execution
  • The ways to leverage technology to deliver more service value 

You will come away armed with the information you need to modernize your field force and delight your customers!

Register Now


Aly Pinder Jr., Senior Research Analyst, Service Management, AberdeenGroup

As a senior research analyst in the service management practice, Aly Pinder Jr. researches and explores how service and manufacturing executives utilize technology and implement best practices to improve post-sales service and support processes. Through practitioner benchmarking and analysis of Aberdeen’s research database, he examines how Best-in-Class service organizations are reengineering their service chains for improved performance and increased profitability.

Aly’s coverage areas within the service space primarily cover the following topics on which he has written or co-authored over 60 research reports and benchmarked more than 4,000 service executives in his five plus years with Aberdeen: 

  • Field Service and Mobility
  • Service Parts Logistics
  • Warranty and Service Contract Management
  • Reverse Logistics
  • Repair and Return

Along with these specific areas of coverage, Aly is also responsible for the development and engagement of the Service team’s Research Advisory Council consisting of over 50 senior-level service executives. Aly’s past experience has included responsibilities in both reverse logistics and customer support roles. He holds an MBA in Supply Chain Management from Northeastern University (Massachusetts) and a BS in Business Administration from Pepperdine University (California).

Jeffrey Wartgow, Director, Product Management, Oracle Field Service Cloud

Jeffrey Wartgow leads the Field Service Cloud product management group at Oracle. In this role, Jeffrey works closely with customers and Oracle’s technology teams to understand use cases for field service management. Using this research, Jeffrey helps align the features and benefits of Oracle’s solutions to various customer challenges. Before joining Oracle, Jeff was with TOA Technologies (acquired by Oracle) where he served as the vice president of product marketing and also spearheaded relationships with all device, integration, service and technology partners as vice president of channels and alliances. Before joining TOA, Jeffrey spent two and a half years as a Director at FTI Consulting in San Francisco, where he was charged with developing the company’s first formal partner program.

Prior to FTI, Jeffrey served seven years with Dell Inc. During this time he managed Dell’s Strategic Alliances for Europe, the Middle East and Africa as well as Dell’s New Partner Evaluation program. Jeffrey also led Dell’s Competitive Intelligence team focusing on enterprise products. With more than 15 years of experience in diverse roles across the technology industry, Jeffrey is an expert on mobility, predictive analytics, big data, enterprise cloud computing, technology ecosystems, partnerships and integrations, and the dynamic relationship between hardware, software and services in enterprise IT architecture.

Wednesday Oct 07, 2015

Oracle CPQ Cloud Helps Businesses Leverage Differentiators

In order to compete in the worldwide economy, businesses use unique product innovation, marketing strategies, and sales processes – called differentiators – to win orders. While businesses understand the importance of their differentiators, they often find it challenging to target potential customers with a personalized message. CPQ (Configure, Price, Quote) is a technology that incorporates differentiators in product, pricing, and marketing strategy to allow companies to create quotes with personalized messages and targeted value. Through sending personalized messages to its target audiences, CPQ helps businesses win more orders.

Take, for example, a fictional custom machinery manufacturer, TechMech. TechMech fully customizes their products to meet specific and complex requirements that differ from deal to deal. Each custom order is approved by an engineer, who determines if the order is physically feasible. The TechMech product customization process is different from their competitors; some competitors offer standard packages at lower prices, while others have assembled options with limited customization. To showcase their differentiators, TechMech needs a CPQ solution that restricts salespeople from not only creating machinery that is physically impossible to manufacture, but also clearly communicates the product’s differentiators to its target audience through its quotes.

Take another fictional company, Precious Metals, Inc. Precious Metals, Inc. sells large amounts of gold and silver. Precious Metals differentiates itself from competitors by constantly updating prices in order to match trading price levels on the stock market. To accommodate this differentiator, Precious Metals, Inc. not only needs a CPQ system that has a flexible, yet precise, pricing system to accommodate their policies, but one that also provides context for these policies to its target audience through its quotes.

CPQ technology is able to deliver a personalized message to customers because CPQ houses many of these differentiators. The Configuration (the “C” within “CPQ” ) and Pricing (the “P”) components of CPQ help add clarity and context on product and pricing differentiators. Quote packages (the “Q”) then tailor specific marketing messages based on the customer’s solution and needs. Since CPQ automates this process, it allows for administrative oversight and rigor of the delivery mechanism. 

At Oracle, we know that CPQ delivers true value in helping our customers win more orders. With over 400 successful Oracle CPQ Cloud implementations, we have proved to consistently deliver the greatest return on investment in the industry. If you want your marketing messages to reflect what makes your business special, then Oracle CPQ Cloud is for you. 

Thursday Oct 01, 2015

Why Millennials Don't Buy Black Friday

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Millennial Shopper: Super Efficient, Lots of Expectations

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

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

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

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

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

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

Engaging Millennial Shoppers During Holiday (and Year Round)

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday Sep 30, 2015

New Microsite Featuring the Latest Oracle Service Cloud Content

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

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

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

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

Tuesday Sep 29, 2015

9 Ways to Increase Your E-Commerce Site Revenue

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

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

1. Up-Sell vs. Cross-Sell

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

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

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

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

[Read More]

Six Questions to Ask When Considering Video Chat

By David Fulton, Director Product Management, Oracle Service Cloud

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday Sep 24, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday Sep 23, 2015

Take a Quick Tour of Oracle Service Cloud

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday Sep 22, 2015

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

By Christine Randle, Analyst Relations, Oracle Service Cloud

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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