Thursday May 14, 2015

Harnessing Tribal Knowledge for Smarter Field Services

The Oracle Field Service Cloud product team recently returned from Field Service USA, the ultimate annual gathering of industry thought leaders discussing what’s now and what’s next in field service management.

After an energetic keynote on the Roadmap to Modern Field Service by our own Jeffrey Wartgow, Director of Product Management, and two lively round tables on the same topic, led by yours truly, the unofficial theme of this year’s show was crystal clear – knowledge.

Everyone seems to agree that the abundance of knowledge – specifically, knowledge that can help a field service employee achieve faster resolution or guarantee a first-time fix – is a boon. It’s this knowledge (with some help from mobile device and application advancements) that will ultimately blur the lines between service in the contact center and service in the field to meet new customer expectations for what will simply be service – anywhere, anytime. However, the feedback was loud and clear – the industry faces some challenges in leveraging key tribal knowledge in order to reach this new, ultra-modern field service reality.

Collection: Field service leaders know that their employees, especially their most seasoned veterans, have tons of valuable information – in their heads, where it’s only useful to one person. The big question many are addressing right now: what’s the best way to collect that information and make it available for the rest of the team? This will be particularly relevant as we see many rookies stepping up to replace an aging workforce. Plus, it’s simply not scalable for everyone to be calling or texting those few “go-to” employees with every issue.

A good first step for any field service organization facing this dilemma is to consider incorporating concepts from knowledge-centered support –in which knowledge is created as a byproduct of active problem solving – into field workflow processes. This might be as simple as having field experts capture basic content such as symptom, environment, resolution and cause in the mobile applications they use to complete field work. In this way, the field experts are capturing knowledge in context of the issue as they solve it. For example, a field service employee dispatched to a customer sight realizes the issue at hand could really be solved remotely, with help from a contact center agent. A mobile application designed to help him document and immediately share this insight with the customer service team can be useful in preventing unnecessary field appointments as early as later that afternoon.

Sorting: How do you separate critical, influential data from the noise of exponentially expanding information? This is increasingly important when considering the massive volume of information field operations are collecting from the growing Internet of Things. Picture a future where not just your wearable fitness device, but also every potentially data-rich object in your environment begins broadcasting data. Imagine an airplane cabin that continually announces temperature changes: “The temperature has raised .5 degrees. The temperature is now 1 degree lower.” The key will be in differentiating between data produced by the Internet of Dumb Things (“The conveyor belt is down.”) and the Internet of Smart Things (“The conveyor belt is heating up. If the temperature increases another 5 degrees, it will be automatically shut down.”).

Organization: We heard many examples of ways in which field service leaders are attempting to put some logical frameworks in place. For example, we heard of one group that’s creating brief training videos on commonly faced repairs – and making these available during onboarding as well as for everyday use. However, the biggest hurdle field organizations still face is where to store this data until it’s needed. 20,000-line spreadsheets for repair notes and email folders to hold job site photos don’t have the capacity or the sophistication to handle the flood of data that’s coming.

Codifying: For those that have mastered the collection, segmentation and storage of critical data supporting field operations, there’s still the challenge of translating it to a language that everyone understands. This is the most difficult challenge the industry is facing. It’s not just about defining jargon or making knowledge available in English, Spanish and beyond…It’s about parsing through the data to understand that perhaps a coolant leak and hose repair are actually the same job – just described differently because they were performed by different people. How will field organizations identify patterns in their data without a clear understanding of the many ways to interpret it?

Real-Time Presentation: Perhaps the most important challenge surrounding the application of knowledge in field services is how organizations will make all their incredibly valuable, meticulously collected and codified data a seamless part of the field service employee’s workflow. Much in the same way we tag important links as bookmarks in our browser, field service employees need a way to tag and access the information they use most often directly in their field service application. Beyond that, these employees can be exponentially more efficient if that same solution automatically surfaces the most helpful or relevant knowledge based on the current job, or could connect the employee with a colleague who knows how to help.

Today, field service employees are finding ways to share knowledge to get their work done using the tools they already have. For example, a quick video call to a known expert on a particular machine might save an organization the trouble of flying that same expert halfway around the world for a specialized repair. However, this is only the beginning. Field service organizations have a wealth of knowledge about customers, processes and assets – now it’s just a matter of mining that data from the minds of the few for the benefit of the many.

The first step: conduct an audit of current knowledge pockets and gaps, and document a vision for the future. How are your field teams documenting, organizing and sharing data today? Can you imagine how your field operations would be with instant access to tribal knowledge? Who has the best information, and what are the critical access points for others?

Please tell us where you’re at on the journey to knowledge-empowered field service below!

Wednesday Oct 22, 2014

CPQ Technology + Best-in-Class Processes = Sales Superiority

Our blog journey thus far has showcased the superior performance and customer satisfaction supported by configure / price / quote users within Aberdeen’s research.  Let’s seal the deal with specific competencies you need to adopt when implementing your own CPQ platform.  Remember, this isn’t the author compelling you to make change: Best-in-Class performers – the top 20% achievers around reps achieving quota, revenue growth and lead conversion improvements – among your peers, contemporaries, and competitors, are calling out the best practices.

[Read More]

Tuesday Sep 23, 2014

Disrupt or Be Disrupted—Digitally Speaking

Just when we thought we had a firm grasp on customer experience and were well on our way to getting it right, a new movement is grabbing our collective attention.[Read More]

Wednesday Sep 03, 2014

Oracle Commerce is Open for Business at OpenWorld 2014

There are a lot of great reasons for new Oracle Commerce customers and legacy ATG / Endeca customers to attend OpenWorld later this month. Oracle Commerce has scheduled more than 25 sessions presented by leading customers and implementation partners, as well as product management and consulting services.

Commerce @ CX Central—Moscone West, Floor 2
We know how important it is for attendees to  connect with Oracle product experts, implementation partners, and customers with similar interests and challenges. Therefore, all Oracle Commerce sessions will be consolidated on the second floor of Moscone West. Commerce @ CX Central will be the headquarters of all things Commerce at OpenWorld.

Commerce Kick-Off and General Session

  • “Commerce at Oracle: Commerce + CPQ Cloud Vision and Strategy,”  Tuesday at  10:15 a.m. and 12 noon, Moscone West, Room 3003 [TGS8714]
  • “The Future of Oracle Commerce: Roadmap and Release Update,” Tuesday at 4:15 p.m. and 5:30 p.m., Moscone West, Room 3003 [CON7518]

[Read More]

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]

Monday Feb 03, 2014

4 Takeaways on Modern Customer Service from CloudWorld

Oracle held CloudWorld last week in San Francisco. While there were many ideas and themes being discussed in the Customer Service track, several stood out as key differentiators for any company interested in delighting customers.[Read More]

Monday Nov 25, 2013

Leveraging Customer Facing Communities

Alongside Facebook and Twitter, communities are becoming a valuable alternative for customers to find answers to their support queries. Businesses need to ensure that posts on these sites are accurate and consistent with information available through other contact center channels. [Read More]

Tuesday Nov 19, 2013

Welcome to the Era of Customer Experience

Many years back, Oracle started on a journey to provide the best Customer Experience (CX) solutions in the industry. While this vision was extraordinary, the reality amongst our customer base was even more complex. [Read More]

Friday Nov 08, 2013

Oracle RightNow Cloud Service Roadmap Webinar Wednesday, November 13, 9 am PST

Come hear Christopher Patterson present on the Vision and Roadmap for Oracle RightNow Cloud Service, Wednesday, November 13, 9 AM PST / 12 PM EST

To register: http://bit.ly/HNO3bt

Thursday Oct 17, 2013

Driving Growth through Smarter Selling

With the proliferation of social media and mobile technologies, the world of selling and buying has drastically changed, as buyers now have access to more information than they did in the past. In fact, studies have shown that buyers complete 60 percent of the buying process before they even engage with a salesperson. The old models of selling no longer work effectively; and the new way of selling is driven by customer insights. To succeed, sales need to be proactive, not reactive. They need to engage with the customer early, sometimes even before the customer’s needs are fully understood. In fact, the best sales reps prescribe a solution that the customer doesn't even know they need, often by leveraging social media to listen, engage and collaborate with peers. And they fully tap into the power of analytics and data to drive results.

 Let’s look at some stats regarding challenges facing sales today. According to recent studies, sales reps spend 78 percent of their time doing administrative things -- such as planning, searching for information, data entry -- and only 22 percent of the time actually selling. Furthermore, 40 percent of B2B sales reps miss their quota, and only 3 percent of companies can say with confidence that their forecasts are “always accurate.”

How do you drive growth in this modern day and age? It's not just getting your sales teams to work harder; it's helping them work smarter and providing them with a solution they want to use, on the device(s) they already know, giving them critical insights and tools to be more productive, increase win rates, and close deals faster.

Oracle Sales Cloud was designed to do exactly that. It enables smarter selling that allows reps to sell more, managers to know more, and companies to grow more.  Let’s face it—if all CRM solutions worked well, sales executives wouldn’t be having the same headaches as they had in the past.

Join Oracle’s Thomas Kurian and Doug Clemmans on Tuesday, October 22 as they explain:

• How today’s sales processes have rendered many CRM systems obsolete

• The secrets to smarter selling, leveraging mobile, social, and big data

• How Oracle Sales Cloud enables smarter selling—as proven by Oracle and its customers

Take the first step down the path toward smarter selling. With Oracle Sales Cloud, reps sell more, managers know more, and companies grow more.

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