Monday Jun 06, 2016

Service for the Next Generation

By Jeff Wartgow, Director, Product Management, Oracle Service Cloud

Recently I had the opportunity to join many of our customers at Oracle’s Modern Service Experience in Las Vegas. Attendees were presented with a huge variety of solution demonstrations, analyst sessions, and customer panels. During this high-energy event we also had the opportunity to answer a burning customer question: Where is all of our technology headed? Here’s how we answered and outlined how the Oracle Service Cloud team will continue to help drive the evolution of service.

In the past, we lived in a world of multi-channel – in which customers would pick a channel and received all service via that one channel.  Knowledge was in silos, so a customer would have to navigate through an organization in order to find the person who had the answer they needed.  Finally, all service was assisted, and you always engaged directly with a service provider.  Fast forward to today…

Multi-channel has now been replaced with the concept of omni-channel, where a customer might contact a company via the web, and that company might respond back with a text message or a call. Or a customer might initiate contact via social media and then switch over to a messaging app as the conversation continues. Customers move from channel to channel throughout the customer journey.

Customers no longer need to hunt for the person with the right answer.  In our knowledge-supported world, any well-trained customer service rep can look up the answer.  We have also moved beyond assisted service to a world of self-service, where customers do not need to engage a person at all, but can find answers on their own.

Now we are faced with the question…what happens next?

The Advent of Organic Channels

We believe that the omni-channel experience will continue evolving into what we call “Organic Channels,” with “organic” defined as multiple elements forming a whole. In this concept, customers will not move from channel to channel throughout their journey, but will combine channels together simultaneously, creating their own unique experience.

Have you ever spoken with a customer service rep on the phone, while searching through that company’s website at the same time? Have you ever taken it a step further, and started a chat session, or visited a community for more information – all during that same engagement? As customers, we have the power to move beyond the invisible rails of an omni-channel experience, by overlapping multiple channels creating our own experience.

This phenomenon expands the vision for the Oracle Service Cloud because our product will not only need to accommodate each new conversation channel, but also accommodate the infinite number of channel combinations that can appear organically at any moment, and will disappear at the end of each customer engagement.  

Our vision is that our platform will enable organizations to manage and even create dynamically changing channels composed of multiple elements.  In addition, we will provide the toolkit to build and manage these integrated experiences, and provide visibility into customers creating their own experience.  Regardless of whatever new channels or combination of channels the market can create, our platform will meet the challenge.

Organic Channels also create new challenges. Most notably, if service channels become so dynamic, how can a company offer a consistent quality experience? The answer lies in knowledge systems.

From Knowledge-Supported to Knowledge-Driven Service

The Oracle Service Cloud team envisions knowledge-supported organizations evolving into completely Knowledge Driven organizations. 

In order to explain the concept of Knowledge Driven organizations, let me tell another story.

Back in the early 90s, if you wanted to purchase stock you went to a stockbroker. Why did you do this? First, they had a terminal where they could place an order. Second, they had access to all stock research, which was impossible to get as an individual. Third, the stockbroker was plugged into a community of other investors, who shared information about hot stocks and trends in the market.

Basically a stockbroker was an individual who was supported by all these knowledge systems.

Fast forward to today…

If you want to purchase a stock as an individual, you no longer go to a stockbroker. You more likely go online to a brokerage like e*trade, Scottrade, or Ameritrade. Why do you go to these sites? First, they offer a terminal where you can place an order. Second, they have digitized all the stock research, so you have all the reports right at your fingertips. Third, they offer automated guided assistants providing investment advice. These sites can even connect you to communities of other investors sharing information. However, in the event that none of these systems can get you the information you need, they will put you in touch with a live stockbroker.

Do you see the change? At one point you went to a stockbroker who was supported by knowledge systems. Now you go to knowledge systems that are supported by stockbrokers. The two players have simply switched places.

This is not a new concept – we have seen this happen everywhere, from how we book travel to how we prepare our taxes. We believe that this phenomenon has hit critical mass and that all industries will start to demand this style of service.

As part of Oracle Service Cloud’s vision, we are building the tools to allow any organization to become completely knowledge-driven, where your customer’s first interaction with your brand will be through one of your automated knowledge systems, and your customer service reps will only handle the exceptions.

However, accomplishing this goal requires much more than just a robust knowledge database.

Oracle’s knowledge vision includes our drive to unify all sources of knowledge. However, we are going a step further. With our community developments, we aim to unlock unstructured tribal knowledge. Finally, with our work in knowledge automation, we aim to allow our systems to answer any question, even if the answer is “it depends.” These different knowledge tools working in concert empower customers to get the answers they need through any channel, even one they created organically. 

Furthermore, transitioning to a knowledge-driven organization enables companies to scale, because unlike human experts, the knowledge system does not eat, does not sleep, can monitor every channel, and speaks every language.


Finally, the combination of Organic Channels and Knowledge Driven organizations power assisted service and self-service to evolve into everything becoming a service.

At Oracle, we have access to all sorts of cool technologies. What happens if you start introducing new technologies into the organically created service channels? Technologies like natural language processing, the Internet of Things, and componentization.

Once you inject these new technologies you can unleash new capabilities, such as the ability to offer Service-as-a-Feature, create self-solving products, or offer insight-driven and predictive service.

Introducing these concepts can help organizations to change their entire business models. Service organizations can become sales organizations, machines can travel the entire customer journey on behalf of the customer, and almost any product can be sold as a subscription service.

Change is constant in any industry. There will always be another generation of users, companies, and technologies impacting business and our personal lives. Oracle Service Cloud’s vision follows this natural evolution in the service industry, including the advent of Organic Channels, the market-wide movement to Knowledge Driven organizations, ultimately leading to all company offerings becoming services. We are excited about this journey and hope you will join us as we embark on powering service experiences for the next generation!

Tuesday May 24, 2016

Can’t-Miss Webcast: Empower Field Teams with Better Knowledge

By Jeffrey Wartgow, Director, Product Management, Oracle Service Cloud @jwartgow

The average person today can instantaneously find the answer to almost any question, from anywhere – simply by running a quick search on their smartphone or tablet. No definitive answer on the web? No problem! That same customer can turn to peers on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc. too for help, opinions or practical advice.

We live in a new reality with on-demand solutions to virtually any problem, so naturally our expectations for the brands with which we interact have changed. We expect service professionals to have access to the same or better information as we do at their fingertips – thanks to their sophisticated customer support platforms. If we can source answers to our own difficult questions, service representatives should be able to solve the most complex customer service problems by sourcing information about us, the products we own and how their peers have approached the same or similar problems in the past.

This is easy to say, but much more difficult to execute in practice. Especially for field service employees – the individuals tasked with providing service at customers’ homes and businesses. Furthermore, recent Aberdeen Group research reveals that increased product complexity and service workforce attrition and turnover can make delivering great customer service even more difficult.

The key to empowering field service representatives to solve complex problems quickly is to give them access to powerful knowledge and help them collaborate better with their team members.

Aberdeen also found that best-in-class field service organizations recognize the need to improve the quality of information they provide to their field service representatives, and the direct impact on customer service: 39% are focused on improving the quality/relevance of service data and 38% are focused on improving service information capabilities like mobility and knowledge sharing (listed in the top four of goals for service).

Interested in learning more about how best-in-class field service organizations are leveraging knowledge to help their field teams to deliver faster, more-efficient field services that result in fantastic customer experiences? Discover how they’re doing it – and how you can get started! – at the upcoming Aberdeen Group and Oracle webcast:

Knowledge is Power: Empower your Field Teams with Timely, Contextual Answers and Information
Tuesday, May 31st @ 11 am PT / 2 pm ET

Aly Pinder Jr., Senior Research Analyst, Aberdeen Group and Jeffrey Wartgow, Director Product Management, Oracle will discuss:

  • The state of the service market in 2016
  • The impact of knowledge management on the field
  • The evolution of the customer experience in field service
  • The future of service in the field – and much more!

Register today.

We hope to see you there!

Tuesday Apr 19, 2016

Field Service USA 2016: Let’s Discuss the Field Technician of the Future

Oracle is heading to Palm Springs, California next week, April 25-28, for the annual Field Service USA show at the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa. We’re looking forward to speaking with customers about their field service strategies, attending hands-on workshops led by industry experts to learn about field service best practices and leveraging everything we learn about the future of field service and our customers’ needs to keep driving product innovation in our Oracle Field Service Cloud solution suite.[Read More]

Wednesday Mar 02, 2016

Building Agility into your Field Service Operations with Mobile Solutions

By Christine Friscic, Product Manager, Oracle Service Cloud

Service is now a critical way for organizations to differentiate against the competition. It provides an important opportunity to directly impact the relationship businesses have with their customers with a smooth, personalized and end-to-end service experience. When managed efficiently, service can also give companies the ability to better control support costs by boosting productivity, while reducing overtime and travel time.

At the same time, mobile has taken center stage as an integral part of our everyday lives. We rely on our smartphones for almost everything, and the same access and connectivity that these devices provide can be applied to the way that organizations deliver service. Mobile devices and the robust software solutions that they enable can empower organizations to provide effortless service to their customers, especially when it comes to field service management.

For field service organizations, mobility means achieving greater agility in their operations. Processes can be streamlined. Service can be personalized for each customer or machine.  And, field service resources can be empowered to work faster and more intelligently through greater access to information, coupled with the ability to collaborate remotely with their peers.

There are numerous ways that mobility can improve your organization’s operations. Here are just a few of our favorite ways to leverage mobility and drive more agile field service operations:

Increase your field team’s ability to respond faster.

With the powerful mobile tools available, field service managers and supervisors are no longer tied to the back office. As a result, they now have the ability to completely manage their teams from remote locations. They are empowered to view team schedules and real-time progress throughout the day from their mobile devices, and take action if necessary. 

For example, Oracle Field Service Cloud recently released its Field Resource Manager. This new feature enables supervisors that are out in the field with their teams to actually build field resources’ schedules and adjust shifts as needed from their smartphones or tablets. Field supervisors can now see when their teams have extra availability, and easily assign unscheduled work to them, ensuring that the team is responding to and completing work as quickly as possible.

Improve collaboration in the field.

An important way that mobile tools are creating more agile field service teams is with the ability for enhanced collaboration – both between field resources and their managers, and among their peers. Field service tools with context-aware collaboration features allow field resources to quickly and easily connect with their peers in the area, or to find the parts or skill set needed to complete their work. Better collaboration capabilities mean that field teams can not only complete work faster, but also complete jobs correctly the first time.

The enhancements to Oracle Field Service Cloud’s Collaboration tool released in February 2016 significantly improve communication and collaboration between field teams. With a simplified configuration process, new location-sharing capabilities and the ability to make voice calls directly from the application, field resources can connect faster and communicate smarter to complete their work more effectively.

Access critical information and systems on-the-go.

The instant and continuous access to critical information that mobile field service solutions offer, enables field teams to provide a new level of service. By connecting with the contact center, field resources can easily view critical customer information such as the history of the service event, and any important notes on preferences. Access to this information gives the field important contextual and background information before arriving at a customers home. Furthermore, integration with a Knowledge Management solution empowers field resources to quickly and easily search for information that they need to complete their work right from their mobile device – as a result, jobs are completed the right way the first time, saving customers the hassle of scheduling a follow up appointment.

Oracle Field Service Cloud provides improved integration capabilities in release 16.2, to better connect and streamline processes between the back office and the field. The release offers an integration accelerator with Oracle E-Business Suite – so that OFSC can schedule EBS-created service requests, while reconciling parts and inventory from the field with back office systems – as well as integration with Oracle Integration Cloud Service (ICS) – providing users with an easy way to connect OFSC with other Oracle cloud products.

By leveraging the mobile tools available today, organizations can create more agile and connected field service teams. With this agility, organizations are empowering their field service teams to work smarter, ultimately leading to more efficient operations and a better service experience for the end customer.

Learn more about how mobile field service solutions like Oracle Field Service Cloud can help support agile field service operations by visiting And, check out all of our new and exciting enhancements included in the Oracle Field Service Cloud February 2016 release.

Monday Feb 22, 2016

5 Steps To Start Your IoT-Enabled Service Strategy

By Daniel Foppen, Senior Principal Product Manager, Oracle Service Cloud

There is plenty of buzz around the Internet of Things (IoT). There will be over 25 billion connected things by 2020. Soon we will be coming across hundreds of connected devices in our homes, at work and on the street.  The IoT is changing our lives.  This is exciting of course, but for many service professionals the question of how to actually start leveraging the IoT is not that easy. Yes, we know there is a lot of devices that are connected – more every second - but how does the head of customer care actually set up an infrastructure that allows them to reap the benefits of IoT?  As we are in the industry of delivering customer service experiences, we will focus on helping define a simple 5 step framework to start an IoT enabled customer service strategy.

So why IoT Enabled Service?

We should start by asking why the interest in IoT enabled customer service?

The value of IoT enabled customer service is pretty straight forward… IoT enabled service provides a differentiated customer experience and it greatly reduces costs for the business.  Just think about a world where customer service isn't something you expect, but something you don't even think about anymore. What if service is automated and proactive? What will it mean for consumer loyalty to have a product that gets fixed before it becomes faulty or parts are replaced before the customer even notices the problem?  Similarly, think about how much it costs to handle all those thousands of incoming calls, e-mails, social media questions, live chats, etc. everyday about issues with devices. By connecting agents with the device, by enabling devices to auto-diagnose and even self-solve service the impact on the customer experience will be great. 

Furthermore, in the event a device or machine requires direct service, such as a visit from a field technician, IoT can again deliver a massive impact.  Taking into consideration that each field service truck roll can easily cost several hundred dollars, providing the field with IoT enabled remote diagnostics and asset history can dramatically reduce costs through unnecessary truck rolls.  In addition, when a field technician arrives on site for a job, he will already have an understanding of the potential problem and can bring the tools and parts to insure a first time resolution.

Making IoT Data Actionable!

The Internet of Things does not constitute a connectivity challenge, but a data challenge. In other words, to do something with the IoT you need to be able to manage the data.  A modern smartphone easily packs 10 sensors (multiply that by 2 BN smartphones today) and a modern car already has over 100 sensors.  A few years from now our homes will have hundreds of devices with a variety of sensors creating data. Just try to picture the scale of the data all those sensors will generate!

The big challenge with IoT for any business is not connecting to the devices, but rather in the collection and analysis of mountains of data. From this analysis customer service teams must identify events that require a service action.  All of this activity must occur in a cost effective and secure manner. Taking this into consideration, service teams must make sure their companies chosen IoT platform can support these requirements.

From Insight to Resolution

Understanding how insights from device data can help improve customer service processes is the next step.  If you are working in customer service, it should be pretty easy to find the low-hanging fruit.  Just ask yourself: “In which situations does the agent ask the customer for information about their device or machine?”  For instance, serial number, part-numbers, error codes, etc. Anywhere where the agents needs info from the device you’ve found yourself a potential use-case.

Once you have identified the most common issues that come into your engagement center today related to devices, analyze them and understand the impact each of these issues has on your business in terms of costs, customer experience and other values. This information will allow you to prioritize possible high impact IoT projects.

5 Steps To Get IoT Enabled Service Rolling

Step 1: Connect and Collect

Connecting your devices to a system that collects data is the first step. Connecting your devices isn't a big challenge, but we do recommend finding a platform that is both manageable and scalable. It is important to realize that the IoT is not static in nature. You'll need a platform that has elasticity to deal with big spikes of incoming data. Other considerations like security of data and the supported connections to devices are also very important.  Because of these considerations you will likely end-up with a cloud service, it will simply guarantee the most consistency, scalability, flexibility and low TCO.

Step 2: Analyze and Trigger

In addition to connecting devices to a system, you need a system than can actually do something with the data that connection provides. You will need a flexible system that enables real-time analysis of high-volumes of data. Data by itself is meaningless if it does not provide insights and action. Identify which insights are relevant and actionable when embedding those insights in service processes.  One of the bigger barriers to mainstream adoption of the IoT is the complexity of integration of such insights into processes. It helps if you have a service platform that’s robust and flexible. You’ll want a platform that’s easy to manage, yet allows strong capabilities to tailor to specific processes, extends and integrates with multiple systems.

Step 3: Set-up Device Service Processes

Setting up a device service process is pretty much the same as setting up a normal customer service process. But instead of asking the customer to do things like collecting data from the device, finding knowledge articles and trouble shooting flows, the device takes a much more prominent role.

We see there are three typical scenarios you can use to set up device service processes:

  1. Device-Assisted Self-Service. This is where the customer accesses knowledge and augments that with data from the device. Think going through a device registration process where the device automatically provides details such as serial numbers, install date, etc. to easily complete the registration process.
  2. Agent-Assisted Device Service. A device triggers a process to have an agent interact with the device to solve the problem. E.g. an agent that opens an incident created by the device and then inside the agent’s work environment interacts with the device to review settings, change configurations, reset the device, etc.
  3. Automatic Service. Here a device triggers an event and starts running service processes. These processes are built in such a way the devices can fully automatically troubleshoot, run through configurations, run diagnostics, change settings, reset and reboot, etc. I.e. processes that would previously take an hour to walk a customer through over the phone can now be performed in seconds.

Step 4: Empower Agents to Talk to Devices

Are your agents trained to talk to machines? IoT enabled service brings a whole new interaction paradigm for service agents. You will need to set up your processes accordingly. Provide the tools to help agents to become accustomed to interacting with machines, such as an agent scripting or visual screen guide. Also be sure to connect your agent work environments to enable interacting with the device to be able to do troubleshooting, remote configuration, set-up, resets, etc.  Also think whether your current KPIs set applies to interacting with devices. Typical contact center KPIs like First Time Resolution and Average Handling Time may not be applicable.

Step 5: Connect Field-Service Technicians

In many cases self-service and agent-assisted service won't be enough to solve a device’s problem and a field service technician needs to be dispatched to make a repair. These field events can occur with great efficiency,  by allowing contact center agents to directly schedule and dispatch technicians.  For example, let’s assume a VIP customer needs an issue resolved immediately.  You’ll want the contact center agent to create the service request, and have that request automatically routed to the nearest available technician, that has the tools, skills, and parts to solve the customers problem.  Furthermore, you’ll need to make sure the field technician has all the relevant customer information, and device information to insure a first time fix.  This scenario is becoming a fairly typical with service organizations where the contact center and the field service teams share the same platform.

Key Take Away’s

The Internet of Things is promising tremendous value for customer service organizations, yet it’s not always easy to start leveraging the IoT. We suggest the IoT is a data challenge, not a connectivity challenge. You will need a scalable and elastic service to collect data, a robust yet flexible system to analyze data in real-time to trigger support processes when needed. You’ll need a strong customer service platform that offers the extensibility and integration capability to embed data insights in support processes. A system that allows auto-diagnostics and that allows your service agents to troubleshoot and interact with the device, in a manner that’s easy for agents to adopt. You’ll also want a system that connects your customer service and field service teams to further streamline processes.

Coming to Mobile World Congress 2016 in Barcelona, Spain? Come and visit the Oracle Service Cloud product management team at the Samsung Enterprise booth in Hall #6. We will be happy to give you a complete demo that demonstrates all the 5 steps above on a single platform.

Tuesday Dec 15, 2015

5 Essential Types of Field Service Visibility for Manufacturers

IDC Manufacturing Insights analyst Heather Ashton, in a recent blog post, discussed how emerging technology – particularly enterprise mobility – is helping manufacturing organizations meet rising customer expectations for superior service. Just as in traditional business-to-consumer scenarios, stellar customer service often hinges on the moment when a manufacturing organization is engaging with customers face-to-face – during a field service event.

“In the manufacturing sector, from high tech to industrial, much of the focus to date has been on equipping the field service technicians with the types of technologies…to enable faster, more precise, repairs that can also leverage experts who may not be physically with the equipment in need of repair,” says Ashton.

However, she also suggests that just having sophisticated field service capabilities for enabling technicians in the moment is not enough if you want to truly excel at customer service. “But, what about the other part of customer satisfaction, namely visibility into the status of a scheduled repair or site visit?”

Visibility into the status of a scheduled repair or site visit – for all stakeholders involved – is absolutely a critical component of a modern, customer-focused field service strategy. However, Oracle believes there are actually five types of field service visibility you should seek out if you want to be a customer service leader in the manufacturing sector (and drive surprising efficiencies along the way!).

1. Parts and Inventory: At the most basic level, a field service management solution should only assign work to a field service employee that has all the necessary parts and equipment to perform the necessary repair. However, what happens when the employee arrives on site only to find an unexpected scenario requiring an entirely different set of parts? That field service representative needs the ability to quickly determine the availability of the actual parts required to perform the fix, and a means for ordering those parts and scheduling a follow up visit if the part is not available at a nearby depot or on a team member’s truck.

2. On-Demand Knowledge: Having access to knowledge and context about a customer and their service history is important. But beyond an individual customer, field service employees need context for how a particular problem has been solved in the past, or how to troubleshoot when faced with a certain set of circumstances. Even better: a field service management solution should be able to understand which knowledge articles or manuals are most likely to be helpful for a particular job type, and automatically make that knowledge available at the exact moment it is needed.

3. Team: Dispatch teams can easily get visibility into the status of field service employees. However, what about field service team leaders or managers and dispatchers who spend their time away from the back office – out in the field, in the action? Most solutions today enable peer-to-peer collaboration between field service employees embedded directly in a mobile application. However, these highly mobile supervisors need a tool that blends the best of both worlds – offering dispatch-level, air traffic control views on a mobile device but also the capability to communicate directly with employees (in either a one-to-one or one-to-many style) to support tough jobs in progress or reorganize the schedule as the day unfolds.

4. Scheduling: Whether it is a customer scheduling or changing an appointment via an online, self-service portal or a contact center agent booking an appointment on behalf of a customer, it is important to provide a precise commitment to all parties. Gone are the days when it is acceptable to tell a customer someone will call them 48-hours prior to the scheduled appointment – only to offer a 4-hour appointment window! Customers and agents can leverage the visibility provided by data-driven field service solutions to schedule appointments much like booking a flight online – choosing the exact day and time that’s convenient for them and knowing the service will actually happen at that time.

5. Man/Machine Merge: The Internet of Things is rapidly becoming a standard element of field service operations in the manufacturing sector. Machines that self-diagnose or even predict future breakdowns drastically reduce time-to-resolution. Most field service management systems can accept an alert or work order generated by an asset, and dispatch the appropriate technician with all the right parts to fix the issue. However, what happens when a person also notices the problem, calls customer support and a separate work order is issued or another appointment is scheduled for the exact same problem? This dilemma highlights the need for manufacturing field service organizations to have complete visibility into both machine and human-generated service requests in a single view, and a process for removing duplicates from the system before two field service experts show up to fix the same problem.

If you don’t already have a plan for achieving all five types of visibility in your current field operations, it’s worth having a conversation with your team about which types of visibility would help them work more efficiently and deliver better customer service.

Tuesday Dec 08, 2015

Transform Modern Social Service with Customer Communities

By Michelle Brusyo, Senior Product Manager, Oracle Service Cloud

Today’s consumers are more connected to social channels to support their daily lives than ever and they are no longer just looking to brands’ Facebook or Twitter sites directly for service. They are seeking help from their peers for quick and easy answers. Modern consumers are looking for ways to self-serve more often than using any assisted service channel according to Forrester Research. Companies are recognizing this social service trend and are using customer communities as another platform to enable customers to self-serve. In a December 2014 Gartner Research note, Nine CRM Projects to Do Right Now for Customer Service, Michael Maoz, Vice President, Distinguished Analyst writes, “Gartner clients who are successful in this space are still seeing on average a 20% reduction in the creation of support tickets following the introduction of peer-to-peer communities.”

Consumers are increasingly drawn to the customer community support channel because it provides insights and perspectives that add to the information they’re able to gather from company-provided content. By participating in peer-to-peer forums, customers feel empowered to share their experiences, helping others solve problems and make better purchasing decisions. As a channel, Community has become too important to consider separately from the rest of the web service experience.

In looking at social service trends and benefits, it’s important to strategically think about the customer community implementation and planning process. While launching a community can seem daunting, it can be easier if you think about your customer community as a core part of the web self-service experience and build your strategy from that viewpoint. We also recommend that as you get started, you gather internal teams to talk through these top questions that arise when planning for a new or revamped community:

  1. How can we ensure that our community look and feel resonates with customers?
    One of the top reasons we revamped our Community product in August 2015 was to make it easier for companies to quickly stand up a community that shares the same look and feel and uses the same tools as well as resources across the entire Web Service experience. This way, the experience looks the same across all elements of the customer service journey.

  2. How will our customers know about our new community? 
    As a first step towards creating an active community, you’ll need an internal champion. Many companies define a new role of ‘Community Manager’ to take on the responsibility of owning the strategy, promotion and moderation oversight. Once you’ve given ownership of this channel to a champion or team, seed the community with early activity from key customers, industry leaders, expert employees, etc. Promote the community across your web properties as well as organize social media and email marketing campaigns to advertise to your customer base.

  3. How do we approach moderation and agent participation?
    It’s a difficult balance to allow for honest, authentic customer conversations, while still maintaining the ability to guide and moderate that content. Some things that help companies do this well include the creation (and publication) of clear community guidelines so visitors know what type of content is and is not appropriate to post. Moderation strategies work best when the goal is maintaining a safe, friendly and productive environment.

  4. How can we ensure our customers looking for help have easy access to this great peer-generated content?
    This is one area where companies have historically struggled because communities typically exist as a standalone, separate experience. With this approach, customers would need to navigate away from the company’s content in order to access information posted in the community. By thinking of communities differently, combining the community and web self-service experience, companies like Oracle Service Cloud are changing the way customers access community answers from anywhere in their service journey.

  5. How can we use community data and insights to make our customer service experience even better?
    When companies approach communities as an integrated part of a connected, cross-channel service experience, a wealth of new analytics become available. Think about the types of insights you’d like to get from the ways your customers utilize the community as compared to, or in addition to, other channels. This type of data can provide powerful insights about potential knowledge or information gaps as well as customer preferences.

These days, support communities and web self-service really are two sides of the same coin. It no longer makes sense to maintain these customer engagement platforms separately, as the real benefits emerge from the combination of both experiences being available to customers in a seamless fashion. Customer communities will only continue to grow in popularity as the trend of greater reliance on self-service channels continues. If you’re not providing a platform to support the conversations customers want to have with each other, you’ll miss a huge opportunity to guide and participate as well as utilize your customer community as a self-service channel or knowledge source.

Click here to download the full Expert Guide to Powering Modern Customer Communities.

Thursday Nov 19, 2015

5 Things the Best Field Service Organizations Do

“Service can be as creative and innovative as engineering.”

That’s what Aly Pinder, Senior Research Analyst at Aberdeen Group, believes. In fact, Pinder says that as product offerings across all industries become more commoditized, service is quickly becoming one of the best ways firms can effectively compete.

Service these days is a broad term that encompasses everything from web and video chat to customer service delivered via our favorite social channels. One critical type of customer service in this competitive landscape is field service – when a mobile employee arrives at a customer’s home or business to deliver a product or service. Having a cutting-edge field service management strategy can be the difference between offering free, same-day delivery and a customer waiting for weeks for their new purchase.

Yet, Pinder’s global research reveals that many organizations struggle to deliver this level of exceptional service, with only a small few that achieve excellence.

This group is considered elite because they take strategic actions driving field service excellence. Today’s best-in-class field service organizations are:

  • Investing in mobile tools to provide technicians with better access to information in the field
  • Actively improving how they forecast and plan for future field service demand
  • Increasing the availability of service knowledge in order to diagnose and resolve service issues more quickly
  • Developing standardized scheduling processes
  • Increasing the frequency of training for field technicians

There’s a clear opportunity for any firm with a field service organization to excel through service if they can adopt these key tenets of modern field service management.

Interested in learning more about how to apply these strategies to become a best-in-class field service organization? Check out this replay of a recent webcast hosted by Aly Pinder and Oracle Service Cloud’s Jeffrey Wartgow – “Modern Field Service Adds Value for Customers” – to learn more about:

  • Top challenges facing field service leaders today – the roadblocks that stand in the way of field service excellence and how to overcome them
  • Goals driving field service transformations
  • Industry shifts keeping field service leaders up at night
  • Characteristics that define field service excellence
  • The profile of the future field worker – and how field service technology is evolving to support this modern mobile employee

Watch the replay of the entire webcast here.

For additional insights from Aly Pinder about the growing role field service employees have in growing brands through exceptional service delivery, read his recent blog post.

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.

Thursday Aug 13, 2015

Co-browse Your Way to Faster Resolution and Higher Member Satisfaction

Picture it. You’re a customer care representative working for a large health care payer. You’re on the phone with an angry member as she’s trying to explain the trouble she’s having accessing her claims online. You want to help but you’re having difficulty understanding her issue without being able to see what she sees. And your situation is made tougher by having to flip through an inch-thick binder to find possible solutions or multiple knowledge bases!

With these limited support tools, it’s no wonder health care consumers are frustrated. Care representatives are equally frustrated because they aren’t empowered to deliver great service. The consequences: a 40% annual churn rate in members and an up to 50% turnover in support staff! 

Fortunately, co-browse can turn this situation around… 

Oracle Co-browse allows care representatives to see a member’s computer screen in real-time so they can guide her to the information she needs—whether that’s help with a claims issue, benefits question or application for enrollment. Co-browse ensures the care representative has an exact view of the member’s screen, adapting on the fly even as customers change their browser settings or resize the window. It also works on any mobile browser or device, and can even be added as a support feature within a company’s mobile app.

Regarding HIPAA compliance, Oracle Co-browse meets the strictest security standards by protecting sensitive data while still giving care representatives the information they need to resolve issues.

But don’t take our word for it; check out what Oracle Co-browse has done for our customers!

Health Care Payer Case Study
The largest health insurance network in the U.S. was facing high Average Handle Times (AHT) on website-related issues. It wanted to reduce handle time, and boost web self-service and member satisfaction. It leveraged Oracle Co-browse to accomplish these goals while ensuring the highest levels of data security.

By empowering care representatives to do co-browsing sessions, the network and its regional organizations:
  • Reduced call handle times by 85%
  • Increased member satisfaction and loyalty
  • Maintained strict data security while co-browsing across its own and external websites

To find out the top ten benefits co-browse can drive for your organization, please click here
To learn more about the unique capabilities only Oracle Co-browse provides, please click here.


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