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.

Tuesday May 26, 2015

Oracle Service Cloud May 2015 Release – Optimizing Integrations across the Oracle Portfolio by Stephen Fioretti

The May 2015 release of Oracle Service Cloud enhances the power of Service Cloud with integration accelerators for Siebel, EBS and Oracle Field Service Cloud.  These new accelerators enable companies to connect their Service Cloud solutions with other business systems, optimizing their investments while improving operations across the organization.

Unlike traditional integration offerings, Oracle Service Cloud Integration Accelerators are designed to equip companies and technology partners with the resources they need to quickly and easily build custom integrations that leverage the power of Oracle’s business solutions to meet the unique and evolving requirements of each organization.

Extend Great Service to the Field

With the acquisition of TOA Technologies in 2014, Oracle Service Cloud added field service management capabilities to its suite of products to help companies further streamline web self-service, contact center and field service interactions. To optimize the integration between Oracle Field Service Cloud and Oracle Service Cloud, this Accelerator enables companies to leverage the field service solution’s powerful, predictive routing and scheduling functionality directly within the Oracle Service Cloud Agent Desktop. Using an intelligent booking calendar, contact center agents can book field appointments based on the real-time availability of field resources – so customers can choose a date and time that’s most convenient for them. Field service employees get more context about a customer’s problem, and contact center agents can view updates as work is assigned and completed.  Companies can now deliver a holistic and consistent service experience from the moment an inbound incident is received, through appointment scheduling and routing, and all the way through post-appointment customer feedback.

Connect Web Self Service with Siebel for a 360° Customer View

The Siebel Integration Accelerator enables the creation of custom widgets to show customer information in both Siebel and Service Cloud interfaces. Information captured from Customer Portal can be automatically added to a Service Request in Siebel, and outbound communications from the Siebel interface can be viewed in Customer Portal as well.This Integration Accelerator further enhances the integration capabilities for customers looking to utilize both Siebel and Oracle Service Cloud components.

Enhance EBS with Oracle Service Cloud Contact Center Capabilities

The EBS Integration Accelerator builds upon the same capabilities available for Siebel, connecting Web Self Service with the EBS agent interface. In the May release, this Accelerator also adds support for contact center components, connecting with EBS data to identify inbound callers and giving agents access to full customer data and history during an interaction on either the EBS or Oracle Service Cloud platforms.

In addition to these Integration Accelerators, the May 2015 release includes several other new features and enhancements, including:

  • Social Monitor Enhancements
  • Email Management Updates
  • Oracle Service Cloud Knowledge Advanced
  • Oracle Policy Automation for Mobile
  • Field Service Management Mobile Updates
For more information on what’s new in the May 2015 release, click here to read the Release Content Document.

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]

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