Friday Feb 20, 2015

Look Beyond Marketing When Considering Customer Experience by Gib Bassett

Most people think Customer Experience is about marketing, or the activities associated with the last mile of the shopping journey. However this misses the bigger picture of many factors that support a successful customer experience.

A great example of a company doing it right is 7-Eleven. As shown in this video, 7-Eleven leverages a common foundation for what it calls the “digital guest experience,” as well as its merchandising and accounting systems. In this way, 7-Eleven serves its customers personalized and mobile in-store offers. Where it goes beyond is in applying purchasing and behavioral insights to its merchandising and assortment strategies.

Less forward-thinking retailers could take a lesson from 7-Eleven’s approach. Consider the case of specialty retailer Wet Seal. I have followed Wet Seal for a few years – the company has been very progressive in its use of in-store mobile and social shopper engagement.

So I was surprised by recent news that the company was closing two-thirds of its stores. Reportedly, Wet Seal struggled to keep pace with fashion trends (style and price) – and experienced reduced foot traffic in the malls where it invested. Given their progressive shopper engagement practices, and the data and insights these efforts generate, I would have thought Wet Seal was in a better position to foresee changes in its customersand make different decisions regarding merchandise and assortments.

Wet Seal is not alone. Without an analytics-first approach to consumer engagement that encapsulates all facets of customer experience, retailers run the risk of focusing too heavily on the marketing aspect of the shopping journey.

For example, with deep analytics, Wet Seal would have noticed changes in customer behavior, such as greater price sensitivity, and merchandise indicators such as social chatter about preferences for competitor assortments. With such predictors of change in hand, Wet Seal could have altered pricing, promotion and assortments to stay ahead of customer preferences.

We should first accept that all shoppers are demonstrating connected behaviors, which make it essential and easy to understand what’s happening with them digitally. That’s certainly the case with 7-Eleven’s customers. Mobile and social channels can help shoppers navigate deals, alternatives and new customer experiences. Retailers can use this information to stay a step ahead.

In summary, retail customer experience should be based on an integrated view of the various business operations that support the customer’s experience. Marketing, store operations, online sales, merchandising, inventory, and service should operate off the same view of the customer providing agility and deep business intelligence.

Gib Bassett

CPG and Retail Industry Principal

Twitter @gibbassett

Friday Feb 13, 2015

ICMI Webcast: Forbes Reveals How Financial and Retail Companies Modernize Customer Service by Cedric Turner

Customers have lots of options. 
If you don’t deliver the right answers fast,
they’ll go somewhere else.

That’s one of the reasons knowledge is the top customer service investment, according to a recent Forbes survey of 400+ executives. Financial services and retail companies use knowledge to provide fast, accurate answers across channels—and better train agents—while ensuring 100% regulatory compliance.

Join this ICMI webcast on March 5 at 1 pm EST / 10 am PST to hear ICMI and Oracle discuss how companies are getting ahead on the Roadmap to Modern Customer Service.

You will learn:

Register Now


Joshua Dodge

Senior Client Success Manager, Oracle

Joshua Dodge, Senior Client Success Manager at Oracle, helps companies modernize their customer service organizations to drive more efficiencies and deliver a better experience. He helps clients accelerate their progress by partnering with them to develop a clear roadmap for modern customer service. Prior to joining Oracle, Josh worked in a variety of customer service and project management leadership roles, including at Sony where he managed call center operations globally, both in-house and outsourced. Josh earned his Master’s certification in Project Management and B.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


Kris Friday

Principal Solutions Consultant, Oracle

Kris Friday, Principal Solutions Consultant at Oracle, works with global financial services organizations to help them grow client relationships through implementing customer experience and engagement tools. Currently, Kris is working with a number of Fortune 500 companies on developing knowledge management strategies for delivering highly personalized service at less cost. Prior to joining Oracle, Kris worked with contact centers in a variety of industries, advising them on technologies to enhance the customer experience and improve overall efficiency.


Erica Strother

Community Specialist, ICMI

Erica Strother is the Community Specialist at ICMI. With a background in marketing, public relations, and social media, she brings more than six years of community management experience to ICMI. Erica manages ICMI’s robust network of community contributors – 500 strong! She also hosts ICMI’s weekly tweet chats that feature dynamic, interactive discussions with thought leaders and innovators in our community. Erica produces our webinars and many other content initiatives like Contact Center Insider, our weekly newsletter. 

Wednesday Feb 11, 2015

Oracle Co-browse Recognized by Frost & Sullivan for Innovation and Product Leadership by Michelle Brusyo

On January 14, 2015, Frost & Sullivan presented the Oracle Co-browse team with the 2014 North American Co-browsing Applications Product Leadership Award at an awards gala closing out the Innovate the Way You Innovate event in San Diego, CA.

Accepting the award on behalf of Oracle, Igor Khalatian remarked that 2014 was an exciting year for co-browse technology. LiveLOOK, the company he founded in 2008, was acquired by Oracle with co-browse becoming an important feature of the Oracle Service Cloud solution. The product itself was re-imagined, completely changing the way that businesses can provide live help to online and mobile customers. Oracle Co-browse was designed to be fast and easy-to-use, while addressing the privacy and security concerns of enterprise organizations and supporting the wide range of evolving use cases for screen sharing during a service interaction. The ability to securely co-browse any combination of web, mobile and desktop content is unique to Oracle Co-browse, as is its ability to handle any type of rich web media, including responsive design. This feature, called TrueView, is one of the main reasons Frost & Sullivan recognized Oracle as the leader in co-browsing technology.  

Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Ben Gresham noted in a February 11 announcement that, “Oracle Co-browse addressed the challenge of exactly replicating views with the TrueView feature. This solution presents agents with the actual views of the customers’ screens as they have it configured at their end. This is a huge improvement over screen-sharing and regular HTML-based co-browsing solutions because if the customers change display settings, the alterations are transferred to the agents in real time.” 

It is exciting to receive this award from Frost & Sullivan, validating that Oracle’s Co-browse solution is meeting an important business need to provide efficient, personalized service to online and mobile customers.  

If you’re looking for more information about how Oracle Co-browse compares to screen sharing and HTML-based co-browsing solutions, this outline goes through the differences in detail. Also check out the full report from Frost & Sullivan outlining the industry challenges that the Oracle Service Cloud addresses with its leading Co-browse solution here.  

Scott Seebauer, Michelle Brusyo and Igor Khalatian of Oracle accept the Frost & Sullivan award for innovation in co-browse technology January 14, 2015.

Thursday Jan 29, 2015

2015: A New Perspective on Millennials in Consumer Goods and Retail by Cassie Moren

Consumer goods (CG) companies and retailers are asking how they can better engage with millennials to buy their brands and get them in the store. Given the attractiveness and size of the millennial market (80 million), Interbrand and Oracle recently conducted a study to understand millennials from a behavioral perspective.

The research findings determined that five segment breaks exist within the millennial generation, based upon the clustering of their various attitudes and behaviors, each representing a cluster or “tribe” that behaves similarly: 1. The Up & Comers, 2. The Mavens, 3. The Eclectics, 4. The Skeptics and 5. The Trendsetters.

This is just a glimpse into the subsets within the millennial generation. What quickly becomes clear is that targeting millenials as a whole is ineffective as they range from financially-dependent teens to married homeowners with kids. By considering these unique segments and determining which have the most potential for your brand, there’s an opportunity to build a deeper connection and deliver an experience that will appeal to the next generation of customers. Here are five themes and technologies that brands need to consider in order to win millennials:

  1. Drive consumer acquisition, activation and advocacy anywhere, anytime through encouraging cross-channel consumer engagement
  2. Provide a personalized, rich and consistent commerce experience across channels through cross-channel commerce
  3. Create consumer-focused category, assortment, pricing and demand plans through consumer-centric planning and optimization
  4. Develop rich insights on consumers through retail and consumer insights
  5. Acquire and manage a single and accurate view of the consumer through consumer data management and activation

Read Report now

Friday Dec 05, 2014

Field Service Management Top Ten: Talking the Talk by Tori Ballantine

As with any industry, there is a lot of lingo involved when talking about field service management. Don’t worry if you don’t know all of the terms: we’re here to help. Here is a glossary of the top ten words and phrases that are frequently used in field service management.

1. Field Service Management

Field service management is the practice of organizing, scheduling, and routing mobile employees. This sort of management is critical to the success of businesses in a wide variety of industries and typically includes a dispatch or call center as well as a field workforce. Field service management is used by companies of all sizes, from smaller organizations with ten mobile employees to large companies with tens of thousands of staff providing services all across the globe every day.

2. Field Technician / Mobile Employee 

A mobile employee, referred to as a technician in some industries, is a member of an organization’s mobile workforce. These staffers perform services in the field – at customers’ homes, places of business, or in isolated areas far from population centers. These services are wide-ranging, and can include:

  • Delivery
  • Service and repairs
  • Safety and security
  • Installation
  • Maintenance

3. Mobile Workforce 

The mobile workforce collectively refers to an organization’s mobile employees. Mobile workforce sizes and types vary greatly between industries and specific companies. For example, some businesses employ only their own field staff while others rely completely on subcontractors. Many rely on a hybrid model, comprised of both direct and third-party mobile employees. One common theme that impacts all mobile workforces is the need to effectively schedule appointments and plan routes so that customers receive the best service possible.

4. Cloud Computing 

Cloud computing refers to a method of storing information on remote servers that are accessed through the Internet. When data is stored and processed in the cloud, it can be accessed by any authorized user who has an internet connection. This makes the information globally accessible. The opposite of cloud computing is storing data locally on a personal machine or an in-house server.

5. Software as a Service (SaaS) 

Software as a Service, or SaaS, is a model of accessing software via the cloud. All of the data and capabilities of the software are stored in the cloud. Users access the programs and information through the Internet. Simply, SaaS is cloud-based software. It provides an alternative to storing information on individual machines or local servers.

6. Web-Based Application 

A web-based application, or app, is accessed through the Internet. The opposite of a web-based application is a locally installed application: one that is downloaded onto a phone, tablet or other device. A good example of this is Gmail, which is Google’s email application. If you visit mail.google.com to access your email, you are using a web-based application. If you download the Gmail app to your iPhone via the iTunes store and then access your mail through the app, you are using a locally installed application.

7. HTML5 

HTML5 is a coding language used by developers when they create websites. HTML5 is the newest version of HTML, which is the primary programming language of the Internet. One of the most important elements of HTML5 is the connection it provides to the hardware, enabling access to the camera, GPS chip, storage and other functionality. Another significant feature is its ability to present multimedia content. This content can be successfully accessed and viewed by people who use different browsers and different devices to access the Internet. HTML5 helps preserve formatting and other important aspects on web pages – and helps provide the same experience to diverse users. Many modern web-based applications are built using HTML5.

8. Device Agnostic 

Programs and applications are considered to be device agnostic when they function equally well across all devices. This includes iOS, Android, and Windows phones; different tablet brands; and desktop / laptop computers. Web-based applications that support HTML5’s rich feature set–which provide enterprise-level security–are also device agnostic. This is the fundamental foundation of a device agnostic application.

9. Predictive Capabilities 

In software, predictive capabilities refer to the program’s ability to “learn” from data that is put into the system. Some field service management solutions, for example, are able to predict how long a job might take, based on factors like the how long each unique individual requires to perform a certain task and what inventory is available in each technician’s vehicle.

10. Context Aware 

When a program is context aware, it means that it provides users with precisely the right information they need – right when they need it. For example, on an iPhone, when a user has the option to input a URL or an email address, the phone offers a ‘.com’ button. This button is available when a URL or email address is requested; it isn’t there when a URL or email address isn’t in use. This capability shows an awareness of context.

For more information, please visit our website.

Tuesday Oct 07, 2014

T H March Adopts Modern Best Practice to Deliver Priceless Customer Service

Neil McFarlane, Managing Director of Chartered Insurance Brokers T H March, was one of four Oracle customers presenting in our annual customer-focused session at Oracle OpenWorld, Customer Voices: IT Strategies and the High-Growth Organization.

This session focused on thought leadership from executives at growing companies relating to how they are deploying technology solutions to adopt Modern Best Practice.  Learn more about the tools Neil's company is implementing to deliver priceless customer experiences.



[Read More]

Tuesday Aug 26, 2014

Join Chuck LaDow, Kodak for Customer Service Best Practices Webcast Thursday, August 28 at 11 am PT / 2 pm ET

Want to exchange best practices with fellow customer service professionals but just don't have the time?

Take 30 minutes this Thursday, August 28th at 11 am PT / 2 pm ET to listen to Chuck LaDow, Director, Global Customer Support, Eastman Kodak, share lessons learned from his 35 years of experience leading customer service organizations at Kodak, as well as Apple, Dell, HP and D&M Holdings.

Chuck was one of the first contact center executives to implement 24/7/365 customer support.

Register for the webcast.

Tuesday Aug 19, 2014

CRM Evolution 2014: Mediocrity is the New Horrible in Customer Service

"Mediocrity is the new horrible in customer service." — Blair McHaney, President/CEO, Gold's Gym

Almost everyone knows that customers' expectations have risen. But, after listening to two days of presentations at CRM Evolution, I think it’s more accurate to say that customers' expectations have skyrocketed. Fortunately, most companies have gotten the message and are taking their customer service to a higher level. For those who've been hesitant to 'boldly go where their customer service organization has not gone before,' take heart. I’ve got some statistics that will encourage you to take those first few steps.

Why should I change?

  • By engaging customers online, ancestry.com achieved a 99.5% customer satisfaction score (CSAT) while improving retention and saving millions on greater efficiency, including a 38%-50% drop in inbound calls and emails.1
  • By empowering employees to delight customers, Gold’s Gym achieved a 77.5% Net Promoter Score (NPS) and 22% customer churn rate. No small feat when you consider the industry averages are 40% NPS and 45% churn.2
  • By adapting quickly to social media, brands like Verizon have benefited from social community members spending 2.5x-10x more than average customers.3

‘The fierce urgency of now’ is upon us in customer service. You can take your customer service to a higher level! To find out more, click here.

CRM Evolution Customer Service Experience Footnotes:

*Arvindh Balakrishnan, Vice President, CX and CRM Applications Business GroupIs Your Customer Service Modern?
*Blair McHaney, President/CEO, Gold's Gym, Wire Your Organization with Customer Feedback
*Becky Carroll, Associate Partner, Cloud Strategy and Solutions, IBM, The Power of Communities for Improving the Service Experience and Building Advocates

Thursday Jun 05, 2014

Oracle Service Cloud May 2014 Release – Focus on your driving by JP Saunders

The next time you’re twiddling dials on your car’s dashboard to get the air to blow in the right direction, and the right song to play on the stereo, while pulling on the wires to charge your phone and punching in passwords to re-sync your hands-free headset to take a call, consider this… Does having a better dashboard UI in your car improve your driving performance?

The Tesla car has one of the most modern and intuitive dashboards in any commercial car today. It is actually based on the design of a smart phone, which can download apps and updates directly from the cloud.  The 17” touchscreen, Lynx-based dashboard totally integrates all channels and devices, allowing the driver to focus on the smooth driving and power of this luxury (toy) car. 

What the folks at Tesla didn't do was avoid the complexity of our needs. Instead, they streamlined them. And, while we might not all be able to afford a Tesla, their approach demonstrates that a modern UI approach can ultimately make a positive difference in our lives and businesses. 

This is why the productivity and effectiveness of a Modern Contact Center is many times greater than that of a traditional contact center. Agents in a Modern Contact Center get to focus on the task at hand, the customer engagement, rather than stumbling their way through Lego blocks of complexity. 

The Oracle Service Cloud is a modern approach to customer service that empowers your agents to achieve greater focus on improving your operational and strategic success through streamlined business processes. 

Here are some of the recent May 2014 release highlights to the Oracle Service Cloud:

Performance Enhanced Desktop UI

A modern agent desktop interface that optimizes clumsy tasks, logins, screens and workflows and is optimized for agent and system performance. Improvements include performance for drag-and-drop configurable views, saved searches, and improved caching for high-speed performance even during disconnected or slow internet access. 

Customer Experience Routing

A streamlined automatic way to connect the right customer need to the best agent skills, based on multidimensional variables such as product skills, language skills, workload, call volume to optimize the connection and resolution experience.

On-The-Go Mobile

Improvements to the Agent mobile app that extend connectivity to websites, and customer surveys that are mobile-ready and rendered for any device, and ensure the customer’s voice is captured while the insight is still top of mind. 

Infused Social Engagement

Enhancements to infused social capabilities allow agents to respond in social threads directly from within the agent desktop, with the information becoming part of the incident record for automatic actions (such as replay or escalate) triggered off the response.

Front-End Siebel Contact Center

The market leading online Web Customer Self-Service interface from the Oracle Service Cloud, is now out-of-the-box ready for Oracle Siebel customers. Deploy a new online web self-service interface in a matter of weeks to have customers self-serve and self-solve answers, with escalated incidents routed directly into the Oracle Siebel Contact Center.

For more information on the latest enhancements for the Oracle Service Cloud, please see the Oracle Service Cloud May 2014 Capabilities and Benefits.

Friday May 16, 2014

The Art of Easy - Part 6 of 6: Making Easy, both Effective and Efficient by Melinda Uhland

In the case of “What makes the experience” It's the age old question… which came first? The chicken? or the egg? There is a strong vote for the chicken (being the customer), as they squawk the loudest (especially on Social), but within the contact center, there is strong evidence that it was the egg (being the agent).

A Modern Customer Service organization is one that understands the importance of the Agent Experience as it relates to your customer’s experience. A modern organization knows that its support agents must be more than a pretty smile on an empty box, or a handshake at an open door, or a hallmark welcome greeting… Modern Customer Service agents curate engagements that result in lasting and profitable relationships with their customers.

The customers experience is frequently defined by how engaged the customer feels an agent is during an interaction – not just whether they were polite, but also whether they were trying to help. And there is a direct correlation between how engaged agents are, and how empowered they feel they in their jobs. A Modern Customer Service organization is one that improves its customer results by investing in the needs of its agents’ experiences. Empowering them with the tools that make it easy for them to be efficient and effective.

To know how well you are doing on delivering a great agent experience, don't just look at CSAT reports (although they can be a good indicator).

Start by asking your agents:

Are you being connected with customers that you can serve effectively?
How effective is that connection so the customer isn’t frustrated by the time they engage?
Once engaged do they have access to the information needed to solve the issue?
How many systems do they have to log into, search and reconcile conflicting information?
How many process scripts, cheat sheets and memos do they have to manage and memorize to navigate the engagement?
If they see an issue with your system/process during the interaction, can they apply/request a change?
How long does it usually take to have the change applied?
And, how many engagements will they have to handle without that change?
The list goes on, as does the time and frustration to your agents, if you are not making the engagement process easy. Let face it, you cannot afford to lose any of your agents, as you have invested in them and your business needs to deliver. So, if you are still running your contact center as a legacy cost center, then chances are you are driving up costs by not understanding your agents’ needs:

  • Your most seasoned agents: are your most valuable assets as they are the sherpas of your processes, saviors of your customers and the spirit of your brand.  They must be empowered for greatness. Honor their time to save your brand.
  • Your average agents: are your building blocks for change, whose systematic rhythm can deliver the highest return on efficiencies. They must be empowered for consistency. Listen to their pains to save money.
  • Your most junior agents: are your future, with an untarnished view on how you can improve to get ahead. They must be empowered for success. Leverage their passion and their fresh perspective for change.

By exploring the needs of each agent segment, you can understand how to apply technology to improve their experience:

The Experienced Agent: “Don’t waste my time!”

Your most experienced agents should be strictly focused on your most serious/complicated issues, and/or your highest value customers.  Having your most valuable agents handle questions that could be addressed through an FAQ, or a newer agent wastes money and time. By setting up the correct routing rules, you can ensure that your experienced agents are focused on the right issues and most valuable customers –handling only exceptions for overflow assistance when required.  With the right solution, it is possible to automate the configuration and management of routing rules which match the right customers with the right agents, based on many factors beyond customer problem and agent skill. Configure rules based on availability, learned experience, language, time zone, county, wait times, customer value, etc.

The Average Agent:  “It’s not my fault!”

How many times have your agents picked up a call, provided their most friendly greeting, only to have been immediately yelled at by a customer? Your agent has to spend time calming the customer down, rather than assisting them with the real issue. Call Center agents go through this many times a day, and it can be a demotivating and costly occurrence to your efficiency and effectiveness metrics.  Do these sound all too familiar?

  • I have been transferred 3 times, and you keep asking the same questions!”
  • “I don’t have time to call you! Why can’t I just do this online?"
  • “I just spent an hour trying to navigate your web site, only to get no answer, and now you want to CHAT?!
  • “Do you know who I am on Social? You will regret keeping me waiting for my email response!”
  • “I have been a great customer of yours for many years – doesn't that count for something?!”

Multi-Channel / Cross-Channel Customer Service platforms can help you avoid this circle of frustration. Capabilities like proactive chat, email automation, virtual assistance, click-to-call, click-to-call back, experience routing rules, mobile templates, and social response allow your customers reach out to you on the channel/device that works best for them right when they need help. Or they can switch channels and devices when they need too, seamlessly.  And when your customers do reach out to you, you can keep track of all their interactions, regardless of channel, providing you with deeper insights on channel, device and interaction behavior for optimizing their contact flows to avoid FCF (First Contact Frustration), and improve FCR (First Contact Resolution).

The New Agent:  “There’s gotta be a better way!”

Your new agent just started and is excited to do well in his/her new role.  S/he had some hands-on training with an experienced agent, got a memorized script to follow, a notebook with system logins to use, an earmarked manual with policies to follow, and is set to start handling low-level support incidents in those already flooded channels.  As you finish the agent’s training, the song “Will they stay, or will they go?” plays in your head because you know the experience the agent is about to go through will either make or break ‘em. But, you did all you could, so if something goes wrong: the customers? A necessary casualty. The complaints? Teething pains. The ideas for change? A no go. Given time, they will learn the old ways are best!

This is another scenario that can be easily remedied with a Modern Contact Center, which is capable of unifying all the systems to a single login to a centralized agent desktop. The desktop can be pre-configured with views and guides that simplify the learning curve and walk agents through step-by-step processes, which are traceable down to each interaction and engagement across every channel.

A centralized knowledge base gives agents access to all public and internal knowledge at their fingertips, placing scripts inside of tools that can be applied easily. These tools, combined with a unified customer record drawn from any source master system of record (or external social site), equip your new agent to have relevant engagements, which help them improve customer experience from day one.

By understanding the needs of your agents—and empowering them with the right tools, knowledge and insights to better serve customers—you can easily make their jobs more engaging, their performance more effective, and their time more efficient. The Oracle Service Cloud empowers agents to meet today’s customer expectations and become a valued part of the Modern Customer Service Organization.

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