Tuesday May 03, 2016

Join Service for the Next Generation Webcast

By Stephen Fioretti, Vice President, Product Management, Oracle Service Cloud @sfioretti

Is your ability to become a leader in delivering customer service excellence keeping you up at night, especially as customers' expectations grow and their channel preferences dynamically change? Are you able to ensure you are delivering accurate answers through the web, mobile and contact center?

You are not alone. Digital channels are exploding and web self-service is about to become the single biggest channel for customer service. Not surprisingly, the number of customers engaging with their brand for customer support via their mobile devices is growing exponentially, with some organizations experiencing up to 50-70% of their interactions via mobile devices (Source: Oracle's Oracle Service Cloud customer base). Add digital channels like chat and social, and the task of delivering a consistent, unified experience can seem daunting. As a leader who aspires to deliver world-class customer care, how should you respond?

We asked Gartner, the leading information technology research and advisory firm, and Gogo, the leading provider of inflight internet and entertainment, to join us and discuss trends, insights, and the latest innovations with web and mobile self-service, digital channels like social and chat, and knowledge management. We can help provide the information you need to address this next evolution of customer service.

Tune in to the upcoming webinar on Wednesday, May 4 and get answers. You will learn about:

  • Market trends, pain points and imperatives in the world of customer service
  • How the growth of digital channels and mobile web customer service are crucial for delivering great service experiences
  • What organizations are doing to address the digital channel revolution in their overall customer service strategy
  • How easy-to-find and accurate knowledge management is a critical foundation for delivering customer service
  • How service needs to be consistent, simple, convenient and immediate
  • The impact that IoT (Internet of Things) will have on customer service 

 Jerry Oversen, VP, Global Customer Services at Gogo  Michael Maoz, VP, Distinguished Analyst at Gartner   Stephen Fioretti, VP Product Management at Oracle


Thursday Apr 07, 2016

Convert Omni-Channel Hype into Real Contact Center Success!

Save the date for the upcoming Oracle Service Cloud webinar, April 14th, 2016 at 10 a.m. PT/1 p.m. ET

Omni-channel: Everybody is talking about it, but only a few best-in-class businesses have turned the promise of omni-channel into a profitable reality - earning highly loyal customers, reduced support costs, and growth in revenue. 

Join this upcoming webinar to learn how you too can achieve these results. Aberdeen Group Research Director of Contact Center & Customer Experience, Omer Minkara, and Oracle's Senior Director of Applications Product Management, Chris Hamilton, will show you how to deliver an integrated, omni-chhannel service experience. They’ll also discuss:

  • Why most omni-channel programs fail (and what that costs your company!)
  • What makes a contact center “Best-in-Class”
  • How to align channel-mix and customer preferences
  • Steps you can take to harness the power of omni-channel

You will come away with next steps for advancing your omni-channel strategy!

Register Now

Wednesday Mar 09, 2016

Five Reasons to Attend Oracle’s Modern Service Experience 2016

Oracle’s Modern Service Experience 2016 is again lighting up fabulous Las Vegas April 26-28, and we’re betting this will be our best event yet. From the speaker lineup and session catalog to the networking experiences and Customer Appreciation Event, we’re going “all in,” and we hope you’ll join us. Here are five reasons you should head to Las Vegas this April for the Modern Service Experience:

1. In-Depth Service Content

The Modern Service Experience features more than 40 sessions led by customer service experts, analysts, and top brands. Through the keynotes, general sessions and breakouts, you’ll hear about current and future trends in customer service and will walk away inspired and ready to turn your insights into actions. Take a look at the just-launched conference program to see the impressive speaker lineup.

The conference program features content for everyone regardless of your role. Attend sessions in the following tracks:

  • Cross-Channel Contact Center
  • Executive
  • Field Service Management
  • Industry
  • Knowledge
  • Oracle Policy Management
  • Platform
  • Web Customer Service
  • Customer Experience

In addition, you’ll hear about Oracle Service Cloud’s vision and product roadmap. Within the breakouts, you’ll learn about new product functionality and how to get the most out of your implementation. In the expo hall, you’ll have the opportunity to participate in interactive demos.

2. One-of-a-Kind Networking

In addition to hearing best practices and soaking up insights from session and keynote speakers, some of the best information you’ll gather at the Modern Service Experience will come from your peers. Customer service leaders from some of the world’s top brands are attending the Modern Service Experience. The conference provides many opportunities to network with peers as well as Oracle product experts, sales, executives, and partners.

Before you head to Las Vegas, see who else is attending and start broadening your network through social media. Use the hashtag #ServiceX16, and join the conversation.

3. Thought Leaders & Inspiring Speakers

Attend the Modern Service Experience to hear from some of the leading minds in modern customer service. The featured speaker lineup includes:

  • Mark Hurd, CEO, Oracle
  • Jean-Claude Porretti, Customer Care Worldwide Manager, Peugeot Citroën
  • Scott McBain, Manager, Application Development, Overhead Door Corporation
  • Sara Knetzger, Applications Administrator, Corporate Applications, WageWorks
  • Ian Jacobs, Senior Analyst Serving Application Development & Delivery Professionals, Forrester Research
  • Kate Leggett, VP, Principal Analyst Serving Application Development & Delivery Professionals, Forrester Research
  • Ray Wang, Principal Analyst, Founder, and Chairman, Constellation Research, Inc.
  • Denis Pombriant, founder, managing principal, Beagle Research
4. More Opportunities for Increasing Your Knowledge

First, take advantage of our pre-conference workshops. You’ll probably have to roll the dice to decide which of the three you’ll attend: Get Prepared for the Knowledge-Centered Support (KCS) Practices v5 Certification, Head off to the Races with Agent Desktop Automation, and Step off the Beaten Path with Oracle Service Cloud Reporting.

Next, schedule time with an Oracle Service Cloud mastermind and get answers to your burning questions as part of the Ask the Experts program (sponsored by Oracle Gold Partner Helix).

Last, connect with your peers during lunch and participate in our birds of a feather program around popular topics.

5. Celebrate with Your Fellow Customers

To show our appreciation for our customers, we’re hosting a night of food, drinks, and amazing entertainment. Goo Goo Dolls will play a private concert for attendees at the MGM Grand Arena on Wednesday evening. The Oracle Customer Appreciation Event rarely disappoints—don’t miss it. 

Finally, at 1 p.m. on Thursday April 26, during our annual awards ceremony, we’ll recognize leading organizations and individuals in the customer service space, highlighting their impressive stories about innovation and differentiation. Guaranteed, you’ll leave motivated and energized.

What did last year’s customers have to say?

"Oracle Modern Service Experience 2015 was a top-notch event that provided me with the opportunity to learn about new Oracle Service Cloud capabilities and connected me with federal and private sector peers who have since influenced my direction as the Air Force Reserve's Chief Digital Officer, enabling me to drive the organization to a new level of innovation and efficiency this past year."

 – Lt Col Michael Ortiz, HQ Air Reserve Personnel Center

"The Modern Service Experience is a must for customers looking to maximize their effectiveness with Oracle Service Cloud."

 – Michael Morris, Match.com

See you in Las Vegas!

EXCITING UPDATE: We’ve extended the Early Bird Rate for Modern Service Experience. Take advantage of $200 off the conference price by registering before March 20.

Monday Mar 07, 2016

Bridging the Gap Between Mobile and Customer Service

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

Twenty years ago, mobile devices were just getting started.  In fact, back in 1995 only one percent of the population had access to a mobile device. Today, there are over 5.2 billion mobile phone users comprising 73% of the global population.  Mobile devices now have an impact on just about every part of our daily lives – from communication and social interaction to mobile commerce.  To say that mobile is a trend is an understatement.  The rise of mobile is fundamentally changing the way we interact – and is spawning a whole new generation of technology, applications and businesses.  Particularly within the service space, mobile is not only pushing how organizations should assess evolving customer engagement, but how best to tackle mobilizing the modern customer service organization. 

We see a trend in business software that is focused around the mobile experience, in which employees across the enterprise use software for a wide variety of functions including customer service, sales force automation, collaboration and communication, all while on the move, using their phones and tablets. There is great value in terms of agility, productivity and employee experience to increase your organization’s mobility.  Yet, we would encourage you to not translate this into, "we need a mobile app or responsive user interface for all of our software."

There are use cases in which it makes sense, and there are use cases in which it clearly doesn’t. A customer service representative (CSR) working for a large B2C contact center, handling complex cases from many different channels, has a need for a highly productive work environment.  It just doesn't make sense to try to make that CSR handle these cases on a mobile phone or tablet.  A sales representative on the road, or a field service representative however, is on the move every day. In both scenarios, a mobile experience makes perfect sense.

To Mobile, Or Not To Mobile (That’s The Question)

Before jumping into relevant use cases, it is helpful to clarify a common misconception about mobile: Mobile isn't just about mobile phones.

A lot of investments have gone into making specific applications for specific types of devices, e.g. a desktop application, a mobile application or a tablet application. Yet, it becomes less and less important to talk about device-specific software, as the lines between these categories are blurring.  Mobile is about understanding specific tasks and use-cases, providing the tools that make the greatest impact, and making sure these different tools are consistent and connected. Let’s review some use cases within different areas of customer service…

Mobile Scenarios in Customer Service

Agents working in multi-channel contact centers spend the majority of their day solving cases coming in from a range of different channels. They need an interface in which productivity is key. They need all the context and data available to solve the customer issue as efficiently as possible. They need a unified desktop, integrated with sensitive data from back-end systems through behind-the-firewall integration. Also, they are likely using two or three big monitors (flanked by yellow post-it notes and cute pictures of kids and dogs). Clearly this is not a great use case for mobile.

However, when you think about supervisors and managers that walk around the contact center, mobile access could be of great value.  Still, mobile access doesn't necessarily mean this persona would access the system through a mobile phone. Supervisors and managers may want to monitor their operations, yet get deeper into cases when needed. Access through a tablet would probably make most sense.

Similarly, when customer service is decentralized and service is delivered via face-to-face support in stores, at airports, front-desks, branches, etc. users will occasionally need to review cases, update contact information and access customer product information. They will need easy access to this information on a computer, laptop or tablet outside the contact center in order to deliver a connected customer experience.

Uberization Of Field Service

When determining where to apply a mobile experience, it might be easy to overlook some of the most obvious use cases. Let’s explore the ultimate mobile use case: field service.  Advancements in mobile technology have not just changed how field service representatives engage with a device, but also the type of work they perform, as well as how they manage their day.

Today, customers expect every service agent they engage with to solve all of their problems. For field service, this means that the customer expects a field representative to understand everything that has occurred in the service journey before arriving onsite for a job.  In addition, the customer expects the field representative to have the same abilities and tools as every other person on the customer service organization. The result is that all of these new tasks need a mobile interface that can quickly be accessed by a field service representative. 

Furthermore, advancements in mobile technologies are allowing a complete shift in how field organizations are structured and managed. Mobile technology and the sharing economy are now allowing for non-centralized field service organizations. This is a trend we refer to as the “Uberization” of field service, which means that through mobile access and automation, the field can dispatch their own work, create their own schedules, and make adjustments as the day changes, all while operating at an optimal level.

Complex Service On The Move

Another great example where we see mobility is around complex rule or policy processes, such as immigration cases. Typically officials assess such cases from their office desks, using lengthy forms and rubber stamps, with long queues of applicants waiting outside. Now, with greater numbers of refugees entering Europe, we see mobile solutions that equip officials outside of their offices. This is where the refugees are arriving, and officials are now able conduct the assessment on-the-spot with a tablet app and simple interview screens to determine the appropriate asylum status. Mobile decisioning is providing better agility by enabling consistent service regardless of device or channel.

Don’t Forget Your Customers

25% of our customers’ customers already use a mobile device to navigate to your support portal. Is your website prepared for that? Using responsive design you can ensure the support section on your website is presented in the optimal way for each type of screen. Also make sure your knowledge articles are structured in a way the content can be easily consumed on a smaller screen.  In addition to self-service and knowledge we would also recommend looking at mobile use cases for assisted service experiences. For instance, with in-app mobile co-browse, live chat over mobile phones, as well as video chat.

Mobile is undoubtedly changing both our personal and professional lives. Customer service organizations should decide on a strategy to bridge the gap between mobile and customer service. This requires a strategic review of value drivers, combined with a tactical search for relevant use cases.

Don’t fall in the “we need an app for everything” trap – some users need big screens, some users don’t.  Investigate how to use mobile technologies to change your field technicians into versatile brand ambassadors, and explore opportunities to increase agility and mobility by bringing complex policy and rule processes to a mobile environment.  Finally, consumers will ever more use their mobile devices to contact you, so your website and contact centers need to be ready for this new reality.

Tuesday Feb 09, 2016

Forrester Names Oracle a ‘Leader’ in Customer Service Solutions for Midsize Teams and Enterprise Organizations

By Christine Randle, Analyst Relations, Oracle Service Cloud 

By now you probably understand the importance of delivering exceptional customer service. You get why it’s important. You appreciate that customer service is the platform from which excellent customer experiences emerge. You’ve read the research and know that, according to Forrester Research, a full 39% of customers will tell friends and family about their negative experiences[1]. Data points like this one are powerful, yet leave you stuck wondering, “Where do I start?”

Well, take heart in the fact that you’re not alone. This is complicated, right? We live in an always-on, omnichannel world, where instant gratification isn’t just a request, it’s a demand. You know that your company must rise to the effortless customer service challenge or become a relic of the past.

Don’t despair, because there’s good news! Leading industry analyst firm Forrester Research, recently published two Waves:  The Forrester Wave™: Customer Service Solutions For Enterprise Organizations, Q4 2015 and The Forrester Wave™: Customer Service Solutions For Midsize Teams, Q4 2015. And the good news doesn’t stop there. Oracle Service Cloud is a Leader in BOTH the midsize and the enterprise Waves.

Oracle Service Cloud had the highest current offering category scores in the Enterprise Wave and Midsize Wave reports, and was noted among vendors that “deliver high-volume omnichannel service” and “have a foundational layer of knowledge management to deliver channel-specific answers to customer inquiries.”  Both reports recognized how, "Oracle Service Cloud delivers heavy-duty support for B2C enterprises. Oracle Service Cloud provides a flexible, easily configurable customer service solution that excels at delivering consistent cross-channel customer service experiences. The SaaS-based solution sports very strong omnichannel capabilities: cobrowse … multichannel reporting, chat, email response management, social customer service, and knowledge management. Customers use it as an enterprise wide solution, as a standalone solution for digital channels, or to extend the digital capabilities of an on-premises solution.”

I believe that these reports will help you decide what your business needs, and which vendors are best suited, to help your company become a customer service success story.

Organizations both large and not so large rely on Oracle Service Cloud to help deliver effortless customer service experiences (check out recent Forbes profiles of All Nippon Airways, Pella). Oh, and did I mention that great customer service is at the heart of award winning customer experiences? 

Hey, don’t take my word for it. Read the research and then let us know how we can help your business thrive in today’s “I want it now!” world.

Thursday Jan 21, 2016

Expected vs. Experimental Customer Service Channels in 2016: Part II

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

Recently we provided an overview of the distinctions between expected and experimental service channels as well as a framework for evaluating experimental service channels heading into the new year. Now we dive into specific channels to explore in 2016!  2016 is shaping up to be a year of the platform-messenger-platforms.  You may be wondering what I mean by a ‘platform-messenger-platform’? Let me explain…

More than likely, you have heard about messenger platforms by now. WhatsApp is used daily by nearly a billion folks globally to send text messages, videos, pictures, and emojiis to individuals or groups. Facebook Messenger has 700 million active users and WeChat has 650 million active users (largely in China). Just these three messenger platforms have 2.3 billion active users. That sheer scale is mind-blowing, but these three are followed by other messenger applications such as Viber (250M active users), Line (200M active users), and SnapChat (100M active users).

Often customers ask me where we see the market heading and which channels will be important. Yet, we all have to acknowledge that it is difficult to accurately predict the future as we live in a very dynamic world. However, do not despair; I do have a hunch about what will happen this year with messenger platforms… Ready for it?  At least two of the three big messenger platforms will become Platform-Messenger-Platforms!  Now that we have the big bold prediction off my list, let’s go a bit deeper.

The three channels I am observing with greatest interest now are WhatsApp, WeChat and Facebook Messenger. I expect that in 2016 we will experience a change from these just being messenger apps to these becoming full-fledged platforms.

WhatsApp is huge! It has over 900 million active users.  When there is such a large part of the population using that platform extensively day in, day out - it is only logical to see interest in using WhatsApp as a service channel. Why not? It makes perfect sense to open up a mobile chat thread with a customer service agent around a certain issue and find that conversation still open the next time you have a problem. Great customer experience, great agent experience, right?

The trouble is that I see virtually no businesses offering WhatsApp as a viable engagement channel yet. I believe the reason is simple: the owner of WhatsApp does not want it to become an engagement or service channel. When businesses use WhatsApp to broadcast messages to a group, the account is blocked. There are limits in the max number of incoming messages – anecdotally found to be around a couple of thousand incoming messages per minute. WhatsApp does not have a public API and there is no technical documentation, no API limits, nor SLAs. While Twitter documents its API thoroughly, WhatsApp does not provide any documentation. To me this raised questions about the viability of WhatsApp as a Service Channel. For example, when you post a comment on Pinterest on a company’s board, you do not necessarily expect a reaction from the company. However, when you ask a company a question over WhatsApp (or SMS, or email, or live chat for that matter) you do expect an answer. It is difficult to meet these expectations if you cannot rely on the WhatsApp platform to give answers to your customers.

WeChat is a different story. With currently 650 Million active users, it is slightly smaller than Facebook Messenger is. It is primarily used in China, but expanding into other Asian markets. The reason I am looking at WeChat, is that I believe we can learn a lot from how WeChat is used today and apply that to forecast how Facebook Messenger will expand its scope in 2016.

WeChat is tremendously popular in China. In China’s  large cities it has a penetration rate of 90% and is rapidly transforming a very large share of the society’s communication habits. I am a WhatsApp user, but I see it as a messenger platform. I use it to send messages to family, colleagues, friends and a few groups.  Sometimes we share pictures and videos, but that is where it ends.

If we look at WeChat, at first glance, it pretty much does the same thing as WhatsApp. However when you look further you see a whole range of other applications that are provided within the WeChat platform. Recently someone working at a large consumer brand showed me on his iPhone how they are offering customer service in China using WeChat. At first sight, just opening a conversation with the brand seemed rather familiar, but when you are also presented with a range of menu options related to that brand conversation, it became clear it was much more than a messenger thread. Customers can open a mini e-commerce section within the WeChat thread where they can buy products and pay for the goods using the WeChat payment service. Users get targeted offers within their conversation.  They can play branded games inside WeChat. They can get routed to technical support within WeChat, etc.

When you look at it from that way, it becomes obvious that when a messenger platform starts including marketing capabilities, e-commerce shops, customer service capabilities and PayPal-like services, we can hardly call it just a messenger platform anymore. According to this article, services like ordering (and paying for) taxis, collaboration tools, banking, crowdfunding, dating and job boards are also part of the WeChat platform. When a messenger platform becomes so broad in scope that it becomes a little internet within a messenger app, I believe it becomes a Platform-Messenger-Platform; a whole platform within a messenger platform.

Moving to Facebook Messenger. Now Facebook Messenger is a core component of the wider Facebook platform. Where in the past public messaging on friends’ timelines was the norm, people apparently have started to become more sensitive and privacy aware, and sending private messages through messenger is gaining popularity. The fact that using Facebook Messenger within the Facebook app is not possible anymore (you have to download the separate messenger app) shows that Facebook is driving users to the messenger app. Voice calling has been added to it recently. In the United States, a payment service has been added and businesses are encouraged to start delivering customer service through Messenger. As well, Facebook has made good SDKs and documentation for the Messenger Platform available for developers.

I believe that when looking at how WeChat is increasingly becoming a platform, we can only expect that Facebook Messenger will be broadening its scope similarly in 2016 and become a fully-fledged platform within the messenger app.

What that means for customer service professionals is an interesting question:

  • What does it mean to have zero control over the engagement channel you choose to add to your multi-channel strategy?
  • How do you make sure that these conversations are connected to your broader customer record and interaction history from other channels?
  • How will these changes effect customer service engagements?
  • By when will customers interact with your brand (view and evaluate products, buy them, get support for them, recommend them) solely through platforms like Facebook, WeChat, WhatsApp, etc.?
  • Will you even need a website, email and telephone channel by then?

These are interesting questions to ponder.  Let us know your thoughts to continue this conversation in the New Year!

Wednesday Jan 13, 2016

Save $500 on Modern Service Experience 2016 in Las Vegas

By Lauren McKay, Social Media Manager, Oracle Global Events

Oracle’s flagship customer service event returns to Las Vegas, April 26-28, 2016. Attend Modern Service Experience, presented by Oracle, to participate in hands-on workshops, see product demonstrations, and network during interactive breakouts that will showcase best practices to help turn your customers into brand advocates.

Register by Sunday, January 17 to take advantage of the lowest conference price.  On Monday, the conference price increases $500, so be sure to take advantage of incredible savings while they last. Need to justify the expense to your management?  Download the Justification Email, tailor it to fit your needs, and send it on for approval.

Why should you attend Modern Service Experience?

Outstanding service is the number one reason customers recommend a business. Are you doing everything in your power to differentiate your brand? Customers now expect unified web, social, and contact-center experiences. Are you keeping up?

Attend Modern Service Experience to:

  • Hear how Oracle Service Cloud customers deliver consistent, positive customer service across channels including the web, live chat, co-browse, social, and phone.
  • Discover how to provide personalized, reliable, and adaptive service, delivering the right answers at the right time.
  • Learn about the latest that Oracle Service Cloud offers and how integration with sales, marketing, and commerce applications can help differentiate your brand with modern customer service.

In addition to rich customer service content, you’ll have the chance to hear thought-provoking keynote speakers and hear the about Oracle’s direction from leading Oracle executives.

Bring your colleagues! Modern Service Experience is being co-located with 3 other conferences: Modern Marketing Experience, Modern Commerce Experience, & Modern Sales Experience. Invite your peers in Marketing, Commerce or Sales to join you and save even more with our group registration pricing.

For more information on the event, visit the Modern Service Experience website, and be sure to join the conversation on Twitter, #ServiceX16.

PS: Did you attend Modern Service Experience in 2015? Then, you’re eligible for a special alumni discount. Use code Alum15 when registering to save even more on registration.

Tuesday Jan 05, 2016

Expected vs. Experimental Customer Service Channels in 2016: Part I

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

Few would disagree that in the last decade we’ve seen an explosion of new communication channels and are facing a dizzying array of modern channels consumers use to interact with organizations.  In addition, how to deal with this tremendous increase is as much a challenge for marketing as it is for customer service departments. Customers do not simply have one channel they always use. They have a range they use depending on the circumstances. Some of these channels are expected, while others are experimental channels.

Expected channels, are channels customers expect to have available for them. It is implicitly understood that these are reliable and customers can count on them when the situation requires it. They expect to get a timely, accurate response to their inquiries. Typical examples of such channels are phone, email, live chat, etc.

Experimental channels are – as the name implies – less robust and reliable. They can be experimental for different reasons; e.g. because it’s a new platform increasingly used by consumers to interact with each other, because availability is out of control of the organization, because the organization’s structure and processes are not ready to support this channel, and so forth. Typical examples are video chat, WhatsApp, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.

Some experimental channels mature over time and become expected, established service channels (i.e. Twitter and Facebook). Other channels fade away, for example Orkut or MSN Messenger.

Clearly, there is a risk associated with investing in experimental channels. In addition, it is not always easy for organizations to decide on the right balance of expected vs. experimental channels. So how does a business decide whether, when and how to add experimental service channels to the mix? We would encourage asking the below questions before making any decisions…

1. Where is the channel on the Hype cycle?

New technologies typically go through an initial hype phase. When considering channels, it is important to consider where the channel currently is on the ‘Hype’ cycle.  If it is too early, expect a decrease, slow growth or steady decline to occur. Vetted, strong channels will gradually emerge, grow and become mature with a bit more time.

2. Can this channel be embedded into a multi-channel service strategy?

Adding an experimental channel as a silo-ed stand-alone channel can be easy. However, it is important to be able to embed new channels as part of a multi-channel strategy. Consider how to give agents access to a unified, connected interface where they can interact with customers in this channel, but at the same time have context around who the customer is, what their purchased products are, what previous interactions they have had, etc.

Similarly, also ask how to store the conversation thread from this channel so that the next time the agent uses an expected channel like email, phone or chat, the context of the interaction in the new channel is made available for agents. In addition, consider how to establish service levels for this channel. Is it possible to design service processes and workflows for inquiries coming in through this channel?

3. Can this experimental channel actually become an expected channel?

With many experimental channels, there is little control early on, but some channels are easier to adopt. Twitter for example has clearly indicated that they encourage using their channel for delivering customer service. Their Public APIs are robust and well documented. Many software vendors have integrated Twitter with their software. Public APIs are not always the case, so this is definitely something to analyze.

Now that we have provided an overview of the distinctions between expected and experimental channels as well as a framework for evaluation for experimental service channels. Look out for Part II, where we dive into specific channels to explore in 2016! 

Monday Dec 21, 2015

Six Tech Trends That Will Affect Field Service in 2016

Year-end predictions may not always end up ringing true, but as we wrap up 2015 it’s worth taking a few moments to discuss how technology trends will continue to impact field service in the year to come. Some of these will look familiar – while others will be new or sound far-fetched – but it will be interesting to see how these play out over the next 12 months. It’s also a good time for field service organizations to take stock of where they stand technologically and how they’re prepared to meet the next generation of field service.


Service expectations are shaped by technology

The customer experience continues to be the linchpin of differentiation among price-competitive industries. Technology is a main driver of what customers expect in terms of service, and nowhere is this more evident than field service, the most personal of all customer interactions. Look for a constant focus on mobility as both consumers and field service organizations continue to migrate away from the desktop.


Internet of Things and Big Data get strategic

We’ve been talking about these two for a while now, and they’ll continue to be top of mind as businesses learn how to harness the power of both. IoT has matured from devices that merely connect or identify themselves to devices that can meaningfully engage and add value to business processes. Big Data will evolve, too, as a vital part of a holistic field service strategy. It’s the difference between saying “I’m here,” “I’m here, and this is how I can help,” and “I’m probably going to need to go there soon.” A lot of Big Data’s value to field service involves predicting the need for a field service visit before a problem even occurs.


Wearables finally happen (with an assist)

We’ve been waiting for wearables to prove their usefulness in field service, and it looks like a strategic partnership with augmented reality and video technology might be the answer. Paired with these technologies, smart glasses could be used to assist techs with complicated diagnostics or repairs, new processes, and even enhance safety by providing warnings or recall information.


Self-driving cars…sort of

Self-driving cars are having a moment, and while we can’t ignore it, we’re not ready to say that field service will be an early adopter. However, many of the on-board technologies that are already in use today – collision avoidance and maintenance alerts, for instance – could have significant impact on fleet management costs, with significant savings on insurance, maintenance and replacement. As organizations with large fleets upgrade their vehicles, look for these technologies to become part and parcel of field service’s day-to-day.


3D printing

With arts organizations, public libraries and products like Glowforge putting 3D printing within reach of more people, it’s all but inevitable that field service will find a way to leverage the technology – for instance, enabling a field technician to print a necessary part onsite rather than having to leave and come back or reschedule the appointment. The ability to print parts will also have impact on how businesses handle inventory, so it will be interesting to see how field service technology software responds to the opportunity of 3D printing.


Field employees become all knowing

Perhaps that’s overstating things a bit, but as businesses look for ways to differentiate through service, field technicians will be empowered to do more than just fix, deliver or install. Because mobile employees are often the only company representatives that customers meet in person, they will naturally get questions and requests outside the scope of the original task. With access to real-time information and knowledge repositories at their fingertips, field employees will continue to be on the front lines of the customer experience. And, as field service organizations begin to leverage some of the tech tools mentioned here, mobile employees will need be more tech-savvy in order to understand and perhaps troubleshoot the high-tech devices they’ll come to rely on. With tools like IoT, near-field communication, wearables and more in play, employees must have a comfort level beyond that of just a user.


Read more about how tech trends are set to impact field service in 2016 and beyond on the Oracle Customer Experience blog: “The Top Tech Trends Impacting the Future of Field Service Management” by Stephen Fioretti and “The Internet of Things is Here – Is Your Field Service Organization Ready?” by Christine Friscic.


Thursday Dec 10, 2015

The Internet of Things is Here – is Your Field Service Organization Ready?

With billions of devices and sensors already connected, and that number increasing daily, it’s safe to say that the Internet of Things is disrupting life as we know it. Think about it – our every step is tracked via wearable fitness trackers. A smart thermostat can automatically adjust heating and cooling to optimize energy efficiency. Traffic patterns influence the way a smart traffic signal operates throughout the day. And, much like in our daily lives as consumers, the Internet of Things offers new opportunities for organizations across all industries. For organizations that provide services in the field – whether at a customer’s home or business – these opportunities can lead to significant boosts in operational efficiency and new levels of customer engagement and satisfaction.

By leveraging data constantly collected from connected devices and sensors, these organizations can better predict when services will be required and eventually, shift to a more proactive maintenance and repair model. This will not only reduce asset downtime and allow organizations to be more efficient in their field service planning, it will positively impact customer relationships. Imagine: before you even realize your air conditioner is broken, a field service technician is knocking on your front door to fix it. Or better yet, imagine that before the air conditioner ever even had an issue, the manufacturer predicted a problem and dispatched a field service technician to prevent any downtime at all.

Your field service organization can achieve smarter, streamlined field operations thanks to IoT, but you must start developing your IoT strategy today. Ready to get started? Check out our guide, Three Things That Your Field Service Organization Needs to Know About the Internet of Things (IoT), which outlines the top things you’ll need to know in order to start implementing a successful IoT strategy today. Download it here.

And, for more information on modern field service management with Oracle Field Service Cloud, visit www.oracle.com/goto/field-service.

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