Wednesday May 28, 2014

How Mary Meeker’s Latest Findings May Make You Re-Imagine Commerce

Today, Mary Meeker released her highly anticipated annual “Internet Trends” presentation for 2014. All 164 slides are jam-packed with pretty much everything you need to know about the state of the Internet.

And as luck would have it, Oracle is staying ahead of these trends (but we’ll talk about that later).

There were a few surprises, some stats to solidify what you likely already know, and Meeker’s novel observations about where we are all going. What interested me the most is not only how people are engaging in their personal lives, but how they engage with brands.

As you could probably predict, Internet usage growth is slowing while tablet user and mobile data traffic growth continue their meteoric rise around the globe, with tremendous growth in underpenetrated markets like China, India, Brazil and Indonesia. Now hold those the “Internet is dead” comments. Keep in mind there’s still plenty of room to grow, and a multiscreen model is Meeker’s vision for our future. Despite 1.5x YOY growth for mobile traffic, mobile still only makes up about 23% of all traffic today. With tablet shipments easily outpacing figures for PCs even at their height (in 2007), mobile will only continue on it’s path, but won’t be everything to everyone. Mobile won’t replace every touchpoint, it’s just created our shorter attention spans and demand for simpler, more personal experiences. As Meeker points out TVs, tablets, PCs, and smartphones are used for different activities at present, but lines will blur (for example, 84% of smartphones owners use their device while watching TV).

Day-to-day activities are being re-imagining through simple, beautiful user experiences. It seems like every day I discover a new way a brand/site/app made the most mundane or mounting task enjoyable and frictionless – and I’m not alone. Meeker points out the evolution of how we do everything from how we communicate, get information, use money, meet someone, get places, order a meal, and consume media is all done through new user interfaces that make day-to-day tasks simpler. This movement has caused just about everyone’s patience for a poor UX to take a nosedive. And it’s not just the digital user experience, technology is making a lot of people’s offline lives easier, and less expensive. Today 47% of online shopping utilizes free shipping— nearly half. And Meeker predicts same day local delivery will be the “next big thing” (and you can take a guess on who will own that).

Content, Community and Commerce creates the “Internet Trifecta.” Meeker pointed out that when content, communities and commerce occur in a single experience it’s embraced by consumers, which translates to big dollars for brands. The magic happens when consumers can get inspired, research, and buy in a single experience. As the buying cycle has changed and touchpoints (Web, mobile, social, store) are no longer tied to “roles” or steps in the customer journey, brands must make all experiences (content and commerce) available in a single, adaptable experience. (We at Oracle Commerce have a lot to say on this topic – stay tuned!)

And in what Meeker calls the “biggest re-imagination of all:” consumers enabled with smartphones and sensors are creating troves of findable and sharable data, which she says is in the early stages, by growing rapidly. She notes that transparency and patterns of consumers with this hardware (FYI - there are up to 10 sensors embedded in smartphones now) has created a Big Data treasure chest to be mined to improve business and the life of the consumer. The opportunities are endless.

[Read More]

The Internet of Things & Commerce: Part 2 -- Interview with Brian Celenza, Commerce Innovation Strategist

Internet of Things & Commerce Series: Part 2 (of 3)

Welcome back to the second installation of my three part series on the Internet of Things & Commerce. A few weeks ago, I wrote “The Next 7,000 Days” about how we’ve become embedded in a digital architecture in the last 7,000 days since the birth of the internet – an architecture that everyday ties the massive expanse of the internet evermore closely with our physical lives. This blog series explores how this new blend of virtual and material will change how we shop and how businesses sell.

Now enjoy reading my interview with Brian Celenza, one of the chief strategists in our Oracle Commerce innovation group. He comments on the past, present, and future of the how the growing Internet of Things relates and will relate to the buying and selling of goods on and offline.


QUESTION: You probably have one of the coolest jobs on our team, Brian – and frankly, one of the coolest jobs in our industry. As part of the innovation team for Oracle Commerce, you’re regularly working on bold features and groundbreaking commerce-focused experiences for our vision demos. As you look back over the past couple of years, what is the biggest trend (or trends) you’ve seen in digital commerce that started to bring us closer to this idea of what people are calling an “Internet of Things”?

Brian: Well as you look back over the last couple of years, the speed at which change in our industry has moved looks like one of those blurred movement photos – you know the ones where the landscape blurs because the observer is moving so quickly your eye focus can’t keep up. But one thing that is absolutely clear is that the biggest catalyst for that speed of change – especially over the last three years – has been mobile. Mobile technology changed everything.

[Read More]

Monday May 19, 2014

Oracle Sales Cloud – How Implementation Training Can Help You Meet Your Business Needs by Jim Vonick

With an Oracle Sales Cloud deployment, the ultimate goal is to accelerate the implementation and adoption of your applications so that your business can start realizing all the benefits that this rich solution offers.

Implementation team members need to have the skills and knowledge to ensure a smooth, rapid and successful implementation of your Oracle Sales Cloud applications. During set-up, you want to optimize the configuration for your business, and you may want to extend the as-delivered applications.

In order to do this, you need to understand the foundation and configuration options of your applications so that decisions can be made during set-up that best align with your business. To that end, product level implementation training is recommended for Oracle Sales Cloud deployments.

Training For Administrators and Implementers

Oracle Sales Cloud: Implementation: This course is ideal for implementation team members, who need to learn how to perform the tasks involved in an initial implementation of Oracle Sales Cloud. 

Oracle Sales Cloud: Incentive Compensation: Learn how to implement, configure and use Incentive Compensation, including how to manage performance-based compensation and explore incentive compensation setup and management tasks. 

Training For Developers and Implementers

Oracle Sales Cloud Extensibility: Learn how to alter, customize and extend the as-delivered Oracle Sales Cloud applications.

Learn More:

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.

Wednesday May 07, 2014

The Next 7,000 Days – How we will shop will change. Again. And Again…

Internet of Things & Commerce Series: Part 1 (of 3)

Do you regularly watch TED talks? If not, you’re missing out on learning all sorts of amazing things about our shared reality. Here are a few things I’ve learned in the last few months watching TED talks that might wet your appetite. 

·    Low IQ gotcha down? Don’t worry, it’s not a 100% predictor of success; “grit” is actually a better indicator.
·    Feel bad about those 2nd (or 3rd) pair of shoes you ordered online last night?
     Don’t. Primates make the same mistakes with money.
·    Food for thought while you’re snorkeling next time. Up to 90% of sea creatures light up.
·    Bag of cords got you all tangled up? Imagine a time when electric sockets were the shape of light
     bulbs … because they were the only 
things we plugged in.

And just over 2,000 days ago Kevin Kelly (one of the founders of Wired Magazine) gave a fantastic talk about “The Next 5,000 Days of the Web”. That was 2007. In the roughly 2,000 days since then unfathomable things have appeared in our ever-changing, every-accelerating world: smartphones, social media, wearable tech… Angry Birds, Candy Crush… And though we are only 7,000 or so days in to the reality of the internet, it has already grown to a size the defies imagination. Some stats to ponder on the dimensions of the world wide web as of 2013:

·      14.3 trillion web pages
·      672 exabytes of accessible data
·      43,000 petabytes of total traffic
·      1 yotta byte of total data stored (that’s as big as 180 billion, BILLION libraries of Congress)
·      Yet, less than 1 % of things in the physical world are connected today…

And this is set to double. Every year. We have become embedded in a digital architecture – of things, of data, of content. And this is only just the beginning.

[Read More]

Friday May 02, 2014

The Art of Easy - Part 5 of 6: Knowledge Makes It Easy For Everyone by Nav Chakravarti

Once there was a time when the question  “What’s on TV?” was just as easy to ask, as it was to answer. There just wasn't much on – it could be printed on one page of newspaper! Now try asking that question today? It’s no longer simple – “Do you mean on Apple TV, WebTV, Google TV, Hulu, Cable, On Demand…?”And by the time you figure out what’s on and what you want to watch, the show is over.

This complexity of choice from what we do and how we do it manifests itself not only in products, but also in business processes across global industries. Not surprisingly customers have ever more questions about buying, using, and maintaining these increasingly complex and sophisticated products and services.

It’s not ‘simple’, but the expectation is that you make it ‘easy’. Customers expect that you will answers their questions easily and in context, in a manner relevant to their needs, with answers that are reliable and accurate. That is why knowledge management is now at the forefront of the customer experience problems that businesses are looking to solve.

1. Start Small but Plan BIG

If you are just embarking on a knowledge management strategy then it’s okay, even advisable, to start small with a simple knowledge base to support a particular product, service line or customer segment where better answers will make a huge difference. To do that, you need a solution that can deploy rapidly, but also grows to with your enterprise knowledge management needs. So it can be infused into everything, rather than being left as another silo.

2. Understand What You Have

The 80/20 rule of knowledge is that 80% of what’s needed is best addressed with the 20% of your most valuable content. So even if you can’t answer all the questions, collect the answers that you are able to identify and verify as most used. We call this “what you know you know” content explicit knowledge. You can bring the remaining 80% of your content into the fold over time as your initiative grows, as long as your solution supports connecting multiple sources and content types.

3. Understand What They Need

Don't just focus on the content; you also have to understand what and how customers and employees are looking for it. You might be able to train a few, but you can't force the majority of your customers to hunt for information with specific words/symbols, or perform a series of navigation clicks to get to a place that has what they need. They will simply resort to the path of least resistance, which may be to use a higher cost channel. Or worse, buy a competitor’s product. So it's important to accommodate the various ways that people ask and look for information. You need a solution that can match your terminology with the way customers ask for help, in their own style and language; a solution that can deliver multiple navigation paths, as well as connect them to one answer. And can validate and course-correct the experience using decision tree navigation and assistance.

4. Learn What You Don’t Know

In Step 2, we covered collecting explicit knowledge. Well, as it turns out, knowledge constantly evolves and what we know about it changes. So it’s critical to get feedback along the way and give the people who do know, the chance to share what they know. Make sure the people who have the knowledge are able to rate, suggest or even create new knowledge. We call this sort of knowledge that is trapped in people’s heads, implicit knowledge, “what you didn't know you knew” This is why you need analytics that let you easily identify gaps through reports, gather direct feedback, and augment explicit knowledge with implicit knowledge.

5. Keep Making It Better

Knowledge has a shelf-life. It grows stale over time because things change. Every piece of Knowledge has an ongoing value in both investment and return. So knowing performance metrics, by segment, is key to knowing whether to invest further, or not. This is especially important for any content that gets translated where the cost can be multiplicative unless it’s delivering value. You don’t know how well you’re doing unless you measure it, so having a solution that easily delivers you the required data and analysis is critical. Knowledge Management is a commitment to constant improvement.

By now you have figured out that the art of making Answers EASY takes time, effort and investment. But if you try and short cut it with a silo approach, you’ll just end up making it more complex and costly. The Oracle Service Cloud makes Knowledge Management a foundation for your Modern Customer Service organization.

Thursday May 01, 2014

Want to offer personalized service but have concerns about compliance? We can help. by Heike Lorenz

A personalized customer experience is already beginning to overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. Going forward, one-size-fits all customer service won't suffice, as consumers grow increasingly impatient with inconsistencies and inefficiencies that don't serve their individual needs.1

However, only 25%2 of organizations can provide highly personalized service. Even fewer can ensure that service complies with policy rules and regulations. Compliance is critical in highly regulated industries like financial services, telecommunications, utilities, higher education, etc.

So how can you achieve personalized, compliant service that differentiates your brand?

By using a policy automation platform to automate and deploy policies across all touchpoints. Policies take the form of dynamic interviews, which ask questions relevant to individual customers, and automatically tailor service and offers based on customers’ real-time responses. The interviews document how each decision is made, and can automatically generate a report.

So what does this mean for your customers and you?! It means that if you are a bank and your customer doesn’t qualify for a loan, he can see how much he needs to raise his credit score in order to be eligible. Offering a personalized explanation eliminates the need to call the contact center and builds trust through transparency. And it gives your organization a comprehensive report of all customer interactions detailing policy compliance to ensure audit readiness.

Companies using this approach can provide highly personalized service—increasing loyalty and satisfaction—while being 100% confident they are compliant. 




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