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Great CX Starts at Home

Rick O'herron
Director CX Product Marketing

Oracle Customers Share CX Expertise at Open World 2017

Earlier this month, I attended Oracle Open World in San Francisco with a particular mission - to get closer to the people who use technology to create great customer experiences (CX).  Some companies’ focus on CX is a primary objective, while for others, they struggle with the internal change management necessary to align around a common CX vision.

I attended several customer presentations and two focus groups with my team.  All the attendees expressed strong, sincere and candid opinions about their company’s ability or inability to deliver great CX.

Most people I spoke with work for businesses that range from 130 – 500 employees, while a few others were Global 2000 firms with over 25K employees in several global regions.  We spoke about technology a fair bit, but what really surprised me were their comments about their fellow employees and company cultures.  Here’s a taste.

Is CX a Business Imperative?

The likelihood of CX being a company priority depends upon how competitive the industry is.   Generally, I’d say it was an even 50-50 split of the people I spoke with whose organization prioritizes CX.  One half feels they need to keep moving forward to understand, engage and please their customers. The other half either doesn’t consider it a mandate, or, they voiced frustration their management is complacent, despite knowing the world is changing around them.

If I were to ask ‘how do we provide a great customer experience?’ – the answer would be ‘we don’t.’  In many cases, we’re still doing business the same way we did it 20-30 years ago.”

We’re creating ‘customers for life’ – end users, partners and even employees.  We decided a few years ago that our go-to-market – everything we do, will enforce that.”

Customers are all-the-time-shoppers, so we create a client journey map for them.  We talk about every area, including employees, service excellence surveys, feedback – everything gets captured. If something can be taken the wrong way, it probably will.  We’re only as good as our last bad customer interaction.”

What Have Been Your Biggest CX Challenges and Surprises?

When I asked people who had finished a CX project what they might have done differently, 9 out of 10 answers related to people, not technology.  Some comments were inspiring about how to organize teams of people.  Others were more cautionary tales about the management challenges in this quickly evolving landscape.

“I was feeling good about visiting a client when I got a rude awakening.  I walked in wearing a suit, turned a corner, and immediately realized there was nobody there over 25.  I suddenly realized I was the old guy! We needed to wise up and get more in touch with our customers.”

“The technology was relatively easy to implement –about 2 months. The hard part was getting people on board.  I wish I had tripled the size of our team with volunteers from different departments.  Once our customer champions were on board and our CX vision set, I would have over-communicated across the entire company.” 

“I don’t really need more sales reps who can use new technology. I’d much rather hire reps who can relate to people and develop a rapport with our customers.”

“First impressions matter.  Treat all employees as implementers. Our employees onboard with their business cards, phone and computer ready for them at their desk on day one.  When you stress a common culture, it turns out employees are engaged and CX is easier and faster.”

Prioritizing 2018 and Beyond

As our conversations were wrapping up, I probed about where their focus will be in 2018 and beyond.  The laggards (just as much fun to listen to as the innovators!) spoke about getting budget to hire data analysts and various upgrades, or integrations to aging, creaky customer systems. If upper management doesn’t consider CX a priority, it won’t happen.

I don’t feel we look ahead well. I think to have a migration path is a massive undertaking.  If there’s a way to make it more painful, we will.”

Contrast that with quotes from those who are energized about their CX.  They have ambitious revenue growth goals and plan to adopt AI and cloud as fast as they possibly can.

“CX means all your people are rowing in the right direction.  If they’re not doing this and you mash the accelerator on a CX project, you’ll have a big fireball.”

“To do CX well, make sure your people are ready.  What’s probably not talked about is the aging workforce and their reluctance to learn anything new.  My biggest pain point is managing these people who want to cruise for the next two to three years and then retire.”

“If you want to do business faster, you need to get the intelligence that’s always analyzing the data all the time.”

“We dumped a rigid database in 2008 and adopted NetSuite instead.  Ever since, we decided to only use cloud technology for anything new.” 

 “I believe AI will be a big issue. Every product we build has some cognitive computing ability within it. The more AI built into any of these CX apps, the easier it is to analyze how to win deals. It’s almost like cheating it becomes so easy.”

In conclusion, I’ll quote Oracle’s Des Cahill, Oracle’s lead CX evangelist.  “When I think about customer experience and innovation, I think about today’s customer. The world isn’t changing. The world has changed. The customer isn’t changing. The customer has changed. This is a time when businesses must be taking action, to respond to this tremendous change.”  I wholeheartedly agree.

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