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How Costco Increased Agent Productivity with Simple Oracle Service Cloud Toolbox Innovations

I've been a software developer with Costco for almost 20 years! I actually started in the food court, moved to the tire center, and applied for a programmer trainee position. I took the aptitude test, and got into the training course, and came out as a developer! This transition marked the beginning of a career working on many different systems across multiple departments at Costco.

Over the last five years, I've been part of a small IT team dedicated to supporting our Member Service Center. In May 2016, I started working on Oracle Service Cloud. We're focused on offering web self-service, chat and capturing phone calls. We recently launched chat, which has been very popular with both our customers and agents and is accelerating our first call resolution rate!

We have loved how we can configure and customize Oracle Service Cloud to meet our business needs. I wanted to share an example of how I used out of the box functionality in order to deal with a unique business challenge within Costco.

The Challenge

Many Oracle Service Cloud customers use web forms for email submissions and benefit from the native SPAM filtering functionality built into the system. However, Costco's email configuration is a little unique, because we use a separate email-only domain and a 3rd party email host for our direct emails.

While our email host has been great and has several SPAM avoidance options, the Oracle client doesn't provide SPAM feedback to our email host. Consequently, our email host can't get any "smarter" or learn what we consider to be SPAM. And we keep getting SPAM (e.g. vendors who want Costco to carry their products; "spray and pray" marketing emails; trashy spam that you'd see in your personal email).

The problem was twofold: (1) we needed agents to get through emails faster and (2) we wanted to prevent future SPAM.

The Solution

I knew that our Oracle Service Cloud agent workspace-with all of its required fields-has a "minimum time required" to complete it correctly. For a customer email, all of these fields are valuable for solving customer issues and for creating great reporting. However, when agents are dealing with SPAM, they just need to get to the next email and not waste any time filling out required fields. And it's even better if they don't see another SPAM email from that Contact.

To address this problem, I started by developing a "big click target" SPAM workspace. Now if an agent gets a SPAM email, they can just hit the SPAM button in the workspace ribbon and the incident disappears...POOF! No required fields. No more of the agent's time wasted. This addressed the first problem of helping agents get through emails faster.

Of course, if the agent made a mistake, they can go into Recent Items, re-open the incident, open the contact and change the AutoSPAM flag. As a side note, we did have some agents accidentally hit the SPAM workspace button, so we moved the button away from the Send & Exit button. Position matters!

In order to prevent future SPAM email from a sender, I added a business rule that checks the AutoSPAM Contact field on incoming emails. If the AutoSPAM field is flagged "Yes," it goes into an AutoSPAM queue. Future incoming emails from this email address will be reviewed by a supervisor to confirm it's SPAM.

In addition to solving the problem, our agents loved the ability to quickly process SPAM ("Wow, I'm done with that!") and appreciated that we made their job easier. Can you tell that I love the configurability and customization options within Oracle Service Cloud? You can check out the step-by-step instructions with screenshots in the attached PDF.

Even if you don't have the same SPAM problem that we do, this concept has many different applications. You can take the top five disposition codes for incidents and make five buttons to set fields. Even auto-insert an answer. You don't want to miss the right reason codes from a reporting perspective, but you also don't have to bog agents down with repetitive clicks.

By sharing this innovation, I hope to encourage and inspire you to learn about the different tools within the Oracle Service Cloud toolbox and how you can combine them to create simple yet effective solutions for your organization. 

File : Configuration-Details_How-Costco-Increased-Agent-Productivity-with-Simple-OSVC-Toolbox-Innovations.pdf (279KB)

Join the discussion

Comments ( 31 )
  • Ivan Abaitey Friday, March 9, 2018

    This is a very smart way to deal with the problem. A couple of days back I was writing
    business rules to target certain criteria and delete them automatically in the system.
    Well some mails still come through and the question is how many rules do I need to
    close the door on spam. This is a very smart way to deal with it. Thanks for the post.

  • Michael Locurcio Friday, March 9, 2018

    I am looking to move to 'Push Button' incidents, that is, all required fields are
    set with the push of a single button with the agent left to simply fill in the bare
    minimum.

  • Lauren Friday, March 9, 2018

    This is a great idea! What are your checks and balances to ensure that emails/senders
    flagged as SPAM are truly SPAM? Just wondering if you have any folks on your team
    that run through reports on a regular basis.

  • Pramod Vasudeva Murthy Saturday, March 10, 2018

    COSTCO - my fav wholesale/retail giant in Australia, loved going there and roam around
    the big shop heart

    Never got to know they are users of OSvC.

    Amazing job on SPAM detector!

    ~VIP

  • Edson Junior Monday, March 12, 2018

    Hey James, well done! I love to read stories like your where we can learn from somebody
    built your career challenging yourself plus sharing what learned.

    Thanks for doing that. yes!!

  • James W. Monday, March 12, 2018
    Lauren said:

    This is a great idea! What are your checks and balances to ensure that emails/senders
    flagged as SPAM are truly SPAM? Just wondering if you have any folks on your team
    that run through reports on a regular basis.

    View original

    The SPAM goes to a queue that gets reviewed. Because it is already considered SPAM
    the agent can go in with that assumption and a detailed report view provides the fields
    that are needed to do a quick yet thorough audit of the SPAM.

  • Kristine Tannert Tuesday, March 13, 2018

    Thank you, this is a great idea! We have similar issues with SPAM, so I will definitely
    be taking your ideas here back to my team to see if we can improve efficiency.

  • CherylK Tuesday, March 13, 2018

    Thank you for sharing this solution, James! I can see how we could apply something
    similar.

  • Erik Henley Wednesday, March 14, 2018

    Thanks for showing us your solution. Great!

  • Ammar Aldaffaie Thursday, March 15, 2018

    Hi James, thank you so much for sharing your great idea!

  • Jess Campbell Thursday, March 15, 2018

    I'm totally stealing this!

  • Ajay John Wednesday, March 21, 2018

    Awesome. We did something similar for blocking fraudsters from chat

  • Heiko Mock Friday, March 23, 2018

    Hi James,

    many thanks for sharing this helpful and useful information with us.

  • Luis Melo Thursday, March 29, 2018

    Well done James. This is great stuff and it is also great that you are sharing with
    the community. Others will certainly learn from it and I'm sure this will trigger
    other ideas in their heads. Keep up the good work!

  • Tom Oates Saturday, March 31, 2018

    Thanks for sharing your story.

  • Dennis Collins Monday, April 2, 2018

    This is a very innovative solution. Great job with helping user to increase their
    efficiency and save time. Very inspiring story!

  • Robert Pozderec Monday, April 2, 2018

    Great idea, thanks for sharing!

  • Nicole Anderson Monday, April 2, 2018

    Thanks for sharing James, it's no wonder Karen speaks so highly of you! :)

  • Mario Padilla Monday, April 2, 2018

    Great work James !!! James and our team are always willing to discuss solutions to
    pain points and keep our agents on task and increase productivity. Oracle helps us
    do that.

  • Tessa Wednesday, April 4, 2018

    Awesome. Intuitive design makes people happy.

  • Andy Marks Wednesday, April 4, 2018

    This is a great idea, James. Spam isn't a problem for us but this has inspired me
    to find some easy "one click" solutions for repetitive tasks.

  • Michelle Hiland Thursday, April 5, 2018

    I love how simple this solution is to what was causing a big problem. Thanks for sharing
    James!

  • Dev Aditya Monday, April 9, 2018

    Great idea!!!

  • Wayne Phillips Monday, April 9, 2018

    Nice work. Great article!

  • Eric Chanmysay Tuesday, April 10, 2018

    thanks for sharing your workaround. this may be very helpful to my organization.

  • Eric Chanmysay Tuesday, April 10, 2018

    thanks for sharing, this will be useful to my organization.

  • Justin Thursday, April 19, 2018

    We have implemented something similar for Spam/disconected calls/ghost calls/prank
    calls. The agents love it cause it lets them skip all the normally required fields.

  • fgeorgina Wednesday, April 25, 2018

    This is absolutely great, I will definitely use if for SPAM!! we have applied something
    similar for phone interactions on "quick calls" those where a client didn't want to
    give their name but there was certain interaction, the call got disconnected, it was
    a ghost call (no one on the other side), one of our KPIs is "login" and that makes
    our calls logged number closer to the number of calls recieved.

  • Carla Costa Friday, April 27, 2018

    This is great! on our way to implement!

  • Shana Hughes Tuesday, October 22, 2019
    "we did have some agents accidentally hit the SPAM workspace button, so we moved the button away from the Send & Exit button. Position matters!"

    Great example of testing and learning from your user group! Giving relevant tools to the people who use the tool is so critical in delivering change. Would be great to hear more about focus groups and team feedback on process improvements you've made!

    Congratulations on taming the Spam beast!
  • Anuj Behl Wednesday, July 1, 2020
    Interesting approach to a common problem. **taking pointers**
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