The pressure is on for exceptional experiences in real-life and real-work

March 1, 2023 | 5 minute read
Rob Tarkoff
Executive Vice President and General Manager, Oracle Customer Experience
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Last time I wrote about how some very clear expectations and pressures have changed how customers engage. 2023 will be a year unlike any we’ve seen in the last decade. The pull of customer expectations and larger market forces will expose how deep and interconnected the roots of CX technology must be to achieve real innovation. The most forward-thinking leaders – whether marketing, revenue, or technology – will see cx transformation as an enterprise-wide strategy powered by end-to-end flows, processes, and employee experiences that connect customers to the entire business across the digital customer lifecycle – from marketing campaigns, sales, and service engagements, to supply chain, billing, and logistics.

The core of that transformative value will lie in data. Today companies collect a treasure trove of data on customers to understand us better and to design superior experiences. Regularly, lawfully, and seamlessly, businesses collect smartphone and interaction data from across their customer, financial, and operations systems, to capture deep insights about their customers. Early movers in exceptional experience design will use this data to better understand customers and even preempt problems in customer journeys. It’s no longer question of collecting enough data – rather it’s about ensuring data is usable & liberated from company siloes to create new streams of customer insight while simultaneously safeguarding that data on behalf of customers.

How CX leaders leverage real-time and lifetime customer data to deliver on three key principles of customer experience will define success in 2023 and beyond. Let’s look at those three forces in more detail.

Speak to customers with one voice. One voice means customers experience one brand anytime, every time, anywhere. One voice means if a customer starts to engage with a favorite airline starting with a chatbot, they want to seamlessly transition to a voice call if things get complex – and not have to repeat everything they just said another ten times.

And, so, you guessed it: one voice to the customer starts with data. Analyzing data well is the digital equivalent to listening to your customer. Luckily there is no shortage of data and no shortage of opportunity to listen for those that build the skill. Data pours in from third party sources (web apps, in-store transactions, call centers) and ideally combines with the gold mine of first party data sitting in company databases (profile, account, company, contract). The real magic trick is using that data to truly know the customer and that customers’ unique context while creating value to that customers needs across the seams between marketing campaigns, e-commerce, contact centers, sales reps, resellers, shipping, billing, and financing. And it’s no longer enough to use data for analysis or targeting. The more high-quality data you can feed AI and ML algorithms from across the enterprise, the more powerfully data can drive recommendations to meet customer need. Well-fed AI can proactively orchestrate journeys across the entire customer lifecycle: personalized, just-in-time recommendations, next best offers, next best purchases, and any other predictive outcome that benefits them.

One voice is also where customer experience will meet employee experience. 2023 will be the year to renew investment in employee experiences – CRM and agent-facing tools infused with AI and enabling human-machine collaboration. Renewed innovation in targeted marketing that pinpoints exactly what we as customers desire. The business tools we as employees use to anticipate needs of customers require increasingly adapted workspaces with personalized recommendations based on employee role and communication style.

Deliver more choice for customers and better margins for the business. Digitizing existing business processes and customer engagements isn’t enough to compete in 2023 and beyond. Beyond improving the customer experience, businesses will change how they offer new experiences for existing products and services to improve margins. We will see the increased rise of x-as-a-service offerings that offer countless advantages with mutual benefits for both the customer and the business.

But those x-as-a-service offerings require deep integration into financials, supply-chain, and HR systems and processes. Only deeply ‘enterprise-data-and-process-rooted’ CX initiatives will be able to deliver. Why? While there are countless benefits to transforming to subscription business models, there are disruptive cultural, technological, and financial forces. X-as-a-Service is not easy. Over half of companies who embark on subscription transformation will face massive cultural and operational challenges. Go-to-market and sales approaches need to adapt to long-term relationships and the importance of customer success and renewals. Financial systems now need to support recurring revenue models and real-time, flexible billing. Supporting the complete customer lifecycle requires reworking of internal systems and processes: marketing needs historical customer data, service agents and sales reps need data like usage and renewals data, contracts and invoices, commerce channels need accurate pricing, inventory, and – most importantly – finance needs compliance information, customer lifetime value, and financial actuals.

Mitigate risk and control costs. Every business headline we read today brings news about the immense macro-economic headwinds of 2023. And so, 2023 will be the year businesses re-evaluate their CX tech stacks. While, over the past decade, we’ve had an all-star lineup of CX technologies to choose from, the sheer volume of CX applications has evolved and expanded to the point of becoming unmanageable. The lights are coming on after the party and businesses are looking at a room full of feature-rich yet under-utilized tools that fail to meet expectations. Left with myriad point solutions to manage, IT teams are faced with potentially 100s of best-of-breed applications, poorly integrated and limited to single business units, disconnected natively from the rest of the ecosystem. IT is often left holding the bag to create best practice flows between CX systems and reconciling how to manage the sea of individual systems manually.

Businesses can no longer keep utilizing their IT teams the same way they have for 30 years– managing all applications, operations, and infrastructure. The good news is, as cloud computing matures, the opportunity to modernize how IT operates and listens to the customer also matures. IT has a huge renaissance opportunity. The modern cloud means that IT can offload the costs of managing mission critical operations like privacy, security, encryption, maintenance, and upgrades. The focus can turn toward experience differentiation, ultimately, funneling investment back into building value for customers.

The role of CX professionals is rapidly becoming one of enterprise conductor guiding a symphony of enterprise data and process to accelerate the meaningful outcomes that drive business. In my next blog about the future of CX, I’ll introduce you to Oracle’s CX product direction. We intend to cut through the hype and bloated promises of massive and disparate CX platforms by delivering the best of breed features into a single, unified, and streamlined enterprise suite of applications. We do not believe that the current pace of disparate single purpose CX SaaS platform offerings is sustainable nor is it productive towards enduring private and secure customer relationships in the future.

I look forward to sharing our CX vision with you in my next blog.

Rob Tarkoff

Executive Vice President and General Manager, Oracle Customer Experience

Rob Tarkoff joined Oracle in 2018 to lead Oracle Customer Experience (CX) Cloud product and strategy across marketing, sales, commerce, and service. His goal is to build products that help companies succeed in the Experience Economy.

Tarkoff spent the last 15 years focused on the customer experience, developing products for both large and early-stage companies. Most recently, as president and CEO of Lithium Technologies, he created the leading software in online communities. Prior to that, Tarkoff ran the Digital Enterprise business for Adobe.

Tarkoff holds a BA in political economy from Amherst College and a JD from Harvard Law School.

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