Recently I had the opportunity to join many of our customers at Oracle’s Modern Service Experience in Las Vegas. Attendees were presented with a huge variety of solution demonstrations, analyst sessions, and customer panels. During this high-energy event we also had the opportunity to answer a burning customer question: Where is all of our technology headed? Here’s how we answered and outlined how the Oracle Service Cloud team will continue to help drive the evolution of service.
In the past, we lived in a world of multi-channel – in which customers would pick a channel and received all service via that one channel. Knowledge was in silos, so a customer would have to navigate through an organization in order to find the person who had the answer they needed. Finally, all service was assisted, and you always engaged directly with a service provider. Fast forward to today…
Multi-channel has now been replaced with the concept of omni-channel, where a customer might contact a company via the web, and that company might respond back with a text message or a call. Or a customer might initiate contact via social media and then switch over to a messaging app as the conversation continues. Customers move from channel to channel throughout the customer journey.
Customers no longer need to hunt for the person with the right answer. In our knowledge-supported world, any well-trained customer service rep can look up the answer. We have also moved beyond assisted service to a world of self-service, where customers do not need to engage a person at all, but can find answers on their own.
Now we are faced with the question…what happens next?
The Advent of Organic Channels
We believe that the omni-channel experience will continue evolving into what we call “Organic Channels,” with “organic” defined as multiple elements forming a whole. In this concept, customers will not move from channel to channel throughout their journey, but will combine channels together simultaneously, creating their own unique experience.
Have you ever spoken with a customer service rep on the phone, while searching through that company’s website at the same time? Have you ever taken it a step further, and started a chat session, or visited a community for more information – all during that same engagement? As customers, we have the power to move beyond the invisible rails of an omni-channel experience, by overlapping multiple channels creating our own experience.
This phenomenon expands the vision for the Oracle Service Cloud because our product will not only need to accommodate each new conversation channel, but also accommodate the infinite number of channel combinations that can appear organically at any moment, and will disappear at the end of each customer engagement.
Our vision is that our platform will enable organizations to manage and even create dynamically changing channels composed of multiple elements. In addition, we will provide the toolkit to build and manage these integrated experiences, and provide visibility into customers creating their own experience. Regardless of whatever new channels or combination of channels the market can create, our platform will meet the challenge.
Organic Channels also create new challenges. Most notably, if service channels become so dynamic, how can a company offer a consistent quality experience? The answer lies in knowledge systems.
From Knowledge-Supported to Knowledge-Driven Service
The Oracle Service Cloud team envisions knowledge-supported organizations evolving into completely Knowledge Driven organizations.
In order to explain the concept of Knowledge Driven organizations, let me tell another story.
Back in the early 90s, if you wanted to purchase stock you went to a stockbroker. Why did you do this? First, they had a terminal where they could place an order. Second, they had access to all stock research, which was impossible to get as an individual. Third, the stockbroker was plugged into a community of other investors, who shared information about hot stocks and trends in the market.
Basically a stockbroker was an individual who was supported by all these knowledge systems.
Fast forward to today…
If you want to purchase a stock as an individual, you no longer go to a stockbroker. You more likely go online to a brokerage like e*trade, Scottrade, or Ameritrade. Why do you go to these sites? First, they offer a terminal where you can place an order. Second, they have digitized all the stock research, so you have all the reports right at your fingertips. Third, they offer automated guided assistants providing investment advice. These sites can even connect you to communities of other investors sharing information. However, in the event that none of these systems can get you the information you need, they will put you in touch with a live stockbroker.
Do you see the change? At one point you went to a stockbroker who was supported by knowledge systems. Now you go to knowledge systems that are supported by stockbrokers. The two players have simply switched places.
This is not a new concept – we have seen this happen everywhere, from how we book travel to how we prepare our taxes. We believe that this phenomenon has hit critical mass and that all industries will start to demand this style of service.
As part of Oracle Service Cloud’s vision, we are building the tools to allow any organization to become completely knowledge-driven, where your customer’s first interaction with your brand will be through one of your automated knowledge systems, and your customer service reps will only handle the exceptions.
However, accomplishing this goal requires much more than just a robust knowledge database.
Oracle’s knowledge vision includes our drive to unify all sources of knowledge. However, we are going a step further. With our community developments, we aim to unlock unstructured tribal knowledge. Finally, with our work in knowledge automation, we aim to allow our systems to answer any question, even if the answer is “it depends.” These different knowledge tools working in concert empower customers to get the answers they need through any channel, even one they created organically.
Furthermore, transitioning to a knowledge-driven organization enables companies to scale, because unlike human experts, the knowledge system does not eat, does not sleep, can monitor every channel, and speaks every language.
Finally, the combination of Organic Channels and Knowledge Driven organizations power assisted service and self-service to evolve into everything becoming a service.
At Oracle, we have access to all sorts of cool technologies. What happens if you start introducing new technologies into the organically created service channels? Technologies like natural language processing, the Internet of Things, and componentization.
Once you inject these new technologies you can unleash new capabilities, such as the ability to offer Service-as-a-Feature, create self-solving products, or offer insight-driven and predictive service.
Introducing these concepts can help organizations to change their entire business models. Service organizations can become sales organizations, machines can travel the entire customer journey on behalf of the customer, and almost any product can be sold as a subscription service.
Change is constant in any industry. There will always be another generation of users, companies, and technologies impacting business and our personal lives. Oracle Service Cloud’s vision follows this natural evolution in the service industry, including the advent of Organic Channels, the market-wide movement to Knowledge Driven organizations, ultimately leading to all company offerings becoming services. We are excited about this journey and hope you will join us as we embark on powering service experiences for the next generation!