Wednesday Oct 22, 2014

CPQ Technology + Best-in-Class Processes = Sales Superiority

Our blog journey thus far has showcased the superior performance and customer satisfaction supported by configure / price / quote users within Aberdeen’s research.  Let’s seal the deal with specific competencies you need to adopt when implementing your own CPQ platform.  Remember, this isn’t the author compelling you to make change: Best-in-Class performers – the top 20% achievers around reps achieving quota, revenue growth and lead conversion improvements – among your peers, contemporaries, and competitors, are calling out the best practices.

[Read More]

Thursday Oct 16, 2014

Four Lessons from Junior Soccer: Can Everyone Actually Be a Winner?

I’m a parent, and have faced that common moment-of-truth debate: should every kid on the soccer team receive a trophy, simply for participating?  Should we keep score in Little League baseball?  I’m also a capitalist: I believe in healthy competition, coaching for everyone who needs it, and rewards for the strongest achievers.  In professional selling, which is my research focus, there are obvious winners and losers: even on high-performing business development teams, the tote board on the wall or the CRM dashboard loudly proclaims who wins the watch, who gets the steak knives, and…you know the rest.  

[Read More]

Monday Sep 22, 2014

Do your customers know more than your agents? Shift the equation with this webcast Thurs., Sept. 25 at 2 pm ET featuring Amberleaf

Have you ever called a contact center and known more about the company’s products and services than the agent? Or been bounced around to several different agents before you got the right answer?

That’s a recipe for customer service disaster. Don’t let that happen to your organization.

Tune into this webcast on Thursday, September 25 at 11 am PT / 2 pm ET to become the Master Chef of modern customer service with best practices from Amberleaf President John Kariotis. 

Over the last 15 years, John has helped hundreds of companies transform their contact centers into modern customer service organizations.

He’ll share customer success stories – and pitfalls to watch out for – so you can accelerate your own success.

Register here

Friday Jul 11, 2014

CX Cloud Summer Soiree Friday, August 1 from 1-5 pm at the Columbia Yacht Club in Chicago by John Kariotis

Join AmberLeaf and Oracle for an afternoon of fun in the sun on Lake Michigan at the CX Summer Soiree

 

Many businesses are still organized and operate as they did before cloud, before social, before mobile, before big data and analytics arrived. Imagine for a moment what your business would be like if it these technologies were native to your business operations and not an afterthought.

  • How would you re-envision your business model?
  • How would you re-envision your infrastructure, processes, decisions and experiences?
  • How would you re-envision your products and services?

Join us at the AmberLeaf and Oracle CX Summer Soiree and explore new possibilities and opportunities for your business. Gain insight from a number of current clients and thought leaders in keynotes offering unique perspectives in a unique environment.

  • Oracle’s vision for Customer Experience in the Cloud
  • Improving service solutions through cross-channel interactions
  • Take a knowledge-driven approach to serving customer needs
  • How the integrated Customer Experience Cloud service solutions complement back-office ERP operations
  • Convergence of the Marketing and Service Clouds by automating how to maximize service interactions and marketing effectiveness
  • How to take control of your Social Cloud to transform your service operations
  • How to gain efficiency and improved returns on your CX investments

On the shores of Lake Michigan you will experience several educational and interactive discussions on the bow, on the aft deck, and on the forward deck of Columbia Yacht Club. Each session will be followed by Columbia’s Sommelier hosting a wine tasting set to the theme of ‘America Cup II’ between California and New Zealand.

We will clear the clouds by sampling different wines of each region while learning about Oracle CX solutions. Each tasting will be voted on which country had the best wine so you can determine who wins the next America’s Cup!

The Oracle CX Summer Soiree will allow you to collaborate with peers, industry leaders, Oracle experts and AmberLeaf to share ideas and stories.

Register for the AmberLeaf and Oracle CX Summer Soiree on August 1 from 1:00 – 5:00 PM CDT

Tuesday Jun 10, 2014

How Does a 724% Return on Your Salesforce Automation Investment Sound?

Oracle Sales Cloud and Marketing Cloud customer Apex IT gained just that, a 724% return on investment (ROI) when they implemented these Oracle Cloud solutions in their fast-moving, rapidly-growing business.

This achievement just helped them win the Nucleus Research 11th annual Technology ROI Awards. The award, given by the analyst firm highlights organizations that have successfully leveraged IT deployments to maximize value per dollar spent.

Read more to get the details on what Oracle Sales Cloud and Oracle Marketing Cloud are doing for Apex IT's business and why they won.

[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: education.oracle.com/salescloud

Friday Apr 18, 2014

Customer Relationship Management Simplified – Why User Adoption is a Key Metric

"Out of all the CRM project problems reported, we found the most significant threat to be slow user adoption."

— Bill Band, Principal Analyst, Forrester

So you’ve purchased a state-of-the-art Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system for your Sales organization. Your goals: better forecasts, closing more deals, and ultimately increasing revenue. But are people using it?

Read on and learn about:

  • The three primary challenges that can get in your way
  • Oracle's take on addressing user adoption challenges
  • The benefits Oracle Sales Cloud customers are experiencing
[Read More]

Part 4 of 6: The Art of Easy: Moving at the Speed of Easy by Chris Omland

The speed of change IS the speed of Easy. To meet the demands of what it takes to exceed your customers' expectations, you have to be like Superman -- "Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings at a single bound!" The velocity of easy isn't stopping or slowing down; catching up isn't going to be good enough.

The real question is, “How do you move ahead of the speed of easy?” You can’t see into the future, but you can be ready for constant, fast moving change.  Agility starts from the ground up, as the foundation will ultimately dictate your ability to change—the degrees of what can change and the speed that change can be applied.

So under your shirt, do you have an “S”? Do you have a platform that has the tools to enable agile innovation of customer and agent experiences, the extensibility and integration options to meet the unique needs of every business and customer, and the proven reliability and security demanded by today’s modern customers? To get ahead, you need to stick an “S” on it.

Here are 5 Platform Super Powers that you need to consider to move at the speed of easy:

  1. Be Agile
  2. Be Unique
  3. Have ONE Master
  4. Own Your Schedule
  5. Prove Reliability

#1 Be “Agile”: Meaning “create, deliver, and fix stuff… fast, right?” It does if that is what the business demands of you to meet the expectations of your customers. Don't deliver to scope, to scale, and on time, and you fail at serving the business and customer needs.  No pressure, right? And certainly not easy, especially with a spaghetti foundation, whose complexity has been matured over time.  The answer for most businesses is not “rip it out and rebuild”, even if the new CIO says that's what is needed.

Modern Customer Service requires you to develop, test, deploy, maintain, measure, and refine processes that help differentiate customer service experiences when they are needed most.  So “agile innovation” is really about your ability to establish a foundational layer that allows you to effectively deliver at the speed of change. To do that, you need a platform that is purpose built with the tools, designers, analytics and operations that overlay all that complexity to make it easy again.

#2 Your Footprint Is Unique – Respect it!: Lets face it, your business is unique, which means you must interact with your customers in a unique way, too. You have unique systems, which are an essential part of your business processes—and your environment is constantly changing.

This means you need solutions that can work with your unique footprint. Solutions that can integrate seamlessly into your environment and processes—and are not just bolted on. These solutions need to work with, not replace, your existing systems. They need to work on your schedule, giving you flexibility in your upgrades. They need to provide you with the ability to tailor the solution through configuration, not code. And for those times when you need to go beyond the configuration options, you need open and standards-based APIs that your developers, existing solutions, and tooling can work with on day one without learning proprietary languages and protocols.

#3 Have ONE Master: Your business already has customer data, product data, processes, and systems that you use every day. The trick is not to duplicate and reconcile later. Not to create another silo.  

Working with existing systems can mean synchronizing data, loading data in real-time, integrating functionality to create a unified business process, or bringing together user interfaces. The requirements and implementation will be different for every business, but what is common is the need to bring systems together to meet customer needs and the support processes you have to deliver on those needs.

#4 Own Your Schedule: You set your plans according to your business needs, because only you know when you business is ready to make changes in your solutions. You know when your support request volumes will be at a low point, when you can retrain agents, and when you can deploy new functionality. Why should any vendor tell you when you should upgrade your solution? And if you have more than one Cloud Vendor, how do you juggle all of the timing conflicts and disruptive schedules?

Consolidate, standardize and have the freedom to set your own schedule. You did it with your on-premise solutions, so why shouldn't you expect the same from your Cloud solutions? Especially with solutions that support your most critical asset—your customers!

#5 Don't TRUST It - Prove It: In the end, Modern Customer Service is about an experience and a relationship you develop with your customers. All great relationships are built upon one fundamental concept—trust. Trust means reliability, performance, and availability. Trust is not established and left alone. It’s earned, it’s proven, and it’s continually put to the test. Your customers are trusting you to protect the relationship they have with your brand. That means you have to be always available, responsive, and secure.

To build, prove, and protect this trust with your customer, you need a solution that offers you the same level of trust. It’s easy to say a solution is proven, secure, and can deliver on your customer expectations.  But, it’s another to have proven it through reference customer examples, reference implementations, the highest level of security and compliance accreditations, and a global enterprise network with 24x7.

Put an ‘S’ under your shirt and transform to Modern Customer Service. Start with a platform that enables agile innovation, respects your unique needs, and has proven reliability to help you protect your customer relationships.  Learn why not all Clouds are equal.  The Oracle Service Cloud platform is built from the ground up to help your business move at the speed of easy.

Thursday Apr 03, 2014

Checklist for Sales and Sales Operations Leaders

You’re running a sales or sales operations team. You get invited to a number of events—or are spending time out of the office with customers. That’s your job.

Another invitation comes along. You quickly scan it, thinking “what’s in this for me?

The Checklist

  • New Ideas: Do you look outside your company, to industry thought leaders and your sales peers for new ideas?

  • Career Planning: Is it important to look ahead—for your business and your career—to understand where Selling is headed and how it’s changing your job?

  • Translating Plans to Action: Is there something you could learn from your peers—running Sales organizations like yours—about doing things faster, closing more big-ticket deals?

[Read More]

Monday Jan 20, 2014

Pamper your customer's ‘Remembering Self’ by Krassimira Iordanova

A friend came back from a three-week vacation on the Maldives. Lucky guy!

"How was your vacation?" I asked.

"Great," he said. The place was just marvelous and the diving experience was phenomenal. However, the flight on the way back was horrendous. It ruined my whole vacation."

"Really?" I raised my eyebrow. "How could a nine-hour flight ruin three weeks of great vacation?"

My friend had chosen a selected piece of memory to drive how he felt about his entire experience.

To understand why, let’s look at the differences between the Experiencing self and the Remembering self, as outlined by Daniel Kahneman, Nobel laureate and founder of behavioral economics.

The Experiencing self and Remembering self 

The Experiencing self focuses on the present, which consists of a chain of moments. As Daniel Kahneman says,

"the psychological presence is set to three seconds long... so most of the experiences we have leave no trace and are completely ignored by the Remembering self. For the Remembering self, those chains of moments are lost forever, but what stays are the memories. And memories are defined by:

  • Changes
  • Significant moments
  • Endings.

 And endings are very important."

Why does this matter to Customer Experience? Because the Remembering self is the story-teller. It tells us what to keep from our experiences to create a story. That means if you have a business, you'd better address the Remembering self of your customers. Because you want to positively influence the story they will tell about you—on Facebook, Twitter, and to their friends. This matters because it will either create business value for your brand, or negatively impact it.

The Customer Experience

The customer experience is the combination of all interactions a customer has with your brand, from searching products on your website to calling a customer service agent to visiting a branch.

A customer might have a positive interaction visiting your website and chatting with an agent, but an error at checkout might cause the customer to report that "the whole experience was ruined". You might say, "Wait a second, the customer had a lot of positive experiences, only the last interaction was bad. It’s not a big deal." It is a BIG DEAL. It’s what the customer remembers—and endings matter!

That's why a consistent, positive cross-channel customer experience is one of the only sustainable advantages you have. A single bad experience can cause you to lose a customer, and all the potential customers they tell.

Key Takeaways

Experiences happen anytime, anywhere. Make sure the experiences you give customers are personalized, positive and consistent across channels.

Be there in the moments that matter most to delivering on your brand promise, and your customers will reward you with loyalty and advocacy.

Pamper your customer's Remembering self—surprise them, wow them! Last week, I received an email from Airbnb with proposed greetings cards for me to send to my hosts—all I had to do was select the design and hit send. Was I surprised? Yes! Was I wowed? Yes! Did I remember it? Yes! Did I tell my friends? Yes! My positive experience and willingness to share it with others created business value for Airbnb.

Design the story you want your customers to tell. Do that by mapping your customer’s journey with your brand, identifying all the interaction points that could leave a "memory" their Remembering self will say to themselves and others.

Start mapping your customer’s journey today by signing up for a complimentary journey mapping workshop near you.

Upcoming 2014 Journey Mapping Workshops:

 

Upcoming 2014 Journey Mapping Workshops in Europe:

Upcoming Journey Mapping Workshops in Asia-Pacific:

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