Wednesday May 04, 2016

A Reflection on Modern Customer Experience

Oracle was thrilled to host over 2000 customers and partners in Las Vegas to share thought leadership around customer experience. The conference was organized around 4 paths: Marketing, Sales, Service and Commerce.

Siva Sundaresan, GVP- Oracle Sales Applications

The Modern Sales Experience unfolded with a remarkable keynote speech by Siva Sundaresan, GVP- Oracle Sales Applications, to a packed audience.  Siva dove deep into the market trends and strategic insights driving Oracle’s technology Innovation, Siva emphasized the need for organizations to curb the margin erosion often introduced by new competitive disruptors. He encouraged companies, looking for growth and higher margins, to demand clear visibility of data and flow of information across the complete customer journey. While presenting his vision of a seamlessly integrated suite of systems that empower extended sales ecosystems, he highlighted Oracle’s full range of solutions (SFA, CPQ, PRM, SPM and CDM) that help Sales Organizations and Partners/Re-sellers to respond to leads, position the right products and services to targeted customers at right time, and close deals. Siva concluded by positioning Oracle as the partner of choice for leading organizations for data stewardship across channels.


This set the stage for Ingolf Abisgold, Head of Sales Performance - DB Schenker, who shared his insights from his 20-20 strategy initiative to drive customer experience in his logistics and distribution business. Driven by the ambitious goals of his CEO, Ingolf launched this initiative to incentivize their channel partners and improve sales performance. He acknowledged Oracle’s data stewardship that laid the foundation for standardized processes across the distribution network at DB Schenker, accurately measuring, monitoring and reporting on set KPIs.

It was great start of the second day of the conference with Troy Carter, founding chairman and CEO of Atom Factory. His legendary journey from a Philadelphia neighborhood to the top of the music industry touched everyone among the audience. He shared insights of his journey from starting his grass-roots business to launching Lady Gaga’s spectacular career, turning customers into raving fans. He left a lasting impression in the conference arena with his grandmother’s statement about how to keep going in your darkest hours – “You can’t fall off the floor”.

Carrying on the momentum, Mark Hurd shared his vision to enable a seamless customer journey across B2B, B2B2C and B2C models, reinforcing the exemplary experiences shared by Siva, Ingolf and Troy. Mark emphasized that companies that realize the highest customer satisfaction scores perform exponentially better in the market than those that don’t.  CEOs today have a challenge to implement new processes and tools which can impact their customer’s experience at a faster pace than ever before- and they need to find ways to invest in critical CX improvements despite the headwinds of flat or declining margins. He challenged businesses to focus on unmet needs- which will still account for 95% of untapped markets.

After these keynotes, the conference proceeded into detailed sessions featuring customer experiences and best practices across all the CX pillars: Oracle CPQ Cloud, Oracle Sales Cloud, Oracle Commerce Cloud and Oracle Service Cloud.  We were thrilled to hear insight from CX customers at industry leaders including Panasonic, Panduit, ADP, Siemens, Dell, Rockwell Automation, and many more.

To read more about the conference and to bookmark your calendar to attend next year- click here

[Read More]

Tuesday May 03, 2016

Join Service for the Next Generation Webcast

By Stephen Fioretti, Vice President, Product Management, Oracle Service Cloud @sfioretti

Is your ability to become a leader in delivering customer service excellence keeping you up at night, especially as customers' expectations grow and their channel preferences dynamically change? Are you able to ensure you are delivering accurate answers through the web, mobile and contact center?

You are not alone. Digital channels are exploding and web self-service is about to become the single biggest channel for customer service. Not surprisingly, the number of customers engaging with their brand for customer support via their mobile devices is growing exponentially, with some organizations experiencing up to 50-70% of their interactions via mobile devices (Source: Oracle's Oracle Service Cloud customer base). Add digital channels like chat and social, and the task of delivering a consistent, unified experience can seem daunting. As a leader who aspires to deliver world-class customer care, how should you respond?

We asked Gartner, the leading information technology research and advisory firm, and Gogo, the leading provider of inflight internet and entertainment, to join us and discuss trends, insights, and the latest innovations with web and mobile self-service, digital channels like social and chat, and knowledge management. We can help provide the information you need to address this next evolution of customer service.

Tune in to the upcoming webinar on Wednesday, May 4 and get answers. You will learn about:

  • Market trends, pain points and imperatives in the world of customer service
  • How the growth of digital channels and mobile web customer service are crucial for delivering great service experiences
  • What organizations are doing to address the digital channel revolution in their overall customer service strategy
  • How easy-to-find and accurate knowledge management is a critical foundation for delivering customer service
  • How service needs to be consistent, simple, convenient and immediate
  • The impact that IoT (Internet of Things) will have on customer service 

 Jerry Oversen, VP, Global Customer Services at Gogo  Michael Maoz, VP, Distinguished Analyst at Gartner   Stephen Fioretti, VP Product Management at Oracle


Tuesday Sep 22, 2015

Learning How to Disrupt and Deliver Stellar Experiences at Gartner Customer 360

By Christine Randle, Analyst Relations, Oracle Service Cloud

Last week Gartner held its annual
Gartner Customer 360 Summit in San Diego. The event is well-worth attending and this year was no exception. The theme: “Delivering Great Customer Experiences at the Speed of Digital Business” had an agenda packed with both strategic and tactical content from leading analysts like Michael Maoz, Olive Huang and Jim Davies (just to name a few) to help attendees build powerful Customer Experience (CX) programs.

Oracle was onsite, and we were thrilled to have two of our marquee customers presenting at the event. BeachBody’s Louis Ross was on hand to share details about how the company has designed an agile customer-centric strategy for its over 16 million customers and 200,000 coaches that delivers seamless and personalized experiences.

And not only did LinkedIn’s Andy Yasutake present at the event, but he and his team of masterful customer operations professionals won a Gartner and 1to1 Media Customer Excellence Award for Innovation in Service!

Now, we’ve all heard of LinkedIn (unless you live under a rock), but what you may not know about is the company’s ‘Members First’ initiative (Hint: this is why they won the Gartner and 1to1 award). This program was developed by some seriously smart people at LinkedIn who are dedicated to delivering stellar member experiences to folks just like you! I mean, you’re a LinkedIn member, right?

So what is ‘Members First’? LinkedIn developed this program after recognizing the need to put more focus on its member community. So the company partnered with Oracle Service Cloud to develop a program built on the well-established trinity of people, process, and technology.  The goal: To boost member engagement and satisfaction across the globe.

The LinkedIn support team had been servicing members using reactive, manual processes, resulting in siloed data that was difficult to analyze and act on. As member growth exploded, Andy and his team realized that this approach was no longer sustainable and sprang into action, standing up its Global Customer Operations (GCO) team and developing four pillars for success: Prevention, deflection, efficiency, and adding value. Importantly, the program established a means for LinkedIn to actively listen to members’ direct and indirect feedback, identifying key trends and service gaps. This proactive approach allows the team to hone in on the most pressing issues both quickly and precisely.

And it’s working! With an 85% decrease in average initial response times and a 68% decrease in average resolution times, LinkedIn has achieved an impressive 23% increase in its CSAT scores, up from 6.6 to 8.1. Not too shabby!

Congratulations LinkedIn! This is a shining example of what happens when an organization lives and breathes customer experience.  For a more in-depth look at this award winning ‘Members First’ initiative, check out LinkedIn’s presentation from Gartner Customer 360. It’s chock full of real-world advice that you can leverage in your own organization. Need more? For added detail on exactly why LinkedIn is a leader in customer excellence, read the 1to1 Media article about the program. Then tell us how you plan to disrupt and deliver your own stellar customer or member experiences!

Friday Sep 11, 2015

Oracle Service Cloud Granted U.S. Department of Defense Authority to Operate

Oracle Service Cloud has received an Authority to Operate (ATO) from the U.S Department of Defense (DoD) under the DoD Cloud Security Model at security impact Level 4.  Oracle Service Cloud is the first cloud offering in Oracle’s U.S. DoD Cloud to receive an ATO. Oracle’s U.S. DoD Cloud is a community cloud available for all DoD agencies. 

The rigorous review of Oracle’s environment was completed by an accredited third-party organization at the Level 4 security impact for a SaaS offering using a community deployment model. Level 4 security impact refers to Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) or other critical mission data that requires protection from unauthorized disclosure.

According to David Vap, group vice president, Oracle Service Cloud, “Oracle will be able to support U.S. government agencies by providing a secure platform in the cloud to better serve military men and women.  The Department of Defense can now procure commercial cloud services in order to meet dynamic user needs, improve efficiency and drive greater productivity while at the same time, have assurances that Oracle Service Cloud delivers against process and security control requirements.”

By deploying Oracle Service Cloud on top of Oracle’s FedRAMP authorized Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Oracle provides the DoD with benefits such as:

  • Supporting the DoD Cloud First Policy
  • Providing a secure Cloud environment to support DoD needs
  • Offering a low cost option to the DoD
  • Allowing faster implementations and better service to DoD customers

More information on this certification is available at www.FedRAMP.gov.

To learn more about Oracle Public Sector, follow @Oraclegov on Twitter and join the Oracle Public Sector community on Facebook.

Wednesday Sep 02, 2015

Bringing Brand Ambassadorship to the Front Lines - A Tale of Past Interactions

This is a follow up to my first post on customer success.

One of my first jobs was as a bus boy at a New York Deli Restaurant. I was 14 years old and the gentleman who hired me made it very clear that my job was to make sure that customers had a great time—more than just good food, people were buying the whole experience of eating in a deli (like the Stage or Carnegie in New York). Greeting guests, bringing them sour pickles, answering questions about what I liked to eat and offering up some free cookies towards the end of the meal didn’t seem like much in the grand scheme of things but in the context of this restaurant, it drove their business with hour long wait times.

In hindsight, the general manager of this restaurant clearly understood what many businesses are still figuring out today—that people buy experiences, be it in restaurants, online, brick & mortar stores, etc. Even more so, he understood that the people on the front line needed to represent the brand and needed to be enabled to deliver on it. So even as a 14 year old (I actually looked older), I had eaten just about everything on the menu and could speak to it with confidence. Management actually encouraged me to run to the counter and grab some cookies for people to try.

Fast forward many years later and I come across blog posts such as this (Seth Godin, “Learning from the State Department”) 

We invented ambassadors because nothing can replace face-to-face interaction, particularly when messages travel sometimes quite slowly through complex organizations. Just like now.

This seems obvious, and it is, until you realize that organizations make two huge mistakes:

A. They don't hire brand ambassadors, they hire clerks and bureaucrats, and treat them and pay them accordingly.

and

B. They don't manage and lead brand ambassadors, don't measure and reward and create a cadre of people who can listen for the brand and speak for the brand.

Would you send the clerk on aisle 7 to speak to a head of state or vital partner on behalf of your company? Because that's what he's doing right now.

After reading this, I have adopted this phrase of ‘brand ambassador’ and judge most of my experiences in terms of whether or not businesses are enabling their staff to act as these brand ambassadors. On a regular basis I come across businesses where it appears to me that management has enabled their front line staff to be true ambassadors. In my opinion, companies like Zappos and Starbucks have really nailed it. Their staff has both the customer-centric mindset and the tools at their disposal to drive positive customer experiences. On the flip side, I have plenty of experiences online and in stores where the end result is that I either leave the store or cancel my order. Customers shouldn’t be confronted with confusing online order flows that seem particularly spammy. Simple questions about product availability and new shipments shouldn’t be answered with the shrug of the shoulders or an IDK.

Here are a few things to think about as you evaluate your own businesses in terms of bringing brand ambassadorship to the front lines, be it in call centers or physical stores. Each business is unique so there is not necessarily one prescriptive solution. If you are just getting started with a transactional online site, here are a few other good articles about storytelling through visual commerce and branded manufacturers extending their identity in the direct to consumer channel.

Brand and company philosophy: Does your staff know what your brand stands for and the company philosophy and expectations towards customer loyalty and customer service? How do managers and leadership reinforce and demonstrate these philosophies and expectations? Leading by example truly helps fuel the creation of a staff of brand advocates.

Product & Process Knowledge: Does your staff know the product line? Do they have insights into what products are coming, what is in inventory, what has been discontinued, when the sales are going to happen? What training programs have you developed to help new employees learn about the products and procedures as well as continually update all employees on a regular basis? Can your staff effectively manage the “buy online, pick up in store” process? Front line staff need to have superior knowledge to level the playing field against the highly educated customer of today.

Decision Making: Have you evaluated if your staff is enabled to make the day-to-day and on-the-fly decisions to impact both profitable sales and customer loyalty? Are the guidelines clear and are the internal channels there to educate? The inability to act efficiently and effectively in any of the channels (online chat, phone, in store) is a deal killer on so many levels.

Technology: Are you empowering your staff with the right tools and technology to drive customer loyalty and superior customer service? Do you have agent / assisted selling applications that can not only provide insights into inventory, order history, customer profiles but also transact? Much like the need for product knowledge, the right technology tools are needed to enable sales staff to be seen as a consultant and a brand ambassador, not just the order taker.

Measuring Results and Rewards:  How do you measure the success of your front line staff? Can you identify your peak sales performers? Can you measure how effective your staff is with customer service/brand advocacy? Can you measure your staff’s knowledge of products? Do you offer any incentives on an individual level for sales, successful customer interactions? Measuring results and providing rewards can be difficult to implement but this is counterbalanced by the fact that we are currently experiencing a transformational shift in expectations towards customer experience.

I would love to hear about your experiences in creating brand ambassadors within your organizations. What is and isn’t working, obstacles you have had to overcome, tools and technologies that are helping you?


Wednesday Jul 22, 2015

(De)Constructing Customer Success for Consumer Brands – Is it More Than a Buzzword and does it Really Apply to Us?

Customer Success…is this just another buzzword, the new must have, a simple checkbox, or does it actually mean something?   I think we all know that big buzzwords (big data anyone?) can lose their impact and meaning but I am here to tell you that when you strip everything away, ‘customer success’ is really at the cornerstone of creating successful consumer businesses. 

Let’s look at the two words separately. Customers—every business wants to maximize the number of customers they have to grow revenues and spread out revenue risk. Success—achieving or exceeding ones goals, can be measured in revenues and metrics around growth, retention and adoption.

It’s interesting that when we put the words together, they take on a variety of meanings:

Customer Success = Superior Customer Experience = Part Process / Part Relationship = Doing whatever it takes to make the customer successful/happy. A few well-known examples: Zappos, Nordstroms, Chick-fil-A.

Customer Success = Helping the Customer Achieve their Goals = Driving their Success = Pro-active Engagement. A few examples: free nutrition classes at Whole Foods, the Genius Bar inside Apple Stores, pool maintenance courses at my local pool store, coffee shops offering lessons on coffee and brewing techniques, outdoor retailers such as Rock Creek utilizing ambassadors to introduce people to particular sports.

These two definitions are very distinct and have varying levels of adoption. The interesting part is that when one combines them, something really magical starts to occur. From the eyes of the business, they clearly want their customers to have a great experience and feel like they receive superior service, be it when they walk into a store, order something online or when they call. The reality is that, unless you are a monopoly, if your customer is not happy because of how they are treated, at some point they will leave you (about 68% of customers leave for this reason). On top of that, Forrester Research has conducted studies across 13 different industries and has shown that perceptions of customer experience are highly correlated to considerations of future purchases, willingness to recommend to a friend and defection rates to competitors (“The Business Impact Of Customer Experience, 2014, Forrester Research, March 2014”). For some businesses, shifts in customer perception equates to multiple, sometimes hundreds of millions of dollars, gained or lost.

But rather than just delighting them with great experiences, what if all businesses also started to say to their customers—we recognize that the experience doesn’t stop when you buy our product, we want to help you achieve your goals, help you succeed. The reality is, up until recently, few and far between would ever say such a thing to a consumer. At a very high level, telling someone is much easier than showing and helping someone. As an example, a health food store might say that eating xyz food will make you feel healthier but not everyone would show their customers how to make a food plan to actually make you healthier.

When one thinks about it, superior customer experiences + engagement is really a double whammy, a value proposition that is nearly impossible to beat. Let me put it this way—how many consumer businesses can you think of that focus both on delivering superior customer experiences and proactively help the customer achieve their goals? Those that do clearly know that underneath this catchall phrase of customer success is the pathway to creating successful businesses. Going back to the individual definition of each word, businesses obtain and keep servicing their customers to ensure their own long-term success.

So, where does this leave all of us? Great question. As you can guess, I am a big believer in customer success, from both an experience and engagement perspective. I also recognize that saying you have a consumer focused customer success program and actually implementing one (hint: sometimes simple actions go a long way) are two very different things. A first step forward is the recognition that customer success is not just a checklist item but also a way to grow your business, perhaps even developing into a viable competitive differentiator.

I plan to write more about the topic, using my professional and personal experiences to highlight ways to bring the various components of customer success to consumer businesses. Next up: A Tale of Two Interactions, Enabling the Customer Experience.

Monday Jun 22, 2015

LinkedIn Wins Gartner & 1to1 Media Customer Service Excellence Award by Stephen Fioretti

LinkedIn was named a Gold winner in the Customer Service Excellence category for the 2015 Gartner & 1to1 Media Customer Experience Excellence Awards. For over a decade, Gartner and 1to1 Media have used this joint awards program to honor select, customer-centric organizations that have achieved outstanding business performance by implementing enterprise-wide, service-focused strategies. LinkedIn will be presented with this innovation in service excellence award at the Gartner 360 Summit September 9-11 in San Diego.

What helps LinkedIn bring people, processes, and technologies together to provide a superior customer experience? Andy Yasutake, Director of Tech Solutions and Operations, outlines several principles LinkedIn follows to increase business efficiency and member satisfaction.

Focus on ‘Member First’ in all you do.

LinkedIn’s mission is to connect its users and make them more productive and successful. Thus, the company implemented a ‘Members First’ initiative, and started making changes based on the Voice of the Customer. For example, when LinkedIn learned that its members placed high value on rapid response time, it encouraged agents to respond more quickly to inquiries. With the help of Oracle Service Cloud, LinkedIn achieved an 85% decrease in average initial response time, a 68% decrease in resolution time, and a 23% increase in customer satisfaction!

Your customers don’t care about organizational boundaries.
Break them down.

LinkedIn recognized that its members interacted with the brand as a whole, not just exclusively with sales, marketing, or service. As a result, the company broke down information silos between these departments and encouraged employees to step outside their given expertise to resolve issues quickly and/or prevent them from escalating. Leveraging all its assets, rapidly responding to member feedback, and rethinking roles allows the company to maximize the value of every touch and bring added value to the member journey.

Help your customers help themselves.
With over 350 million worldwide users, and more than two new members joining per second, LinkedIn expected to employ around 5,000-10,000 service representatives. However, with Oracle Service Cloud, LinkedIn was able to achieve a 97% self-service rate, thereby reducing the company’s potential need for support staff. The result? Instead of employing 5,000-10,000 reps, LinkedIn has been able to maintain agents at 750-800, easing costs and boosting efficiency, all while growing 40% year-over-year.

On the digital front, LinkedIn noticed that 50% of its web traffic came through mobile devices, and that 21% of users accessing its knowledge center were not there to solve a specific issue, but instead to learn about the product and develop their career. Therefore, the company placed emphasis on creating knowledge base articles and a mobile Help Center, enabling users to enjoy this content easily from any device.

Optimizing its support processes and empowering members to self-serve has allowed LinkedIn to efficiently provide top-tier service.

Congratulations to LinkedIn for your outstanding achievement. Oracle is honored to have partnered with you to deliver your award-winning customer experience! 

Wednesday May 07, 2014

The Next 7,000 Days – How we will shop will change. Again. And Again…

Internet of Things & Commerce Series: Part 1 (of 3)

Do you regularly watch TED talks? If not, you’re missing out on learning all sorts of amazing things about our shared reality. Here are a few things I’ve learned in the last few months watching TED talks that might wet your appetite. 

·    Low IQ gotcha down? Don’t worry, it’s not a 100% predictor of success; “grit” is actually a better indicator.
·    Feel bad about those 2nd (or 3rd) pair of shoes you ordered online last night?
     Don’t. Primates make the same mistakes with money.
·    Food for thought while you’re snorkeling next time. Up to 90% of sea creatures light up.
·    Bag of cords got you all tangled up? Imagine a time when electric sockets were the shape of light
     bulbs … because they were the only 
things we plugged in.

And just over 2,000 days ago Kevin Kelly (one of the founders of Wired Magazine) gave a fantastic talk about “The Next 5,000 Days of the Web”. That was 2007. In the roughly 2,000 days since then unfathomable things have appeared in our ever-changing, every-accelerating world: smartphones, social media, wearable tech… Angry Birds, Candy Crush… And though we are only 7,000 or so days in to the reality of the internet, it has already grown to a size the defies imagination. Some stats to ponder on the dimensions of the world wide web as of 2013:

·      14.3 trillion web pages
·      672 exabytes of accessible data
·      43,000 petabytes of total traffic
·      1 yotta byte of total data stored (that’s as big as 180 billion, BILLION libraries of Congress)
·      Yet, less than 1 % of things in the physical world are connected today…

And this is set to double. Every year. We have become embedded in a digital architecture – of things, of data, of content. And this is only just the beginning.

[Read More]

Tuesday Mar 11, 2014

B2B Leaders Weather the Storm for Oracle B2B Commerce Summit

Guest Post by Justin King, B2B Commerce Evangelist 

Despite the approach of (yet another) winter storm on the East Coast, and freezing temperatures in the Chicago area, Oracle hosted theB2B Commerce Summit at the Chicago Fairmont Millennial Park on February 13. Joined by more than 150 attendees—most of whom hold Director-level titles at B2B organizations—the event focused on how B2B professionals can better use eCommerce to engage their customers.

With the Summit theme, "The Balance between Customer Experience and Complexity," the conference content centered around providing exceptional customer experiences amidst complex commerce requirements. Although B2B companies have complex customers, products, internal processes and internal systems, delivering unique and engaging customer experience is of utmost importance—and continues to be a critical competitive differentiator. Some key themes at the event included: 

[Read More]

Thursday Jan 16, 2014

T-Commerce Has Joined the Omni-Channel Experience!

Television viewing is an emotional experience. As we watch our favorite shows, we laugh, we become enamored with our favorite characters, and we are sometimes moved to tears. If you are like me, you even scream at the TV during football games. On February 2, 2014, during Super Bowl XLVIII, you’ll also start to do something that was not possible until now - buy what you see advertised on one of those infamous Super Bowl ads. Shopping is also an emotional experience, so it is a shrewd move to combine these experiences. [Read More]
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