Wednesday Apr 08, 2015

CX Tech Adoption: Enabling the Oracle Roadmap To Modern by Rob Wales, Customer Experience Strategist

As a customer experience (CX) consultant, I'm in a lot of contact centers, talking to executives about their CX initiatives. I often hear things like, "We installed a knowledge base, but we’re just not seeing the results we expected," "Proactive chat isn't giving us a lift in conversion," or "We installed a new agent desktop, but we’re not seeing the efficiency gains." So I ask some business process questions and typically find that their processes just don't support their strategic vision or technology expectations. New technology was implemented, but the business processes never evolved to effectively utilize it.

Let's look at Virtual Assistant as an example.Virtual Assistant is a combination of natural language, contextual knowledge, chat and scripting. Implementing Virtual Assistant and immediately expecting it to be successful is like installing a kitchen sink without putting in the plumbing underneath.You have to implement technology capabilities in layers and mature your processes along the way—implement a knowledge base and develop your knowledge management processes and content; employ natural language and fine-tune it to your industry and business. 


Many companies have implemented multi-channel solutions: desktop, chat, email, web self-service, knowledge base, etc. and assume they're providing an omni-channel experience. But typically these are point solutions, the systems are disconnected, the channels are siloed, and there is very little integration between the support applications. This is a good example of tech adoption without strategy, and causes inefficiency at an operational level. But more importantly, it causes frustration for the customer. There is no visibility to all customer interactions and profile information, causing the customer to have to re-explain their issue and giving them a sense that the company doesn't know them at all.

To solve this problem, industry leaders are moving to fully integrated solutions that provide true omni-channel support, ultimate configurable flexibility, and agent desktop tools to personalize the customer experience. But technology adoption is a process, not an end-state; you can't start at the finish line. Too often, companies with CX initiatives will implement top-tier solutions, and expect all their goals to be attained through the technology alone, as if the systems themselves are a panacea. Technology solutions are only as good as the strategy and business processes they support, and it's critical to understand what those are and the capabilities needed to attain that maturity. 

Determining technology needs should be a later stage of ‘solutioning.’ To properly determine those needs, you must start at the top. Creating a strategic plan to identify and define what your business is trying to achieve is a foundational and necessary step to identifying business process gaps and/or technology needs required to meet the strategic plan. Examine the business processes that support your strategy and determine what improvements need to be made. Ascertain the metrics that will measure success, baseline your KPIs, establish improvement expectations, and determine reporting needs.  Only after you've identified the strategy, supporting processes and success criteria can you effectively identify the appropriate technology solutions that will get you there. Don't just follow the pack and implement solutions for the sake of having those capabilities. Make sure they provide you with the means to accomplish your strategic objectives.

When selecting a solution that will help you progress through your process maturity, technology roadmaps are incredibly useful. They provide a clear path to gradually attain maturity in technology, as you also attain maturity in business processes. So when I talk to companies about evolving technology and process maturity, I talk in terms of a Roadmap To Modern: “Get Going, Get Better, Get Ahead,” rather than talking only about the desired future state. This staged approach effectively enables the gradual adoption of technology, allowing companies to realize immediate improvements and progressively become CX industry leaders.

First, focus on technologies and processes that will make you more operationally efficient. This one’s easy to understand and is foremost in the mind of contact center directors everywhere: implement a base layer of technology capabilities that enables self-service, increases agent productivity, and decreases operations. Provide improved interaction capabilities to simplify customer engagement: present multiple channel options to engage your customers and a knowledge base to promote self-help: this has the benefit of not only improving efficiency, but also providing customers with options to engage the way they choose. This foundational layer of technology capabilities provides a solid basis from which to build.

Next, leverage the efficiency savings and invest in solutions that will improve customer retention. There is already cross-over between efficiency and retention by way of reduced customer effort (Most of the initiatives to make your operations more efficient also make it easier for customers to do business with you. This decreases customer effort, which in turn, increases retention.), but now you start to enable the technology to improve the processes that strengthen relationships and improve quality. A cross-channel strategy will ensure consistent, quality customer treatment across touch points. Embed consistent knowledge content in your web self-service and desktop. Consider how to use technology to engage your customers in creative ways in an effort to keep in closer contact and differentiate yourself from competitors. Use data on-hand to understand what your customer has gone through when (or before) they reach out to you so you can quickly help with the issue.

Then, as your business processes mature to match your technology capabilities, you can start to use functionality for proactive engagement, segmentation and personalization to acquire new customers, increase conversions and, ultimately, increase revenue. Use proactive outbound communications to alert customers to things like account activity, service outages, product offerings, etc. to not only answer questions customers haven’t asked yet, but also to generate sales by understanding your customers’ history, preferences and anticipating what they might need next. Segment your customers based on their profile and history to get them to the right resource the first time. 

Most importantly, use everything you know about your customers to create a personalized, differentiated experience:
  • Know how they've engaged with your company in the past, regardless of how they contacted you (phone, chat, email, Facebook, etc.), and get quick visibility into their issues.
  • Know who they are, they're preferences, what they've bought (and how much) and how they liked it.
  • Understand how they feel about your company, about their interactions with you, about the effort they expend doing business with you, and about recommending your company to others.

This level of maturity in both technology and business process will differentiate you from competitors and help make you a leader in your industry. It will also create fierce loyalty in your customers, making them brand advocates.

Technology can help you attain your strategic goalsbut you can’t get there all at once and you can’t get there with technology alone. Determine your strategy, examine your business processes, and establish your success metrics. Then, as you make choices about your CX technology, ensure that you invest in robust solutions that will get you where you want to go, and provide you with a roadmap to get their gradually. Finally, consider the progression of adoption: "Get Going, Get Better, Get Ahead," not just with your technology but with the underlying processes that the technology supports and enables.  

Learn more today about the Oracle Roadmap To ModernTM

Saturday Apr 04, 2015

"The Connected Customer" Oracle Roadmap To Modern by Dave Lanning, Senior Strategy Consultant

"Omni-channel?" "Cross-Channel?" "Multi-Channel?" What does it all mean? Isn’t it just about the customer’s engagement with the brand, and the experience that they will have along the way? There has been a fundamental shift in behavior driven by the velocity of technology adoption. Like you, your customer is now more connected than ever. These "Connected Customers" are more informed, more demanding and have higher service expectations. They say:

  • "Help Me" - Assist me with navigating on my channel-of-choice and make recommendations that are relevant to my journey
  • "Know Me" - Know my preferences, anticipate my needs and focus on how to help me achieve my journey
  • "Value Me" - Recognize and reward my tenure, treat me like a valued customer, value my time with easy-to-use support, value my relationship with relevant offers and promotions and communicate in clear, simple terms.

But who is the customer? Demographics have some interesting nuances to this shift in behavior and expectations. Your customers of tomorrow are the tech-savvy ‘millennials’ who prefer digital channels to engage with you first. During these demanding and transactional interactions, they expect to find information not only within your brand but on social and on every device they connect with – or they will quickly find someone else. On the other end of the spectrum, the more traditional late adopter, bread and butter ‘Baby Boomers’ are used to the human touch, and will only try out some of the digital paths to engage for low risk issues. They need you to make it simple, and take the time to provide them with personal guidance at their convenience.

In between these two demographics are a wide range of personalities and expectations. Service levels and demographics alone aren't going to be enough to meet the expectations of customers today. Modern marketers know this and are leveraging every channel to reach out to consumers – setting the bar for where customer service needs to continue the engagement. To make it even more complex, research has shown that 44% of customers now expect to not only have a choice of multiple channels, but also to be able to switch channels according to their preference and convenience. By 2018, Gartner predicts that digital channels will for the first time be the preferred channel for the majority of your customers. Traversing channels is rapidly becoming the norm.

Net, Net. "Connected Customers" are here and you need a modern customer service strategy to meet their needs.

Look at any business that is a stand-out for delivering exceptional experiences and you will find that customer service is at the forefront of their CX initiatives. It's not an afterthought – that doesn't happen by accident. These modern businesses adopted a maturity strategy that enabled them to best serve the continuously rising expectations of these "Connected Customers," while achieving continued growth and differentiation from their competitors. They are going through an evolution/transformation around customer engagement with a strategy that:

  • Embraces the customer’s choice of channel, with online digital channels leading the way, available 24x7 regardless of device/location; engaging customers on self-service, chat, SMS, social media, communities, etc.
  • Delivers consistent levels of service quality and knowledge accuracy on every channel, with seamless cross-channel experiences  and empowers service agents with a unified platform for all interactions and access.
  • Captures relevant data at every touch point that can be easily leveraged for current and future engagements to personalize the experience, and deepen the relationship in a measurable way  with actionable proactive and predictive intelligence that is shared across the business.

To help organizations get going on this transformational journey, Oracle has developed a Roadmap to ModernTM customer engagement strategy that helps business identify where they are today and each phase towards their goals.

  1. "Multi-Channel" - The first transformation phase in the customer engagement strategy is to move away from siloed thinking. One or two options aren't enough choice to serve customers today, but adding more channels to your customer service operations can be risky to your support and maintenance costs. You must unify knowledge and some administrative overhead in the process.
  2. "Cross-Channel" - The second phase of maturity in the customer engagement strategy must focus on the service quality and channel mix. Customers must be able to have a consistent experience within each channel and across channels. For that to happen, agents must be guided on how to engage with customers according to their channels of choice. This requires agents to use a unified platform for engagements.
  3. "Omni-Channel" - The third phase of a customer engagement strategy is the ability to personalize experiences. Many businesses jump to this phase too early and miss the unified, "accurate" data that comes from phase 2. If the data isn't right, you can hurt your relationship with your customer due to inconsistent service quality and inaccurate knowledge. Once you have good data, you can make it actionable and automate processes, curating a truly personalized and even proactive service experience across every touch point of your brand.

The Customer Engagement strategy is only one part of the three-legged stool. Without the right way to measure value and performance along the way  with benchmarks and cultural incentives (a modern value strategy), the right timing for technology platform adoption and integrations and innovations (a modern technology strategy) – your engagement strategy will be a vision of frustration. You will be unable to reach your destination of 'WOW.'

That is why the Oracle Roadmap to ModernTM has been developed as a unified customer engagement methodology, which gets delivered as part of the Oracle Service Cloud solution, along with the business maturity partner ecosystem to help guide each step of your success. Learn more today about the Oracle Roadmap To ModernTM , and stay tuned to this blog to get in-depth insights that prepare you for your journey to modern customer service.



Friday Mar 13, 2015

March 19 Webcast: Rockwell Automation Uses Innovation to Deliver Best-in-Class Global Support

Forbes Insights conducted a survey of 400+ customer service executives and found that 70% of high technology and manufacturing companies say they use knowledge management to provide relevant, accurate answers across any channel to both customers and agents. This percentage places both industries among the lead group. 

Rockwell Automation is a perfect example of a high technology AND manufacturing company that is leading the way. 

Please join us for an industry-focused webcast presented by ICMI, Rockwell Automation and Oracle. You will learn:

  • How Rockwell Automation uses knowledge-centered support (KCS) to provide quality service
  • Where Forbes identified customer support opportunities within high tech and manufacturing
  • What you can do to advance your modern customer service and support capabilities

Register today

Monday Mar 02, 2015

Four Key Qualities of a Customer Experience Leader by P. Cory Hogan

In the last three years as a Customer Experience Strategist for Oracle, I've had the unique privilege of personally discussing Customer Experience (CX) strategies with over 100 different brands. These companies have ranged from global conglomerates to niche startups, in Financial Services, Retail, Healthcare, Entertainment, Consumer Goods (CG) and High Tech.

Fortunately, many of the executives I've met with truly appreciate customer experience as a point of strategic differentiation as a company-wide goal. The CEO of one international CG manufacturer told me, “eventually anyone can sell similar products – it’s how we sell those products that will keep us ahead.” The founder of a start-up fashion line in New York City made nearly the same comment when she explained customers, “purchase our experience – and get a nice product, too.”

However, while most savvy executives drive and define the customer experience strategy, they are too encumbered with traditional responsibilities to take the lead in developing and executing that strategy. To overcome this hurdle, industry leading companies invest in Customer Experience Leaders. They also make certain that the individual reports very near to the CEO, to break down internal barriers.

As more companies recognize the critical role of the Customer Experience Leader, they will discover that the ideal CX candidate possesses four key attributes: 

  • First, the Customer Experience Leader has high Emotional Intelligence (EI). With high self-awareness, EI allows the appointed individual to work delicately among tenured employees across multiple internal organizations, and with deep empathy. EI also keeps customer experience leaders concentrated on the real emotions of customers. 
  • Second, the Customer Experience Leader is Creative, as ingenuity and resourcefulness allow customer experience endeavors to be both unique and transformative. 
  • Third, the Customer Experience Leader is AnalyticalDesign thinking is critical in this capacity, but it must also be balanced with the ability to mine data, assess feasibility, evaluate ROI, and architect processes. Though not necessarily abundant, such right brain (creative) + left brain (analytical) leaders do exist, and selective companies will benefit from the unique combination. 
  • Finally, the Customer Experience Leader is EclecticThe broader the experience, the greater is the innovation potential. Industry experts are often prisoners of their own perspectives, and many companies will find the best Customer Experience Leaders come from outside their own company, frequently working in diverse disciplines.

I challenge every company to align a commitment to CX with a dedicated Customer Experience Leader, one who possesses the traits and authority required for success. Our research indicates that 86% of customers are happy to pay 25% more for a better customer experience. A lucrative business benefit will follow–and justify–a proper investment in a qualified Customer Experience Leader.

Friday Feb 27, 2015

This Time What Happens in Vegas Won't Just Stay in Vegas: Join Us at the Modern Service Experience Mar 31–Apr 2 By Stephen Fioretti

With fast moving technologies in mobile and social, ever changing, blending and new interaction channels and rapidly change customer expectations, it’s more difficult than ever to deliver great customer service. It’s cliché to say that “service is the new marketing” but any interaction with a service organization through any channel creates an impression of your company. Great service often leads to customers recommending you to their peers.

To win new customers and retain your existing ones, you have to deliver a modern service experience. We are hosting an event on March 31 - April 2 at the Venetian in Las Vegas to help you learn how Oracle Service Cloud can help your company become a modern service organization. You’ll learn best practices from your peers, industry visionaries and Oracle experts. You’ll hear from industry analysts and influencers like Kate Leggett and Ian Jacobs from Forrester, Aphrodite Brinsmead from Ovum and more.  Customers from ASOS, BassPro, Comcast, Kohl’s, LinkedIn, Nintendo, Pella, Virgin America, Rockwell Automation and more will share where they are on their road to delivering Modern Customer Service.

You’ll hear about recent developments within the Oracle Service Cloud portfolio as well as new capabilities from two of our recent acquisitions: Oracle Co-browse (LiveLOOK) and Oracle Field Service Cloud (TOA Technologies). At our Ask the Experts sessions, you’ll have an opportunity to get one-on-one time with Oracle Service Cloud product experts in web self-service, contact center and knowledge management. We have put together a diverse agenda full of information and perspectives that will help you take your customer service strategy to the next level.

In addition to the great keynotes, roundtables and breakout sessions we've planned, we will also have plenty of opportunities for networking and fun! At an awards event on Wednesday morning, the Oracle Service Cloud team will present awards to some of our leading and innovative customers. And we hope you will join us that evening for the Service Cloud customer appreciation event at Tao Nightclub where we’ll dance, mingle and enjoy some great food and drinks. Later on that night, all of the Modern CX event attendees are invited to see One Republic perform.

It’s sure to be a productive trip, with opportunities to explore new technologies, trends and strategies, and to let loose a little with your peers and colleagues. As the saying goes; what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. Well, except for all the great things you’ll learn and the connections you’ll make while you are there.  See you at the event!

To get more information and register for the Modern Service Experience event, click here.  

Friday Feb 20, 2015

Look Beyond Marketing When Considering Customer Experience by Gib Bassett

Most people think Customer Experience is about marketing, or the activities associated with the last mile of the shopping journey. However this misses the bigger picture of many factors that support a successful customer experience.

A great example of a company doing it right is 7-Eleven. As shown in this video, 7-Eleven leverages a common foundation for what it calls the “digital guest experience,” as well as its merchandising and accounting systems. In this way, 7-Eleven serves its customers personalized and mobile in-store offers. Where it goes beyond is in applying purchasing and behavioral insights to its merchandising and assortment strategies.

Less forward-thinking retailers could take a lesson from 7-Eleven’s approach. Consider the case of specialty retailer Wet Seal. I have followed Wet Seal for a few years – the company has been very progressive in its use of in-store mobile and social shopper engagement.

So I was surprised by recent news that the company was closing two-thirds of its stores. Reportedly, Wet Seal struggled to keep pace with fashion trends (style and price) – and experienced reduced foot traffic in the malls where it invested. Given their progressive shopper engagement practices, and the data and insights these efforts generate, I would have thought Wet Seal was in a better position to foresee changes in its customersand make different decisions regarding merchandise and assortments.

Wet Seal is not alone. Without an analytics-first approach to consumer engagement that encapsulates all facets of customer experience, retailers run the risk of focusing too heavily on the marketing aspect of the shopping journey.

For example, with deep analytics, Wet Seal would have noticed changes in customer behavior, such as greater price sensitivity, and merchandise indicators such as social chatter about preferences for competitor assortments. With such predictors of change in hand, Wet Seal could have altered pricing, promotion and assortments to stay ahead of customer preferences.

We should first accept that all shoppers are demonstrating connected behaviors, which make it essential and easy to understand what’s happening with them digitally. That’s certainly the case with 7-Eleven’s customers. Mobile and social channels can help shoppers navigate deals, alternatives and new customer experiences. Retailers can use this information to stay a step ahead.

In summary, retail customer experience should be based on an integrated view of the various business operations that support the customer’s experience. Marketing, store operations, online sales, merchandising, inventory, and service should operate off the same view of the customer providing agility and deep business intelligence.

Gib Bassett

CPG and Retail Industry Principal

Twitter @gibbassett

Friday Feb 13, 2015

ICMI Webcast: Forbes Reveals How Financial and Retail Companies Modernize Customer Service by Cedric Turner

Customers have lots of options. 
If you don’t deliver the right answers fast,
they’ll go somewhere else.

That’s one of the reasons knowledge is the top customer service investment, according to a recent Forbes survey of 400+ executives. Financial services and retail companies use knowledge to provide fast, accurate answers across channels—and better train agents—while ensuring 100% regulatory compliance.

Join this ICMI webcast on March 5 at 1 pm EST / 10 am PST to hear ICMI and Oracle discuss how companies are getting ahead on the Roadmap to Modern Customer Service.

You will learn:

Register Now


Joshua Dodge

Senior Client Success Manager, Oracle

Joshua Dodge, Senior Client Success Manager at Oracle, helps companies modernize their customer service organizations to drive more efficiencies and deliver a better experience. He helps clients accelerate their progress by partnering with them to develop a clear roadmap for modern customer service. Prior to joining Oracle, Josh worked in a variety of customer service and project management leadership roles, including at Sony where he managed call center operations globally, both in-house and outsourced. Josh earned his Master’s certification in Project Management and B.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


Kris Friday

Principal Solutions Consultant, Oracle

Kris Friday, Principal Solutions Consultant at Oracle, works with global financial services organizations to help them grow client relationships through implementing customer experience and engagement tools. Currently, Kris is working with a number of Fortune 500 companies on developing knowledge management strategies for delivering highly personalized service at less cost. Prior to joining Oracle, Kris worked with contact centers in a variety of industries, advising them on technologies to enhance the customer experience and improve overall efficiency.


Erica Strother

Community Specialist, ICMI

Erica Strother is the Community Specialist at ICMI. With a background in marketing, public relations, and social media, she brings more than six years of community management experience to ICMI. Erica manages ICMI’s robust network of community contributors – 500 strong! She also hosts ICMI’s weekly tweet chats that feature dynamic, interactive discussions with thought leaders and innovators in our community. Erica produces our webinars and many other content initiatives like Contact Center Insider, our weekly newsletter. 

Wednesday Feb 11, 2015

Oracle Co-browse Recognized by Frost & Sullivan for Innovation and Product Leadership by Michelle Brusyo

On January 14, 2015, Frost & Sullivan presented the Oracle Co-browse team with the 2014 North American Co-browsing Applications Product Leadership Award at an awards gala closing out the Innovate the Way You Innovate event in San Diego, CA.

Accepting the award on behalf of Oracle, Igor Khalatian remarked that 2014 was an exciting year for co-browse technology. LiveLOOK, the company he founded in 2008, was acquired by Oracle with co-browse becoming an important feature of the Oracle Service Cloud solution. The product itself was re-imagined, completely changing the way that businesses can provide live help to online and mobile customers. Oracle Co-browse was designed to be fast and easy-to-use, while addressing the privacy and security concerns of enterprise organizations and supporting the wide range of evolving use cases for screen sharing during a service interaction. The ability to securely co-browse any combination of web, mobile and desktop content is unique to Oracle Co-browse, as is its ability to handle any type of rich web media, including responsive design. This feature, called TrueView, is one of the main reasons Frost & Sullivan recognized Oracle as the leader in co-browsing technology.  

Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Ben Gresham noted in a February 11 announcement that, “Oracle Co-browse addressed the challenge of exactly replicating views with the TrueView feature. This solution presents agents with the actual views of the customers’ screens as they have it configured at their end. This is a huge improvement over screen-sharing and regular HTML-based co-browsing solutions because if the customers change display settings, the alterations are transferred to the agents in real time.” 

It is exciting to receive this award from Frost & Sullivan, validating that Oracle’s Co-browse solution is meeting an important business need to provide efficient, personalized service to online and mobile customers.  

If you’re looking for more information about how Oracle Co-browse compares to screen sharing and HTML-based co-browsing solutions, this outline goes through the differences in detail. Also check out the full report from Frost & Sullivan outlining the industry challenges that the Oracle Service Cloud addresses with its leading Co-browse solution here.  

Scott Seebauer, Michelle Brusyo and Igor Khalatian of Oracle accept the Frost & Sullivan award for innovation in co-browse technology January 14, 2015.

Thursday Jan 29, 2015

2015: A New Perspective on Millennials in Consumer Goods and Retail by Cassie Moren

Consumer goods (CG) companies and retailers are asking how they can better engage with millennials to buy their brands and get them in the store. Given the attractiveness and size of the millennial market (80 million), Interbrand and Oracle recently conducted a study to understand millennials from a behavioral perspective.

The research findings determined that five segment breaks exist within the millennial generation, based upon the clustering of their various attitudes and behaviors, each representing a cluster or “tribe” that behaves similarly: 1. The Up & Comers, 2. The Mavens, 3. The Eclectics, 4. The Skeptics and 5. The Trendsetters.

This is just a glimpse into the subsets within the millennial generation. What quickly becomes clear is that targeting millenials as a whole is ineffective as they range from financially-dependent teens to married homeowners with kids. By considering these unique segments and determining which have the most potential for your brand, there’s an opportunity to build a deeper connection and deliver an experience that will appeal to the next generation of customers. Here are five themes and technologies that brands need to consider in order to win millennials:

  1. Drive consumer acquisition, activation and advocacy anywhere, anytime through encouraging cross-channel consumer engagement
  2. Provide a personalized, rich and consistent commerce experience across channels through cross-channel commerce
  3. Create consumer-focused category, assortment, pricing and demand plans through consumer-centric planning and optimization
  4. Develop rich insights on consumers through retail and consumer insights
  5. Acquire and manage a single and accurate view of the consumer through consumer data management and activation

Read Report now

Thursday Nov 13, 2014

Ray Wang keynoting at Oracle CloudWorld in Boston on Tuesday, December 9th

Are you ready for the Cloud? Are you ready to capitalize on fundamental technological, behaviorial, and market shifts?

Then join us at Oracle CloudWorld Boston on Tuesday, December 9 and find out how to modernize your customer service. Featured keynote speakers Ray Wang, CEO, Constellation Research, Jeffrey O. Henley, Vice Chairman, Oracle, and Shawn Price SVP, Global Cloud Go-to-Market, Oracle as well as industry-leading companies will show you how to:

  • Engage customers
  • Empower employees
  • Adapt quickly

Choose from interactive sessions and hands-on demos focused on marketing,
sales, customer service, human resources, finance and operations, information technology, and software development. You'll also have ample opportunities to network with your fellow customer service professionals. 

If you're tasked with changing as fast as your customers do, you should be here. 

Register now

"This event has my whole team really fired up!" 

Oracle CloudWorld Chicago 2014 Attendee 


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