Thursday Aug 27, 2015

Latest Oracle Field Service Cloud Release: Improving the User Experience to Enhance Service

Delivering an exceptional customer experience is critical to the success of any organization. For organizations sending field service resources to customers' homes and businesses to deliver products or perform services, empowering those resources can help ensure a better experience for the end customer. Oracle Field Service Cloud's latest release includes product enhancements that help organizations empower their field resources and enhance their experience in using the solution. 

[Read More]

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! 

Tuesday May 19, 2015

Oracle Takeaways from Forrester Webcast: Customer Service Trends for 2015 by Christine Randle

It is hard to believe that it has been a decade since social disrupted standard operating procedures for companies. Brands had enjoyed a healthy measure of control before social media-enabled customers around the globe were able to connect and share information. Before, companies controlled not only the information that customers and prospects received, but how and when they received it—effectively spoon-feeding corporate messages to the world.

The advent of social changed this dynamic forever and ushered in The Age of the Customer.

Today, customers control the conversations they have with businesses, and brands have scrambled to adapt. Companies must become customer-obsessed and deliver experiences that meet customer expectations to succeed.

Why? Because loyal customers are less likely to churn, and they are also more likely to recommend your brand and spend more money with your company. When customers spend more money, it directly impacts and increases revenue. For this reason, it is essential to keep your customers satisfied and loyal to your brand. Besides, customer service should be a core element of your CX strategy.

Still, this is hard stuff. So it helps to get some perspective. A May 2015 webinar hosted by Forrester and featuring Forrester Research’s Kate Leggett, Trends 2015: The Future Of Customer Service, helps to make sense of customer service in 2015. Take a look at the below takeaways that we pulled from the webcast, and let us know what trends you see in your organization.

Customers increasingly rely on self-service. According to the April 2015 Forrester Research report, “Contact Centers Must Go Digital Or Die,” more customers (76%) used web self-service than the phone (73%) for customer service. Why? Because it is an easy way to get answers. Today, the phone is increasingly used for escalation, or when a customer cannot find the answer to a question. Generally, these are the most difficult inquiries and have longer handle times. But, this offers a great opportunity for companies to use the phone channel to support and deepen customer relationships. It is important to note that channel usage changes year-over-year. As such, you should survey your customers to find out what channels they prefer for customer service interactions and deploy those channels accordingly.

Adopt a mobile-first mindset.
Think about your own mobile device usage and you’ll see why customers increasingly look to contact brands via this channel. But, more than that, customers want to be able to start a conversation on mobile and then switch over to a laptop or desktop seamlessly—without needing to rehash the issue with an agent. In 2015, customers will continue to demand effortless interactions of this type over both web and mobile channels.

Explore proactive engagement.
We are all customers, right? And, as customers, we know what we want, when, where, and how we want it. To effectively leverage this fact, businesses will begin to experiment with proactive engagement. This refers to proactive chat, promotions, or content served up to customers at the appropriate time to help answer questions, easing the transition from the research phase to purchase.

Leverage connected devices for preemptive service.
The Internet of Things (IoT) has taken off in a big way, and with it comes the prospect of preemptive service. From Wi-Fi connected self-learning thermostats to smart, self-propelled vacuum cleaners IoT has the potential to reshape customer service. IoT offers businesses the opportunity to deliver preemptive service that our parents could never have imagined: Proactive communication of product information back to the company to diagnose preemptively and fix issues without customer intervention!

Analytics will power offers, decisions, and connections.
There is no “one size fits all” service. Instead, use analytics to deliver deeply personalized customer service by understanding and leveraging data from past interactions, services, and purchases. Additionally, interactions must be tailored to the channel of choice. For example, the tone of an email interaction will likely vary from that of a social or chat interaction. These nuances are important in order to optimize service quality, predict next steps, ensure satisfaction, and produce loyalty, which correlates to increased revenue.

Journey analytics will improve end-to-end service.
What does your typical customer journey look like? It is likely to cross multiple communication channels: social, web, email, and phone. Often, these touch points are managed by different functional organizations within a company. It is tricky, but ultimately customers do not care about your internal org structure. What they care about is the ability to cross channels seamlessly to get support without needing to repeat themselves at each point in the journey (we all know how frustrating that can be). But, organizational silos make it difficult to deliver consistent service experiences. Not only that, but few companies have a measure in place that encompasses all channels. Forrester expects that organizations will move to broader, more comprehensive customer service measurement programs, which span all communication channels, to help businesses understand the costs and pain points in the customer journey.

Focus on improving the agent experience.
It is staggering the amount of applications that contact center agents use on a daily basis to answer customer questions. Organizations will look to push proactive information to agents, to minimize effort, and to help streamline service delivery. If companies can improve the agent experience, by helping to guide them through resolution paths, then agents will have more confidence to help customers and to deliver truly personalized experiences.

Adopt SaaS for agility.
A March 2015 Forrester Research report, Trends 2015: The Future Of Customer Service, found that 32% of companies have already replaced or plan to replace, most or all on-premise solutions with SaaS alternatives within 2 years. Why? Because moving applications to the Cloud pushes the burden of software and hardware maintenance back onto the vendor. This allows companies to be agile and focus on innovating with new features, ultimately creating differentiated, rewarding customer experiences.

Read how Sony uses its online digital experience to proactively engage customers.

Wednesday May 28, 2014

How Mary Meeker’s Latest Findings May Make You Re-Imagine Commerce

Today, Mary Meeker released her highly anticipated annual “Internet Trends” presentation for 2014. All 164 slides are jam-packed with pretty much everything you need to know about the state of the Internet.

And as luck would have it, Oracle is staying ahead of these trends (but we’ll talk about that later).

There were a few surprises, some stats to solidify what you likely already know, and Meeker’s novel observations about where we are all going. What interested me the most is not only how people are engaging in their personal lives, but how they engage with brands.

As you could probably predict, Internet usage growth is slowing while tablet user and mobile data traffic growth continue their meteoric rise around the globe, with tremendous growth in underpenetrated markets like China, India, Brazil and Indonesia. Now hold those the “Internet is dead” comments. Keep in mind there’s still plenty of room to grow, and a multiscreen model is Meeker’s vision for our future. Despite 1.5x YOY growth for mobile traffic, mobile still only makes up about 23% of all traffic today. With tablet shipments easily outpacing figures for PCs even at their height (in 2007), mobile will only continue on it’s path, but won’t be everything to everyone. Mobile won’t replace every touchpoint, it’s just created our shorter attention spans and demand for simpler, more personal experiences. As Meeker points out TVs, tablets, PCs, and smartphones are used for different activities at present, but lines will blur (for example, 84% of smartphones owners use their device while watching TV).

Day-to-day activities are being re-imagining through simple, beautiful user experiences. It seems like every day I discover a new way a brand/site/app made the most mundane or mounting task enjoyable and frictionless – and I’m not alone. Meeker points out the evolution of how we do everything from how we communicate, get information, use money, meet someone, get places, order a meal, and consume media is all done through new user interfaces that make day-to-day tasks simpler. This movement has caused just about everyone’s patience for a poor UX to take a nosedive. And it’s not just the digital user experience, technology is making a lot of people’s offline lives easier, and less expensive. Today 47% of online shopping utilizes free shipping— nearly half. And Meeker predicts same day local delivery will be the “next big thing” (and you can take a guess on who will own that).

Content, Community and Commerce creates the “Internet Trifecta.” Meeker pointed out that when content, communities and commerce occur in a single experience it’s embraced by consumers, which translates to big dollars for brands. The magic happens when consumers can get inspired, research, and buy in a single experience. As the buying cycle has changed and touchpoints (Web, mobile, social, store) are no longer tied to “roles” or steps in the customer journey, brands must make all experiences (content and commerce) available in a single, adaptable experience. (We at Oracle Commerce have a lot to say on this topic – stay tuned!)

And in what Meeker calls the “biggest re-imagination of all:” consumers enabled with smartphones and sensors are creating troves of findable and sharable data, which she says is in the early stages, by growing rapidly. She notes that transparency and patterns of consumers with this hardware (FYI - there are up to 10 sensors embedded in smartphones now) has created a Big Data treasure chest to be mined to improve business and the life of the consumer. The opportunities are endless.

[Read More]

Wednesday Mar 05, 2014

Mobile Web for the Masses

There’s no arguing that mobile is a big deal. We’ve all heard the stats about crazy mobile adoption over the last 4-5 years, particularly in retail. But one thing still isn’t totally clear: whether mobile Websites or native mobile apps are the way to go for retailers.

comScore cites
that consumers spend 55% of their time with retailers on mobile devices, outpacing computers  – and this isn’t general online surfing (which is far higher), it’s shopping. Some, including myself, argue that mobile is the lynchpin of a retailer’s omnichannel strategy. Smartphones perfectly link the in-store experience with the digital world – or at least, they should.

[Read More]

Tuesday Feb 11, 2014

Four Ways to Increase Mobile Agent Productivity and Responsiveness by JP Saunders

Many customer support agents and managers spend time away from their desk supporting their customers. But, in today’s world of anytime, anywhere service, they still need to respond to customer issues on the spot. And, accessing the information they need to be responsive is often challenging due to lack of network connectivity or the clunky usability experience of accessing a desktop app on a mobile device. With Oracle Service Cloud’s Mobile Agent App, roaming customer support agents and managers can access their contact center “on the go” – increasing productivity and customer responsiveness!

Keep Informed

Service agents and managers are always connected and able to take action – whether it is on a customer issue or a contact center performance issue. They can manage service incidents, contacts, and tasks all from their mobile device. They can also view the customer’s survey history and access a list of unresolved incidents. A mobile dashboard with pie chart widgets, drill-in capabilities and filterable lists helps managers to monitor exceptions and stay on top of their contact center operations while away from their desks.

Access Knowledge

In addition to the increased ability to capture and respond rapidly while in the field, customer service agents and managers now also have access to answers from their mobile device, allowing them a way to use your knowledge base to solve customer problems both quickly and accurately.

Stay Connected Even When Offline

The Mobile Agent App’s offline cache not only allows access to information while offline, but also provides improved performance with nearly sub-second response time. Additionally, the ability to use profiles to customize lists and workspaces allows the Mobile Agent App to be tailored more specifically to your business processes and, thus, increases service agent productivity.

Delight Employees

Designed specifically for the iPad and now the iPhone, the Mobile Agent App leverages native Apple iOS native iPad capabilities and innovative usability patterns, easy navigation, and integrated apps, e.g. maps and FaceTime. This ease of use will delight employees. And, delighted employees help make delighted customers!

To view a demonstration, watch this video.  For more information on the latest enhancements for the Oracle RightNow Mobile Agent App, please watch the Oracle RightNow Cloud Service – November 2013 Release Overview or read the Oracle RightNow Cloud Service – November 2013 Capabilities and Benefits.

Tuesday Jan 07, 2014

Online Commerce in The Middle East – Shopping Online – The Tipping Point Is Now?

Ajlan & Bros, a large Saudi Arabian distribution company specializing in the design, manufacture and supply of clothing across the Middle East has just announced a significant investment in online commerce.  Does this present a tipping point in the development of online commerce in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia?  Three years ago, there was very little attention outside the core early adopters.  As with many markets breaking into online commerce, those early adopters were electronics retailers catering to very tech-savvy consumers using simple open-source software or custom developments.  Is this move by Ajlan & Bros marking a turning point within the consumer base in the Middle East?[Read More]

Monday Jan 06, 2014

8 Predictions for Customer Service in 2014 by David Vap

Happy New Year! As we embark on 2014, I thought about the key trends that we’re seeing in the customer service business and how they impact you as well as the impact to the Oracle Service Cloud business.  Here's my 2 cents on what matters for the new year.  Feel free to put in your own 2 cents in the comments!

1. Customer Service Becomes a Boardroom Priority

We’re about 3 years into the Age of the Customer, a 20-year cycle in which the most successful enterprises will reinvent themselves to systematically understand and serve increasingly powerful customers.” (Source: Forrester Research, Inc., Competitive Strategy In The Age Of The Customer, October 2013) The strong correlation between customer service, brand equity, and sales conversions is becoming conventional wisdom. And, the cross-organization initiatives that are required to deliver the best customer service require boardroom-level sponsorship. According to Joanne Causon, CEO, Institute of Customer Service, “There is a close alignment between the financial performance of an organization and its customer service…  It is about the decisions made in the boardroom. Focusing your customer service strategy across the whole of the organization, how it relates to other parts of the organization such as finance and marketing.” (Source: Institute of Customer Service)

2. Your Customers Don’t Want to Talk to You

As Gen-Y and Millennials are increasing into the demographic mix, more of your customers don’t want to talk to you. Talking on a phone is “so old school” to these generations. They prefer to serve themselves via the Web, and increasingly on a mobile device. And, when they do find that they need to talk to you, they want the transition to be easy and seamless – with the click of a button, without repeating information, no writing down a service request number, etc. 

In a recent survey conducted by Unisphere Research, “31 percent of all customer interactions today are conducted via the Web, and an additional 9 percent are conducted via the mobile Web or mobile applications… The highest concentration of Web self-service capabilities right now is in the finance/insurance (52 percent) and government/education/nonprofit (50 percent) sectors.” 

According to a blog post written by Kate Leggett, Forrester Research, “we’ve seen a 12% rise in web self-service usage, a 24% rise in chat usage, and a 25% increase in community usage for customer service in the past three years”.  Voice is still the most used service channel, but self-service channels are experiencing significant growth. (Source:  Forrester Research, Inc., Forrester’s Top 15 Trends for Customer Service in 2013, January 2013.)

3. Mobile, Mobile, Mobile

Fifty-five percent of all time spent with online retailers in June 2013 occurred on a mobile device, surpassing time spent on PCs, according to comScore, a Web and mobile measurement firm. Our own customer usage data tells us that 20% of support interactions are taking place over mobile. So, it’s no surprise that 62% of companies think mobile customer service is a competitive differentiator(Source: ICMI)  The challenge is that the mobile device mix continues to get more fragmented with the various operating systems (iOS, Android, Windows, RIM, etc.) and the device formats (tablets, mini-tablets, smart phones, etc.) And, many customers begin transactions on a mobile device and later transition to Web or assisted channels to complete a transaction. Amidst all this complexity, two things are clear:  1) providing support for the most common transactions in the mobile format that customers use is a must, and 2) ensuring a smooth transition between mobile and other support channels will become a strong differentiator against the competition.

4. Your Coffee Maker Serves Itself

Connected devices such as game consoles, TVs, appliances, personal fitness devices to name a few are expected to grow to 25 billion in 2015. (Source:  CISCO IBSG) So, your coffee maker may request its own service by going online to troubleshoot issues and download updates – without you even knowing it’s happened. 

Again, the seamless transition between support channels is a differentiator.  If the customer contacts you with an issue, the ability to link that customer to their device and access support data for the device helps your support agents provide more efficient and effective service. If they know the status of the device and what has happened, they can more easily take the appropriate corrective actions. 

Additionally, customers may want to use their device to get service without having to switch to another channel. For instance, if a customer is having a technical issue with a game, they want to be able to get service from within the game without switching to a phone, PC, or mobile device.  Providing service directly from internet-enabled devices will become a more common expectation.

5. Knowledge is Everywhere

We all know that customers have a lot of choice in who they do business with and that attention spans are very short. A substandard service experience leads to customer frustration and negative perceptions about the product as well as the company. An interruption in the buying process may mean abandonment. The end result is an increased likelihood that customers will go to a competitor next time. To address customer’s expectations that everything should be fast, easy and accessible, knowledge can’t be a separate destination, living in the support or service portal only. It needs to be woven into the entire customer lifecycle and accessible via any channel the customer chooses.  It needs to be contextual to what the customer is doing. And, it needs to leverage the collective community of experts – both inside and outside of your company. Share your knowledge everywhere so it adds value to your customers!

6. The Web Comes Alive

Given that many of your customers don’t want to talk to you, there is a need to provide them with the best possible experience on your online channels. Doing so requires the ability to answer the questions online that historically ended up in your call center, providing the ability to deliver a personalized interaction in what have been, to this point, very impersonal online interactions around knowledge. In an effort to create a more human-like interaction that can replicate the knowledge of their best service representatives and provide a more personalized Web experience, more companies will adopt a virtual assistant, an intelligent online concierge, to increase customer loyalty and reduce costs.   

7. Social Gets Real

We’re past the buzz phase and into the reality phase with social customer service. Our own customer usage data tells us that for established peer-to-peer communities, 30-40% of self-service interactions are coming through this channel, indicating that collective knowledge is becoming a significant part of solving customer issues. And, 62% of customers have already used social media for customer service issues (Source: Mashable), raising the importance of monitoring social channels and responding to issues in those channels before they become crises. But many businesses today have bolted social customer service onto their existing customer service platform. Instead, in order to best leverage social channels to achieve the greatest business benefits, organizations will need a tightly integrated social service platform that helps customers find answers they can trust--and helps the companies tune and optimize their social investments. 

8. Employee Experience Takes the Limelight

“Engaged employees work harder, stay later, and make more recommendations. You can’t create or sustain great customer experience with disengaged employees.” (Source: Bruce Temkin) While this wisdom isn’t new, 2014 will see increased focus on employee engagement in order to drive better customer experiences and company results. Relating to customer service specifically, we’ll see companies invest in more training, empowerment, and tools to make it easier for employees to deliver on great customer experiences. 

For more information, please visit our website.

Wednesday Aug 28, 2013

Mobile Is Becoming A Catalyst For Commerce

Mobile phones have become almost ubiquitous in our daily lives. More and more people are relying on their smartphones to stay connected with their family, friends, co-workers, and the world around them. Armed with smartphones and tablets, consumers have access to much more product information and can compare, recommend, and share information from anywhere, at any time.

According to Internet Retailer, in the second quarter of 2013 U.S. mobile commerce grew faster than U.S. e-commerce sales via desktop/laptop computers. M-commerce represented 9% of all online commerce in the quarter, comScore says, with mobile shoppers buying more than $700 million worth of apparel and accessories in Q2.

A new report from Juniper Research expects mobile commerce transactions conducted through handsets and tablets will exceed US$3.2trn by 2017, rising from US$1.5trn this year. Research firm eMarketer reports that this year, 62.5 percent of all mobile commerce will come from tablets, despite the fact that they have a lower penetration rate than smartphones. However, lack of mobile site optimization remains a concern. Overseas in Europe, according to the latest statistics that have been released on the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index, last month, the sales over mobile commerce in the United Kingdom managed to grow by a phenomenal 129 percent when compared to the figures from the same time in 2012.

Smartphones enable customers anywhere to quickly research and evaluate products prior to purchase. 4G connectivity enables consumers to have faster access to mobile Web sites and apps. Tablets provide more real estate for customers and business buyers to view product information in order to make their buying selection. In June 2013, 91% of tablet users and 90% of smartphones users accessed a mobile e-commerce Web properties, according to comScore.

So companies need technology tools to help them understand the mobile universe and its impact on their businesses. Mobile commerce started in the retail industry and is permeating into other industries as consumer get more comfortable purchasing via their smartphone and consumers migrate from pure research to buying products and services on their phones.

An Oracle study found that only 37% of respondents indicating that their company has mobile commerce in place. You need to continually think about how your customers are engaging with you and your brand via smartphones and tablets, and build mobile into your company’s overall commerce strategy. Click here to learn more about Oracle Commerce.

Monday Aug 12, 2013

Webcast: How Dell Leverages Big Data to Improve the Customer Experience

The Economist Intelligence Unit recently investigated how successful companies use big data to transform the customer experience. Join us for an Oracle webcast in association with Intel® to learn how top-performing organizations, including Dell Inc.’s Global Demand and CRM Center, are harnessing big data to understand better their customers and their business. The webcast is on Wednesday, August 14, 10-11 AM Pacific / 6-7 PM London.

You’ll learn how Dell leaders are:
  • Focusing on data-driven approaches to meet business objectives
  • Fostering a culture of customer insights through leadership and collaboration
  • Innovating customer interactions, marketing, and sales through automation
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