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 26, 2015

Oracle Service Cloud May 2015 Release – Optimizing Integrations across the Oracle Portfolio by Stephen Fioretti

The May 2015 release of Oracle Service Cloud enhances the power of Service Cloud with integration accelerators for Siebel, EBS and Oracle Field Service Cloud.  These new accelerators enable companies to connect their Service Cloud solutions with other business systems, optimizing their investments while improving operations across the organization.

Unlike traditional integration offerings, Oracle Service Cloud Integration Accelerators are designed to equip companies and technology partners with the resources they need to quickly and easily build custom integrations that leverage the power of Oracle’s business solutions to meet the unique and evolving requirements of each organization.

Extend Great Service to the Field

With the acquisition of TOA Technologies in 2014, Oracle Service Cloud added field service management capabilities to its suite of products to help companies further streamline web self-service, contact center and field service interactions. To optimize the integration between Oracle Field Service Cloud and Oracle Service Cloud, this Accelerator enables companies to leverage the field service solution’s powerful, predictive routing and scheduling functionality directly within the Oracle Service Cloud Agent Desktop. Using an intelligent booking calendar, contact center agents can book field appointments based on the real-time availability of field resources – so customers can choose a date and time that’s most convenient for them. Field service employees get more context about a customer’s problem, and contact center agents can view updates as work is assigned and completed.  Companies can now deliver a holistic and consistent service experience from the moment an inbound incident is received, through appointment scheduling and routing, and all the way through post-appointment customer feedback.

Connect Web Self Service with Siebel for a 360° Customer View

The Siebel Integration Accelerator enables the creation of custom widgets to show customer information in both Siebel and Service Cloud interfaces. Information captured from Customer Portal can be automatically added to a Service Request in Siebel, and outbound communications from the Siebel interface can be viewed in Customer Portal as well.This Integration Accelerator further enhances the integration capabilities for customers looking to utilize both Siebel and Oracle Service Cloud components.

Enhance EBS with Oracle Service Cloud Contact Center Capabilities

The EBS Integration Accelerator builds upon the same capabilities available for Siebel, connecting Web Self Service with the EBS agent interface. In the May release, this Accelerator also adds support for contact center components, connecting with EBS data to identify inbound callers and giving agents access to full customer data and history during an interaction on either the EBS or Oracle Service Cloud platforms.

In addition to these Integration Accelerators, the May 2015 release includes several other new features and enhancements, including:

  • Social Monitor Enhancements
  • Email Management Updates
  • Oracle Service Cloud Knowledge Advanced
  • Oracle Policy Automation for Mobile
  • Field Service Management Mobile Updates
For more information on what’s new in the May 2015 release, click here to read the Release Content Document.

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.

Friday May 15, 2015

3 Tips for Staying Centered in the Fast-Paced World of Technology

Technology change is moving at warp speed. And we high tech professionals have to keep pace. So here are three tips for stayed centered as you enjoy the wild ride of innovation!

Tip 1: Tame Your Monkey Mind

Do you sometimes have too many thoughts running through your head? Try practicing a mini mind-break called ‘silence, stillness, space.1’ Sit quietly, breathe and feel the space within and around you. That’s all there is to it. Then, when you do your next task, you’ll be more centered and effective.

Tip 2: Five Senses are Better than One

Have you ever gotten so wrapped up in your work that you lost awareness of your surroundings? Pretty much everyone has. To recharge, take a quick break and use your five senses. Look around you, listen to the sounds and feel your feet on the ground. If you have a cup of coffee, take a sip and enjoy its aroma and taste. Your senses will bring you back to the present.

Tip 3: The Giving Me2

Our lives are so busy it can be tough to find time for self-care. But it’s essential to keep our creative juices flowing! So spend 5-10 minutes a day doing something just for you—a nature walk, a good meal, a belly laugh. Equally important is doing something for others. And we get opportunities to be of service all the time. So give your colleague a compliment or donate to someone in need.

And know that you’re in good company. Google starts its meetings with a moment of mindfulness, as featured in 60 minutes. The Wisdom 2.0 Conference was so successful, it’s become an annual tradition for mindful tech moguls like LinkedIn CEO and Oracle customer Jeff Weiner.

Want to share your refocusing tips? Please contact me tuula.fai@oracle.com

Footnotes

1. Awakening the Luminous Mind, Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche
2. The Giving Me, Lydia Criss Mays

Monday Apr 27, 2015

Modern Customer Experience Metrics by David Lanning

As organizations evolve on their roadmap to a modern customer experience, they are adopting new business processes and technologies that allow them to support the needs of the connected customer. As a result of adopting new communication channels, companies now have an additional set of metrics that can be used to measure and improve the effectiveness of their multi-channel customer experience.

The traditional, internally- focused operational metrics like Average Handle Time (AHT) or Occupancy are insufficient to assess the customer’s perspective of the end-to-end experience. To measure the customer experience in a multi-channel world, companies must adopt and leverage a new set of metrics that provide valuable insight into the effectiveness of their multi-channel customer experience initiatives.

Modern Customer Experience Metrics

First Phase of Modern Customer Experience
In the first phase of a modern customer experience, companies address their ability to manage customer interactions on multiple channels. The new communication channels like chat, community and social provide a new set of metrics that provide valuable insight into customer behaviors and expectations.

Chat and Co-browse
Each of the new channels in a multi-channel environment contains metrics that can be used to measure the effectiveness of a company’s ability to handle interactions on these channels. For instance, as companies add online support in the form of chat or co-browse, they have the ability to provide support ‘in-the-moment’ that leads to higher online retention and reduced site abandons. By measuring and analyzing online support requests on chat or co-browse, companies can identify issues that are directly impacting the connected customer experience. Chat and co-browse metrics provide insight into why customers left the online experience to get the information or assistance they needed to complete their online transaction.

Online Communities
Companies that provide online communities also have a new set of metrics they can use to measure and improve the community experience and effectiveness. Companies can measure how many of their customers are engaged in the community (Community Participation Rate) and how often they post information (Community Post Rate). These new metrics provide direct insight into customer participation rates and provide metrics that measure the effectiveness of their initiatives to promote community involvement and customer loyalty. Community metrics like the number of active members in an online community can be used to measure the number of loyal customers who are contributing to the community.

Social
Similarly, there are a number of new metrics that can be used to measure the effectiveness of a company’s social strategy and initiatives. Leading companies have developed strategies and operational practices to actively engage in the conversation on social networks. These social networks provide metrics like Fan Growth Rate, Like / Dislike Ratio and other social metrics that can be used to measure the effectiveness of their social networks. The beauty of these metrics are that customers on social networks are posting continuously and allow the company to gain real-time information on the experience without requiring a formal feedback survey or other means of gathering customer perceptions. Social metrics can be accessed in real-time and used to adjust the company’s social strategy without the lengthy delay associated with outbound customer satisfaction surveys.

Second Phase of Modern Customer Experience
As companies advance on their journey to a modern customer experience they employ strategies, businesses processes and complementary technology designed to assist customers who cross multiple channels to obtain information, or to connect with support resources to complete a transaction. This cross-channel environment provides an additional set of metrics that can be used to measure and improve cross-channel business processes.

Online experience metrics that measure the customer’s ability to connect to online knowledge or to support resources can be used to measure the effectiveness of a company’s online support effectiveness. Web site tracking metrics that show the number of clicks (customer effort) required to find relevant knowledge, or to find an online support resource, can be used to measure the effectiveness of the site design. By adding web tracking tags to knowledge articles companies can now measure the end-to-end online journey and optimize the use of knowledge to reduce customer effort during online transactions.

Website tracking metrics can also be used to determine where customers opt-out of the online channel to obtain additional support. These metrics provide web experience designers with the information they need to measure the impact of site design changes to increase online conversions or reduce site abandons. The overall impact of the cross-channel experience initiatives can be assessed by adding customer effort score that provides a broad view of the cross-channel experience.

Third Phase of Modern Customer Experience
As companies advance to providing a personalized, omni-channel experience, additional metrics are available to measure the company’s ability to make offers and recommendations that recognize the value and preferences of the customer. The omni-channel experience leverages the customer’s profile information and cross-channel interaction history to make appropriate offers, product recommendations and create customized business processes for each customer. The omni-channel experience model provides companies a new set of metrics that can be used to measure the effectiveness of their personalization strategy. New metrics like conversion rate on personalized offers, percentage of offers made in the customer’s native language and percentage of customers who receive support in their native language are examples of new metrics available to measure the organization’s ability to personalize the experience.

Many of the new customer experience metrics like community participation rates, or ‘likes’ on a social network are measured from actual customer behavior. Although sentiment metrics like customer satisfaction (CSAT) and net promoter score (NPS) are a reasonable indicator of intent, the new experience metrics provide an actual measure of action taken by customers to recommend a product or service. These new experience metrics are an important element in a balanced score card of experience metrics. By capturing metrics on actions taken, as well as traditional experience metrics like CSAT and NPS, companies can create a balanced score card that provides immediate insight into the effectiveness of their customer experience programs.  

Conclusion
The Roadmap to ModernTM customer service allows organizations to evolve from an internally-focused to an externally-focused organization that maximizes customer value throughout acquisition, retention and support processes. By leveraging new business processes centered on the customer experience, complementary technology and the metrics available in a multi-channel world, companies can create a competitive advantage by providing a compelling customer experience that significantly increases customer acquisition and customer loyalty.

You can learn more Multi-Channel (first phase), Cross-Channel (second phase) and Omni-Channel (third phase) engagement strategies to become a more Modern Customer Service organization on our website.

Friday Apr 24, 2015

5 Tips for Budget-Friendly Training in the Modern Contact Center

As contact center leaders you’re always being asked to do more with less. Agent training is no exception. Here are 5 tips for low or no cost ways to train agents from ICMI’s webcast featuring Justin Robbins (ICMI), Jana Meyers (American Century), Joe Landers (Oracle) and Kristine Chisholm (ICMI).

Tip 1: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly in Recorded Contacts

Encourage agents to share recorded contacts of positive customer interactions as well as negative ones. Using difficult customer interactions as teaching moments helps you brainstorm more effective approaches for resolving customer issues. This is critical because customers who have issues satisfactorily resolved are more loyal than customers who haven’t had problems yet with your products and services.

Another technique is having agents actually become customers of your company. This experience creates empathy and empowers agents to find ways to continually improve service.

Tip 2: The Power of One

You know having the right agents in the right place at the right time is critical. But many agents don’t understand the ripple effect that can occur when they return late from a break. In a 50-person contact center, one late agent can slow overall response time 20 seconds. Demonstrate this impact in a fun way by using ping pong balls in the break room to represent incoming calls.

Tip 3: What’s the Score?

Agents often don’t get to see how their performance will be measured until after training. They also don’t get to learn why metrics like customer satisfaction (CSAT) are so important—and what they can do to positively influence CSAT. Bringing in stakeholders like the Head of Customer Service can help agents understand the connection between their performance and CSAT. Also recognizing top-performing agents at the training can serve to inspire new recruits and provide them with go-to mentors.

Tip 4: Play the Best Hand Given the Cards You’re Dealt

Nearly 92% of agent-facing applications aren’t as efficient as they could be. That means system workarounds are inevitable. If you don’t provide agents with standard best practices for workarounds, they’ll invent their own. And those workarounds will result in more variability and inefficiency. So sit down with your agents to proactively identify the best workarounds. It will make them feel heard and lower their frustration and burnout.

Tip 5: Turn the Tables and Let Agents Measure You!

Get agent feedback right after training sessions—just like you measure CSAT immediately after a customer interaction. And build practice time into your training. For example, have two weeks in the classroom followed by a week of taking calls. This approach helps agents better retain what they’re learning and also builds confidence as they take on progressively more complex inquiries. Additionally, having top-performing agents serve as mentors or buddies can ease trainees’ transition to the production floor.

Finally, even the best 6-week training program can’t teach agents everything they need to know. This is especially true now that most easy issues are resolved via customer self-service. What ends up in the contact center are complex issues requiring more insight and information. That is why having a consolidated knowledge base with guided resolution is so crucial. It enables newer hires to perform like your best agents. And helps you determine what additional knowledge is needed to better serve customers.

With these tips, you can prepare your agents for the demands of the modern contact center without breaking the bank!

Click here to watch the webcast replay.

For more information on modern customer service, please visit our website.

Thursday Apr 23, 2015

Roadmap to Modern: "Get Going" by Katherine Lovelace

Sometimes the first step in a journey can be the scariest one you will take. How do you know you’re going in the right direction? How do you know that you have the right equipment to get where you need to go? What happens if you make a wrong choice? The fear of the unknown, leaving behind the way things have always been, and looking ahead at a new way of thinking can sometimes lead to crippling indecisiveness and ‘paralysis by analysis.’  

This can happen to anyone—even market leaders. Yet, we know that if we can just nudge companies into taking that first step to becoming a modern customer service organization, they will have what they need to confidently take many more steps as they move along the Roadmap to Modern (RTM) maturity curve.

So what is this first step? It’s actually quite straight-forward, yet many organizations are still struggling to take it. The first step requires moving from an organization with many single silos of customer engagement, into a multi-channel initiative that enables companies to reach customers directly at their point of need—on any device and at any time. Sounds simple, right?

Then why are there so many organizations that have not figured out this basic premise of customer engagement? I come back to my original thesis: they are afraid. This revelation came during a recent client engagement where I listened to a company explain why they felt that offering more robust self-service options, as well as live chat, would not be the right strategy for them. It was because their customers are accustomed to the ‘white glove treatment’ that has become synonymous with their brand. They feared that by offering these other, arguably less formal channels of communication, they would offend their customers and risk losing them. While this is an understandable initial reaction, their fear is actually leading them down the wrong journey towards obsolescence.

However, by walking them through the RTM process and customer expectations of modern service organizations, we were able to show them that a more mature, multi-channel strategy would not imperil their ‘white glove’ customer experience but rather reinvigorate it.   

By reviewing their customer contact reason codes, we were able to quickly see that the infamous ‘80/20’ rule comes into play.  For this company, and many others, only 20% of their inbound contacts are complex and truly require live agent support, whereas the vast majority (80%) can most quickly and effectively be handled by a well-run, knowledge-powered web self-service channel—and by offering multiple channels of engagement.

Through working to triage and deflect inbound contacts by complexity and likelihood to be handled via self-service or live agent, organizations can free up  their higher cost, live agent resources to focus on the 20% of issues that truly merit attention. Of course, for your particular organization, the 80/20 rule may not be spot on. Perhaps your ratio is closer to 70/30 or 60/40. The first step to becoming a mature customer service organization is simply assessing your inbound contact context and working to triage.

Increasingly, consumers are making channel decisions based on the context of their situation. This means that the specific channel they use to contact you depends on what they’re trying to do.  

Taking this triage approach will not only elevate your engagements with existing customers, but also open the door to engaging with new customers through new channels that you are not reaching through phone and email.

After working with the company I mentioned earlier to understand the number and nature of their inbound contacts, they came to realize that intentionally not having more choices for a customer to reach them was neither in the customer’s best interest nor their own. By providing more channel choice and resolution paths, this company would actually be better able to deliver their ‘white glove’ service experience.

Let’s resolve to no longer allow fear to hold us back from delivering the most modern and advanced customer experience. Each minute lost deliberating over the ‘why nots’ is costing money and customers. We need to move the conversation to the “how do we get going” stage. This is where the fun starts. This is where we get to help clients develop their Roadmap to Modern (RTM) strategy, and guide them to making the right choices for their customers, which are ultimately the right choices for their company as a whole.

Whether your “get going” is providing more channels of choice on more devices for a complete customer interaction portfolio, or consolidating and improving your knowledge base so you can deliver the right information on every channel you offer, the end result of being there for your customer in their time of need will eliminate fear on whether you took a step in the right direction. We just need to nudge you a little and the rest will follow!

Learn more today about the Oracle Roadmap To ModernTM, and stay tuned to this blog to get insights that prepare you for your journey to modern customer service. 

Tuesday Apr 21, 2015

ICMI Webcast: 5 Low or No Cost Ways to Train Agents in the Modern Contact Center by Justin Robbins and Tuula Fai

As contact centers evolve and expand into new channels to meet continuously changing customer demands, the need and requirement for in-depth, comprehensive training has become greater. While old principles and established methodologies will get you some of the way, it has become necessary to step into “unfamiliar territory” to fully meet the training needs of today's modern agent.

As contact center leaders, it’s our obligation and responsibility to ensure that we’re providing our team with the tools, resources, and knowledge to be successful in their roles. While we can and should continue to rely on many of the established practices of training in the past, new channels and new customer segments require us to continuously evaluate our topic matter and methodology for training. That can be costly and time-consuming.

ICMI has identified the top training needs of the modern contact center. In this Thursday's webcast at 1 pm EST (April 23), ICMI will share ideas on low or no-cost ways for you to develop your contact center team members.

During this webinar, you will learn:
  • 5 critical concepts for training in the modern contact center
  • 3 barriers to learning and how to overcome them
  • Top tips for delivering budget-friendly training and development programs

Register Now

Featured Speakers

Justin Robbins, Community Manager, ICMI

Justin Robbins is a contact center and talent development expert with over a decade of experience leading customer service organizations. He got his start in contact centers as a teenager doing cold-call outbound sales for newspaper subscriptions. Since then, he's moved from agent to senior leader, worked in and with inbound and outbound centers ranging in size from 5 to 2500+, and gained experience in a number of industries including hospitality, technology, manufacturing, and education. Most recently, Justin developed the training and professional certification programs for the International Customer Management Institute and has personally trained thousands of individuals around the globe on contact center best practices. You can reach Justin on-line at: www.twitter.com/justinmrobbins | www.linkedin.com/in/justinmrobbins | jrobbins@icmi.com 

Jana Meyers, Director - Training, Development and Support, American Century Investments

As Director, Jana is responsible for oversight for training, blended learning, internal communications, performance support and project support for American Century’s Direct investor channel. Jana Meyers joined American Century in the late 1990s and has had a widely-ranging financial services career, including residential and commercial real estate servicing, life and health insurance support and working as a registered representative in the mutual fund industry. Ms. Meyers has many years of management and quality assurance experience and has spoken at several quality conferences. She is a board member for the Quality Assurance and Training Connection (QATC) and a member of the Association for Talent Development (ATD).

Joe Landers, Client Success Manager, Oracle

Joe Landers, Client Success Manager at Oracle, helps organizations design a Customer Experience strategy that simultaneously delights customers and drives the bottom line. Joe has over 20 years of experience working as a manager of call center operations in the U.S. and overseas, including in outsourcing environments.

Kristine Chisholm, Customer Service/Training Administrator, ICMI

Kristine is Customer Service/Training Administrator for ICMI.  She assists with all aspects of the ICMI training business.

Thursday Apr 16, 2015

Oracle OpenWorld 2015: We Want to Hear Your Story! by Scott Ewart

Do you have a story to tell about your Customer Experiences (CX) in Marketing, Sales, Service, or Commerce? Implementations, solving business problems, increasing customer satisfaction...? We are sure you have valuable information and best practices to share, and our customers want to hear from you!

CX Central @ OpenWorld, taking place at Oracle OpenWorld 2015 in beautiful San Francisco, California from October 25 – October 29, 2015, is designed to provide a single place for all things related to the customer lifecycle. This is for all of Oracle's CX customers whose business requires them to definitively differentiate themselves across all channels, touch points, and interactions.

CX @ OpenWorld addresses: Marketing, Sales, Service, Social, and Commerce – and includes Oracle Marketing Cloud, Oracle Sales Cloud, Oracle Service Cloud, Siebel, Oracle Knowledge, Oracle Social Cloud, Oracle Commerce, and CPQ (Configure, Price, and Quote).

We invite you to submit your story before May 15th, 2015.We would love to hear stories related to your successful Oracle implementations or upgrades around CX, business transformations you have faced and solved, and the increased value your business has achieved through use of Oracle products.

You will be asked to provide information about yourself and the speakers, the proposed title and abstract, and the topic classification (tracks and session type). Sessions at CX Central @ OpenWorld are 45 minutes. Please keep in mind that at least one speaker is required.

Just follow the steps at this link.

Wednesday Apr 15, 2015

"Are we there yet?" The Oracle Roadmap To Modern by JP Saunders, Senior Director Business and Solution Strategy

"Are we there yet?" If you have kids, you may have heard this repeated many times during a long journey. If you don't, then maybe you recall being that kid in your parents' car? While it is intended to be an annoying taunt, its essence comes from a focus on the destination, versus making the journey a part of the destination. This is important as what happens along that journey can sometimes delay, frustrate, or worse prevent you from reaching your desired end state.

Many businesses today are at some stage of their journey to delivering an optimal and differentiated "Customer Experience" – with the vision of building sustainable growth and profits through stronger relationships with their customers, and reliable data about their business. Some define this destination as "delivering the wow experience," others call it "providing a modern experience," and many call it "differentiating with the omni-channel experience." Whatever you call it, and however you paint the vision of the destination, it has rapidly become the focus for the future of business.

Getting a defined and agreed-upon vision around the "What" you want to deliver is not easy task. The next question though is even bigger and tougher to get agreement on: the "How" to build, deliver, and grow to reach your visionary state. As every good Boy Scout knows, "you should always be prepared." Defining the "How" and then mapping the sequential approaches for each piece gives you the insights needed to properly plan ahead. A plan needs to encompass the considerations for everything that is on the journey with you. Your challenge is there are so many different approaches to the "How" – which are the right ones for you to take? And in what order…?

Question: What do cars and shoes have in common? Answer: Outstanding Customer Service. A "Customer Experience" strategy, by definition must focus on ensuring that "Customer Service" is at the forefront of its efforts. Why? Because for most businesses this is where 75% of the total interactions your brand has with a customer resides. As CX leader and CEO of Zappos Tony Hsieh said, "Zappos is a customer service company that just happens to sell shoes." Well Henry Ford has been saying this since the 1920s, "A business absolutely devoted to service will have only one worry about profits. They will be embarrassingly large." And if you look at any of the brands that are leading the way with CX, you will find this to be true. They have transformed their customer service business from an aging, reactive cost center, into a proactive, predictive profit center at the heart of their efforts. "Marketing may fill the sales funnel, and the sales department can close a deal, yet it is the overall impression of the enterprise generated by the quality of customer service that differentiates one enterprise from another," Michael Maoz, Vice President and distinguished analyst at Gartner.

BUT you can't transform your dusty old cost-focused call center overnight to suddenly become a modern digital hugging machine! Most businesses first achieve some level of "efficiency" (aka cost reduction) in order to reinvest those savings into establishing trust with customers, which then allows them to be more effective at monetizing these engagements. Many long-standing businesses also cannot afford to put the experience transformation on hold while they rethink and simplify their back-end business processes to support a better experience. Do you really think Apple’s business is less complex today than it was 10 years ago? Yet, as a consumer, you are protected from all that complexity so you can lead a simple life.

Over-eagerness to get to the vision/destination too soon often disconnects the approach for how to get there, and leads to the misalignment between strategy, investments, measurements, and experience. Begging the question, "Are we there yet?" from the pockets of siloed efforts that have raced ahead of the pack. If you don't define, agree, and plan for the sequenced approaches necessary for your journey, you won't have the right foundation in place to deliver the returns on your efforts, and will rapidly exhaust any funding and resources you acquired to be successful. In fact, what we have seen is it frequently leads to a worse experience for your customer, a negative impact on your growth/profit, and a refocus back on "efficiency."

Scenarios like these within customer service stem from "silo-channel thinking"— the evaluation of single channels, each independent of one other. As our own David Lanning and Jeff Griebeler recently covered in their Multi-channel white paper, customers today are crossing many channels and devices to resolve issues. And, as Gartner predicts by 2017, only one-third of all customer service interactions will require the support of a human, compared to 60% today.

So if consumer behavior today spans multiple channels—and consumer preferences are moving to digital channels where channel shifting is as easy as a click away—then why are so many business still focused on evaluating single-channel point solutions (chat, email, social, virtual assistant, FAQs, co-browse, etc.) independently? Why create competing overlap of functionality, configuration, customization, cost, maintenance and measurement? Answer: As a quick way to fill a gap and get ahead, but it comes at a cost:

  • A siloed "online chat initiative" to augment a poorly executed digital channel experience will ultimately result in it becoming a saturated channel of frustrated, overloaded agents, long wait times, limited hours of availability/credibility, and lower CSAT scores.
  • A siloed "virtual assistant initiative" to augment a poorly executed digital channel experience, results in a dumb ass-istant frustrating online customers, and making them more expensive to serve on higher cost channels, leading to higher support costs and increased customer churn.
  • A siloed "knowledge initiative" to augment a poorly executed phone/IVR channel experience can become a high-cost maintenance effort of managing stale, duplicated content on the web, hurting relations from inconsistent answers.

At this point, if you are thinking "some of that sounds like us!" then take comfort in knowing that 1) you are not alone, AND 2) it’s not too late to fix it.

You can avoid these types of "ow" experiences and negative results from a silo-channel approach, by making the right "multi-channel" decisions while you are getting going that will guide you on where to incrementally invest and get better. And ultimately empower you to get ahead of the pack with personalized service!

In this blog series, our resident strategy experts will guide you through the Oracle Roadmap To ModernTM Customer Service. A maturity blueprint designed and distilled from many years of real world insights across many industries, geographies and technologies. The Oracle Roadmap To ModernTM Customer Service empowers you to define and get agreement on the "HOW" in order to reach your destination of "Modern WOW" with the business returns for sustainable growth and profit.

The Roadmap To ModernTM maturity framework is unique to Oracle and is used throughout Oracle's business discovery practices, and with select partnerships, to benchmark you against where you are in your industry, what problems you need to solve, in what order to tackle them, what to incrementally measure along the way, what technologies (both foundational and leading) are the best fit for your goals, and when to invest in them.

Learn more today about the Oracle Roadmap To ModernTM, and stay tuned to this blog to get the deep insights which prepare you for your journey to modern customer service.

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