Wednesday Oct 29, 2014

Video Webcast: Forbes Insights Executive Survey: What 300+ VPs Say about Modernizing Customer Service on Nov. 13 11 am PT / 2 pm ET

Want to be the first to know how you measure up against other customer service executives? Need to know the moves they are making so you can stay ahead?

Then join us for this video webcast on November 13 at 11:00 am PT / 2:00 pm ET in which Brenna Sniderman, Senior Director of Research, Forbes Insights, Jeff Lundal, GVP, Service Automation, Oracle, and Mark Marshall, Executive Director, Client Services at MetTel will give an insider preview of what 300+ service executives say about modernizing customer service.

You will learn how your executive peers:

  • Differentiate their brands within and across industries
  • Anticipate customer service needs on multiple channels
  • Leverage analytics to improve operations and service

Register now. After the webcast, you will receive a free report of the survey results when published.



Monday Sep 22, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

Register here

Tuesday Aug 26, 2014

Join Chuck LaDow, Kodak for Customer Service Best Practices Webcast Thursday, August 28 at 11 am PT / 2 pm ET

Want to exchange best practices with fellow customer service professionals but just don't have the time?

Take 30 minutes this Thursday, August 28th at 11 am PT / 2 pm ET to listen to Chuck LaDow, Director, Global Customer Support, Eastman Kodak, share lessons learned from his 35 years of experience leading customer service organizations at Kodak, as well as Apple, Dell, HP and D&M Holdings.

Chuck was one of the first contact center executives to implement 24/7/365 customer support.

Register for the webcast.

Tuesday Aug 19, 2014

CRM Evolution 2014: Mediocrity is the New Horrible in Customer Service

"Mediocrity is the new horrible in customer service." — Blair McHaney, President/CEO, Gold's Gym

Almost everyone knows that customers' expectations have risen. But, after listening to two days of presentations at CRM Evolution, I think it’s more accurate to say that customers' expectations have skyrocketed. Fortunately, most companies have gotten the message and are taking their customer service to a higher level. For those who've been hesitant to 'boldly go where their customer service organization has not gone before,' take heart. I’ve got some statistics that will encourage you to take those first few steps.

Why should I change?

  • By engaging customers online, ancestry.com achieved a 99.5% customer satisfaction score (CSAT) while improving retention and saving millions on greater efficiency, including a 38%-50% drop in inbound calls and emails.1
  • By empowering employees to delight customers, Gold’s Gym achieved a 77.5% Net Promoter Score (NPS) and 22% customer churn rate. No small feat when you consider the industry averages are 40% NPS and 45% churn.2
  • By adapting quickly to social media, brands like Verizon have benefited from social community members spending 2.5x-10x more than average customers.3

‘The fierce urgency of now’ is upon us in customer service. You can take your customer service to a higher level! To find out more, click here.

CRM Evolution Customer Service Experience Footnotes:

*Arvindh Balakrishnan, Vice President, CX and CRM Applications Business GroupIs Your Customer Service Modern?
*Blair McHaney, President/CEO, Gold's Gym, Wire Your Organization with Customer Feedback
*Becky Carroll, Associate Partner, Cloud Strategy and Solutions, IBM, The Power of Communities for Improving the Service Experience and Building Advocates

Friday Jul 11, 2014

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday Jun 05, 2014

Oracle Service Cloud May 2014 Release – Focus on your driving by JP Saunders

The next time you’re twiddling dials on your car’s dashboard to get the air to blow in the right direction, and the right song to play on the stereo, while pulling on the wires to charge your phone and punching in passwords to re-sync your hands-free headset to take a call, consider this… Does having a better dashboard UI in your car improve your driving performance?

The Tesla car has one of the most modern and intuitive dashboards in any commercial car today. It is actually based on the design of a smart phone, which can download apps and updates directly from the cloud.  The 17” touchscreen, Lynx-based dashboard totally integrates all channels and devices, allowing the driver to focus on the smooth driving and power of this luxury (toy) car. 

What the folks at Tesla didn't do was avoid the complexity of our needs. Instead, they streamlined them. And, while we might not all be able to afford a Tesla, their approach demonstrates that a modern UI approach can ultimately make a positive difference in our lives and businesses. 

This is why the productivity and effectiveness of a Modern Contact Center is many times greater than that of a traditional contact center. Agents in a Modern Contact Center get to focus on the task at hand, the customer engagement, rather than stumbling their way through Lego blocks of complexity. 

The Oracle Service Cloud is a modern approach to customer service that empowers your agents to achieve greater focus on improving your operational and strategic success through streamlined business processes. 

Here are some of the recent May 2014 release highlights to the Oracle Service Cloud:

Performance Enhanced Desktop UI

A modern agent desktop interface that optimizes clumsy tasks, logins, screens and workflows and is optimized for agent and system performance. Improvements include performance for drag-and-drop configurable views, saved searches, and improved caching for high-speed performance even during disconnected or slow internet access. 

Customer Experience Routing

A streamlined automatic way to connect the right customer need to the best agent skills, based on multidimensional variables such as product skills, language skills, workload, call volume to optimize the connection and resolution experience.

On-The-Go Mobile

Improvements to the Agent mobile app that extend connectivity to websites, and customer surveys that are mobile-ready and rendered for any device, and ensure the customer’s voice is captured while the insight is still top of mind. 

Infused Social Engagement

Enhancements to infused social capabilities allow agents to respond in social threads directly from within the agent desktop, with the information becoming part of the incident record for automatic actions (such as replay or escalate) triggered off the response.

Front-End Siebel Contact Center

The market leading online Web Customer Self-Service interface from the Oracle Service Cloud, is now out-of-the-box ready for Oracle Siebel customers. Deploy a new online web self-service interface in a matter of weeks to have customers self-serve and self-solve answers, with escalated incidents routed directly into the Oracle Siebel Contact Center.

For more information on the latest enhancements for the Oracle Service Cloud, please see the Oracle Service Cloud May 2014 Capabilities and Benefits.

Friday May 16, 2014

The Art of Easy - Part 6 of 6: Making Easy, both Effective and Efficient by Melinda Uhland

In the case of “What makes the experience” It's the age old question… which came first? The chicken? or the egg? There is a strong vote for the chicken (being the customer), as they squawk the loudest (especially on Social), but within the contact center, there is strong evidence that it was the egg (being the agent).

A Modern Customer Service organization is one that understands the importance of the Agent Experience as it relates to your customer’s experience. A modern organization knows that its support agents must be more than a pretty smile on an empty box, or a handshake at an open door, or a hallmark welcome greeting… Modern Customer Service agents curate engagements that result in lasting and profitable relationships with their customers.

The customers experience is frequently defined by how engaged the customer feels an agent is during an interaction – not just whether they were polite, but also whether they were trying to help. And there is a direct correlation between how engaged agents are, and how empowered they feel they in their jobs. A Modern Customer Service organization is one that improves its customer results by investing in the needs of its agents’ experiences. Empowering them with the tools that make it easy for them to be efficient and effective.

To know how well you are doing on delivering a great agent experience, don't just look at CSAT reports (although they can be a good indicator).

Start by asking your agents:

Are you being connected with customers that you can serve effectively?
How effective is that connection so the customer isn’t frustrated by the time they engage?
Once engaged do they have access to the information needed to solve the issue?
How many systems do they have to log into, search and reconcile conflicting information?
How many process scripts, cheat sheets and memos do they have to manage and memorize to navigate the engagement?
If they see an issue with your system/process during the interaction, can they apply/request a change?
How long does it usually take to have the change applied?
And, how many engagements will they have to handle without that change?
The list goes on, as does the time and frustration to your agents, if you are not making the engagement process easy. Let face it, you cannot afford to lose any of your agents, as you have invested in them and your business needs to deliver. So, if you are still running your contact center as a legacy cost center, then chances are you are driving up costs by not understanding your agents’ needs:

  • Your most seasoned agents: are your most valuable assets as they are the sherpas of your processes, saviors of your customers and the spirit of your brand.  They must be empowered for greatness. Honor their time to save your brand.
  • Your average agents: are your building blocks for change, whose systematic rhythm can deliver the highest return on efficiencies. They must be empowered for consistency. Listen to their pains to save money.
  • Your most junior agents: are your future, with an untarnished view on how you can improve to get ahead. They must be empowered for success. Leverage their passion and their fresh perspective for change.

By exploring the needs of each agent segment, you can understand how to apply technology to improve their experience:

The Experienced Agent: “Don’t waste my time!”

Your most experienced agents should be strictly focused on your most serious/complicated issues, and/or your highest value customers.  Having your most valuable agents handle questions that could be addressed through an FAQ, or a newer agent wastes money and time. By setting up the correct routing rules, you can ensure that your experienced agents are focused on the right issues and most valuable customers –handling only exceptions for overflow assistance when required.  With the right solution, it is possible to automate the configuration and management of routing rules which match the right customers with the right agents, based on many factors beyond customer problem and agent skill. Configure rules based on availability, learned experience, language, time zone, county, wait times, customer value, etc.

The Average Agent:  “It’s not my fault!”

How many times have your agents picked up a call, provided their most friendly greeting, only to have been immediately yelled at by a customer? Your agent has to spend time calming the customer down, rather than assisting them with the real issue. Call Center agents go through this many times a day, and it can be a demotivating and costly occurrence to your efficiency and effectiveness metrics.  Do these sound all too familiar?

  • I have been transferred 3 times, and you keep asking the same questions!”
  • “I don’t have time to call you! Why can’t I just do this online?"
  • “I just spent an hour trying to navigate your web site, only to get no answer, and now you want to CHAT?!
  • “Do you know who I am on Social? You will regret keeping me waiting for my email response!”
  • “I have been a great customer of yours for many years – doesn't that count for something?!”

Multi-Channel / Cross-Channel Customer Service platforms can help you avoid this circle of frustration. Capabilities like proactive chat, email automation, virtual assistance, click-to-call, click-to-call back, experience routing rules, mobile templates, and social response allow your customers reach out to you on the channel/device that works best for them right when they need help. Or they can switch channels and devices when they need too, seamlessly.  And when your customers do reach out to you, you can keep track of all their interactions, regardless of channel, providing you with deeper insights on channel, device and interaction behavior for optimizing their contact flows to avoid FCF (First Contact Frustration), and improve FCR (First Contact Resolution).

The New Agent:  “There’s gotta be a better way!”

Your new agent just started and is excited to do well in his/her new role.  S/he had some hands-on training with an experienced agent, got a memorized script to follow, a notebook with system logins to use, an earmarked manual with policies to follow, and is set to start handling low-level support incidents in those already flooded channels.  As you finish the agent’s training, the song “Will they stay, or will they go?” plays in your head because you know the experience the agent is about to go through will either make or break ‘em. But, you did all you could, so if something goes wrong: the customers? A necessary casualty. The complaints? Teething pains. The ideas for change? A no go. Given time, they will learn the old ways are best!

This is another scenario that can be easily remedied with a Modern Contact Center, which is capable of unifying all the systems to a single login to a centralized agent desktop. The desktop can be pre-configured with views and guides that simplify the learning curve and walk agents through step-by-step processes, which are traceable down to each interaction and engagement across every channel.

A centralized knowledge base gives agents access to all public and internal knowledge at their fingertips, placing scripts inside of tools that can be applied easily. These tools, combined with a unified customer record drawn from any source master system of record (or external social site), equip your new agent to have relevant engagements, which help them improve customer experience from day one.

By understanding the needs of your agents—and empowering them with the right tools, knowledge and insights to better serve customers—you can easily make their jobs more engaging, their performance more effective, and their time more efficient. The Oracle Service Cloud empowers agents to meet today’s customer expectations and become a valued part of the Modern Customer Service Organization.

Friday May 02, 2014

The Art of Easy - Part 5 of 6: Knowledge Makes It Easy For Everyone by Nav Chakravarti

Once there was a time when the question  “What’s on TV?” was just as easy to ask, as it was to answer. There just wasn't much on – it could be printed on one page of newspaper! Now try asking that question today? It’s no longer simple – “Do you mean on Apple TV, WebTV, Google TV, Hulu, Cable, On Demand…?”And by the time you figure out what’s on and what you want to watch, the show is over.

This complexity of choice from what we do and how we do it manifests itself not only in products, but also in business processes across global industries. Not surprisingly customers have ever more questions about buying, using, and maintaining these increasingly complex and sophisticated products and services.

It’s not ‘simple’, but the expectation is that you make it ‘easy’. Customers expect that you will answers their questions easily and in context, in a manner relevant to their needs, with answers that are reliable and accurate. That is why knowledge management is now at the forefront of the customer experience problems that businesses are looking to solve.

1. Start Small but Plan BIG

If you are just embarking on a knowledge management strategy then it’s okay, even advisable, to start small with a simple knowledge base to support a particular product, service line or customer segment where better answers will make a huge difference. To do that, you need a solution that can deploy rapidly, but also grows to with your enterprise knowledge management needs. So it can be infused into everything, rather than being left as another silo.

2. Understand What You Have

The 80/20 rule of knowledge is that 80% of what’s needed is best addressed with the 20% of your most valuable content. So even if you can’t answer all the questions, collect the answers that you are able to identify and verify as most used. We call this “what you know you know” content explicit knowledge. You can bring the remaining 80% of your content into the fold over time as your initiative grows, as long as your solution supports connecting multiple sources and content types.

3. Understand What They Need

Don't just focus on the content; you also have to understand what and how customers and employees are looking for it. You might be able to train a few, but you can't force the majority of your customers to hunt for information with specific words/symbols, or perform a series of navigation clicks to get to a place that has what they need. They will simply resort to the path of least resistance, which may be to use a higher cost channel. Or worse, buy a competitor’s product. So it's important to accommodate the various ways that people ask and look for information. You need a solution that can match your terminology with the way customers ask for help, in their own style and language; a solution that can deliver multiple navigation paths, as well as connect them to one answer. And can validate and course-correct the experience using decision tree navigation and assistance.

4. Learn What You Don’t Know

In Step 2, we covered collecting explicit knowledge. Well, as it turns out, knowledge constantly evolves and what we know about it changes. So it’s critical to get feedback along the way and give the people who do know, the chance to share what they know. Make sure the people who have the knowledge are able to rate, suggest or even create new knowledge. We call this sort of knowledge that is trapped in people’s heads, implicit knowledge, “what you didn't know you knew” This is why you need analytics that let you easily identify gaps through reports, gather direct feedback, and augment explicit knowledge with implicit knowledge.

5. Keep Making It Better

Knowledge has a shelf-life. It grows stale over time because things change. Every piece of Knowledge has an ongoing value in both investment and return. So knowing performance metrics, by segment, is key to knowing whether to invest further, or not. This is especially important for any content that gets translated where the cost can be multiplicative unless it’s delivering value. You don’t know how well you’re doing unless you measure it, so having a solution that easily delivers you the required data and analysis is critical. Knowledge Management is a commitment to constant improvement.

By now you have figured out that the art of making Answers EASY takes time, effort and investment. But if you try and short cut it with a silo approach, you’ll just end up making it more complex and costly. The Oracle Service Cloud makes Knowledge Management a foundation for your Modern Customer Service organization.

Thursday May 01, 2014

Want to offer personalized service but have concerns about compliance? We can help. by Heike Lorenz

A personalized customer experience is already beginning to overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. Going forward, one-size-fits all customer service won't suffice, as consumers grow increasingly impatient with inconsistencies and inefficiencies that don't serve their individual needs.1

However, only 25%2 of organizations can provide highly personalized service. Even fewer can ensure that service complies with policy rules and regulations. Compliance is critical in highly regulated industries like financial services, telecommunications, utilities, higher education, etc.

So how can you achieve personalized, compliant service that differentiates your brand?

By using a policy automation platform to automate and deploy policies across all touchpoints. Policies take the form of dynamic interviews, which ask questions relevant to individual customers, and automatically tailor service and offers based on customers’ real-time responses. The interviews document how each decision is made, and can automatically generate a report.

So what does this mean for your customers and you?! It means that if you are a bank and your customer doesn’t qualify for a loan, he can see how much he needs to raise his credit score in order to be eligible. Offering a personalized explanation eliminates the need to call the contact center and builds trust through transparency. And it gives your organization a comprehensive report of all customer interactions detailing policy compliance to ensure audit readiness.

Companies using this approach can provide highly personalized service—increasing loyalty and satisfaction—while being 100% confident they are compliant. 

1. http://www.smartcustomerservice.com/Columns/Vendor-Views/3-Top-Customer-Experience-Trends-in-2014-95016.aspx

2. http://www.retailtouchpoints.com/resource-center/51-white-papers/1219-top-5-trends-in-retail-for-improving-customer-service-and-advocacy-management

Friday Apr 18, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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