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.

Friday Apr 10, 2015

3 Steps to a Modern Profitable Service Organization by Jeff Griebeler, CX Strategist

Transitioning your support organization or contact center from a cost center to a profit center is an onerous process that can be difficult to navigate. Yet, it is a journey that must be purposely undertaken, performed crisply and executed successfully to thrive in the competitive world. Being viewed as a cost center creates an endless journey of continuous cost cutting, funding reduction, and the need to always be more efficient this year than last. It is a self-destructive cycle that ends with an underfunded support organization attempting to provide ever increasing services to an ever demanding customer community in an ever more competitive market. The historical mantra has been simple: “do more with less;” when the discussion should be focused on creating organizational value, defining competitive differentiation, creating loyal customers, and promoting profitable growth.

Becoming Trapped

Many companies have viewed their support organization as a necessity to remain in business. The view was simple: “customers will not buy without support, but customers do not buy because of support.” Support was a necessity and delivered at a minimal level and at the lowest possible cost. These organizations are funded on a cost-budget basis, and share these characteristics:

  • Provide more support with less budget
  • Offer more channels with minimal funding
  • Stretch technology far beyond its useful life
  • Use siloed applications as band-aids

Efficiency has its limits and frequently has adverse effects. The maximum efficiency that can be gained is limited by the total budget. Additionally, efficiency improvements can be captured only once and become part of next year’s baseline budget.

As budgets are cut year-after-year to provide additional margin to the organization, the quality of support diminishes, technologies age and workaround processes become more prevalent, which result in more inefficiencies. Personnel become frustrated, customers become frustrated and you fall behind your competitors. Cheap, quick, easy siloed technologies are implemented on a temporary basis; but temporary, all too frequently, becomes permanent. It creates a vicious circle spiraling downward and the organization is trapped.

Under Attack

The “trapped customer support organization” comes under attack on multiple fronts:

  1. Enlightened competition providing better customer service start taking market share
  2. Customers, empowered by easy-to-obtain, readily available information and the ability to socially broadcast their experience, increase their demands
  3. Increased competition for scarce internal funding. Cost-based organizations fall to the bottom of the budget list and are “designated for investment next year,” but next year turns into the following year, and so on.

Over time, these forces take their toll on the organization as it slips further and further behind the competition and industry service standards.

The CX Value Equation

To escape the trap, an economic framework must be established to measure and illustrate value. The measured value made by customer service must be considered across three major areas: Efficiency (E), Retention (R), and Acquisition (A). When combined, we refer to this as the CX Value Equation:

CX = E + R + A

Efficiency allows an organization to do more with less;
Retention is the ability of an organization to keep and grow the customers it already has; and
Acquisition refers to the ability of an organization to increase its customer base.

The CX Value Equation effectively defines a financial bridge between a CX customer service strategy and the organization’s profit line. With a defined CX Value Equation, you have a tool to illustrate the service organization’s contribution and progress. You are now ready to transform your organization from a cost center to a profit center.

Three Steps to a Modern, Profitable Service Organization

The key to transforming your organization is to modernize its capabilities so you can capture and illustrate the benefits. Here are the steps to modernize your organization and turn it into a profit center:

Step 1: Set CX Value Equation Metrics and Baseline Your Service Organization
Start with efficiency metrics. These are the easiest to identify. Get a handle on the important ones, such as self-service and first contact resolution rates. Add retention metrics to the model. Great candidate metrics include Customer Effort Score (CES) and Net Promoter Score (NPS). Finally, add acquisition measurements with metrics like the number of opportunities and referral rates.

For further information, please consult Customer Experience (CX) Metrics and Key Performance Indicators, an Oracle White Paper.  

Once your model is designed, baseline your current operational performance. This is your starting point from which you will demonstrate your progress and contribution to the organization.

Step 2: Modernize Your Service Organization
Use the Roadmap to Modern Customer Service Strategy to move from a cost center to a profit center. When this strategy is followed, the activity can be a self-funding.

Start by establishing a proper capabilities foundation. Then add new capabilities and provide consistency across all interactions. Finally, drive continuous innovation to remain ahead of the competition. The foundational activities are how you get going. You must resist the urge to skip steps and attempt to implement innovation on top of your outdated infrastructure. This will only lead to failure. Skipping steps is how an organization ends up with disparate systems (e.g. stand-alone chat) and business processes that function poorly, deliver substandard service, and require manual support and workaround processes to operate – hardly an effective strategy.

Let’s lay out the steps:

  • GET GOING to save budget and generate cost savings that support investments to
  • GET BETTER and improve retention with consistent quality of service, optimized capabilities and strengthened relationships, so you can
  • GET AHEAD to create revenues by monetizing more opportunities, personalizing interactions and being proactive in an omni-channel environment

Step 3: Continue to Measure, Demonstrate and Evolve
Modern customer service is not a destination, but rather an evolving journey. This year’s customer service capabilities become table stakes for providing service next year. Customer needs and demands will continuously change. Market forces will change. Technology will change. The Internet of Things (IoT) is upon us, and will accelerate change.

Conclusion

Liberating your cost-centric customer support organization can feel like an impossible task. However, by leveraging the CX Value Equation and tailoring it to your needs, you can demonstrate the true value of the services you provide to your organization. By using the Roadmap to Modern Customer Service’s strategy: Get Going, Get Better, Get Ahead approach, you can self-fund and transform your center from an entity that is viewed as “overhead” or a “necessity” into a strategic, competitive asset that generates revenues and profits.

Click here to read the full whitepaper.

Wednesday Apr 08, 2015

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Learn more today about the Oracle Roadmap To ModernTM

Saturday Apr 04, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Thursday Mar 19, 2015

Oracle CRM Watchlist 2015 Winner

Leading CRM expert, best-selling author, analyst and regular contributor to ZDNet, Paul Greenberg, has listed Oracle as a 2015 winner on his CRM Watchlist. Paul is an advisor to both public and private organizations and continues to define the landscape of CRM including industry trends, challenges and opportunities. As the Executive Vice President of the CRM Association, and Chairman of the University of Toronto’s CRM Centre of Excellence, Paul is considered one of the industry’s top thought leaders.[Read More]

Friday Mar 13, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

Register today

Monday Mar 02, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday Feb 27, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday Feb 20, 2015

Look Beyond Marketing When Considering Customer Experience by Gib Bassett

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gib Bassett

CPG and Retail Industry Principal

Twitter @gibbassett

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