Tuesday Apr 08, 2014

3 Secrets to Innovation...and why we believe we were were recognized by an independent analyst firm By David Vap

Innovation starts with seeing things differently than others. It starts with looking at a problem, and finding a way to dramatically change for the better.

Benjamin Franklin knew that. Ben wasn’t just a great visionary, he was a practical experimenter. He focused on needs—such as saving lives—when he invented the lightning rod. He understood the complex nature of electricity, and transformed that knowledge into a real, practical solution that helped everyone. He said it best, “well done is better than well said.”

That’s why Benjamin Franklin inspires us. While our innovation focus is a little different, we value connecting the dots between seeing a possibility and doing something about it. Customer Service is mission critical, and it’s hard to do really well. Real people are impacted every day when they can’t get their needs met – from the serious to the whimsical. From the need to know when your medication shipment arrives at your house to returning that shirt that was a size too small.

Our 3 secrets of innovation? 1) Focus on making what’s hard simple. 2) Solve real problems for real people. 3) Don’t just spin a good vision. Do something about it.

[Read More]

Monday Feb 24, 2014

Oracle Service Cloud February 2014 Release – Streamlining Great Customer Service by JP Saunders

Time REALLY is money. You’re making money or losing it. Customers will either buy from you again, or they won’t. On average, seventy-one percent of consumers surveyed agree: "Valuing my time is the most important thing a company can do to provide me with good customer service."1 So for consumers and for businesses, the "Is the juice worth the squeeze?" question comes down to how much juice (value) you deliver from how much squeeze (effort). You will pay a high cost in terms of relationships, reputation, performance and profits on slow, fragmented and inconsistent customer service.

If your organization seeks to provide great customer experiences, making your service processes faster and simpler is a good place to focus your efforts. The February 2014 release of Oracle Service Cloud provides a variety of enhancements that will help you streamline your customer experiences. Here are just a few highlights from the release.

1. Understand and Route Based on Customer Needs FASTER

Oracle Virtual Assistant Cloud Service is an online concierge made up of a combination of products designed to take complexity out of the online experiences by using human-like conversational language capabilities that truly understand human speak and predict human intent. New interface extensions in the latest release enable Virtual Assistant to draw on customer profile and interaction history, providing a more personalized experience and a streamlined dialog since it asks for data only when it is needed. The latest release is also enhanced with feedback reporting to help you understand the performance of Virtual Assistant in the service process. With the ability to drill-down to specific comments in poorly rated interactions, you can identify weaknesses and take corrective action to improve them.

2. Handle Complex Self-Service and Agent-Assisted Resolutions SMOOTHLY

For organizations seeking to automate business policies, Policy Automation provides the ability to quickly transform complex customer interactions through personalized, consistent, and transparent advice across channels. In this latest release, Policy Automation further streamlines the customer interview process for both customers and agents with new calendar controls and tabular data entry. Customer Service Agents are now better equipped to handle customer interactions with support for sub-interviews that follow the natural flow of the customer interaction. Additionally, the information captured in the interview and the results can be saved back to the incident for historical tracking purposes. And, you can expand the reach of these dynamic customer interviews to more customers with support for more languages – Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Portuguese, Japanese, and Italian.

3. Deliver Timely Agent Assisted Responses CONSISTENTLY

In today’s world of anywhere, anytime service, customers often expect customer service agents to respond to customer issues on the spot. With Oracle Service Cloud’s Mobile Agent App, roaming customer support agents and managers can access their contact center information "on the go," increasing productivity and customer responsiveness. This latest release allows you to tailor your mobile application in order to streamline access to the information needed to resolve the customer issue. Full support for Custom Objects provides mobile access to important information that’s unique to your customer service processes. Mobile workspaces are enhanced with new controls, allowing you to embed analytics, integrate with external Websites, and display SmartSense controls in the workspaces. And, lastly, the Mobile Agent App allows agents to upload pictures from their iPhone camera and photo roll to objects that support attachments, further increasing the agents’ ability to troubleshoot and respond rapidly.

For more information on these high-value features, please watch the Oracle Service Cloud – February 2014 Release Overview video, or read the Oracle Service Cloud – February 2014 Capabilities and Benefits data sheet.

1 Source: Understand Communication Channel Needs To Craft Your Customer Service Strategy, Kate Leggett, Forrester Research Inc, March 11, 2013

Tuesday Feb 11, 2014

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

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

Keep Informed

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

Access Knowledge

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

Stay Connected Even When Offline

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

Delight Employees

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

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

Wednesday Jan 22, 2014

Customer Experience is an ‘Outside In’ Job by Krassimira Iordanova

What Customers Want

As a consumer, customer experience is simple: you want to be served whenever you want, however you want (channels). You expect the company to know you and make relevant offers. If things go wrong, you expect quick fixes. You hate to repeat the same story you told the call center agent a week ago.

You also expect to be surprised in a positive way. Sometimes you really don't know what you want, but if they show you something cool, you might buy it.

For example, I remember browsing at Bungalow 8, a mind-blowing store for home furnishing in Mumbai. When I entered, they asked me "Ma'am, is there anything special you are looking for?" I said, "I'm not looking for anything in particular, but if you show me around, I might end up buying something I like." And I did.

Companies Have it ‘Inside Out’

As a company, you might have a tough time with all this customer experience stuff, because you're focused on process efficiency. Process efficiency is an ‘inside out’ view; customer experience is an ‘outside in’ view. To understand the difference, contrast most airlines’ boarding procedures (inside out) with Apple’s Genius bar (outside in). Which experience do you prefer?

A Change in Perspective

Customer Experience Journey Mapping helps you flip your perspective to ‘outside in’ so you can identify every moment of your customer’s experience, whether it is a specific interaction, or an entire relationship with your brand across touch points. As the Harvard Business Review says,

A company that manages complete journeys, would not only do its best with the individual transaction, but also seek to understand the broader reasons for… the call in the call center, address the root causes and create feedback loops to continuously improve interactions upstream and downstream..."

You can best visualize continuously improving interactions by diagramming your customer's journey across the buy and own lifecycle. This helps you see where you need to make changes. And if you deliver a great experience across this cycle, then it becomes an infinite loop where customers remain loyal because you deliver on your brand promise.

Take Action

Start cultivating an ‘outside in’ customer perspective of your organization by participating in a hands-on Journey Mapping Workshop. You will leave with practical insights you can apply right away.

Upcoming 2014 Journey Mapping Workshops:

Upcoming 2014 Journey Mapping Workshops in Europe:

Upcoming Journey Mapping Workshops in Asia-Pacific:

Find more information on journey mapping here.

Monday Jan 06, 2014

8 Predictions for Customer Service in 2014 by David Vap

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

1. Customer Service Becomes a Boardroom Priority

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

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

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

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

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

3. Mobile, Mobile, Mobile

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

4. Your Coffee Maker Serves Itself

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

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

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

5. Knowledge is Everywhere

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

6. The Web Comes Alive

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

7. Social Gets Real

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

8. Employee Experience Takes the Limelight

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

For more information, please visit our website.

Friday Nov 08, 2013

Oracle RightNow Cloud Service Roadmap Webinar Wednesday, November 13, 9 am PST

Come hear Christopher Patterson present on the Vision and Roadmap for Oracle RightNow Cloud Service, Wednesday, November 13, 9 AM PST / 12 PM EST

To register: http://bit.ly/HNO3bt

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