Friday Jun 24, 2016

Pella Teams Up with Oracle Service Cloud to Power A Differentiated Customer Service Strategy and Unified Contact Center

Celebrating its 90th anniversary, Pella Corporation, one of North America’s leading manufacturers of windows and doors, continues to innovate its customer service strategy with flexible technology solutions and a holistic, 360-degree view of not only direct customers, but sales branches as well as field service operations. 

Teaming up with Oracle Service Cloud has enabled Pella to deliver consistent, high-quality customer service experiences no matter how they engage – whether through email, phone, chat, social media or even during in-person appointments that happen at customers’ homes or businesses.

Using Oracle Service Cloud, along with Oracle Marketing Cloud and Oracle CRM On Demand Sales, Pella can deploy service agents where demand is growing and empower those agents with access to the entire customer record at the moment the customer calls in, allowing them to view a complete history of products owned, purchased, and serviced. Pella contact center agents and field service technicians now have a unified picture of the company’s interactions with customers, driving satisfaction and loyalty for both customers and employees.  Not only does Pella successfully manage the entire value chain with one central cloud customer service platform, but they also have the tools to measure service performance.

Now, service agents and field techs are solving more service issues on the first call than ever before – service agents may have one 8-minute call, versus two 6-minute calls. Also 75% of the time Pella has been able to solve a particular customer service issue within the first 24 hours of it being reported.

“Having these capabilities provides an experience that our competition can’t deliver,” says Rick Hassman, CIO at Pella.

Hear about Pella’s strategy for keeping up with rising customer expectations and growing communication channels firsthand at the 17th Annual Call Center Week Conference and Expo, June 27-July 1, 2016. Arvin Pleima, Director of Customer Service and Logistics at Pella, will share more on Pella’s success with Oracle Service Cloud in a session, titled “Building a Differentiated Customer Service Strategy and a Unified Contact Center,” at 4:35 p.m. on the 29th.  

Not able to attend the conference? You can learn more about Pella’s customer service strategy and its partnership with Oracle in this Forbes.com article.

Share Pella’s interesting story and upcoming discussion socially:

Tweet This –

The secret to @Pella_News #custserv success? A united #contactcenter & differentiating #CX w/ @OracleServCloud http://ow.ly/zcnW301nsEM 

.@Pella_News to share inside look into #custserv strategy success w/ @OracleServCloud at #CallCenterWeek http://ow.ly/QsDD301nstT #cctr

Facebook Post This –

Pella shares their story on building a differentiated customer service strategy and unified contact center with @Oracle Service Cloud at Call Center Week! Join their session on Weds, June 29th at 4:30 p.m. http://ow.ly/vNGF301nrMZ #callcenterweek #custserv #cctr #CX

Pella celebrates 90th anniversary, and continued customer service innovation! Learn how @Oracle Service Cloud enabled them to unite their contact center and deliver customer service excellence http://ow.ly/8eRf301ns91 #custserv #cctr #CX

Friday Jun 17, 2016

CRM Evolution 2016 Highlights

By Anna Sabryan, product manager, Oracle Service Cloud

The Oracle Service Cloud team just got back from one of the leading customer centric events of the year, CRM Evolution 2016.  It was exciting to hear first hand from the impressive lineup of speakers and global industry experts including Paul Greenberg, The 56 Group, Esteban Kolsky, ThinkJar, Brian Solis, Altimeter Group, and Denis Pombriant, Beagle Research.  Also glean insights from leading Forrester analysts Kate Leggett and Ian Jacobs, on delivering stellar customer service across rapidly evolving touch points.

One of the event highlights was learning from Sentara Healthcare and Meridium about the challenges of delivering modern customer service.  In addition, they provided advice on several contact center engagement topics including navigating the adoption of new service channels, empowering a customer-centric culture across channels, and harnessing omni-channel service to get to the data that matters.

Meridium, a leading provider of Asset Performance Management (APM) software, also stepped on stage to share how they succeeded in delivering positive customer service experiences partnering with Oracle Service Cloud.  Streamlining customer service processes and implementing industry leading tools helped Meridium achieve some outstanding results over the last two years, including significant cost savings, reducing call handling times and much more!


Here are a few impressive results Meridium has achieved:

  • 76% increase in customer satisfaction
  • 76% increase in initial response time
  • 20% increase in self-service deflection
  • 46% increase in case submission savings

For more insights, watch Elena Brown discuss it first hand at CRM Evolution and check out my follow up post on how great service is still the best marketing weapon!

Monday Jun 13, 2016

Using Technology to Deliver Connected Service Experiences

By Shon Wedde, Senior Director, Product Management, Oracle Service Cloud

We live in a time of rapid growth in social media, messaging services, and mobile technology. Our adoption of these technologies has resulted in a consumer-driven transformation in the way businesses engage with consumers. As each technology emerges, businesses have quickly moved to support the demand for new communication channels across their self-service and assisted-service engagement offerings. The next wave of engagement transformation has emerged.

The Internet of Things (IoT) changes everything! That’s a pretty powerful statement, so what does it really mean? Let’s start with the definition. Internet of Things (IoT) generally refers to uniquely identifiable objects and their virtual representations in the connected high-tech world we live in today. It is a general term used in reference to smart-enabled connected products and services that include people, processes, and sensor-enabled machines, all connected to the cloud (a.k.a. the internet). As an example, a common IoT application today is home automation, allowing you to control IoT-enabled home light switches from an app on your phone.

The origins of IoT are found within the operational departments of industries like Manufacturing, Logistics/Transportation, Healthcare, and Utilities, under the label of machine to machine (M2M). The focus of M2M investments was, and still is, on operational efficiency and uptime. M2M investments enable business operators to monitor capital investments in an effort to maximize operational efficiency and reduce downtime. Technology investments fuel additional advancements – most importantly the rapid increase in processing power, an exponential decrease in size, and an increase in low-cost available computing power. The combination of reduced size, lower cost, and increased processing power has fueled rapid expansion of the availability of smart-enabled devices to penetrate many markets. To clarify, these smart devices are not yet IoT-enabled. The one additional component required to spark the explosion of IoT devices is low-cost, reliable connectivity. The growing availability of low-cost, reliable wireless data services has bridged the final gap and enabled connectivity to the cloud. 

Though it’s challenging to predict the IoT growth rate, analyst firms estimate that by 2020, the IoT market could expand to as much as three trillion dollars and as many as 50 billion connected devices. This translates to many devices for every person on the planet!

Today, internet-enabled devices are all around us: in our cars, homes, sports equipment, attached to our bodies, and even ingestible. Wearables, such as fitness-tracking watches, are incorporated into our daily lives and help us track our health goals. Emerging now are context-aware capabilities such as we see in self-driving cars with features like autopilot. With the rapid explosion of IoT-enabled products, I’m often asked, “How does IoT apply to my service organization?” When it comes to IoT, customer service organizations will be expected to solve a customer’s problems through insights gleaned from the device or service with minimal input by the consumer. Through competition from new service offerings, they will quickly move to offer proactive and predictive engagement plans. Consumers will expect businesses to offer such plans when there is an issue, and even resolve the issue, before the consumer is aware. Imagine receiving the following message by phone or email:

“Your lawn mower motor has a problem – this product is under warranty and a replacement motor will ship today. Here is your tracking number and a link to a video explaining the simple steps to install the new motor.”

Now THAT’S service! 

IoT Enabled Service innovation can help your business:

  • Deliver a better customer experience
  • Compete in existing and new markets
  • Offer new services that will delight customers
  • Quickly bring  new capabilities to market
  • Benefit from operational improvements and efficiency
  • Decrease inbound customer support calls
  • Help customers through one-to-one sales and service
  • Align products and services to customer needs

The key to making this happen is connecting all the key components to enable service transformation.

The key transformational elements include:

  • Connect - capture real-time data from self-monitoring devices, processes, and applications
  • Analyze – discover insightful information, and drive next best actions
  • Engage – the right resource, at the right time

To support your goals Oracle can help you:

  • Connect – with Oracle’s IoT cloud service
  • Analyze – leverage business intelligence in the cloud
  • Engage – use Oracle Service Cloud, and where your business has special service delivery needs: policy automation, mobile, and field service

Want to take a deeper dive?  Watch this video or read Mckinsey’s article.

Visit the ‘Learn More’ tab on http://cloud.oracle.com/iot and https://cloud.oracle.com/service-cloud for additional information on IoT and Service Cloud respectively.

Monday Jun 06, 2016

Service for the Next Generation

By Jeff Wartgow, Director, Product Management, Oracle Service Cloud

Recently I had the opportunity to join many of our customers at Oracle’s Modern Service Experience in Las Vegas. Attendees were presented with a huge variety of solution demonstrations, analyst sessions, and customer panels. During this high-energy event we also had the opportunity to answer a burning customer question: Where is all of our technology headed? Here’s how we answered and outlined how the Oracle Service Cloud team will continue to help drive the evolution of service.

In the past, we lived in a world of multi-channel – in which customers would pick a channel and received all service via that one channel.  Knowledge was in silos, so a customer would have to navigate through an organization in order to find the person who had the answer they needed.  Finally, all service was assisted, and you always engaged directly with a service provider.  Fast forward to today…

Multi-channel has now been replaced with the concept of omni-channel, where a customer might contact a company via the web, and that company might respond back with a text message or a call. Or a customer might initiate contact via social media and then switch over to a messaging app as the conversation continues. Customers move from channel to channel throughout the customer journey.

Customers no longer need to hunt for the person with the right answer.  In our knowledge-supported world, any well-trained customer service rep can look up the answer.  We have also moved beyond assisted service to a world of self-service, where customers do not need to engage a person at all, but can find answers on their own.

Now we are faced with the question…what happens next?

The Advent of Organic Channels

We believe that the omni-channel experience will continue evolving into what we call “Organic Channels,” with “organic” defined as multiple elements forming a whole. In this concept, customers will not move from channel to channel throughout their journey, but will combine channels together simultaneously, creating their own unique experience.

Have you ever spoken with a customer service rep on the phone, while searching through that company’s website at the same time? Have you ever taken it a step further, and started a chat session, or visited a community for more information – all during that same engagement? As customers, we have the power to move beyond the invisible rails of an omni-channel experience, by overlapping multiple channels creating our own experience.

This phenomenon expands the vision for the Oracle Service Cloud because our product will not only need to accommodate each new conversation channel, but also accommodate the infinite number of channel combinations that can appear organically at any moment, and will disappear at the end of each customer engagement.  

Our vision is that our platform will enable organizations to manage and even create dynamically changing channels composed of multiple elements.  In addition, we will provide the toolkit to build and manage these integrated experiences, and provide visibility into customers creating their own experience.  Regardless of whatever new channels or combination of channels the market can create, our platform will meet the challenge.

Organic Channels also create new challenges. Most notably, if service channels become so dynamic, how can a company offer a consistent quality experience? The answer lies in knowledge systems.

From Knowledge-Supported to Knowledge-Driven Service

The Oracle Service Cloud team envisions knowledge-supported organizations evolving into completely Knowledge Driven organizations. 

In order to explain the concept of Knowledge Driven organizations, let me tell another story.

Back in the early 90s, if you wanted to purchase stock you went to a stockbroker. Why did you do this? First, they had a terminal where they could place an order. Second, they had access to all stock research, which was impossible to get as an individual. Third, the stockbroker was plugged into a community of other investors, who shared information about hot stocks and trends in the market.

Basically a stockbroker was an individual who was supported by all these knowledge systems.

Fast forward to today…

If you want to purchase a stock as an individual, you no longer go to a stockbroker. You more likely go online to a brokerage like e*trade, Scottrade, or Ameritrade. Why do you go to these sites? First, they offer a terminal where you can place an order. Second, they have digitized all the stock research, so you have all the reports right at your fingertips. Third, they offer automated guided assistants providing investment advice. These sites can even connect you to communities of other investors sharing information. However, in the event that none of these systems can get you the information you need, they will put you in touch with a live stockbroker.

Do you see the change? At one point you went to a stockbroker who was supported by knowledge systems. Now you go to knowledge systems that are supported by stockbrokers. The two players have simply switched places.

This is not a new concept – we have seen this happen everywhere, from how we book travel to how we prepare our taxes. We believe that this phenomenon has hit critical mass and that all industries will start to demand this style of service.

As part of Oracle Service Cloud’s vision, we are building the tools to allow any organization to become completely knowledge-driven, where your customer’s first interaction with your brand will be through one of your automated knowledge systems, and your customer service reps will only handle the exceptions.

However, accomplishing this goal requires much more than just a robust knowledge database.

Oracle’s knowledge vision includes our drive to unify all sources of knowledge. However, we are going a step further. With our community developments, we aim to unlock unstructured tribal knowledge. Finally, with our work in knowledge automation, we aim to allow our systems to answer any question, even if the answer is “it depends.” These different knowledge tools working in concert empower customers to get the answers they need through any channel, even one they created organically. 

Furthermore, transitioning to a knowledge-driven organization enables companies to scale, because unlike human experts, the knowledge system does not eat, does not sleep, can monitor every channel, and speaks every language.

Everything-as-a-Service

Finally, the combination of Organic Channels and Knowledge Driven organizations power assisted service and self-service to evolve into everything becoming a service.

At Oracle, we have access to all sorts of cool technologies. What happens if you start introducing new technologies into the organically created service channels? Technologies like natural language processing, the Internet of Things, and componentization.

Once you inject these new technologies you can unleash new capabilities, such as the ability to offer Service-as-a-Feature, create self-solving products, or offer insight-driven and predictive service.

Introducing these concepts can help organizations to change their entire business models. Service organizations can become sales organizations, machines can travel the entire customer journey on behalf of the customer, and almost any product can be sold as a subscription service.

Change is constant in any industry. There will always be another generation of users, companies, and technologies impacting business and our personal lives. Oracle Service Cloud’s vision follows this natural evolution in the service industry, including the advent of Organic Channels, the market-wide movement to Knowledge Driven organizations, ultimately leading to all company offerings becoming services. We are excited about this journey and hope you will join us as we embark on powering service experiences for the next generation!

Thursday May 26, 2016

ICMI and Gartner Recognize Oracle Service Cloud’s Leading Customers and Solutions

It is always exciting to celebrate our customers’ award winning contact center teams and their approach to delivering innovative service experiences.  Last week the Oracle Service Cloud team was front and center at the ICMI Contact Center Expo in Long Beach to cheer on our customers who were 2016 ICMI Global Contact Center Award recipients. Leading organizations such as Kohl’s (Winner Best Large Contact Center), WageWorks (Runner-Up Best Large Contact Center), and Church Pension Group (Runner-Up Best Small Contact Center) were recognized by ICMI as “pioneers in the contact center industry” and “for leadership, vision, innovation and strategic accomplishments within the customer management industry.”  Congratulations again on being best in class customer care organizations!

(Pictured above Kohl’s and WageWorks Award Winning Customer Care Teams)

Not only are our great customers getting recognized, but Gartner just named Oracle Service Cloud a leader in the 2016 Magic Quadrant for the CRM Customer Engagement Center! We believe Gartner naming Oracle Service Cloud a leader is testament to our stellar customers and how they help guide the development and direction of Oracle Service Cloud. We can’t thank them enough for working with us to build solutions that meet their customer service needs and we are always striving to help them deliver an exceptional customer experience. That is truly the major competitive differentiator in today’s customer powered economy.

Now, even though this sounds slightly nerdy, when you work in an environment that lives and breathes customer experience, being recognized by Gartner as a leading customer engagement solution
again for breadth of cloud customer service functionality including mobile, knowledge, field service, chat, analytics, co-browsing, not to mention good, clear cost of ownership, strong professional services, and enterprise scalability is pretty darn cool!

You can
find out more details about the Customer Engagement Center market by downloading the full analyst report here

We encourage you to check out
Oracle Service Cloud’s product strengths, complimentary built in applications, straightforward set up, pricing and configuration that doesn’t require deep IT involvement or confusing cost of ownership.

The Oracle Service Cloud team works hard to bring solutions to the table that help organizations tackle their most critical customer service challenges.  It is always rewarding to see how these efforts are driving results for our much appreciated (and award winning) customers!

*Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner's research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose
.

Thursday Apr 07, 2016

Convert Omni-Channel Hype into Real Contact Center Success!

Save the date for the upcoming Oracle Service Cloud webinar, April 14th, 2016 at 10 a.m. PT/1 p.m. ET

Omni-channel: Everybody is talking about it, but only a few best-in-class businesses have turned the promise of omni-channel into a profitable reality - earning highly loyal customers, reduced support costs, and growth in revenue. 

Join this upcoming webinar to learn how you too can achieve these results. Aberdeen Group Research Director of Contact Center & Customer Experience, Omer Minkara, and Oracle's Senior Director of Applications Product Management, Chris Hamilton, will show you how to deliver an integrated, omni-chhannel service experience. They’ll also discuss:

  • Why most omni-channel programs fail (and what that costs your company!)
  • What makes a contact center “Best-in-Class”
  • How to align channel-mix and customer preferences
  • Steps you can take to harness the power of omni-channel

You will come away with next steps for advancing your omni-channel strategy!

Register Now

Wednesday Mar 09, 2016

Five Reasons to Attend Oracle’s Modern Service Experience 2016

Oracle’s Modern Service Experience 2016 is again lighting up fabulous Las Vegas April 26-28, and we’re betting this will be our best event yet. From the speaker lineup and session catalog to the networking experiences and Customer Appreciation Event, we’re going “all in,” and we hope you’ll join us. Here are five reasons you should head to Las Vegas this April for the Modern Service Experience:

1. In-Depth Service Content

The Modern Service Experience features more than 40 sessions led by customer service experts, analysts, and top brands. Through the keynotes, general sessions and breakouts, you’ll hear about current and future trends in customer service and will walk away inspired and ready to turn your insights into actions. Take a look at the just-launched conference program to see the impressive speaker lineup.

The conference program features content for everyone regardless of your role. Attend sessions in the following tracks:

  • Cross-Channel Contact Center
  • Executive
  • Field Service Management
  • Industry
  • Knowledge
  • Oracle Policy Management
  • Platform
  • Web Customer Service
  • Customer Experience

In addition, you’ll hear about Oracle Service Cloud’s vision and product roadmap. Within the breakouts, you’ll learn about new product functionality and how to get the most out of your implementation. In the expo hall, you’ll have the opportunity to participate in interactive demos.

2. One-of-a-Kind Networking

In addition to hearing best practices and soaking up insights from session and keynote speakers, some of the best information you’ll gather at the Modern Service Experience will come from your peers. Customer service leaders from some of the world’s top brands are attending the Modern Service Experience. The conference provides many opportunities to network with peers as well as Oracle product experts, sales, executives, and partners.

Before you head to Las Vegas, see who else is attending and start broadening your network through social media. Use the hashtag #ServiceX16, and join the conversation.

3. Thought Leaders & Inspiring Speakers

Attend the Modern Service Experience to hear from some of the leading minds in modern customer service. The featured speaker lineup includes:

  • Mark Hurd, CEO, Oracle
  • Jean-Claude Porretti, Customer Care Worldwide Manager, Peugeot Citroën
  • Scott McBain, Manager, Application Development, Overhead Door Corporation
  • Sara Knetzger, Applications Administrator, Corporate Applications, WageWorks
  • Ian Jacobs, Senior Analyst Serving Application Development & Delivery Professionals, Forrester Research
  • Kate Leggett, VP, Principal Analyst Serving Application Development & Delivery Professionals, Forrester Research
  • Ray Wang, Principal Analyst, Founder, and Chairman, Constellation Research, Inc.
  • Denis Pombriant, founder, managing principal, Beagle Research
4. More Opportunities for Increasing Your Knowledge

First, take advantage of our pre-conference workshops. You’ll probably have to roll the dice to decide which of the three you’ll attend: Get Prepared for the Knowledge-Centered Support (KCS) Practices v5 Certification, Head off to the Races with Agent Desktop Automation, and Step off the Beaten Path with Oracle Service Cloud Reporting.

Next, schedule time with an Oracle Service Cloud mastermind and get answers to your burning questions as part of the Ask the Experts program (sponsored by Oracle Gold Partner Helix).

Last, connect with your peers during lunch and participate in our birds of a feather program around popular topics.

5. Celebrate with Your Fellow Customers

To show our appreciation for our customers, we’re hosting a night of food, drinks, and amazing entertainment. Goo Goo Dolls will play a private concert for attendees at the MGM Grand Arena on Wednesday evening. The Oracle Customer Appreciation Event rarely disappoints—don’t miss it. 

Finally, at 1 p.m. on Thursday April 26, during our annual awards ceremony, we’ll recognize leading organizations and individuals in the customer service space, highlighting their impressive stories about innovation and differentiation. Guaranteed, you’ll leave motivated and energized.

What did last year’s customers have to say?

"Oracle Modern Service Experience 2015 was a top-notch event that provided me with the opportunity to learn about new Oracle Service Cloud capabilities and connected me with federal and private sector peers who have since influenced my direction as the Air Force Reserve's Chief Digital Officer, enabling me to drive the organization to a new level of innovation and efficiency this past year."

 – Lt Col Michael Ortiz, HQ Air Reserve Personnel Center

"The Modern Service Experience is a must for customers looking to maximize their effectiveness with Oracle Service Cloud."

 – Michael Morris, Match.com

See you in Las Vegas!

EXCITING UPDATE: We’ve extended the Early Bird Rate for Modern Service Experience. Take advantage of $200 off the conference price by registering before March 20.

Monday Feb 22, 2016

5 Steps To Start Your IoT-Enabled Service Strategy

By Daniel Foppen, Senior Principal Product Manager, Oracle Service Cloud

There is plenty of buzz around the Internet of Things (IoT). There will be over 25 billion connected things by 2020. Soon we will be coming across hundreds of connected devices in our homes, at work and on the street.  The IoT is changing our lives.  This is exciting of course, but for many service professionals the question of how to actually start leveraging the IoT is not that easy. Yes, we know there is a lot of devices that are connected – more every second - but how does the head of customer care actually set up an infrastructure that allows them to reap the benefits of IoT?  As we are in the industry of delivering customer service experiences, we will focus on helping define a simple 5 step framework to start an IoT enabled customer service strategy.

So why IoT Enabled Service?

We should start by asking why the interest in IoT enabled customer service?

The value of IoT enabled customer service is pretty straight forward… IoT enabled service provides a differentiated customer experience and it greatly reduces costs for the business.  Just think about a world where customer service isn't something you expect, but something you don't even think about anymore. What if service is automated and proactive? What will it mean for consumer loyalty to have a product that gets fixed before it becomes faulty or parts are replaced before the customer even notices the problem?  Similarly, think about how much it costs to handle all those thousands of incoming calls, e-mails, social media questions, live chats, etc. everyday about issues with devices. By connecting agents with the device, by enabling devices to auto-diagnose and even self-solve service the impact on the customer experience will be great. 

Furthermore, in the event a device or machine requires direct service, such as a visit from a field technician, IoT can again deliver a massive impact.  Taking into consideration that each field service truck roll can easily cost several hundred dollars, providing the field with IoT enabled remote diagnostics and asset history can dramatically reduce costs through unnecessary truck rolls.  In addition, when a field technician arrives on site for a job, he will already have an understanding of the potential problem and can bring the tools and parts to insure a first time resolution.

Making IoT Data Actionable!

The Internet of Things does not constitute a connectivity challenge, but a data challenge. In other words, to do something with the IoT you need to be able to manage the data.  A modern smartphone easily packs 10 sensors (multiply that by 2 BN smartphones today) and a modern car already has over 100 sensors.  A few years from now our homes will have hundreds of devices with a variety of sensors creating data. Just try to picture the scale of the data all those sensors will generate!

The big challenge with IoT for any business is not connecting to the devices, but rather in the collection and analysis of mountains of data. From this analysis customer service teams must identify events that require a service action.  All of this activity must occur in a cost effective and secure manner. Taking this into consideration, service teams must make sure their companies chosen IoT platform can support these requirements.

From Insight to Resolution

Understanding how insights from device data can help improve customer service processes is the next step.  If you are working in customer service, it should be pretty easy to find the low-hanging fruit.  Just ask yourself: “In which situations does the agent ask the customer for information about their device or machine?”  For instance, serial number, part-numbers, error codes, etc. Anywhere where the agents needs info from the device you’ve found yourself a potential use-case.

Once you have identified the most common issues that come into your engagement center today related to devices, analyze them and understand the impact each of these issues has on your business in terms of costs, customer experience and other values. This information will allow you to prioritize possible high impact IoT projects.

5 Steps To Get IoT Enabled Service Rolling

Step 1: Connect and Collect

Connecting your devices to a system that collects data is the first step. Connecting your devices isn't a big challenge, but we do recommend finding a platform that is both manageable and scalable. It is important to realize that the IoT is not static in nature. You'll need a platform that has elasticity to deal with big spikes of incoming data. Other considerations like security of data and the supported connections to devices are also very important.  Because of these considerations you will likely end-up with a cloud service, it will simply guarantee the most consistency, scalability, flexibility and low TCO.

Step 2: Analyze and Trigger

In addition to connecting devices to a system, you need a system than can actually do something with the data that connection provides. You will need a flexible system that enables real-time analysis of high-volumes of data. Data by itself is meaningless if it does not provide insights and action. Identify which insights are relevant and actionable when embedding those insights in service processes.  One of the bigger barriers to mainstream adoption of the IoT is the complexity of integration of such insights into processes. It helps if you have a service platform that’s robust and flexible. You’ll want a platform that’s easy to manage, yet allows strong capabilities to tailor to specific processes, extends and integrates with multiple systems.

Step 3: Set-up Device Service Processes

Setting up a device service process is pretty much the same as setting up a normal customer service process. But instead of asking the customer to do things like collecting data from the device, finding knowledge articles and trouble shooting flows, the device takes a much more prominent role.

We see there are three typical scenarios you can use to set up device service processes:

  1. Device-Assisted Self-Service. This is where the customer accesses knowledge and augments that with data from the device. Think going through a device registration process where the device automatically provides details such as serial numbers, install date, etc. to easily complete the registration process.
  2. Agent-Assisted Device Service. A device triggers a process to have an agent interact with the device to solve the problem. E.g. an agent that opens an incident created by the device and then inside the agent’s work environment interacts with the device to review settings, change configurations, reset the device, etc.
  3. Automatic Service. Here a device triggers an event and starts running service processes. These processes are built in such a way the devices can fully automatically troubleshoot, run through configurations, run diagnostics, change settings, reset and reboot, etc. I.e. processes that would previously take an hour to walk a customer through over the phone can now be performed in seconds.

Step 4: Empower Agents to Talk to Devices

Are your agents trained to talk to machines? IoT enabled service brings a whole new interaction paradigm for service agents. You will need to set up your processes accordingly. Provide the tools to help agents to become accustomed to interacting with machines, such as an agent scripting or visual screen guide. Also be sure to connect your agent work environments to enable interacting with the device to be able to do troubleshooting, remote configuration, set-up, resets, etc.  Also think whether your current KPIs set applies to interacting with devices. Typical contact center KPIs like First Time Resolution and Average Handling Time may not be applicable.

Step 5: Connect Field-Service Technicians

In many cases self-service and agent-assisted service won't be enough to solve a device’s problem and a field service technician needs to be dispatched to make a repair. These field events can occur with great efficiency,  by allowing contact center agents to directly schedule and dispatch technicians.  For example, let’s assume a VIP customer needs an issue resolved immediately.  You’ll want the contact center agent to create the service request, and have that request automatically routed to the nearest available technician, that has the tools, skills, and parts to solve the customers problem.  Furthermore, you’ll need to make sure the field technician has all the relevant customer information, and device information to insure a first time fix.  This scenario is becoming a fairly typical with service organizations where the contact center and the field service teams share the same platform.

Key Take Away’s

The Internet of Things is promising tremendous value for customer service organizations, yet it’s not always easy to start leveraging the IoT. We suggest the IoT is a data challenge, not a connectivity challenge. You will need a scalable and elastic service to collect data, a robust yet flexible system to analyze data in real-time to trigger support processes when needed. You’ll need a strong customer service platform that offers the extensibility and integration capability to embed data insights in support processes. A system that allows auto-diagnostics and that allows your service agents to troubleshoot and interact with the device, in a manner that’s easy for agents to adopt. You’ll also want a system that connects your customer service and field service teams to further streamline processes.

Coming to Mobile World Congress 2016 in Barcelona, Spain? Come and visit the Oracle Service Cloud product management team at the Samsung Enterprise booth in Hall #6. We will be happy to give you a complete demo that demonstrates all the 5 steps above on a single platform.

Tuesday Feb 09, 2016

Forrester Names Oracle a ‘Leader’ in Customer Service Solutions for Midsize Teams and Enterprise Organizations

By Christine Randle, Analyst Relations, Oracle Service Cloud 

By now you probably understand the importance of delivering exceptional customer service. You get why it’s important. You appreciate that customer service is the platform from which excellent customer experiences emerge. You’ve read the research and know that, according to Forrester Research, a full 39% of customers will tell friends and family about their negative experiences[1]. Data points like this one are powerful, yet leave you stuck wondering, “Where do I start?”

Well, take heart in the fact that you’re not alone. This is complicated, right? We live in an always-on, omnichannel world, where instant gratification isn’t just a request, it’s a demand. You know that your company must rise to the effortless customer service challenge or become a relic of the past.

Don’t despair, because there’s good news! Leading industry analyst firm Forrester Research, recently published two Waves:  The Forrester Wave™: Customer Service Solutions For Enterprise Organizations, Q4 2015 and The Forrester Wave™: Customer Service Solutions For Midsize Teams, Q4 2015. And the good news doesn’t stop there. Oracle Service Cloud is a Leader in BOTH the midsize and the enterprise Waves.

Oracle Service Cloud had the highest current offering category scores in the Enterprise Wave and Midsize Wave reports, and was noted among vendors that “deliver high-volume omnichannel service” and “have a foundational layer of knowledge management to deliver channel-specific answers to customer inquiries.”  Both reports recognized how, "Oracle Service Cloud delivers heavy-duty support for B2C enterprises. Oracle Service Cloud provides a flexible, easily configurable customer service solution that excels at delivering consistent cross-channel customer service experiences. The SaaS-based solution sports very strong omnichannel capabilities: cobrowse … multichannel reporting, chat, email response management, social customer service, and knowledge management. Customers use it as an enterprise wide solution, as a standalone solution for digital channels, or to extend the digital capabilities of an on-premises solution.”

I believe that these reports will help you decide what your business needs, and which vendors are best suited, to help your company become a customer service success story.

Organizations both large and not so large rely on Oracle Service Cloud to help deliver effortless customer service experiences (check out recent Forbes profiles of All Nippon Airways, Pella). Oh, and did I mention that great customer service is at the heart of award winning customer experiences? 

Hey, don’t take my word for it. Read the research and then let us know how we can help your business thrive in today’s “I want it now!” world.

Thursday Jan 21, 2016

Expected vs. Experimental Customer Service Channels in 2016: Part II

By Daniel Foppen, Senior Principal Product Manager, Oracle Service Cloud

Recently we provided an overview of the distinctions between expected and experimental service channels as well as a framework for evaluating experimental service channels heading into the new year. Now we dive into specific channels to explore in 2016!  2016 is shaping up to be a year of the platform-messenger-platforms.  You may be wondering what I mean by a ‘platform-messenger-platform’? Let me explain…

More than likely, you have heard about messenger platforms by now. WhatsApp is used daily by nearly a billion folks globally to send text messages, videos, pictures, and emojiis to individuals or groups. Facebook Messenger has 700 million active users and WeChat has 650 million active users (largely in China). Just these three messenger platforms have 2.3 billion active users. That sheer scale is mind-blowing, but these three are followed by other messenger applications such as Viber (250M active users), Line (200M active users), and SnapChat (100M active users).

Often customers ask me where we see the market heading and which channels will be important. Yet, we all have to acknowledge that it is difficult to accurately predict the future as we live in a very dynamic world. However, do not despair; I do have a hunch about what will happen this year with messenger platforms… Ready for it?  At least two of the three big messenger platforms will become Platform-Messenger-Platforms!  Now that we have the big bold prediction off my list, let’s go a bit deeper.

The three channels I am observing with greatest interest now are WhatsApp, WeChat and Facebook Messenger. I expect that in 2016 we will experience a change from these just being messenger apps to these becoming full-fledged platforms.

WhatsApp is huge! It has over 900 million active users.  When there is such a large part of the population using that platform extensively day in, day out - it is only logical to see interest in using WhatsApp as a service channel. Why not? It makes perfect sense to open up a mobile chat thread with a customer service agent around a certain issue and find that conversation still open the next time you have a problem. Great customer experience, great agent experience, right?

The trouble is that I see virtually no businesses offering WhatsApp as a viable engagement channel yet. I believe the reason is simple: the owner of WhatsApp does not want it to become an engagement or service channel. When businesses use WhatsApp to broadcast messages to a group, the account is blocked. There are limits in the max number of incoming messages – anecdotally found to be around a couple of thousand incoming messages per minute. WhatsApp does not have a public API and there is no technical documentation, no API limits, nor SLAs. While Twitter documents its API thoroughly, WhatsApp does not provide any documentation. To me this raised questions about the viability of WhatsApp as a Service Channel. For example, when you post a comment on Pinterest on a company’s board, you do not necessarily expect a reaction from the company. However, when you ask a company a question over WhatsApp (or SMS, or email, or live chat for that matter) you do expect an answer. It is difficult to meet these expectations if you cannot rely on the WhatsApp platform to give answers to your customers.

WeChat is a different story. With currently 650 Million active users, it is slightly smaller than Facebook Messenger is. It is primarily used in China, but expanding into other Asian markets. The reason I am looking at WeChat, is that I believe we can learn a lot from how WeChat is used today and apply that to forecast how Facebook Messenger will expand its scope in 2016.

WeChat is tremendously popular in China. In China’s  large cities it has a penetration rate of 90% and is rapidly transforming a very large share of the society’s communication habits. I am a WhatsApp user, but I see it as a messenger platform. I use it to send messages to family, colleagues, friends and a few groups.  Sometimes we share pictures and videos, but that is where it ends.

If we look at WeChat, at first glance, it pretty much does the same thing as WhatsApp. However when you look further you see a whole range of other applications that are provided within the WeChat platform. Recently someone working at a large consumer brand showed me on his iPhone how they are offering customer service in China using WeChat. At first sight, just opening a conversation with the brand seemed rather familiar, but when you are also presented with a range of menu options related to that brand conversation, it became clear it was much more than a messenger thread. Customers can open a mini e-commerce section within the WeChat thread where they can buy products and pay for the goods using the WeChat payment service. Users get targeted offers within their conversation.  They can play branded games inside WeChat. They can get routed to technical support within WeChat, etc.

When you look at it from that way, it becomes obvious that when a messenger platform starts including marketing capabilities, e-commerce shops, customer service capabilities and PayPal-like services, we can hardly call it just a messenger platform anymore. According to this article, services like ordering (and paying for) taxis, collaboration tools, banking, crowdfunding, dating and job boards are also part of the WeChat platform. When a messenger platform becomes so broad in scope that it becomes a little internet within a messenger app, I believe it becomes a Platform-Messenger-Platform; a whole platform within a messenger platform.

Moving to Facebook Messenger. Now Facebook Messenger is a core component of the wider Facebook platform. Where in the past public messaging on friends’ timelines was the norm, people apparently have started to become more sensitive and privacy aware, and sending private messages through messenger is gaining popularity. The fact that using Facebook Messenger within the Facebook app is not possible anymore (you have to download the separate messenger app) shows that Facebook is driving users to the messenger app. Voice calling has been added to it recently. In the United States, a payment service has been added and businesses are encouraged to start delivering customer service through Messenger. As well, Facebook has made good SDKs and documentation for the Messenger Platform available for developers.

I believe that when looking at how WeChat is increasingly becoming a platform, we can only expect that Facebook Messenger will be broadening its scope similarly in 2016 and become a fully-fledged platform within the messenger app.

What that means for customer service professionals is an interesting question:

  • What does it mean to have zero control over the engagement channel you choose to add to your multi-channel strategy?
  • How do you make sure that these conversations are connected to your broader customer record and interaction history from other channels?
  • How will these changes effect customer service engagements?
  • By when will customers interact with your brand (view and evaluate products, buy them, get support for them, recommend them) solely through platforms like Facebook, WeChat, WhatsApp, etc.?
  • Will you even need a website, email and telephone channel by then?

These are interesting questions to ponder.  Let us know your thoughts to continue this conversation in the New Year!

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