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
.

Friday May 06, 2016

Create Completely Connected Customer Service Experiences with Latest Oracle Field Service Cloud Release

Aligned with Oracle’s focus on enhancing its cloud ecosystem and customer experience (CX) suite, we are excited to have recently announced a comprehensive new release to the Oracle Field Service Cloud solution. This release includes major enhancements designed to help organizations deliver on Oracle’s vision of service for the next generation, improving customer satisfaction and response times, while reducing service delivery costs.

Truly an end-to-end upgrade of the solution, Oracle Field Service Cloud’s latest release demonstrates the company’s continued investment in the solution – formerly the TOA Technologies’ product, prior to its acquisition by Oracle in 2014. Significant enhancements are made in the areas of mobility, ease of use and connecting contact center agents delivering service via phone, email and chat to field technicians providing in-person support.

The latest Oracle Field Service Cloud (OFSC) enhancements include: 

  • Expanded Field Resource Manager – New capabilities enable supervisors in the field to more efficiently manage their teams in real time via a mobile device, empowering the field workforce to quickly respond to changes throughout the day and streamline collaboration.

  • Automated urgent work assignment – OFSC now identifies when urgent work comes in and automatically locates the nearest field resource, suspends that resources current activity and then routes that resource to the job, ensuring the fastest possible response times.

  • Enhanced mapping capabilities – Now leveraging Oracle Maps as the default mapping solution, OFSC offers enhanced geo-coding services. Additionally, users can upload custom map layers in OFSC, and display them simultaneously.

  • New integrations
    • Oracle E-Business Suite: allows a swift, point-to-point integration of the solutions’ job scheduling and inventory tracking capabilities.
    • Oracle Integration Cloud Service (ICS): allows any ICS user the ability to create integrations with Oracle Field Service Cloud quickly through simple configurations.
  • REST-based Core Application Program Interface (API) – Allows simple integration of OFSC activities, resources, inventories and users through REST integration styles.

  • Redesigned Configuration screens and language expansion – Completely redesigned configuration screens allow quick and intuitive navigation. Exportable configuration log tracks configuration changes to improve troubleshooting and give users more control of the solution. And, OFSC is now available in 18 languages, improving the user experience for global customers with multi-national field workforces.

All of the new functionality included in this release will help organizations continue to evolve and improve their field service operations, resulting in a better experience for the end customer and significantly improved efficiencies.

Learn more about the release by downloading the latest Oracle Field Service Cloud release capabilities and benefits data sheet or watch the recent solution Spotlight video.  Also check out what publications like Computer Business Review, InfotechLead and Enterprise Times are saying! 

Tuesday May 03, 2016

Join Service for the Next Generation Webcast

By Stephen Fioretti, Vice President, Product Management, Oracle Service Cloud @sfioretti

Is your ability to become a leader in delivering customer service excellence keeping you up at night, especially as customers' expectations grow and their channel preferences dynamically change? Are you able to ensure you are delivering accurate answers through the web, mobile and contact center?

You are not alone. Digital channels are exploding and web self-service is about to become the single biggest channel for customer service. Not surprisingly, the number of customers engaging with their brand for customer support via their mobile devices is growing exponentially, with some organizations experiencing up to 50-70% of their interactions via mobile devices (Source: Oracle's Oracle Service Cloud customer base). Add digital channels like chat and social, and the task of delivering a consistent, unified experience can seem daunting. As a leader who aspires to deliver world-class customer care, how should you respond?

We asked Gartner, the leading information technology research and advisory firm, and Gogo, the leading provider of inflight internet and entertainment, to join us and discuss trends, insights, and the latest innovations with web and mobile self-service, digital channels like social and chat, and knowledge management. We can help provide the information you need to address this next evolution of customer service.

Tune in to the upcoming webinar on Wednesday, May 4 and get answers. You will learn about:

  • Market trends, pain points and imperatives in the world of customer service
  • How the growth of digital channels and mobile web customer service are crucial for delivering great service experiences
  • What organizations are doing to address the digital channel revolution in their overall customer service strategy
  • How easy-to-find and accurate knowledge management is a critical foundation for delivering customer service
  • How service needs to be consistent, simple, convenient and immediate
  • The impact that IoT (Internet of Things) will have on customer service 

 Jerry Oversen, VP, Global Customer Services at Gogo  Michael Maoz, VP, Distinguished Analyst at Gartner   Stephen Fioretti, VP Product Management at Oracle


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

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!

Wednesday Jan 13, 2016

Save $500 on Modern Service Experience 2016 in Las Vegas

By Lauren McKay, Social Media Manager, Oracle Global Events

Oracle’s flagship customer service event returns to Las Vegas, April 26-28, 2016. Attend Modern Service Experience, presented by Oracle, to participate in hands-on workshops, see product demonstrations, and network during interactive breakouts that will showcase best practices to help turn your customers into brand advocates.

Register by Sunday, January 17 to take advantage of the lowest conference price.  On Monday, the conference price increases $500, so be sure to take advantage of incredible savings while they last. Need to justify the expense to your management?  Download the Justification Email, tailor it to fit your needs, and send it on for approval.

Why should you attend Modern Service Experience?

Outstanding service is the number one reason customers recommend a business. Are you doing everything in your power to differentiate your brand? Customers now expect unified web, social, and contact-center experiences. Are you keeping up?

Attend Modern Service Experience to:

  • Hear how Oracle Service Cloud customers deliver consistent, positive customer service across channels including the web, live chat, co-browse, social, and phone.
  • Discover how to provide personalized, reliable, and adaptive service, delivering the right answers at the right time.
  • Learn about the latest that Oracle Service Cloud offers and how integration with sales, marketing, and commerce applications can help differentiate your brand with modern customer service.

In addition to rich customer service content, you’ll have the chance to hear thought-provoking keynote speakers and hear the about Oracle’s direction from leading Oracle executives.

Bring your colleagues! Modern Service Experience is being co-located with 3 other conferences: Modern Marketing Experience, Modern Commerce Experience, & Modern Sales Experience. Invite your peers in Marketing, Commerce or Sales to join you and save even more with our group registration pricing.

For more information on the event, visit the Modern Service Experience website, and be sure to join the conversation on Twitter, #ServiceX16.

PS: Did you attend Modern Service Experience in 2015? Then, you’re eligible for a special alumni discount. Use code Alum15 when registering to save even more on registration.

Tuesday Jan 05, 2016

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

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

Few would disagree that in the last decade we’ve seen an explosion of new communication channels and are facing a dizzying array of modern channels consumers use to interact with organizations.  In addition, how to deal with this tremendous increase is as much a challenge for marketing as it is for customer service departments. Customers do not simply have one channel they always use. They have a range they use depending on the circumstances. Some of these channels are expected, while others are experimental channels.

Expected channels, are channels customers expect to have available for them. It is implicitly understood that these are reliable and customers can count on them when the situation requires it. They expect to get a timely, accurate response to their inquiries. Typical examples of such channels are phone, email, live chat, etc.

Experimental channels are – as the name implies – less robust and reliable. They can be experimental for different reasons; e.g. because it’s a new platform increasingly used by consumers to interact with each other, because availability is out of control of the organization, because the organization’s structure and processes are not ready to support this channel, and so forth. Typical examples are video chat, WhatsApp, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.

Some experimental channels mature over time and become expected, established service channels (i.e. Twitter and Facebook). Other channels fade away, for example Orkut or MSN Messenger.

Clearly, there is a risk associated with investing in experimental channels. In addition, it is not always easy for organizations to decide on the right balance of expected vs. experimental channels. So how does a business decide whether, when and how to add experimental service channels to the mix? We would encourage asking the below questions before making any decisions…

1. Where is the channel on the Hype cycle?

New technologies typically go through an initial hype phase. When considering channels, it is important to consider where the channel currently is on the ‘Hype’ cycle.  If it is too early, expect a decrease, slow growth or steady decline to occur. Vetted, strong channels will gradually emerge, grow and become mature with a bit more time.

2. Can this channel be embedded into a multi-channel service strategy?

Adding an experimental channel as a silo-ed stand-alone channel can be easy. However, it is important to be able to embed new channels as part of a multi-channel strategy. Consider how to give agents access to a unified, connected interface where they can interact with customers in this channel, but at the same time have context around who the customer is, what their purchased products are, what previous interactions they have had, etc.

Similarly, also ask how to store the conversation thread from this channel so that the next time the agent uses an expected channel like email, phone or chat, the context of the interaction in the new channel is made available for agents. In addition, consider how to establish service levels for this channel. Is it possible to design service processes and workflows for inquiries coming in through this channel?

3. Can this experimental channel actually become an expected channel?

With many experimental channels, there is little control early on, but some channels are easier to adopt. Twitter for example has clearly indicated that they encourage using their channel for delivering customer service. Their Public APIs are robust and well documented. Many software vendors have integrated Twitter with their software. Public APIs are not always the case, so this is definitely something to analyze.

Now that we have provided an overview of the distinctions between expected and experimental channels as well as a framework for evaluation for experimental service channels. Look out for Part II, where we dive into specific channels to explore in 2016! 

Thursday Dec 10, 2015

The Internet of Things is Here – is Your Field Service Organization Ready?

With billions of devices and sensors already connected, and that number increasing daily, it’s safe to say that the Internet of Things is disrupting life as we know it. Think about it – our every step is tracked via wearable fitness trackers. A smart thermostat can automatically adjust heating and cooling to optimize energy efficiency. Traffic patterns influence the way a smart traffic signal operates throughout the day. And, much like in our daily lives as consumers, the Internet of Things offers new opportunities for organizations across all industries. For organizations that provide services in the field – whether at a customer’s home or business – these opportunities can lead to significant boosts in operational efficiency and new levels of customer engagement and satisfaction.

By leveraging data constantly collected from connected devices and sensors, these organizations can better predict when services will be required and eventually, shift to a more proactive maintenance and repair model. This will not only reduce asset downtime and allow organizations to be more efficient in their field service planning, it will positively impact customer relationships. Imagine: before you even realize your air conditioner is broken, a field service technician is knocking on your front door to fix it. Or better yet, imagine that before the air conditioner ever even had an issue, the manufacturer predicted a problem and dispatched a field service technician to prevent any downtime at all.

Your field service organization can achieve smarter, streamlined field operations thanks to IoT, but you must start developing your IoT strategy today. Ready to get started? Check out our guide, Three Things That Your Field Service Organization Needs to Know About the Internet of Things (IoT), which outlines the top things you’ll need to know in order to start implementing a successful IoT strategy today. Download it here.

And, for more information on modern field service management with Oracle Field Service Cloud, visit www.oracle.com/goto/field-service.

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