Thursday Apr 23, 2015

Roadmap to Modern: "Get Going" by Katherine Lovelace

Sometimes the first step in a journey can be the scariest one you will take. How do you know you’re going in the right direction? How do you know that you have the right equipment to get where you need to go? What happens if you make a wrong choice? The fear of the unknown, leaving behind the way things have always been, and looking ahead at a new way of thinking can sometimes lead to crippling indecisiveness and ‘paralysis by analysis.’  

This can happen to anyone—even market leaders. Yet, we know that if we can just nudge companies into taking that first step to becoming a modern customer service organization, they will have what they need to confidently take many more steps as they move along the Roadmap to Modern (RTM) maturity curve.

So what is this first step? It’s actually quite straight-forward, yet many organizations are still struggling to take it. The first step requires moving from an organization with many single silos of customer engagement, into a multi-channel initiative that enables companies to reach customers directly at their point of need—on any device and at any time. Sounds simple, right?

Then why are there so many organizations that have not figured out this basic premise of customer engagement? I come back to my original thesis: they are afraid. This revelation came during a recent client engagement where I listened to a company explain why they felt that offering more robust self-service options, as well as live chat, would not be the right strategy for them. It was because their customers are accustomed to the ‘white glove treatment’ that has become synonymous with their brand. They feared that by offering these other, arguably less formal channels of communication, they would offend their customers and risk losing them. While this is an understandable initial reaction, their fear is actually leading them down the wrong journey towards obsolescence.

However, by walking them through the RTM process and customer expectations of modern service organizations, we were able to show them that a more mature, multi-channel strategy would not imperil their ‘white glove’ customer experience but rather reinvigorate it.   

By reviewing their customer contact reason codes, we were able to quickly see that the infamous ‘80/20’ rule comes into play.  For this company, and many others, only 20% of their inbound contacts are complex and truly require live agent support, whereas the vast majority (80%) can most quickly and effectively be handled by a well-run, knowledge-powered web self-service channel—and by offering multiple channels of engagement.

Through working to triage and deflect inbound contacts by complexity and likelihood to be handled via self-service or live agent, organizations can free up  their higher cost, live agent resources to focus on the 20% of issues that truly merit attention. Of course, for your particular organization, the 80/20 rule may not be spot on. Perhaps your ratio is closer to 70/30 or 60/40. The first step to becoming a mature customer service organization is simply assessing your inbound contact context and working to triage.

Increasingly, consumers are making channel decisions based on the context of their situation. This means that the specific channel they use to contact you depends on what they’re trying to do.  

Taking this triage approach will not only elevate your engagements with existing customers, but also open the door to engaging with new customers through new channels that you are not reaching through phone and email.

After working with the company I mentioned earlier to understand the number and nature of their inbound contacts, they came to realize that intentionally not having more choices for a customer to reach them was neither in the customer’s best interest nor their own. By providing more channel choice and resolution paths, this company would actually be better able to deliver their ‘white glove’ service experience.

Let’s resolve to no longer allow fear to hold us back from delivering the most modern and advanced customer experience. Each minute lost deliberating over the ‘why nots’ is costing money and customers. We need to move the conversation to the “how do we get going” stage. This is where the fun starts. This is where we get to help clients develop their Roadmap to Modern (RTM) strategy, and guide them to making the right choices for their customers, which are ultimately the right choices for their company as a whole.

Whether your “get going” is providing more channels of choice on more devices for a complete customer interaction portfolio, or consolidating and improving your knowledge base so you can deliver the right information on every channel you offer, the end result of being there for your customer in their time of need will eliminate fear on whether you took a step in the right direction. We just need to nudge you a little and the rest will follow!

Learn more today about the Oracle Roadmap To ModernTM, and stay tuned to this blog to get insights that prepare you for your journey to modern customer service. 

Wednesday Apr 08, 2015

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Learn more today about the Oracle Roadmap To ModernTM

Friday Feb 13, 2015

ICMI Webcast: Forbes Reveals How Financial and Retail Companies Modernize Customer Service by Cedric Turner

Customers have lots of options. 
If you don’t deliver the right answers fast,
they’ll go somewhere else.

That’s one of the reasons knowledge is the top customer service investment, according to a recent Forbes survey of 400+ executives. Financial services and retail companies use knowledge to provide fast, accurate answers across channels—and better train agents—while ensuring 100% regulatory compliance.

Join this ICMI webcast on March 5 at 1 pm EST / 10 am PST to hear ICMI and Oracle discuss how companies are getting ahead on the Roadmap to Modern Customer Service.

You will learn:

Register Now


Joshua Dodge

Senior Client Success Manager, Oracle

Joshua Dodge, Senior Client Success Manager at Oracle, helps companies modernize their customer service organizations to drive more efficiencies and deliver a better experience. He helps clients accelerate their progress by partnering with them to develop a clear roadmap for modern customer service. Prior to joining Oracle, Josh worked in a variety of customer service and project management leadership roles, including at Sony where he managed call center operations globally, both in-house and outsourced. Josh earned his Master’s certification in Project Management and B.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


Kris Friday

Principal Solutions Consultant, Oracle

Kris Friday, Principal Solutions Consultant at Oracle, works with global financial services organizations to help them grow client relationships through implementing customer experience and engagement tools. Currently, Kris is working with a number of Fortune 500 companies on developing knowledge management strategies for delivering highly personalized service at less cost. Prior to joining Oracle, Kris worked with contact centers in a variety of industries, advising them on technologies to enhance the customer experience and improve overall efficiency.


Erica Strother

Community Specialist, ICMI

Erica Strother is the Community Specialist at ICMI. With a background in marketing, public relations, and social media, she brings more than six years of community management experience to ICMI. Erica manages ICMI’s robust network of community contributors – 500 strong! She also hosts ICMI’s weekly tweet chats that feature dynamic, interactive discussions with thought leaders and innovators in our community. Erica produces our webinars and many other content initiatives like Contact Center Insider, our weekly newsletter. 

Friday Dec 05, 2014

Field Service Management Top Ten: Talking the Talk by Tori Ballantine

As with any industry, there is a lot of lingo involved when talking about field service management. Don’t worry if you don’t know all of the terms: we’re here to help. Here is a glossary of the top ten words and phrases that are frequently used in field service management.

1. Field Service Management

Field service management is the practice of organizing, scheduling, and routing mobile employees. This sort of management is critical to the success of businesses in a wide variety of industries and typically includes a dispatch or call center as well as a field workforce. Field service management is used by companies of all sizes, from smaller organizations with ten mobile employees to large companies with tens of thousands of staff providing services all across the globe every day.

2. Field Technician / Mobile Employee 

A mobile employee, referred to as a technician in some industries, is a member of an organization’s mobile workforce. These staffers perform services in the field – at customers’ homes, places of business, or in isolated areas far from population centers. These services are wide-ranging, and can include:

  • Delivery
  • Service and repairs
  • Safety and security
  • Installation
  • Maintenance

3. Mobile Workforce 

The mobile workforce collectively refers to an organization’s mobile employees. Mobile workforce sizes and types vary greatly between industries and specific companies. For example, some businesses employ only their own field staff while others rely completely on subcontractors. Many rely on a hybrid model, comprised of both direct and third-party mobile employees. One common theme that impacts all mobile workforces is the need to effectively schedule appointments and plan routes so that customers receive the best service possible.

4. Cloud Computing 

Cloud computing refers to a method of storing information on remote servers that are accessed through the Internet. When data is stored and processed in the cloud, it can be accessed by any authorized user who has an internet connection. This makes the information globally accessible. The opposite of cloud computing is storing data locally on a personal machine or an in-house server.

5. Software as a Service (SaaS) 

Software as a Service, or SaaS, is a model of accessing software via the cloud. All of the data and capabilities of the software are stored in the cloud. Users access the programs and information through the Internet. Simply, SaaS is cloud-based software. It provides an alternative to storing information on individual machines or local servers.

6. Web-Based Application 

A web-based application, or app, is accessed through the Internet. The opposite of a web-based application is a locally installed application: one that is downloaded onto a phone, tablet or other device. A good example of this is Gmail, which is Google’s email application. If you visit mail.google.com to access your email, you are using a web-based application. If you download the Gmail app to your iPhone via the iTunes store and then access your mail through the app, you are using a locally installed application.

7. HTML5 

HTML5 is a coding language used by developers when they create websites. HTML5 is the newest version of HTML, which is the primary programming language of the Internet. One of the most important elements of HTML5 is the connection it provides to the hardware, enabling access to the camera, GPS chip, storage and other functionality. Another significant feature is its ability to present multimedia content. This content can be successfully accessed and viewed by people who use different browsers and different devices to access the Internet. HTML5 helps preserve formatting and other important aspects on web pages – and helps provide the same experience to diverse users. Many modern web-based applications are built using HTML5.

8. Device Agnostic 

Programs and applications are considered to be device agnostic when they function equally well across all devices. This includes iOS, Android, and Windows phones; different tablet brands; and desktop / laptop computers. Web-based applications that support HTML5’s rich feature set–which provide enterprise-level security–are also device agnostic. This is the fundamental foundation of a device agnostic application.

9. Predictive Capabilities 

In software, predictive capabilities refer to the program’s ability to “learn” from data that is put into the system. Some field service management solutions, for example, are able to predict how long a job might take, based on factors like the how long each unique individual requires to perform a certain task and what inventory is available in each technician’s vehicle.

10. Context Aware 

When a program is context aware, it means that it provides users with precisely the right information they need – right when they need it. For example, on an iPhone, when a user has the option to input a URL or an email address, the phone offers a ‘.com’ button. This button is available when a URL or email address is requested; it isn’t there when a URL or email address isn’t in use. This capability shows an awareness of context.

For more information, please visit our website.

Tuesday Aug 26, 2014

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

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

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

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

Register for the webcast.

Friday May 02, 2014

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

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

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

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

1. Start Small but Plan BIG

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

2. Understand What You Have

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

3. Understand What They Need

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

4. Learn What You Don’t Know

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

5. Keep Making It Better

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

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

Thursday May 01, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday Apr 18, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday Apr 10, 2014

Part 3 of 6: The Art Of Easy: Easy Decisions For Complex Problems by Heike Lorenz

Making complex decisions EASY, by automating your service policies allows your organization to efficiently ensure the correct decisions are being applied to the right people.

Like the hit British TV Series Little Britain suggests, when “Computer Says No”, you can be left wondering why?

It's not easy to automate your Customer Service polices, let alone do it a way that is transparent, consistent and cost effective. Especially if you are working within environments where markets conditions and regulations change frequently. Get it wrong and you are left with compliance problems and customer complaints – and that's a costly outcome!

So while you may not be striving to change the decision from a “NO” to a “YES” for your customer, you should be looking to get to that answer quicker for them, with a complete explanation as to why it's a “NO”, have the traceability of what answer was given at that time, have the peace of mind that the answer is accurate, AND do it all at the lowest cost to your business – Simple right?!

So how do you achieve this? There are three core areas of consideration:

1. Centralize & Automate

2. Personalize & Optimize

3. Analyze & Adapt

#1 Centralize & Automate

One method is to grab all of your policy documents, throw them at a team of costly developers to move into a database, code the logic around them, and hope what comes out is maintainable, accurate and accessible to the right audiences. Or, maybe not.

A simpler method is to take your original policy documents and import them into a policy automation tool that will help a business user through a step-by-step process to model the rules. Once developed, they can be tested, modified, published and updated within a few clicks. A solution that can empower your agents with dynamic interviewing tools, and your customers with a self-service approach, across channels, in any language, and on any device.

But that is only part of the whole picture.

#2 Personalize & Optimize

A simple decision process could be easily managed by one or two published FAQs, whereas a complex decision process requires you to take into account many personal attributes about that specific customer – and by definition those attributes can't be applied through static views. Getting a customer to repeat information, or worse not even taking into consideration critical information that is provided within the interaction and personalizes the response, is a fast way to get them to abandon the process, or worse leave you!

You must ensure that your automated policies can be optimized to dynamically adapt to every customer’s unique situation and attributes – be that channel, device, location, language, or other more personal characteristics that are shared prior and during the interaction. After all, each answer should be uniquely theirs, explaining in detail why the decision was reached, with everything taken into consideration.

#3 Analyze & Adapt

The saying “data rich and insight poor” is one that often fits with the word “Compliance” – businesses can easily be more focused on capturing volumes of data for compliance, and less on making the data actionable. The flip side of that is “data poor”, when businesses must scramble to get the data needed to ensure compliance, as an afterthought! And we all know that having insight without ability for timely action, is a missed opportunity to improve, avoid, or sustain compliance.

As your policies change, or you introduce new policies, often the requirements to capture data can change too. Adapting to environmental or organizational changes requires you to gather the right data to deliver the right insight for action. The right tools are required in order to apply that insight in a timely, measurable, and effective manner. The right volume of accessible data is also needed to remain compliant with regulatory business or industry Customer Service standards during periodic audits. So you must have a solution that can adapt with scale, demand, change, and archive. A solution that can actually automate your service policies for insight, compliance, and agility – making it easy.

Putting all these pieces together lets you truly automate the nurturing of trusted relationships with your customers during complex decision-making processes, through transparent and personalized interactions. Giving your business confidence that in even the most demanding markets, you are remaining compliant, in a cost-effective and efficient way.

The Oracle Service Cloud empowers your business to care, take action and succeed in your Web Customer Service initiatives and become a Modern Customer Service organization.

Thursday Apr 03, 2014

Part 2 of 6: The Art Of Easy: What Happens When Easy Goes Wrong? by David Fulton

Easy doesn't begin with Customer Service.  It begins with customer expectation. They expected easy, but it is not! They haven’t given up though because they bought your promise of easy. And now is your chance to redeem yourself by making it easy again.

Your business is relying on you. That’s a lot of pressure! So, where to start? Well, a good place to start is to recognize the relationship between what is considered ‘easy’ and the time each party is willing to invest in getting to resolution.

Valuing your customer’s time can be more valuable (to your business) than your own time, in terms of relationships, reputation, performance, acquisition and profits. Forrester Research has recognized – that valuing a customer’s time is the single most important contribution you can make to delivering a great customer experience.1

That rule applies across all touch points of course, not just Customer Self-Service

So how do we value customer’s time by making it easy with a Customer Self Service approach? One of the most common and simple approaches is to throw up a bunch of FAQs on a web page. This may be easy for your business, but in today’s complex world, it can be far from easy for your customers, particularly if those FAQs are difficult to find, awkward to read, and void of any personal relevance that makes them actionable.

What started off as a way to reduce costs by enabling your customers to self-serve answers can quickly end up costing you more. Why? Because a frustrated customer is harder to serve, solve, and soothe. When it goes wrong, it’s your job to make it easy again and get it right.

The Art of Easy is making a complex resolution process both simple for a consumer to navigate and easy for you to deliver. However, location, device, need, communication skills, online profile, preferred channels, customer value, etc., all make a 'one size fits all' approach pretty difficult to pull off. 

Satisfying both sides of the Art is Easy coin, i.e. scaling your business objectives efficiently and effectively while serving your customer’s needs, is the modern Web Self-Service Dilemma, and most businesses today are failing in the execution.  

We believe that there are five key tenets to The Art of Easy within Customer Self-Service in order to be a Modern Customer Service business:

  1. Make connecting simple – Provide choice of channel
  2. Tailor the experience - Build for device of choice
  3. Segment appropriately – Know who you are serving
  4. Understand early – Know if the customer CAN self-serve to resolve
  5. Be proactive – Engage at the right time to avoid frustration

Square peg, round channel: To address those tenets, you need a solution that provides multiple choices for customers to help themselves and get the assistance they need along the way. Having only one-way is the fast path to the exit for many, as one size doesn't fit all.

Available in any color, as long as it is black: When you can’t connect on the device of choice, you make it hard to connect. If you want to avoid frustrating costs and higher abandonment rates, you must have a solution that can be tailored to the experience of your customer’s device. You may find forgiveness if you at least look like you made an effort to provide some mobile device support, for example!

A Segment of One: While a customer may be able get around having only one device and one channel supported, only supporting one “customer” type (not anonymous) is an unmovable roadblock to the experience they need. Chances are that your business (Marketing) already has an effective simple segmentation model that isn't being leveraged in Customer Service. Once you find it, you can use a solution that builds explorative pathways to the fastest resolution based on your different customer types.

Let’s Start Again from the Top: At the height of frustration from any Customer Service Interaction is the need to repeat information, and then to have what you repeated, ignored! And don't expect the customer to tell you what you never took the time to ask in the first place. Avoid frustration by having solutions that guide customers to help you understand how best to help them and that are capable of course-correcting to the right channel.

Don’t make me angry!: Either you are bugging your customer with constant pop-up invitations to chat, or you are sitting in a back room, waiting for them to have a total melt down before you assist. Where is the balance? Every good Customer Service rep knows when to wait, when to watch and when to engage at the right time. Your online customer service technology needs to have this same well-honed arsenal of proactive intuition. Change the “CHAT NOW” to “Are you trying to xxx? I can help you with that!”

What happens when EASY goes wrong? What should happen is that you make it easy again, restoring the faith of your customers and re-establishing trust in your promise. The Oracle Service Cloud empowers your business to care, take action and succeed in your Web Customer Service initiatives and become a Modern Customer Service organization.

For more information, please visit our website.

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


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