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! 

Tuesday Dec 08, 2015

Transform Modern Social Service with Customer Communities

By Michelle Brusyo, Senior Product Manager, Oracle Service Cloud

Today’s consumers are more connected to social channels to support their daily lives than ever and they are no longer just looking to brands’ Facebook or Twitter sites directly for service. They are seeking help from their peers for quick and easy answers. Modern consumers are looking for ways to self-serve more often than using any assisted service channel according to Forrester Research. Companies are recognizing this social service trend and are using customer communities as another platform to enable customers to self-serve. In a December 2014 Gartner Research note, Nine CRM Projects to Do Right Now for Customer Service, Michael Maoz, Vice President, Distinguished Analyst writes, “Gartner clients who are successful in this space are still seeing on average a 20% reduction in the creation of support tickets following the introduction of peer-to-peer communities.”

Consumers are increasingly drawn to the customer community support channel because it provides insights and perspectives that add to the information they’re able to gather from company-provided content. By participating in peer-to-peer forums, customers feel empowered to share their experiences, helping others solve problems and make better purchasing decisions. As a channel, Community has become too important to consider separately from the rest of the web service experience.

In looking at social service trends and benefits, it’s important to strategically think about the customer community implementation and planning process. While launching a community can seem daunting, it can be easier if you think about your customer community as a core part of the web self-service experience and build your strategy from that viewpoint. We also recommend that as you get started, you gather internal teams to talk through these top questions that arise when planning for a new or revamped community:

  1. How can we ensure that our community look and feel resonates with customers?
    One of the top reasons we revamped our Community product in August 2015 was to make it easier for companies to quickly stand up a community that shares the same look and feel and uses the same tools as well as resources across the entire Web Service experience. This way, the experience looks the same across all elements of the customer service journey.

  2. How will our customers know about our new community? 
    As a first step towards creating an active community, you’ll need an internal champion. Many companies define a new role of ‘Community Manager’ to take on the responsibility of owning the strategy, promotion and moderation oversight. Once you’ve given ownership of this channel to a champion or team, seed the community with early activity from key customers, industry leaders, expert employees, etc. Promote the community across your web properties as well as organize social media and email marketing campaigns to advertise to your customer base.

  3. How do we approach moderation and agent participation?
    It’s a difficult balance to allow for honest, authentic customer conversations, while still maintaining the ability to guide and moderate that content. Some things that help companies do this well include the creation (and publication) of clear community guidelines so visitors know what type of content is and is not appropriate to post. Moderation strategies work best when the goal is maintaining a safe, friendly and productive environment.

  4. How can we ensure our customers looking for help have easy access to this great peer-generated content?
    This is one area where companies have historically struggled because communities typically exist as a standalone, separate experience. With this approach, customers would need to navigate away from the company’s content in order to access information posted in the community. By thinking of communities differently, combining the community and web self-service experience, companies like Oracle Service Cloud are changing the way customers access community answers from anywhere in their service journey.

  5. How can we use community data and insights to make our customer service experience even better?
    When companies approach communities as an integrated part of a connected, cross-channel service experience, a wealth of new analytics become available. Think about the types of insights you’d like to get from the ways your customers utilize the community as compared to, or in addition to, other channels. This type of data can provide powerful insights about potential knowledge or information gaps as well as customer preferences.

These days, support communities and web self-service really are two sides of the same coin. It no longer makes sense to maintain these customer engagement platforms separately, as the real benefits emerge from the combination of both experiences being available to customers in a seamless fashion. Customer communities will only continue to grow in popularity as the trend of greater reliance on self-service channels continues. If you’re not providing a platform to support the conversations customers want to have with each other, you’ll miss a huge opportunity to guide and participate as well as utilize your customer community as a self-service channel or knowledge source.

Click here to download the full Expert Guide to Powering Modern Customer Communities.

Thursday Mar 19, 2015

Oracle CRM Watchlist 2015 Winner

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

Tuesday Aug 27, 2013

The Social Customer Service Maze

Your Customers Are Already Talking – It’s Time to Join the Conversation

While social media has become a standard function in most marketing departments, customer service and contact centers are just beginning to become actively involved in social media. When I talk to executives that run service/support or contact centers, I tend to get the same reaction when social media comes upHELP!

[Read More]

Tuesday Aug 20, 2013

CRM Evolution 2013: Social Care is a Mainstream Channel

CRM Evolution's Customer Service Experience track began today with Hewlett Packard’s (HP) Patricia Graca talking about Social Care. She got our attention with some eye-opening statistics:

  • 1 in 3 users prefer social care over contacting via the phone
  • 80% of customers will not purchase a product if there is a negative review
  • 43% of customers use social media to publicize a bad experience—and 48% a positive experience

Graca has built a social support community with volunteer experts who give two to 30 hours of their time every week to answer other customers’ questions.

What motivates these experts to devote so much time? She found that the top motivator is the satisfaction they receive from helping people. But Graca doesn’t stop there. She uses gamification to motivate experts with things like:

  • 15 status levels they can climb based on their answers’ usefulness
  • Avatars created from personal photos experts submit
  • Privileges like early access to new products, training and special events

Graca even hosts 24-hour social support marathons in which 100s of experts around the world participate—creating a wealth of crowd source wisdom for HP.

Currently, 1% of her social support community serves as experts and/or contributors. Her next challenge is encouraging the remaining 99% to actively participate.

Wednesday Aug 14, 2013

Master Data—and Delivering a Great Customer Experience

In the fast-paced world of the connected consumer, expectations run high. Every time customers interact with a company, they want a positive, relevant, and personalized experience. If they don’t get it, today’s empowered customers won’t hesitate to leave. Yet many companies can’t deliver great personal experiences to their customers because they are struggling with siloed information systems and processes that fail to provide complete and accurate data to sales, support, and marketing teams.

In the new white paper by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, “Delivering on the Promise of Great Customer Experiences,” learn from several forward-thinking organizations—in industries ranging from travel to telecommunications—how to use Master Data Management (MDM) to collect and integrate all types of internal and external data and create the consistent, connected, and personalized experiences that customers want. Oracle Master Data Management offers the most complete product line on the market, enabling organizations to cleanse, centralize, and govern to create a “master” version of customer and business data—and the foundation for an improved customer experience strategy. Find out how your organization can enrich the customer experience.

Read the whitepaper today!

For more information on Master Data Management, visit us on oracle.com - www.oracle.com/mdm.

Monday Aug 12, 2013

Webcast: How Dell Leverages Big Data to Improve the Customer Experience

The Economist Intelligence Unit recently investigated how successful companies use big data to transform the customer experience. Join us for an Oracle webcast in association with Intel® to learn how top-performing organizations, including Dell Inc.’s Global Demand and CRM Center, are harnessing big data to understand better their customers and their business. The webcast is on Wednesday, August 14, 10-11 AM Pacific / 6-7 PM London.

You’ll learn how Dell leaders are:
  • Focusing on data-driven approaches to meet business objectives
  • Fostering a culture of customer insights through leadership and collaboration
  • Innovating customer interactions, marketing, and sales through automation

Tuesday Aug 06, 2013

Expand the Siebel User Experience onto the Newest Devices

A friend works for a well known financial services company that uses Siebel CRM. I asked how he likes using Siebel. He said that it works great. However, he wishes that he could use it on an iPad.  Well, I have good news for him and good news for you. Now, you can.

Learn more about how to expand the Siebel user experience in our webcast on June 15, 8:30 AM Pacific / 4:30 PM Paris CEST. While you are at it, register for future Siebel webcasts about customer service, mobile and social sales and service, and other informative topics.

Friday Jul 12, 2013

How Siebel Solves the Next Generation of Business Challenges

Keeping up with technological changes and increasing customer demands is challenging. The latest innovations in Oracle's Siebel CRM help you increase your competitive advantages. Watch this informative replay of our June Oracle Siebel CRM Webcast to discover how you can:

    • Enhance productivity and efficiency with new usability features
    • Understand your customers with new social media capabilities
    • Increase customer engagement with new mobile solutions
    • Deliver superior customer experiences

Monday Jun 10, 2013

Learn About Siebel CRM's Bright Future

Today’s customers are mobile, social, and more demanding than ever. Oracle continues to add new capabilities to Siebel CRM – helping you keep pace with rapid technological changes and growing customer expectations. Join us for the first in a new monthly webcast series to discover how the latest enhancements to Oracle’s Siebel CRM can help you:

  • Increase productivity with new features for improved usability
  • Harness social media to understand and engage your customers better
  • Service and sell via mobile solutions to meet new customer demands
  • Deliver outstanding customer experiences every single time

Register now for our live Webcast on Thursday, June 13!

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