Monday Nov 23, 2015

Why Outstanding Service is the ‘New’ Marketing in Today’s Customer Powered Economy

By Jeff Lundal, Group Vice President, Oracle Service Cloud

There are several known pain points keeping today’s Chief Marketing Officers (CMO’s) up at night.  And let’s be honest, the pain points haven’t changed that much over the years.  For instance, how do I quickly and effectively grow customer retention and brand loyalty?  How do I increase brand advocacy?  How do I show my Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer solid return on investment regarding marketing spend? 

Just as the Head of Customer Care strives to deliver impactful service across new and evolving experience channels with an ever shrinking budget, the CMO must quickly deliver measurable customer and revenue results for minimal marketing spend.

Adding to these traditional complexities, the CMO is now confronted with the rapid evolution of today's empowered consumer. This makes the jobs of current CMOs even more complex as they struggle to determine how best to attract and retain both new and emerging customer personas.  Think about the millennial who is not only proficient at interacting across traditional and new channels, but expects immediate recognition and satisfaction.

So how do CMO’s successfully meet their best customers when and where they reside?  And what if your brand delivers a terrible experience? Rest assured that the rate with which consumers will drop your brand or stop using your product will astound you!  Don’t believe it? Well in fact, 89% of customers have switched brands due to a bad customer experience.1  This is a scary proposition for any organization. Why should CMO’s care about Service?  It comes down to a few key things… 

Service is no longer just a department, it’s an engagement strategy.
If a brand’s online customer service experience is the ‘front door’ to their business, then why is service so often relegated to the back end “complaint” department?  Especially when according to Mike Johnston, from The Chartered Institute of Marketing, research shows that “it can cost up to 30 times as much to get a new customer as it does to keep an existing one. It pays to stay very close to your customers, so you know their exact needs, today and tomorrow. Your aim is to be irreplaceable as their supplier."  For modern brands, relegating the service department to an afterthought is a strategy for disaster. The key to success is a customer engagement strategy that is will set your business apart.  This is a fundamental change and is the starting point for CMO’s looking to differentiate their brand.

Your brand is not defined by your message.  It’s defined by the experiences you deliver.
Millennial buying power is growing rapidly and they are taking full advantage of the varied modern technology landscape including SnapChat, Twitter, and peer communities.  So now more than ever it is not what you, the marketer, are saying about your brand, but what your customers are saying about your brand.  And customer brand advocacy begins with exceptional service, not marketing messages.  Gartner outlines it pretty clearly, “Today's customers own the conversation they are having with your organization. They are more self-reliant and self-sufficient than ever before, wanting to take care of business via their preferred mode of engagement whenever convenient.2

Delivering an impactful personalized service experience in today’s digital landscape is a smarter and more cost effective marketing approach for modern brands.  Something as simple as including personalized chat during the acquisition process can drive a 33% rate in conversion.  In addition, Gartner research shows that over 75% of customers prefer to use self-service and that they expect a self-service option in the different engagement channels.2

Understanding the experience at every brand, customer touch-point is crucial.
No matter how successful a marketing organization you are, if you are losing customers out the back door due to poor experiences your reputation and revenue suffer.  No one within the organization knows customers’ engagement habits, pain points, and moments of delight more than the service team.  They can share valuable insights from across the social, mobile, and web experiences that will inform new, relevant marketing campaigns.  Partnering with service from the beginning also helps to ensure the marketing and service experiences are connected.  Delivering an exceptional, seamless experience from the back end systems directly to your digital front door is crucial.  A unified experience across touch points reduces customer frustration and builds brand loyalty. 

According to Gartner, during the next five years, 25% of leading companies will extend their CRM technology goals by tying together disparate systems in a more holistic approach that pivots around the needs of the customer. For example, the customer service contact center has evolved into a customer engagement center with the goal to support social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as online community activities. Other departments such as marketing, digital commerce and sales will join with IT leaders to develop plans for the CEH. In 2015, only 5% of organizations have the technologies and processes in place to provide a consistent customer experience across departments and channels. The need to support the anytime-anywhere customer (including on mobile devices, smart devices, and in social networks) and heightened business awareness is making this a top issue among customer service managers.3  So imagine the power of teaming with service from the word ‘go’ to deliver an integrated customer engagement.

Whether you are flying on Virgin America or buying a gift at Nordstrom, customers can experience how some marquee brands are delivering on best-in-class service.  There is an undeniable credibility that comes with a great service experience. It also costs companies dearly to regain a customer after they have lost them, more so than it does to keep current customers happy.  So next time you are thinking about how to solve some of these CMO dilemma’s think how to partner with your service organization as a first step to achieving retention, advocacy, and ultimately sales revenue goals. 


1 “Global Insights on Succeeding in the Customer Experience Era” Oracle, February 2013

2 Brian Manusama, “Best Practices for Implementing Customer Self-Service” Gartner, September 11, 2015.

3 Michael Maoz and Jenny Sussin, “Hype Cycle for CRM Customer Service and Customer Engagement” Gartner, July 17, 2015.  

Wednesday Sep 23, 2015

Take a Quick Tour of Oracle Service Cloud

What do you know about Oracle Service Cloud? You may have heard it delivers complete, out-of-the-box customer service. Or that it enables lasting, profitable customer relationships by delivering unified web, social and contact center experiences.

But that ‘marketing speak’ only gets you so far… To really understand what Oracle Service Cloud can do for your business, you have to take a test drive. Get behind the steering wheel and try out its capabilities.

Oracle Service Cloud’s Quick Tour Demo puts you in the driver’s seat. Click here to see firsthand how Oracle’s Web Customer Service can help you deliver the very best customer experience (CX)—while lowering costs and increasing conversions.

Choose ‘Show Me’ if you want a chauffeured experience. Or ‘Try It’ to navigate for yourself.

Want to see more? Then Sign up for a live demo customized to your needs.

Tuesday Sep 08, 2015

October 7 Webcast: How to Become a Customer-Adaptive Enterprise with Ovum Principal Analyst Jeremy Cox and Oracle VP of Product Management Stephen Fioretti

Business transformation, customer engagement, omnichannel… These strategies sound promising, but how do you actually implement them to stay ‘persistently’ relevant to customers? Ovum Principal Analyst Jeremy Cox will help guide you as he presents the eight core attributes of the Customer-Adaptive Enterprise on this webcast Wednesday, October 7 at 9 am PT / 12 pm ET. 

Ovum’s Jeremy Cox, and Oracle’s Stephen Fioretti, will assist you in determining your current customer engagement maturity level—and what actions you must take to deliver an integrated omnichannel service experience. 

Specific topics include:
  • Introduction to the Customer-Adaptive Enterprise 
  • Maturity Levels of Omnichannel Customer Engagement 
  • Service Organization Transformation: Opportunities, Pitfalls and Success Stories 
  • Leveraging Social, the Internet of Things (IOT) and New Channels

You will come away knowing your next steps for operationalizing your omnichannel strategy! 

Register now

Jeremy Cox. Principal Analyst, Ovum
Customer Engagement

As part of Ovum’s Customer Engagement team, Jeremy leads the research and insights into CRM and its potential for spearheading customer-driven business transformation (the customer-adaptive enterprise). With over 20 years’ CRM strategy development and implementation experience, on the inside (IBM) and as a consultant and change agent. He is well placed to support enterprises on their next-generation customer transformation journey.

Jeremy joined Ovum in July 2012, and quickly established the broader customer-adaptive enterprise context, identifying eight core attributes that organizations need if they are to be persistently relevant to their customers: Visionary leadership, an engaged workforce, collaborative, acute sensing capabilities to generate insight and foresight, a superior omnichannel customer experience, continuous innovation, connected, simplified and adaptive processes, and an adaptive enterprise architecture. He has written many papers on transformational CRM, the customer-adaptive enterprise, omnichannel customer engagement, harnessing the voice of the customer to drive continuous improvement in the customer experience, and continuous innovation.

Prior to joining Ovum, Jeremy ran his own transformational CRM consultancy supporting enterprises in both the public and private sectors, with clients such as The Pensions Regulator, The North West Development Agency, HP, Microsoft, Carlson Wagonlit Traveler Services, Pitney Bowes, Honeywell, Eli Lilly, and mid-market firms including Goldsmith Williams Solicitors, Camps Solicitors, and Hurst & Co Accountants. He was also a principal consultant CRM at KPMG Consulting, and held various CRM internal consulting roles at IBM during the transformation years of the mid to late 1990s.
Jeremy co-authored “Mid-Market CRM” with Professor Francis Buttle FCIM and has spoken at various European conferences on CRM as a transformational business strategy enabled by IT, and what it takes to become a customer-adaptive enterprise. He has a master’s degree with distinction from Manchester Business School in strategic market management and CRM.

Stephen Fioretti, Vice President of Product Management, Oracle
Oracle Service Cloud
Stephen Fioretti has Product Management and Strategy responsibility for part of Oracle’s Customer Experience (CX) Strategy as well as Oracle Service Cloud products, where he drives strategy, product roadmap and go-to-market initiatives. Previously at Oracle and Siebel, he served as vice president of Product Management and Strategy for various CRM cloud and on-premise products, specifically in the domains of multi-channel service and support, sales force automation, partner relationship management, and configuration, pricing and quoting.

Before joining Siebel in 2002, Fioretti was Vice President of Business Development at SeeCommerce, a privately-held provider of Supply Chain Performance Management Solutions. Prior to SeeCommerce, Mr. Fioretti spent 5 years at Hyperion Solutions, a leading provider of enterprise business performance management and business intelligence solutions, where he served in executives roles as VP of Marketing and VP of Alliances. Fioretti has spent over 20 years in the information technology industry, including sales, marketing and channel roles at Sybase and Hewlett-Packard. 

Mr. Fioretti holds a Bachelor's Degree in Economics from the University of California at Davis, as well as a Master's of Business Administration in Marketing from the University of California at Los Angeles.

Tuesday May 19, 2015

Oracle Takeaways from Forrester Webcast: Customer Service Trends for 2015 by Christine Randle

It is hard to believe that it has been a decade since social disrupted standard operating procedures for companies. Brands had enjoyed a healthy measure of control before social media-enabled customers around the globe were able to connect and share information. Before, companies controlled not only the information that customers and prospects received, but how and when they received it—effectively spoon-feeding corporate messages to the world.

The advent of social changed this dynamic forever and ushered in The Age of the Customer.

Today, customers control the conversations they have with businesses, and brands have scrambled to adapt. Companies must become customer-obsessed and deliver experiences that meet customer expectations to succeed.

Why? Because loyal customers are less likely to churn, and they are also more likely to recommend your brand and spend more money with your company. When customers spend more money, it directly impacts and increases revenue. For this reason, it is essential to keep your customers satisfied and loyal to your brand. Besides, customer service should be a core element of your CX strategy.

Still, this is hard stuff. So it helps to get some perspective. A May 2015 webinar hosted by Forrester and featuring Forrester Research’s Kate Leggett, Trends 2015: The Future Of Customer Service, helps to make sense of customer service in 2015. Take a look at the below takeaways that we pulled from the webcast, and let us know what trends you see in your organization.

Customers increasingly rely on self-service. According to the April 2015 Forrester Research report, “Contact Centers Must Go Digital Or Die,” more customers (76%) used web self-service than the phone (73%) for customer service. Why? Because it is an easy way to get answers. Today, the phone is increasingly used for escalation, or when a customer cannot find the answer to a question. Generally, these are the most difficult inquiries and have longer handle times. But, this offers a great opportunity for companies to use the phone channel to support and deepen customer relationships. It is important to note that channel usage changes year-over-year. As such, you should survey your customers to find out what channels they prefer for customer service interactions and deploy those channels accordingly.

Adopt a mobile-first mindset.
Think about your own mobile device usage and you’ll see why customers increasingly look to contact brands via this channel. But, more than that, customers want to be able to start a conversation on mobile and then switch over to a laptop or desktop seamlessly—without needing to rehash the issue with an agent. In 2015, customers will continue to demand effortless interactions of this type over both web and mobile channels.

Explore proactive engagement.
We are all customers, right? And, as customers, we know what we want, when, where, and how we want it. To effectively leverage this fact, businesses will begin to experiment with proactive engagement. This refers to proactive chat, promotions, or content served up to customers at the appropriate time to help answer questions, easing the transition from the research phase to purchase.

Leverage connected devices for preemptive service.
The Internet of Things (IoT) has taken off in a big way, and with it comes the prospect of preemptive service. From Wi-Fi connected self-learning thermostats to smart, self-propelled vacuum cleaners IoT has the potential to reshape customer service. IoT offers businesses the opportunity to deliver preemptive service that our parents could never have imagined: Proactive communication of product information back to the company to diagnose preemptively and fix issues without customer intervention!

Analytics will power offers, decisions, and connections.
There is no “one size fits all” service. Instead, use analytics to deliver deeply personalized customer service by understanding and leveraging data from past interactions, services, and purchases. Additionally, interactions must be tailored to the channel of choice. For example, the tone of an email interaction will likely vary from that of a social or chat interaction. These nuances are important in order to optimize service quality, predict next steps, ensure satisfaction, and produce loyalty, which correlates to increased revenue.

Journey analytics will improve end-to-end service.
What does your typical customer journey look like? It is likely to cross multiple communication channels: social, web, email, and phone. Often, these touch points are managed by different functional organizations within a company. It is tricky, but ultimately customers do not care about your internal org structure. What they care about is the ability to cross channels seamlessly to get support without needing to repeat themselves at each point in the journey (we all know how frustrating that can be). But, organizational silos make it difficult to deliver consistent service experiences. Not only that, but few companies have a measure in place that encompasses all channels. Forrester expects that organizations will move to broader, more comprehensive customer service measurement programs, which span all communication channels, to help businesses understand the costs and pain points in the customer journey.

Focus on improving the agent experience.
It is staggering the amount of applications that contact center agents use on a daily basis to answer customer questions. Organizations will look to push proactive information to agents, to minimize effort, and to help streamline service delivery. If companies can improve the agent experience, by helping to guide them through resolution paths, then agents will have more confidence to help customers and to deliver truly personalized experiences.

Adopt SaaS for agility.
A March 2015 Forrester Research report, Trends 2015: The Future Of Customer Service, found that 32% of companies have already replaced or plan to replace, most or all on-premise solutions with SaaS alternatives within 2 years. Why? Because moving applications to the Cloud pushes the burden of software and hardware maintenance back onto the vendor. This allows companies to be agile and focus on innovating with new features, ultimately creating differentiated, rewarding customer experiences.

Read how Sony uses its online digital experience to proactively engage customers.

Tuesday Aug 19, 2014

CRM Evolution 2014: Mediocrity is the New Horrible in Customer Service

"Mediocrity is the new horrible in customer service." — Blair McHaney, President/CEO, Gold's Gym

Almost everyone knows that customers' expectations have risen. But, after listening to two days of presentations at CRM Evolution, I think it’s more accurate to say that customers' expectations have skyrocketed. Fortunately, most companies have gotten the message and are taking their customer service to a higher level. For those who've been hesitant to 'boldly go where their customer service organization has not gone before,' take heart. I’ve got some statistics that will encourage you to take those first few steps.

Why should I change?

  • By engaging customers online, achieved a 99.5% customer satisfaction score (CSAT) while improving retention and saving millions on greater efficiency, including a 38%-50% drop in inbound calls and emails.1
  • By empowering employees to delight customers, Gold’s Gym achieved a 77.5% Net Promoter Score (NPS) and 22% customer churn rate. No small feat when you consider the industry averages are 40% NPS and 45% churn.2
  • By adapting quickly to social media, brands like Verizon have benefited from social community members spending 2.5x-10x more than average customers.3

‘The fierce urgency of now’ is upon us in customer service. You can take your customer service to a higher level! To find out more, click here.

CRM Evolution Customer Service Experience Footnotes:

*Arvindh Balakrishnan, Vice President, CX and CRM Applications Business GroupIs Your Customer Service Modern?
*Blair McHaney, President/CEO, Gold's Gym, Wire Your Organization with Customer Feedback
*Becky Carroll, Associate Partner, Cloud Strategy and Solutions, IBM, The Power of Communities for Improving the Service Experience and Building Advocates

Monday Feb 03, 2014

4 Takeaways on Modern Customer Service from CloudWorld

Oracle held CloudWorld last week in San Francisco. While there were many ideas and themes being discussed in the Customer Service track, several stood out as key differentiators for any company interested in delighting customers.[Read More]

Monday Jan 06, 2014

8 Predictions for Customer Service in 2014 by David Vap

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

1. Customer Service Becomes a Boardroom Priority

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

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

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

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

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

3. Mobile, Mobile, Mobile

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

4. Your Coffee Maker Serves Itself

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

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

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

5. Knowledge is Everywhere

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

6. The Web Comes Alive

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

7. Social Gets Real

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

8. Employee Experience Takes the Limelight

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

For more information, please visit our website.

Monday Nov 25, 2013

Leveraging Customer Facing Communities

Alongside Facebook and Twitter, communities are becoming a valuable alternative for customers to find answers to their support queries. Businesses need to ensure that posts on these sites are accurate and consistent with information available through other contact center channels. [Read More]

Thursday Sep 26, 2013

Connecting Your Social Media Efforts Across Marketing and Customer Service

One of the biggest challenges with being a socially aware enterprise is managing ownership of social data and responses. Social media impacts many parts of the customer lifecycle and, as a result, it also impacts many departments within the enterprise, including marketing, customer service, product and strategy teams. These internal teams will need to collaborate, share trends data and define who will handle different types of social communications.

[Read More]

Wednesday Sep 04, 2013

Getting Started with Social Customer Service

Guest Blogger: Aphrodite Brinsmead, Senior Analyst at Ovum

In my last blog I talked about the value of using social channels to support your customer service efforts.  Here I’ll talk about understanding the most relevant social media tools and how to handle queries and issues.

[Read More]

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