The New Face of Customer Services - by Bikram Sarma

Feature Article: Oracle Customer Services Organisation Blog Week

When my teenage son has a question regarding one of the numerous gadgets that kids own these days, he doesn't contact the manufacturer. Nor does he contact the numerous service and support providers (including the manufacturer’s) that are available on toll free numbers. But he gets his problems fixed, or question answered through a completely different channel. “Much faster” is his perception. So how will Apple and other product companies generate revenues from services and support for all the iPods, Macbooks, PS2s, Wiis, etc.. that the new generation owns these days ? And how does it work ?

Networking world is the answer - both physical and virtual. So when a neighbour’s daughter had a problem with her Sony PS2 she knocked on our door late evening seeking guidance for the problem from my teenager. A couple of minutes later she had it fixed. When my son had problems with a setup in his laptop – he posted something on Facebook. Within a couple of hours he had the fix along with a patch with specific steps outlined on a You-Tube video. All this time he was still semi sitting, semi lying on his bed.

Is this paradigm only related to gadgets and gizmos ? The Service and Support Professionals association (SSPA) along with Lithium consumer survey conducted a survey among its members regarding this trend. The interesting result is that responses varied by generation. While 33% of the seniors indicated that they would prefer to learn from other users than the product company’s provider, a whopping 55% of the new silent-gen generation and over 51% of the Gen-Y professionals indicated their interest in the “other users” world. The other generations - baby boomers and Gen-X were in between. The trend among the silent-gen is growing, looking at recent studies.

So how does a company like Oracle look at itself with all this happening around us ? With a large number of service professionals globally, Oracle Customer service businesses – Premier Support, Advanced Customer services, On Demand and Education businesses are the lifeline to Oracle customers. And you – the reader -- may belong to one of the generations that does not seek services from the product manufacturer – after all you are a blog reader and networked. Would a google search solve your issues regarding that Database tuning ? or are you looking to link into the larger Oracle community of experts both inside and outside of Oracle ?

In September 2008, Oracle launched “My Oracle Support” which is not a portal but a paradigm shift for how technology can play a role in this evolving globally connected world for serving customers. User experience and service quality is just the beginning. Built-in is the community feature where the user can be a part of the bigger 10+ Million strong and growing Oracle community. Oracle communities includes My Oracle Support community, Oracle Technology Network (OTN), Oracle Wiki, Oracle Blogs, Oracle Mix, Oracle Partner network, and Oracle User Groups. Oracle Communities is a complementary trusted community -- customer and partner driven, who participate in the evolution of community. Multiple channels contribute to a larger knowledge base. Oracle Customer Services is now the infrastructure and content host for the larger Oracle world. Our Service professionals are the experts that feed and nurture this experience.

So what do Customer Service professionals work on ? With over 50 acquisitions over the last 4 years, these professionals are the masters of all the technologies and applications from Oracle’s extensive product offerings, including building technologies and products for the Service business. It is also at the bleeding edge of the user experience. Customers are happy as they can extract a lot more from their Information technology investments. This is the new face of Customer Services – Globally.

This article is written by Bikram Sarma who is Oracle's VP for Customer Services.


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