Recent news suggests ongoing sluggishness in the global economy. With so many companies struggling to show significant growth, Oracle CEO Mark Hurd had a modest proposal for business leaders looking to buck this trend: invest in killer customer service.
Speaking at Oracle’s Modern Customer Experience event in Las Vegas April 27, Hurd laid out three ways big companies can grow market share in today’s slow-growth climate: Better products, lower prices, or a better customer service experience. Better products are critical, but they take a long time to build. Lower prices kill margins. So better customer service is the best, fastest option to profitable growth, Hurd told attendees.
Look no further than big banks and big wireless service providers, however, to see why many companies can’t seize that customer service opportunity today. Hurd described two scenarios where banks and service providers fall short.
1. A longtime bank customer gets a bonus, his checking account spikes, and so the bank’s compliance group calls to—circuitously—make sure the customer isn’t a money launderer or drug dealer. “It’s a silo of the bank, doing its job,” Hurd said. But wouldn’t that same checking-account data suggest the customer as a great prospect for upselling additional loans, or private banking services?
2. Wireless service providers have tremendous amounts of data about usage, location, service performance, and more. Yet customer service teams—not to mention sales and marketing—don’t effectively tap that operational data to anticipate service problems or new sales opportunities.
What’s the common barrier in each of these examples? “They’re fundamentally siloed processes,” Hurd said. “The network side that knows the data doesn’t integrate to the customer side that then deals with how to actually make me happier and deliver services to me.”
Companies must create better “moments of truth,” Hurd said, such as predicting when a wireless customer is open to upgrading to a better service—or is at risk of switching carriers.
The problem isn’t that banks and service providers don’t understand this. It’s that processes and systems are siloed, and today’s low-growth, cost-cutting business environment dissuades businesses from making the necessary investments to change the picture. That very obstacle creates opportunity, Hurd said: “The first to innovate, the first to change the answer, wins.… Whoever changes first gets all the spoils. Whoever changes last is probably out of business.”
That need for speed, Hurd believes, is a big catalyst for companies turning to cloud-based applications for service, marketing, and other customer experience functions. Compared with legacy, on-premises options, cloud systems offer lower cost, easier updates, constant new-feature iterations, and better integration, making cloud services an “irresistible force,” Hurd contends. “This doesn’t just have to do with you liking a new marketing app more than your current marketing app,” he said. “This is an economic reality.”