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Updated: 13 hours 21 min ago

“It Isn’t Easy At All; Otherwise, Everyone Would Be Doing It”

Wed, 2014-05-28 10:31

A few months ago, JP Saunders (pictured left), who leads the go-to-market initiatives for the Oracle CX Service offering, kicked off a series of articles about modern customer service. He contends that to take care of customers―and the people that support those customers―companies need to make it easy to deliver consistently great experiences. But it’s not easy; it’s an art.

The six posts in The Art of Easy series will help you better understand some of the customer service challenges you face and how to avoid common pitfalls. We pulled them all together here in one post for continuity and easy access.

Saunders introduces the series with The Art of Easy: Make It Easy To Deliver Great Customer Service Experiences (Part 1).

The Art of Easy: Offer Self Service With the Emphasis on Service (Part 2) by David Fulton (pictured left): David Fulton, Director of Product Management, Oracle Service Cloud, shares five tenets of customer self service that move an organization closer to becoming a modern customer service business.




Easy Decisions For Complex Problems (Part 3) by Heike Lorenz (pictured right): Heike Lorenz, Director of Global Product Marketing, Policy Automation, writes about automating service policies to ensure that the correct decisions are being applied to the right people. The goal is to nurture the trusted relationships with customers during complex decision-making processes.



Moving at the Speed of Easy (Part 4) by Chris Ulmand (pictured left): Chris Omland, Director of Product Management, Oracle Service Cloud, addresses the need for speed to keep up with customers’ expectations. His advice—start with a platform that enables agile innovation, respects a company’s unique needs, and has proven reliability to protect customer relationships.




Knowledge Makes It Easy For Everyone (Part 5) by Nav Chakravarti (pictured rig: Vice President Nav Chakravarti, Oracle Service Cloud, talks about managing the knowledge that customers need and want. He coaches readers on delivering answers to customers’ questions easily, in context, with relevance, reliably, and accurately.



Making Easy, Both Effective and Efficient (Part 6) by Melinda Uhland (pictured left): Melinda Uhland, Oracle CX Product Management teaches us that happy agents produce happy customers. A Modern Customer Service organization is one that invests in its agents and empowers them with tools to make them efficient and effective, which, in turn, improves customer results.

The Art of Easy―Making Easy, both Effective and Efficient (Part 6 of 6)

Wed, 2014-05-21 08:56

A Guest Post by Melinda Uhland, Oracle Service Cloud

In the case of “What makes the experience,” it’s the age old question “which came first?” The chicken? or the egg? There is a strong vote for the chicken (being the customer), as they squawk the loudest (especially on Social), but within the contact center, there is strong evidence that it was the egg (being the agent).

A Modern Customer Service organization is one that understands the importance of the agent experience as it relates to your customer’s experience. A modern organization knows that its support agents must be more than a pretty smile on an empty box, or a handshake at an open door, or a hallmark welcome greeting. Modern Customer Service agents curate engagements that result in lasting and profitable relationships with their customers.

A customer’s experience is frequently defined by how engaged he or she feels an agent is during an interaction―not just whether they were polite, but also whether they were trying to help. And there is a direct correlation between how engaged agents are and how empowered they feel in their jobs. A Modern Customer Service organization is one that improves its customer results by investing in the needs of its agents’ experiences. It empowers its agents with the tools that make it easy for them to be efficient and effective.

To know how well you are doing on delivering a great agent experience, don’t just look at CSAT reports (although they can be a good indicator).

Start by asking your agents:

  • Are you being connected with customers that you can serve effectively?
  • How effective is that connection so the customer isn’t frustrated by the time they engage?
  • Once engaged do the agents have access to the information needed to solve the issue?
  • How many systems do they have to log into, search, and reconcile conflicting information?
  • How many process scripts, cheat sheets, and memos do they have to manage and memorize to navigate the engagement?
  • If they see an issue with the system/process during the interaction, can they apply/request a change?
  • How long does it usually take to have the change applied?
  • And, how many engagements will they have to handle without that change?

The list goes on, as does the time and frustration to your agents, if the engagement process isn’t easy. Let’s face it―you cannot afford to lose any of your agents. You have invested in them and your business needs to deliver. So, if you are still running your contact center as a legacy cost center, then chances are, you are driving up costs by not understanding your agents’ needs:

  • Your most seasoned agents: are your most valuable assets as they are the sherpas of your processes, saviors of your customers, and the spirit of your brand. They must be empowered for greatness. Honor their time to save your brand.
  • Your average agents: are your building blocks for change, whose systematic rhythm can deliver the highest return on efficiencies. They must be empowered for consistency. Listen to their pains to save money.
  • Your most junior agents are your future, with an untarnished view of how you can improve to get ahead. They must be empowered for success. Leverage their passion and their fresh perspective for change.
By exploring the needs of each agent segment, you can understand how to apply technology to improve their experience:

The Experienced Agent: “Don’t waste my time!”

Your most experienced agents should be strictly focused on your most serious/complicated issues and/or on your highest value customers. Having your most valuable agents handle questions that could be addressed through an FAQ or a newer agent wastes money and time. By setting up the correct routing rules, you can ensure that your experienced agents handle only exceptions for overflow assistance when required. With the right solution, it is possible to automate the configuration and management of routing rules to match the right customers with the right agents, based on many factors beyond customer problem and agent skill. Configure rules based on availability, learned experience, language, time zone, county, wait times, customer value, etc.

The Average Agent: “It’s not my fault!”

How many times have your agents picked up a call, provided their most friendly greeting, only to have been immediately yelled at by a customer? Your agent has to spend time calming the customer down, rather than assisting them with the real issue. Call Center agents go through this many times a day, and it can be a demotivating and costly occurrence to your efficiency and effectiveness metrics. Do these sound all too familiar?
  • “I have been transferred three times and you keep asking the same questions!”
  • “I don’t have time to call you! Why can’t I just do this online?”
  • “I just spent an hour trying to navigate your Web site, only to get no answer, and now you want to CHAT?!
  • “Do you know who I am on Social? You will regret keeping me waiting for my email response!”
  • “I have been a great customer of yours for many years―doesn’t that count for something?!”
Multi-channel / cross-channel customer service platforms can help you avoid this circle of frustration. Capabilities such as proactive chat, email automation, virtual assistance, click-to-call, click-to-call back, experience routing rules, mobile templates, and social response allow your customers to reach out to you on the channel/device that works best for them right when they need help. Or they can seamlessly switch channels and devices when they need to. And when your customers do reach out to you, you can keep track of all their interactions, regardless of channel, providing you with deeper insights on channel, device and interaction behavior for optimizing their contact flows to avoid FCF (first contact frustration) and improve FCR (first contact resolution).

The New Agent: “There’s gotta be a better way!”


Your new agent just started and is excited to do well in his/her new role. S/he had some hands-on training with an experienced agent, got a memorized script to follow, a notebook with system log ins to use, an earmarked manual with policies to follow, and is set to start handling low-level support incidents in those already flooded channels. As you finish the agent’s training, the song “Will they stay, or will they go?” plays in your head because you know the experience the agent is about to go through will either make them or break them. But, you did all you could, so if something goes wrong the customers become a necessary casualty. The complaints? Teething pains. The ideas for change? A no go. Given time, they agents learn the old ways are best!

This is another scenario that can be easily remedied with a Modern Contact Center, which is capable of unifying all the systems to a single log in to a centralized agent desktop. The desktop can be pre-configured with views and guides that simplify the learning curve and that walk agents through step-by-step processes, which are traceable down to each interaction and engagement across every channel.

A centralized knowledge base gives agents access to all public and internal knowledge at their fingertips, placing scripts inside of tools that can be applied easily. These tools, combined with a unified customer record drawn from any source master system of record (or external social site), equip your new agent to have relevant engagements, which help them improve customer experience from Day One.

By understanding the needs of your agents—and empowering them with the right tools, knowledge, and insights to better serve customers—you can easily make their jobs more engaging, their performance more effective, and their time more efficient. The Oracle Service Cloud empowers agents to meet today’s customer expectations and become a valued part of the Modern Customer Service organization.

The Art of Easy: Knowledge Makes It Easy For Everyone (Part 5 of 6)

Thu, 2014-05-08 11:39

Guest Post by Vice President Nav Chakravarti, Oracle Service Cloud

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 percent of what’s needed is best addressed with the 20 percent 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 percent 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.

Oracle CloudWorld Arrives in the Windy City

Wed, 2014-04-23 22:03

A Guest Post by Natalia Rachelson, Senior Director, Oracle Applications 

Oracle CloudWorld Chicago was buzzing with amazing energy last week. The event drew 800+ customers and prospects from near and far. Some were already running Oracle Applications Cloud. Some were working on plans to move their organizations to the Cloud. Others were interested in just learning more about the Cloud. All were attentive and engaged.

Three themes rang true throughout all sessions: 1) datafication (e.g. explosion of data, Big Data), 2) Generation C (i.e. connected generation), and 3) the importance of customers’ experiences.

GM’s New Customer Engagement Centers


David Mingle, Executive Director of Customer Experience at General Motors, shared how GM changed its approach to Call (Complain) Centers and transformed them into Customer Engagement Centers. The Engagement Centers are no longer cost centers to the company; each one is hyper strategic. Engagement Center agents are trained to:

  • Show empathy
  • Have a high degree of product knowledge
  • Turn a seemingly bad situation into a win for GM or a dealer


GM’s Use of Social: Mingle said the key is connecting with customers and engaging them over the long term. To do that, GM replaced hundreds of different social tools and standardized on a single platform, Oracle Social Cloud, to drive GM’s PR, Marketing, Communications, and Customer Care divisions.

Engage Fully: “Social is not about Likes and Tweets; it is about engagement,” Mingle said more than once. He was referring to engagement across all customer touch points―in customer care, sales, or marketing, on the phone, on the web, and even in print.

Dell’s Success with Oracle Talent Management Cloud

Diane Paquet, HR Technology Director at Dell, spoke about Dell’s need to reinvent itself. Instead of a hardware company, it wanted to become a technology solution provider to enterprise- and medium-size businesses, which required a different skill set from its workforce. To make the transition, Dell adopted Oracle Talent Management Cloud.

The Benefits of Cloud: During the sales cycle, the company was looking for a functionally rich, global solution. It did not favor one software delivery model over another; however, the decision makers saw that the cloud offered deployment agility, configurability, ease of use, and a steady stream of new features delivered via frequent upgrades. They were sold on the benefits.

Modern Technology: To stay relevant in a rapidly changing environment, Paquet said HR professionals need to stay ahead of business needs and always be enablers. That involves having a technology that is agile enough to allow for frequent configuration changes to accommodate new business processes. In addition, the technology has to keep up with the latest trends of mobile and social.

Results with Social Sourcing: Paquet commented that the most dynamic changes for HR professionals are coming in the talent acquisition space. Candidate behaviors are changing and evolving at a rapid rate. LinkedIn and social media are becoming cornerstones for how candidates seek out new job opportunities. Recruiters are limited by the size of their own networks. By leveraging Oracle’s Social Sourcing tool, Dell has been able to extend the reach of its recruiters and engage Dell’s entire employee network. Within the first four months of using Social Sourcing, Dell experienced 7,900 job shares and 3,800 candidate applications.

Coming up to Speed with Oracle Onboarding:
  The Oracle Onboarding tool made Paquet gush. She said the tool allows Dell to deliver a consistent and high-quality experience to all hires. Dell uses Oracle Onboarding in 75 countries around the world and has more than 200 forms configured within it. Last year alone, 20,800 new hires completed their HR “paperwork” in the tool. Using Oracle’s amazing onboarding tool instills even more confidence in new hires about Dell as an employer.

A Word About Personal Smart Devices: Paquet said that more and more employees are using personal mobile devices for work. Companies and systems need to accommodate the BYOD trend.

What’s Good About Oracle? To close, Paquet stated that what makes Oracle stand out from the pack is the fact that Oracle offers the cloud in bites. People can move as little or as much to the cloud as they want.

Good information! Good insight! Go Oracle!

The Art of Easy: Moving at the Speed of Easy (Part 4 of 6)

Wed, 2014-04-23 21:53

A Guest Post by Chris Omland, Director of Product Management, Oracle Service Cloud

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 five 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. If you don’t deliver to scope, to scale, and on time, you fail at serving the business and customer needs. No pressure, right? And certainly not easy, especially with a spaghetti foundation, with complexity that has 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! Let’s 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. It’s 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 24×7.

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 all Clouds are not equal. The Oracle Service Cloud platform is built from the ground up to help your business move at the speed of easy.

The Art Of Easy: Easy Decisions For Complex Problems (Part 3 of 6)

Thu, 2014-04-17 12:58

A Guest Post by  Heike Lorenz, Director of Global Product Marketing, Policy Automation

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 in 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, and 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. The result is 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.

The Art Of Easy: Offer Self Service With the Emphasis on Service (Part 2 of 6)

Mon, 2014-04-07 14:02

A Guest Post by David Fulton, Director of Product Management, Oracle Service Cloud

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.

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 to 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.

The Art of Easy: Make It Easy To Deliver Great Customer Service Experiences (Part 1 of 6)

Wed, 2014-04-02 10:54

A Guest Post by JP Saunders, Product Strategist for Oracle CX Service offerings

Modern Customer Service is helping businesses to differentiate and grow in today’s competitive market. Why? Because your success gets accelerated when you take care of the people who make you successful. Modern Customer Service is about just that, taking care of your customers, and your people that support them. To do that, you need to make it EASY to deliver great experiences, time and time again.

Businesses that make it “look” easy stand out, because they consistently deliver experiences so memorable that their customers feel compelled to share them. But ask any of them how they do it, and you will quickly learn that the ART of EASY really isn’t EASY at all―or we would all be doing it!

The most common business challenge stems from underestimating the complexity of simplicity, which can be devastating to the customer’s experience. EASY is an ART. And it requires a deep understanding to get the right results―understanding of your business and of your customer, which can be applied in your cultural skills. Your canvas is the combination of every engagement channel you have where the picture of your brand gets painted. Your pallet of colors is the collection of your people, knowledge and data. Your brushes are the technologies that blend all together. In order to make “EASY”, beautiful and repeatable, you need solutions that provide a paint by numbers approach.

In this six part blog series, we will help guide you in managing the complexity of your customer service business challenges, while avoiding the common pitfalls, and deliver the type of great experiences that your customers will want to share with others. Experiences that are easily repeatable by you, and hard for your competitors to replicate. We will show you how Oracle Service Cloud empowers your business to care, take action and succeed in your Web, Contact Center, Knowledge, Policy, and Cloud customer service initiatives, to become a Modern Customer Service organization.

How to Chat Up an Accountant Safely: Social Networking in the Finance Department

Wed, 2014-04-02 10:38

A Guest Post by Ultan O'Broin, Director of User Experience, Oracle Corporation

Seems that baby boomers are now Instagram-ing, WhatsApp-ing and SnapChat-ing just like younger Digital Natives do. How widespread those apps are in the enterprise is another matter, but it’s a reminder never to make assumptions about apps users. Yet, certain job titles do sometimes conjure up a mental picture of how we think some people actually work.

Mention “accountant”, and you might visualize a gray picture of quiet, introspective types, heads down in books and spreadsheets, papers flying, calculators working overtime, phones to their ears begging cash from customers and wiring funds to suppliers, while accounting for all the money. Not terribly social, then? The polar opposite of those freewheeling “Mad Men” sales rep CRM types, out meeting and greeting, getting their message across to make that sale, perhaps? In fact, the finance department is a hive of social activity.

I spoke with David Haimes, Senior Director in Oracle Financials Applications, about the social side of the finance department. David understands the reality of his applications users. “Their most critical time is the 5-10 days after period close when everything has to be closed out and reported”, David told me. “There’s a huge amount of effort and social interaction going on”.

During the close process, David said teams need to exchange information and make decisions as quickly as possible and still satisfy business and legal requirements. Accounting teams were early adopters and heavy users of instant messaging, email distribution lists (with Microsoft Excel spreadsheet attachments), wikis, file sharing workspaces, and of course, the old fashioned telephone. But these tools were external to the financial application and data. The user experience was disjointed. Who works well in a silo? And, there was no audit trail. David has seen accounting teams copying and pasting emails into documents and attaching them to meet that audit requirement.

“The finance department has to make sure everything is correct and legal,” David said. “They’re reporting not just to internal management, but to Wall Street, to tax authorities, and to other legislative bodies. And, since the Sarbanes-Oxley act, CEOs are legally responsible for the correctness of the accounts,” David reminded me. That’s pressure.

Things are even more hectic when you consider the nature of the enterprise financial department today, with its distributed team members with shared service centers offshore and everyone working in different countries and time zones. Everyone needs to communicate and collaborate efficiently, yet securely and transparently.

That’s where Oracle Social Network is a financial department win. 

  • Oracle Social Network conversations are tied to business objects and transactions, enabling finance teams to easily share and collaborate in a role-based way. 
  • Oracle Social Network conversations are auditable (which is “usually the first question I’m asked,” says David). 
  • Oracle Social Network conversations are searchable.
  • Oracle Social Network is secure, with users with the right permissions working together on information stored in an Oracle database. 
  • Oracle Social Network is integrated with Oracle Financials applications, so the user experience is  streamlined.

“[Oracle Social Network] is a game changer in the finance department,” says David, not just for the closing period but also for daily financial activity. And, Oracle Social Network is available as a cloud service, with iOS and Android mobile apps versions too.

With the Oracle Social Network user experience in the finance department, Oracle also satisfies today’s workforce that expects social networking tools to be as much a part of their work lives as their personal lives. Said David: “Younger users are already familiar with how social networking sites work and how they’re easy to use, and that’s the sort of user experience we need to reflect. It’s demanded.”

Having a social networking application as part of the job makes hiring and onboarding easier too, offering benefits right across the enterprise. And it’s not only Digital Natives or Millennials who easily take to integrated social networking in work. Even senior users now see the benefits.

Socializing the finance department with Oracle technology is an example of how a great user experience can engage workers, accelerate performance and efficiency, deliver productivity for business while meeting the consumer technology demands of end users, and satisfy the requirements of stakeholder user groups such as other departments, auditing and security teams, tax authorities, reporting agencies, shareholders, and so on.

Read more about socializing the finance department on the Oracle Applications blog and David’s blog (a bookmark must) too. And, check out what the Oracle Social Network Cloud Service now offers and how it benefits your users and business.