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Updated: 46 min 54 sec ago

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.

Hello Oracle Applications Cloud Enthusiasts

Wed, 2014-02-26 15:09

A Guest Post by Vice President Jeff Caldwell, Oracle Applications Development

We want to help you prepare for Release 8 of Oracle Applications Cloud with a Release 8 Readiness page.

This upcoming release includes more than 400 new, modern business-empowering features, which you can learn about in the following preview content:

Spotlights: These webcasts, delivered by Oracle Development, spotlight top-level messages and product themes. They are reinforced with product demos.

Release Content Documents (RCDs): These summary descriptions provide details on each new feature and product.

What's New: These are expanded discussions of each new feature and product; you'll find capability overviews, business benefits, setup considerations, usage tips, and more.

Check the Release 8 Readiness page, often, as new training material and spotlights will be added over the coming weeks. You can also access the content at under the Resources menu.

That’s a Wrap for the Second Annual Oracle Value Chain Summit

Wed, 2014-02-19 09:17
A Guest Post by Rick Jewell, Senior Vice President of Applications Development, Oracle (pictured left)

The second annual Oracle Value Chain Summit held in San Jose, CA, concluded earlier this month, and by all accounts, it was a resounding success.

We welcomed more than 2,100 customers, partners and industry analysts from 27 different countries to the event this year. In fact, customer attendance was nearly 60 percent higher than the previous year, a clear testament to Oracle’s growing momentum in the supply chain industry. From the beginning to the end, there was a palpable energy amongst the crowds in sessions, demo areas and networking receptions.

Business users chose from more than 200 sessions from different supply chain tracks, including, 150+ customer speaking sessions, as well as keynotes that featured Oracle President Mark Hurd and best-selling author Geoffrey Moore.

Mark’s keynote covered a lot of interesting points as he explained how the combination of globalization, the explosion of data, mobility and more demanding customers has made the supply chain more complex than ever. Organizations are balancing the need to control costs while meeting customer demands; and as Mark highlighted, consumers are now more sophisticated. A missed delivery date can result in not only loss of sale, but now thanks to social, a reputation nightmare. A staggering 26 percent of customers will post negative feedback about products online.

Along similar lines, I presented the idea of the customer-centric supply chain and planning. In a time where it has become even harder for organizations to differentiate themselves, organizations can no longer focus on just ensuring inventory is there when customers need it, but also the need to optimize the overall customer experience in order to stand out in the crowd.

This is just a slice of what we talked about at the event. Presentations and collateral from the Oracle Value Chain Summit are now available for download at: Use the password: ovcs2014

If you missed the event and are eager to hear how Oracle is keeping the supply chain moving at the speed of business, you can always catch the European Value Chain Summit taking place March 18 & 19 in Amsterdam. Otherwise, stay tuned for details about next year’s Oracle Value Chain Summit.

"It’s All About People,” says Larry Ellison at San Francisco CloudWorld

Fri, 2014-02-07 17:19

Oracle's CEO Larry Ellison (pictured left) delighted the audience at CloudWorld in San Francisco with an unexpected appearance ─ and left the audience with some quotable gems in his presentation on How HR leaders are Embracing the Cloud.

“The two most important apps in a modern enterprise are HCM and CX — taking care of employees who take care of customers.”

Ellison said it was important for him to talk about HCM at San Francisco CloudWorld to “demonstrate Oracle's approach to HCM and how different it is from Workday. Workday doesn’t have social built in. Oracle HCM Cloud shows a modern paradigm. Everyone uses it in an organization. It manages a company’s most precious asset: its people.”

In response to a question from the audience about competitors, Ellison said, “it must be SAP because they’re the biggest in the world. Ten years ago we started [writing modern applications]. SAP hasn’t started yet. It bought Talent Management and a procurement company and probably more, but 99 percent of the business is ERP and they haven’t started. So we can’t think of them as a competitor. There are cloud competitors ─ the new generation companies, like Salesforce, but we sell a complete suite.”

Ellison had a detailed reply for the person from the audience who asked if Oracle was late to the cloud. ”I think I started the first cloud company (NetSuite), so how could Oracle be late to the cloud?” he asked. He went on to explain that shortly after NetSuite, Oracle started Fusion to rebuild all apps for the cloud. It sells application suites to big organizations like General Electric and Bank of America ─ and building apps for that marketplace is a big job. Development is, by and large, finished (though we’re never really done). It took almost 9.5 years. So Oracle comes to the cloud with a suite, but it’s not just the apps layer; it’s the database and middleware too, because Oracle is a platform and infrastructure supplier in the cloud. He ended by saying, “You can say we’re late, but it’s not because we started late. It was just an enormous task.”

On Oracle selling to smaller companies, Ellison says, “the great thing about cloud is you implement faster and it costs less. So all at once our products are applicable to smaller companies. We have lots more market to pursue. We’re seeing companies that wouldn’t have considered Oracle 10 yrs ago using Oracle today.”

You can get more details about Ellison's presentation in this article from Forbes.

Oracle Cloud—The Modern Cloud for Your Modern Business

Thu, 2014-02-06 18:58

People listen to EVP Steve Miranda from Oracle Applications Development (pictured left) because he’s a credible thought leader. He says things that are worth repeating. Here are some nuggets from his keynote at Oracle CloudWorld in San Francisco.

Miranda says we too often talk about the cloud in technical terms; instead, we should talk about the cloud in business benefits.

For example:

  • A quick go live means lower costs and faster returns
  • Easy and frequent upgrades give access to more innovation
  • Safe data and access to it leads to trusted and secure operations
  • Employees expect an experience
  • Managers need immediate info pushed to them
  • Customers demand performance and want to interact with a modern technology

Moving to the cloud delivers all that and more.

What do cloud customers want? Miranda says they want great functionality, be it CRM, HCM, ERP, or SCM. They want a brilliant user experience. And they want immediate value.

What are cloud customers not willing to wait for? They can’t wait for corporate IT requirements. They can’t wait for long implementations. They can’t wait for upgrades. And they can’t wait for each other, meaning they are discovering that sharing information in silos and across LOBs is difficult.

Oracle built a suite of applications and then supplemented it with key acquisitions. Miranda uses three words to describe it: personalized (tens of thousands of customers told us what they need as we built these apps), connected (we believe every app should have a social aspect), and secure (we don’t commingle customer data, we offer data residency, and all centers are operated by Oracle).

Oracle has a modern cloud for modern business. It’s worth checking out.

How One Savvy Leader Used Oracle Solutions To Transform An Organization

Mon, 2014-02-03 12:11
In print and in person, Sandy Begbie comes across as likable, smart, accomplished, and persistent. He seems like the ideal person to lead a company’s large transformation project, especially one geared toward serving the customer.

In an interview with David Essex from Search Financials Applications, Begbie shares the challenges he faced at Standard Life plc, a Scottish insurance and investment company, founded in 1825.

There were large divisions on several continents.

The company had 15,000 employees who were set in their ways.

It was not a customer-driven organization.

Begbie tackled the transformation by cutting a few thousand people from the payroll and gave the leaner workforce modern tools to align career development with new business objectives.

He took the company live on Oracle Talent Management Cloud (Fusion).

Begbie says, “the automation enabled by the Oracle system has allowed Standard Life to reform its entire talent management process.”

Now they have standardized job descriptions.

Now it’s easier to change goals and track progress.

Now there’s greater visibility into the performance-review process.

“It makes managers more accountable and shows employees how their performance is taken into account,” Begbie said.

In March, Begbie will oversee the switch to more cloud-based Taleo Management solutions from Oracle, specifically Taleo Recruit and Taleo Learn, because, he says, “we do believe Taleo Recruit is the best recruitment system in the marketplace.”

We recommend you take the time to read the entire interview. It’s a wonderful composite of a savvy leader using Oracle solutions to transform an organization. It is also a perfect lead in to Oracle HCM World in Las Vegas, February 4-6.

What to Expect at the Oracle Value Chain Summit

Thu, 2014-01-16 09:50

A Guest Post by Rick Jewell, Senior Vice President of Applications Development, Oracle (pictured left)

With Oracle Value Chain Summit right around the corner, I’m getting excited thinking about all the great things this supply chain event offers. So I wanted to take some time to highlight why you won’t want to miss this annual event:

1.    Exciting presenters! Not only will Oracle President Mark Hurd and best-selling author Geoffrey Moore be speaking, but attendees will also hear from featured Gartner analyst Jane Barrett and senior executives from customers, including Sonic Drive-In’s Jim Lebs and GE Appliances’ Kevin Uhls, on how they are making their supply chains modern value chains.

2.    Great content. With more than 200 sessions, the Oracle Value Chain Summit will cover virtually every aspect of the value chain, including Product Value Chain (PLM), Procurement, Maintenance, Manufacturing, Value Chain Execution and Value Chain Planning.

3.    New topics! This year, the Cross Value Chain Solution Area will feature business best practices, and sessions on new technologies and trends that cover issues across the entire value chain, including value chain topics related to Oracle E-Business Suite.

4.    See it in action! Best-in-class technology will be on display so you can learn how to deliver operational excellence, manage risk, streamline your production cycle, increase customer satisfaction and drive profit.

5.    Hands-on experience. Develop value chain strategies by testing your ideas and getting invaluable advice from the experts in several of the intensive hands-on workshops.

6.    Innovation in the supply chain. Learn how to leverage the latest technologies, including, mobile, cloud and advanced analytics, to build an information-driven value chain.

7.    Fun! Come and network with the brightest professionals in the supply chain industry.

What are you waiting for? If you’re looking for an effective way to build your team’s knowledge, enhance your professional network and find a little excitement, register today and we’ll see you February 3-5 in San Jose.

Investing in Our Customers: A Winning Strategy

Thu, 2014-01-16 09:32

A Guest Post by Jeb Dasteel, Senior Vice President and Chief Customer Officer, Oracle (pictured left)

Focusing on the customer experience is one of the wisest investments a company can make. A 2012 report by Temkin Group[1] found that even modest improvements in the customer experience can yield hundreds of millions in additional revenue each year. More important is the direct and strong correlation between the customer experience and loyalty—including the gold standard: willingness to recommend a company to others.

At Oracle, we’ve taken this research to heart as we maintain our focus on optimizing the customer experience across multiple interactions, touch points and channels throughout the relationship lifecycle. Our programs are built on the tripod of listening, responding, and collaborating.

Last week we were honored to have been named as one of five Temkin Group 2013 Customer Experience Excellence Award (CxE) winners, alongside renowned global brands AIG Asia Pacific, Cisco, Intuit and EMC. Temkin also named six finalist—Adobe, Cox Communications, Findel Education Resources, Fiserv, Rackspace and UMB Bank. The annual awards are based on efforts to transform the customer experience, improve business and customer results and the sustainability of all those efforts.

Oracle received recognition for our efforts to develop a comprehensive understanding of our customers’ interactions and experiences with us. Intuit, renowned for its solutions that simplify business management and payroll processing, personal finance, tax preparation and filing, has focused on continually improving its processes, services and support to anticipate customer needs. Temkin applauded Cisco’s Ease of Doing Business (EoDB) philosophy that inspires innovative solutions that simplify complex communication, networking and collaboration issues for organizations. Global insurance provider AIG Asia Pacific is in the midst of an expansive service culture transformation. It is focusing on turning its team into enthusiastic customer experience promoters. Data storage provider EMC is working to fine tune its data-driven approach to improving customer and partner experience.

CX is a continuous journey at Oracle. We have significantly increased customer satisfaction across the customer lifecycle, where we’ve seen a three-year positive trend in customer loyalty index and likely-to-recommend metrics. During the same period, we’ve resolved issues identified through our ongoing customer surveys three times faster. We also have more than 7,300 active and involved customers on our product advisory boards and executive strategy councils, and have seen a 7 percent increase in customer references over the last two years.

The investments we make in our customer programs are significant and the results are making a difference. We know that if we invest in very specific programs and in the different ways we engage with the customer, we see measurable increases in satisfaction. The entire effort absolutely pays for itself and is becoming a core tenet of our culture.

We are honored that Temkin Group has recognized Oracle for our efforts and included us in this group of global leaders, and we extend our congratulations to all of this year’s Temkin CxE winners and finalists.

[1]Temkin, Bruce. “Temkin Group Insight Report: The ROI of Customer Experience,” March 2012.

Is Customer Experience All About Technology?

Tue, 2014-01-07 16:31

A Guest Post by Esteban Kolsky, industry influencer (pictured left)

For the final post of this four-part series, we undertake the most interesting (and maybe the most confusing) topic of the entire project.

To refresh your memory, we are exploring what it means to implement a customer experience initiative at your organization. We started by discussing who owns the customer experience,followed by a discussion of the people considerations surrounding an implementation, and then the process demands of doing so. We are now going to discuss the technology requirements necessary to adopt a customer experience initiative.

Remember, this series is all about asking key questions about each topic and using the answers to generate a framework to help adopt the initiative or project to deploy customer experience. Thus, here are the four questions related to technology.

First, is technology necessary?

This is the first question you should always, always ask yourself when undertaking a transformation project in your organization. We tend to assume that all these projects depend on technology. After all, most vendors describe wonderful benefits of using technology, and most projects we read or hear about rely on technology. Surely it is necessary, in some form. The answer is not that simple.

There are many parts of changing the customer experience that are not dependent, reliant, or that even need, technology. Some of the experiences your customers expect are not based on more or better technology, but in changing the training plan, or changing a location, or even changing a manual process. There are overlaps between this question (is technology necessary?) and those asked in past posts, so make sure you understand all implications and ramifications of the answers.

Action Items: Undertake an inventory of the critical aspects of your initiative and identify processes that don’t require technology – and put them at the top of the list.

Second, is technology the answer?

In certain situations, technology might be just what you need. You can change your processes and improve the training (as covered in previous posts), but is yours a case where technology is the only answer? Technology can speed up existing processes and outcomes; this acceleration by itself (meaning, nothing else changes) can shine a light on previously non-performing processes that are inefficient. So the addition of technology can be a temporary, short-term solution to getting bogged down processes moving.

Action Item: Identify whether simply adding technology can provide an answer to the imminent problem, and if not, relegate technology to a necessary evil and plan appropriately.

Third, do you need to worry about technology?

At this point, you might be thinking that you can deploy customer experience initiatives without technology. Or, if embracing a better experience is more about changing processes and culture, it will be simple to find and implement the needed technology. Alas, that is the wrong attitude.

Anyone considering a customer experience initiative definitely must be concerned about technology. And that includes the technology that is currently being used, as well as the potentially new technology introduced in the project. As delineated in the previous questions, technology might be part of the answer and thus will need to adapt to the existing problem and the potential solution. This adaptation and the ancillary work to do it could be pivotal for the project; therefore, you should know and understand what technology can do (and has done) for your situation and how to tap into it.

Action Item: identify the technologies that are being used and understand their worry points and addressable solutions.

Fourth, what can technology do for customer experience?

Technology can provide immense value to the well-implemented customer experience initiative. Online surveys and communities, powered by technology, are essential. Analyzing the responses from those tools and deducing insights is done via analytics – another technology. Deploying multi-channel solutions requires channel management and integration tools – more technology. Changing, documenting, and maintaining processes are usually done with technology. The point is that technology is an aid in virtually all actions undertaken for customer experience projects. It is an ancillary item that improves the odds and outcomes of the solution, but is never the solution. That is what technology can do for customer experience.

Action Item: Determine the role technology will play in any customer experience initiative and plan the best way to adopt it as a tool to solve a problem, not as the solution.

We have arrived at the end of this project. We described the people, process, and technology aspects of adopting a customer experience initiative. We answered the question of who should own customer experience projects. And we set up the basic elements to create a framework in all instances of these projects to better plan and adopt long-term successful initiatives.

We successfully accomplished what we set out to do-–create a list of questions that will allow organizations to plan and adopt better customer experience initiatives.

While I am sure there are questions that may be asked differently or items I may have missed, I am pretty confident that using the questions exposed in this series will help you implement a better customer experience project.

What has your experience been in these issues? Something else you can add?

Note: You can respond via my blog or scroll down and leave a reply.