Alt-Tab or ⌘-Tab is not an integration

It was almost 10 years ago that I visited a Tesco Customer Engagement Centre in Dundee (Scotland) and another one in Cardiff (Wales). Tesco is the 3rd-largest retailer in the world. The company turns over more than 60 billion GBP, employs 450,000 people, and (at the time) had almost 20 million Tesco Club Card customers.

Of those employees, 2,000 were customer service representatives (aka “agents”) working in those two locations and from home (c. 300). They were receiving tens of thousands of contacts every day, via phone, email, chat, social media, etc. And despite their high Average Handling Time (AHT) they had a low Customer Satisfaction (CSAT).

i.e. they were neither being efficient, nor resolving customer’s issues.

I had been in several contact-centres before, but this was the first time I realised how Herculean was the task performed by customer service reps. Each one of them had a phone, a headset, a keyboard, a monitor. And in that monitor I counted circa 15 different applications opened. One of them was a web-browser with several tabs open.

Among the applications were: CRM (home-grown), Commerce (from Oracle), Fraud & Finance (undisclosed), ERP (various home-grown and off-the-shelve), Chat (from Bold), Telephony (from Cisco), CTI (for telephony), Workforce Management (from Verint), Email (MS Outlook), Collaboration (MS Lynch), Knowledgebase (various wikis and MS SharePoint pages), Scanning (MS Document Imaging), and more apps like a Notepad (and all of them also had a physical notepad and pen by their keyboard).

And in the web-browser, the various tabs had opened the various Tesco websites (for clothing, wine, groceries, mobile, etc.), Tesco internal portals, Google, and at least 9 different tabs for delivery company pages like Yodel, Hermes, Mojo, DPD, Ceva, Metapack, Middlewich, Click-Spares, FIRA.

I sat down with a few of their agents, watching them deal with customer contacts. I could not believe the amount of effort they had to put, only to reply to a question that had a straightforward answer. And the unbelievable pain they had to go through when the enquiry was not simple to resolve.

And I noticed in their keyboards, how the “Alt” and “Tab” label had disappeared from those keys. Such was the amount of time they flicked through screens. It was actually difficult for me, at the start, to keep up. My eyes were aching – and I was only watching, not even trying to read a thing.

The truth is almost 10 years later, many companies still work like this. And research has shown that 20% of customer service agents time is spent searching for data in the various siloed systems (be it customer, transactional, or operational data, as well as knowledge to resolve queries).

Companies need to have different systems to store and process different types of data. And companies need to have different applications to manage and analyse that data. Actually, the bigger the company, the likelier it is the need to have a complex tech-stack and architecture.

However, what companies don’t need, is to ask their front-line employees to go through hell, logging into and using all those systems, whilst on the phone with a frustrated, hopeless, or angry customer. Agents need to focus on empathising with the customer and focusing on resolving the problem.

Customer service teams need ONE simple and easy-to-use application / user interface that provides:

  1. unified conversation-focused workspace
  2. channel-agnostic workflow
  3. quick and easy channel-switch
  4. contextual knowledge at the fingertips
  5. interface to surface data from back-end systems

Off-the-shelve software applications already offer most (if not all) of the above. The challenge doesn’t lie with technology. On the contrary, technology is available to resolve that challenge and support the needs of companies, employees and customers.

What companies need to do is stop thinking that Alt-Tab or ⌘-Tab is an integration and invest in providing their employees the one tool that will allow them to become more efficient and effective, ultimately delivering a better customer service and experience.

Reduce backlog and improve productivity with “Bump-Bump-Solve”

In a time where customer service and support teams are being flooded with queries and requests, it is important that technology helps not only improve productivity, but also the experience delivered.

Examples like the one below allow technology platforms like Zendesk to take care of repetitive tasks, automating where possible, and freeing up customer service for key customer interactions and conversations.

This demo and video was built and recorded by my colleague Matt Brown – Senior Consultant at Capventis, with 15 years experience in Support Management, and leading the Zendesk enablement and implementation for our customers.

Opportunity Management and Add-ins in OSvC BUI

It was great news when Oracle announced the launch of the Oracle Service Cloud (OSvC) Browser User Interface (BUI), which finally gave more flexibility to the users and allowed them to access the platform from any browser.

Unfortunately, for reasons that do not make too much sense to me, Oracle decided to leave certain functionalities out of the BUI (functionality available in the Dynamic Agent Desktop – the .NET console). Opportunity Management was one of them.

The Opportunity Management functionality allows the management of sales opportunities, and is used by several organisations and thousands of users, who have in OSvC a full-blown customer relationship and engagement management platform.

That is the case in the company I work for, Capventis. We obviously wanted to adopt the BUI, but needed to have complete functionality. We decided to roll out to the service and support teams – as Customer and Incident Management is standard and available.

But then needed to roll out to the sales team, and therefore decided to create the Opportunity Management functionality (for the BUI) ourselves. In that process, we also decided to streamline the process of adding line items to Opportunities.

The truth is the standard Quote functionality never worked for us, and all we wanted was a simple way to add line items to an opportunity. We decided then to create what we called the Breakdown entity (with a Many-to-1 relationship with Opportunity).

This entity allows us to simply select the Type and Sub-Type of product or service to sell, add a Quantity and a Unit price to it. Then a BUI add-in automatically calculates the Total Amount for the line item.

The Opportunity entity is the same that we had (using the standard functionality), but another BUI add-in calculates the total amount of all line items (in the Breakdown entity) and automatically sets the opportunity Forecast Revenue.

Both BUI add-ins were put in place leveraging the BUI Extensibility Framework API which allowed us to develop the necessary JavaScript add-in and code to read and write data from and to the database.

The video shows the fantastic work of our team (in particular Harriet, Gary and Mark) who made it possible for everyone in the company to use the OSvC BUI, whilst making the Opportunity Management functionality even slicker and simpler.

How to catch foreign SPAM

Recently a client was being flooded by incidents that looked like coming from a Chinese account, which was impacting the performance of their contact centre. They asked how could Oracle Service Cloud (OSvC) help them deal with this situation.

The resolution for something like this cannot be easier. You can create an incident business rule that looks into the email header, assesses the character set, and either prevents incident creation, or routes incidents created to a specific queue.

If “Incident.Email Header” matches regular expression “character set name”
Then “Do Not Create Incident” or “assign incident to specific queue”

The “Email Header” field contains a lot of information, including the character set of the email charset=[character set name]. A list of all character sets can be found in the web (for example, here).

It is important to note that for the “Email Header” option to display on the business rule field drop-down, configuration setting EGW_SAVE_EMAIL_HEADERS (found in folder RightNow Common > Service Modules > RightNow Email) must be enabled.


Setting max Live Chat sessions

In the blog post Words that characterise Live Chat, for Consumers and Companies I talk about why Live Chat is so important these days. It is definitely becoming the favourite channel for customers who want to engage with a brand or organisation.

Live Chat is also proving to be one of the preferred channels for those brands and organisations, as it not only seems to increase customer satisfaction, but is also of a much lower cost than any other assisted channel (e.g. phone, email).

One of the main reasons for that is because agents can handle more than one Live Chat session at a time. Best practice says 3 is the ideal maximum number of Live Chat sessions an agent should handle at anyone time, but the truth is it varies.

Senior agents can certainly handle more Live Chat sessions at a time than Junior agents. But Senior agents dealing with complex cases might need to handle less Live Chat session than other agents responding to simple enquiries.

Oracle Service Cloud allows you to set the maximum number of Live Chat sessions on a profile-by-profile basis. But it also allows you to let agents, in the same profile, to change the maximum number of Live Chat sessions for themselves.

Most of you would have noticed the “Max Sessions” attribute in the “Chat Agent Permissionsarea of the Profile, which sets the maximum number of Live Chat sessions that an agent can be engaged in.


But it is also important to understand what is the utility of another attribute: the “Set Max Sessions”. This attribute is what will allow agents to change the maximum number of Live Chat sessions for themselves – within the boundaries of “Max Sessions”.

With the “Set Max Sessions” attribute enabled, agents will be able to navigate to their “Communication Center” options (application button in the upper-left corner) and change the “Maximum Chat Sessions” – but not go over what is set in “Max Sessions”.


If the “Set Max Sessions” attribute is disabled, then the “Maximum Chat Sessions” in the “Communication Center” options will be greyed out, and agents would have to stick to the maximum number of Live Chat sessions set by the administrator.


6 Must-Haves for Agent-Facing Knowledge Base

Every contact centre manager wants – in all honesty, desperately needs – to help agents deliver a much better customer experience. But unfortunately there hasn’t been much originality in the solutions and practices to try and gear them up.

Soft skills training and call scripting are usually chosen to try and make agents deliver a better service, but it hasn’t worked out well. Fresher and smarter approaches are needed to replace these traditional ways. Contact centre managers need to invest in agent-facing knowledge and contextual guidance. Technology is crucial to help enable this.

Most companies have CRM systems able to manage customers, incidents or interactions, but often miss a knowledge base or, even better, a CX platform that would allow the Customer and Case Management capability to be tightly joined up with the knowledge base.

I’ve seen contact centres use Dropbox to store troubleshooting guides, MS SharePoint to build wikis, Google Drive to hold how-to guides, and even gigantic MS Power Point documents with product FAQs and answers. Those tools can give the illusion of an internal and centralised knowledge base, but they are not even close to what needs to be deployed to actually give agents what they need.

A true agent-facing knowledge base needs to have certain capabilities that the aforementioned tools cannot deliver – because they were not actually developed to do so! And the end goal must be to increase agent productivity, and improve key performance metrics (such as FCRR or response time), leading to increase in key customer metrics (such as NPS and CSAT scores).

Here are 6 of the capabilities that a true agent-facing knowledge base must have:

  1. Content creation and authoring – to allow the person responsible for the content (e.g. knowledge rep or manager) to manage content. Create, update or retire. This will enable an easier, faster and controlled deployment of knowledge throughout the organisation.
  2. Categorisation and scoring – for content to be organised, structured, and linked to interaction drivers, as well as dynamically ranked by usefulness. This will enable presentation of the most relevant and effective content first, improving efficiency.
  3. Self-Learning – automatic linking between answers based on search and usage, as well as manual association (by the knowledge rep or manager) of sibling or related answers will help agents find the right answer quicker.
  4. Step-by-step guidance – embedded in knowledge base articles, step-by-step guides give agents the ability to easily and quickly reach the information they need by selecting responses from question branches in guides. Or even, for example, guide customers through a troubleshooting issue.
  5. Usage and management – reporting on the usage and usefulness of each article, as well as the gaps (e.g. keywords search without a match) will allow the knowledge rep or manager to keep a fresh, ever-green, and up-to-date knowledge base.
  6. Keyword, intent and category search – a keyword Google-type search (potentially enhanced by semantic search technology, linguistic dictionaries and advanced algorithms) will match searches to the most relevant content and deliver the right answers immediately.

Legacy OSvC console end-of-life

Some of you might already know, but most people are not aware that the legacy Oracle Service Cloud (OSvC) console is reaching its end-of-life.

From Feb 2017 the only console available in OSvC will be the enhanced console, which was introduced in the May 2014 release, but not adopted by all users.

Therefore all organisations using OSvC that are still using the legacy console are advised to migrate to the enhanced console as soon as possible.

That might be as easy as enabling the enhanced console (see how to Enable the Enhanced Service Console) but it could also require significant effort.

The reason why some didn’t adopt the enhanced console was because customisations (add-ins, integrations…) would stop working, and that would force re-developments.

With the deprecation of the legacy console, there is no alternative and you will have to re-view – and potentially re-develop – configuration and customisations.

Legacy console (left) vs Enhanced Console (right)

Our specialist team, at Capventis, can not only help with a smooth migration/transition to the new console, but also do a health-check and review/amend configurations and customisations.

P.S. – For more information see the official announcement from Oracle in answer id 4814

File Attachments – Open vs Download

As you know Oracle Service Cloud has a capability that allows users to attach files to any object, standard (e.g. contact, incidents) or custom object.

This causes some security concerns as hackers can attempt to send files with attacks. And despite all attachments are scanned for malware, some hackers could be able to evade detection.

That is why there is a configuration setting that prevents users of Oracle Service Cloud from opening files, and forces them to download the file if they want to open it.

This configuration setting is set to “No” by default in order to protect not only Oracle Service Cloud but also its data.

FATTACH_OPEN_ENABLED is the key/name of the configuration setting, with the following description: “Enables the option to open file attachments in the Oracle Service Cloud Console. If disabled, file attachments can only be downloaded“.


As it says on the description, if this configuration setting is set to “Yes” users will be allowed to open the file directly from the console (having the “Open” link active on the attachments report/control.


But if the configuration setting is set to “No” the “Open” link in the the attachments report/control will be disabled (greyed out) and users will only have the option to download by clicking the “Download” link.


Oracle Service Cloud with LinguistNow in PhotoBox

It was almost three years ago when I first came across a brilliant add-on to Oracle Service Cloud, developed by Language I/O. At the time I wrote a post about it, describing  how it would work for Incident and Answer translation.

A number of months later I posted about the success story of the Answer translation (LinguistHelp) in iRobot.

This time the post is about another success story, but related to the Incident translation (LinguistNow) in PhotoBox.

I would like to outline the words of Chris Gallimore, Customer Support Operations Manager at PhotoBox, who I had the pleasure to meet not long ago: “When LinguistNow came up as an option and was explored, it seemed to tick off a couple of boxes straight away in that it supported all of the languages that we support and had a solution that tied into Oracle Service Cloud”.

Also worth to emphasise… “LinguistNow Response easily fits into Oracle Service Cloud, combining both machine and rapid human translation to allow support agents of any language to respond to customer emails quickly and in their preferred language. Together, PhotoBox and Language I/O are able to successfully support customers in eleven languages. When a support agent responsible for one specific language is unavailable, another agent is able to easily service his or her customers in their language, in just a few clicks, via the LinguistNow tool”.