CX Technology, Status and Vision

In a recent and extremely insightful webinar, Gartner shared a few very interesting findings, that show company’s approaches when it comes to investing in technology to support or enable the delivery of (what they hope will be) superior customer experience.

Gartner says that in 2018…

Improved customer experience and loyalty is the top outcome for digital business transformation.

In a survey to CEOs, the answer to the question “What are the top three outcomes your organization has already realized as a result of its digital business transformation?“, almost half of responses mentioned improved interactions, thus loyalty with customers, and improved customer experience.

More than 80% of client calls to Gartner about CRM and CX applications are focused on a specific business requirement for one department, and tend not to have the whole enterprise in scope.

Most of the market leading vendors claim to have a fully integrated CX platform, that can help companies deliver a seamless customer experience. But the truth is those platforms are a mix of various applications – in some cases even built in different technologies.

Different applications for eCommerce, Marketing, Sales, Customer Service, Field Service, Content, etc. that aren’t joined up, don’t share channels (email, chat, web, phone, social) or analytics, and don’t have out-of-the-box connectors to each other, thus require integration efforts.

That is not necessarily a bad thing. Gartner actually states that “No transformational customer experience or CRM initiative succeeds using only one application“. Best-of-breed solutions for the various areas have been developed and built by different technology vendors. What companies need to do is make sure they take a holistic view when architecting their customer engagement hubs.

An estimated 50% of organizations are still thinking of the customer life cycle from an inside-out perspective – focusing on the idea of selling and service cycles, rather than buying and ownership cycles.

Changing technology platforms is always easier than changing a company’s culture or people’s minds. Despite most companies, in particular their CxO’s, are saying that improving customer experience is their main priority, the transformation is attempted with people that struggle to change their mindset.

The famous quote suits like a glove: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results“.

20140725 CX Infinite Loop

At Capventis, the company I work for, we re-designed the CX infinity loop, where “Buy” and “Own” (the customer’s perspective) stand out and are the main focus. Whereas “Market and Sell” or “Support and Serve” (the company’s perspective) is secondary, recognizing nonetheless its importance and impact on customer experience.

Customer Analytics is the top technology for CX investment. By 2020, more than 40% of all data analytics projects will relate to an aspect of customer experience.

Following what we have been saying at Capventis, in this more demanding and ever more sophisticated digital world, Experience is the driver, but Information is the ingredient.

Information, data, analytics are becoming absolutely crucial for the delivery of great customer experience, playing a key role in various areas. Some of which are…

  • Measure customer experiences
  • Blend operational (O-data) and experience (X-data) customer data
  • Prioritise improvements on the customer journey
  • Enable real-time personalised interactions
  • Deliver artificial intelligence and allow machine learning

A Shift will have to happen: Data-Driven Systems to Event-Driven Systems.

Companies are data-driven, and still prioritise the preservation of data, which is the source of truth, and they deliver experiences on the back of the data they’ve collected. Gartner envisions that in the next few years, companies will have to become event-driven, where the priority is reacting to events. According to Gartner, the key components of an event-driven system are:

  • Situational Awareness – Event visibility and context over customer journey
  • Customer Intelligence – Event-driven recommendations and CRM capabilities
  • Real-Time Orchestration – Automate, act and achieve customer experience

Gartner Magic Quadrant “CRM Customer Engagement Centre”

Gartner recently published their latest Magic Quadrant for “CRM Customer Engagement Centre” (CEC), where Oracle Service Cloud is amongst the Leaders.

This magic quadrant, says Gartner, reflects “the growing demand for cloud-based customer service applications to support agents who engage with customers through multiple channels”, but even though there are a few good choices “no vendor offers a suite that meets all global and cross-industry needs”.

The report points out that the selection of SaaS platforms to support complex business processes is increasing, and will become key to all organisations. Gartner envisages “an ecosystem containing at least four types of product will be required to build the ideal CEC, the core of which will be an intelligent system for CRM case management”.

Key, for Gartner, is that this platform has “knowledge-enabled service resolution, social media and community management, interaction assistance tools and service analytics dashboards” as well as tools for both agents and customers, designed on a common platform – and this has Oracle Service Cloud written all over it.

20160501 Gartner Magic Quadrant for CRM Customer Engagement Centre

Oracle Service Cloud is amongst the 5 leaders – alongside Salesforce, Pegasystems, Microsoft Dynamics, and Zendesk – and here are the key strengths Gartner found in Oracle Service Cloud:

  1. offer good cost of ownership
  2. has very good complementary applications, such as for field service, mobile customer service, analytics, co-browsing, policy automation, chat, email and knowledge management
  3. delivered as a subscription service using a cloud model, is straightforward to set up and configure, and does not require deep involvement from IT staff
  4. has a strong global presence

But, for Gartner, not everything is pink when it comes to Oracle Service Cloud, and says that customers “have encountered problems upgrading, performance issues, the need for a Microsoft .NET client”.

The truth is Oracle has addressed these recently, reforming and enhancing their upgrade processes, making it easy and smooth to upgrade, and have invested heavily – since Nov 2014 release – on the Browser UI which will eventually replace Smart Client (.Net client).

Gartner is also worried that it “see no evidence that Oracle is committed to creating more seamless integration with other Oracle business applications”.

Well, the truth is Oracle has not only built seamless integrations between Oracle Service Cloud and other products that are part of the CX Suite (Sales Cloud, Social Cloud), but has invested in the Accelerators (integrate Oracle Service Cloud with CTI, Oracle eBus Suite, Siebel, Sales Cloud), the Cloud Adaptors (integrate Oracle Service Cloud with Oracle Fusion Middleware/SOA suite platform), as well as Oracle Integration Cloud Service (easy integration SaaS-to-SaaS and SaaS-to-On premise).

Lastly, Gartner says it “has seen only emerging evidence of large deployment teams or configuration teams among the largest SI’s and global consultancies (such as Accenture, Capgemini, Deloitte and IBM) for the CEC or traditional contact centre desktop”.

For that, it would be a pleasure to have Gartner visit Capventis and talk to our team that currently supports and implements Oracle Service Cloud in our client’s Contact and Customer Engagement Centres.

Capventis is not a large SI, but a 30 people company whose mission is “To enable exceptional, sustainable value for all our stakeholders – customers, employees, partners and investors – by delivering brilliant solutions for Business Intelligence (BI), Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Customer Experience (CX), using our specialist knowledge and experience. By brilliant, we mean Fast, Innovative, Relevant, Successful”.

A future proof Customer Service solution that delivers outstanding CX

A recent Gartner report talks about “Customer Service Predictions” and gives 4 strategic planning assumptions that Gartner thinks must be followed by those companies that want to succeed by delivering an outstanding Customer Experience (CX).

Gartner’s summary is very clear: “Customer service is (…) the core business strategy to create a winning CX. Great service needs to be consistent across all mobile devices, as well as social and digital media channels. It also needs to be personalized (…)“.

The report outlines that in 2 years’ time…

  • Facebook and Twitter will have their own social media engagement applications for enterprise customer service.
  • At least 60% of the Internet users will opt for mobile customer service applications as their first option.
  • 50% of peer-to-peer community offerings will be packaged and sold alongside Web self-service offerings.

Among the key recommendations from Gartner is the need to have C-level buy-in, design a strategy and build the necessary skills/competencies. But obviously this has to be enabled by technology, and Gartner says: “expect best-of-breed software providers to be a key part of this journey

Oracle owns one of the best – if not The Best – technologies in the area of Customer Service. It is called Oracle Service Cloud (formerly RightNow CX), often recognised as a leader in Customer Service solutions for Small, Midsize and Enterprise organisations.

This technology combines web, social and contact centre experiences for a unified, omni-channel solution in the cloud. And it already addresses most of the things that Gartner is now saying that companies should focus on, probably making it the wisest technology choice.

Oracle Service Cloud social features enable organisations to manage social interactions as a fully integrated part of the CX. Companies can use the “Social Cloud” functionality to monitor and engage their customers via social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Blogs.

From a customer service perspective, Oracle Service Cloud allows a contact centre agent to create an incident (or Service Request) directly from a tweet, a post or a comment, and deal with that customer in his preferred social channel – or take it off-line as and when necessary.

Oracle Service Cloud also has a special Facebook application called “Self-Service for Facebook” that delivers the same exceptional support from other channels right from a Facebook page. And this works both in standard and mobile interfaces.

“Mobile” is another of Gartner’s predictions that Oracle Service Cloud is already prepared to address. The Oracle Service Cloud Customer Portal – that customers use to self-serve, manage accounts or engage with the company – not only provides a superior CX on full-featured browsers, but also includes an out-of-the-box set of pages designed specifically for mobile devices.

The third Gartner prediction is related to peer-to-peer communities. Once more Oracle Service Cloud is a step ahead. It offers community features integrated with its Customer Portal. Actually, it goes even further. It offers two different types of community: Support and Innovation.

The Support Community allows customers to ask questions and find answers in an peer-to-peer-type community, helping themselves and making them feel valued, without adding a single call or email to the company contact centre’s workload (perhaps even lighten it).

The Innovation Community is designed to give customers a voice in the company’s product/service innovation process, so they can help the company identify the new opportunities and bug fixes, or even guide the roadmap, prioritize/refine ideas and develop the next breakthrough.

There is also a very interesting finding in this report. Gartner states that “Many small or midsize businesses (SMBs) and enterprises have still not invested in multichannel customer service strategies and, instead, opt for a conglomeration of point solutions“.

My experience tells me that this is one of the main reasons why many companies strive to deliver a CX that differentiates them from the competition, and allows them to take the leap that will transform the business and make them a solid player in the market.

Oracle Service Cloud is that unified and omni-channel customer service platform that not only addresses today’s challenges and requirements, but is also future proof, offering the features and functionalities that customers are starting to require/expect and will demand in a near future.

Oracle Service Cloud opens bigger gap with TOA Technologies

Oracle Service Cloud is, in my opinion, the best cloud-based customer service solutions and will now open an even bigger gap to the competition, with the addition of features and functionalities from TOA’s solutions – after Oracle announced the acquisition of TOA Technologies, leader in cloud-based field service solutions.

For some companies, and customers, field service is a critical aspect of customer service…

From a customer perspective, we know how painful it is to be at home waiting for our internet provider’s technician, that never arrives to fix our problem. Or how annoying it is to stay home an entire morning waiting for the delivery service that is due to arrive between 8 AM and 1 PM!

From a company perspective, we know how hard it is to have employees on the road – many of them contractors; delivering products/services; on schedule or responding to unexpected demands – and being able to manage, monitor or communicate with them. Trying to make everything more efficient and cost effective.

TOA Technologies’ solution were built to manage and optimize field services, by coordinating activities between dispatchers, mobile employees and their customers. Enabling real-time monitoring of service requests coming through the contact centre, allowing the routing and assignment of the right employee to dispatch, predicting service windows with accuracy, letting employees on the road collaborate in real-time and communicate with customers via any channel.

The solution seems to be mature and proved. Tagged as the best by Gartner – in the Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Field Service Management: “TOA is a best-of-breed field service optimization vendor based solely in the cloud” – and used with success in companies like E.ON, Orange, Ricoh, Telefónica, John Lewis, Virgin Media, Bupa or Vodafone.

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Field Customer Service - Oct 2013

TOA stands for “Time of Arrival”, and that should mean everything, for companies and customers. Reduce overtime, miles driven, cancellations and waiting time. Increase job completion rate and customer satisfaction.

Currently, TOA has three main solutions: ETA Direct Professional, ETA Direct Enterprise and ETA Workforce (for salesforce.com users). Let’s wait and see if TOA will remain a separate product or if its functionalities will be completely integrated or immersed in Oracle Service Cloud.

toa1