Browser UI in the Nov 2014 release

browserui

It’s been a long time since a part of the Oracle ecosystem (customers, partners, employees, advisers) started being vocal about a browser based user interface (UI) for the Oracle Service Cloud Agent Desktop.

There were many reasons for this. Among those were…

  • The Agent Desktop thick client had to be installed in every machine
  • The Agent Desktop was based on Microsoft .NET technology
  • The Agent Desktop look & feel was very similar to Microsoft Outlook
  • The stronger competitors all have browser based user interfaces

In my opinion some are pertinent, others not so much. The click-once deployment makes it easy to install the Agent Desktop. The .NET client is much faster, efficient and flexible than a browser based UI - how do you access Facebook, Gmail or online banking in your smartphone or tablet? via the browser or via an app? App… obviously! Get it?.

Also, what the competition does (even if all of them do) is not necessarily the right or best thing. Did the most successful companies and man follow others or believed in their own idea? And if the technology and framework is good (.NET) why change it? – ok, I accept if the reason is standardisation. On top of that, if the look & feel is familiar, the adoption rate is naturally high.

Anyways, the browser based UI for the Oracle Service Cloud Agent Desktop has been on the roadmap for a while, and it is going to become available in the Nov 2014 release, despite it is on its first steps.

The browser UI will come with some basic but important functionality. This first iteration will bring some Service functionality for Customer Service staff, giving them the ability to view, manage and fill their inbox. Users can work on incidents as well as create, read, update Contacts, etc.

Custom Fields can be displayed in the workspaces but workspace rules or workflows will not be supported for the time being. Add-ins like CTI or Chat media bars, or Sales and Marketing functionality are also not supported, but are obviously on the browser UI roadmap.

The browser UI is not intended to replace the Dynamic Agent Desktop console. At least not for the time being or the coming releases. In my point of view, it will only serve to address those mobility and accessibility challenges for a few customers and customer service staff.

Improving CX… What vs How

The advent of internet, mobile and social media transformed the way we live and interact with our family and friends. And we now expect to use the same means and devices to interact with companies. That changed the world of business.

It is now a hyper-competitive world, where companies are no longer competing within the boundaries of their cities, regions or countries. They now have to go head-to-head with companies from all over the world.

A new breed of customers emerged on the first decade of the 21st century. People that are always connected, better informed, extremely demanding and constantly sharing. From anywhere, at anytime, using any device.

To satisfy this type of customer, companies are looking to improve the Customer Experience (CX) they provide. And for that they are listening to what CX gurus have to say. Amongst many opinions, some are very common:

a) “Be where your customers are” – meaning, you should be on social media. Create a Facebook page and Twitter profile, etc.

b) “Customers prefer text-enabled conversations” – meaning, you should open new channels. Offer Live Chat, SMS, etc.

c) “Be trustworthy and transparent” – meaning, provide a service that makes your customer love and be loyal to you.

This is great piece of advice. It tells companies “What” they should do. But it does not tell them “How” they should do it. So many companies get stuck not knowing how to go about this “improving CX” stuff. Many questions arise…

a) What happens after I go to social media and a crisis comes in my direction? How can I manage or even prevent that?

b) Are the new channels going to overload (even more!) my contact centre? Do I need to hire more agents to deal with chat and SMS?

c) How can I, as a company, build trust? Moreover when conversations are increasingly less face-to-face or voice? I can’t even build a human rapport!

This is where technology can help. But be careful! Without a proper consulting exercise, and a specialist support, companies tend to get it wrong. They usually go and buy new (and cheap) application(s) to cope with the need.

Invariably this leads to failure. It only makes companies increase head count in the contact centre, increase disruption between teams/departments/channels, and consequently deliver a poorer service, ultimately loosing customers’ trust.

Technology is like a nuclear weapon – when in wrong hands… What companies need is to work alongside business solutions specialists that know the various options in the market and how to align the technology with the business. Finally complementing the “What” with the “How”.

A customer-centric/omni-channel strategy and platform needs to be put in place. That platform should be able to receive and manage interactions regardless of the channel, in order to allow agents to work cross-channel.

It should enable proactive, consistent and authentic interactions, that ultimately drive trust. It should allow companies not only to be where their customers are but also to monitor and engage them via their preferred channel.

It should give means to better communicate via these new channels, and collect all data and information necessary for agents to better know who, when and how they are talking to, delivering a truly personalised and convenient service.

Versioning of Answers with VersionCX from Ideqa

Oracle Open World 2014 was very fruitful to me. From an Oracle Service Cloud perspective, it was really great. a) I had the chance to confirm some of the great features and functionalities in the roadmap, and b) I was able to get in touch with people/companies that work everyday to improve the customer and user experience of those who interact with Oracle Service Cloud.

One of those companies is Ideqa. A New Zealand-based company, that focuses on CX and partners with Oracle for the implementation of Oracle Service Cloud. But they were not satisfied with what the product had to offer, and went on to build a very clever functionality: VersionCX, which helps companies manage versioning of Answers in the Knowledge Base.

VersionCX is an add-in for Oracle Service Cloud that allows companies to store historical versions of Answers. This will allow knowledge managers to consult or roll back to prior versions if necessary (for business or even legal reasons). VersionCX also allows the scheduling of Answers.

But the coolest thing about VersionCX is that the new/updated version of the Answer always takes the original ID, which means that a) the Answer retains its score and historical usage, and b) ensure the embedded URLs and Google searches continue to return the correct result.

VersionCX-Image

To know more about VersionCX (prices, packs) visit Ideqa’s website.

Kodak faced 3 challenges and chose Oracle Service Cloud

Kodak is one of the most well know companies in the world, when it comes to imaging solutions. Over the years, Kodak has acquired a number of other companies. This was a big challenges with regards to the way they serviced their customers. Mainly because all these businesses they acquired used different systems and ways of servicing their customers. Kodak needed standardisation and consolidation, alongside capability and scalability.

Challenge #1 – To have a 360-degree view of the customer
Kodak “did not have an enterprise-wide view of its customers“. Kodak needed “to standardize its customer relationship management (CRM) environment across its business-to-business (B2B) operations

Challenge #2 – Consolidate knowledge across the business
Each business that Kodak acquired had “its own service system and knowledge base“. Kodak “wanted to globally consolidate knowledge that resided in more than 40 distinct knowledge bases“.

Challenge #3 – Choose an omni-channel and future proof system
Kodak was looking for a system that would allow the company “to understand how to best serve its customers, manage interactions consistently across all channels, seamlessly transitioning from self service to assisted service when necessary“.

Kodak chose an Oracle solution to address these challenges. Oracle Service Cloud is now the main customer service and customer-facing solution for “Incident Management, Knowledge and Web Deployment“, integrated with the back-office system, SAP, that manages service contracts and entitlements.

See Kodak’s Web Self-Service Portal, deployed by Oracle Service Cloud
See Kodak’s success story on Oracle’s website

The IT System as an scapegoat

Customers with complaints about their gas or electricity service typically have to contact their supplier 6 times before their issue is resolved

A report from the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (OFGEM), that regulates the electricity and gas markets in Great Britain, says that “57% of customers who had complained were not satisfied with the response“.

OFGEM’s CEO, Dermot Nolan, said that the research findings were “frankly awful” and approached the energy company bosses demanding an audit to their complaint handling processes, and improvements in their Customer Service, by being proactive, better communicate and quicker in response.

Customer satisfaction was particularly low with Npower and Scottish Power, who blamed the installation of a new IT system, saying that the transition had been “challenging” and claimed to have recruited more than 250 extra staff to deal with the problems.

Now this is something interesting: a) The report’s findings are not breaking news. Energy sector companies have been laggards when it comes to Customer Experience, and the results are out there – see image below; b) The excuse used by that Scottish Power is recurrent. Given by internal Managers to the Board, and by the Board to the public.

I truly believe that Scottish Power – as well as all the other companies that try to improve their Customer Experience by the introduction of new technology – face a real challenge. But it’s so easy to blame the “IT System” because it is not a person and cannot defend itself.

As a Consultant, specialised in Customer Management (CRM/CX) solutions and working with companies to implement those, I ask: What about the people that chose and bought the “IT system”? The people who designed and managed its implementation? The people who actually implemented it? The people that planned and managed the change?

“IT System” implementation failures are common. But it’s not the “IT System” fault, is people’s fault! Because people forget to focus on Customer and User Experience. Because people forget to put themselves on the shoes of the customer, and analyse his/her journey, in order to have an outside-in perspective of their internal processes and procedures.

Because people forget that such a project should be owned, led and managed by the business (not by the IT department), and implemented with the business. Because people forget to start by the desired outcomes and get it wrong when it comes to scoping. Because people assume that the project has to be big, long and complex, with a big-bang deployment.

Because people build an “IT System” rather than a “Business Solution”. Because people try to adapt their business to the technology, and not the other way around. Because people try to shove all siloed departments into a monster “IT System”, rather than having a broader and strategic approach, re-designing processes and changing the way they do things.

Technology and IT Systems are the best way to improve Customer Experience. They can enable omni-channel, quick, consistent and proactive communications. They can provide a 360-degree view of the customer. They can offer an end-to-end view of the customer journey. But they need to be handled with care, by people who have the right knowledge, experience, specialism and skills.

energy_companies

Oracle Service Cloud with LinguistNow, by iRobot

iRobot was founded in 1990 by MIT roboticists. The company designs and builds robots for home usage, like vacuum cleaner, floor scrubbing, floor mopping. iRobot has a $500 million revenue, 500+ employees, and sold more than 6 million robots in 60 countries.

Customer Service is very important to iRobot. To manage that, and engage with their customers, iRobot implemented Oracle Service Cloud. The Oracle Service Cloud Customer Portal and Knowledge Base are behind one of the key parts of customer service, web self-service.

iRobot has 6,000 FAQs in the Oracle Service Cloud Knowledge Base and the need to translate and organise them all in order to better serve non-English speaking clients around the world. That was obviously a massive task for a company which core business is robots, rather than translation.

After consulting Oracle iRobot went to Language I/O and implemented their LinguistNow Help product, which seamlessly integrate with Oracle Service Cloud (integration validated by Oracle) in order to translate all the answers/articles in the Oracle Service Cloud Knowledge Base.

Over one year ago I wrote a post about this great product. Today, I share the below video. It is a webinar where iRobot gives their testimony regarding the Oracle Service Cloud / LinguistNow power.

Customer Support in any language from Language I/O on Vimeo.

Oracle Service Cloud Roadmap

The usual quarterly releases have brought many great improvements to Oracle Service Cloud, in terms of functionality enhancements or new features. But there is still more to come in the next releases. The Oracle roadmap for Oracle Service Cloud has a lot of new stuff for the coming 12-18 months, of which I highlight:

Virtual Assistant

  • Enhancements to the VA will improve the conversation. More than being able to chat with the customer, the VA will suggest questions & answers based on the web visit.
  • A tighter integration between both products – Oracle Service Cloud and Oracle Virtual Assistant (formerly known as Intent Guide) – will make it easier to integrate and will allow shared admin (currently, to configure VA admins have to use different UI / login).
  • VA will be available to be used in any web page, by the use of a Syndicated widget. Currently it can only be used in Oracle Service Cloud Customer Portal pages.

Community

  • A tighter integration between both products – Oracle Service Cloud and Oracle Service Cloud Community - will allow shared admin (currently, to configure Communities admins have to use different UI / login).
  • Oracle Service Cloud and Oracle Service Cloud Community will use the same structure (taxonomy), which means that answers in the Knowledge Base and in the Community forums will have same categorisation. This will improve search results.
  • The communities (Support and Innovation) will be available not only in the Oracle Service Cloud web Customer Portal but also for mobile devices.

Syndicated Widgets

  • To add to the current Chat (re and proactive), Knowledge and Surveys widgets, more syndication widgets will be made available for social, incident management, polling, etc.
  • These new widgets will also bring more power to the developers and admins, offering more control in terms of when and how widgets display.
  • Last but not least, developers will have the possibility to create Custom Syndicated Widgets, in order to create business-specific / requirement-specific widgets to be used outside the Oracle Service Cloud Customer Portal.

Skills Based Assignment

  • The May 2014 release of Oracle Service Cloud brought this great new feature, that applied to the incidents coming from the Chat channel, making it possible to route incoming chats to agents based on their specific language, product skills and workload. In the roadmap Oracle states the intention to expand this feature to other channels.

Oracle Social Network

  • The August  2014 release introduced internal collaboration by integrating Oracle Social Network (OSN) with Oracle Service Cloud. In the roadmap is enhances functionality that will allow prioritised incident collaboration, and expert locator (based in categorisation), as well as make this available on mobile devices.

Dynamic Agent Desktop

  • The greatest and more pressing (in my opinion) thing is also in the roadmap and everyone is looking forward to have it. It is the new browser UI (i.e. the Dynamic Agent Desktop thin client). According to Oracle it will work in any platform and browser (Chrome, Firefox, IE, Safari).
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 89 other followers