We, customers, demand this from you, companies

The world we live in today is a hyper-competitive, hyper-connected and global world, where the advances in technology gave us more options, more access, and made our expectations higher. People changed their behaviours. We are now always connected, always aware, and always sharing.

The key factors for the changing in our behaviours are the speed at which we adopt new technology, the rise of mobile devices, and the emergence of new channels, in particular the explosion in social media and text-enabled apps. This had a huge impact on the way we interact with our friends and family.

And now we are demanding companies, from which we buy products and services, to do the same. To communicate and interact with us the same way we communicate and interact with our friends and family. And to be available when and where we need them and how is more convenient to us.

Many years ago we would go to the brick and mortar store to buy something or look for help. Then we started to buy in store and ask for support via phone or email. Today we use various channels and touch-points during our journey. Researching in store, buying online, asking for support via live chat.

Companies realised this and started to enable multiple channels in order to deliver a cross-channel experience. But most of the times that experience is not good, because all channels are disjointed. Truth is, as new channels came up companies added them over time, typically using different systems and processes.

Furthermore, companies were putting in place different teams to handle interactions and requests coming from the different channels. The ones that didn’t, and tried to cross train all agents and reps, were giving them a herculean task of flicking through loads of different systems when talking to us, increasing the time we waited.

As customers, what we are demanding is an omni-channel experience, where all channels are natively joined up, where it is easy for us to switch between channels, seamlessly transitioning from one channel to the other during a single interaction, quickly and without having to repeat ourselves over and over again.

We want to receive a seamless and consistent experience across all channels. Be able to web self-serve from a mobile app, live chat with an agent if we cannot find an answer, transition to a telephone conversation with the same agent if needs be, and then receive an email confirmation afterwards.

In order to deliver this experience, companies can only do one thing… adopt a true omni-channel platform where all channels (phone, email, web, chat, SMS, white mail, social) are natively joined up. And that encompasses our entire customer journey, from need (Marketing), to purchase (Sales), to support (Customer Service), as well as our voice (Feedback).

There are only a couple of true omni-channel platforms in the market. As most of you know, I’m a big advocate of the Service Cloud platform from Oracle.

Customer Journey Mapping workshop x 4


These past 2 weeks have been great fun. There is nothing like being in the “field”, helping companies being more customer-centric. And that is what a Capventis customer in the Construction industry wanted to do, in order to improve the Customer Experience they deliver.

Customer Journey Mapping is a very good technique that helps organisations identify the customer’s steps and emotions across all stages and touch points. From initial contact, through purchase, to support, and hopefully onto renewal or repeated purchase.

This type of exercise reveals opportunities for improvement and innovation in the customer’s experience. Either it is fixing a bad moment where things went wrong, or capitalising on a good moment where things went really well or as expected.

Teaming up with my colleague Kelvin Brain (@kelvinbrain), we facilitated a series of 4 Customer Journey Mapping workshops, where more than 40 staff came out with great innovations and ideas to improve the way the company treats and services customers.

For the workshops we chose a persona – David, the builder –  and used a business-specific customer journey. In order to achieve better results, we mixed the best of the Stanford University customer journey mapping with our experience and knowledge as consultants.

The day started with everyone in the room sharing some good and bad experiences. Then, we talked about how the world is changing – mainly due to advances in technology and the social media explosion – and how that impacts the way people expect to deal with companies.

With some very good insights on what is Customer Experience, why it is so important these days, and how to deliver/enable it, the audience was ready to dive into the Customer Journey Mapping exercise.

From that moment on it was all fun. Music, colours, loads of post-it notes, red/green dots, strings, great discussions, amazing ideas, outstanding innovations, excellent outcomes. The feedback was great and we look forward to the next steps.

May 2015 release is now available

Customer Content on the Login Screen

So far, the only thing we could do on the login screen was perhaps change the “welcome” message or replace the Oracle Service Cloud logo on the right-hand side by the logo of the company. The May 2015 release give us the ability to include links so we can enrich this entry point with some actionable messages (see image below).


Enhanced Incident Thread Masking

This functionality was introduced in the Nov 2013 release enabling organisations to better comply with internal governance and data privacy issues. Sensitive data, like credit card numbers is automatically masked with the use of patterns/regular expressions matching. These masks are applied to thread data, either entered by the customer or the agent. The data is modified in the database and the UI.

May 2015 release brings additional checks for 13-digit (Visa) and 14-digit (Diners Club) masking logic for credit card number patterns. This way the possibility of false matches is even more reduced.

New Social Monitor Results Report Column

A new column – named “Appended Incidents” – is now available in several Social Monitor reports. This column will have a “Click to View” link to allow the agent to drill down and see the incident(s) to which that particular tweet/post has been manually or automatically appended to. Then, the agent will also have the ability to double-click and open the incident straight away. This will make the navigation and association between social results and incidents much easier.

New Social Monitor Configuration Setting

The May 2015 brings the SOCIAL_MONITOR_CONVERSATION_TRACKING_DEADLINE configuration setting, that specifies the number of days that Oracle Service Cloud will track a conversation after an agent responds to a Social Monitor incident. Once the time period is exceeded, the incident will be removed from the conversation tracking, and any subsequent posts in the conversation will not be auto-appended as threads in the incident.

Service Collaboration

The May 2015 release brings a new collaboration functionality that, as far as I understand it, is somewhat replacing “Forward & Track”. The new service collaboration capability will allow agents to get help and support from third parties or external people that are not users of Oracle Service Cloud.


Those people can be set as users in Oracle Service Cloud, and associated with a Profile that has “External User” setting checked (see image above). Then, those users can collaborate in conversations with agents without being charged for licenses. They won’t be able to use the Dynamic Agent Desktop, but they can access the incident’s detail and message thread, by logging in to the collaboration service directly via a web browser or mobile device.

Advanced Knowledge

Limited to a number of Oracle Service Cloud customers, and still in a “trial” mode, the Oracle Service Cloud Knowledge Advanced capability was made available from this release, integrating in Oracle Service Cloud, some of the capabilities of the Oracle Knowledge product (aka InQuira). Some of those capabilities are related to authoring and intelligent search features like flexible templates, versioning, relationships between articles in multiple languages, search results from documents and other content sources. It also offers highly specialised NLP with pre-packaged industry specific terminology.

Single Sign-On (SSO) Support for External Identity Providers (IdP)

With May 2015 release, external identity providers (IdP) can now be used to log in to Oracle Service Cloud and other service provider (SP) applications, allowing agents to log in once and be authenticated across several SP applications. Similarly, single logout is also supported, for agents to log out of any SP application.


If organisations are using an external IdP, the IdP login page can be embedded in Oracle Service Cloud Login window (see image above). This way, agents can log in without having to do it via a separate login page. After successfully logging in to the IdP, it will generate a SAML token and pass it to Oracle Service Cloud, increasing security, since usernames and passwords are not sent between applications.

Connect REST API

The May 2015 release of Oracle Service Cloud introduces the new Connect REST API, enhancing even more the capability of integration of Oracle Service Cloud with other applications and systems. Representational State Transfer (REST) API is complementary to the other set of APIs already in place, like Connect SOAP API.

For those who are not familiar with it REST is – somewhat like SOAP – an architecture for creating web services. It is, in some cases, an alternative to SOAP and WSDL-based web services. RESTful systems typically communicate over the HTTP, and may be simpler to create and maintain (if you want to know the difference between REST and SOAP, here is a good and short post).

Oracle Service Cloud Connect REST API is a public API that leverages the CCOM version 1.3. It follows the Oracle REST standard and supports CRUD operations.

Connect Common Object Model v1.3

May 2015 release of Oracle Service Cloud introduces version 1.3 of the Connect Common Object Model (CCOM). You can take advantage of this new CCOM version using Connect Web Services for SOAP (Connect Web Services), Connect PHP API, ROQL, and Connect REST API.

The new version of CCOM provides synchronized metadata among Connect PHP API, ROQL, and Connect Web Services, and provides operation-specific metadata in Connect Web Services. Also in CCOM version 1.3, ROQL blacklisting behaviour has been changed so that candidate blacklist queries are allowed to run by default and are subject to further analysis. Fifteen new operations and properties have also been added to CCOM.

Widget Changes on the Customer Portal (CP)

As always, various changes were done to a few widgets in the CP. To review those in more detail access the Framework change log in your CP by navigating to Framework > Framework versions or https://<your_site>/ci/admin/versions/manage/#tab=1&framework=3.2

Some of the changes were applied to the following widgets:

  • utils/CobrowsePremium
  • input/BasicProductCategoryInput
  • knowledgebase/GuidedAssistant
  • notifications/ProdCatNotificationManager
  • output/FileListDisplay
  • input/ProductCategoryInput
  • input/SmartAssistantDialog
  • search/ProductCategorySearchFilter

CXDev Toolbox, by CXDeveloper

Some of you may have already noticed that one of the websites I have in the list of links is the CXDeveloper. This is a website where a couple of Oracle Service Cloud specialists (namely Andy Rowse and Ben Johns) share their extensive knowledge and experience on how to customise and extend Oracle Service Cloud.

They not only give some excellent advice and tips, but also provide to the Oracle Service Cloud community the CXDev Toolbox, an “extensible platform for tools and utilities that support the management, maintenance and development of an Oracle RightNow CX site”.

This toolbox connects to the Oracle Service Cloud environment and allows…

  • Single and multiple Account Import
  • Single and multiple Account Unlock
  • ROQL Testing
  • PHP Stub Generation

Andy and Ben are kind and generous enough to allow everyone to use these for free, and in the future they promise to offer more functionality, like…

  • PTA Testing
  • Object Cleaning
  • Contact Merging
  • CBO Copying
  • Meta Comparison

I would recommend all Oracle Service Cloud admins, developers and consultants to download the CXDev Toolbox as it may be very useful.

Report on Bounced Marketing Emails (Mailings)

Oracle Service Cloud comes with several reports that allow the analysis of the emails sent to customers by the use of the Outreach facilities of the platform. Those out-of-the-box reports track the accuracy of email delivery and show activity and performance for both broadcast and transactional mailings.

They display the number of marketing emails that have been sent and delivered. The number of emails open, links clicked and unsubscriptions requested. The number and percentage of emails that could not be delivered. As well as the types of email bounces that prevented them from being delivered.

This information is grouped by Mailing. i.e. the user can select a particular Mailing and the report shows the above information for that specific Mailing.

This was not enough on one of the projects my team was working on. The requirement was not only to see the number of bounces, but actually be able to identify the name and email address of the person to whom the Mailing was not delivered.

By using a simple join between the Marketing Activities (ma_trans) and the Contacts (contacts) tables, we were able to deliver the report that showed the intended information. See report and definition below.

20150502 Oracle Service Cloud - Bounced Emails by Mailing

Report Definition: Oracle Service Cloud – Bounced Emails by Mailing

Enable the Enhanced Service Console

The May 2014 release of Oracle Service Cloud introduced the Enhanced Service Console (an enhanced UI for the Dynamic Agent Desktop). This enhanced console is faster and more user-friendly, allowing users to undock tabs and move tools windows. It also introduced a new navigation pane on the right-hand side of the content pane, as well as a new concept of sub-tabs.

Despite it has been around for almost 12 months, the Enhanced Service Console has not been adopted by many companies/users yet. I don’t think this is because it is not that good, because it actually is. My guess is that this is due to: a) many companies haven’t upgraded their Oracle Service Cloud platforms to the latest releases; b) those who did, are afraid of the change and customer adoption.

I was also sceptical when it came into play. But now I’m fully convinced of its advantages and benefits. Mainly the undock and sub-tab features. Truth is the new Enhanced Service Console is much more flexible and easy-to-use. And I recommend all admins to try, and roll it out to their users.

If you have a release of Oracle Service Cloud that is previous to Nov 2014 – when the Enhanced Service Console started being provisioned by default – I’m sure some of you will have the same difficulty I had, when trying to enable it. Therefore I will leave you the hint.

The setting to enable the Enhanced Service Console is in the Profile, and needs to be set for all profiles that will use the new console.


1. Go to Configurations > Staff Management > Profiles

2. Select and open the Profile

3. Make sure you are in the “Interfaces” area

4. Click the “Other” tab

5. Set the “Enhanced Console” check box

6. Click “Save and Close”, in the ribbon

7. Logout and log back in again to see the new UI

February 2015 release is now available

Private Messaging for Facebook

The Oracle Service Cloud Social Monitor is a very powerful feature to provide Customer Service over social media. It allows companies to listen, monitor and engage its customers, as well as people that are with the competition and may be unhappy and willing or open to change.

Companies can use the Social Monitor on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and any blog or website with a RSS feed. But so far, private messaging could only be done via Twitter. Facebook was limited to the public feed and the company’s pages or profiles.

Best practice for Customer Service over social media is clear when it comes to a particular type of conversations (e.g. complaints). Companies should acknowledge publicly but take them off-line as soon as possible. For this, private messaging is crucial.

The February 2015 release of Oracle Service Cloud adds this functionality to the Facebook channel. It is now possible to monitor and respond to Facebook private messages, as well as transition between Facebook private and public messages in the same incident.

This also means that companies can now provide end-to-end interactions in all types of enquiries (not necessarily in a complaint scenario), as sometimes people need to share personal information with the Customer Service agent, and don’t want to do it publicly.

Mobile Compatibility for Co-Browse

The Oracle Service Cloud Co-Browse functionality is great for Customer Service over the web, as it enables agents to see what customers are seeing and guide them through web pages or forms, helping them to complete actions. By pointing or taking control.

The November 2014 release of Oracle Service Cloud already brought an enhanced Co-Browse capability, supporting more browsers, more complex browser technology, more platforms, one-click co-browse launching, and custom security.

The February 2015 release of Oracle Service Cloud brings even more enhancements, adding mobile compatibility, enabling customers and agents to co-browse from mobile browsers on any device during a live chat session or phone interaction.

Note: To use the newest version of Co-Browse, Customer Portal Framework Version 3.2 needs to be in place.

More Functionality for Browser UI

The Agent Browser UI was introduced in the previous release. It is still in “beta” mode but Oracle keeps working on it, adding more and more functionality for – what they call – infrequent users. Again, it is not intended to replace the Dynamic Agent desktop.

With the February 2015 release of Oracle Service Cloud users will now be able to access the Knowledge Base when working in an incident, share information with other users (by forwarding or bookmarking incidents), and also display dashboards.

Incident Archiving Improvements

Large companies with millions of customers may get to a point where they have too many incidents in the database, experiencing performance issues. Oracle Service Cloud Incident Archiving allows the archiving of old or outdated incidents.

Basically what this functionality does is it removes incidents from the database and stores them in searchable files. Archived incidents information is made read-only and cannot be updated. This can happen automatically after a certain period of time.

Setting the ARCHIVE_INCIDENTS configuration setting determines when solved incidents are archived. But they can now also be permanently deleted by the use of the new configuration setting: PURGE_ARCHIVED_INCIDENTS.

Draft Incident Responses

Sometimes a user may be working on an incident (e.g. an email response) and need to jump into another task (e.g. a more urgent incident). To avoid having multiple tabs or windows open, the February 2015 release of Oracle Service Cloud allows saving draft incident responses.

A user can craft the response, select cc or bcc addresses, add attachments, etc. and then save the incident with that draft response to complete and send later. The draft response is copied to the message thread panel and can still be edited before sending.

Session Hard Timeout

For obvious security reasons companies require that user’s inactive sessions are automatically logged out. Currently it is possible to do this by configuring a profile setting (Session Timeout field) and a configuration setting (CLIENT_SESSION_EXP).

Once the time of inactivity exceeds the time set in these settings the client sends a soft logout request to the server. When attempting to access the Agent Desktop again, users will receive a Console Locked message asking for re-authentication.

The February 2015 release of Oracle Service Cloud brings a new level of security. The session hard timeout forces users to re-authenticate after a pre-defined period of time, offering extra security for companies that required thorough compliance (e.g. PCI, DISA).

This functionality can be set using the new SESSION_HARD_TIMEOUT configuration setting. Users will be alerted 5 minutes before their session is set to expire. After re-entering login credentials, users will be authenticated, a new session will be created, and the session ID will be updated throughout the platform (including Add-ins, APIs or Co-Browse).

Bounced Incident Response Handling

It is not surprising to anyone that sometimes email messages bounce. It also happens with incident responses sent from Oracle Service Cloud, and sometimes it is difficult, if not impossible to handle those bounces.

The February 2015 release of Oracle Service Cloud brings new functionality to handle those incident responses that are returned. There is a new source in the Transactions table that will allow Techmail utility to flag those bounces: “Techmail – Incoming Auto-Reply Message”.

This will obviously be very useful for the creation of reports – e.g. listing bounced incident responses – or business rules – e.g. set incident status to “bounced” or back to “unresolved” if source is Techmail–Incoming Auto-Reply Message – enabling Customer Service teams to re-contact the customer using the same or other contact channels.


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