Modern Customer Experience 2017 kick-off

The “Modern Customer Experience 2017” event has started in Las Vegas, at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, and I’m looking forward to meet all the CX and Oracle Service Cloud specialists, advocates and heros… as well as to attend a number of fantastic workshops and sessions (my agenda is full, and I’m not able to go to all the sessions I wanted!). I will be there the whole week representing Capventis, so feel free to reach out if you want to meet up.


10 easy things BT could do to improve CX

As many other customers of BT (British Telecom), I subscribed a fibre package that includes voice, broadband, and TV. I also enabled direct debit, and opted out of paper or even email bill. The only thing I get is a monthly notification that my bill is issued and ready to view online. Normally I check the value (if it is what was agreed) and leave it. But in the last couple of months noticed the value increased by £15, so decided to check the bill, which, as you would expect (but not accept these days) was indecipherable. So contacted BT to ask for clarification.

My preferred channel is Live Chat, so I requested a chat session. The chat launch form asked me for Name, Phone Number, Email Address and Topic of Enquiry. Customer Service agent Naveen greeted me, asked me for my account number, and after I asked if he could clarify my bill, dropped me a whole load of pre-formatted messages with generic links to policy and communication documents about fee increases.

1. Why would BT ask customers for Name, Phone Number and Email Address on the chat launch form, if that doesn’t help the agent identify customer accounts, requires agent to ask again, and increases customer effort by forcing customer to repeat information already provided?

2. Why would BT guide its customer service agents to flood customer’s with pre-formatted blurb and generic links to policy documentation, on a Live Chat session, which is supposed to be a 1-to-1 personalised conversation?

I thanked Naveen for the information but said it didn’t help me, nor was it related to my question. I didn’t want a reason for the increase, but rather a clarification on my bill, products and services included, and associated fees. He started by saying that I should not “look at the left side of the bill” as that was only “for BT’s reference“. Then started going in circles. It was clear that not even him could understand or clarify my bill.

3. Why would BT put on a customer bill, information and description which is confusing and not for customer’s reference or understanding?

4. Why would BT make billing processes, and bills themselves, so difficult that not even their trained customer service agents dealing with billing enquiries can understand, or are able to clarify a simple enquiry re. service fees?

Naveen asked if he could call me, saying it would be “easier said than written“. But before he called, asked me if by any chance I had another account, and if I could provide my phone number.

5. Why would BT not give their customer service agents the necessary (crucial!) 360-degree view of the customer, avoiding them having to ask the customer for information that they, themselves, should have in the first place?

6. Why would BT ask for a phone number on the chat launch form, if that information is not even passed to the customer service agent, forcing him to ask the same question again, and the customer to repeat information already provided?

The call only lasted a few seconds. Naveen asked me to close the chat session first, and informed me that he was transferring me to the billing department. I got transferred to a line and… got an automated voice message saying the line was only open on weekdays (it was Sunday!). I wasn’t sure if Naveen was sloppy or trying to be clever.

I requested another chat session. Surprise, surprise!… got routed to Naveen again. Could not help asking him if he knew the line was closed (he must have known!). Initially he denied saying that the called dropped, and after I confronted him, saying that I heard the automated voice message, he accepted it was closed (i.e. he lied at first) and started going around saying he was confused by the change of the hour to summer time!

7. Why would BT not teach its customer service agents to be honest and transparent? To acknowledge an error and apologise? To straight away say sorry and positively offer themselves to resolve the situation?

Naveen asked if he could call again, and on the phone said he was going to talk to the billing department and call me back in 10 mins. I rejected the offer. After all the billing department was closed on Sundays, right?! I sensed he was again trying to get rid of me, again. So I said I would be happy to wait whilst he transferred me.

A few minutes went on with Naveen trying to convince me he would call back “I promise sir, you have my word“. And me saying I would be glad to wait for 10 mins, until he transferred me. Running out of options he said I was not understanding what he was saying, and threw “this is your last chance“. I didn’t understand if it was a threat or something else, but because it seemed to be the end-of-the-line, I asked to speak to his supervisor.

Naveen’s response was as funny as it was stupid “it is useless to talk to my supervisor as he is equally trained“. I said that was irrelevant – even though sad, if true – and demanded to talk to the supervisor. After resisting for a bit, he finally accepted, asked me to hold on the line whilst he transferred me, and… hang up the phone.

8. Why would BT not have pre-defined processes and guides, specifically for these steps in the journey where there might be disruption (e.g. billing department closed on weekends, and front-line agent not able to resolve customer’s enquiry), which would help a customer service agent push back a customer, without hurting the customer experience?

I contacted BT for the third time in 60 minutes, after Naveen got rid of me twice. Got through to Krunal, a customer service agent who wasn’t able to explain my bill, but told me I was up for contract renewal, which would give me a £10 discount on my final bill – but not without, again, asking me for phone and account number, as well as name.

9. Why would BT not pro-actively contact customers who are up for renewal and eligible for offers or promotions, which would make them pay less, be more satisfied, trust BT, and keep being loyal to the company?

I’m happy with the broadband and TV service, so I renewed. But asked Krunal to open a complaint re. Naveen. Told him the whole story and got surprised with his response: “Maybe he is having a bad day today!!“. If it wasn’t for Krunal being helpful and swift re. the contract and offering, I would have been annoyed with the response. But it was enough already, so I left it there and only asked feedback on action taken re. complaint.

10. Why would BT allow their reputation and brand be hurt by a (definitely) young, inexperienced and scared customer service agent, when all he needed was some guidance and training on how to deal with billing queries (which are always complex and sensitive); a system that would give him a full view of the customer, information and knowledge; and a process (and procedures) that would empower him to make decisions, take actions and resolve customer’s queries?

With the setup that BT seems to have, its customer service agents are helpless and get frustrated, by not being able to resolve customers queries, having to jump from silo to departments, and ending up delivering a fragmented, bad and strenuous experience.

Configuration Settings – Tips IV

Oracle Service Cloud has circa 500 configuration settings, which control the platform’s functions. Some of them are commonly used but many are not that well known. Below are a few that you might want to be aware of.


Some of you may have noticed (and found strange!) that attachments with name raw_message.mht appear on your incidents. Even stranger is that most times you are not even able to open it. This attachment is the original email message.


The EGW_SAVE_ORIG_MESSAGE configuration setting, enabled by default, makes the Email Gateway (incoming email) attach the original email message to the incident, after it is created. If you don’t want or need the original message attached, set this configuration setting to “No”.

Please also notice that subsequent updates (via email) to the same incident will not be saved as attachments or update the original file.

The raw_message.mht is in MIME HTML file format. If you have a compatible application to open this type of file, it will open in browser window, and the message will display in html (or text) format. You can also download the raw_message.mht file to your Desktop and “Open With” a text editor, to see the raw message, which will contain e.g. the original Internet Email headers.


This configuration setting enabled the Privileged Access feature of OSvC, which is what allows customers, in the customer portal, to see specific answers or content that is limited by Answer Access Levels.

By default, this configuration setting is disabled, and you need to enable it if you are creating different answer access levels (and associating it to SLAs), in order to give your customers different or more answers, or even additional content in the same answers (via conditional sections).


Most of you already noticed that when you add an answer as text to an incident (when using the “Add as Text” option on Search Knowledge Base or SmartAssistant windows), by default you add the Summary, the Question and the Answer.

This configuration setting, which is enabled by default, is what causes the above behaviour. If you want to remove the Summary and the Question sections and only add the Answer to your response, you need to disable it.



8 attributes of customer-adaptive enterprise

Ovum, the London-based independent analyst and consultancy firm, which specialises in global IT and telecomms, recently published a study on D+M Group.

On that study Ovum tags D+M as a “customer-adaptive enterprise“, identifies and examines the 8 attributes that “create the right conditions for rapid adaptation to ensure persistent customer relevance“.

I recommend you to read the study, which you can find here (PDF), and to open your appetite I share below some of the more interesting statements, as well as the info-graphic with the 8 attributes.


“New CEO and turnaround specialist, Jim Caudill, who had been instrumental at Black & Decker (…) hired a team of largely former B&D executives to get the much-needed transformation under way with the aim to grow the company profitably“.

Ovum argues that to thrive in an age of rapid and accelerating change and in a global economic environment where growth is hard to come by, firms must develop the ability to sense, respond to, and adapt to change, particularly that which impacts customers and their buying behaviours, expectations, wants, and needs. As cycle times for adaptation continue to shorten, it puts enormous stress on enterprises often held back by legacy systems, processes, and departmental silos. These companies will fail to adapt at the right speed“.

The core question behind Ovum’s customer-adaptive enterprise research over the last four years has been to determine what it takes for any enterprise to remain persistently relevant to its customers. The term customer relevance was barely mentioned four years ago, but the message that customer relevance must be at the heart of any growth strategy is finally beginning to cut through management thinking“.

“Our research has shown that flying a business on one engine can be fatal. What happened to Nokia and BlackBerry when Apple entered and dramatically changed the smartphone industry, followed rapidly by Samsung, should provide a salutary lesson“.

Other business leaders have focused attention on shareholder value, but to paraphrase Jack Welch, former CEO of GE, that is one of the dumbest ideas, as shareholder value is an effect, not a cause, of growth”.

“To thrive and maintain customer relevance, any firm must not only deliver a positive customer experience at every opportunity but also create, deliver, and refresh value as perceived by customers on a continuous basis. This demands the ability to understand customers deeply and innovate on a continuous basis“.

“The twin engines of growth – customer experience and continuous innovation – are not departmental challenges, as they have implications for the entire enterprise, its ecosystem of partners, suppliers, and most of all its customers. It’s the CEO’s job to create the conditions where both engines are firing on all cylinders, something that Caudill, aided by his leadership team, has managed to do“.

Good to notice that D+M chose Oracle CX Cloud Suite as their foundation customer engagement platform – including Oracle Customer Data Management (CDM), Oracle Sales Cloud, Oracle Social Cloud, Oracle Marketing Cloud, and of course Oracle Service Cloud “to provide an integrated environment to support teamwork across each functional area and meet all the criteria necessary to create a unified foundation for a more modern and customer-oriented cross-channel engagement capability“.

You can also watch D+M CIO, Scott Strickland, sharing how the company leveraged Oracle CX Cloud products globally to transform the customer experience.

Let’s meet up in Las Vegas again!


Only 4 weeks to go for Oracle’s Modern Customer Experience conference. For the third year in a row, this fantastic event – where 3,000 attendees network, learn and share experiences – is going to happen in Las Vegas.

The conference has 4 main tracks: Commerce, Marketing, Sales, and Service. The latter is all focused around Oracle Service Cloud and what the platform can do to enable business transformation and deliver better customer experience.

As always, there will be different events to attend and things to do:

  • Sessions where Oracle’s customers share success stories. How they implemented and use Oracle Service Cloud. What they did to differentiate themselves and innovate. And what business results they achieved.
  • Sessions where special guests share thought leadership. Business leaders, research analysis, subject matter experts and Oracle Product Managers will share forward-thinking ideas, trends, drivers and a vision for the future.
  • 1-to-1 “Ask the Expert” sessions. A great opportunity to discuss with Oracle experts, and get the answer to particular questions or guidance to resolve any challenges that might be specific to your business.
  • Demos in the show room. Oracle and some partners will be showing Oracle Service Cloud and it’s new and more relevant features. As well as showcase scenarios where Oracle Service Cloud was or is being used to improve business performance.

I will be in Las Vegas, and look forward to meet all the specialists, experts, advocates and enthusiasts of Oracle Service Cloud.

I will also be available to meet anyone that would like to share an experience or ask any question. So if you would like to meet up, please request a meeting here, and I will be more than happy to arrange a face-to-face, where we can chat over a break, a coffee or drink.

The Justice League of Customer Service


Most of us, in particular those that have been implementing these type of applications in the last decade or two, know that the Oracle Service Cloud community is one of the best communities of its kind.

It is easy to use, full of useful content, and supported by a fantastic team that has a massive focus on those who seek help and/or provide insight, on the Oracle Service Cloud platform (spanning through RightNow, OPA, Field Service or Knowledge Advanced).

But usually we go to the community when we bump into a challenge or a problem. The community is a safe harbour for us to ask for guidance, support or help to resolve our issues.

The truth is that currently, more than be reactive and sort out issues that come up, we need to be pro-active and also find ways to innovate, in order to “fix” things before they even happen, to ultimately provide a better experience to our customers and staff.

That was one of the reasons why the Oracle Service Cloud team created the Oracle Service Cloud Hero Hub, where we can not only learn more about Oracle Service Cloud, but also have fun doing it.

I would strongly recommend that those of you who are working with Oracle Service Cloud, join the Hero Hub, and take part of this “Justice League of Customer Service“. To know more about the Hero Hub, and to learn how to join, check out Erica Leep’s post: Calling Customer Service Heroes to the Oracle Service Cloud.

Configuration Settings – Tips III

Oracle Service Cloud has circa 500 configuration settings, which control the platform’s functions. Some of them are commonly used but many are not that well known. Below are a few that you might want to be aware of.

As most of you may already know, the access to functionality delivered via the OSvC Customer Portal web pages (e.g. self-service, chat, surveys) is charged per session. And a “session” is defined as a single 15 minutes time period of web visit activity.

A “web visit” is a series of customer interactions with the OSvC Customer Portal that can span one or more sessions. And the length of a web visit is configurable and allows you to track and report on activities by a single user for up to 12 hours.

A visit will be considered new in one of the following cases:

  • The customer is inactive for longer than time defined in VISIT_INACTIVITY_TIMEOUT;
  • The limit time defined in VISIT_MAX_TIME is hit;
  • The browser is closed;
  • The customer navigates way from the OSvC Customer Portal pages and the browser doesn’t support cookies.

Therefore it is important to understand what the above two configuration settings are.


This configuration setting defines the period of time after which a web visit is considered to be expired due to inactivity. The default value is 30 minutes, the minimum value is 15 minutes, and the maximum value is 2147483647.


This configuration setting defines a hard limit after which any web visit will expire. If a web visit is longer than VISIT_MAX_TIME, then a new web visit and session ID are generated. The default value is 240 minutes, the minimum value is 15 minutes, and the maximum value is 720 minutes (12 hours).

Apart from the two configuration settings above, it is also important to be aware of another two configuration settings, which apply to cases where the customer is logged in.


This configuration setting defines a the maximum amount of time for the length of the customer login cookie. If a visit is longer than CP_LOGIN_MAX_TIME, then the customer will be required to login again. The default value is 0 (zero), which means that the login cookie will expire based on user inactivity specified by the CP_LOGIN_COOKIE_EXP configuration setting. The minimum value is 0 and the maximum value is 2147483647.


This configuration setting defines the period of inactivity after which the login cookie will expire. The default value is 60 minutes. Value -1 means the cookie will expire when the browser is closed. And 0 (zero) means the cookie will never expire.