Oracle Service Cloud 18A release now available

The 18A release of Oracle Service Cloud (OSvC) is now generally available and it brings some great new features and enhancements.

Browser UI – Multi-Edit Workspaces

Multi-Edit Workspaces is a really basic but very useful functionality that was available in the Dynamic Agent Desktop (.NET Console) but still missing on the Browser User Interface (BUI). This release adds BUI support for Multi-Edit Workspaces for standard objects (Contacts, Organisations, Tasks, Answers, Assets) as well as custom objects.

This means that you are now able to update more than one record in a single operation instead of doing it on each individual record, saving you time when you need to make the same change to more than one record (e.g. updating Incident Status).

Knowledge Advanced – Product/Category Landing Pages

Customer Portal (CP) developers are now able to create product/category-specific pages. This will allow customers to select a product or a category and navigate their hierarchies using breadcrumbs and images. Additionally, any searches attempted from those pages will automatically use the selected product or category, and answers displayed will be specific to that product or category.

Knowledge Foundation – CKEditor for Answers

The Aug 17 release of OSvC announced a CKEditor for Community Self-Service. “The CKEditor is an open source text editor, written in JavaScript, designed to standardise text editors and features in web pages. And is widely used (…) giving customers a much better and improved text editor, when submitting questions or comments (…) Customers will have a WYSIWYG bar to edit text, ability to paste text from MS Word, and do custom HTML formatting”.

The CKEditor was only available in the BUI, but 18A release enabled it across both BUI and the Dynamic Agent Desktop (.NET Console), also for Answers.

Knowledge Foundation – Answers Versioning

Answer Versioning is a functionality that many users of OSvC, namely the knowledge managers, were (desperately!) requesting for a while. Almost 3,5 years ago I published a blog post to present Ideqa’s VersionCX – an add-in that allowed storing of historical versions of Answers.

18A release of OSvC finally includes this feature – even though it is only available in the the Dynamic Agent Desktop (.NET Console). Answer versioning will allow knowledge managers and authors to draft and publish versions of answers, compare versions and view historical, as well as live, versions of answers.

Platform – Bulk Delete API for Organisations

The Bulk Delete API was announced back in Feb 17 and Aug 17 releases, but was still not fully available. In the 18A release the Bulk Delete API supports Organisations and Accounts allowing you to purge accounts and organisations in bulk, using the API. Additionally, it allows the flexibility to delete selective data based on custom ROQL queries.

Platform – MySQL and PHP Upgrades

With the 18A release, OSvC will be upgraded to MySQL 5.7 from MySQL 5.1.

Additionally, a PHP upgrade has been performed for security compliance, from 5.6.18 to 5.6.31.

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Configuration Settings – Tips VII

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.

AR_AUTO_ENABLE

This configuration setting is useful for knowledge managers or administrators to better manage the knowledge base, and ensure the answers are always up-to-date and helpful for customers.

It enables a feature that automatically changes the status of an answer to “Review”, when data aging reduces the answer’s solved count to zero. The default value is disabled (No) but you might want to turn it on (Yes).

ANS_NEW_INC_DURATION

Speaking about answers aging, this configuration setting specifies the number of days that the Solved Count of new answers will not be aged (meaning reduced).

You might new answers not to be impacted by aging, in the first few days or weeks, and ensure they keep up there for people to easily bump onto them.

If this value is set to zero (0) no answers will be considered new. The default value is 30. And the maximum is 9999999999 (basically, forever).

ANS_UPD_INC_DURATION

Similarly, this configuration setting specifies the number of days that the Solved Count of updated answers will not be aged.

If this value is set to zero (0) no answers will be considered new. The default value is 30. And the maximum is 9999999999 (basically, forever).

Please notice that this is for updated answers, whilst the above setting is for new answers.

ANS_PRV_ENABLED

If you would like to implement a specific answer access level, and have a subset of answers only to be seen/displayed to users with a specific access level, then you must enable this configuration setting.

It enables the “Privileged Access” feature which allows customers to access privileged access levels of answers. These access levels are in addition to those that are visible by default on the interface (Help, Everyone).

Privileged access levels are assigned to SLAs. An SLA must be applied to a Contact or Organisation and the individual must be logged in to the customer portal, in order to view the answer.

The default value is disabled (No), and you must enable it to allow privileged access (Yes).

OSvC_blog_accesslevel

ANS_SRCH_THRESHOLD

When a customer searches for an answer on the Oracle Service Cloud knowledge base, the system will weigh the answers, based on the search (keywords, etc.). This configuration setting specifies a threshold for returning answers.

Only answers that match at or above this threshold will be returned. The minimum and default value is zero (0) and the maximum is 2147483647, even though acceptable values are between zero (0) and 100.

If the configuration setting ANS_SRCH_SUB_THRESHOLD is enabled an exception is made when all matching answers are below the threshold.

ANS_SRCH_SUB_THRESHOLD

As mentioned above, this configuration setting is linked to ANS_SRCH_THRESHOLD and it specifies whether there should be an exception to limiting answer results with a threshold on matching.

If enabled, when no answers match at or above the threshold set, the answers that matched less well are still returned, avoiding a zero result set. If disabled, no answers matching below threshold are ever returned. By default this configuration setting is disabled (No).

Keep up with customer perceived value

To thrive in today’s hyper-competitive and hyper-connected customer-focused world, you must not only deliver a positive Customer Experience every time you interact with a customer, but also create, deliver and refresh value, as perceived by customers, on a continuous basis.

The Kano Model (theory of product development and customer satisfaction developed back in the 80’s) classifies customer requirements into categories, and can be used in experience management to help us understand how customers perceive the value they get.

  • Must-be or the unspoken customer requirements are so obvious that the customer doesn’t expect to have to spell them out. They’re the absolute minimum, and the customer won’t even notice if you meet them. But if you don’t, it will be so crucial that you should be prepared to lose a customer.
  • One-dimensional requirements are related to product features or elements of service delivery. The more of those you meet, the better the Customer Experience, and the highest the customer will think of you. If you fail to deliver them the customer will certainly be disappointed and open up to competition.
  • Delighter requirements are the ones that surprise the customer and will delight or even wow, having an extremely positive impact on the Customer Experience, leading to word-of-mouth and advocacy. But no harm is done if these aren’t there, as they are not expected anyway.

The interesting thing is that with time Delighter requirements become One-Dimensional, and One-Dimensional requirements become Must-be. And that is one of the reasons you need to continuously update your understanding of the customer, and their perception of value.

There is only a limited number of ways to increase your knowledge of the customer. Look into solicited and unsolicited feedback – two good examples of that are the voice-of-the-customer (VoC) from surveys, or the interaction and buying information from CRM systems.

But the challenge is: how quickly and effectively can you collect, gather, aggregate or analyse data, and find actionable insights that will allow you to enhance an individual’s Customer Experience with your company and its products or services?

You will definitely need to assemble a cross-functional team. As OVUM says “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 and suppliers”.

And you will undoubtedly need technology to enable and support you. An agile technology platform, focused on experience management, which allows you to collect valuable information and data at every customer journey stage, and from every touch-point or channel.

A technology platform that allows you to incorporate customer knowledge and feedback into every decision, by offering powerful capabilities to analyse, prioritise and predict based on statistical, text or sentiment analysis. As well as allow tracking of progress and immediate action.

So, if you are trying to keep up with your customer’s perceived value make sure you surround yourself with the right people, gear yourself up with the right tools, and put in place a continuous improvement plan, that will certainly have a start date but no end date.

G2 Crowd Grid® for Feedback Management

G2 Crowd claim to provide “real-time and unbiased user reviews” that will help companies “objectively assess” the best technology solution for one’s business. Rather than spending “too much time sifting through spin, reading outdated analyst reports, and sitting through endless meetings“. G2 Crowd offers “unfiltered reviews from peers who use similar solutions” and “relevant references and expertise” offered by users rather than the vendor itself. This sounds pretty powerful!

I’ve been talking about the importance of feedback and how crucial it is to hear the Voice-of-Customer and Voice-of-Employee (as well as Voice-of-Process, in some instances), and G2 Crowd recently published their G2 Crowd Grid® for Enterprise Feedback Management – which shows the best Enterprise Feedback Management software solutions following customer satisfaction and scale.

EnterpriseFeedbackManagement

Qualtrics – which I have mentioned a few times before – is leading the pack. And up there from almost every perspective: Best ROI, smoothest implementation, most usable or easiest to do business with. It is indeed a fantastic platform and technology, that I would recommend you look at if you are embarking in feedback or experience management projects.

1 night in hotel, 4 simple CX lessons

Last week I travelled to Dublin, in Ireland, and stayed in a so-called 4 star hotel, the Talbot Hotel Stillorgan.

Arrived and went to reception. Only one customer was waiting, whilst the person behind the counter tried to answer the phone (which didn’t stop ringing), deal with couriers dropping parcels, and assist customers. 15 mins had gone by when my turn came up “I didn’t do anything for a couple of hours, and now everything seems be coming at the same time”, the guy said. First, a greeting would be nice, and second it’s not really my fault that Armageddon arrived at 7:00 PM on a Thursday.

Went up, unpacked and came down for dinner at the bar. There was no customer waiting, only a few sitting at tables already served. Two waitresses ran around, in and out of the kitchen. What appeared to be a manager was checking receipts behind the counter. No one bothered to even acknowledge my presence. 5 mins later, the manager asked “can I help you sir?”. Well, first a greeting would be nice, second I’m standing here not because I need help but because when I have nothing to do, I sit in bars staring at people.

In the morning, no hot water was running in the shower. Eventually I called reception to explain the situation. “It’s cold outside sir, so it might take a while”. I left it running for 10 mins whilst I shaved, and eventually decided to take a cold shower, as I had a plane to catch and a long journey to the airport. Again, first a greeting would be nice, and second Ireland with 7 degrees centigrade, is not really the north pole, is it?

Came down to check-out and, at reception, the same person who had answered the phone 30 mins earlier didn’t even bother asking if eventually the hot water had come. “Check-out sir?”. I have a feeling that I’m repeating myself… first a greeting would be nice, second I’m standing in reception, with my luggage, at 6:30 AM. Would it be because I want to ask where the gym is, or because I want to check-out? Leave it for you to guess.

Asked about the bus to the airport, and was told I should leave the hotel, turn right and it was a short walk to the bus stop. After 10 mins walking on the dark, cold and rain I could not find it and, to avoid losing my flight, decided to call a Uber – which cost me 3,5 times more than the bus. Turns out that the bus stop wasn’t to the right, rather I should have turned left coming out of the hotel. Reception gave me the wrong direction.

This hotel clearly has very little regard for its customers and their experience. I won’t bother returning, but I did take the time to leave a review on TripAdvisor, and a bit of advice in here….

1. Smile and greet. Little things and small gestures matter more than one may think. A greeting and a smile not only starts the engagement on the right foot, but also makes up a lot on the overall experience.

2. Plan and prepare. It is obvious that one person in a hotel reception will struggle to take calls, deal with couriers and assist customers simultaneously. A plan helps being one step ahead and avoid caos.

3. Empathise and take ownership. If things go wrong don’t make excuses or try to deflect responsibility. Actively listen, acknowledge and concur, apologise, provide a solution and fulfil your promise.

4. Turn disappointment into delight. What could be a (sometimes unavoidable) negative moment is an opportunity to show the customer how much you care. Act fast and go the extra mile to win he customer back.

Federer, Feedback and CX

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Roger Federer is a legend. So far (yes, I believe he still has a couple of more to win) he has won a record 19 Grand Slam titles, and over $100 million in prize money. He is the best of the best. A GOAT (Greatest Of All Time).

Roger is coached by Stefan Edberg, who was #1 and won 6 Grand Slam titles, Ivan Ljubicic, who has a career high #3 and never reached a Grand Slam final, and Severin Lüthi, the head-coach, who gave up tennis when he was 20 with career high #622 and no titles!

Now the question is: Why does Federer need or even seek advice and feedback from people who are light-years away from his capability? People who have never even dreamed of achieving what the Swiss was able to achieve? People, like his head-coach, who have nothing to show for in tennis?

The answer is simple, and one that applies to you and your company. No matter how successful you are, you can never turn down a piece of advice and you always need feedback on how to improve. That is the only way you will be able to keep improving, and that is how the best keep being successful.

It doesn’t matter if the feedback comes from who you might think knows less than you about your business, product or service. Sometimes all you need is another perspective. One that is different from yours. And turns out that most times, in particular in business, customers and employees know more about it than you. They’re the users, they’re the frontline!

In business feedback is absolutely crucial. The best companies not only embrace feedback but, above all, they act on it. Customer feedback and Employee feedback are probably the most important ones, as they give you a true reflection of the experience your company is delivering, allowing you to address and move forward. To capitalise on the good things and improve the bad ones.

If you’re only starting the feedback journey then you should look into surveying your customers and employees. Surveys are the primary building block of Voice-of-Customer or Employee (VoC / VoE) programs – a key part of Customer Experience programs – as they help you gauge how customers and employees feel about the experience you deliver.

Once you have the data collected you need to analyse and make sense of the feedback. And after that you need to be able to reach actionable insights. That is the difficult bit. Finding meaning in your data and identifying the trends. Things that sometimes are buried deep under customers’ free text comments or responses.

It’s been over a year, since I came across and started working with a technology that enables all of the above, Qualtrics. The world’s leading enterprise research platform with over 8,500 brands using it to manage their Experience. Be it the Customer Experience (CX), Employee Experience, Product Experience or Brand Experience.

The motto of this blog is “Customer Experience and Technology to Enable It“. Well here is a technology that will definitely enable you to improve the Customer Experience you deliver.

4 short and sweet CXmas lessons

It’s winter holidays time and just like most emigrants or expats, I came back home to spend Christmas with the family and friends. Living abroad means that there’s a lot of people I haven’t seen for a while, many things I want to do (refuel with delicious portuguese food), others I must do (take care of documentation). Time is short to do everything and spend quality time with everyone. Plus, this time of year, I still need to buy the last presents. So, I need to be as effective as possible, and maximise my time.

Holidays didn’t start well. My 8:45 PM flight from London was delayed for 1 hour and 30 mins, meaning that when I landed in Porto (Portugal) it was already 12:30 AM and by the time I got home the family was already asleep. To my tweet TAP Air Portugal replied “Please accept our sincere apologies for this situation“. Unfortunately this doesn’t make it up. Why? Because apologies are not sincere when TAP’s flights are consistently delayed, and the on-board experience is below average.


Lesson 1: If you want customers to believe and trust you and your brand, make sure you take the feedback and, more importantly, act on it to improve your products/services.

With so many things I wanted to do, despite the late night, next day’s morning was early. Me and my wife got a lot of things done (including her hair – she can be very picky with hairdressers!). Before lunch I found some time to schedule an important doctor’s appointment and called the clinic. “Sorry we’re closed between 12:00 and 2:00 PM, please call later or book online“. It was literally 12:01 and online I could not choose the doctor I wanted.

Lesson 2: As Shep Hyken says “don’t have a clock-in/clock-out mentality“. If you’re there, take ownership, as every interaction with a customer will make an impression. And it could be a lasting one (positive or negative). Don’t risk losing a customer to the competition because of what it says on the “Opening Hours” sign.

After lunch we had to take care of some last minute presents and went to a local shop. Spent a fair amount of time with a nice and attentive staff member, selecting the right product, and decided to take what were three expensive ones. At the till we were told “we don’t accept card payments, any card, only cash“. These are the local shops that have owners who complain about being smothered by big shopping malls. Then they sell expensive items and expect people to carry big amounts of cash!?

Lesson 3: If you want to be in business and overcome fearless competition, you need to get rid of policies that don’t make sense and make it as easy as possible for your customers to do business with you. Plus, be mindful of bad profit (e.g. those who charge additional fee if you want to pay with card)

That evening, I decided to tick one of the boxes in my “when-at-home” list: eat roasted piglet. After a busy day it was 4:00 PM when we arrived to the restaurant. “Hello, do you have table for 4?” I asked with a smile on my face. “Lunch time has passed and dinning room is now closed until 7:00 PM” the grumpy person replied. “Kitchen is closed?!” I asked with puppy eyes. “No, it’s open but only for take away“. In desbelief I walked to the counter to take a piglet sandwich for the go – truth was smell is irresistible and the opportunities to eat this delicatessen are scarce. But next time I will certainly go to the competition.

Lesson 4: Customers are like your puppy. If you show him the snack, and let him smell it, only to then take it away, he won’t come back to you next time you call for him. So if you want to conquer (hearts, minds and mouths) of your customers always be available to give them the best you have, and don’t disappoint.

This hasn’t been the best intro to Christmas, but I’m confident all will end up well. Happy Christmas everyone!