Oracle Service Cloud 18B release now available (Part I)

The 18B release of Oracle Service Cloud (OSvC) is now generally available and it brings some very interesting new features and enhancements. I will break them down in separate posts. This is the first post.


Chat – Virtual Assistant

One of those exciting enhancements is the launch of the Virtual Assistant (VA). Some of you may be asking “wasn’t the Virtual Assistant launched 5 years ago?“. Yes, back in Nov 2013 Oracle announced the VA which, at the time, was based on a separate product called Intent Guide and forced users to use a different application (login and user interface) to configure it.

The 18B release brings a much more integrated, seamless and powerful VA capability, which can be accessed, configured and fine tuned by OSvC administrators, using a VA editor in the OSvC interface. Nonetheless, it is still based on the aforementioned Oracle RightNow Intent Guide Cloud Service (find here the admin user guide).

This enhanced VA will hopefully be a step in the right direction and allow companies to not only decrease the volume of chat sessions that require an agent, but also improve the customer experience.


Simple questions with straightforward answers – aka high volume/low value queries – should be picked up and answered by the VA, using the information in the knowledge base. Making service more efficient and effective.

The new (or enhanced) OSvC VA allows you to configure escalation rules, that will route the chat session to the right queue and agent, when the VA cannot answer, as well as pass the conversation thread to the agent, for context.


Additionally it allows you to test scenarios and provides real-time dashboard so you can monitor performance and questions being asked, as well as identify new content that can be added to the VA and knowledgebase.


In order do use the VA you should ask Oracle (your account manager) to enable it and then perform the following steps:

  1. Assign the Virtual Assistant Edit permission to your profile (you will find this permission in Profile > Permissions > Administration tab)
  2. Add the Virtual Assistant editor to a navigation set (you will find this in Navigation Sets > Configuration > Components > Common)
  3. Create the VA profile and account (to define the VA name that will display to customers e.g. “Siri”), as well as the VA chat queue (which will handle incoming chats and escalation)
  4. Create chat rules to route virtual assistant chats and escalate virtual assistant chats to agents when necessary.

Note: You can have only one VA account and one VA queue. The VA profile, account, and queue cannot be deleted. However, account and queue names can be changed.


Configuration Settings – Tips VIII

Oracle Service Cloud (OSvC) has circa 500 configuration settings, which control the platform’s functions. Some of them are commonly used but many are not that well known.

In previous blog posts (7 posts to be exact), I have been sharing a few that you might want to be aware of. This time, I share some that my fellow CX Heroes mentioned, in the Oracle Service Cloud Hero Hub, as being one of their favorite configuration settings.


This configuration setting was mentioned by Jessica Campbell, from Brother International Corporation, who used it to disable the chat during holidays.

If it is enabled (set to “Yes”) then OSvC will use the holidays table (which you can find in Configurations > Service > Service Level Agreements > Holidays) to determine whether the Live Chat should be enabled or disabled.

If your customers try to use the Live Chat channel on a date that is specified as a holiday, they will be shown a message stating it is a holiday and no agent is available.

The default value for this configuration setting is disabled (set to “No”).


This configuration setting was mentioned by Kristine Tannert, from Insperity, who says that her agents love the Sneak Preview functionality, as it allows them to get ahead of the game and prepare responses on chat with the customers. This is particularly helpful since the questions their agents have to answer for customers can sometimes take awhile to investigate, so anything that helps them get a jump start on answering the customers question is appreciated!

It enables the Sneak Preview functionality, which allows agents to preview what a customer is typing prior to the customer sending the message.

The default value for this configuration setting is disabled (set to “No”).


This configuration setting was mentioned by Robert Pozderec, also from Brother International Corporation, who said it is an extremely important setting when it comes to QA (Quality Assurance).

It specifies whether the post time is to be included in incidents created for a Chat session, meaning messages in the chat transcript will have a date and time against it.

The default value for this configuration setting is disabled (set to “No”).


This configuration setting was mentioned by Sasi Gudimetta, from AST Corporation, who shared with the community that he usually works with reports that have custom scripts, and these have a query data limit, controlled by this setting, which needs to be increased to avoid the script from stopping after the defined number of rows, and the report output from being “No Value”.

It specifies the size of the data buffer (in bytes) used when processing custom scripts in Analytics.

The default value for this configuration setting is 50,000. The minimum value is zero (0) and the maximum value is 2,147,483,647.

Keep in mind increasing this to a large value causes the custom script to parse more of the report data (which is good!), but this also causes additional load on the server, which could result in negative performance impact for the overall site (not so good!).

Oracle Service Cloud 2018 All-Star


It was we great honour and delight that I received the news. For the second year running, Oracle has named me “Oracle Service Cloud 2018 All-Star“, for my expertise and being one of the leaders within the Oracle Service Cloud community, but above all for being willing to share my knowledge.

I’m again part of a fantastic group of people that use this great technology platform to enable better customer service and customer experiences. I’m very thankful to Erica Anderson, who is the main driving force behind this fantastic community.

Read full blog and list of 2018 All-Stars here:

Break the fourth wall to improve survey experience

Organisations launch surveys to measure customer experiences, but is the survey itself delivering a good experience? Those of us who usually take the time to provide an organisation with feedback on our experiences, know that the answer to that question is more often than not a resounding “No”.

The problem is that most organisations are just throwing surveys at customers without any consideration. Ultimately resulting in surveys that put people off, and customers disbelieving organisation’s intentions, thinking they just want to get more information to cross/up-sell.

If your organisation wants to be customer-centric and is truly interested in the customer opinion, then there are a few things to concentrate on when building Voice-of-Customer initiatives. One of them, which I believe is absolutely key, is Personalisation, and it can be addressed by breaking the fourth wall.

Design your surveys with an outside-in perspective, with a big focus on the customer. The one you are talking to, not a generic customer, persona or segment. Do what Frank Underwood used to do in House of Cards. Break the fourth wall and talk to the individual customer about what is relevant to her.

You have a full history of transactions and engagements in your operational systems (ERP, CRM, etc.) so why ask the customer what product she bought, before requesting feedback? Why ask the customer what channel she used, before checking if it was the most convenient. Ask the customer about THE product she bought or THE channel she used.

Make sure you use all information and data at your disposal – Operational Data (O-Data) and eXperience Data (X-Data) – to make surveys more personalised, simpler and effortless for the customer. This will ensure not only a great survey experience but also an increase in response rate.

The customer will not only feel valued, but also feel that the organisation is listening and willing to truly consider their opinion (closing the loop is another crucial topic that influences this, but we will address that in another blog post). 

Do you want an example?… See these two surveys below. Which survey sounds better? Which sounds more truthful? Which is more attractive? Which is going to generate more responses?… It is obvious, isn’t it?


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

Social Media Customer Engagements: 4 Challenges, 7 Segments


Social Media is no longer something that can be overlooked by companies. And presence in social networks is not enough. Customers are not just expecting but demanding that companies engage with them via Facebook, Twitter, etc. But companies still struggle to manage those channels and find it very difficult to manage the volume and type of interaction.

Some pioneer companies and social media specialists have been doing it for a while. And it is definitely worth looking into what they are doing, and adopting similar strategies and approaches, to address the different challenges.

  1. Which messages are actually worth responding to?
  2. Could those messages be segmented in some way?
  3. To whom should those messages by assigned to?
  4. Where can responses be composed and recorded?

I would advise companies to respond to as many messages as possible, negative and positive. To definitely segment them by type, in order to assign them to the team or person that can provide the best (or more accurate) response. Here is a good approach (from Symantec):

  1. Request: customer is requesting help to resolve an technical issue. These should be assigned to the Technical Team, for them to troubleshoot and respond, as soon as possible (ideally within the hour).
  2. Question: customer is asking a question, that is not necessarily pressing but needs an informative answer. These should be assigned to the Support Team, for them to provide the right answer (possibly in a knowledge-base).
  3. Abuse: customer is insulting your company, and may have a basis for doing it. These should be assigned to the PR Team, for them to assess and take any necessary brand protection actions.
  4. Praise: customer is praising your company, after a wow moment. These should be assigned to Marketing Team, for them to take the opportunity to leverage the advocate customer and her story.
  5. Lead: customer is hinting that he may switch from competition or considering buying from your company. These should be assigned to the Sales Team, for them to follow-up and convert the opportunity.
  6. Suggestion: customer is requesting a product enhancement. These should be assigned to the Product Management Team, for them to consider if it is worth to add to the roadmap.
  7. Fraud: customer is engaging with an unauthorized provider of your product. These should be assigned to the Legal Team, for them to follow-up with official and/or legal action.

Finally I would suggest all engagements take place in, and from, the Customer Management (aka CRM) platform, or alternatively from a social media management and engagement platform, that can easily be integrated with the CRM, so that your company can enrich the customer record, creating a full and complete view that will help and support future engagements and initiatives.

Opportunity Management and Add-ins in OSvC BUI

It was great news when Oracle announced the launch of the Oracle Service Cloud (OSvC) Browser User Interface (BUI), which finally gave more flexibility to the users and allowed them to access the platform from any browser.

Unfortunately, for reasons that do not make too much sense to me, Oracle decided to leave certain functionalities out of the BUI (functionality available in the Dynamic Agent Desktop – the .NET console). Opportunity Management was one of them.

The Opportunity Management functionality allows the management of sales opportunities, and is used by several organisations and thousands of users, who have in OSvC a full-blown customer relationship and engagement management platform.

That is the case in the company I work for, Capventis. We obviously wanted to adopt the BUI, but needed to have complete functionality. We decided to roll out to the service and support teams – as Customer and Incident Management is standard and available.

But then needed to roll out to the sales team, and therefore decided to create the Opportunity Management functionality (for the BUI) ourselves. In that process, we also decided to streamline the process of adding line items to Opportunities.

The truth is the standard Quote functionality never worked for us, and all we wanted was a simple way to add line items to an opportunity. We decided then to create what we called the Breakdown entity (with a Many-to-1 relationship with Opportunity).

This entity allows us to simply select the Type and Sub-Type of product or service to sell, add a Quantity and a Unit price to it. Then a BUI add-in automatically calculates the Total Amount for the line item.

The Opportunity entity is the same that we had (using the standard functionality), but another BUI add-in calculates the total amount of all line items (in the Breakdown entity) and automatically sets the opportunity Forecast Revenue.

Both BUI add-ins were put in place leveraging the BUI Extensibility Framework API which allowed us to develop the necessary JavaScript add-in and code to read and write data from and to the database.

The video shows the fantastic work of our team (in particular Harriet, Gary and Mark) who made it possible for everyone in the company to use the OSvC BUI, whilst making the Opportunity Management functionality even slicker and simpler.