CCXP Certified!

ccxp logo.png

Today I became a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP).

For those of you who don’t know, the CCXP is a certification provided by the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA) – worldwide recognised CX authority.

The CCXP exam is definitely not a piece of cake. It assesses your competency in 6 core disciplines:

  • Customer-Centric Culture
  • Voice of the Customer, Customer Insight, and Understanding
  • Organisational Adoption and Accountability
  • Customer Experience Strategy
  • Experience Design, Improvement, and Innovation
  • Metrics, Measurement, and ROI

I’m extremely happy to finally have accomplished this goal – which I’ve set for 2017 and for which I invested considerable amount of time and study.

And I’m proud to become one of less than 500 people in the world, 70 in Europe and 50 in UK, with CCXP certification.

Speaking about study, I would like to share with those interested the way I prepared:

  • Attended a 1-day CX Masterclass with Ian Golding
  • Read the following books
    • Outside In
    • Chief Customer Officer
    • Chief Customer Officer 2.0
    • Effortless Experience
    • Uncommon Service
    • I love you more than my dog
    • The basics of process improvement
    • Lean Six Sigma for Dummies
    • CCXP Exam Preparation (which also provides exam sample questions)
  • Took the sample exams provided by CX University

I hope this will help and encourage some of you.

Aug 17 Release now available (Part III)

The August 2017 (17.8) release of Oracle Service Cloud (OSvC) is now generally available and it brings so many exciting new features and enhancements that, this time, I am braking my thoughts down in various posts. You can read the first one here, and the second one here.

Community Self-Service – CKEditor

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.

The 17.8 release of OSvC adds CKEditor to the Community Self-Service, 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. CKEditor also supports accessibility with WCAG 2.0 standards – Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.

OSvC_CKEDITOR_Aug17

Community Self-Service – File Attachments

The new release also brings the ability for customers to attach files to questions and comments. This is a great enhancement as it allows users to provide extra (and most times extremely useful) information or pictures to their questions or comments.

Notice that, similar to the file attachments functionality of assisted service, as an admin you can control file size limits and also valid file extensions.

OSvC_ATTACH_Aug17

Community Self-Service – Widgets

In terms of widget functionality, the 17.8 release brings a couple of new things. You can now select or pin a forum to the ForumList Widget on the home page, as well as set different sorting options – including sort by, last activity, questions, comments or Product ID.

OSvC_ForumList_Aug17.png

Additional sorting options are now also available in the QuestionList Widget, from last activity to a relevant time period – including sort by year, month, day, week or any date range.

OSvC_sort_Aug17.png

Lastly, customers will now also be able to quote other people’s comments when replying to them.

OSvC_quote_comment_Aug17.png

Platform – Custom Process Logging

The 17.8 release of OSvC adds a new feature that enables you (as a developer) to log errors and custom messages through scripts. You can access and review data logs, as well as enable or disable logging without code modification.

This allows you to debug runtime problems, with custom process scripts, during development and testing. Notice that two entities are used in custom process logging:

  • Terminals – The Terminal class provides the logging function. You define terminals in PHP scripts that you import into the Process Designer. The Terminal class is provided with Connect Common Object Model (CCOM) version 1.3 and later.
  • Probes – Probes control which terminals are used for logging. You create probes in the Browser UI using the Probe Designer.

Please notice that the Probe Designer is only available in the BUI, even though you develop the custom process models in the Console.

This capability must be enabled, via the ENABLE_CPM_LOGGING configuration setting, as it is not enabled by default. You should not be able to see this configuration setting, thus need to submit SR with Oracle support to request it.

You can find more information about this, how to use and setup in this section of the guide.

Platform – Connect v1.4

Connect v1.4 also brings some new features like consistency across Connect APIs. Included are metadata improvements, support for bulk APIs for delete and extract operations, and unified metadata for Marketing and Mail APIs.

Additionally it seems to also bring a correction to a bug that we found not long ago (and reported to Oracle Support) when we were extracting data from a custom object using the REST API, and found discrepancies on date fields (e.g. Start Date, End Date).

In the console/BUI workspace) we could see Start Date: 01/05/2017 and End Date: 30/04/1018. But in the response back from the API it was Start Date: 30/04/2017, End Date: 29/04/1018.

Platform – OpenID Protocol Support

OpenID-based single sign-on (SSO) is now supported, and will allow your agents to log in to multiple OpenID Connect (OIDC) providers such as Google, etc.

If you are not familiar with it, OIDC is widely used as an authorisation protocol based on REST, JSON, and OAUTH 2.0 standards.

It will be very useful for you be able to define and manage OIDC providers in the Browser UI, allowing your agents to SSO.

Among the various benefits of OIDC are the fact that it can be used for both web SSO and APIs, and unlike SAML, it can be used on mobile platforms.

To enable this capability you should ask Oracle support to enable the configuration setting SSO_ENABLE_EXTERNAL_IDP.

Platform – Bulk Delete API

This will give you the ability to delete large amounts of data (incidents and related data) using ROQL. In order to use it you will need to go to the Profile permissions (Admin area) and enable the “Bulk Delete” permission. Please notice that the 1,000 is the maximum number of records that can be deleted at a time.

Aug 17 Release now available (Part II)

The August 2017 (17.8) release of Oracle Service Cloud (OSvC) is now generally available and it brings so many exciting new features and enhancements that, this time, I am braking my thoughts down in various posts. You can read the first one here.

Browser UI – Report Inline Editing

With the latest release this feature is now supported in the Browser UI (BUI) allowing you to edit data in reports without having to open the object/record. If this capability is enabled in the report, you can edit the data in a field on the report cell, including fields of type drop-down menu.

OSvC_ReportInlineEdit_Aug17.png

Browser UI – Report Cross Tab and Forward

For those who are not familiar with it, Cross Tab is a feature of OSvC reports that allows you to compile, into a few lines, data that could span through various pages. This functionality is now supported at runtime within the BUI, with the 17.8 release.

Additionally it is now also possible, from the BUI, to forward reports and dashboards to other users (via email) using HTML format.

OSvC_CrossTabForward_Aug17.png

Browser UI – Guided Assistance and OPA Integration

One other thing that was still missing on the BUI was the ability to use Guides and OPA interviews, within a workspace – capability that has been available in the console. The new 17.8 release supports this functionality, allowing you to provide these very useful aids to your agents, which sometimes are key when supporting customers on the phone or over a live web chat session.

OSvC_GuidedAssistance_OPA_Aug17.png

Business Rules 2.0

Finally the best for last! As an OSvC expert and implementation specialist, this is probably one of my favourite enhancements for the last few releases. Oracle called it Business Rules 2.0 as it is a complete re-vamp of the Business Rules editor and capability.

But caveats first… this is not yet available for standard objects, only for custom objects. It will come for Organisations, Contacts, Incidents, Tasks, and Opportunities further down the line. And it is available in the BUI.

The new Business Rules editor not only has a much more modern and intuitive look and feel, but it supports business rules for custom objects. Which means that you will no longer need to write as much code as you used to (in custom scripts/processes) if you need to create automation in custom objects.

OSvC_BusRules1_Aug17.png

As an administrator or implementor you can view and manage all rules within a rule set (or object) at a glance.

OSvC_BusRules2_Aug17.png

And create new rules in a much more intuitive and easy to use interface.

OSvC_BusRules3_Aug17.png

Additionally, you can search for rules and values used within your rules.

OSvC_BusRules4_Aug17.png

Keep your eye on the next post – Aug 2017 release now available (Part III) – in which I will tell you a bit more about some of the most exciting enhancements in this Aug 2017 release.

Aug 2017 release now available (Part I)

The August 2017 (17.8) release of Oracle Service Cloud (OSvC) is now generally available and it brings so many exciting new features and enhancements that, this time, I will break down my thoughts in three posts.

Site Configuration – Mailboxes

Until now, mailboxes were interface-specific items. To configure or manage a mailbox, you would have to be logged in to the interface where it was being used. Not any more!

From the Aug 17 release you can manage and configure all mailboxes from a single place (the interface of your choice) making it easier and more efficient for you to manage several mailboxes, in particular when you have multi-language interfaces and you don’t happen to speak them all!

The below screenshot shows the new Mailbox configuration screen, where you have a new tree structure with the list of mailboxes nested under type of mailbox, which in turn is under interface name.

OSvC_Mailboxes_Aug17

Site Configuration – Message Templates

As you know Message Templates are broken down in 3 types: Admin Notifications, Admin Emails and Customer Emails. They allow you to customise the outgoing messages (for Admins, Agents or Customers) for each of your interfaces.

The 17.8 release brings a new feature for the Admin Notifications, that can be extremely useful and increase agent efficiency. You can now add – only to the Incident Assigned message template – a link to the Browser UI (BUI), which will take the agent directly to that particular incident record, in the BUI.

OSvC_MessageTemplate_Aug17.png

Configuration Assistant – Browser UI

Speaking about BUI, you no longer have to ask Oracle to enable it for you, and wait for them to “approve” or “agree” to do it for your company. You can now enable the BUI yourself via the Configuration Assistant (which you can reach in https://ossc-gb.custhelp.com).

Once you login the Configuration Assistant this is what you need to do

  1. Select the site (by clicking the site name/link)
  2. Go to the Integrations area (by clicking the Integrations box)
  3. Scroll down to the Browser User Interface section.
  4. Click the Enable BUI button

Once it is active you will see the message “Browser User Interface is enabled on this service site” as well as the URL, which should be something along the lines of: http:// <yourdomain> .custhelp.com/AgentWeb/

Please remember that the BUI will only be available for your site, if you are in one of the last 5 releases.

OSvC_ConfigurationAssistant_Aug17

Browser UI – Service  Level Agreements

The 17.8 release closes one important gap in previous releases of the BUI. Service Level Agreement (SLA) fields are now supported in the BUI. You can place them on the workspace and agents can view and edit Organisation and Contact SLAs, as well as assign the desired SLA to an incident.

OSvC_SLA_Aug17

Keep your eye on the next post – Aug 2017 release now available (Part II) – in which I will tell you a bit more about some of the most exciting enhancements in this Aug 2017 release.

OSvC Upgrades in 5 Steps

I have been noticing that the Oracle Service Cloud (OSvC) upgrade process is still a bit of an unknown (to used a light term… as some call it “nightmare“) for some people, and hopefully this post will help put things in perspective and demystify it.

Since May 2014 release, Oracle decided to auto-enrol all new OSvC clients to the Auto Upgrade Programme (AUP). Nonetheless there are still many of you out there on the old model, only upgrading when you feel like, and request.

Even though it is not mandatory for you  to upgrade each time Oracle releases a new version of OSvC – i.e. every quarter (February, May, August, November) – it is recommended that you stay as current as possible.

This will ensure that your OSvC environment is as safe and stable as possible; any issues discovered in production sites are fixed; and that you face no delays when you are ready and willing to roll-out, and adopt, new features.

It is also important to know that once an environment is 1 year behind the latest release (i.e. 4 releases without upgrading) it will no longer receive Service Packs. And after 2 years without upgrading (i.e. missing last 8 releases) you will lose Oracle’s support.

So, with or without AUP, when you request or accept an upgrade, here are the 5 main steps of the upgrade, which you should look out for and/or carry out.

  • Step 1 – When a new release is out, Oracle will send you an email notification…
    • Announcing of General Availability of the new release
    • Confirming the date on which your site will be cloned into an Upgrade Site
    • Advising that the upgrade cutover will occur 14 days after the Upgrade Site creation

Note: If you have any ongoing projects, changes or developments that may interfere with the upgrade, then you should contact Oracle to reschedule or skip the upgrade, and you can do that by raising a Service Request in the support site.

  • Step 2 – On the agreed date, Oracle will create the Upgrade Site and send you an email notification…
    • Sharing the Upgrade Site URLs (usually domain–upgrade.custhelp.com)
    • Confirming the Cutover date (which should be set two weeks in the future)

Note: If you do not have availability to perform the necessary User Acceptance Testing (UAT) within the next two weeks, you should reschedule the upgrade Cutover using the Hosting Management System.

  • Step 3 – You should perform any necessary regression and user acceptance testing in order to assure that the upgrade did not impact any standard or custom functionality.
    • Prepare the upgrade site for testing by re-configuring mailboxes (point to test mailboxes), integrations (point to test web service end points)
    • Test core functionality
    • Test channel interactions (email, chat, social)
    • Test customisations (add-ins, custom scripts, etc.)
    • Test customer portal
    • Test automation (business rules, workspace rules, etc.)
    • Test integrations (real-time, batch, etc.)
    • Test new functionality made available in latest release

Note: If you have any questions or find any problems in the Upgrade Site you should report them to Oracle following the normal support route, raising a Service Request in the support site.

  • Step 4 – Oracle will perform Cutover and upgrade your production site to the new version.
    • During the cutover your site is inaccessible for both Agents (Console) and Customers (Portal). Customers will see a general message indicating that the site is undergoing maintenance. And it is possible to have a custom splash page display (see Answer ID 1306)
    • Customer won’t be able to access answers or submit incidents via the Customer Portal. However, emails can be sent to a Service mailbox, and will be queued in the mailbox(es) and incidents created when the Techmail utility runs for the upgraded site. Therefore, no incidents submitted via email are lost during the upgrade process
    • When your production site is upgraded the database from the existing production site is merged with the configuration files of the upgrade site. Please check Answer ID 1925 to see which changes are carried from the production and the upgrade site.

Note: You can request an adjustment of the cutover date and time. Oracle will send email notifications to confirm cutover start and completion.

  • Step 5 – You should perform any necessary final checks, tests, etc.

Note: If you have any questions or find any problems you should report them to Oracle following the normal support route, raising a Service Request in the support site.

Depending on how much time you need to do the regression and user acceptance testing, the upgrade process may take between 6 and 8 or 10 weeks. And there is a crucial period you must not forget: the code freeze – from the moment Oracle creates the Upgrade Site (Step 2) until the upgrade itself is complete (Step 4).

Corporatism vs Consumerism

Geocentrism vs Heliocentrism

Nineteen centuries ago, in the II century, a famous astronomer and mathematician called Claudius Ptolemaeus published and established a model which described the Universe with planet Earth at the centre. It was called the “Geocentric Model” (aka Geocentrism), and said that the Sun, Moon, and all other planets, including all other stars, orbited around Earth.

aristotelian_cosmo

This model was accepted by everyone until, 14 centuries later, in the XVI century (1543) an astronomer and mathematician priest, called Nicolaus Copernicus, proposed a new model, called “Heliocentric model” (aka Heliocentrism), where the Sun was at the centre, with the Earth and all other planets orbiting around the Sun.

Copernican_heliocentrism_diagram-2.jpg

This model, as we very well know today, was then proven correct. But it took some time for people to believe it. Actually, when Copernicus published it, very few believed him. And the ones who did even faced charges of heresy. One of those was scientist Giordano Bruno, burned to death for teaching Heliocentrism.

The church banned Heliocentrism, because it contradicted the Catholic idea that humans were at the centre of the Universe. It took almost one century (1632) for people to start accepting it, when brilliant minds like Galileo Galilei (astronomer, physicist, engineer, mathematician) started pushing and giving credit to Copernicus.

And it was only 300 hundred years later, in the XIX century (1822), that the Pope officially removed the ban on Heliocentrism, even though the majority of the scientific community and the people had already started believing it 100 years earlier.

Corporatism vs Consumerism

All this to say that, in our days, we have a similar situation. Until not long ago, everyone believed in a model where Brands, Organisations, Companies where at the centre, and all Customers, Members, Citizens would orbit around them. Much like Geocentrism, let’s call this Corporatism.

(Please note that Corporatism is a term already in use with a few definitions. In this case, we define it as the control of the market by organisations).

But the truth is a new model has been found, and it has been already proven – by many in the Customer Experience community – to be the correct model. One where the Customer is at the centre, and all Brands, Organisations, and Companies orbit around the Customer. Much like Heliocentrism, let’s call this Consumerism.

(Please note that Consumerism is a term already in used with a few definitions. In this case, we define it as the the control of the market by customers).

Similar to what happened with Copernicus and his Heliocentrism, Consumerism has not been totally accepted by many. And we still see in the market place a significant amount (maybe the majority, really!) of organisations still operating under Corporatism laws and practises.

The good thing is that reality is knocking on their doors, and the world has got to a point – with the advent of technology and social media – where Consumerism is inevitably swallowing those who insist in operate in models that are clearly obsolete. Customers are increasingly empowered and in the driving seat.

To avoid collapse, all those brands, organisations, and companies which still operate under Corporatism, will need to surrender to the Consumerism model, start focusing on Customer Experience, and undertake transformation. Become customer-centric, innovate, improve their business processes with an outside-in perspective.

It is not an easy task. But, with the help of the right specialist consultants, it will certainly not take those Brands, Organisations and Companies 300 years to change.

Setting max Live Chat sessions

In the blog post Words that characterise Live Chat, for Consumers and Companies I talk about why Live Chat is so important these days. It is definitely becoming the favourite channel for customers who want to engage with a brand or organisation.

Live Chat is also proving to be one of the preferred channels for those brands and organisations, as it not only seems to increase customer satisfaction, but is also of a much lower cost than any other assisted channel (e.g. phone, email).

One of the main reasons for that is because agents can handle more than one Live Chat session at a time. Best practice says 3 is the ideal maximum number of Live Chat sessions an agent should handle at anyone time, but the truth is it varies.

Senior agents can certainly handle more Live Chat sessions at a time than Junior agents. But Senior agents dealing with complex cases might need to handle less Live Chat session than other agents responding to simple enquiries.

Oracle Service Cloud allows you to set the maximum number of Live Chat sessions on a profile-by-profile basis. But it also allows you to let agents, in the same profile, to change the maximum number of Live Chat sessions for themselves.

Most of you would have noticed the “Max Sessions” attribute in the “Chat Agent Permissionsarea of the Profile, which sets the maximum number of Live Chat sessions that an agent can be engaged in.

OSvC_SetMaxSessions

But it is also important to understand what is the utility of another attribute: the “Set Max Sessions”. This attribute is what will allow agents to change the maximum number of Live Chat sessions for themselves – within the boundaries of “Max Sessions”.

With the “Set Max Sessions” attribute enabled, agents will be able to navigate to their “Communication Center” options (application button in the upper-left corner) and change the “Maximum Chat Sessions” – but not go over what is set in “Max Sessions”.

OSvC_MaxChatSessions1

If the “Set Max Sessions” attribute is disabled, then the “Maximum Chat Sessions” in the “Communication Center” options will be greyed out, and agents would have to stick to the maximum number of Live Chat sessions set by the administrator.

OSvC_MaxChatSessions2