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.

Words that characterise Live Chat, for Consumers and Companies

Most consumers surf the web (vendor websites, fan pages, forums, etc.) trying to resolve their issues before picking up the phone or start writing an email. Once they are online, Live Chat offers them a quick and low-effort way of interacting with a brand or company. Either it is for sales, customer service or technical support.

The millennials (or generation Y) like Live Chat because of its immediate and text-enabled nature (we know how youngsters are into SMS, WhatsApp, and other text messaging apps). The older generations like it because of its simplicity and easiness to use, as well as for the fact that you can do other stuff while chatting.

The 4 words that characterise Live Chat from a consumers’ point of view are therefore:

  • Easy
  • Multi-task
  • Immediate
  • Text-based

But there are also a few words (and advantages) that characterise Live Chat from a brand or company standpoint:

Feedback – There is no doubt in executives and board-members minds, that voice-of-the-customer should be captured and used to improve products and services. It is much easier to capture that feedback immediately after a Live Chat conversation (trigger exit surveys) when a customer is still engaged and things are fresh in his/her mind, than after a phone or email interaction.

Training – One of the ways of training or coaching agents in a contact centre is to go through past interactions, point out what went wrong and teach how and what could be done better. It is much easier and quick to go through a Live Chat transcript than a 15-minute phone conversation. It will take much longer to hear the recording than to read a few transcripts.

Efficiency – There is no better way of reducing costs than increasing efficiency. Live Chat helps companies reduce operational costs by allowing agents to handle more than one interaction at the same time (typically 3 to 4, tops). The possibility of concurrency lets Live Chat agents handle much more interactions than an agent dealing with phone calls or emails, and changes companies perspective when it comes to capacity.

Effectiveness – One of the most important KPIs in a contact centre is FCCR (First Contact Resolution Rate). For obvious reasons, FCCR is much higher in Live Chat than in email, for example. It is true that email is a key channel, but it takes several exchanges (back and forth messages) to resolve an issue that can be easily handled in one Live Chat session.

Web Self-Service: Another great way of reducing costs is to give consumers the possibility to help themselves. Whilst many companies have websites full of content, not many are able to say they are being used as expected. In a Live Chat session agents can provide hyperlinks to consumers, guiding them to the right content for resolution, in the website, making consumers engaged with the website and teaching them where to find answers in the future, driving web self-service.

The only perceived “downside” for the company that is going to roll out Live Chat as a channel is the technology licensing and implementation cost. From that point of view, it is a case of companies choosing cloud solutions, and preferring a strategic multi-channel platform that supports all channels (phone, email, chat, web, social media…). Rather than going for siloed and on-premise solutions or trying to integrate multiple point solutions, ultimately impacting Customer Experience (seamless interactions as consumers jump from a channel to the other).

OPA Cloud Service: How to set up

Oracle Policy Automation (OPA) is a powerful software solution that enables companies to capture, manage and deploy complex legislation or policies. It comes from the acquisition of Haley (previously RuleBurst) by Oracle, back in 2008.

As many of you already know Oracle recently launched a cloud version of OPA, called OPA Cloud Service, and made it part of Oracle Service Cloud. Nonetheless, it is not mandatory to use both, as it is possible to run OPA Cloud Service standalone.

OPA Cloud Service has two main interfaces:

  • Oracle Policy Modeling (OPM): A desktop application to create policy models based on legislation or policies.
  • Oracle Policy Automation Hub (OPA Hub): A browser-based console to manage and deploy policy models.

Policy models can be made available in two ways:

  • Interviews: Web-based applications that collect information and data from an end-user through a Customer Portal.
  • Web Services: Each policy model created has an associated web service that will allow the integration with other processes or applications.

When used alongside Oracle Service Cloud, OPA allows:

  • Oracle Service Cloud fields to be used in rules (i.e. map data items in OPA onto Service Cloud data model).
  • Publish interviews in the Oracle Service Cloud Customer Portal
  • Publish interviews in the Oracle Service Cloud Agent Desktop
  • Create incidents and update other records based on interview answers

This post is a quick intro to this matter and shows how to set up OPA Cloud Service to be used with Oracle Service Cloud.

First you will need Oracle to provision both environments (or OPA only, if you already have a Service Cloud environment), and then set up the data service to communicate between the OPA Hub and Service Cloud.

The first step is to create a user in Service Cloud named OPA_Client, with permissions in the Public SOAP API area.

  1. Create an OPA profile


  1. Create an OPA user


Note: The password you enter here is going to be used in OPA HUB.

The next step is to login to OPA Hub (as an admin) and configure the data service.

  1. Go to “Administration” > “Data Service” and enter the password


Now you should have both applications connected and are now ready to start creating interviews in OPM and publishing them in Service Cloud (CP or DAD).

Oracle Cloud adapter for Service Cloud integrations

Oracle has announced recently the Oracle Cloud adapter for Oracle Service Cloud. It is one of the Oracle Integration Adapters in the Oracle SOA Suite 12c, part of Oracle Fusion Middleware platform.

It will allow developers to seamlessly connect Oracle Service Cloud with other applications (on-premise or cloud) using a wizard-based tool that helps to configure the connectivity and build the integration.

The adapter supports integration with Oracle Service Cloud via the “Connect Web Services for SOAP” API, enabling developers to perform the following operations:

  1. CRUD – Create, Read (Get), Update, Delete (destroy)
  2. Query – ROQL
  3. Batch – CRUD/Query Operations

With the Oracle Cloud adapter developers will have the ability to:

a) Browse and select objects and operations.


b) Model ROQL queries


c) Create bulk interactions to create contacts, incidents and accounts in a single request


It is possible to chain CRUD operations to process objects in a single request. e.g. create a new Contact, and a new Incident, associated with that Contact.


With the Oracle Cloud adapter, integrations between Oracle Service Cloud and other applications (e.g. Oracle e-Business, Oracle Siebel, SAP, Oracle Sales Cloud, SFDC, etc.) can be built easier and will be faster to deploy.

Related documentation: Oracle Fusion Middleware – Oracle Cloud Adapter for Oracle RightNow Cloud Service User’s Guide

November 2014 release is now available

Visitor Browser History

When dealing with an incident coming from the Ask a Question page in the Customer Portal a staff member could see the customer’s browser history. For that he just needed to go to the “Web Visit” tab (part of the standard Incidents workspace), which showed the out-of-the-box report “Incidents Web Visit Tab”. That report showed list of all actions and pages the customer visited before submitting the incident – as well as the customer’s IP address, OS, and browser.

This was something that many companies using Oracle Service Cloud were requesting for chat engagements too. The “Page Peek” functionality was released one year ago, but it was not enough for some. It showed a snapshot of the page the customer was visiting before requesting a chat session, but not the whole journey.

The new “Visitor Browser History” responds to the requests of Oracle Service Cloud users. It enables staff members to view the pages that the customer has visited, when engaging via the chat channel. Similarly to “Page Peek”, the “Visitor Browser History” will work alongside Engagement Engine.

Dock Tools Windows to Status Bar

The Dynamic Agent Desktop is, in my point of view, one of the greatest assets of Oracle Service Cloud. It is fast, efficient and most of all flexible. But some users would sometimes struggle with the lack of space in the console, particularly when working in smaller screens. It seemed that more functionality meant less space.

In the previous release Oracle started to address that. The big chat media bar across the console and below the ribbon was replaced by a small media bar on the top-right corner. Furthermore, the tools windows could now be re-located and collapsed.

With this release, Oracle gives even more flexibility. Staff members can now dock any of the tool windows – Recent Items, Quick Search, and Navigation – to the Status Bar. This means they will have even more space and freedom to re-arrange the UI. (see below the Quick Search bar docked to the status bar).


Context and Pinned Recent Items

The “Recent Items” section was always useful as it displayed the records and items a staff member was working on recently. But the truth is sometimes the list could get long and sometimes not big enough for the number of records a staff member opened in a short period of time.

The new release of Oracle Service Cloud will allow staff members to select items from the context menu in search fields. An example is: when opening a contact from a contact search field in an incident, the menu will display other recently opened contacts (see screenshot below). Notice that this will only work for incidents, contacts, organisations, tasks, chats, assets, custom objects workspaces.


On top of that, staff members will also be able to pin recent items. For that they just have to click the pin icon that displays when hovering over a recent item. Those pinned items will be fixed at the top of the “Recent Items” tool window.


Enhanced Drop-Down Menus

Sometimes a long list of values in a drop-down menu could be a pain for staff members, forcing them to scroll down to find the right value. The new release of Oracle Service Cloud brings an enhanced drop-down menu capability, displaying the last 10 selections at the top of the menu (in a section labelled “Recent”). Furthermore, the list of values will be sorted alphabetically and filtered as the staff member types the letters.


Sub-Tabs in Message Template Editor

Any experienced admin knows that it was only possible to edit one Message Templates at a time. This is due to the fact that when selecting a Message Template and clicking the “Edit” link, the Message Template editor opens in a new window, and it is not possible to open a second one.

The Nov 2014 release brings a new Message Template editor that uses the sub-tab functionality (introduced in the Aug 2014 release). This means that it is possible for an admin to edit more than one Message Template at the same time.


Conditional Subject Lines and Content for Message Template

Furthermore, the new release lets admins create conditional subject lines, in order to have different subjects for different types of customers. By using advanced subject editing it is possible, for example, to change the subject line dynamically based on product, category, or any other custom field. Notice that it is possible to add up to 10 conditional subject lines per Message Template.


And that is not all for Message Templates. It was already possible to include conditional sections in Message Templates using a variety of fields, but now admins can also define the content to show, based on the number of threads included within the sent message, using the Message Thread Count record located in the “Special Fields” folder (see screenshot below).


Email Response to Single Address

Before, if a customer had more than one email addresses, a response from a staff member was sent (by default) to all those mailboxes.

Now, with the Nov 2014 release, staff members can select a single email address for the response and limit the responses to be sent to a single email address. For that, admins need to enable the OE_SVC_SENDMAIL_SINGLE_ADDRESS configuration setting (that can be found in Common > General > Outgoing Email).

Notice that the default value for the response is the primary email address. However, if an incident is created from the CP, chat session or by the Techmail, the value is set to the email address the request was sent from. That email address will remain for the life of the incident.


New Merge Fields for Survey Notification Message Template

The Survey Notification message template would allow admins to use merge fields from Account, Contact and Surveys, as well as some special fields.

With the Nov 2014 release, admins can also use merge fields from Chat, Incident, Opportunity and Question Sessions.

Support for IPv6 Values

From the Nov 2014 release, fields and URLs used on the Dynamic Agent Desktop can now support IPv6 values (Note: IPv6 is intended to replace IPv4, which still carries more than 96% of Internet traffic worldwide as of May 2014).

Single Sing-On (SSO) Enhancement

This functionality was introduced a few releases back, but the information describing the service providers a staff member was logged in to using SSO was stored in a cookie located on the user’s machine.

From now on, that information is stored in a table in the database, removing any constraint in relation to the number of service providers a user can be logged in to, as well as enhancing security since the logout process continues regardless of the user’s browser closing before the process completes.

Furthermore, the SSO SAML token can now support multiple sites, meaning that the SSO framework supports the seamless exchange of SAML tokens across different interfaces of a site that are on different domains, preventing users from being asked for login credentials if they log in to one interface and then try to access a service provider that is configured on a different interface located on a different domain.

Invalidate Password

Admins will now see an “Invalidate Password” check box when creating or editing a staff account. This option will let admins invalidate a staff member’s password, disabling at the same time the “Change Password” button.

This functionality brings best practice in terms of security. Before, the admin would send the password via email to the staff member. Whereas with this functionality the staff member is forced to request a password reset using the “Login Help” (on the Login window).

The “Login Help” requires the staff member to have a valid email address, and uses a form post to reset the password. After the staff member resets the password, the check box is automatically cleared.

Skill Requirement Relaxation Timer

Chat Advanced Routing was introduced in the May 2014 release, making it possible to route incoming chats to agents based on their specific language, product skills and workload.

This functionality was now enhanced with the Skill Requirement Relaxation Timer, which improves the assignment of chats to staff members based on their skills while eliminating long wait times for customers to be matched with a staff member with the right skill set.

Enhanced Co-Browse

Co-browse has been part of Oracle Service Cloud for a long time. It is a functionality very much appreciated by companies that use this platform.

The Nov 2014 release brings an updated version of co-browse making it support more browsers, complex browser technology, computer platforms, one-click co-browse launching, and custom security.

The only thing to be aware of is that this newest version of co-browse will only work with the Customer Portal Framework Version 3.2. and there are two new widgets in the CP:

  • chat/ChatCobrowsePremium
  • utils/CobrowsePremium

Search Dialogue Enhancements

Two enhancements have been added to make it easier to use menu fields with a large number
of options when searching reports and dashboards.

  • Search text area: Staff members now have a search text area where they can start typing the value they want to locate. As they type the letters the menu changes to display only the values that match the text that is being typed.
  • Splitter bar: A splitter bar was also added to the menu filter. Clicking the bar expands the list of menu items to display the menu items a staff member has selected. The list of selected items is not displayed by default, but can be expanded and saved as the default layout by report users and when editing reports on the report designer.

Browser UI in the Nov 2014 release


It’s been a long time since a part of the Oracle ecosystem (customers, partners, employees, advisers) started being vocal about a browser based user interface (UI) for the Oracle Service Cloud Agent Desktop.

There were many reasons for this. Among those were…

  • The Agent Desktop thick client had to be installed in every machine
  • The Agent Desktop was based on Microsoft .NET technology
  • The Agent Desktop look & feel was very similar to Microsoft Outlook
  • The stronger competitors all have browser based user interfaces

In my opinion some are pertinent, others not so much. The click-once deployment makes it easy to install the Agent Desktop. The .NET client is much faster, efficient and flexible than a browser based UI – how do you access Facebook, Gmail or online banking in your smartphone or tablet? via the browser or via an app? App… obviously! Get it?.

Also, what the competition does (even if all of them do) is not necessarily the right or best thing. Did the most successful companies and man follow others or believed in their own idea? And if the technology and framework is good (.NET) why change it? – ok, I accept if the reason is standardisation. On top of that, if the look & feel is familiar, the adoption rate is naturally high.

Anyways, the browser based UI for the Oracle Service Cloud Agent Desktop has been on the roadmap for a while, and it is going to become available in the Nov 2014 release, despite it is on its first steps.

The browser UI will come with some basic but important functionality. This first iteration will bring some Service functionality for Customer Service staff, giving them the ability to view, manage and fill their inbox. Users can work on incidents as well as create, read, update Contacts, etc.

Custom Fields can be displayed in the workspaces but workspace rules or workflows will not be supported for the time being. Add-ins like CTI or Chat media bars, or Sales and Marketing functionality are also not supported, but are obviously on the browser UI roadmap.

The browser UI is not intended to replace the Dynamic Agent Desktop console. At least not for the time being or the coming releases. In my point of view, it will only serve to address those mobility and accessibility challenges for a few customers and customer service staff.

Improving CX… What vs How

The advent of internet, mobile and social media transformed the way we live and interact with our family and friends. And we now expect to use the same means and devices to interact with companies. That changed the world of business.

It is now a hyper-competitive world, where companies are no longer competing within the boundaries of their cities, regions or countries. They now have to go head-to-head with companies from all over the world.

A new breed of customers emerged on the first decade of the 21st century. People that are always connected, better informed, extremely demanding and constantly sharing. From anywhere, at anytime, using any device.

To satisfy this type of customer, companies are looking to improve the Customer Experience (CX) they provide. And for that they are listening to what CX gurus have to say. Amongst many opinions, some are very common:

a) “Be where your customers are” – meaning, you should be on social media. Create a Facebook page and Twitter profile, etc.

b) “Customers prefer text-enabled conversations” – meaning, you should open new channels. Offer Live Chat, SMS, etc.

c) “Be trustworthy and transparent” – meaning, provide a service that makes your customer love and be loyal to you.

This is great piece of advice. It tells companies “What” they should do. But it does not tell them “How” they should do it. So many companies get stuck not knowing how to go about this “improving CX” stuff. Many questions arise…

a) What happens after I go to social media and a crisis comes in my direction? How can I manage or even prevent that?

b) Are the new channels going to overload (even more!) my contact centre? Do I need to hire more agents to deal with chat and SMS?

c) How can I, as a company, build trust? Moreover when conversations are increasingly less face-to-face or voice? I can’t even build a human rapport!

This is where technology can help. But be careful! Without a proper consulting exercise, and a specialist support, companies tend to get it wrong. They usually go and buy new (and cheap) application(s) to cope with the need.

Invariably this leads to failure. It only makes companies increase head count in the contact centre, increase disruption between teams/departments/channels, and consequently deliver a poorer service, ultimately loosing customers’ trust.

Technology is like a nuclear weapon – when in wrong hands… What companies need is to work alongside business solutions specialists that know the various options in the market and how to align the technology with the business. Finally complementing the “What” with the “How”.

A customer-centric/omni-channel strategy and platform needs to be put in place. That platform should be able to receive and manage interactions regardless of the channel, in order to allow agents to work cross-channel.

It should enable proactive, consistent and authentic interactions, that ultimately drive trust. It should allow companies not only to be where their customers are but also to monitor and engage them via their preferred channel.

It should give means to better communicate via these new channels, and collect all data and information necessary for agents to better know who, when and how they are talking to, delivering a truly personalised and convenient service.


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