Gatwick, not so express!

Back in 2 January I was coming back to London, from my Xmas holidays with the family, and had my pre-booked Gatwick Express ticket to London. Surprise, surprise! The service was disrupted on that weekend due to works.

Nothing we could do apart from waiting 1 hour for the next Southern Railway train which took 1,5 hours to get into London, rather than the usual 25 mins the Gatwick Express takes – reason why I paid much more for the ticket.

Obviously I contacted Gatwick Express customer service, via email, asking for a refund. The automatic acknowledgement email came back stating it would take them 20 days to respond (call that express service!).

And they did. On the 22 January I received an email asking me to send the electronic copy of the tickets. Problem was, I bought them on the train station and I already had attached a picture of them to my original email.

The response was quick. The advisor asked me to go online, download a form, fill it in and send it via post to the “Refunds Team“. I was obviously not happy with this and tweeted about it @GatwickExpress. Unlike times I praised them, and they came back asap thanking, this time no one replied.

There are many things wrong here, and I will list them below hoping that someone from Gatwick Express customer service can read it:

  • Disrupting trains on a weekend where thousands are coming back from their Xmas holidays is obviously not a good idea.
  • An SLA of 20 days to respond to a customer’s email is absolutely ludicrous.
  • Asking a customer to send the tickets when he already done it shows lack of organisation and attention to detail.
  • Asking a customer to request a refund via post is appalling (does your customer service even live on the XXI century!?)
  • Forcing a customer to use post is a deliberate manoeuvre to make it harder for people to request refunds, hoping they will quit.

It is clear to me that Gatwick Express…

  • Does not have a customer centric strategy
  • Does not have a customer experience focus
  • Does not have a 360-degree view of the customer
  • Does not have joined up operations and systems
  • Does not worry with customers expectations and effort
  • Does not want to go the extra mile for its customers
  • Does not want to embrace the digital world

Maybe they are happy with the amount of customers they have, and not worried about retaining them or acquiring more. As far as I’m concerned, I will start using the competition (Southern Railway) whenever I need to go to Gatwick Airport.

Merry CX-mas!


Oracle Service Cloud – Leader, by Forrester

Oracle Service Cloud was, once more, considered a leader by Forrester, on the “Customer Service for Enterpise” wave, in Q4 2015


November 2015 release review

Browser UI Enhancements

Oracle continues to improve the OSrvC Browser UI and the Nov 2015 release comes many new capabilities for the web-based agent desktop. Apart from the new features, the other good news is that the Browser UI is compatible with any OSrvC, since Nov 2014 release, meaning that there is no need to upgrade to the latest releases to use the Browser UI.

  • Workspace Rules are now supported, allowing the trigger of certain actions based on specific conditions.
  • The Survey by Proxy control is also available in Incidents, Contacts and Custom Objects workspaces, allowing agents to complete surveys on behalf of customers.
  • A new API was created to allow the extensibility of the Browser UI. The Browser UI Extensibility Framework allows the writing of JavaScript code to read and write data (Contacts, Incidents and Organisations) as well as create UI mashups.
  • Cc, Bcc, attachments and responses to social  media (Twitter, Facebook) messages are now supported.


  • Live Chat is now available, even though it is limited to 10 agents per site (Oracle wants to make sure it works well before rolling out fully)


  • Alongside Live Chat, the Co-Browse is also available on the Browser UI, but only on a limited level as well (view or point).


  • The Knowledgebase (Advanced) is also available for agents working from the Browser UI.


  • And super-users can also use the Browser UI now to manage knowledgebase content, editing questions and answers.


  • OSN (Oracle Social Network) or Collaboration was also included in this release and can now be used from the Browser UI.


Dynamic Agent Desktop

The Dynamic Agent Desktop (DAD) also continues to be improved, giving the normal contact centre or back-office agent more options and flexibility. In this release, the improvements are all related to the look & feel of the DAD. There is an option to enable a web theme that follows web UI patterns. New elements like toolbars, icons, navigation menus and tabs will make the DAD consistent with other Oracle Cloud products and closet to the Browser UI.


Single Sign On

The ability to log in to Oracle Service Cloud using external identity providers (IdP) was introduced in the May 2015 release. In this new Nov 2015 release OSrvC supports authentication via multiple IdPs, and it is also possible to configure SAML tokens to supports different subject types for different IdPs.


The REST API was also introduced in the May 2015 release of OSrvC. At the time it was limited to CRUD operations. Later in the Aug 2015 release it was improved to support ROQL for object queries. And now in the new Nov 2015 release it has even more capabilities for non-CRUD operations. It allows the:

  • Upload and download of attachments.
  • Execution of reports.
  • Pagination and sorting of large amounts of data.


The co-browse functionality has been part of OSrvC for a long time. Recently it was enhanced to support not only co-browsing on web and mobile browsers but also in native iOS apps.

The Nov 2015 release extends even more this capability, allowing the addition of co-browse to native Android apps.


Oracle keeps on enhancing the Accelerators that help with the integration of OSrvC and other Oracle products. One of the accelerators out there is for the integrations with Sales Cloud, but it was very limited. This new version comes with:

  • Full contact and organisation synchronization.
  • Ability to create and update opportunities in OSrvC, and save to Sales Cloud.
  • Ability to create and update incidents in Sales Cloud, and save to OSrvC.

The other great feature that comes with the Nov 2015 release is the Read/Write Report Add-in. This can be used, for example, in the integration with Siebel or eBusiness Suite, and allows the surfacing and editing of data in those system’s database from within the OSrvC agent desktop.


These reports can be easily built from within OSrvC Analytics module. In the data dictionary of the Reports Explorer, admins will be able to see virtual 3rd party tables (created by the add-in) and just drag-drop fields into the report.


Advanced Knowledge

The new OSrvC Advanced Knowledge capability (recap: this is the Oracle Knowledge product but converted into a cloud product) continues to be improved and the Nov 2015 release introduces:

  • Search in multiple sources
  • Sophisticated authoring and workflow
  • Ability to support many languages and geographies
  • REST API to support integration and extension
  • Ability to subscribe to content articles
  • Wizard to manage intent based responses
  • Updated Industry dictionaries
  • Ability to search within MS Office 2013 documents (e.g. Word and Excel)

My Oracle OpenWorld


The journey to Oracle Open World, in San Francisco, starts today and I’m really excited about it. Last year was great, with loads of good outcomes, and I’m expecting this year to be even better.

I will obviously be more interested on the sessions that are going to take place in the CX Central, with a particular and special focus on Oracle Service Cloud, even though I will attend others (e.g. Sales Cloud).

My agenda has scheduled a few sessions. To those I’m definitely going. Then I will pop in to some others as well as walk the floor to see what Oracle and the partners have to show.

I will start with “Modern Customer Service for a Changing World” as I want to hear people like Kate Leggett talking about how they address experience design, digital disruption or mobile capabilities. And also customer’s representatives sharing their experience on how they are using Oracle Service Cloud.

Then I’m looking forward to hear Christopher Patterson and Keith McFarlane about the “Oracle Service Cloud Roadmap“. I’m expecting loads of innovations, new functionalities, great improvements and exciting features coming our way.

The “Oracle Service Cloud’s Customer Engagement Center Overview and Roadmap” session with Susie Boyer should also be good. She is planning to talk about the platform’s Customer Engagement Center functionality (basically the Customer Service capabilities like incident management, knowledge base, guided assistance, customer feedback, etc.) and its roadmap to address key trends and challenges facing customer service and support organizations.

In the next day I’m planning to attend the session where my good friend Luis Figueira and a couple or Panasonic representatives are going to talk about how they have implemented Oracle CX Cloud products (Social Cloud, Sales Cloud, Marketing Cloud) in coexistence with Siebel.

The next exciting session I plan to attend is “Delivering Customer Service Excellence in the Engagement Center“. The topic is around how Oracle Service Cloud enables companies to deliver consistent Customer Service and CX across all channels.

Another couple of interesting sessions will be “Oracle Service Cloud Integration Strategy” and “Accelerating Oracle Service Cloud and Oracle E-Business Suite “. These are around integrations and coexistence and that is a hot topic.

Apart from that, I hope to see many friends and meet many peers there. Share experience and knowledge. And come back with a lot to think about, a lot of knowledge, and a lot to use on a daily basis.

August 2015 release is now available

Unified Search for Self-Service

For those organisations who use the support community (peer-to-peer community where users support each other) the new search capability unifies and integrates both answers from the knowledge base and articles from the community. This will not only improve web self-service from the customer’s perspective but also help knowledge manager find gaps in the knowledge base, by using the new set of reports that display the number of answers vs discussions viewed for a particular topic.


Unified Content for SmartAssistant

Following the above, discussions from the support community will also display in the SmartAssistant, to make use of the other customer’s knowledge to resolve even more questions online.

Customer Portal Framework v3.3

The August 2015 release of Oracle Service Cloud includes Customer Portal Framework Version 3.3. This new version includes changes to support the new web self-service features, as well as a new reference implementation, with the same standard functionality but new out-of-the-box pages with a cleaner and more modern look & feel.

Customer Portal Responsive Design

The new version of Oracle Service Cloud comes with responsive design for the customer portal reference implementation. i.e. customer portal pages will responds and adapt to the customer’s device, regardless of it being a phone, tablet, lap or desktop.

Nevertheless this does not mean that the set of mobile pages will be deprecated. No, they will still be there for those who chose to use them.

Customer Portal Product Pages

The new version also comes with Product pages. A set of pages that group content about particular products. This is more of a landing page for products. A “answer list” page filtered by product if you whish. This could and was done in the passed with custom pages and reports, but now comes with the reference implementation.

Enhanced Co-Browse for iOS

The co-browse functionality was enhanced to support co-browsing with customers on mobile devices on native iOS applications. In the past, when co-browsing with mobile customers, agents could only see the web browser, but now they will be able to see native apps as well.

Larger Email Attachments

The maximum attachment size for incoming emails (incidents) has been 5 MB. This was set on the Mailbox configurations when admins were configuring the settings for incoming email. From now on, the maximum attachment size will be 25 MB, but only on hosted mailboxes.

Limiting Source Editing in Answers

This new feature allows managers to limit the ability of agents to edit knowledge base answers inserted within an email (incident) response. This is true when agents are changing answers in HTML or source mode. Managers can control what answer content agents can edit. This is controlled at the Profile level on the Services Permissions.

Incident Response Failure

In case the email (incident) response fails (or bounces) the agent will now immediately be notified by a toast notification in the agent desktop.


Agent Browser UI Enhancements

The new version of Oracle Service Cloud brings a few enhancements to the Browser UI – which is now available for all customers, even though Oracle recommends some hand-holding when implementing it. Amongst those are the ability for agents to:

  • Forward incidents with attachments
  • Quickly insert pre-formatted text into incidents with standard text.

The reports displayed in the Browser UI were expanded and are now closer to the ones in the Agent Desktop Enhanced Console, now supporting more charts types and search capabilities (filters).

It is now possible to use a browser-type control in the Browser UI workspace in order to do surfacing type (mashup) integrations with 3rd party websites or web-based systems, with the ability to also pass data as parameter.

Routing Social Incidents

The integration between Oracle Service Cloud and Oracle Social Cloud (fka Oracle SRM) was enhanced and a most wanted functionality was included to help organisations to route incidents to the right team or agent. It is now possible to pass the Oracle Social Cloud tags (created automatically or manually) to Oracle Service Cloud and use them as criteria in the business rules to route incidents to the a specific queue.


Twitter Private Messaging

Oracle Service Cloud now supports the new Twitter policy for private messaging, which allows organisations to reply to customers via direct message even if the customer is not following the organisation’s Twitter account.

Message Templates Enhancements

It is now possible to truncate text-based merge fields in order to control the size of emails. Admins can set a maximum number of character for text-based merge fields. This will truncate the text that displays in the email. It is also possible to append an ellipsis to the displayed text to indicate there is more to read if the text length limit is exceeded. This feature is also available in Outreach and Feedback emails.

Facebook Graph API v2.0 Migration

The Facebook Graph API enables developers to read from and write data into Facebook. Facebook has migrated all applications to version 2.0 of the Graph API which results in a few changes as Facebook has tightened control over shared information and customers. For example, keyword search across all Facebook content is no longer supported. However it is possible to do keyword search on Facebook fan pages.

API Enhancements

It is now possible to use the APIs to query survey data (questions and responses) using ROQL queries.

Additional capabilities have been added to PHP Mail API mailboxes, like the ability to select any mailbox when sending e-mails and override “reply to” and “friendly from” addresses.

The REST API was extended and now support ROQL for object and tabular queries.

Supported Platform Changes

The new release of Oracle Service Cloud discontinues support for the following deprecated browsers:

  • Windows Server 2003 as a terminal service
  • Firefox v35 on the Agent Browser UI and end-user applications
  • Safari v7.1 on the Agent Browser UI and end-user applications
  • Android v2.3 and v3.x operating systems for end-user applications

How “Pret a Manger” turned a bad CX into a great CX

I have a morning routine… Leave home > take the bus to the tube station > take the tube to the City > buy a croissant at Pret > go to the office > make a tea > eat the croissant while running through the email inbox.

The morning of Aug 5 wasn’t different… until, on the second to last bite, I found a big hair in my croissant. Wooow! Disgusting! It ruined my breakfast and my morning. I had to tweet and complain about it. So that’s exactly what I did.

@Pret Not sure this is the best way to start the day. A big hair inside my croissant! :(

I must say that the reaction and response to my complain tweet surprised me.


Pret reacted in a few hours, apologised straight away in public, and tried to take the follow up conversation offline – which is exactly what the social customer service best practices advises. So I sent the DM with my email address and the Pret’s shop location. Within a few minutes the response was there, thanking and advising me that the Customer Service team was informed and would take over.

They surely did, another few minutes and I received an email (with attached incident reference #) apologising again, thanking me for giving them the opportunity to put things right, making me aware of the steps and procedures of the investigation, and advising they would be in touch soon. A few days later they got in touch again, via email. Funnily enough the same customer service rep from the initial conversation. Joanna apologised again, told me that the investigations were complete, and the shop’s manager and team were contacted guaranteeing that it would not happen again – once more, exactly what best practices advises: quick, positive, honest, transparent and diligent customer service.

To make it even better, Pret took a gesture of goodwill… ”I realise that these actions do not detract from the distress and disappointment you have experienced and so I would like to send you a £15.00 Pret Card by way of an apology for this unpleasant incident (…) thank you again for taking the time to contact us and for giving us the opportunity to try and put things right. Considering the circumstances, I really appreciate your calm and constructive feedback”.

Two weeks ago, if anyone had ask me what I thought of Pret, I would have said that they are ok and have nice sandwiches. Today, and after finding a hair in my croissant, I’m writing an email praising them! Proving that a good customer service can have a huge impact in the overall perception and customer experience. And has the power of turning a good customer or a loyal customer into an advocate, even when things go wrong.


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