by Diana Reichardt, February 2014
That predictable and familiar business model you relied on just five years ago no longer exists. Today’s multichannel customers expect immediate service from the companies they do business with, using the channel and device of their choosing—be it a mobile device, landline, e-mail, chat, text, or social media. According to a recent survey published by Oracle, more than a quarter of consumers will now post negative comments to social media sites after just one bad experience. And the social and economic impact of those actions can be significant.
In addition to those findings about damaging a company’s brand, the Oracle survey found executives estimate that negative social media comments can cost a business as much as 20 percent in annual revenues. It also revealed that 86 percent of customers stop doing business with an organization after one bad experience. And even though 93 percent of executives surveyed said that customer experience is one of their organizations’ top priorities, only 37 percent said that they have started a formal customer experience initiative.
Every manager in every customer-facing department can build a strategy and mobilize resources to address these trends. But David Vap, group vice president, Oracle applications development, believes that while isolated customer experience initiatives may improve the functions of each department, they will not help a customer who is indifferent to figuring out who on your team is responsible for solving their problem. “Customers don’t do business with your org chart,” Vap says.
So, how do executives overcome the mismatch between that traditional structure of departmental silos and their customers’ desire for an overall great experience as they interact across the many touchpoints that make up a business?
Customers don’t do business with your org chart.
Addressing thorny, cross-organization challenges requires leadership—and opinions about who owns the customer experience differ within an organization. Chris Bright, cofounder of customer experience consultancy Customer Voodoo, believes this is a significant hurdle. “Getting leadership involved across those silos is important,” he says.
Vap believes it is crucial to have an outside-in perspective and to understand where organizational gaps occur and frustrate customers as they move through a business. “We describe the customer experience by looking at it as a journey—an infinity loop that customers will go around as they interact with their favorite brands.”
The customer journey map allows leadership to bring together both business and technology executives from organizational pillars that are responsible to the customer at each of these interaction points. Leadership can then identify customer interaction hotspots and determine where the right strategy or investment can improve cross-functional business processes. This approach recognizes that despite the fact that revenue drives the inner workings of an organization, it is the quality of customer service that will ultimately define a company’s long-term business prospects.
“The risk of having your customer captured by a competitor is enormous,” says Rémond. “Before booking a reservation at one of our hotels, our customers compare on average 15 different websites. That search can be for different locations, accommodations, prices, and offers.” To prevent the customer from seeking an Accor competitor, Rémond says, the customer’s experience must be positive, consistent, and complete across touchpoints—from shop, prearrival, onsite, and departure—regardless of the channel, device, and timing the customer chooses.
The Accor global loyalty program was a key touchpoint for delivering such an experience. But customer profile and preference presented a unique challenge, because the program serves customers that purchase both luxury and economy lodging from multiple Accor brands. With more than 4,500 properties from brands such as Sofitel, Pullman, and Mercure, it was critical to know which customers were visiting which properties.
Designing a seamless customer experience at Accor was further complicated by the fact that its internal organizations include both central and local management and relays in the different countries where the company does business. In addition, Accor has three types of hotels under management: subsidiaries, managed hotels, and franchises.
To tackle that complexity, Accor set up four different committees to help define the company’s customer experience strategy. Those committees focused on tools for integration, customer knowledge, customer strategy at the macro level, and developing an integrated communication plan to articulate the plan to customers. Rémond says the committees helped with their customer experience marketing approach, but more importantly, it got the teams thinking about the change management that would be required.
Accor management needed enterprise technology to build a single, global B2C repository that could share relevant customer information, in real time, from all company websites, mobile apps, e-mail, call centers, hotel systems, and the customer care team. To accomplish that, Accor IT Vice President Eric Wyttynck says his team implemented Oracle Master Data Management, which not only gives Accor managers a 360-degree view of the client base but also delivers it in a way that supports real-time decision-making. “If you really want to succeed in your CRM project, you need to have an omni-channel approach,” Wyttynck says. “You need to consider all the channels to customers that you can have, not organizational silos, so that you get a clear view of the master data and mastery over the governance of the data.”
Accor technologists then connected the Oracle Master Data Management platform to the Oracle Real-Time Decisions solution to build “a progressive personalization curve,” which allowed them to deploy the tool on different touchpoints to further personalize data sets. This also created the framework they needed to deploy more applications.
When Accor staff implemented Oracle Real-Time Decisions, they used a step-by-step approach. “We implemented a technical pilot just to make sure that the technical aspects were working OK, and then we continued our development, adding new use cases every three or four months,” says Wyttynck. This allowed the IT team to validate the performance and connections between all the different integrated systems.
Percentage of customers who stop doing business with a company after one bad experience (Source: Oracle’s Global Insights on Succeeding in the Customer Experience Era)
The solution allows Accor to deliver consistent experiences wherever the customer chooses, and it leverages personalization and content targeting to provide the appropriate experience according to the interaction point. It also allows Accor to proactively manage offers, promotions, and bundles across hotels, locations, partners, and brands. For example, Accor can now combine four business rules to determine the most valuable and adapted offer for each individual customer based on marketing priorities, predicted brand, preferred destination, and searched destination.
Creating a seamless customer journey will take some time, says Rémond. But Accor management can already measure improvements in customers’ journey because of the technology they have implemented, such as the Oracle Master Data Management platform and the redesign of the customer profile on the website.
Wyttynck and Rémond agree that implementing the technology framework was not the hardest part. The real challenge is the internal change management, which they note is really complex in such a large organization.
“Each of our brands needs to make sure that the marketing promise, the customer promise, will be effectively delivered out in the field, thanks to the right use of customer information,” says Rémond.
“What I recommend to them is to take a really long and hard look at understanding how their business is perceived in social media as a starting point. Then they can determine the best way to interact with their customers and clients in that space,” says Bright. Having the right tools to unlock the meaningful information is the key.
To that end, Husqvarna Group implemented Oracle’s social relationship management solutions to manage workflow and social media channels. Founded in 1689 as a weapons foundry, today Husqvarna Group is the world’s largest producer of outdoor power products including robotic lawn mowers, garden tractors, chainsaws, and trimmers. As a B2B business, Husqvarna’s broad customer base includes dealers and mass-market retailers such as Lowes, as well as individual end users.
Management’s goal was to harness the fragmented social customer experience from pre-existing workflows to create a social engagement and monitoring system. That required a solution that could listen to what people were saying about the brand, engage with friends and followers, publish to multiple social channels, and provide metrics to help measure those experiences.
To be successful, the company needed to funnel all the warranty and registration information from a myriad of existing systems into its CRM system to create one true customer database master where the workflow execution could take place. This can provide key customer information, in real time, to many business stakeholders. Husqvarna uses Oracle RightNow solutions for its CRM database management, which is integrated with its Oracle-based social relationship management solution.
Executives should envision the relationship they want to have with their customers over the next decade.
Today, anything that touches a Husqvarna customer ends up in the company’s CRM system. This allows management to have one view into all of Husqvarna’s customer inquiries, whether they relate to product registration, information about a product, or something related to customer service or technical services after sales. That 360-degree view of the customer within the CRM system provides the company access to information that helps the company better understand its customers. It allows sales representatives to have important customer information in hand when they make a customer visit—knowing, for example, what the status is of a product return or whether a credit is being issued.
Lisa Gidich, global CRM manager at Husqvarna, says that the Oracle social relationship management solution allows management to control the workflow so that when someone contacts the company directly, or mentions a need, question, or complaint via Twitter, Facebook, or another popular social channel, Husqvarna can now make it actionable and do something with it. “The goal is for the Oracle social relationship management solution to allow us to funnel those social conversations to our customer service and technical service agents who handle many similar inquiries today,” she says.
According to Gidich, CRM is so widely ingrained in Husqvarna’s organization that managers no longer have discussions about how to get people to use it. The bigger push today is to make sure that everything is funneled through the CRM system, because it creates efficiencies for everyone if they are all working in the same tool.
Even though the company still faces challenges to improve its customers’ experience, Husqvarna is pretty far along on that path from a technology perspective. “We collectively meet to shape our customer experience,” Gidich says, “but we don’t necessarily have a voice-of-customer department or customer experience department per se.”
How should an enterprise begin? Oracle’s Vap says, “First, you need to figure out where the customer experiences fall down, where the brand promise is not fulfilled, and fix those. And second, it’s very important to listen to and engage with your customers, because they are communicating out there in social media channels.”
Accor’s Rémond adds that executives should envision the relationship they want to have with their customers over the next decade. “Take the time to build the vision, so that you can be ambitious enough to really make the project become a step change for the business,” she says.
Diana Reichardt is a senior writer at Oracle.