Customers Engage!

Three customer experience trends from Oracle OpenWorld 2013

by Amrit Sra, October 2013


Although CX has been a key topic at Oracle OpenWorld for many years, the 2013 conference revealed an increased focus on new ways to serve customers. It’s undeniable that customers have higher expectations that have to be met. In fact, 89 percent of consumers began doing business with a competitor, following a poor customer experience, according to The 2011 U.S. Customer Experience Impact (CEI) Report by RightNow (acquired by Oracle in March 2012). But the conversation is moving beyond using technology to merely keep customers and towards new strategies for turning customers into willing advocates who engage, transact, and recommend the brands they love.

Of course, the danger is engaging these powerful, vocal, connected, always-on customers and then failing them at some point in the interaction. So executives need to approach engaged customers with a “high risk, high reward” mentality—and strategies for delivering an exceptional experience without fail.

Executives need to approach engaged customers with a “high risk, high reward” mentality—and strategies for delivering an exceptional experience without

The Oracle OpenWorld 2013 showcased three topics related to customer experience that I believe—based on my interactions with Oracle customers—are critical to consider as part of any engaged CX initiative: customer journey mapping, multi-channel CX, and improving CX across the technology stack.

Customer journey mapping

The journey of the customer has more touchpoints, over more channels, with more detour threats than ever before. Despite the potential for customer distraction, these touch points offer exciting new opportunities for customer engagement.

For example, marketing intelligence can now identify micro-segments in the customer database that otherwise would be overlooked. And marketing automation has enabled marketers to target campaigns to these micro-segments over all available marketing channels. But combining these two established practices with engagement via customer social channels offers managers new intelligence to map and track the customer journey in real time.

Pushing that engagement into public via the customer’s social channel may raise some concerns about how customers will share their response to an engagement offer. But managers may have more influence over that response than they think. In the Oracle OpenWorld session “Innovating by Customer-Centered Design,” presenters from Motiv Strategies showed how design techniques based on a bias toward customer actions and steeped in attitudes of empathy and experimentation can help cross-functional teams innovate with customer journey mapping.

Multi-channel CX

The new understanding of customers and their journeys heightens the need for multi-channel commerce capabilities. Customer engagement no longer means a single transaction over one channel; now, it involves a long-term relationship with each customer over multiple channels—including social networks, web sites, and email distribution lists. The idea of inter-channel erosion of revenues is no longer relevant. Companies can use complementary interactions through these channels to focus attention on brands and products, and to drive customers towards retail or web commerce.

Connecting customers in physical locations to online channels is equally effective. Retail stores and gathering places such as airports or malls can offer customers the QR codes, Twitter handles and engaging Facebook pages to like and drive conversations. Virgin Mobile, for instance, is successfully driving its Lady Gaga campaign through a mix of traditional advertising with social, mobile and email marketing. Such multi-channel CX approaches can increase satisfaction and retention of existing customers as well.

CX excellence is not limited to the application layer

Customer experience management is no longer limited to a front-office issue. In order for companies to create a positive customer experience, they need to capture, organize and archive a huge amount of structured and unstructured information, and be able to reference it in real time. As a result, CX has more direct impact on, and is impacted by, all components of the stack, calling for a more comprehensive IT strategy.

Thought Leader

asra-headshot-smAmrit Sra is director of Industry Strategy and Insight at Oracle.

For instance, The Pampered Chef, a global company that sells kitchen tools and food products, had a high rate of returns due to quality control issues in the supply chain. With the help of Oracle Master Data Management and Oracle Product Information Management solutions, the call center volume dropped from 2,000 calls to almost none. The company has launched 1,500 new products since installation, realizing significant cost savings and many satisfied customers. The solutions that helped with their customer experience were at the data management level.

As expected, much of the CX discussion at the conference centered on Oracle’s CX solutions. Oracle has invested in recent years to build thought-leadership and solution-leadership in the CX space. Oracle now has a complete suite of on-premise and cloud applications, middleware, technology, and engineered systems needed to build the level of CX competency customers have come to expect from top brands in every industry. This integrated suite maximizes the return on investment for companies funding upgrades of their CX capabilities, and equips them to select, target, convert, and service customers, and eventually turn them into brand advocates.

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