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Q&A with VP Jon Ekoniak: The New Customer Experience Mandate

Everyone in the world of CRM is talking about customer experience, also known as CX. To shed light on this hot topic, we turned to Jon Ekoniak, vice president of applications marketing at Oracle.

Q. What is customer experience?
A. Customer experience is the sum of all the interactions a customer has over an entire course of a relationship with a supplier of goods and services. The twist is seeing the world through the eyes of the customers. Today, most organizations are optimized around their own efficiencies rather than the customer. Here's a simple example: customers don't care if service and sales represent different organizations. They want a consistent and efficient experience whenever they interact with a brand.

Q. How do leading brands win and keep customers with great experiences?
A. First, they provide consistency. They consistently deliver on their brand promise, and that means across all channels: in-store, online, mobile, etc. They see the world through customers’ eyes—because customers buy from a brand, not from a channel.

Top brands also provide personalization. Too often, organizations treat customers like the person at the party who says "nice to meet you"—the third time you've met. Personalization is a matter of respect—the foundation of any positive interaction.

And of course by knowing individual customers, you can deliver more efficient experiences—plus more-relevant information and offers as well as rewards to drive retention.

Q. What are the biggest challenges of customer experience?
A. The most fundamental challenge is getting organizations to align around customer needs rather than their own optimized processes. For example, they have to remove silos that actually incent inferior experiences, such as in-store internet retailing kiosks that are seen to harm store sales, or self-service that lowers service costs but ends up creating poor customer experiences.

Most organizations also have yet to invest in next-generation analytics that can move them past blanket offers to provide effective, targeted, relevant offers.

Q. It's been said in relation to customer experience that doing nothing is not an option. Why?
A. Larger economic forces—the internet, intense global competition, and extremely fast product development—have made it very hard to compete on either price or features and functionality. At the same time, social computing has eroded the power of traditional marketing. As a result, providing an excellent customer experience is one of the only ways achieve competitive advantage.

Q. What is the real business value/ROI on customer experience?
A. You begin to see the upside when you consider the Harris Interactive poll that found 86 percent of U.S. adults are willing to pay more for better customer experiences. Excellent customer experiences strengthen brands, which supports higher margins. It also drives retention, and potentially, positive chatter in social networks.

You also drive operational efficiencies when you recognize and understand customers across all channels. At the same time, when you combine this understanding with sophisticated analytics, you can deliver much more effective offers and rewards.

Q. What differentiates Oracle’s customer experience offerings from competitors’ offerings?
A. First, Oracle delivers by far the most comprehensive, integrated CRM solutions on the market. No one else has the ability to drive consistent, cross-channel experiences across all touchpoints. And only Oracle enables customer experiences as well as deep integration with supply chain, distribution, and order orchestration and management solutions.

And now, with key acquisitions such as RightNow, Endeca, Inquira, Vitrue, and Collective Intellect, Oracle also offers the most-sophisticated analytical tools available for customer insight, real-time product recommendations, and more.

Learn more about Oracle’s customer experience solutions.

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