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May 2013

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Q&A: Oracle's Christie Flanagan on the Smartest Journey to Connected, Multichannel Experiences

With our trusty smart phones switched on 24/7, we are living in an always-connected world. Yet too often, customer experiences are frustratingly disjointed as we move from stores to call centers to brand Websites.

We asked Christie Flanagan, director of product marketing for Oracle WebCenter Sites, to provide a roadmap to connected, multichannel experiences across the entire customer journey, from research and selection to purchase, service, and recommendation.

Q. Why are consistent, multichannel customer experiences so important today?
A. Every minute of every day, the world conducts 2 million search queries on Google, shares nearly 700,000 pieces of content on Facebook, and creates 571 new Websites. Needless to say, customers are interacting with brands across a variety of channels: direct, in-store, call center, Web, mobile, and social.

For example, a customer may have clicked through to your brand's Website via a peer recommendation on a social network. Another customer may want to make a purchase online, but pick up the item in the store. Or maybe a prospect researches an offering on your marketing site, but later will log into a secure portal to manage their account. The point is, no matter what course their journey takes, customers expect every touchpoint to be connected and consistent.

Q. Why is the delivery of a cohesive and consistent multichannel customer experience such a challenge?
A. Many organizations have most of what they need in place—people, processes, and technology—to manage each individual channel. The problem is, too often these resources exist in silos. Meanwhile, customers' needs are constantly changing as they move from research, selection, and purchase to the service and recommendation phases of the customer lifecycle.

To ensure a connected experience across all touchpoints, organizations must integrate their customer experience technologies, including Web experience management, faceted search, e-commerce, and portal. Otherwise they're bound to deliver disconnected experiences that result in disappointment and frustration.

Q. This sounds like an ambitious undertaking. Where is the best place to start?
A. The online channel is often the ideal place to begin a multichannel initiative, since it's a channel that impacts the many phases of the customer journey. And Oracle WebCenter Sites provides many capabilities for creating the multichannel customer experience.

For example, it enables you to drive dynamic experiences across Web, mobile, and social channels, thanks to tools for personalization and social and interactive capabilities. Just as important, it provides you with the flexibility you need to effectively connect the customer experience across a range of other channels and touchpoints.

Q. How does Oracle WebCenter Sites enable organizations to drive connected experiences?
A. First of all, Oracle WebCenter Sites enables organizations to quickly and efficiently extend their Web presence to literally thousands of different mobile devices. It also makes it easy for site visitors to share content they like on their social networks, helping you extend the reach of your brand.

Q. How does Oracle WebCenter Sites help integrate with other touchpoints and channels?
A. OracleWebCenter Sites integrates with Oracle Commerce Solution, which means you can deliver a consistent experience across marketing and commerce sites, or add search and guided navigation to your existing site. You can also integrate with Oracle WebCenter Portal to drive seamless experiences as customers move from marketing sites to self-service portals. Finally, by integrating with Oracle's customer relationship management and marketing automation and revenue performance management offerings, including Oracle’s Siebel or Oracle Eloqua Marketing Cloud Service, you can deliver integrated and consistent marketing campaigns, including e-mail, direct mail, and direct sales engagement.

Find out more about Oracle WebCenter Sites.

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