Racksapce Wins SuperNova Award For Next Generation Customer Experience With Zimbra Community

Each year at our conference, Constellation’s Connected Enterprise, companies submit case studies in several categories, including next generation customer experiences.

This post is about how Rackspace, who was a SuperNova Award Winner for Next Gen Customer Experiences, used a Zimbra Community, along with Rackspaces’s Knowgedge Center and Support Drawer to provide a global online community that provides its customers with a central place to share questions, discuss challenges, rate content and provide feedback.

Overall, the Rackspace community focuses on scaling the delivery of Fanatical Support, educating core customers, increasing customer engagement and sharing Racker knowledge.

A few standouts about the community include:

  • Previously, there was no mechanism available to provide assistance with non-supported products being used by customers. With the Rackspace community, the ability to share experiences about non-supported products now exists.
  • Customers now have direct access to Rackspace-produced content and information obtained in conversations with other customers about issues that may be applicable to all customers. Prior to the community, this was not readily available to customers.
  • Customers now have access to transparent communication with Rackspace leadership around important issues.

The results and benefits?

Next Generation Online Holiday Sales Customer Experience Trends

Wondering what consumers were interested in this year? Wondering what the top gift was? How many millions or billions of dollars of products were bought and where? How social networks played into the shopping equation? This post provides data on all of these topics and more. Adobe released its 2014 Digital Index Online Shopping data for the holiday season. Between November 1 and November 28, $32 billion have been spent online. That is 14 percent more than in 2013. Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday set new sales records with $1.33 billion and $2.4 billion, respectively.

When people talk about sleeping with their phones, it seems that the trend is continuing as mobile devices continue to play a dominant role. For the first time smartphones nearly doubled their share of total online sales on both days. November 11 (“Singles’ Day”) set a new sales record with $1.29 billion and is expected to surpass Cyber Monday in growth this year. The average order value for sales coming directly from a social network was led by Facebook with $114.45.

Wondering how the data was collected? The findings are based on the analysis of aggregated and anonymous data of more than 350 million visits to 4,500 retail websites. More than $7 out of $10 spent online with the top 500 U.S. retailers were measured by Adobe Marketing Cloud. Measuring this amount of data puts Adobe in a unique position to possibly deliver highly accurate, census-based online sales totals, pricing and product availability trends as well as other retail data.

For those companies that want and need this type of data to provide better and next generation customer experiences, this type of data is really important. Companies need to see where their customers are and where and how they make their purchase decisions. Some of the trends that Adobe was looking at are as follows:

  • Total Online Spend: Consumers spent $32 billion online so far this season, a 14 percent growth year-over-year (YoY). Both Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday saw double-digit growth in online sales, 25 and 24 percent respectively. The increase in sales was driven by brick-and-click retailers, who saw the biggest jump YoY with nearly 30 percent. Online sales conversions also improved. 3.2 percent of visits resulted in a completed shopping cart, up from 3.14 percent in 2013. The average order value was $149 on Thanksgiving Day, and $142 on Black Friday. The number of people choosing to order online and pickup in-store rose to 45 percent above normal on Thanksgiving Day.
  • Mobile Trends: Smartphones and tablets continued to drive online sales. 29 percent of sales on Thanksgiving Day came from mobile devices, up from 21 percent in 2013. Mobile devices drove 27 percent of sales on Black Friday, three percent more than last year. The share for smartphones rose to 13 percent and almost doubled compared to seven percent last year. The share for tablets only increased slightly to 16 percent from 14 percent in 2013. iOS users drove four times as much mobile sales revenue as Android users, 79 and 21 percent respectively.
  • Best Deals: Between Sunday and Monday before Thanksgiving the average online price fell 5.5 percent, 0.5 percent more than forecasted, representing the highest price drop in a single day in 2014. Thanksgiving Day saw the lowest prices online with an average discount of 25.2 percent, 1.2 percent lower than in 2013.
  • Impact of Social Networks: The average order value (AOV) for sales coming directly from social networks was led by Facebook with $114.45. Pinterest came in second with $93.20, and Twitter drove online sales of $90.74 on average. Pinterest saw the largest YoY increase in AOV, up 16 percent. Facebook (seven percent) and Twitter (five percent) also saw slight increases. Two percent ($74.6 million) of purchases came directly from social media sites, which is flat compared to 2013.
  • Singles’ Day Surprise: For the first time, Singles’ Day let U.S. retailers start the holiday shopping season earlier this year. Online sales on November 11 set a new record with $1.29 billion, a 16 percent YoY increase, and close to online sales on Thanksgiving with $1.33 Billion. Singles’ Day is expected to grow faster than Cyber Monday and become one of the top five days with the lowest online prices this season.
  • Top Gifts: Social media buzz continued to be an early indicator for top gifts. 4K TVs saw the biggest jump in social buzz month-over-month (MoM) with social media mentions for Sony and Samsung increasing 350 percent. Fitbit led the wearable device category, which had 100,000 social mentions on Thanksgiving and Black Friday while iPhone 6 continued to lead in the smartphone category.

“Consumer use of larger screen smartphones helped drive significant increases in mobile online sales – enough to set records two days in a row,” said Tamara Gaffney, principal analyst, Adobe Digital Index.

This type of data and its use- meaning not just data but insights that are business actionable-  are what will make next generation customer experience rock in the coming years. It will be interesting to see how many companies really begin to use “big data” and analytics in ways that end up helping companies gain and retain their customers.


VP and Principal Analyst, Covering Marketing, Sales and Service To Deliver Great Customer Experiences

Constellation Research




How Retailers Can Optimize Their Holiday Shopping ROI

Who Shops When

While one third of all consumers do their Christmas shopping ten days before Christmas it’s not a good idea for retailers to wait this long to start their holiday marketing strategy. After all, retailers earn around 20 percent of their profits between Late November and December. In order to take full advantage of shoppers’ buying behaviors during the holidays, it’s important for you to fully optimize your holiday shopping ROI.

When and What to Promote

As with all aspects of marketing, the most important part is to know and understand holiday shopping behavior. You can separate holiday shoppers into three categories:

Early Shoppers – Many shoppers fall into this category, most likely because of Black Friday. These shoppers will purchase their gifts at least one month in advance.
Average Shoppers– These consumers purchase the majority of their gifts during the first two weeks of December. Interestingly, these shoppers make up only 21 percent of the holiday shopper demographic.
Late Shoppers – The second highest demographic, these shoppers wait until the last week to make their purchases.

What to Put on Sale

If you want to appeal to all three groups, you should already have come up with a promotional plan earlier on in the year and have it ready to launch by Thanksgiving for best results. When deciding what to put on sale you should consider the following:

● Items that are overstocked
● Items with the best profit margins
● Items in great demand

More importantly, you should keep in mind that your promotions should keep your current customers happy and attract new ones. Marking off your cheapest items might attract bargain hunters, but they are unlikely to stick around holidays and convert into regular consumers. If you use your market research and consumer profile to find the perfect items to put on sale you will be able to increase your revenue overall for the following years.

How to Promote Your Products and Services

Brick and Mortar Stores

While brick-and-mortar stores still have their place during the holiday season, more consumers are turning to the Internet for all of their shopping needs. This means that your holiday promotion should extend to your online presence as well. Adding simple things like holiday promo images or holiday sales tab on your website can significantly increase your sales. As well, if you don’t already have a mobile strategy, now is the time to implement one. After all, 66 percent of tablet owners and 76 of smartphone owners will make holiday purchases.

Website Optimization

While your website might be command a majority of our attention, it’s important that you don’t neglect social media. Traditional advertising doesn’t have the same effect it used to. Today more people trust social media recommendations from their friends and family over commercials and ads. One of the best ways to get some easy shares and likes is to use the various social ads available on sites like Facebook and Twitter. You can easily target your exact demographic and the more people who like your ad, the better your chances of making some sales. For increased visibility you can also host a some holiday themed contests and giveaways.

Email Lists

Your email list is another great way to generate more interest and revenues. While it might seem spammy to send out Christmas sale emails, remember that those who signed up for your newsletters are directly interested in your product. So long as you don’t flood their inboxes with emails, you’ll likely see a higher open and click through rate during this season. Of course, you still need to make sure your email is designed well and has a strong call-to-action for the products you choose to display. Your email should showcase your products and sale items immediately upon opening to capture your reader’s attention.

Don’t Let the Holidays Sneak up on You: Start Your SEO Strategy 3 Months Prior To Holiday Shopping

Pulling off a successful holiday marketing campaign doesn’t have to be stressful as long as you plan your strategy in advance. You should map out your plan at least 4 months before the holidays and start on your SEO strategy at least 3 months prior to your actual holiday promotions. Once you have everything in place, all you need to do is roll out the plan and make small tweaks as necessary and you and your consumers can have a happy and festive holiday season.

Guest Blog Post by: Ivan Serrano


Salesforce Unveils Next Generation Social Studio

If you have been wondering what Salesforce has been up to, they have unveiled their next generation social studio, which is now fully integrated into the Salesforce Marketing Cloud. It’s got an interesting twist in that it includes next generation social listening, social customer service for service teams and new social lead engagement for sales teams. It seems that the world is finally getting that from the customer’s point of view, that they are not talking to Sales, or Marketing or Customer Service — the customer is talking or interacting or engaging with a company. And to have all of that contained in one application or platform and make the customer information available for all of the various functional departments seems like the best way to make customers feel hear and listened to.

Social media is ubiquitous with customers, yet many companies are still struggling with how social can improve business decisions and processes. Customers and Consumers are adopting social and digital very fast, where as companies are dragging their feet, some kicking and screaming or others even turning a blind eye to it.  As a result, many companies are falling into the digital transformation / customer experience gap.

Digital Disruption Transformation Chasm

Social Studio including a simple user interface that empowers any employee to benefit from social listening and engagement on desktop and mobile devices. Innovations include social customer service for service teams and new social lead engagement for sales teams. Leading global brands like Activision, McDonald’s, and ADP leverage Social Studio and the Salesforce Customer Success Platform to connect with customers in a whole new way.

What Functional Departments Want and Need

Marketers want to run social campaigns, engage with customers, and use social insights to drive marketing decisions. Service teams need to surprise and delight their customers with social customer care. Sales teams need to find and connect to new customers faster with social lead generation. However, social is still isolated from key customer interactions. This means that many companies will fall into the customer experience / digital transformation chasm. However, with the right strategy, leadership, people, process and technology can prevent a company from not crossing the chasm and catch up to customers and consumers.

How Is Salesforce Tackling The Digital Transformation Chasm

What Salesforce has done it build the next generation of Social Studio, using on the best elements of Radian6 and Buddy Media and extending social listening, analysis, content marketing and engagement across the Salesforce Customer Success Platform. It also includes a completely new social listening and sentiment engine monitors more than one billion social data sources from Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, blogs, news sites and more.

Social Studio is designed to meet the scale of the largest multi-brand, multi-region companies, enabling social media teams to empower other groups throughout an enterprise with a unified, easy-to-use social solution for sales, service and marketing. Social marketing and community management teams can finally get rid of their spreadsheets and manage social content calendars in Social Studio. Integration with Social.com, the Marketing Cloud’s social advertising solution for agencies and advertisers, allows teams to monitor top performing content published from Social Studio directly within Social.com, and amplify the content with sophisticated social advertising campaigns to reach more current and potential customers.

Social Studio in the Service Cloud 

Leveraging Social Studio, customer service teams can easily monitor social channels for customer support issues, create a customer case to be managed in the Service Cloud and route these social cases to right person or team to ensure timely resolution of customer issues. With the combined power of Social Studio and the Service Cloud, any company can surprise and delight customers with social customer care on the world’s leading social networks, including Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Sina Weibo. For the first time, every Service Cloud customer can now get started with social customer service for no additional charge, managing up to two Facebook or Twitter accounts directly from the Service Cloud. Social customer service drives business results, as customers spend 20-40 % more with a company when the company responds to customer service requests over social media.

Social Studio in the Sales Cloud

Two-thirds of marketers see lead generation benefits with social media1. Now sales reps can use Social Studio to find and connect to new customers faster with social lead generation. By listening to conversations across more than one billion social data sources sales reps can identify new leads and engage with them in real-time directly from the Sales Cloud. In addition, using Social Studio, Sales Cloud can automatically make Pardot marketing automation and lead scoring more efficient by adding social data, such as sentiment or influencer status, to campaigns and leads.

Social Studio Partner Program

Social Studio is an open platform where any developer, ISV, customer or partner can directly build and deploy applications. Social Studio launches today with a select partner program that brings together seven of the industry’s leading vendors for visual content and compliance and rights management, content discovery and performance marketing. Partners include Getty Images, Nexgate, a division of Proofpoint, Pressly, Rallyverse, Shutterstock, and Trendpottr.

And that’s one of the ways brands are solving the issue of not following into the customer experience conference and the digital transformation chasm. But it’s not just technology, its got to be a people, process and technology combination. And it has to lead by senior executives, the Board of Directors and become pervasive throughout a culture. And that is a big initiative to accomplish and needs organizational change management. And while people have been talking about organizational change management for years, perhaps it’s time has found its time and place and will finally be taken seriously.


VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research

Covering Marketing, Sales and Customer Service by Delivering Customer Experiences.


ServiceSource Announces New CEO: Christopher M. Carrington

ServiceSource® (NASDAQ:SREV), a leader in recurring revenue and customer success management, today announced that its Board of Directors named Christopher M. Carrington as the company’s next Chief Executive Officer, effective December 1. ServiceSource pioneered the B2B  the recurring revenue management industry in 2003.  Today they uses a unique combination of cloud-based technologies and managed services to deliver higher subscription, maintenance and support revenue, and improved customer retention on behalf of the largest and often fastest growing technology  companies in the world.

B2B companies use ServiceSource to drive growth and build long-standing relationships across the customer lifecycle. Through its software and services, ServiceSource delivers higher subscription, maintenance and support revenue, and improved customer retention. The company is headquartered in San Francisco.

ServiceSource® manages over $14.5 billion in revenue for the world’s largest and most respected technology, industrial, healthcare and life sciences, and media and information companies.

Mr. Carrington said, “For years I’ve closely watched ServiceSource build its market-leading position serving the world’s most prominent B2B brands. I’m honored to join this team and look forward to helping ServiceSource deliver against its true potential.

It will be interesting to see where the B2B after sales service industry goes. It’s interesting to me that it has become its own category of Customer Service. When I as a management consultant, we just called it account management. But with personalized service of the account along with software it seems that the industry has automated much of what executive account managers used to do.

This may mean there is yet another thing that management consulting companies don’t have to provide/sell to add value to their clients. And that means that management consulting companies really need to change their revenue and business model. Some are and some still don’t get it.


VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research

Covering Marketing, Sales and Customer Service to Deliver Great Customer Experiences


Birst Marketing Analytics Paints a Complete Picture of the Customer Journey

Today’s marketing technology landscape represents a whopping 947 different companies that provide software for marketers, focused on specific functions such as marketing automation, web data analysis or customer relationship management. What this means is that the job of the CMO and Marketer has become increasing complex. The other issue is that often the technology decisions in a company used to be made by IT are now being made by the line of business, or in this case in Marketing.

With the role of IT changing, and Marketers choosing their own line-of-business technology themselves, this has shifted the overall landscape of how technology is chosen, implemented and maintained. Another issue is that not enough CEO’s really understanding the strategic value of marketing and analytics to the point that they themselves are engaged in the decision making process – i.e., choosing the right technology for their organization and / or using the information about their customers to transform their products and services. What’s really required as part of doing business in 2015 is a shift in the overall business’s business model to a more digitally transformed business where all levels of executives are involved in not only the selection but also the use of the data and analytics to make better business decisions.

The Birst Marketing Analytics Accelerator simplifies this increasingly complex marketing landscape by bringing in data together from multiple data sources and embedding the insights into every marketing decision — all using a single platform. Birst provides marketing data readily available in user-ready formats so that marketers can intelligently navigate the customer journey.

Marketers not only focus on nurturing new prospects, but also building loyalty and retention strategies. This means that they are not only responsible for acquiring customers, but also keeping them. However, leveraging data to be able to do all that has become increasingly complex with marketers drowning in a sea of technology solutions.

Brad Peters, Chairman and Chief Product Officer of Birst says, “With Birst’s Marketing Analytics Accelerator marketers can link the various contact points along the market journey of their prospects and customers, which often spans multiple applications, to create a complete picture of how customers are found, sold and on-boarded. We are making it easier than ever to put valuable insights into the hands of marketers to not only improve effectiveness, but to quantify value.”

2015 will be the year that companies either make the decision to go forward with the digital transformation or be left behind. It’s a very important decision that should not be overlooked by CEO’s, CIOs, CTO’s, CFO’s and CMO’s as well as Customer Service Professionals. It may even mean that a whole new role, something like a Chief Digital Officer, is created for every brand and that is the person who pulls all the “old” various roles together to help them see how their role should transform as well as how the company or brand should shift their business model to a more digitally oriented business model, where customer data, at every touchpoint is used to make better business decisions. This requires that the senior leadership team recognize this need and step-up to the plate and make it happen within their organization.


VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research

Covering Marketing, Sales and Customer Service to create Great Customer Experiences


Live Webcast: Can Brands Keep Their Promises?

Companies like Apple, REI, Amazon, and Zappos are known for providing exceptional customer experiences. They’ve set the standard, and yet there are still upstarts like Everlane, Birchbox, One King’s Lane, and Zulily, to name just a few that are setting new standards. Since we’re headed into the holiday high season for retailers, I thought it was only fitting to mention a line of businesses clamoring to delight you. What brands come to your mind?

What you’ll learn in our Webcast on: Can Brands Keep Their Promises? 

1. Why it’s important for brands to keep their promise
2. How organizational change is affecting the ability to deliver true transformation digital customer experiences
3. How technology must be integrated with people and process to deliver what customers expect

One of the issues is the whether the CXO level truly understands the digital disruption that is happening. The digital division between businesses that get the value of the digital transformation era and those that don’t is getting bigger and bigger. Those that do get it, will thrive in this new economy. And those that don’t, may just disappear. Many, many businesses have gone out of business for this very reason. Will you be one of them? Please join us to discuss what CXO level professions need to know to be successful in 2015.

By the way, if you were able to join us at Connected Enterprise 2014 in Half Moon Bay this year, you may have heard Bryan MacDonald or Dr. Presser speak, so this is a chance to continue the conversations.  And if you were not there, it will be a great opportunity to hear these two wonderful speakers talk about what its going to take to make a business thrive in 2015.

Here’s who will be on the panel:

Bryan MacDonald, executive recruiter & founder of The Digital Board
Dr. Janice Presser, behavioral scientist and CEO of The Gabriel Institute

and myself, Dr. Natalie Petouhoff, VP & Principal Analyst at Constellation Research

When: Thursday, November 20, 2014 @ 10:00a.m. PT / 1:00 p.m. ET

You can register to join this webcast dialogue in just 30 seconds. 


Covering Marketings, Sales, Customer Service to great better customer experiences!


Dreamforce 2014 #D14: Benioff Announces Customer Success Platform

One of the many scoops at Dreamforce this year is the announcement of the Customer Success Platform. The idea behind what Salesforce is offering is that companies and brands need a way to connect with their customers in new ways. There are nearly trillions of devices, apps, cars, cameras, watches, etc… that could be connected. The thought being that– if everything was connected, brands could deliver better experiences that were more relevant. The result of that is to drive customer loyalty, advocacy and referrals and long-term customer lifetime value.

Salesforce has 6 core technologies: mobile, connected products, 1 to 1 capabilities for the marketing customer journey, social, data and apps. And they want brands to be able to manage it all on one platform- theirs. They showed several difference examples: GE for analytics, Coke for building mobile applications and Honeywell for sales, marketing, service, community and engagement.

Salesforce is also taking about the data divide and wants to put an end to it by making it easier to for the business people and the people who manage data to see it visualized. While that is empowering to the business users to be able to create applications, it could be an issue for IT to maintain it… and security, and… So we’ll see if things get better or worse. It will help IT get more relevant and perhaps end the cycle of departments like Customer Service suffering from the Rodney Dangerfield Affect… they just don’t get enough respect so their requests end up at the end of the IT list… Something’s gotta give… to make business run better and make customers return.

Wondering what to do once you have sold a SaaS product? Customer Success Platforms are there to help you make sure you maintain the relationship throughout the customer lifecycle so that renewals are easier. And what will be interesting is to see how the various players in the Customer Success Management field fair. If you are looking at this area there’s some of the companies you’ll want to consider: GainSight, ServiceSource and Totango… to mention a few.

What is confusing to many is what does the term “Customer Success Platform” mean? To some it means a platform to build your customer journey on and have all apps, data, devices, etc connect. To others it means managed services and/or a platform to manage a SaaS software sale after the sale – i.e., during its whole customer lifetime- way before renewal time…

It’s important for vendors to do the work to make sure the messaging is not confusing, to understand who they are selling to and very deliberately show their benefits. This means doing the persona selling buying exercise – i.e., for each persona you are selling to, know what keeps them up at night and how does your solution or platform solve that. The benefits are very different for various roles, CIOs, CEOs, CMOs, SVP of Customer Service, etc…

I’ve been writing about Customer Experience for nearly 20 years and while the technology has gotten much better, exactly what technology one needs and for what department has gotten more confusing each year. The idea of serving your customer has not changed. It’s needed and wanted more than ever. It’s important to distinguish what each vendor brings to the table for what roles and why they should be considered. It’s not an easy thing to sort out all the “very” similar marketing messaging.

I will be creating some Vendor Profiles to help our end users figure what the best choice is for their company.


VP and Principal Analyst Covering Marketing, Sales and Service to Deliver Better Customer Experiences.


ServiceSource Announces Customer Service Success Management Platform Powered by Salesforce1

The Dreamforce-related announcements are already starting to come in. Today ServiceSource announced a Customer Success solution powered by Salesforce1. Mike Rosenbaum, EVP, Salesforce Platform said, “The Salesforce1 Customer Platform is a game changer for developers and partners because it helps them build engaging, next generation apps to connect with customers in a whole new way. By opening the platform, we have made it possible for customers and partners to get their apps and data in one place, where everything is connected and in the context of their business.”

Are you a B2B business and want to make sure that your customer not only buys, but renews with you? The latest in this area is called Customer Success Management. These type of vendors not only manage the beginning of a relationship with a company but also have very smart analytics to help you see if the company is happy with your product or service way before renewal time. This is key in SaaS businesses because instead of selling the old way – on premise with maintenance upgrades, if a company is not happy with the SaaS solution, they can decide to not continue the contract. It’s much easier to switch than it used to be. And that’s what companies need to know if their clients are happy- not just at the time of sales, but throughout the life of the product / service, so when renewal time comes along, it’s a yes!…

What this means to you, if you are B2B business, is that you are enable to  provide customer success teams with a platform-oriented way to implement proven success plans and engage users with planned, high-value activities that drive customer lifetime value, reduce churn and ensure customer satisfaction.

ServiceSource is a  global leader in cloud-based recurring revenue management solutions. So if your company wants to provide better service for customers to drive growth and build long-standing relationships across the customer lifecycle, this may be a vendor to look at.  ServiceSource has a comprehensive data management, analytics, automation and services capabilities. They deliver higher subscription, maintenance, and support revenue, improved customer retention, and increased business predictability through their Renew OnDemand®, Scout® and proven services offers.

The new features include:

  • Inline Customer Health Monitoring: Embedded account status indicators and metrics within the Salesforce1 Platform visibly show how customers are using a product to consistently measure customer success at scale. 
  • Tailored Customer Plays: By combining subscription- and user-level predictive analytics with pre-planned plays, sales and customer success teams will engage each customer in exactly the right way, at the right time. 
  • High Volume Effectiveness: “Focus Categories” help customer success reps efficiently and effectively manage more accounts by pinpointing high-value customers that require immediate attention.
  • Structured Success Plans: Customer success plans provide clear visibility into the unique journey each customer takes with a company’s products and organization. Every plan incorporates a timeline view that shows where the customer is located in the lifecycle, prior activities as well as future actions required for a successful renewal.
  • Streamlined User Experience: Designed specifically for the customer success rep, the app delivers the right information from inside the Salesforce1 Platform to simplify day-to-day work and maximize effectiveness – all while maintaining seamless connectivity to the rest of the organization. Configurable “Action Tiles” quickly guide work activities and provide a closed-loop view of customer success.

ServiceSource will be at Dreamforce if you want to see more. They are a Gold sponsor at Dreamforce® ’14,  October 13-16. If you want to know more about what they are doing there at Dreamforce, here’s a link: http://www.servicesource.com/dreamforce.

The Salesforce1 Platform, ServiceSource Customer Success for Salesforce1 will be available in late fall 2014. To learn more about the ServiceSource Customer Service App, here’s a link: http://www.servicesource.com/customer-success

And if you want to follow all the announcement and all things Dreamforce, you can become a fan of Dreamforce on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dreamforce and / or Follow @Dreamforce on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Dreamforce


VP and Principal Analyst, Covering Customer Service, Sales and Marketing to Deliver Better Customer Experiences

Constellation Research


Oracle OpenWorld #OOW14 Customer Experience Wrap-Up

Why is CX or Customer Experience So Important Today?

Attending OpenWorld 2014 brought to mind the importance of making sure your customer-facing organizations are really focused on the customer.  While this may seem like a very obvious thing to say, most studies show a large gap between what customers think about the experiences they have with their customers and what the company thinks about the experiences they provide.

7  Tips for CX customers and Prospects

The craze of CX or Customer Experience is rampant, with many definitions and many different meanings to customers, companies and vendors. It’s time to get some things straight. You must first decide is CX means Marketing, Sales and Customer Service or does CX mean to your company, just Customer Service? In the new world of modern Customer Experiences, it means any customer-facing interaction. Here’s some things to think about:

1. The customer doesn’t think about interacting or engaging with a company per department or silo – i.e., Marketing, Sales, Customer Service….

2. The company must begin to understand what they have in each department – Marketing, Sales and Customer Service before then can even begin to dream of being “of service” to a customer.

3. Understanding what each department has means that each department needs to understand what software they have, what it does, does is experience when internal people use it create the experience their customers want and see and will those customers return because the experience is so good?

4. Each department needs to understand what processes, policies, people, skill sets, resources, etc… it has to  create the experience their customers want and which ones are most important to make sure they will return because the experience is so amazing.

5. Once a company has a good handle on what they have, they then need to understand where the gaps are — not only within each department, but how each department interacts with each other to make the overall customer-facing experience great.

6. Once those gaps are defined, they must be quickly closed before competitors do so, otherwise customers will walk away- either with their feet or their mouse.

7. The last piece of advice? Pivot, shift and change or get out of the way so your competitors can take care of your customers.

The take-a-ways from the CX part of OpenWorld were essentially to:

  • Discover how to deliver a seamless customer experience regardless of where or how customers connect with you
  • Learn how to differentiate your brand by creating a unified web, social, and contact-center experience
  • Gain insight into how to deliver proactive, highly personalized customer communications using closed-loop marketing and integrated analytics.

Oracle provided examples of companies that are currently in progress or have accomplished some of these goals from brands like General Motors to Insperity. (Those sessions were held in Moscone West otherwise known as CX Central)

A report by Global Insights on Succeeding in the Customer Experience Era, Oracle, 2013, showed that there is a 20% annual loss in revenue for business who don’t deliver great customer experiences. And that makes sense, because if the experience is not positive – customer will either return products or not even return to buy products and worse they will tell their friends and family. And not just in the small circles they can reach in person.

What social and digital media has basically done is to create a large megaphone for customers to share how good or bad their experiences are, in a nanosecond online and that content or those postings are permanent. As permanent as cave paintings that last thousands of years. And that’s why using a technology partner like Oracle is very important. What I learned at the conference is that they realize that it’s a lot to take in and to understand how to take existing systems and integrate all the new things. And they want to be the company you come to to get help with this. So hold them to this promise.

What has changed in CX for Oracle Customers and What Oracle has Done to invest in CX?
The acquisition of all the new technologies has helped Oracle become a more CX-focused vendor. In particular, their acquisitions in Marketing, Social / Digital and Service have been especially key. With Oracle’s Marketing Cloud and Services Cloud, customers now have a suite of Internet-hosted software along with some sales and customer service capabilities:
  • Eloqua (a marketing automation platform as the base for marketing automation)
  • BlueKai (cloud-based big data platform that enables companies to personalize online, offline and mobile marketing campaigns with richer and more actionable information about targeted audiences)
  • Responsys (e-mail marketing, web-hosted marketing technology for reaching consumers on mobile devices and social networks, display advertising and other online channels)
  • Compendium (content marketing)
  • ReadyTalk (audio and web conferencing as well as webcast hosting)
  • Vitrue (a cloud-based social marketing and engagement platform that enables marketers to centrally create, publish, moderate, manage, measure and report on their social marketing campaigns)
  • RightNow (Oracle Service Cloud including Web Customer Service, Cross Channel Contact Center, Knowledge Management, Policy Automation and Field Service) combine modern web self service, knowledge management, call center and field support software technology with social media collaboration for a consistent, superior customer experience)…

Here’s More Details on each of these acquisitions:

  • Eloqua: builds upon Oracle’s previous acquisitions of RightNow and Vitrue. The point of Eloqua is so that brands using Eloqua’s technology are better able to track, capture and analyze a potential buyer’s digital body language, including their preferences, behavior and decision-making processes, to more accurately score and qualify leads and identify high quality prospects.
  • BlueKai: includes its Data Management Platform, which centrally organizes a company’s customer and audience data in the cloud to help implement personalized marketing campaigns across all channels and deliver better results and higher marketing ROI. BlueKai also runs the world’s largest third party data marketplace to augment a company’s proprietary customer data with actionable information on more than 700 million profiles.

 And BlueKai will be /is integrated with both Responsys for B2C marketing automation and Eloqua for B2B marketing automation in order to deliver orchestrated and personalized customer interactions across all marketing activities and channels. BlueKai combined with Oracle’s Marketing and Social solutions provide customers with the ability to build the richest user profiles combining information from first party and third party sources including media, advertising, social, and mobile sources. The combination will also allow both B2B and B2C organizations to build unmatched personalized cross-channel campaigns and customer interactions across e-mail, web, social, mobile, advertising and syndicated content channels.

  • Responsys: The addition of Responsys extends Oracle’s Customer Experience Cloud, which includes Commerce, Sales, Service, Social and the Oracle Marketing Cloud. By bringing together Responsys and Oracle Eloqua in the Marketing Cloud, for the first time CMOs that support industries with B2C or B2B business models will be equipped to drive exceptional customer experiences across marketing interactions and throughout the customer lifecycle from a single platform.
  • Compendium: The addition of Compendium extends Oracle’s Customer Experience Cloud, with a cloud-based content marketing provider that helps companies plan, produce and deliver engaging content across multiple channels throughout their customers’ lifecycle. Compendium’s data-driven approach aligns relevant content with customer data and profiles to help companies more effectively attract prospects, engage buyers, accelerate conversion of prospects to opportunities, increase adoption, and drive revenue growth.

The combination of Oracle Eloqua Marketing Cloud with Compendium is expected to enable modern marketers to align persona-based content to customers’ digital body language to increase “top-of-funnel” customer engagement, improve the quality of sales leads, realize the highest return on their marketing investment, and increase customer loyalty.

  • ReadyTalk: As organizations of all sizes look at new ways to collaborate and engage audiences, the audio and web conferencing market has become increasingly competitive. To stand out in a market dominated by larger providers and successfully execute sophisticated marketing programs that fit with its customer-centric culture, ReadyTalk, a provider of audio and web conferencing services, selected Oracle Eloqua, a component of the Oracle Marketing Cloud. With Oracle Eloqua, ReadyTalk has been able to deliver highly personalized, targeted messages to nurture leads and convert customers into brand advocates, improving marketing effectiveness and ROI.
  • Vitrue:  The proliferation of social media has changed the way that organizations and consumers interact. Vitrue’s social marketing platform helps organizations enhance their social marketing efforts to the next level of social engagement by giving brands the ability to scale across multiple social networks, target messages from global to local, create unique and consistent brand experiences, and publish content that engages fans and drives leads.

Together, Oracle and Vitrue plan to enable a unified social experience across customer interactions, resulting in meaningful customer engagements with consistent brand experiences across all channels and media; improved return on investment for social sales and marketing campaigns across paid, owned and social media; and enhanced customer service through real-time responsiveness and high touch engagement.

  • RightNow: Oracle Service Cloud including Web Customer Service, Cross-Channel Contact Center, Knowledge Management, Policy Automation and Field Service provides a rich online customer experience solution so consumers can research, purchase, or resolve issues from any device and channel. Set a standard for best-in-class service by allowing your customers to interact on their own terms while you increase conversions and lower service costs. // Social-self service and social contact center enables brands to manage social interactions as a fully integrated part of the customer experience.
  • The Oracle Service Cloud social experience is designed to extend the customer experience to the places where consumers are learning, sharing, and buying across the social web. // The Cross-Channel Contact Center delivers end-to-end management of the customer journey through unified records, interfaces, and knowledge. Even your junior agents are able to deliver exceptional experiences consistently across every channel for operational efficiency and service excellence.
  • Oracle Commerce: Sitting apart, but in concert with The Service Cloud and Marketing Cloud, is the e-commerce piece of the puzzle, Oracle Commerce. Built on a foundation of business user control, the platform delivers and omni-channel support for selling online, in the store, or wherever a customer is. It Increases agility and empower marketers and merchants with the tools to manage omni-channel experiences, personalization, search and navigation, promotions, content, and more Rapidly launch sites for new brands, markets, and single-purpose campaigns. It allows for international expansion and target new geographies and segments more effectively, and includes B2B and B2C modules to better support different business and selling models
What Oracle Can Do to Improve CX for Customers
While Oracle has invested very heavily in the Marketing area, they should still look to continue to develop their offerings in Sales and Customer Service.
Sales is currently a group of solutions like Lead and Opportunity Management – which provides access anytime, anywhere with Microsoft Outlook™, and mobile capabilities for Android™, iOS™ and BlackBerry.™ And a Territory and Quota Management solution along with a Partner Relationship Management solution and Social Collaboration.
Customer Service is a combination of solutions like Knowledge Management, Semantic Search, Guided Knowledge, Knowledge Analytics, Integrated Apps to Deliver knowledge at the point of need using modern Web Self Service, Contact Center and Field Service Apps and knowledge APIs used to leverage customer context and data from external systems for step by step guidance.
In addition Customer Service includes Cross-Channel Contact Center, with case management to manage timely resolution of incidents across all your channels. It also includes guided resolution, that dynamically captures critical information through guided dialogues, as well as Customer Engagement which personalizes proactive communications with your customers from deep service profiles. The solution also includes the Social Contact Center, where one can infuse social listening and engagement into the contact center along with agent mobility to enable agents to resolve issues even when away from their desktop, along with a Unified Agent Desktop that integrate other systems into one unified experience for your agents.
Other customers continue to have customer service agents on Siebel. Siebel is used by customers in need of tailored industry solutions. While Siebel might have been a good database interface, it was not always the favorite pick of customer service agents for ease of use and functionality. Some of that capability has been greatly improved with the new Simplified User Interface. But Oracle needs to keep their eyes on their competitors who are also very customer service agent focused, making their job easier means happier, more profitable customers.
While Oracle has invested very heavily into many aspects of what it takes to deliver great customer experiences across all customer-facing aspects of the company, the need to integrate all the systems so they work as a unified solution is always the tricky part.
As analysts, we will be watching to see how easy it is for customers to take the various solutions and implement them and the amount of time it takes to integrate them. Certainly the days of old, where systems integrators made large sums of money by creating connectors or connecting systems, has been replaced by simplified API’s, etc…. But as always, the more things change, the more they say the same. The devil is in the details. And we will be watching for case studies on how all the moving parts work together.
VP and Principal Analyst, Covering Marketing, Sales and Customer Service to Create Great Customer Experiences
Constellation Research