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The Support Experience Blog

Hello World from the OSvC Technical Support Operations Team

Owen Sood-Giddings | 08/10/2017

It's fire season up here in Bozeman, Montana, so it seems like an appropriate time to talk about fire fighting in a support organization. In the world of support, it's all too easy to lose sight of the forest through the trees, and the smoke. You've got crises to handle (and hopefully more often, avert entirely), you've got call centers to run, and of course you've got customers who need your attention. It's demanding work, particularly because the day-to-day success of your support organization is measurable in real dollars.   A topic I'd like to introduce here, and one that we'll focus on in several future posts, is the return on investment you get by shifting some attention and resources away from the business of supporting your customers' immediate needs and investing time in maintaining and improving their overall experience. Specifically, I want to show how  setting up an Oracle Service Cloud Operations team will help prevent fires in your support organization. At times it can be hard to convince yourself to take a step back from the 'fire fighting' and look at the larger picture - there's always something that needs your immediate attention or that of your agents. It can feel like you don't have time to slow down to, for example, recapture incident data to increase your deflection rates. And you might think you're better off dedicating an engineer to working tickets rather than working on your support infrastructure. But we have learned that making an investment in an Operations team helps make a support organization more efficient and improves customer experience. I'm sure at this point, in one way or another, you've encountered some of the work done by our  Operations team. (Quite sure, in fact, since the blog you're reading is a Customer Portal extension we built!) This is the first in what will be a series of blog posts about the work our operations team does, the best practices we've created for support tools development, neat extensions to the product we've developed, and some (occasionally painful!) lessons learned. Something I enjoy reminding people of is that the site we use for Oracle Service Cloud Technical Support ( is site ID 1.  Just as this site has gone through many iterations, the Operations team has taken on several forms. In my time with the team, I have seen our work go from being managed by a couple engineers, who were also tasked with handling customer tickets, to now being managed by seven engineers dedicated solely to the site. You have already seen the work of our team, from the business analyst and engineer who developed the Support Experience Dashboard, to our site administrator who made it so you could submit instant feedback to us every time we send you a response, to our Customer Portal administrator who brought our end user pages out of the stone age. Not to mention the work that is not so obvious, all that's involved in setting up and maintaining integrations so that everything works in the first place! Oracle Service Cloud Technical Support has invested more than ever before in making sure that you have all the tools you need at your disposal to keep your own support organization up and running.  We don't always get it right, and we still have a long way to go, but I hope you've experienced the improvements we've implemented over the past couple of years and can feel confident that we're working to make your support experience even better. Likewise, I hope this and our subsequent posts help you think through broader questions that help you maximize the quality of your customer's experience by using your own engineers (or Oracle Consulting Services) to get the most out of the Oracle Service Cloud product. Finally, don't forget to get in touch with us via the Suggestion Box (in the sidebar on the left hand side of this page). We are always looking for ways to make our site work better for you.


6 Steps to Successful Grassroots Cultural CX Adoption: A Real World Case Study

Edward Hobart, CCXP | 07/06/2017

6 Steps to Successful Grassroots Cultural CX Adoption: A Real World Case Study Last month the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA) held their annual Insights Exchange conference in Phoenix, AZ. I had the pleasure of not only attending, but also presenting my Oracle Service Cloud Technical Support case study: Driving Grassroots CX Adoption with No CX Budget from the Bottom Up. It's been my experience that of the CXPA's 6 core competencies, Organizational Customer Experience Adoption is the most challenging to understand and successfully achieve. Attempting to define a process by which to get an organization to buy into and embrace the principles of customer experience management can be a vexing prospect. What follows is a step-by-step tactical blueprint of how, in a 15-month span, we were able to take a 125-person, highly skeptical group of support engineers with an organizational CSAT rating of 75.2% and turn it into a customer-first powerhouse carrying a CSAT of 92.0%. Setting the Scene: Our Organizational Landscape I was hired as a liaison between our customers and partners and our support team to address a list of specific pain points. The role was newly created and most of the areas of focus hadn't previously been addressed through any type of systematic approach. It was immediately evident to me that inside out thinking permeated the team and they widely believed successfully resolving technical issues was all that was required to satisfy our customers. Additionally, there was no understanding of Customer Experience Management as a business discipline, no overarching CX strategy and the organization as a whole was quite siloed. Sound familiar? A couple of things we did have in our favor was a visionary leader who was open minded to new ways of thinking and an abundance of qualitative and quantitative data. Stage 1: Identify Customer Pain Points/ Develop Improvement Initiatives Entering an organization with no formal CX exposure, identifying pain points wasn't tremendously difficult. From the outset, I realized it was more important to kick things off than it was to develop a comprehensive, all-encompassing list. The crucial piece in our situation was ensuring that we truly understood the difference between our customers' pain points and our internal interpretations of the problems. This meant leaning heavily on the qualitative feedback listening path we already had in place: our existing support tickets. By combining a detailed review of these tickets with journey mapping methodologies and ethnographic research, we were able to identify the most significant issues. Once we felt we had a preliminary understanding of the pain points that caused our customers the most frustration, it was time to create projects to address them. Stage 2: Continuous & Strategically Phased CX Improvement As we reviewed the results of our pain point analysis, it became clear they fell into two broad categories: processes resulting in poor experiences and suboptimal agent interactions. We viewed these as interconnected, but distinct areas that we could focus on in parallel. For decision making purposes regarding customer experience process improvements, we developed three criteria on which to base our prioritization: easy wins, those which provided the most customer relief for the least amount of effort and making deliberate strategic choices based on taking small initial steps. It was tremendously important to phase these steps in slowly so that each built successively upon the previous effort. Allowing time between each improvement initiative ensured that our customers and team members never experienced too much change at once. It also kept individual improvement efforts from bleeding together, thus providing a true sense of being rolled out one after another. A philosophical pivot was required to address agent interactions. Concurrent to my hiring, we also hired a talented and cutting-edge Curriculum Manager. Understanding that people are much more likely to retain knowledge when it's delivered frequently and consumed in small doses, she introduced micro-trainings. These modules ranged from weekly 2-minute videos accompanied by assessments to one sentence reminders greeting agents upon their daily login. As with the process improvements, this allowed us to introduce CX concepts and terminology gradually and in measured strides. We also launched a blog that served as a bridge between our process improvement efforts and agent CX training. Topics fell into three categories which addressed unique customer pain points. Product and policy blogs discussed commonly misunderstood areas, filling knowledge gaps. Original customer service and customer experience content allowed us to demonstrate thought leadership and expertise in areas that are meaningful to our customers' businesses. Posts discussing experience improvements made customers further aware of positive ongoing change. To tie this all together we augmented internal training by making the blog required reading, thus providing another avenue to nurture development of a CX common vocabulary and direction. Strategic initiatives, especially ones requiring cultural shifts, require patience and are ideally driven from the top of an organization down. Lacking the formal authority to achieve this myself meant that I had to find an alternative way by which to encourage organizational buy-in. One method by which I was able to achieve this was by becoming a Customer Experience mentor to my manager. Formally passing along my knowledge not only assured that we were in lockstep strategically, but allowed her to effectively advance our improvement and training initiatives for me. Stage 3: Promote Wins While Increasing Credibility & Influence "If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" In other words, if you execute a CX initiative aimed to improve the lives of your customers and you don't tell people about it, did anyone actually notice? After our first couple of efforts launched with little notice, I came to realize that creating a customer experience enhancement wasn't enough. Trial and error revealed that both our customers and our internal teams needed to be made aware of three key items regarding any CX improvement: A change took place. How the change is intended to improve the customer experience and This isn't a one-time effort, but part of a very deliberate, long-term strategy to which the organization is fully committed. Once I realized the necessity to communicate this information, I then had to determine how to accomplish it effectively. As I mentioned earlier, one of the purposes of our blog was to introduce and socialize our latest CX enhancements. In addition to covering the what, the why and our continued commitment to improving their experiences, I would also discuss how customer feedback led to this improvement and make clear if they weren't happy, we were open to suggestions. By including these concepts, I was able to demonstrate that we were embracing a collaborative partnership that tangibly improved their experience with our team. Once a blog was published, understanding how to effectively use social media became essential to spreading our message and growing influence. Since we're a B2B business and I had no budget, Twitter and LinkedIn seemed to be the natural place to turn to create some buzz promoting our CX progress milestones. Through experimentation, I developed my own social media strategy that included managing an Oracle (@OSvC_Support) and personal (@EdwardHobart) twitter account, creating original tweets incorporating the latest expert content and using each account to retweet the other. By doing this I was able to create value for our customer-followers by making the latest thoughts on topics that mattered to them easily discoverable. Utilizing two Twitter handles also gave me the ability to craft two distinct voices with different, yet related areas of interest. This permitted me to cover a wider variety of topics and reach a larger audience: eventually approaching nearly 10,000 followers. After posting, I would tweet and retweet about the blog. I would do this multiple times a day for the first few days, knowing that you have an entirely new Twitter audience approximately every 20 minutes. I would also engage other Oracle Twitter handles to do the same. A few days later, to reach a different audience, I would post the same content on my personal LinkedIn page. After I posted on LinkedIn, I would reach out to other Oracle Service Cloud team members, encouraging them to "like" it and "share" it with their network. The blog, Twitter and LinkedIn were all great resources with which I could earn credibility, but that wasn't enough. I felt a need to demonstrate my knowledge and leadership in a more formal way by earning my Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP) designation. Successfully passing this examination meant I had become the first and only person at Oracle Service Cloud to earn this distinction. As it turned out, this was a game changer. The combination of demonstrating expertise through my writings, developing a substantial social media following of CX and customer service professionals and earning my CCXP, I began to realize credibility and influence beyond the official title I held. Stage 4: Continuous Improvement Cycle to Shift Customer Perceptions & KPIs By the time we reached Stage 4, the tactical cycle was being successfully executed regularly. We had a continuous improvement process in place being powered by our feedback listening paths.  Micro trainings were occurring at a regular cadence, CX improvements initiatives were being strategically rolled out, the promotion of those wins had become second nature and our collective social media presence and influence grew stronger. Once this had been ongoing for a period of time and our customers were convinced that the process was being fed through their own inputs, they came to believe in our team's devotion to their customer experience. As that realization sunk in, we had begun to change their perception of our team and our company. With that perceptional shift came a shift in our customer scored metrics. With this, we'd reached the tipping point. Stage 5: Internal Team Customer Experience Value Reinforcement With the shift in our customer's perceptions of the organization and the subsequent KPI shift, there was tremendous opportunity. As we began to receive positive quantitative and qualitative feedback, we shared it with the team and celebrated outstanding individual performances. By doing this, we were able to provide evidence to the skeptics that our experience changes had a very real and positive impact on how customers viewed our team. This type of reinforcement provided further motivation to our CX evangelists, while beginning to win over the detractors. There was a palpable sense of pride spreading quickly among team members and whereas I knew customer experience wasn't yet woven through the fabric of our culture, momentum was in our favor and adoption had taken root. Stage 6: Outside Teams Take Notice As most CX professionals know, storytelling can be a tremendously powerful tool. In most organizations, a dramatic change in metrics will garner a lot of attention, but nothing is quite as gripping as vocal customer endorsements. While most other teams were aware that some positive changes had taken place with our team, it wasn't until our customers spoke glowingly about us at our annual meetings that the impact of our hard work was more widely recognized. The result of our customers' responses to the positive transformation of their experience left our counterparts asking us what we had done to tilt the playing field in our favor. While it's too early to understand the long-term impact of our CX strategy on other teams, customer experience is something that's now being regularly discussed across the entire organization. Conclusion: Creating a strategy to successfully change a culture can be very difficult to put to paper and even harder to accomplish. Admittedly, this design isn't the most sophisticated or complex, but when you're driving transformation from the bottom of an organization upward without a budget, creative maximization of what's available to you is paramount. Cultural shifts do not normally take place overnight. Having patience and maintaining unwavering belief that, in combination, these small steps will ultimately lead to a long-term customer-centric culture is essential. For us, the key to CX adoption was setting in place a continuous improvement process fueled by customer feedback and using it to create positive momentum with our customers. Once the team began to see that the customers' mindset toward us had changed, largely because of our customer experience focused strategy, they began to feel differently about their work. When that happened, the rest of the organization began to take notice. What customer experience cultural adoption strategies have worked for your organization? Which have fallen short? What have you learned?  


A Night and Day Customer Experience

Edward Hobart, CCXP | 06/06/2017

A Night and Day Customer Experience I've just returned from a month and a half of heavy travel and am still playing catch-up with my emails, my blogs and my time zones. I ended April with a fantastic week in Las Vegas at Oracle's Modern Service Experience. This year's conference was easily the best yet, featuring events like keynotes from actor and social entrepreneur, Joseph Gordon Levitt (@hitRECordJoe), Customer Experience legend and bestselling author, @JeanneBliss, great customer/partner/Oracle collaborative presentations and a concert by Fitz and the Tantrums. Whereas all of these were impressive and exciting, the highlight for me was the time I spent face-to-face with our customers. Flashback to last year at this same event: I was fairly new in my role and it was difficult to hear the direct, pointed and very fair critiques of our Technical Support shortcomings. We received some pretty good bumps and bruises during the open feedback opportunities and, I have to admit, it was for good reason. What I kept returning to for reassurance was my firm belief that this feedback would ultimately lead to improvement for our customers.  Our Director, Marie Lockhart, and I took all that you said to heart and spent countless hours over the last year seeking to understand your pain points and listening to your suggestions on how to reduce your effort while improving your Support Experience. We also put our reputations on the line by making you a lot of promises for a brighter future. Fast forward to this year: From the moment I ran into my first customer it was clear that customer feedback was going to be significantly different. We knew that our CSAT had risen fairly sharply, from about 71% to over 91% during the last year, but we weren't sure how that might translate into the type of raw qualitative feedback we were going to hear in a relaxed social setting. I couldn't have been more pleased to hear the phrase "night and day" used by more than one customer to describe the changes they experienced during those twelve months. Our work had paid off, but we wouldn't have succeeded without you. If our customers weren't fair enough to give us the benefit of the doubt as well as being patient and generous with their time and ideas, we wouldn't have made the progress we did. Our ability to design experiences that fit our customer's needs is only made possible because we work with incredibly innovative customer support and customer experience experts who have the desire to work collaboratively with us. Here are some quick highlights of your Support Experience enhancements from the last year: Replacement of auto-responses with our meaningful response 5-W model Developing a new internal training techniques Addition of  the Support Suggestion Box persistent icon on all cx.rightnow pages Introduction of our Hive operating model to reduce backlog Addition of mobile-friendly pages for on-the-run SR management Implementation of a wholly re-designed website optimized for ease of use We expect a lot of ourselves and while we have made significant year-over-year progress, it's not enough for us. We expect it won't be for you either. We may still occasionally fall short of expectation, but we hope that those instances are fewer and father between, while also being less egregious. Being able to enact change that has this kind of tangible positive impact on our customers is my professional passion and I am fortunate to have a career that is truly fulfilling. The week of MSE was one of the most satisfying of my professional career, because it felt like we turned a corner and you were there showing us your appreciation. I can't thank all of you enough for the opportunity to repay your trust and patience. Our commitment for this year is to build on the positive steps from last year to provide you with further improved and innovative Support Experiences. Stay tuned for my next blog to see what my other travel involved and how it relates to improving your experience with our Technical Support Team. Do you have any suggestions as to how we can further improve your Support Experience? Please sign in and provide you thoughts below!


Oracle Service Cloud Gets a Customer Experience Makeover

Edward Hobart, CCXP | 02/06/2017

Recently my wife and I looked at a little ranch house for sale in Bozeman, MT. The house had been on the market for quite a while and we understood why when we walked through the front door for the first time. In spite of the appeal of a large yard and fundamentally solid construction, the inside was a hodgepodge mix of design from multiple decades: the kitchen was straight out of the 80's, the master bedroom, the 60's and the family room, the 90's. We bought the house knowing we had pain, frustration and work ahead of us. Many of those same thoughts cropped up as we embarked on giving the Oracle Service Cloud Support Portal a complete makeover.                                Before (Click here to enlarge)                                          After (Click here to enlarge) When remodeling your home, or even a single room, you are trying to enhance functionality and create a space that's a reflection of who you are.  We aimed to achieve the same with our support site.  Our two goals were to reduce our customers' effort and provide a visually appealing experience that more closely reflected who we are.  To achieve those goals, we employed ethnographic research and design thinking principles while leaning heavily on best practices related to user and customer experience. The final product represents a collaborative effort that brought together the expertise and input of multiple teams, both internal and external to Oracle Service Cloud. Some of the highlights include: New Entry Point - is now our homepage which includes announcements, the freshest content and links to getting started materials Enhanced Search - Toggle between searching the Knowledge Base or the Community Navigation UX - Reordered and added new options for ease of accessing key resources Support Landing Page - Loaded with effort reducing enhancements like personalized SR info, a series of bookmarks linked to critical information, recent video micro-trainings and more . . . Support Hotline - Based on your feedback, this can now be accessed for all support pages Easier Readability - Improved the color contrast of the text for reduction of eye strain Updated branding - Out with the tired design and in with a completely refreshed look and feel Although the changes represent a major shift on some levels, none of the critical functionality has been removed. It may take a little time to get comfortable with the changes, but rest assured you can still do all the same things needed to be effective in your role. For instance, instead of looking for the "Ask Support" button, you will click on the Service Request "Wrench" icon that remains persistent on all Support pages. This change will result in fewer clicks, since the icon can be found in the same location on any of our support pages. Reduced clicks is a theme running through the Support Landing Page, where you will find all our most important and popular resources a single click away.                                         Before (Click here to enlarge)                                          After (Click here to enlarge) We understand that immediately following major home improvements it's not uncommon to get up in the middle of the night and bump into a new wall or new door. In an effort to minimize any such bumps, we have created a brief video tour of the new Support Portal. This will you find and make use of our most popular and success enhancing resources. We've rolled out quite a few Support Experience advancements over the course of the last year. The makeover of the Support Portal, with an eye toward reducing your issue resolution effort, has been a year in the making and is our biggest upgrade to date. Not unlike an older home, our site had been added to and changed piecemeal, without much regard to the greater user and customer experience. The rollout of our new Oracle Service Cloud Support Portal is a major change, but be aware that it's only the tip of the iceberg. Working with your feedback, we'll continue to improve you experience. The site is set to launch February 11th. Are there any other changes we could make that would result in improving your experience with us? Login to comment.


The Heartbeat of your Oracle Service Cloud Support Experience

Edward Hobart, CCXP | 01/23/2017

It's that time of year when many of us move away from overindulging to reflecting on the past year, while considering how we'll make changes to improve the coming one. It's only natural that one of the most common outcomes of these contemplations is a renewed focus on health. This leads to the sharp increase in the purchase of wearable technologies, gym memberships and meal kit services. Wearables provide an easily obtained, unbiased and data-driven record of how your body is performing under certain conditions. You can find the same reduction of effort and transparency provided by wearable when using our new Support Experience Dashboard to monitor the performance of your Oracle Service Cloud site. Your site is the heart of your support organization and the dashboard is an easily accessible tool which can help you identify symptoms of possible issues before they have an impact your site's health. The Support Experience Dashboard is a real-time, transparent, analytic panorama of your personalized experience with our team. When logged in, the report is found Under My Site Tools on our end-user pages and provides a snapshot of how your recent Service Requests have been handled. As with a wearable, this dashboard should be used proactively to identify potential problem areas before they reach a tipping point. Using this tool collaboratively, we can glean valuable insights into where each of our teams can make improvements. For instance, if configuration or abandonment are among the top reasons for Service Request closures, it may indicate a training need for your team. Alternatively, if there's a high rate of SRs being re-opened, it could point to an issue within our team. Here are some examples of the things you'll find on in Support Experience Dashboard:  A day-by-day accounting of the number of SRs submitted over the last 30 days Current open SRs by severity level and time spent unresolved Whether or not an open SR has been determined to be a product defect SRs that contained product defects vs non-defects over the last 12/24 months A breakdown of the types of issues submitted for over the last 6 months Analysis of SRs that have been closed over the last 6 months Our Service Level Attainment (SLA) by severity over the last 6 months Breakdown of SR by agent submitted Whether you are submitting SRs or working through a queue, it's easy to get caught in a recency trap; only really being able to accurately recall the last few. The value of the Support Experience Dashboard is that it offers a cross-sectional profile of all SRs submitted in the last 6 months assembled in a single location and in an easily digestible/comparable format. This can prove to be a vital tool for discussions with your executive team or routine performance checks. Providing transparency and reducing your effort are paramount to the delivery of high-quality technical support. Presenting targeted data clearly in real time provides the possibility of reducing effort by preemptively identifying problem areas. Essentially, when considered holistically, these different data points tell a story about and provide insights into the health of your site. As we ponder the upcoming year and areas for potential improvement over the last, we're excited to be rolling out a great new tool for helping you proactively monitor the heartbeat of your support team. Do you use other tools to proactively monitor your site's health? Let me know what you've found effective and where you've found gaps to which you wish you had access.


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