Improving Customer Experience Through Collaboration

by Sohini Bagchi    Jan 27, 2016


Customer Experience (CX) can be explained as the sum of customers’ interactions at each touch point while interacting with an organization. It can create a lasting impact, in making or breaking the customer’s faith and loyalty towards the brand. CX often acts as a key brand differentiator - more than the price, product or competition. In a recent interaction with CXOtoday, Joe Fuster, Global Head, Oracle CX Cloud, explains the importance of CX in recent times, and how brands can improve CX through social collaboration. Excerpt.

- Is customer experience management the new CRM? How would you measure CX (in terms of ROI)?

The term customer experience or CX is becoming more common now, and companies are realizing the difference between CRM and CX. While everybody has tried CRM, what has changed is that they now understand, if you don’t manage the customer, the customer manages the relationship with you. When they become comfortable that the customer is managing the relationship with the brand, that’s when they shift their focus to CX.

Most people have been trying to measure CX in terms of social. This can be a tricky calculation at times if you do not have a focus. Instead, I think if you are looking at customer acquisition, social is the right medium of course, but it should be done a little differently. For example, some brands are already paying attention social listening, a process of identifying and assessing what is being said about a company, individual, product or brand on the Internet. Accordingly, they are catering to their audiences. This is a great way to measure RoI.

What according to you is the state of adoption of CX solution in India. How is Oracle cloud helping companies improve CX.

The scenario is very interesting in India because there’s so much energy and interest here. There is also a strong need for companies to challenge conventional growth strategies as they are looking to stand out amongst competition to meet the ever-increasing customer expectations. Increased customer retention, customer loyalty and customer experience are fast becoming key C-suite agendas. However, though most companies understand that CX impacts customer behavior, majority of them lack a well-defined customer experience management strategy.

Oracle’s approach to CX has three core elements: Understand, Empower, and Adapt. We realize that a good customer experience is far more than just technology. Any firm can implement new software. But without a cultural shift and strong leadership, it won’t create a sound CX, which requires a holistic approach on how a customer interacts with a company through the entire lifecycle - people, processes, and technology. Having said that, though CX is not just about technology, enabling great customer experiences does require a wide range of software solutions. At Oracle we have a comprehensive portfolio of applications, bringing together social, analytic and CRM components under a new CX management product strategy to meet this challenge.

- You seem to be bullish on the ecommerce segment in India? How do you see the prospects?

 We are aggressive and we see bright prospects here. Everybody did ecommerce when Y2K came along. And all of the systems were built as an independent silo to your existing brick and mortar and to your existing order management systems. What’s happened now is we’ve seen their takeaway and everyone’s renovating those systems but from scratch. So, Oracle’s got a very interesting role here as our customers have very heterogeneous environments. They have one of two of everything, and in some cases three or four of everything. I think people are now realizing that ecommerce needs to be tailored again around your audience as against your products. Traditional ecommerce was a storefront to my product. Today’s ecommerce is much more about who is my buyer, and how is that buyer interacting with the brand. Mobile commerce is the next logical step. Your mobile site will speak for your brand - that was never part of the design principal of ecommerce. Ultimately it’s about the customers. A big shift is happening in the transaction, payment world. And I believe people are very open to moving very, very quickly.

- How is the global scenario? Do you see much difference?

If we look first at the North American market, there is a clear segmentation of the very, very large and the emerging and it’s really, really segmented. If you come to Western Europe, it feels like the North American market. But you get outside of that and you look across growth markets in Latin America, or Asia Pacific and you realize they are much quicker to make the shift and simply that’s where a lot of our growth too is coming from. So universally what’s happened is everyone’s looking at their ecommerce strategy. They are talking about mobile commerce. The speed at which it’s transforming is different. It’s transforming the rest of the world very quickly as opposed to North America and Western Europe.

- Employee experience is said to drive customer experience. What is your opinion about it. And how you think technology can help reduce this gap?

I think all of us have become very social with the advent of Facebook. This to a large extent has impacted the way brands work too. But many senior executives, I think discounted the effect of social media because of age, because they were hierarchical in the way they came through. Today, the millennial, both gen-X and gen-Y don’t have the same notion as they want to be heard – be it through likes, Tweets or shares. Progressive companies look for a balance between the two. They are realizing that it’s not just Facebook or Twitter alone which can make you social beings, but it’s about any open or transparent collaboration. And I think if we want to talk about some of these scenarios where there’s a gap between what’s going on inside the company and what’s going on outside, those gaps can be closed with openness around a social network within that company. I can see a great increase or preponderance of that over the next two or three years.

- What would be your tips to an enterprise working on their customer experience strategy?

Collaboration is the key to have a successful customer experience. There are three ways of going about it. First, listen for what your customer is saying, which we call social listening. Second, think about my employees and the collaboration inside my four walls and finally, collaborate on these two areas and come up with a strategy where you ensure participation from the top most executive to the newbie. So my advice would be, if you don’t have a social listening program, you should start one. If you don’t have a social network, you need to put one in place. And once you have a social network, educate, especially those with gray hair on why it’s so important to participate, and not just be passive. Say, when I’m launching a new product or a new service, that might be the right time to focus on collaboration and social component.