Investing in customer experience

Oracle has recently expanded its CRM portfolio with a wide range of acquisitions

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Investing in customer experience Khehar: Oracle’s new acquisitions allow companies to manage the customer experience across multiple points of contact.
By Staff Writer Published  November 14, 2012

Where do Oracle’s acquisitions come into this?

Oracle’s customer experience (CX) set of products includes basic Oracle CRM solutions such as Siebel and the new Fusion Applications. It also includes the company’s MDM products, Enterprise Data Quality, Customer Hub and Product Hub. Services acquisitions including Fatwire (marketing tools), ATG (e-commerce) and RightNow (customer service). Acquisitions that add the social media management component include Collective Intellect (social intelligence) and Vitrue (a social marketing and engagement platform). We are offering a full range of customer experience options in a single suite, all running on Oracle Fusion Middleware.

Stephen Powers, research director with Forrester Research, said it was not surprising that Oracle would look to build its customer experience suite and strategy, but was is necessary is it to connect the different products together: “[Oracle has] got CRM, ATG, FatWire. Clearly, it’s been the strategy for them. The portfolio has to be more than the parts. They’ve got to realise the efficiencies and value of having these pieces to tie them together,” he said. “The proof is in the pudding. Adobe has done a nice job in its space with the products they’ve got. Now, Oracle has got to show it has something.”

What is the state of CRM in the Middle East?

The seeds of the downfall of customer interaction are in the complexity of the systems. With more channels to communication, more ‘entry points’ to a shopping experience, more ways to interact with companies and other customers, poor quality of CRM today can be attributed to the difficulty of managing it. The more options offered to a customer for interaction, the more complex the systems become and the more errors creep in.

Many CRM systems have evolved as customer demands grow, and the usual problem of integrating these disparate systems takes the same toll as it does in any IT environment – it becomes complex to manage and expensive to run. System performance becomes sclerotic and change extremely resource-consuming to manage. Businesses struggle to keep the pieces working smoothly together.

Oracle’s belief is that by selecting from a suite of fully interactive and tightly integrated products, this complexity is dramatically reduced and the system more agile in its ability to respond quickly and constructively to the information gathered from customer interaction and behavior. Businesses have struggled to pull all these things together. Oracle has done it for them.

Can companies really hope to control the social media aspect of CRM?

The irony is that social media is the most powerful platform for the customer’s voice, and no-one can hope to control it. Companies have to be involved with customers over social media, and have the ability to gather information about what customers are saying about them on social media, and then respond.

Most online complaints go ignored by companies. Seventy-nine percent of consumers who shared complaints about a poor customer experience online had their complaints ignored. A simple response can make a tremendous difference. Of those customers who did get responses to complaints, more than 50% had positive reactions to the same company about which they were previously complaining, and 22% even posted a positive comment about the organisation.

Companies cannot be passive onlookers when it comes to social media. They must engage, but without the correct tools they cannot hope to manage social media interactions in a consistent and positive fashion. Hence Oracle’s belief that IT has a critical role to play in enriching the customer experience and helping companies enrich it still further. The better the experience, the greater the premium a company can charge for its products and services.

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