How can companies improve the customer experience to meet changing expectations? Des Cahill, head customer experience evangelist at Oracle, speaks with CXOTalk about using data to merge the four silos of information: Marketing, sales, commerce and service.

“…The customer today expects to be treated as one person in their experiences across all of those four areas,” Cahill explains. “Increasingly, companies are being challenged because they have to bridge both these digital and physical worlds, not just in sales but across service, marketing, and commerce, so that we as consumers feel like we’re being treated as an individual by that company…”

“The marketing department has a bunch of information about you as a customer, your digital behavior on the website, the ads you clicked on. The sales department knows what you bought. The service department knows what problems you have. The commerce department knows what you’ve bought online. The trick for companies today is, how do they bring that data together?”

As head CX evangelist at Oracle, Cahill is responsible for strategy and messaging for the industry’s leading customer experience suite. He’s also a technology leader passionate about the intersection of brand, customer and data driven marketing, sales and service, with extensive executive-level experience at companies like Apple Computer, Netscape/AOL, eFax.com, Habeas and Ensighten.

Transcript

Michael Krigsman: Welcome to CxOTalk, coming to you from the Oracle Modern CX Conference. We're here in front of a live audience, and I'm speaking with Des Cahill, who is the head CX evangelist at Oracle, so I'm excited to learn from him today.

Why is customer experience so complex today?

Des Cahill: First, I'd break down customer experience a little bit. It's really four major components: marketing, sales, commerce, and service. What makes it complex, Michael, is that while traditionally each of these areas--sales, service, marketing, and commerce--have each done a good job in interacting with the customer, the customer today expects to be treated as one person in their experiences across all of those four areas. Increasingly, companies are being challenged because they have to bridge both these digital and physical worlds, not just in sales but across service, marketing, and commerce, so that we as consumers feel like we're being treated as an individual by that company.

Michael Krigsman: There's a requirement to share information across silos, across departments, across organizations.

Des Cahill: That's exactly the term that we talk about is silos of information. The marketing department has a bunch of information about you as a customer, your digital behavior on the website, the ads you clicked on. The sales department knows what you bought. The service department knows what problems you have. The commerce department knows what you've bought online.

The trick for companies today is, how do they bring that data together? Then the other thing about this customer data is it's becoming more and more complex and richer.

I'll give you an example. We had Charlie Herrin, the chief customer officer from Comcast, speak at Modern Customer Experience here this week a couple times. One of the things Charlie talked about was, in order to improve Comcast customer service, they took customer data like name, address, service you have, products you've bought. They combined that with operational data, so I know that you've got a ten megabit service. You've got these many devices in your home, like IoT data.

Then the third piece they did, which really was revolutionary, is they've really adopted net promoter score and integrated it into their processes. They're getting 30,000 customer surveys a week. Now, they're taking customer sentiment behavior, "How do you feel about your Comcast service? How do you feel about your Internet connectivity?" and they're combining that with what products you own.

Then what is their data, their IoT data from the router telling them about your actual physical service? Combining the operational, the customer, and product master data with the sentiment data, all of a sudden you have a much richer view of the customer, not just what they've bought from you but how they feel. That can really help you deliver a much better level of service.

Michael Krigsman: I had a conversation with the chief information officer of Brooks Brothers, and he said that what they're trying to do is translate the traditional Brooks Brothers white glove service--

Des Cahill: Right.

Michael Krigsman: --as he called it, onto this multichannel experience--

Des Cahill: Right.

Michael Krigsman: --that you've just been talking about.

Des Cahill: Another great example there is a company we've been talking about, an Oracle customer, Stitch Fix. They are a company where you fill out an online survey about your fashion preferences. You could point Pinterest boards about certain fashions and point Stitch Fix to that board. You can write them notes. Then Stitch Fix takes a combination of AI, machine learning, and a personal stylist.

The AI and machine learning will say, "Oh, we should send Michael some jeans," but the stylist is going to pick out the specific jeans for you. Then the company sends you a box. Then you decide to buy. Out of five items, you decide to buy which three and you return two.

It's

Michael Krigsman: Welcome to CxOTalk, coming to you from the Oracle Modern CX Conference. We're here in front of a live audience, and I'm speaking with Des Cahill, who is the head CX evangelist at Oracle, so I'm excited to learn from him today.

Why is customer experience so complex today?

Des Cahill: First, I'd break down customer experience a little bit. It's really four major components: marketing, sales, commerce, and service. What makes it complex, Michael, is that while traditionally each of these areas--sales, service, marketing, and commerce--have each done a good job in interacting with the customer, the customer today expects to be treated as one person in their experiences across all of those four areas. Increasingly, companies are being challenged because they have to bridge both these digital and physical worlds, not just in sales but across service, marketing, and commerce, so that we as consumers feel like we're being treated as an individual by that company.

Michael Krigsman: There's a requirement to share information across silos, across departments, across organizations.

Des Cahill: That's exactly the term that we talk about is silos of information. The marketing department has a bunch of information about you as a customer, your digital behavior on the website, the ads you clicked on. The sales department knows what you bought. The service department knows what problems you have. The commerce department knows what you've bought online.

The trick for companies today is, how do they bring that data together? Then the other thing about this customer data is it's becoming more and more complex and richer.

I'll give you an example. We had Charlie Herrin, the chief customer officer from Comcast, speak at Modern Customer Experience here this week a couple times. One of the things Charlie talked about was, in order to improve Comcast customer service, they took customer data like name, address, service you have, products you've bought. They combined that with operational data, so I know that you've got a ten megabit service. You've got these many devices in your home, like IoT data.

Then the third piece they did, which really was revolutionary, is they've really adopted net promoter score and integrated it into their processes. They're getting 30,000 customer surveys a week. Now, they're taking customer sentiment behavior, "How do you feel about your Comcast service? How do you feel about your Internet connectivity?" and they're combining that with what products you own.

Then what is their data, their IoT data from the router telling them about your actual physical service? Combining the operational, the customer, and product master data with the sentiment data, all of a sudden you have a much richer view of the customer, not just what they've bought from you but how they feel. That can really help you deliver a much better level of service.

Michael Krigsman: I had a conversation with the chief information officer of Brooks Brothers, and he said that what they're trying to do is translate the traditional Brooks Brothers white glove service--

Des Cahill: Right.

Michael Krigsman: --as he called it, onto this multichannel experience--

Des Cahill: Right.

Michael Krigsman: --that you've just been talking about.

Des Cahill: Another great example there is a company we've been talking about, an Oracle customer, Stitch Fix. They are a company where you fill out an online survey about your fashion preferences. You could point Pinterest boards about certain fashions and point Stitch Fix to that board. You can write them notes. Then Stitch Fix takes a combination of AI, machine learning, and a personal stylist.

The AI and machine learning will say, "Oh, we should send Michael some jeans," but the stylist is going to pick out the specific jeans for you. Then the company sends you a box. Then you decide to buy. Out of five items, you decide to buy which three and you return two.

It's a really cool way of reimaging the customer experience, again in this era where we're all really busy. We want digital experiences. They live and die by their ability to effectively predict the kind of clothing you or I would prefer, which could be very different.

Michael Krigsman: Now, you mention Stitch Fix. We're not talking just about using software to increase the efficiency of operations, but we're rethinking our relationship to the customer really from the ground up.

Des Cahill: Exactly. It's like going back to the top when you asked me about customer experience. I defined it as the totality of interactions that the brand has with the customer. It's really, how do you deliver the product? How do you price the product?

With Stitch Fix, it's radical to think that, well, I can ask someone to send me a box of five items of clothing whenever I want. There are other examples, many other value-add fashion providers, where you can go on a subscription basis or Rent the Runway. You've got a formal event and you just want something one-off.

In this era of innovation and so much technology, it's really cool that we've unleashed so many fertile minds to relook at the way that we've been buying in our business lives or in our consumer lives and reimagining it. Now, the challenge that brings for traditional companies is, can they innovate? The innovator's dilemma. They've already got a successful business.

If you're Nordstrom and you've got a great retail business, what motivates you to invest so much in digital? Well, you've got a vision that if I don't do this, I'm going to be in trouble. It's hard to have that vision and realize that you've got to make those investments when you're running your day-to-day company and being successful at it.

Michael Krigsman: This issue of innovation is such an important one. I know a major, well-known fashion retail brand that has really struggled with innovation for exactly the reasons that you just described that you have established sources of revenue and now you're talking about doing something new. How do you recommend that companies incorporate this new mindset, this new way of looking at the customer within their existing operations?

Des Cahill: Well, I would say a few things about that, Michael. Number one is, no one is dumb. I think that, within that company, the CEO and board know they need to change. The CX professionals or the product managers, everyone knows what's going on.

There are a lot of young people working, probably, at this company and, in their everyday lives, they're having digital experiences. They're driven by their mobile phones. They see what their friends do, how their friends buy.

The will can be there, but sometimes the impediment to making the change does boil down to a technology piece. There is a certain amount of stepping off the diving board and jumping in the pool; bravery of making a change. But then, even if they make that decision to jump in the pool and change their business model, the next question becomes, how do I do that? How do I bring the systems together?

Yes, you can hire an agency and build a great website. Let's deploy a chatbot. This is going to be awesome. How do you build the backend systems to allow your customer service people or your salespeople to have access to inventory or data about the new products? A lot of companies are moving away from selling products, and they're moving to offering their products as a subscription.

I'm looking off camera over here at a street sweeper, a giant, multimillion-dollar machine. That is now being offered to cities on a subscription basis because the city doesn't want to have to buy a multimillion-dollar machine, a super complex piece of machinery, predict when it's going to fail, worry about a service department, and order multiple of them. They want to get their streets swept and kept clean. Even multimillion dollar complex pieces of machinery are going to subscription-based pricing.

Most organizations aren't set up to do that, so it can come down to things like, I would say, it's about "Can the IT department move at the speed of change that the product people, the customer experience professionals, and the leadership want?" That's often an impediment.

Michael Krigsman: That brings up a very important point, which is this notion of customer experience. It's not just for retailers.

Des Cahill: Right. Absolutely. Think about industries like insurance, banking, or healthcare. Traditionally, you're tied to those relationships. "Well, I've got all my banking relationships. Oh, what a hassle to change my insurance. I've signed up for a health plan. I'm attached to this hospital. My airline: oh, United has got a hub at SFO. I've got to be there."

Now, number one, these industries are getting deregulated, so there's more choice. Number two, we as consumers are so exposed to companies like Amazon, Apple, Walmart.com, or Starbucks, companies that are mixing the physical experience and the digital experience so well that, even when we go to an industry like our banking life or our insurance, we expect a different experience.

Michael Krigsman: Now, you just raised what I think is a very important issue, which is, customer experience is not just about user interface, but the fact that they enable functionality for you is the core of at least beginning to meet your expectations as a consumer. At least they enable the transaction possibilities.

Des Cahill: They let me do what I needed to do when I wanted to do it, where I wanted to do it. I wanted to do it now. I wanted to do it digitally. I didn't want to call somebody and get on the phone with somebody. That's essential. You've got to meet the customer.

Whether this is B2B or B2C, you've got to meet the customer in their moment of need. You've got give them the service that they want in the channel of their choice. When I say, "Channel of their choice," this is kind of an interesting thing. Most companies think, "Well, we're providing customer experience and we do a great job. We've got an 800 number. People can email us. People can visit our store. They can visit our website. We've got a chat on our website, and we even monitor our Twitter handle." Well, that's great. You've come a long way, but that's not enough anymore.

What we like to talk about are organic channels, meaning that, increasingly, people are spending their time on WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger. If you look in Asia, in China, it's WeChat. These platforms are increasingly becoming the places where your customers are spending their time, so using Oracle Service Cloud and other parts of the CX suite, our customers are starting to interact with their customers in Facebook Messenger.

Where this is going is you're going to be able to, I'm going to be able to, talk to my chat with my insurance company through Facebook messenger because that's my application of choice. I'm going to be able to get the information. They're going to let me know my insurance is expiring. They're going to send me a link. I'm going to be able to make the payment there, and it's all done seamlessly in the channel of my choice, not theirs. Your choice may be Pinterest or Instagram, but the definition of omnichannel is expanding to the channel of choice. If you want to see what the channels are going to be of the future, look at your teenagers. Look at what channels they're on today.

Michael Krigsman: You need a profound understanding of the customer: who they are, where they live, what do they want, what are their expectations?

Des Cahill: You have to have that information available at any point of contact in the customer journey because I might call you. I might call the service department. I might tweet to the salesperson. I may go to the website. I may interact with a chatbot. That information has to be available at any point in the journey at any time, 24/7.

Michael Krigsman: The software, then, serves as the foundation, the enabler. Then it's the data that links all of these pieces together that you were just describing.

Des Cahill: Yeah. Michael, we see the needs of our customers in three levels, and that informs our product development investment strategy at Oracle to support our customers. We think about connected data, so the ability to take all that data that you have about the customer, whether it's sentiment data, behavioral data, CRM type data, combine all that data, and then we talk about a connected intelligence layer, which is, how do you apply AI, machine learning, behavioral analytics, IoT analytics? There's an increasing number of smart devices that are gathering usage data.

How do you get insight? If you have all this data about the customer on the connected intelligence layer, how do you get real-time insight so that when someone is on a call or is interacting digitally, you can use that insight to predict what kind of interaction they want to have, what products to recommend to them, or what offer to make to them. Then, at the third layer, we call it connected experiences, which is the totality of all the interaction points, which is all the software that we offer everything from our marketing software, sales software, commerce, and service software.

Michael Krigsman: Okay. What advice, final advice, have you got for organizations who are looking at this and they're saying, "We need to do this," but they're not sure how to do it?

Des Cahill: Well, I would say that they need to look within their own organization because, the truth is, they do know how to do it. It's a question of providing the support to their teams and empowering their teams. My message to the top level of the company is, we recently did a survey of CX professionals across the world. We found that 68% of CX professionals said they felt like they really knew what they needed to do to provide great customer experiences. They felt like, "We understand our customer. We're ready to go," but 55% of the respondents felt like their company wasn't investing enough in this area of customer experience, or they felt like competitors were going to get there first before they could.

I think the message to the board, to the executives, to the VPs, and the leaders is, you need to stop thinking functionally about CX, "Wow, we've got great marketing. We've got great sales. We've got good service. We've got good commerce," but you've got to think about these things holistically and bringing them together. I think it all starts with just a realization that you have to transform, these days, from being a product company to a customer company. If you start with that, with being a customer company, then it all rolls from there.

Michael Krigsman: Thank you so much, everybody. Des Cahill.