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In our benchmark research into contact centers in the cloud, nearly two-thirds (63%) of companies said that adopting applications in the cloud would enable them to improve how they handle customer interactions, and slightly fewer than half (44%) said that adoptingvr_CCC_actions_to_improve_customer_interaction_updatedcommunication systems in the cloud would deliver similar benefits. Several vendors now provide such systems.Diabolocom is the latest one to brief me on its products. Founded in 2005 and having around 30 employees, it has headquarters in France (and its website is in French), but it has a global presence, primarily for supporting French companies that have offices around the world. Its contact center  products are available only in the cloud and extend beyond basic multichannel communications to other applications connected with handling customer interactions.

Diabolocom has a business model different from that of most other vendors in this market. It is a Tier 2 telecommunications service provider, which means that it does not own any cable in the ground but provides telecommunication services by partnering with Tier 1 providers and providing its own services using their networks. It has partnerships and data centers around the world and at present supports companies in 15 countries. This number is expected to grow as the company intends to expand from mainly supporting French companies with overseas sites to supporting local companies. This arrangement is conducive to providing contact center in the cloud services, as it can manage calls from their point of origin to the agent selected to handle the interaction.

Its primary offering is Engage, a suite of products that manage voice, email, social interaction, chat and short message services. Engage Voice has capabilities to manage inbound and outbound phone calls and IVR. It supports analog and IP telephony, automatic call dialing to route calls to agents, click-to-call so agents can call a customer by clicking on its number, and Web-based call-back so that customers can visit the website and arrange to be called back. In addition, supervisors can listen to calls to monitor performance and provide assistance. The Voice system supports a full set of IVR capabilities and comes with point-and-click tools that enable business users to set up menus that suit specific requirements. These menus can be used in conjunction with similar point-and-click capabilities to set up call-routing rules based on agents’ skills, call priority, wait times and source of the call. Users can set up customized screens for agents and supervisors using widget-based techniques so that organizations can build such interfaces to meet their needs. The Diabolocom “window” can be embedded in CRM systems such as saleforce.com or run in stand-alone mode with integration to those systems. The outbound capabilities support windows that allow business users to set up complex outbound call campaigns by selecting data from drop-down boxes, which also can be integrated with CRM systems. Extensive reporting capabilities show agents, supervisors and business users how well individuals, interaction-handling processes and the system are performing.

Engage Email supports a similar set of capabilities to handle large volumes of email. Phone calls can be routed based on a comprehensive set of rules that can be overridden if volumes exceed set limits. One key feature is the ability to build libraries of canned responses that agents can select and customize to provide personalized responses. As well as voice and email there are similar ranges of tools to support interactive chat sessions and handling of SMS messages, including rules that determine which agents can handle which types of interactions. The company’s product set also includes Monitor[http://www.diabolocom.com/en/offre/monitor], which allows companies to record phone calls, analyze them and use the outputs to focus agent training and identify root causes of customer interactions or possible cases of fraud so that preventive actions can be put in place. In total, Engage provides a comprehensive set of capabilities that allow organizations to manage multichannel engagement in sophisticated ways.

By combining its telecommunication services, data centers and the use of its products, Diabolocom offers two other services. Reach allows it to run hotline services for companies based on numbers chosen by the company, and Network enables it to provide hosting services for clients’ systems and networks.

Despite its being such a young company, I am impressed by the scope of its products and services. All its products have been developed in-house, the capabilities are tightly integrated, and the user interface has a modern look and is and easy to use. Business users can take control of the systems with only basic support from IT, and carry out tasks in hours that used to take days. A potential issue is that the native language for the system is French, but the company offers an option in English. System setup and operation is also fast and easy, requiring few in-house resources; Diabolocom claims to be able to set up a company in a matter of hours. As I already remarked, the company plans to expand beyond serving French companies, so companies looking to adopt contact center in the cloud services should assess how it can help those efforts.

Regards,

Richard J. Snow

VP & Research Director

Oracle has built one of the world’s largest software portfolios through a combination of developing products in-house and acquisitions. In the last few years it has put great effort into transitioning from providing its applications as on-premises products tovr_NGCE_Research_01_impetus_for_improving_engagementmaking them available in the cloud. It also has worked to add customer experience capabilities to its range of business applications. Improving the customer experience is a top priority as our next generation customer engagement research found in almost three quarters (74%) of organization. In doing so it has developed a common user interface across the applications to address modern user expectations and has built a platform to support common capabilities in all its products. Recently I had the opportunity to study the strides Oracle has made in these areas as well as to identify some issues that still need to be resolved.

With cloud computing achieving broad popularity, organizations today can choose from three approaches: private, public and hybrid clouds. The growing reliance on the cloud has made it necessary to focus on integrating cloud systems with each other and with on-premises systems. Oracle has developed a broad-based, pragmatic approach; it offers SaaS (applications as a service), PaaS (platform), IaaS (infrastructure) and DaaS (data). SaaS includes a range of business applications. PaaS contains tools to support application development, data management, operations management, analytics, integration, collaboration and mobility. IaaS provides hardware for processing and storage in the cloud so companies can run applications and develop software without owning on-premises hardware. And DaaS enables users to connect their own and external data for a complete view to help in making decisions and taking actions. Together these products allow organizations to develop, administer, manage and operate business applications all in the cloud rather than on their own premises. Deployment in the cloud greatly reduces the challenges of maintaining an in-house IT department, allowing companies to focus on how best to use applications to support their business.

Oracle’s approach also provides a foundation on which companies can address the goal of providing superior customer experiences, which as I recently wrote is no easy task. The Oracle CX Customer Experience Solutions reflect this complexity, being comprised of not one but many packages that provide choice for customers. The underlying platform, CX Foundation, provides common tools to enable mobility, analytics (including predictive) and integration, and there are six separate CX applications for these area of focus: Marketing, Sales, Service, CPQ (configure, price, quote), Commerce (personalizing customer experience across multiple channels) and Social (monitoring and responding to social interactions). The complexity doesn’t stop there; each of these solutions is made up of several products, which in turn support hundreds of capabilities. After my examination of these offerings, here are four key points:

  • Together the solutions support the end-to-end business journey of the customer, which includes identifying, attracting and nurturing prospective customers; engaging with prospects to close business; and engaging with customers across multiple channels to provide personalized support through the customer’s choice of channel and time.
  • The integration across solutions enables processes that cross business groups, so that internal journeys flow smoothly from, for instance, marketing to sales to service and other business groups involved with customer-facing activities.
  • Oracle Service Cloud includes a key component of customer service, knowledge management. Whether a person is providing assisted service or a technology is delivering self-service, the outcome of the interaction depends heavily on the information provided to the customer. If it meets expectations, the person will be happy. If it is complete, he or she won’t have to engage again. The newest product, Oracle Knowledge Advanced, provides a complete set of tools to create, approve, manage and deliver various forms of information: forms, user guides, templates, preconfigured answers and others. The tools can deliver content to any device during any type of interaction. There are natural-language-based search capabilities so users can quickly find content relating to the subject they are dealing with, or content can be delivered automatically during an interaction based on data entered; for example, a user could type in a question on a mobile app, which would return the most relevant information back to the device, or responses could be generated automatically during a chat session.
  • Oracle’s new user interface, Oracle Alta UI, is user-friendly in a modern way, with visualization, point-and-click capabilities, alerts and messaging. It is also what most vendors now call “designed for mobile first” so that key features can be accessed on mobile devices.

The business solutions and their comprehensive vr_NGCE_Research_06_changes_to_improve_engagementcapabilities to support marketing, sales and customer service are built on what Oracle refers to as the CX Foundation. From our research into next-generation customer engagement and next-generation customer analytics. The next generation customer engagement research found collaboration, portal, mobile and social media as critical engagement methods. I’ve identified five capabilities that are keys to providing superior customer experiences: integration, collaboration, mobility, social media and analytics. Success requires multiple systems to manage a range of communications channels, business applications to manage customer data and transactions (including demographics, marketing campaigns, sales, service requests and cases, finance and knowledge bases) and various forms of analytics (applied to data, speech, text and processes).

The integration features in CX Foundation provide these capabilities, not only between the Oracle offerings but to third-party systems. Our research underscores that customer engagement is an enterprise issue – almost every business group within an organization is engaging with customers. Collaboration, including the ability to share information between groups, is essential to provide consistent experiences and resolve as many interactions as possible at the first attempt. Because both customers and employees now want to carry out tasks while away from their desks, support for mobility is a must. The same can be said of social capabilities as consumers look to social media to find information, resolve issues or voice dissatisfaction. Also critical is the platform’s support for analytics, including predictive analytics. I have written on several occasions that companies can’t provide superior experiences without a complete view of their customers and analyses of the channels they use for various interactions in the form of customer journey maps. Oracle CX Foundation has three components that allow companies to produce such analysis: data management to bring together all customer data, analytics, and predictive capabilities for gaining insights into likely future customer behavior.

In its totality the Oracle CX portfolio delivers many of the required customer experience capabilities. However, I also find room for improvement. Customer experience is about managing interactions as they occur and in any channel (such as a phone call, a chat session or a visit to a website) and delivering a personalized, relevant, consistent experience during the interaction. Integration of data and systems and the ability to process all forms of interactions is therefore key and although the Oracle platform enables development of these capabilities, I think more could be done in design to facilitate integration with the common communication platforms. I also believe it is essential to have one system of customer record, or at least the ability to synchronize data across systems. Again the Oracle CX platform provides tools to develop these capabilities, but it would be better for the business applications to work from a common customer database.

I also believe that Oracle Knowledge Advanced should support all the Oracle apps, not just Service, because it is essential that prospects and customers be given the same information no matter where they are in the customer journey. Our research shows that customer journey maps – a visual representation of the channels customers use in various interactions – are becoming a key part of any CX program. However, producing them requires overcoming a key challenge. Customer data is stored by necessity in multiple systems, and each may have its own identifiers: Among them are names and addresses in CRM, telephone numbers in the telephone system, email addresses, account numbers in financial systems and social media identifiers. To produce a complete view of the customer and journey maps, it is necessary to link all identifiers of a single customer to that individual so that all data can be included in that view. Again the Oracle platform has some capabilities to support this need, but many rely on manual processes and should be automated.

Customer experience is one of the most important ways a company can differentiate itself from the competition. As it stands, the Oracle CX platform does a good job of managing the transactional side of customer experience. It also has the advantage of providing customized versions for different industries and a packaged version for midsize companies, and the platform capabilities allow companies to customize them to meet specific demands. These features can help companies manage what I call the back end of customer experience. Either through development or partnering I recommend that Oracle do more to support activities at the point of engagement and help in both employee-assisted and self-service interactions. Oracle is a lot more advanced than you might think in helping organizations provide the best possible customer experience across any channel and device.

Regards,

Richard J. Snow

VP & Research Director

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