Jeb Dasteel is Senior Vice President and Chief Customer Officer at Oracle. He has been with Oracle since 1998. Prior to joining Oracle, Jeb worked as an IT strategy and operations principal consultant at Gemini Consulting.
Today’s customers literally have a world of information at their fingertips. Gone are the days when the vendor – via sales representatives, advertising, and marketing – was the primary source for information on a product or service.
Customers increasingly search online for information, join social networks, and leverage other social media channels for trusted third-party information and perspectives. A 2013 study, “B2B Technology Decision Journey,” found that 80% of IT decision makers deem word-of-mouth input as the most important influence when making buying decisions; and 58% said they use social media to learn from trusted peers.
To build strong relationships in this rapidly changing, instant access environment, the ability to connect and, more importantly, collaborate with customers in new ways is imperative. We’re taking this to heart at Oracle.
There is no question that the balance of power has shifted decisively in favor of the customer, who expects easy access to a full set of technology and business research and resources. Vendors can still play a vital role in this information exchange by integrating the offline and online worlds to manage the path of the customer’s journey.
For example, online communities, such as those here at Oracle, like Eloqua’s Topliners, MyOracleSupport, the Oracle Technology Network, Oracle Customer Connect and those run by our independent Oracle User Groups, can help customers take advantage of solutions and proactively resolve support issues. Our research shows that for every 300 online interactions via these communities, 100 support calls are avoided.
As important, when our sales teams begin to pay greater attention to customers’ online and social media interactions, they gain insight that can fortify trust and enable greater collaboration for solving a customer’s business challenges – before an inquiry is even made.
We are also focused on automating interaction flows across social and online channels – and look to use search results, white paper downloads, and social media postings to foster stronger customer relationships and relationships. We are also looking to use cloud-based tools to help track the customer’s actual usage of our products and capture insight into their everyday experience, with an eye toward adding value and extending collaboration. By better understanding technology adoption issues and patterns, we can help our customers to build a roadmap that enables them to get the greatest value possible out of their investment in Oracle.
As part of our integrated strategy to expand customer collaboration, we are creating specific programs that focus on better understanding, documenting, and augmenting the customer’s journey – acting as a source for professional development and knowledge expansion. We’ve launched a Customer Experience (CX) Journey Mapping Program, for example, that helps businesses to overcome organizational barriers to achieving true customer centricity. Serving as a trusted advisor, we share journey-mapping tools and techniques with customers to help them jump-start their CX transformation process. These half-day courses give customers the fundamentals for customer centricity and how to apply them at their organizations. They also serve to further strengthen our customer relationships.
At Oracle, customer centricity is no longer about one-off initiatives. Instead, it means making this concept the foundation of our corporate DNA. While we are still in the early stages of our journey, customers are taking note. For example, the CIO of a global construction and engineering firm recently remarked, “Our conversations with Oracle are more creative. We’re more comfortable throwing something at the wall to get their reaction. In the old world, Oracle would say ‘this does not fit with our product hierarchy,’ but now it’s likely to generate enthusiasm. The barriers have fallen away.”
As the customer market changes with heavier reliance on online channels to make decisions, find information, and communicate – we, too, must make that change. By bringing mechanisms to support proactive collaboration, instant access to information, as well as by creating programs to enhance CX and customer-centricity, we are able to intertwine this new DNA into not only our everyday customer interactions but our overall corporate culture. We look forward to seeing what the customer market has in store next and how we cannot only intertwine these changes into our customer interactions, but how we can help our customers do the same.