Oracle Service Cloud Upgraded, Explained

Oracle adds co-browsing to cloud service suite formerly known as RightNow. Here's a fresh look at Oracle's cloud customer-service portfolio.

Doug Henschen, Executive Editor, Enterprise Apps

January 28, 2015

5 Min Read
CX Service is one component of Oracle's larger Customer Experience Cloud.

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Oracle has added advanced co-browsing capabilities to its service cloud, integrating technology gained through last summer's acquisition of LiveLook.

Co-browsing features are now table stakes for customer-service applications. It's the stuff that lets you pop up a "can-we-help-you" window in a pre-purchase scenario or add a Mayday-style button to an app or customer-service page and then guide customers, sharing their screens, through technical problems or confusing settings.

[ Want more on Oracle's cloud rival? Read Salesforce Sees Upswing In Social Marketing. ]

There are nuances to Oracle's co-browse capabilities that are worth exploring, but first let's revisit the vendor's total service cloud portfolio, which got its backbone from the 2011, $1.5 billion acquisition of RightNow. Part of Oracle's Customer Experience (CX) Cloud, Oracle CX Service has five components:

  • Web customer self-service. A customer-facing portal that exposes knowledge bases, FAQs, and multiple channels (forms, email, chat, co-browsing, and so on) for interacting with customer service agents. This piece came from RightNow.

  • Multi-channel agent desktop. This is the interface for customer-service agents, and it supports all forms of customer interaction -- Web, phone, email, chat, co-browse. This, too, came from RightNow.

  • Knowledge management. Bad service usually starts where there is a lack of knowledge or wrong knowledge. The KM component, which combines RightNow and Enquira capabilities, is a system for creating, curating, and exposing answers to common questions. It's collaborative, it has an approvals process, and it includes language-translation capabilities. The system uses analytics to spot where there are gaps -- frequent questions and problems that aren't being handled effectively -- so new answers and resolutions can be developed.

  • Policy automation. Based on Oracle Policy Automation, an on-premises app that has been adapted to run SaaS-style, this component codifies and handles version control of business policies. In HR benefits, insurance claims, or lending scenarios, for example, you use this app to attach the policies that were applied to address each customer case. If questions arise about how the case was handled, you can point to the policies that were applied.

  • Field service engagement. Based on last summer's acquisition of TOA (Time of Arrival), a cloud-based field service app, this component uses optimization and prediction technology to give customers an accurate forecast as to when a service agent will arrive. These estimates are not based on averages. They're based on the historical service times of individual service agents on specific types of service work.

Oracle's new co-browsing capabilities have been integrated into the Web self-service and agent desktop environments. Competitors have this technology, too -- Salesforce, for example, integrated technologies from DimDim in 2011 and GoInstant in 2012 -- but Oracle says LiveLook did a particularly good job of melding HTML, JavaScript, and Java-based approaches to seeing and being able to interact with the customer screen. This helps Oracle's technology see the difference between a full browser screen and what the customer actually sees. This comes up when customer display or browser settings might be preventing them from seeing a crucial button or setting at the side or bottom of the interface. Agents can coach the customers either to fix their display settings or pan and scroll to the right spot.

Other enhancements to Oracle CX Service announced Wednesday include enhancements to skill-based routing, visitor browsing histories, and social capabilites. Skills-based routing is about channeling customer-service issues to the right agents. In Oracle's view, that's easier if you handle it all in one environment, but many customers use have workforce management systems from the likes of Genesys, Avaya, and Cisco. Oracle has added a pass-through mode that allows data from Oracle service cloud to be used to inform routing decisions within these third-party systems.

Visitor browsing histories come in handy any time a customer escalates a service problem to assisted service, either through chat or a phone call. The Oracle Web self-service component can now provide the Web browsing history of a caller or chatter to the agent, so they have the advantage of seeing what the customer was doing and what they were looking at when they got stuck.

To improve social customer service, Oracle has integrated its Social Cloud, which is a separate listening and analysis platform, into Oracle CX Service. Thus, social is now another channel -- on equal footing with email, phone, chat, and so on -- exposed in the agent desktop.

Oracle CX Service is most often deployed as a complement to or part of a complete cloud replacement of on-premises Siebel deployments. The big competitor is obviously Salesforce. Following the script of Oracle's larger cloud strategy, the approach with Oracle CX has been to build out the capabilities and surpass rivals in breadth and depth through acquisitions and organic development. The latest CX Service release follows that script to a T.

If the world wasn't changing, we might continue to view IT purely as a service organization, and ITSM might be the most important focus for IT leaders. But it's not, it isn't and it won't be -- at least not in its present form. Get the Research: Beyond IT Service Management report today. (Free registration required.)

About the Author(s)

Doug Henschen

Executive Editor, Enterprise Apps

Doug Henschen is Executive Editor of InformationWeek, where he covers the intersection of enterprise applications with information management, business intelligence, big data and analytics. He previously served as editor in chief of Intelligent Enterprise, editor in chief of Transform Magazine, and Executive Editor at DM News. He has covered IT and data-driven marketing for more than 15 years.

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