Focus on the Customer by Empowering Your Employees

Before you read this article, please go to the shelf, find your customer service standard operating procedures, dust them off, and check to see how many issues your organization faces daily that aren’t covered by a listed procedure. The truly customer-focused organizations are keenly aware that there are many situations that arise that are not covered by a known procedure and in order to keep the customer satisfied, action that is ‘against policy’ may have to be taken. These organizations engender a Focus on the Customer culture that empowers employees to do just that.

Empowering an employee to advocate for the customer, however, doesn’t necessarily give them the tools to do so. For years companies have been seeking the best way to handle these un-documented service scenarios so that the customer is satisfied and the company interests are also protected. Many people feel that if they tell the Customer Service Rep to treat the customer as fairly as they would want to be treated, then that meets an internal standard for solving the customer’s issue and protecting the corporate interests. However, many others feel that relying on a single employee’s perception of ‘fair’ may not do either of those things. This latter stream of thought has led some companies to insert a management review stage into the process that is counter-productive to an empowered culture.

Don Peppers, a highly respected author and CRM researcher, recently blogged about a new and innovative approach being tried by an Australian company. In their system, the customer service representative formulates an approach to solve the customer’s issue. However, before presenting it to a customer, they present it to a peer in customer service. If two customer service reps agree that the solution is the right one that is the one presented to the customer. In addition, the solution is reviewed later by management to see if it is something that would make sense to include in a standard procedures manual. This approach seems to preserve the culture of empowerment while ensuring that a ‘reviewed’ solution is used. It has the added benefit of increasing the knowledge base for the company.

If you have an innovative idea for creating and maintaining an empowered customer service culture that focuses on the customer, we would like to hear from you as well. Customer Relationship Management is a marriage of culture and technology and the companies that customers like to buy from are the ones where that relationship is nurtured from the boardroom to the warehouse.

Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant
Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant

Jim Lindenfeld has been actively involved in customer relationship management during his entire professional career.  He is a certified sales and sales management trainer.  He has been involved in the implementation of CRM systems since 1987 and is currently a principal consultant in our CRM practice.

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Organize your Company by Focusing on Your Customers

In 2015 many have come to believe that Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is all about the technology. Technology is only the enabler. Real CRM is a corporate wide discipline that is enabled by the chosen CRM technology. That technology is capable of capturing all of the information about your transactions with customers (indeed, you can usually capture every interaction from the first moment you meet them as prospects to whatever eventuality occurs), but that typically requires a discipline throughout your company to do just that! That discipline can come by focusing on the customer.

Customers want to work with companies that are well-organized – that is, there are no gaps in their interactions with their customers. During sales interactions, these well-organized companies quickly provide answers that are specific to the customer’s needs and situation. They understand not only the features of the products that they sell, but also the benefits that derive from those features. Finally, they understand which of the benefits best match the objectives of the customer and focus on delivering those in value messages and during service delivery.

During support interactions, the support team can clearly define the support process for the customer, they have documented knowledge of the products and services the customer has purchased, they have access to what the customer is currently evaluating, they know what service level the customer is entitled to have, and they have encyclopedic knowledge on how to resolve an issue or answer a question. In addition, they have support sites specific to the customer for speedy and effective self-support.

Finally, the customer is delighted to learn that the well-organized company understands the social and competitive landscape that the customer faces. The well-organized company is in touch with the thought leaders and decision makers in the organization and the marketplace, they know the competitors and understand the competitive advantage the customer is attempting to create, and they understand the trends and regulatory pressures that are also shaping the customer’s behavior.

There are many companies out there that have processes in place (sales, customer service, and marketing) to gather the information described above. What they lack is the corporate discipline to gather it consistently and to then consistently share the raw data and the customer-focused analysis of the data.

If you are currently evaluating your CRM technology ask yourself some key questions:

  1. Does our system put the right person, in front of the right customer, with the right product and information, at the right time? (Or, as in many systems, are we relying on sales people to figure that out and then record the interaction in a CRM tool?)
  2. Does our system make it easy for my Sales channel to see and evaluate customer issues that required support from either self-service or the Customer Service team? (Or, as in many systems, are we at best only presenting the raw data and expecting the Sales team to spend additional time analyzing it?)
  3. Does our system make it easy for the Customer Service team to understand the Sales activity with the customers that involve samples, demonstrations, and trials?
  4. Does our system proactively push results from marketing and social media campaigns to our Sales and Customer Service teams? (Or, as in many systems, are we expecting those groups to search for, pull, and evaluate the information?)
  5. Finally, is our corporate focus on the customer, treating each customer as a marketplace of one, to ensure that each corporate employee understands the importance of using the system each and every time we interact with a customer so that we have the data and analysis available to demonstrate to all of our customers that we are a well-organized company?

Put the “customer” in the center of your Customer Relationship Management system and you will find that your company will focus on the discipline needed to maximize the return on your investment.

Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant
Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant

Jim Lindenfeld has been actively involved in customer relationship management during his entire professional career.  He is a certified sales and sales management trainer.  He has been involved in the implementation of CRM systems since 1987 and is currently a principal consultant in our CRM practice.




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May 2015 Service Cloud in a Nutshell

Oracle Service Cloud: May 2015
The May 2015 release has arrived! It is the second release of the year and has four major new features/enhancements. As usual there is a new tutorial that goes over the release highlights; you may want to review it as I will not go over every new feature:
Single Sign-On for Third Party Identity Providers
In this release you no longer need to integrate Agent desktop for Single Sign-on now you can connect to third party identity providers. This allows for seamless connections between applications utilized by your call center agents. If you already own or are thinking about acquiring Oracle Sales cloud this will allow you to use Oracle Identity Management as the IDP as the two applications come with it when bundled. Also available now is Single log-out which will log agent out of the Service cloud , any other service providers that are connected to the IDP and the IDP itself.


Connect REST API
The new REST API is something I have been hearing whispers about for a few years now and recently had the opportunity to see a demo from the Oracle Product Manager who “owns” this new feature. The REST API opens up a whole new realm of integration possibilities. To go hand in hand with the new API Oracle has come out with a new version of the Connect Common Object Model 1.3 which will allow synchronized metadata among PHP API, ROQL and Connect for Web Services. The full developer documentation can be reviewed for anyone interested here:

The launch URI to access the API is:

Service Collaboration
Service collaboration has been enhanced to allow agents to get assistance from subject matter experts (SME) who are not users of agent desktop. Users such as product experts and analysts, can be brought in to answer questions or contribute to solving an incident.
If you configure collaboration, the External User check box displays on a tab in the Profiles editor. Users with an external profile can collaborate in conversations with agents, but are not charged as named users for licensing compliance purposes. This is a huge score especially for organizations who don’t want to give accounts to occasional or highly specialized users. External users can log in to the collaboration service via a web browser or supported mobile device, but cannot use the Service Console.
I recently did a 3 part fast cast series about modern service and all the features outlined here can help businesses get ahead if they are far enough along on the maturity curve and look at adopting them as part of their roadmap to modern.

Oracle will be doing a product release webinar Thursday May 28th which should provide even more detailed information regarding this release. You can sign up here:

For more information on the May 2015 version including release notes, manuals, webcasts, tutorials and community posts. Please review at the official RightNow documentation overview page.

eVerge Group is an Oracle Platinum Partner with extensive experience. For more information about Oracle Service Cloud and our other business solutions, contact us through our website:


About the author: Rhianna Albert (Just Rhianna) Director of CX Solutions @ eVerge Group has an extensive background in customer support systems and processes, is an active member of the CX community and has been implementing and integrating Service Cloud (RightNow) for eight years. Follow me on twitter: just_rhianna

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Keys to CRM System Adoption: Coaching

High rates of user adoption maximize the benefit of a CRM system to every system user in an exponential way as every key process in the business; planning, marketing, selling, servicing, and analyzing, is enriched by the increased information and functionality of the CRM system. Many companies invest millions in software licenses and services to install a CRM application, but don’t invest the time and energy to create a CRM System – Application, Infrastructure, Employee users, Indirect Channel users, and Customers. Each part of the system is critical to the system, with none more critical than the Employee users.

When Employee users eagerly use and contribute to the CRM system, user adoption is high. chaussures running nike When Employee users do not use, or incorrectly use the system user adoption rates are low. louboutin chaussures When adoption rates are high, companies must persist on the system planning and implementation path that they have outlined to maintain and upgrade the system over time. When adoption rates are low, companies must pause and analyze the issues and take immediate corrective action. This is the first in a series of articles that detail what organizations can do to drive user adoption of the installed CRM system. There are 5 key areas to investigate and correct: executive involvement, pay for play, EASE, commitment, and coaching.

Coaching may be the least understood duty that is assigned to any manager in any organization. Coaching is the ability to demonstrate and inculcate a skill as it will be used in the organization. It should not be confused with Training, Motivation, Leadership, or Management of Resources – each of these is an important duty for organization Managers, but they are not “Coaching”. Unfortunately, many organizations and the Managers in that organization DO confuse one or all of these skills for Coaching. ugg soldes 2017 This is particularly detrimental to CRM Application user adoption. Throwing money and bodies at the CRM Application and making speeches about the benefits will not increase the skill level of the Employee users. Even application training is only marginally effective. The only proven way to increase the employee skill level successfully on a CRM Application is for the appropriate person, which more than 95% of the time is the direct Manager of the employee, to Coach the employee on the application. Raising the employee skill level, making the employee more comfortable with the application, is a key to user adoption.

In the Carew course on Selling Skills Coaching[1], the Coaching process has 4 distinct steps:

  1. Demonstrate the skill to the employee
  2. Assist the employee in attempting the skill
  3. Allow the employee to practice the skill in a supportive, protected environment
  4. Monitor and give feedback on the employee’s skill level in day to day activities

Demonstrate the skill: This means that each Manager on the Management team must be able to use the CRM application with enough proficiency that they can fully demonstrate it to their direct reports. For example, Sales Managers must be able to do everything in the CRM application that they are expecting their team members to do – e.g. handle leads, manage opportunities, create quotes, submit orders, update contact level information, etc. This level of proficiency is gained by including the Managers early in the requirements gathering phase, the design and development process, the testing phase, and by involving them in intensive application training and train the trainer sessions prior to the release of the application.

Assist the employee in attempting the skill: Each Manager should be at every roll-out/training session for the CRM application when his/her team is involved. The Manager will demonstrate the CRM application in the context of the business model for his/her team. They will assist each employee in completing a real world use case. They will answer business questions and questions about application design and functionality. They will also be able to do this when a new employee is added to the team after the CRM Application roll-out.

Allow the employee to practice the skill: After assisting the employee on the first use case, the Manager allows the employee to practice on similar use cases. The Manager evaluates the progress, provides positive feedback for each correct step, and makes suggestions for improvement when appropriate. Finally, the Manager recognizes and congratulates the employee on having attained a skill level sufficient to begin using it in live business processes.

Monitor and give feedback: The best and only effective way to monitor progress on a CRM Application is for the Manager to use the application! Printed reports and spreadsheets send a very negative message to the employees when used for this purpose. Employees want to feel that they have enriched the organization and improved the business through their actions in the CRM Application, the best way to do this is for the Manager to demonstrate that his/her decisions are being driven by the information in the system. Managers who use the system are much better able to evaluate the performance of their teams on the CRM Application than those who do not.

The creation or re-release of a CRM system involves a great deal more than the installation of a CRM Application. If the CRM Application is not used properly, or not used at all, then the system has a greatly diminished value. asics gel lyte Coaching is one of five key drivers to Employee user adoption. Make sure that as you are planning your CRM System you enable Coaching in your organization change management plans.

  1. Involve all Management levels in requirements, design, prototypes, and testing.
  2. Conduct intense training and train the trainer sessions (and include Coaching training if it is not already part of your Management training curriculum) for all managers before general release
  3. Involve the Managers in all direct rollout activities to their teams
  4. Make training environments available to the organization
  5. Ensure that Managers can work in the CRM Application to accomplish the vast majority of the business process cycles they manage.
  6. Ensure that employee onboarding is not considered complete until the Coaching process has progressed to step 4.

The cost of these activities will easily be recovered in the increased benefit of the system to your company, and the Coaching skills you give to your Managers will be used many, many times in other business processes and become part of your Customer Experience driven culture.


Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant
Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant

This blog was written by Jim Lindenfeld, who has been actively involved in customer relationship management during his entire professional career. asics gel kinsei 6 He is a certified sales and sales management trainer.

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Project Killers: The Path to On Time, On Budget and In Scope

project_killersA new IT project has been initiated. The CRM system is going to be upgraded and integrated. Visions of new capabilities and increased profits fill the waking hours of the CEO and the VP of Sales. adidas superstar pas cher By day the CIO appears to share in that dream, but while everyone else sleeps, the CIO is visited by the nightmares of projects from the past where deadlines were missed, cost overruns were the norm, and a severe reduction in project scope was inevitable. Sometimes, when the nightmares are the scariest, the CIO even allows his psyche to relive the horrors of several projects that were complete failures. Meanwhile the IT Project Management Office, the Business Analysts, the System Architects, and the Developers stare in disbelief at the list of approved requirements and the approved budget and timeline for the project and sadly shake their heads. “Do they even have a window in that ivory tower?” they mutter. To all but the most uninitiated, the project is dead on arrival. How did this happen, how can it be prevented in the future?

Successful IT projects can no longer be optional or left to chance. Due to the inseparable integration of IT and the rest of the business, the success of IT at any business is the success of the business. We are taking a fun and somewhat irreverent look during the next few postings at the Project Killers in our midst and how the white knights in business and IT can vanquish them in as part of a successful project. These Project Killers are usually easy and inexpensive to avoid, yet most of us have fallen victim to one or more of them:

  1. Dead on Arrival (a.k.a. DOA) – A project without the proper estimations for time and resources somehow is initiated
  2. Death by Documentation (a.k.a. nike air max tavas strangled in red tape) – A great deal of time and effort goes into plans, requirement documents, and design documents with no real benefit to the project
  3. Death by Indecision (a.k.a. analysis paralysis in its milder forms) – Key project decisions are delayed or avoided altogether
  4. Death in Unchartered Lands (a.k.a. scope creep) – The participants, stakeholders, scope, and methods, are never agreed to formally when the project starts. If you don’t know where you’re going, most any road will take you there – but it may take a lot longer and cost a lot more!
  5. Sudden Unplanned Death (a.k.a. running into a dead end) – risks are not properly identified and mitigated
  6. Death by Starvation (a.k.a. bottlenecks) – resources are not properly identified and allocated

Many projects are Dead On Arrival – DOA. Often this happens because the actual amount that would have to be invested to achieve the expected results is significant enough to reduce the return on investment to a level that is no longer acceptable. So instead of a fair estimate for a reasonable gain in productivity/reduction in cost, companies and their suppliers “tweak” the estimates to be more favorable – the delivered system is estimated to bring more benefit, the investment in licensing and maintenance costs is underestimated, the resources required – both internal and external to the company – are estimated at reduced levels, and all of that will happen during an accelerated time line! Perhaps this has happened to you once or twice? Perhaps you have even had the project approved based on those over and under estimations to find that you can’t even get the project successfully started – in other words, the project is DOA.

If your corporate culture is geared to delivering a number of DOA projects, you can break the cycle and get back to successful IT projects that deliver fully on their promised benefits, on time, and within budget. Here are the simple and inexpensive steps to avoid a DOA project.

Good, Fast, Cheap – Pick any 2: This is a great way to prevent DOA projects. First, define ‘Good’ – what is the real problem that you are trying to solve – increased productivity, cost avoidance, customer satisfaction, employee morale, competitive advantage, new legislation, etc.? How much is solving that problem worth to your company – try hard to put it into dollars and cents! Next, define ‘Fast’ – is there an event on the horizon that dictates the release date? You should consider product releases, fiscal years, acquisitions, competitive activity, corporate recognition programs and national meetings, and meeting legal requirements among other time related drivers. Finally, define ‘Cheap’ – based on preliminary estimates what is the maximum amount of money you are willing and able to invest in the system? When putting together the project, simply remember that you will always be able to have only 2 out of Good, Fast, and Cheap. If you want a complete, high quality solution (Good) and you need it quickly (Fast) it will NOT be inexpensive (Cheap). Fjällräven Deutschlands If you want a high quality solution (Good) and you want it to be inexpensive (Cheap) it will NOT be Fast! Finally, if you want it Fast and Cheap, it will NOT be Good!

In today’s IT environment where the pace of innovation is constantly accelerating, few if any businesses can afford to choose Good and Cheap at the expense of Fast – the project delivery will be so far in the future that the envisioned benefit may not be realized (and we have seen this happen!). So that leaves just 2 choices – Good and Fast; and Cheap and Fast. That is why it is so important to carefully define ‘Good’ and ‘Cheap’ initially. If your definition of Cheap is significantly fewer dollars than Good (project has a high ROI) then pick Good and Fast and recognize that your investment may be higher than estimated. If your definition of Good and Cheap are closer together, consider breaking the project into smaller, quicker wins and choose Cheap and Fast to keep to budget with a partial solution. Finally, if your definition of Good is less than your definition of Cheap realize that the ROI for the project will most likely be break even or negative and only proceed where required by legal or business conditions and choose Good and Fast since it is likely that you are proceeding only in the cases where you need a quality, complete solution in a hurry. buy bns gold In this scenario, expect to invest more than you initially thought you would.

Remember “Good, Fast, Cheap pick any 2” and your projects will be vital and alive at inception. Avoiding the other Project Killers can be just as easy. We will discuss the process over the next few postings to this blog.

Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant
Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant

This blog was written by Jim Lindenfeld, who has been actively involved in customer relationship management during his entire professional career. He is a certified sales and sales management trainer.

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Customer Experience: Is the Bar Being Raised and Can You Still Jump Over It?

It is a widely held belief that the secret to a satisfied customer is similar to the secret to a satisfying marriage – low expectations!

As with many things in life, a customer’s satisfaction with a product or service is something that can really only be measured against that customer’s own, personal expectations.

The customer will be satisfied with your company’s offering if his or her expectations are met. However, this also implies that as the customer’s expectations go up, satisfying the customer will become more difficult. Evidence strongly suggests that all customer expectations are, as a rule of thumb, rising constantly over time.

Your customers are not measuring their experience with you against your competitors in the current marketplace; instead they are comparing your company to the customer experience delivered by Amazon, JetBlue, Apple, or American Express.

Claes Fornell is the Swedish professor who came to America more than 20 years ago and founded the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). nike air huarache soldes In his book, The Satisfied Customer, Fornell reports that before field testing the ACSI, his team scoured the literature on customer satisfaction in order to ensure that they captured just the right kind of variables.

According to Fornell,

“Although there was no consensus on how to measure customer satisfaction, three facets showed up over and over. chaussures adidas The most common had to do with the confirmation or disconfirmation of prior expectations. basket air jordan soldes Another was the idea of comparing a company’s product to a customer’s ideal version of the product-regardless of whether or not such a product even existed. chaussures nike femme 2017 The third facet was the cumulative level of satisfaction when all interactions, the customer’s total experience over time with the company, were taken into account.”

Simply stated, a customer will become less satisfied even if your product or service remains at the same level of quality because his or her expectations have increased.

It is easy to imagine that, as companies around the world focus more and more on improving the customer experience, streamlining and automating their processes, and providing greatly enhanced online experience that the general level of customer expectations with regard to ALL companies is increasing.

This means you cannot simply maintain your position by continuing to do what you have always done. If your remain static, you customer satisfaction scores – ACSI or NPS – or previously determined internal scales from Ecstatic to Miserable – will decline as customer expectations rise.

No matter what your current position in your marketplace, dominant to new entrant, you simply will not maintain or grow that position without actively working to improve your customer experience, because the rising tide of customer expectations will soon submerge your satisfaction scores.

As the pace of technological change continues to accelerate, and as new customers with elevated expectations enter the marketplace, you must plan to improve your customer experience at an accelerated pace just to maintain your current level of customer satisfaction scores. nike air max 90 That type of planning and execution requires a partner with deep experience in customer satisfaction, broad knowledge of current and future trends for customer expectations, and keen awareness of the technologies that are currently and soon to be available to customer experience managers.

Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant
Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant


This blog was written by Jim Lindenfeld, who has been actively involved in customer relationship management during his entire professional career. He is a certified sales and sales management trainer.

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Last release of 2014: Oracle Service Cloud November 2014

It has been a few months since the November version came out and eVerge Group’s Service Cloud practice has kept me so busy that I almost decided to skip the review being that it is now January 2015 but then something inspired me. I have been travelling without much time to even take a breath the last few weeks and had the opportunity to oversee a very talented team as they started implementing an instance of the November release for a client.

If you know me then you know I am a hands on person. I do not sit idly by while others get to play with the shiny new toys, I want to join in and help teach others who are newer to the product, the ENFJ in me won’t allow me not to teach. While working collaboratively with this team and rolling up my sleeves to share a few hard learned tricks on workflow I discovered some features that I somehow missed previously. I still haven’t determined when the two I found came into production but it created an incessant thrumming in my head to go back and review the new features so I could continue to share.

There is a new tutorial that goes over the release highlights you may want to review it as I will not go over every new feature: November Overview Video

Service Console Enhancements

We know from previous versions that tool windows can be shifted around to the right or left sides of the console as well as being collapsed or closed. In the November release an agent can now have even more room on the console by docking the tool windows to the status bar. Just don’t be like me and forget that you did it because when you login the next day you might panic and wonder why you have a blank screen.



Drop down menus now have type ahead and track items recently used. With the type ahead feature an agent no longer needs to scroll or navigate through menus that in some cases could be six levels deep. Now as they begin to type the menu will highlight potential matches if there is more than one. Ten recent items can be listed by default.

N15-menuEnhancements to Message templates

The editor now has sub tabs so you can edit multiple templates at the same time to nov15msgallow different versions or language templates to be easily compared. This also allows an administrator to work in other areas of the console without having to close out message template like you had to in previous releases.


Within message templates you can also now create up to 10 conditional subject lines and can write conditions based on the number of message threads as well.

New configuration Assistant

I have used this new tool for the project mentioned above and it is great being able to create and manage new interfaces, mailboxes and test sites. However, by far the best part of this feature in my opinion as a system integrator is the ability to reset the System Administrator password without having to contact Oracle customer service.


If your company uses chat you can now let agents view a customer or site visitor’s browsing history from the customer portal. Agents can get crucial information about what pages the customer already viewed before requesting the chat session allowing them to more easily address the customers issues and concerns.

Agent Browser UI

Yes it is available for “infrequent users” but it is not really much more than a taste of what is to come in next few releases at this point. It certainly is not functional in a way that brand new clients could expect to be solely dependant on and abandon the trusty .Net thick client. For now my recommendation on this one is, if you upgrade to November 14 take a peak and check it out. If you wait just a little longer I think  you will be greatly rewarded, I witnessed the same sort of progress with the Mobile App for Service and the functionality that it has now is light years from when it was introduced.

Before I let you all go off, running and playing with the new version eVerge Group will be at the Modern Customer Experience event in Las Vegas this March. I have heard that it will be more akin to the RightNow Customer Summit that was held at the Broadmoor in the days before being purchased by Oracle. If this is the case I can assure you it will be full of great sessions, good conversation and fun evening events. If you are attending please let me know so we can talk about all things CX. If you are thinking of attending register quickly and take advantage of the early bird rate.

nov15 bee
The Golden Bee – RightNow Customer Summit


For more information on the November 2014 version including release notes, manuals, webcasts, tutorials and community posts. Please review at the official RightNow documentation overview page.

If you are interested in learning more or have questions feel free to reach out to me at

eVerge Group is an Oracle Platinum Partner with extensive experience. For more information about Oracle Service Cloud and our other business solutions, contact us through our website:

 Rhianna_smallAbout the author: Rhianna Albert (Just Rhianna) Director of CX Solutions @ eVerge Group has an extensive background in customer support systems and processes, is an active member of the CX community and has been implementing and integrating Oracle Service Cloud solutions for eight years.



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Service Cloud August 2014 Contact Center Modernization

I am on a plane to Open World in San Francisco and thought that taking the time to finally write up my review of the new Oracle Service Cloud release would be an appropriate use of my time. As a reminder eVerge Group will be featured in four Service Cloud Sessions and I will be speaking at two. Please stop by and say hello I will be at all four:

  1. Oracle Service Cloud for Siebel Service[CON8917] Wednesday, Oct 1, 12:45 PM – 1:30 PM – Moscone West – 3001A
  2. Best Practices in Online Customer Engagement[CON8911]  Wednesday, Oct 1, 3:15 PM – 4:00 PM – Moscone West – 3001A
  3. The Best of Both Worlds, Cloud to Ground: A Siebel/Oracle RightNow Integration Story [CON3929]  Thursday, Oct 2, 11:30 AM – 12:15 PM – Moscone West – 2001A
  4. Oracle Service Cloud Platform Overview and Roadmap[CON8910]  Thursday, Oct 2, 2:00 PM – 2:45 PM – Moscone West – 3001A

The theme of this release resonates with the best practices eVerge Group will be speaking at in our session with Christopher Patterson at Open World. In 2014 there has been a push to transform and modernize customer service and I think this first image summarizes that initiative very well.


Key enhancements to the product in this release span Web Customer Service, Cross Channel, Policy Automation and Platform. Although it isn’t as packed with new features as May was there are some really exciting features.

webcsWeb Customer Service

Experience Routing (Chat)

In May the ability to use experience routing within chat allowed for fewer rules, simplified queue management, routing based on products, categories, language and more to the most skilled agents and the ability to strategically priority level of service. All of these added a tremendous value to the product allowing organizations to increase CSAT, Retention and Acquisition through more modern approaches to a channel that has been around and matured with all of us. This feature has brought Chat back in style like big phones and bellbottoms.

In August we see a new iteration of capabilities in experience routing that offer an organization the ability to optimize the utilization of chat agents as well monitor trends in queue performance, traffic and workload. The key benefits of this include improved responsiveness by load balancing work assigned and an overall better understanding of queue/agent performance. This is important for forecasting need in peak times as well as maintaining the desired level of service for the channel.


crossCross Channel Contact Center


This is a feature that I have anticipated for quite a while.  In the past year I have observed a renewed interest from organizations that desire to empower agents and to improve knowledge. Part of this movement has involved the adoption of KCS or knowledge centered support. If you are not familiar with this methodology you can learn more on this site:

In the August release this feature centers on collaboration within the context of an incident transaction in the agent desktop. An agent can now access experts from their organization without getting up from their desk, transferring the call or escalating the incident. Collaboration is enabled for the traditional client as well as the mobile agent app allowing access to another level of knowledge anywhere, anytime.

Agents are alerted about important collaborative posts using enhanced “toast” notifications keeping them up to speed in real-time. Organizations who take advantage of this will be getting a fully functioning internal social network that can be used by their staff to increase quality, productivity and efficiency. In terms of key performance indicators (KPIs) this translates to increased customer satisfaction (CSAT), decreased handle time (AHT/MTTR) and increased first contact resolution (FCR). As I mentioned above this also enables organizations to adopt some of the aspects of KCS. They will be able to start capturing previously undocumented, tribal knowledge and with the proper workflow implemented convert these interactions into knowledge articles that can be pushed out through web self-service. This adds another KPI to the mix, with more relevant knowledge available to customers there will be an increase in call deflection and a decrease in creation of incidents that positively affects return on investment (ROI).



paPolicy Automation (PA)

In August we have more changes in policy automation within interview experience, modeling and deployment. If you are not sure what you would use PA  for think about process you walk through like determining benefit eligibility, comparing car insurance rates or upgrading your phone.

Interview Experience

The layout of the interview experience can now be enhanced with embedded images, controls that can be displayed side-by-side and sections that can dynamically show or hide. A streamlined audit process that allows the viewing of decision reports within Service Cloud’s agent desktop or any other application that it is connected to has been introduced. Finally you can also capture evidence by uploading any document and viewing it in the agent desktop.



Modeling Productivity

There is now the ability to work collaboratively on multiple people on the same project while keeping track of what was changed and why. Also new sample projects have been added for industries like Retail, Travel & Transportation, Licensing they can be used to create new interviews or enhance existing ones.

Deployment Efficiency

In August a new, cleaner more simplified user interface has been added that allows you to audit changes made to projects and deployments separately providing a more robust history. The web service connector will allow you to securely integrate to Service cloud and other applications in a standard way that makes mapping to a data model easier.




Within the Service Cloud Platform support has been added for both ODBC and JDBC drivers. These are cloud agnostic drivers that will work even in a PCI cloud without firewall configuration and allow quick, easy access to common data management, ETL, and analytics tools.


In the next year the key features I am most looking forward to are Browser Based Agent UI, Oracle BI integration, Advance knowledge and last but not least REST APIs. See below for an overview however understand that Oracle always caveats these roadmaps with the disclaimer that features may change at any time especially in the “Next 12 Months” bucket.



 Rhianna Blue BlazerHeadshot2About the author: Rhianna Albert (Just Rhianna) has an extensive background in customer support systems and processes, is an active member of the CX community and has been implementing and integrating RightNow solutions for seven years.


For more information on the August 2014 version including release notes, manuals, webcasts, tutorials and community posts. Please review at the official RightNow documentation overview page.

If you are interested in learning more or have questions feel free to reach out to me at

eVerge Group is an Oracle Platinum Partner with extensive experience. For more information about Oracle RightNow CX and our other business solutions, contact us through our website:

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First things first

Remember in my last post when I said we would start reworking the multiline widget to display different content than it does out of the box?

I have a confession to make.

I lied.

Before we can look into extending a view to do something new and interesting, we should first look into widget extension itself, and how the wizard works. While it is still possible to create a new widget without using the wizard, in the vast majority of cases, you will want to use this. It will create the scaffolding correctly for you, stub out methods for easy overriding and create the yui file for you. If you later decide you have to add more functionality to the widget (I actually needed to extend the logic file…or I need an AJAX endpoint in my controller) then you have two options, you can either update the other files and edit the yml file manually (later post), or you can back up the work you’ve done, delete your widget, create a new one, and replace the code you’ve already developed. In most cases, I would recommend this as constructing your own logic or controller extension file is something of a pain.

So, what should we expect from the widget wizard? Well, first you have to figure out if you’re going from scratch or extending a current widget.

Step 1

It all starts here

If you’re old school, this is a pretty easy decision to understand. If you would go in and copy the Sample widget, rename it and then start creating your own view, logic and controller code, you’re going to want to select Create a New Widget. If, instead, you were going to go copy a widget to custom, rename it and then start tweaking, you’re going to want to select extend the widget. Details for creating a new widget may come in a future post, but for today, in order to get our feet wet with updating an existing widget, we’re going to select extend a widget.

Clicking this presents us with three input boxes, the first asks what widget we are extending. Just start typing the widget you want to use in, then select it from the drop down. Simple. Next, we are asked what we want to call our custom widget. There is code in the wizard that makes sure your widget name doesn’t already exist in the path you specify (more on that in the third field) and, should you accidentally be creating a duplicate widget, the system will save you from yourself and not let you create the widget. Finally, you’re asked what path you want to put the widget in. This is something of a change from the old file scheme, and generally a welcome one. All widgets must be nested in a folder, you can no longer create a widget at the root /custom/ level. This forces us to categorize our widgets. In the case of custom ones, this is generally pretty easy. In most cases, you will use the same subfolder in custom that you copied from in standard.

Major Decisions Here

Major Decisions here

Next up we get to define the components of our new widget. As we are extending from another widget (in this case a ProductCategorySearchFilter widget) we have to tell the wizard what parts we want to extend. For anything server side, such as form submission, retrieving data from the database, writing data TO the database (usually db writes will happen as part of an AJAX based form submission), new data components being exposed to the view, or other server side actions, such as working with a session variable and data manipulation, we need to extend the controller. If you’re going to add new communication between front end and back end, such as looking something up from the DB based upon user interaction on the page, you will need to both extend the controller and select yes for the controller doing its own AJAX handling, which brings us into the second radio button. Spending a bit more time on the first though, the effect of selecting yes to the widget having its own controller is to cause the system to generate a controller file with a baseline constructor which pulls in all the code of its parent, and stubs for all of the methods of the controller allowing you to either add to, or override those methods. If you decide to override a method, bear in mind that future updates to that widget that touch those methods might impact your widget. RNT/Oracle will generally communicate in the patch notes if these updates are likely to impact custom code. If so, you can choose on a per widget basis not to go to the new widget version until you have sanity checked that your own widget does not break.

Selecting yes to the widget doing its own AJAX handling will do three things. First, it will create a stub method in your controller to handle the AJAX request, secondly, it will automatically select yes for you on the Does this widget have its own JavaScript question and thirdly, it will stub out a JS endpoint for your AJAX request. As mentioned above, this is necessary if you are going to need to have any front end/back end interactions between your custom widget. This can also be used if you want to alter how the AJAX interaction of the parent widget operates.

Next you need to select if your widget modifies the parent view. This is probably the most common type of edit you would do to a widget (outside of basic CSS restyling), though getting used to extending a view can take some effort. The recommended option is to extend the view. This allows you to add content to the widget between the block tags that exist within the parent widget. In cases of view code contained between block declarations in the view, this allows you to override that section of HTML/PHP. This takes some getting used to as some view code is not contained between blocks and has to, in my experience be duplicated within a block and then the original removed from the DOM using the logic file, but this allows you to more cleanly edit the view without erasing the content already there. Short upshot of view extending, if you’re just adding content, you’re golden no matter what. If you’re changing content in the parent view, and that content exists between an opening and closing block tag, you can override it (more on this in the extending the view tutorial), and if it exists outside of an opening and closing block tag, you create your own DOM elements either before or after the element in question and then use JS to remove the original element from the DOM.

Your other option with a view modification is to override it. Use this option sparingly. There are two reasons for this. First, it obviously breaks the entire view for later inheritance. More importantly, however, it breaks the link to the logic file, forcing you to construct your own. This is likely due to the tight interaction between the DOM, generally presented by the view and the JS logic that acts on it with subscriptions, events, etc. For this reason, overriding the view will, in nearly all circumstances, cause functionality to fail and should generally be avoided.

View also asks you if you want to include the parent CSS. In most cases, you will want to do this (I don’t know why this isn’t defaulted to yes) as you will want to start from the basic look and feel and then potentially tweak the css from there. If you leave it set to no, the widget will not have its parent css applied and you will have to create your own styling from scratch.

The final heading to deal with here is the JavaScript heading. First you determine if the widget has its own JavaScript. This will create a logic.js stub for you to add your own methods to, modify the constructor and override existing methods, much like extending the controller. If you are adding new YUI components to the widget (such as adding autocomplete to the keyword widget) then you will specify these on the next line where it says Add module. This link will give you a dialog that allows you to begin typing a YUI module for inclusion into the widget. If you miss a module post-creation, not to worry, a simple edit of the YML file, which is created with all widgets, can get it added.

Also in the JavaScript heading is if you want to include the JS templates. These are typically used when the page does an AJAX refresh, such as with the Multiline widget. When a new search happens and data comes back, it uses this JS template to define the ‘new’ view.


New Attributes

Old school CP developers will remember attributes living in the Controller file. These days they exist in the YML file and can be manually added and edited there, however the widget allows you a user friendly mode of adding new attributes, for use by the controller, view or logic files. These populate to the ci/admin page for your widget and allow for easy reference of what attributes the widget has.



This final piece might not seem important at first, but two years later when you’re doing a code audit, you’ll be kicking yourself if you don’t pay special attention to the Additional Details drop down. This allows you to add a Widget description to the reference page. Here is where you are going to want to outline exactly what your widget does, and how it differs from the baseline widget. This will make it easy for you to go in on a code review and bring that widget up to standard as you will know where in the widget to look. Please don’t ever ignore this.



Finally, you will be presented with the following page showing you all the files you have created with the widget generator. Feel free to drop the widget onto your page should be fully functional as-is…but it will be a clone of its parent. From here you can go into the view, the controller or the logic files (if you created them) and begin editing. Next up, we go in and look at one of those view extension files and talk about how we can modify the view of the widget we’re working with.

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Customer Portal 3 – Brave New World

Dystopian connotations aside, the new framework is fully upon us a year in and it’s time for many to begin looking at the road forward. Those just starting on RNT will already be on CP3 and learning things right from the ground up (in theory). Those of us working on older sites have a bit of work ahead of us. Fortunately this work, when done right, can be a great way to learn how things are constructed now. If you’re like me, this will be hard at first (VERY hard in my case), but the work of upgrading a customized site from CP2 to CP3 will give you the chance to experience the changes and get a firm grip on them. If your site is highly customized you’ll be getting that grip for weeks to come. In order to document the various things to understand and pitfalls as well as best (or, lacking true expert opinion, at least decent) practices, I felt this would be a good time to begin blogging on the way things are done in CP3, using real world examples to document how things were, and how things are. We will start with the most basic of functions and then branch out to ever deeper customizations. To start, however, understand that it is not my intention at this time to go over basic MVC and how CodeIgniter itself works. While that may be post-fodder for a later date, these first handful of posts will handle CP3 itself, beginning with this first post, a broad overview of CP3 and how it works differently from CP2.

Back in the old days </grandpa voice> when we wanted to change a widget in any way other than by CSS, we had to copy that widget and make our changes to the view, controller or logic files as the case required. This came with a lot of flexibility, but also had the downside of divorcing that widget from the parent from that point forward. Your Multiline widget gets some neat new highlighting feature? Your CustomMultiline copy will never know about it. You’re going to have to go in and update your code…and who among us has that kind of time? With CP3, some real inheritance/extension has been introduced into widgets. When we create a widget we can choose to extend it from a base widget, and then determine what part of that widget we are impacting. Want to rearrange the display of the answers that the Multiline widget exposes? Then you’re going to modify just the view and ideally extend it. Need some neat new YUI features attached to your input box? Simply extend the logic file. Want to cause your input boxes to do a database write before form submission? Extend the controller with its own built in AJAX endpoint (more on that in a later post) and add a listener to the extended logic file for onBlur.

What all of this means is, we now have the potential to layer code on top of existing code in a way that preserves the baseline. If that baseline updates, our new widget gets the update as well. If we need to go one step further and override a method, either in the controller or logic, and we can’t simply include the parent (in the vast majority of cases we can) then only that small part of the whole codebase gets divorced, the rest of the code inherits just fine. There are exceptions to all of this, which we will go into in later posts, but by and large, inheritance is the watchword of the new framework. How things are done is going to feel very different, but hopefully through the following weeks, with plenty of examples, that learning curve can be simplified. Real world examples are critical for something like this, so the next post will be for performing what is likely the most basic extension for a widget, modifying the view. We will walk through, step by step, how to take the multiline widget and both add to as well as modify how it functions. There are a few gotchas in there, and I’ll go over those as they become relevant.

Stay tuned.

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