LAS VEGAS, NEVADA—Today’s razor-thin margins keep pushing CEOs to cut costs and increase market share. Oracle CEO Mark Hurd, during a keynote address at Oracle’s Modern Customer Experience conference here, noted that although cutting costs is a fundamental goal for any CEO, increasing market share is the key to survival. “There are three ways to do that, but the path with the most room for differentiation is customer service,” he said. And companies that use customer data to strengthen relationships with existing customers will be able to differentiate themselves.
Customer-centric sales and marketing has of course been a cornerstone of business for decades. But as we find ourselves in the middle of a generational shift, characterized by increasingly savvy, digitally connected consumers, the only way marketers, sales, and service people can meet new expectations is by surrounding themselves with actionable data.
“If really elite service is a differentiator and we really want to gain share, we have one thing going for us that we didn’t have before,” says Hurd. “Fantastic troves of data. The challenge isn’t to get more data. The challenge is to understand that data and get it to the person making the decision.”
And that data needs to be available to everyone in the company, not just a few obvious candidates. “The fact is that anywhere a brand touches a customer, whether it’s sales, service, commerce or marketing, it’s everyone’s role now,” said Laura Ipsen, general manager and senior vice president for Oracle Marketing Cloud.
Jack Berkowitz, vice president of products and data science for Oracle’s adaptive intelligence program, reinforced this message with a demo of new Adaptive Intelligent Apps for CX, which were announced at the event. During his demo, Berkowitz showed attendees a sample chat with an imaginary customer named George, who was calling a camera vendor about his broken camera. In the demo, the service rep had access to all of George’s customer data, including his lifetime dollar value and his value as an influencer. Based on this information, the system compiled all the possible responses from a knowledge trove that had been built since the outset of the vendor’s relationship with George, and provided those responses to the service rep.
The ability to access real-time data is the game changer—only companies that give their customer service people these capabilities will provide the elite level of service that consumers expect. Hurd noted that in today’s answer-now environment, there’s no time to move data into a warehouse and wait for data scientists to provide reports. “Most of the time the person who’s dealing with the customer isn’t the CEO. It isn’t the president or head of sales. It’s a person who needs access to the best information possible because that one interaction can affect the lifetime relationship with the customer.”
The real business differentiator is that single employee, armed with the right data to strengthen that relationship. “The ability to gain share comes down to those few precious moments where you can make a difference in your relationship with a customer,” said Hurd. “If you seize it, you gain share, and if you miss it, God knows what happens.”
Margaret Lindquist is senior director of content for Oracle brand marketing.