Oracle Service Cloud gets more social

Access to an online customer's browsing history gives a fuller view of their experience

Oracle has released an update to its Oracle Service Cloud that adds new tools to give companies more insight about their customers.

Customer service staff who get the update will now see an online visitors' browser history, for instance, so when a visitor asks for help, chat agents can see what led to the need for help in the first place. Reduced handling time is one potential benefit, according to Oracle.

The update, released Wednesday, also includes integration with Oracle Social Cloud to improve interaction with customers on social networks. Social posts can be automatically escalated to the Service Cloud, for instance, which could help companies identify issues early and respond more quickly.

A new skills-based feature enables customer-service centers to match specific inquiries with particular agents. That's designed to help them solve inquiries more quickly, and also allow them to provide better service for more valuable customers.

"Co-browsing" has also been tightly integrated with the cloud service, meaning customers can share their screen with an agent immediately, without the need for downloads. A policy-automation feature can build rapidly changing procedures into the process.

"We're basically going from a world of service that was about tracking transactions to one that's about engaging," said analyst Ray Wang, founder of Constellation Research.

"The ability to take analytics from all these interactions and bring them to light is where we're heading, and that's what Oracle is working towards with this update."

The new features add up to "an attempt to improve a business's approach to customer moments of truth by enabling the business to be in them with the customer," said Denis Pombriant, managing principal at Beagle Research Group. "All of this can happen in a more or less ad hoc way rather than through laboriously crafted workflows that were a hallmark of earlier generations of service products."

Oracle's main competition in this area is Salesforce.com, which already offers tools with some of the same features, Pombriant noted, citing Salesforce's Chatter as one example.

"This is good," he said. "It gives Oracle a way to go toe-to-toe with its competition at a time when older Siebel service systems are reaching the end of their productive lives."

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