Turning Data into Profit: Using the Customer Experience to Drive Improvement and Growth at Oracle

Jeremy Whyte

It is well documented that optimizing customer loyalty has a direct and positive impact on a company’s financial performance and strategy. Increasing customer loyalty through improved customer experiences can be driven by the insight gained from a comprehensive customer feedback program. As companies have better visibility into the attitudes, expectations and preferences of their customers, they can cost-effectively tailor their sales, marketing and services programs to better align solutions with the business objectives of their customers. Yet many companies continue to struggle with strategy, namely how to translate customer feedback into action and improve the bottom line.

Oracle is highly committed to using customer feedback to drive product strategy and direction and has been incorporating customer feedback mechanisms into its day-to-day activities over the past decade. The company strategy is focused on giving its customers what they are asking for—and on winning their loyalty in return. Oracle Applications Unlimited, Oracle Lifetime Support, Oracle Application Integration Architecture—all of these key Oracle strategies have their roots in the feedback collected and analyzed under the voice of the customer program.

Oracle’s 300,000 customers provide a voice into how we deliver our products and services. Through collaboration with customer care and services teams across all lines of businesses, Oracle identifies customer needs and uncovers the root causes of customer issues across geographies and industries. A coordinated set of customer-centric programs are then designed to address opportunities in a consistent manner throughout the company. This helps to align business operations and executive priorities with those of our customers.

Closed-Loop Feedback Process

In its simplest form, Oracle uses a closed-loop process to collect and respond to customer feedback across customer segments, which follows three primary steps:

  • Gathering, analyzing and reporting customer feedback
  • Defining, actioning and communicating critical themes and initiatives
  • Tracking, monitoring and trending results to quantify the effects of improvement programs

Listening and responding to customers promotes customer loyalty and forms the foundation for a solid reference program and retention strategy. Identifying issues at a macro level facilitates the prioritization of organization-wide business improvements, resource allocation and the refinement of strategic action plans to ensure our customers’ success with Oracle solutions. Similarly, at a micro level, Oracle strategy encourages employees to take immediate action to address individual customer concerns. Ideally, addressing customer concerns at the time of feedback ensures these at-risk customers do not defect. This sense of urgency toward unhappy customers creates a level of trust and transparency, which sustains customer satisfaction and drives profitability.

Gathering, Analyzing and Reporting Customer Feedback As Part Of Your Customer Strategy

Customer feedback is collected across a variety of channels with the objective of providing customers with a voice into how Oracle delivers its products and services:

  • Executive sponsorship programs, CIO advisory board and strategy councils
  • Customer advisory boards, focus groups, users groups and special interest groups
  • Proactive outreach programs and facilitation of feedback from one-to-one engagements
  • Customer surveys, social media outlets and other online communities

This multi-channel approach provides customers with multiple avenues to voice ideas, highlight successes and engage with other customers sharing common challenges and opportunities.

Defining, Actioning and Communicating Themes and Initiatives

While many companies collect feedback, few effectively prioritize customer issues and implement improvement programs. Oracle consolidates feedback from the above channels, analyzes it across different customer segments and identifies key themes. Statistical analysis from our survey programs enables us to prioritize actions to improve relationships with our customers, and root cause analysis helps identify underlying issues and business impact.

Results of those actions are then communicated to customers, helping to ensure alignment with customer expectations while demonstrating that we actually act on the feedback received. This strategy in turn increases customer participation with future feedback forums and events, increasing customer engagement with Oracle organizations and gaining additional information on product strategy and direction.

Tracking, Monitoring and Trending Results

Upon identifying key themes and communicating the Oracle response, Oracle repeats the collection of feedback. This recurring process in our strategy allows us to verify the effectiveness of the improvement programs, as well as identify future opportunities for enhancement, from those customers directly impacted.

Obtaining Insight Through Surveys

The foundation of the voice of the customer program is the comprehensive survey strategy. Over 150,000 customer survey responses—across executives, management, staff and end users—are received annually. The input provided, combined with feedback from various customer forums and sources from the Oracle Partner Network, creates an integrated program providing an enterprise-wide view of the customer experience that can be used to manage customer relationships across the lifecycle.

To ensure Oracle captures the right type of feedback from the right contacts at the right time without over-surveying, a structured survey program featuring a portfolio of relationship, transactional and targeted surveys is used:

  • Relationship Surveys: Highlights overall customer experience and loyalty drivers across cumulative contact experiences
  • Transactional Surveys: Measures service quality of each organizational unit and trigger improvements to enhance operational effectiveness
  • Targeted Surveys: Facilitates qualitative research, enable deep-dives and compliment the relationship and transactional surveys

Tying it All Together

To gain superior customer insight necessary to accelerate business growth, Oracle regularly links customer feedback results to operational (e.g., turnaround time and wait time) and financial data (e.g., license revenue and maintenance revenue). These linkage analyses enable us to manage customer relationships with operational metrics and determine the ROI on investments to improve the customer experience, respectively. This inter-organizational research strategy ensures that customer feedback has a far-reaching impact across the entire company, leading to more targeted and prioritized actions that will have the greatest impact on increasing loyalty in the shortest time.

Buidling Strategic Customer Relationships As Part of a Holistic Strategy

Understanding customer needs and tailoring programs throughout the customer lifecycle fosters strategic relationships. Similarly, predicting and preventing customer attrition by interpreting and acting on the voice of the customer reduces market share erosion while yielding new opportunities to deepen existing relationships—and better positions the company for accelerated growth during improved economic times.