Oracle’s Chief Customer Officer on Being a Trusted Advisor

At Oracle, customer success is company success. And Chief Customer Officer Jeb Dasteel is leading the charge.

Charles Trevail

CEO at C Space

The following article is based on an episode of Outside In, the customer centricity podcast.

Business leaders and analysts love to pontificate about how and why business, along with customer expectations, is changing so quickly. Look back just a few years, they point out, and you’ll be amazed at how forces like technology, socioeconomics, disintermediation, and globalization have coalesced to alter our world with such stunning speed and intensity.

When we look towards the future, things really start to get interesting. A 2016 study by KPMG found that 72 percent of global CEOs believe that the next three years will usher in greater change across industries than that experienced over the last 50 years. No one can predict with certainty exactly what the future holds; however, there are signs, and business leaders are keen to spot them and plan for inevitable change.

Leaders like Jeb Dasteel, chief customer officer at Oracle. Last year, in a piece outlining the path to customer success, he wrote that Oracle is “taking stock of where we started, where we are now, and the road ahead.”

As other companies find themselves on a similar path, it’s worth remembering that success depends on developing a deep understanding of customers, and evolving with – not for – their needs. “In general, buyers in both the consumer realm and the business-to-business realm have very different and greater expectations than they did just a few years ago,” Jeb said during a recent conversation for the Outside Inpodcast. “The power has shifted dramatically, and that causes all of us to change the way that we operate.”

Listen. Engage. Ensure.

Meaningful change only happens when a company is well-attuned to its customers, when it is committed to helping them succeed. Jeb believes a company should invest strategically on this front – in programs and tools to better listen to customers, to engage with them, and to ensure they see a company’s value. “It’s really all about helping your customer to realize the business value they were looking for when they first bought your product or your services,” he says.

Becoming a trusted advisor to customers, rather than simply just a provider, is what a successful customer relationship and experience is all about. “Start with listening and use that as a foundation,” advises Jeb.

For example, Oracle listens to customers by using a mix of quantitative, data-driven methods and qualitative techniques like targeted surveys, real-time verbal feedback, and in-person interviews. There’s also a recurring program where the company invites many of its customers to physically assemble in a room and talk to Oracle about the company’s strategy and execution. According to Jeb, the insights that emerge from these candid, honest conversations are priceless.

Target. Track. Measure.

Jeb also believes it’s critical to target, track, and measure customer outcomes across the customer partnership. For instance, at the exploratory phase, Oracle helps potential customers create a business case and target the benefits of the product or service they’re seeking. As part of this approach, his team engages in “collaborative account planning,” working hand-in-glove with customers to set intentions, create buy-in, and develop a plan that works for the customer and Oracle.

Once the customer implements or adopts a service or product, Oracle works with customers to track incremental progress over time, using the customer’s own KPIs to closely monitor performance. Finally, after the customer has fully employed Oracle’s technology, “you help them go throughout the process of measuring the actual business benefits realized, and then turn that into a way to celebrate and build momentum within the customer organization.”

“Their success is our success,” Jeb says of customers, and they are “dying to have that level of commitment.” Trust is paramount; it naturally creates brand advocacy. “The more you can demonstrate that you can measure how successful [customers] have been, the more credible you are and the more likely your customer is to bring you into their most strategic discussions and business planning”

Like most large organizations, Oracle looks at traditional measures, like the Customer Loyalty Index (CLI) and Net Promoter Score (NPS), to gauge customer loyalty and satisfaction. However, Jeb admits that “you can measure yourself crazy.” What’s more important is understanding what’s behind those measures and knowing when it’s necessary to take action.

Cultural pragmatism

When it comes to forcing a customer-centric change of the corporate culture, Jeb has a decidedly contrarian perspective. “To me, it’s not about changing the culture. It’s really about how do I look at the culture we have and leverage aspects of that culture to enhance the objectives that we’re pursuing.”

In his multi-dimensional role of Chief Customer Officer, Jeb is a change agent, a facilitator, and a keeper of ongoing relationships with a lot of different customers. It’s not about “building an empire” or claiming dominion over any group. It’s about developing and implementing an entire framework for focusing on customer success.

With that, no matter how fast the future changes, success is always possible.

You may be interested in:

The Lifestyle Experience

The Lifestyle Experience Thirty years ago, the brand was advertising. TV and radio commercials, billboards, print ads – these, along with word-of-mouth, were just about the only interactions customers had with a brand before they bought its products,...

Tina Sharkey, Brandless CEO: It’s Gotta Have Soul

Tina Sharkey, Brandless CEO: It’s Gotta Have Soul Subscribe to the Outside In podcast: Tina Sharkey is an entrepreneurial force. Since the days of the dial-up modem, she has been building communities, companies, and brands “with soul.” Today, she’s...

What Retailers Need to Know to Own Customer Experience in the Apparel Industry

What Retailers Need to Know to Own Customer Experience in the Apparel Industry

by Robert Howie (C Space)
Apparel Magazine

Although the market has proven uncertain for several brands, retailers can survive these difficult times. For the apparel market to succeed in delivering better experiences for customers, it needs to go back to basics.

Jeff Beer, Fast Company: The Best a Brand Can Be?

Jeff Beer, Fast Company: The Best a Brand Can Be? Subscribe to the Outside In podcast: Trend chasing does not make for great advertising. It’s not a business model, either. As Jeff Beer, staff editor at Fast Company sees it, advertising is everything a...

Customer experience metrics must be adaptable

Customer experience metrics must be adaptable

by Sarah Ramirez
Luxury Daily

As more luxury brands are getting up to speed with ecommerce, companies also need to adapt how they value and measure customer experience.

Beth Comstock: An Outsider Inside

Beth Comstock: An Outsider Inside Subscribe to the Outside In podcast: As Beth Comstock sees it, most companies simply aren’t ready for the massive change happening in the world. After nearly three decades in senior leadership roles at GE and NBC...

Is Optimism Dead?

Is Optimism Dead? As we approach 2020, the future feels less certain than ever for customers. So that’s why we’ve launched Life as a Customer, a window into the worlds of 700 customers, powered by C Space. We share our first findings in this article......

Customer Experience Lessons Retailers Can Learn From the World’s Best Companies

Customer Experience Lessons Retailers Can Learn From the World’s Best Companies

by Rieva Lesonsky
Small Business Trends

How can your retail store deliver a best-in-class customer experience? Learn from the best, that’s how. Global customer agency C Space recently released its report on the best customer experiences of 2018, and retailers dominated the top companies on the list. Nine of the top 25 companies were retailers: Trader Joe’s, L.L. Bean, Nordstrom, Amazon, Costco, REI, Bath & Body Works, Sephora and Aldi.

Best Agency Above £20m and Best Place to Work: C Space

Best Agency Above £20m and Best Place to Work: C Space

by Katie McQuater
Research Live

At the 2018 MRS Research Live Awards, C Space was awarded Best Agency with a turnover above £20m and was also named Best Place to Work.

Rita Gunther McGrath: What’s Next for Strategy?

Rita Gunther McGrath: What’s Next for Strategy? Subscribe to the Outside In podcast: Author and Columbia Business School Professor Rita Gunther McGrath is a world-renowned expert on strategy, innovation, and growth. Her work has been a beacon for companies...