Working in Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Customer Experience, for 20 years across multiple industries and on many global transformational projects, has undoubtedly been fascinating. Clients consistently set me challenges as to how they can transform themselves to meet and then exceed their customers’ expectations.
One of my clients recently said to me:
The speed of change, fuelled by the ease of access to information, and multiple channels of communication available is driving our customer expectations beyond what our organization can handle operationally and afford, how can we keep up?
It’s true that customers expect an exceptional experience, and part of what defines “exceptional” in the digital world is a connected journey. And for businesses, remaining competitive in this world increasingly means not only differentiating among product offerings but providing a differentiated customer experience as well.
One of the ways to achieve this is to satisfy your customers’ needs in the digital world.
This blog will focus on how organizations can deliver an exceptional customer experience using the SAP Sales & Service Cloud software as their core and then leveraging SAP Cloud Platform (SCP) as a tool, that includes SAP HANA analytics and SAP Sales Cloud services, and why they should do so.
How can organizations meet and exceed ever-changing and increasing expectations?
The fundamentals of having a core system that is easy to use, reliable, and can support all your back office Sales & Service business processes in the Cloud is a given in this day and age. There is no longer a business case for an on-premise solution. If you are currently evaluating systems, SAP Sales & Service Cloud software and SAP Cloud services needs to be at the top of your list, as it is a clear leader in this category – and for a good reason. There are many key differentiators, some of which include its relationship-oriented selling and service experience-driven capabilities as well as its next-generation multi-channel customer engagement and support features.
To fully capitalize on the core functionality in SAP Sales & Service Cloud, I also recommend using the SAP Cloud Platform. The SCP enables organizations to quickly create customer and partner portals seamlessly integrated with the SAP Sales & Service Cloud back end, and in so doing, leverages the core functionality by simply exposing a front-end channel to be used by customers and partners.
SCP should be thought of as the central nervous system of the SAP System. By definition, ‘SCP provides a set of integrated services that deliver delightful user experiences across various digital touchpoints, enabling innovation without disrupting core business processes’ (Prof. Dr. Hasso Plattner, SAP co-founder, and Chair).
Why is this interesting and important?
As part of the overall SAP system, SAP Cloud Platform (SCP) is an extremely powerful platform that enables you to launch your customer experience innovations continually. For example, if you would like a channel partner to create opportunities for your sales team, you can simply create an opportunity widget/form and expose this to a partner portal. Or similarly, if you want to capture customer interest online, you can expose the same widget and then centrally push these requests to the right sales team to act immediately to push for more sales.
The SCP has a plethora of embedded tooling, including theme designers, portal templates with up-to-date UX designs, along with SAP HANA Analytics and SAP Sales Cloud services, and has all the necessary development and integration functionality required to build almost anything from a software perspective very quickly, at low risk and cost. What this means in practical terms is that as an organization, when you have the fundamental core SAP Sales & Service Cloud system in place, you can use the SCP to extend this to create any application or functionality that you, your customers, or your partners desire.
From a software development perspective, creating an integrated application for your customers or partners is referred to by SAP as a ‘Side-by-Side’ extension. There are many reasons to produce such ‘Side-by-Side’ extensions based on a SAP Sales & Service Cloud core and using the SCP that are driven by both business and technical requirements. The main reasons are as follows:
- Avoiding interference with the core. Clearly, you can interfere with the core, and most likely will, via minor developments in the SAP Sales & Service Cloud core, which is referred to by SAP as ‘In-App’ extensions. However, you should keep it clean. The standard functionality that SAP has delivered is vast and is continuously undergoing further development so unless there is something that you cannot live without, keep it as standard as possible to minimize the total cost of ownership;
- Creating componentized and personalized responsive portals, wearables, i.e. smartwatches and mobile apps using the SCP which could be internally used by employees or externally by your customers and partners;
- Enabling artificial intelligence and machine learning and by so doing, learn faster, analyze and find patterns in customer data, propose solutions, calculate the impact, and even predict the future. This enhances any decision-making process significantly. It also helps identify and analyze issues early, allowing you to respond to problems quickly – helping to ensure a positive customer journey;
- Enabling IoT with real-time advanced and predictive analytics. IoT is transforming the way we live at home, work, and the environment around us. Examples include smart door locks, kitchen appliances, as well as speaker systems such as the Amazon Echo and Apple’s HomePod. HCL’s Connected Commerce Solution is a great example of how software predicts faults in lighting equipment and automatically creates service orders from an IoT device, which includes the assignment to a technician based on machine learning algorithms;
- Introducing gamification in what may have previously been an arduous, repetitive, costly, and tedious process. Within organizations, there are several gamification techniques to improve customer service levels and sales efficiency. Techniques such as competitions with leader boards, badges, rewards, and progress bars to provide real-time feedback and increased engagement work well and are easily achieved using the SCP and integrated with the SAP Sales & Service Cloud;
- Masking complexity and creating simplicity, enabling easy workflows, as well as being highly secure. People generally only use a fraction of software features available to them, so providing a rationalized customer or partner front end using SCP Portals only requiring the minimum fields for input increases usability and improves the adoption of core online processes. From a security perspective, the SCP manages secure authentication and end-to-end user management, and also has encrypted communication channels to ensure the secure transfer of data between the SCP and the SAP Sales & Service Cloud.
How can you turn this vision into reality?
Imagine exceeding your customers’ expectations in a connected digital world, leveraging the power of the SCP fully integrated with SAP Sales & Service Cloud. To get you there, I would recommend the following practical approaches:
- Invest in the correct SAP software and architecture. This means you need to purchase the relevant SAP Sales & Service Cloud core and SAP Cloud Platform (SCP) licenses. The good news is that this is Cloud-based software and the embedded functionality and tools provided by SAP are very user-friendly and well established and can support rapid prototyping and deployment – supporting a faster ROI;
- Invest in the people that can make it happen. Invest in training and upskilling your employees and choose implementation partners that understand your vision and have the same ambition and commitment to enable you to deliver an exceptional customer experience. Note that the structure of the delivery teams is not the same as in traditional IT projects. They are typically smaller teams composed of newer roles such as UX experts, SAP HANA modelers, Customer Experience experts, and SAP Cloud Platform (SCP) Integration Developers and Administrators;
- Create an agile environment and culture that thrives on creativity, innovation, and problem-solving. Task people to resolve real business and global challenges in a productive work environment by leveraging the SAP system and its tools such as SAP HANA and the SAP Cloud Platform;
- Ensure that the challenges you and your teams are resolving are aligned with your organizational vision and are measurable and benefits-driven. Transformational digital change experts can be used very effectively to ensure that your organization is focused on the core benefits and to ensure value-based and measurable outcomes.
Embrace the challenge to deliver exceptional customer experiences and enable your customers and or employees to click, swipe, tap and transact in whichever way they desire!