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What's Your Customer Experience Advantage? New CRM Innovations from SAP Help Companies Empower Their Employees and Gain a Competitive Edge

by Volker Hildebrand | SAPinsider

July 1, 2010

Customer experience is now a competitive differentiator—but to achieve a true "customer experience advantage," companies must excel in three dimensions. Uncover what these dimensions are and how SAP is supporting them through key enhancements to SAP Customer Relationship Management (SAP CRM).

As organizations strive to generate new growth while keeping costs at bay, winning and keeping customers is paramount. But in the age of the empowered customer, this has become increasingly challenging. In this context, more and more companies have realized that customer experience is now a competitive differentiator.

To achieve a “customer experience advantage” over your competitors, companies must excel in three dimensions: operational excellence, interaction excellence, and decision excellence. We call this the customer relationship management (CRM) framework of excellence.1 With Innovations 2010, SAP delivers key enhancements to SAP CRM that support all three dimensions.

In addition, several new innovations empower your customer-facing employees, increase usability and productivity, and foster collaboration across and beyond the organization. The result is a consistent, differentiating experience for your customers at reasonable costs.

In this article, I’ll explore some highlights of Innovations 2010 for SAP CRM (see Figure 1). I encourage you to review these highlights carefully and consider the benefits of taking advantage of those innovations that are relevant to your company. Participating in our ramp-up program, which begins in July, will allow you to reap the benefits before your competitors do.

Figure 1 New enhancements from SAP, several of which are highlighted in this article, support the three dimensions of excellence, which center around collaboration across and beyond an organization

Most of the innovations highlighted in this article are available within SAP CRM 7.0, enhancement package 1, which will be delivered in July of this year. Companies do not need to implement the enhancement package to access the social media packages or mobile solutions, which were released earlier this year.

Operational Excellence: Drive Efficiency and Effectiveness

Operational excellence is a prerequisite for delivering a positive customer experience. It’s all about efficiency, effectiveness, and your ability to deliver on your promises to customers at reasonable costs. This requires business processes that are designed across the entire organization, that effectively synchronize front and back offices, and that efficiently map supply to demand.

New innovations within SAP CRM enable companies to extend operational excellence beyond their boundaries and enhance the customer experience by collaborating across their partner ecosystem.

Extend Your Marketing Reach with Collaborative Campaign Management

Collaborative campaign management enables you to coordinate marketing activities and collaborate more effectively with your partners. By planning and executing marketing campaigns alongside your partners, you can ensure a consistent brand experience and leverage your partners’ market knowledge to better target customers. With the new enhancements, you can centrally develop and control messaging across all marketing channels; personalize campaigns with partner branding, product mix, and pricing; and tailor customer messaging.

In addition, collaborative campaign management enables your partners to leverage your brand and marketing expertise to more efficiently execute campaigns and more effectively represent your brand.

Boost Customer Retention Through Loyalty Management with Partners

Loyalty programs continue to be an integral part of the customer experience. Now, by extending your loyalty programs to include partners and partner offerings , you can increase the programs’ value to customers. Your customers will have more opportunities to accrue points and more choices when they redeem those points.

In addition to extending your loyalty program to partners, Innovations 2010 includes loyalty management enhancements that increase customer acquisition and retention. For example:

  • Extended reach to partner, point-of-sale (POS), and web channels
  • New tools for benefit and voucher handling to offer the best incentives to target customers
  • Enhanced membership and card handling
  • A mixed-payments capability to increase point values for program members

Increase Visibility into Marketing Spend Through Funds Management

Funds management integration enables you to establish marketing budgets and directly track the funds that campaigns consume, as well as any related purchase commitments and settlements. For example:

  • Budgeting allows funds to be set up according to marketing organization, marketing plans, or product categories.
  • Campaign planning allows you to assign funds to a campaign and reserve money according to planned campaign costs.
  • Accruals and consumptions are tracked in the fund checkbook, allowing visibility into any cost overruns; purchasing commitments and settlements in SAP ERP are uploaded to SAP CRM.

Leverage Additional Innovations to Promote Operational Excellence

With Innovations 2010, SAP delivers other enhancements to help companies drive efficiency and effectiveness across their CRM systems, including high-speed, in-memory segmentation and improved order and pricing performance.

Interaction Excellence: Make Every Contact Count

A customer’s experience is largely based on his or her interactions with your company. Key to differentiating your company from the competition is maximizing each customer interaction and delivering a consistent experience across all channels and touch points — anywhere, anytime.

Tap into Emerging Channels with Social Media Packages

Today, empowered customers are using social media channels, such as Facebook and Twitter, to talk about your products and services and to collaborate with their social network without your knowledge. In this Web 2.0 age, your customers are becoming more informed than your employees.

It’s important to synthesize these customer interactions and act upon them to engage in a holistic customer experience. The new SAP CRM social media packages enable you to interact with customers through emerging social media channels; harness the unstructured information in these channels and analyze sentiments to deliver actionable insights; and leverage this information in the context of the business processes on which you’re working. To help, SAP offers the following social media packages (available via SAP EcoHub):

  • Twitter Customer Service
  • Twitter Marketing Campaign
  • Target Marketing via Facebook

For more information, go to

Explore Unlimited Mobility

A key driver of achieving a customer experience advantage is the ability to interact with customers anywhere and anytime. Your customers and employees are no longer tethered to their desktops, and they want to interact through their mobile devices.

Innovations for SAP CRM build on this mobility theme, and we’ve expanded the footprint with our partners. For example, mobile sales solutions are available for iPhone, BlackBerry, and Windows Mobile devices through our partnership with Sybase. For field service, we provide a mobile service solution as a result of co-innovation with Syclo. This “on-device” trend is going to expand with the intended acquisition of Sybase, so stay tuned for more innovations in this area.2

Decision Excellence: Capitalize on Customer Insight

In a time when the balance of power has shifted to the consumer, companies are struggling with how to obtain a 360-degree view of their customers and put this information into the hands of customer-facing employees.

In response to this challenge, SAP is delivering new enhancements to enable companies to gain better insight into their customers and, in turn, make better decisions.

Benefit from SAP CRM Analytics Core Enhancements

With enhancement package 1, we have significantly increased the analytical capabilities of SAP CRM by integrating an entire portfolio of new analytical tools for the various needs of sales, marketing, and service professionals, and by delivering relevant content out of the box, including:

  • Prepackaged analytics and reporting: Get started quickly with ready-to-use content and 29 out-of-the-box dashboards.
  • SAP BusinessObjects solutions: Leverage the full suite of SAP BusinessObjects analytical tools — including Xcelsius, SAP BusinessObjects Explorer, SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence, and SAP Crystal Reports — integrated into SAP CRM to arm your business users with dashboards, management reporting, ad hoc reporting, exploration tools, and OLAP analysis capabilities.
  • Real-time offer management: Deliver the right offers to the right customers at the right time with this powerful, real-time decision engine.

Drive Decision Making with Industry Value Accelerators and Solutions

These powerful enhancements include prebuilt data models, dashboards, and reports to track industry KPIs for specific scenarios. For example:

  • Trade promotion effectiveness: Measure the effectiveness of promotional campaigns and events, and track total promotional spend and costs to improve trade promotion effectiveness.
  • Customer value analysis: Gain insight into customer profitability and customer lifetime value to improve investment decisions based on customer segments.

Collaboration: Empower Your Employees to Deliver a Customer Experience Advantage

All three dimensions of excellence — operational, interaction, and decision — revolve around collaboration. To achieve a true customer experience advantage, your customer-facing employees need to be able to share information quickly and effectively. It is essential to empower your employees by making knowledge, information, and customer insight available at their fingertips and by fostering instant communication between both customer-facing employees and experts across the organization.

Figure 2 covers some of the new innovations from SAP that enable your employees to collaborate better. (See the sidebar for additional features that enable users to work more efficiently.)


Collaboration Enhancements


Central sharing tool

  • Facilitate collaboration and leverage knowledge of individuals across the organization
  • Share customer knowledge among colleagues
  • Share tags, favorites, saved searches, and favorite reports

Instant messaging (IM)

  • Collaboration via IM is now available to all SAP CRM users
  • Call, email, and send SAP CRM context data through IM

Enhanced context data transfer

  • Dynamically transfer SAP CRM context data between users
Figure 2 New SAP CRM enhancements promote better collaboration


As customers become more informed and more demanding, companies need to step outside of their comfort zone and explore non-traditional CRM areas. Armed with new SAP CRM improvements, a sampling of which we’ve explored here, companies can deliver a consistent customer experience to gain a competitive advantage.

In addition to the enhancements discussed in this article, several improvements targeted for the sales, service, and marketing areas, such as a new marketing calendar, interaction center improvements, and performance improvements for large-volume orders, are available.

To learn more, visit

Volker Hildebrand ( is Vice President of CRM Solution Management at SAP. He has been with SAP for over 10 years, building momentum in CRM and e-commerce. Prior to joining SAP, he was an assistant professor of marketing and helped companies drive CRM initiatives as a business consultant. A renowned thought leader in CRM for almost two decades, he has written several books and more than 100 articles. Volker holds degrees in business and technology and earned his Ph.D. in business economics.

1 For more details on the CRM framework of excellence, see “Why a Traditional Siloed CRM Approach Is Doomed: 6 New Core Competencies for Delivering the Total Customer Experience” by Volker Hildebrand and Vinay Iyer in the January-March 2010 issue of SAPinsider. [back]

2 To learn more about SAP’s mobile strategy, see the Q&A with Kevin Nix in this issue of SAPinsider. [back]





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