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The Future of Support Services

Get Ready for an Automation Storm

by Mohammed Ajouz | SAPinsider, Volume 20

August 13, 2019

The Future of Support Services

SAP customers want support experiences that are personalized to who they are and the SAP products they use, and that compare their issues to questions that have already been answered. So how does SAP meet these expectations? This article explains how new technologies are changing the way SAP provides support to help customers get maximum value from their investments.

New technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, are making interactions across all areas of our lives more convenient, responsive, relevant, and supportive. As consumers, we expect these experiences in how we shop, connect with friends and family, and watch movies. We want every experience to be fast, simple, and seamless. And with our consent as consumers, companies will know who we are and tailor specific products and solutions to our needs. 
For SAP customers, the same expectations apply to the support services they rely on. They want support experiences that are personalized to them and the SAP products they use, and that compare their issues to questions that have already been answered. Most of all, they want services that deliver the convenience of consumer-grade technologies with the simplicity and ease of human interactions.

With the above expectations, how can support services deliver business-to-consumer experiences in a business-to-business world? The answer lies in applying the mindset of a digital disruptor and providing the experiences that matter most to all users.

How Are New Technologies Changing the Way SAP Provides Support?

When looking at well-known digital disruptors — such as Amazon, Uber, Airbnb, Netflix, and Tesla — it’s hard to refute that they are leading entire industries and markets as a result of transformations that required fast-evolving and bold moves. They did not reach their leadership status by following a traditional linear path. Instead, they are finding new, groundbreaking ways to deliver products or services better, faster, and at a lower cost, with reduced levels of effort from their customers.

When it comes to SAP support services, our mindset must be like those disruptors, but more important, our technologies and services should enable our customers to unleash their full potential. We approach our services and capabilities with the goal of adding value to the experiences of our customers and helping them accomplish more with less time, money, and resources.

With SAP’s Next-Generation Support approach, we aim to provide an effortless experience to our customers by using emerging technologies without compromising a personalized customer experience. By continuously enhancing our self-service touchpoints with AI and natural language processing, we can rapidly connect users to the right content and experience to resolve their issues. We can also leverage AI and machine learning to recommend solutions for problem areas defined during the incident logging process. 

These intelligent technologies help us predict the right components and expert areas for customer incidents, as well as automatically translate, through machine translation services, SAP Notes and SAP Knowledge Base Articles on demand into different languages. Yet, throughout this efficient experience, customers can still connect to a human if and when needed — seamlessly and without compromise.

Automation Is Key to Support Services Today and in the Future

Research studies have shown that the perceived value of a digital investment increases when the effort needed to select, implement, and adopt a solution decreases. So, the best thing we can do for our customers is to know everything we can about them — including understanding their experience with our products, predicting the problems they may encounter, and resolving issues before they occur. 

To maximize the level of value realization for our customers, we are shifting the paradigm of our support delivery model around four fundamental automation principles:

  1. Move away from a traditionally reactive mode to proactive, self-healing outcomes. When our support team sees something that isn’t right, customers should expect us to act and fix it before they realize it’s a problem. This is our ultimate goal of minimizing interruptions for our customers.

  2. Provide immediate help in the ways that customers prefer most. Many users prefer a live, direct line to an experienced, knowledgeable expert. Some want access to self-service options, others prefer social media channels such as Twitter or WhatsApp, and a few may choose to switch channels around in a true omnichannel environment.

  3. Embed support services in the user experience. It is a drag for users to leave their digital work environment to visit another portal, make a phone call, or write an email when encountering a problem. This experience slows people down and makes support less convenient. Instead, we want to eliminate this frustration by building the support experience into the products that customers use every day. Using SAP Conversational AI, this approach makes the support experience as simple as clicking on a digital assistant within an application, getting the right information or access to existing live channels to contact a knowledgeable expert — all in real time. These built-in support capabilities are already available for SAP customers using SAP S/4HANA Cloud as well as SAP Integrated Business Planning, SAP Business ByDesign, and SAP Sales Cloud solutions.

  4. Invest in the future of support. The customer experience continues to be the driving force behind creating intelligent, automated, and simple interactions for customers. We are relentlessly dedicating significant investments to emerging technologies — such as AI, natural language processing, and machine learning — to provide predictive support that addresses potential issues early on and accelerates incident resolution. Leveraging SAP Leonardo’s capabilities, support can identify problems and resolve them before they even become an incident or technical issue to a customer.

Continuous Improvement Moving Forward

As our AI and machine learning capabilities evolve, and as we learn more about our customers’ experiences with our products and technologies, SAP customers will continue to see the support experience become increasingly effortless going forward. For example, our AI and machine learning models will continue to grow and advance. This will enable support users to be well matched to relevant and valuable content as they navigate, search, and view documents within SAP Support Portal.

We are also expanding the scope and nature of our automation efforts to enable finer-grained automation injection points throughout the incident life cycle. For example, we will soon launch a guided customer help functionality based on SAP Conversational AI to help users define and scope issues and capture relevant pieces of information to better understand the product and the problem encountered. This increases accuracy in connecting customers to the right solution, improves issue documentation, and allows customers to provide suggested log or trace files, helping our support experts quickly resolve customer concerns. This experience will be available regardless of whether the user chooses to use our regular incident creation service or our real-time interaction services, such as Expert Chat or Schedule an Expert, available at all support levels via SAP Support Portal and SAP ONE Support Launchpad.

In addition, our intelligent swarming methodology will bring in the right support experts in a real-time and collaborative way to handle issues that span multiple areas or products across a business. Intelligent swarming can also bring experts from development, cloud operations, or any other relevant organization. Available internally through an expert finder service, this approach will gather all issues and key experts into a single session to help us resolve complex issues faster.

Delivering the Experience That Matters Most

We can no longer afford to sit back and react to customer issues — by then, the damage is done and the customer’s business has been interrupted. Fueled by the vast amount of data generated through our existing digital support experience — gathered with our customers’ consent — we understand how our technologies are consumed and the variety of configurations in which they run. By combining advanced automation and SAP Analytics Cloud capabilities, we can use this information to provide personalized and prescriptive solutions to each customer’s situation.

Given the ever-increasing demand for speed, we need to classify any customer situation in a timely manner and match it to a solution — pretty much immediately. By fusing automation and analytics, we enable our support organization to learn from the past to predict the future and transform the support experience into one where support prevents an issue from becoming a business-impacting event. All of these milestones in the transformation of SAP’s support organization focus on one supreme goal: giving our support customers the experiences that matter most to them. We strive to move support services from being proactive to becoming truly predictive, and then finally, preventive. Preventive, predictive, and personalized support remain our ultimate aspiration, and SAP will continue to invest in future technologies to meet users where they are.

Learn more about Next-Generation Support at https://support.sap.com/en/offerings-programs/strategy.html.

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Mohammed Ajouz
Mohammed Ajouz

Mohammed Ajouz (mohammed.ajouz@sap.com) is a progressive thought leader with a proven record of providing effective, multifaceted, innovative support to global enterprise customers. As the Senior Vice President and Global Head of Product Support at SAP, he helps ensure customer and employee success with service innovations from SAP while successfully executing on the overall SAP strategy. Before joining SAP, Mohammed enjoyed a career spanning over 30 years, which included various enterprise support leadership roles at Oracle as well as overseeing Skillsoft’s successful cloud transformation of its support services.



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