Understanding and acting on customer feedback is vital to grow a company, especially in today’s business climate. ASUG recently spoke with Abdul Dezkam, customer experience management lead at Grundfos. The Denmark-based, international water pump manufacturing and technology company is committed to using customer feedback to improve its products and address its customers’ pain points.

Grundfos recently completed a multiyear implementation of Qualtrics with SAP Customer Relationship Manager in an effort to better capture vital customer experience data. The company presented its implementation project at SAPPHIRE NOW in 2020, where it won the Experience Innovator category. Dezkam walked us through how this project began, the key insights it yielded, and how the company is using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.

Jim: Grundfos recently rolled out Qualtrics and SAP Customer Relationship Manager (CRM). Can you walk me through the decision to implement those two solutions?

Abdul: When we started this project three years ago, we were focused on the concept of customer pulse. There were two reasons for this. First was our strategy in which understanding customers is a key enabler for success. We had a lot of ambitions about growing our business, but we knew that we couldn’t do that without understanding our customers. We've been working with customer feedback for more than 15 years, but it’s always been on an annual or biannual basis. We needed to get even closer and get an instant pulse from our customers.

Our second reason was based on some of the feedback we got from our customers. A lot that we received was based on small interactions throughout the customer journey: one phone call, one service event that went wrong, one delivery that wasn’t correct. We hadn’t captured these things because of the annual cycle of our feedback process. Now we could see our customers were demanding us to be more proactive, responsive, and faster.

When we first started this process, I did a quick assessment of the different tools we could implement. We wanted a solution that could collect experience data and combine it with business, operational, and process data. Measuring our customer journey, we had more than 200,000 daily touchpoints with our customers. We could see a significant increase in digital touchpoints, too, going from about 55% digital interactions to 70%. Whether a customer was completing an online order, online service request, or finding technical materials, we needed to measure how easy those processes were in the moment.

On the flip side, face time is one of the most important touchpoints for our customers and our salespeople. How do we measure whether our sales meetings are driving impact and value for our customers? We needed to capture feedback offline. After a sales meeting, we collect instant feedback. That’s why we went with Qualtrics. No other system could measure both online and offline touchpoints. We’ve always been on SAP and using SAP CRM, SAP Customer Service Module, and SAP ECC for order management delivery.

Jim: When did you begin this implementation and how long did it take to finish?

Abdul: We began in 2017 as an SAP Agile project. We wanted to start small but think big. It started with a small spreadsheet that listed all the customer activities, and we looked at what defined success for each one. Those were the process KPIs. Let’s also see how the customers define the experience. But as we started collecting feedback, we got a different picture from customers about their experience and how they understand success.

The great thing about Qualtrics is that it’s extremely powerful and could help us scale relatively fast. We piloted in one country on one or two touchpoints. Then, when we needed to scale from one country to 65 countries, we could do it instantly. That evolved over the next three years until today, where we now have a customer pulse, the whole framework on 11 different touchpoints across 40 to 60 countries.

Jim: This is an ongoing project where you plan to include more touchpoints in the future, correct?

Abdul: Yes. We might even remove something. That’s the whole idea, because customer expectations evolve all the time.

Jim: Before Grundfos implemented Qualtrics and SAP CRM, how did you previously engage with your customers and capture their feedback? And why did you feel that previous method wasn’t adequate?

Abdul: Before this, we used an agency to run an annual customer relationship survey. It’s just a traditional way to evaluate customers’ overall satisfaction and loyalty. The pain points were in the everyday interactions, which we then did not have any clear and structured picture of and thus could not ‘repair’ before, in some cases, it was too late. We didn’t have any control and did not know whether our efforts were failures or successes.

We wanted to get even closer to customers because we wanted to manage the experience and deliver the customer journey. We also needed to capture in-the-moment touchpoints as they happened, because then they are more relevant and actionable for us.

Jim: This project was led by a team of one. How did you accomplish that? And what were some of the roadblocks you encountered?

Abdul: Most importantly, we had access to an innovation-enabling technology that could carry out all the fundamental functions needed to generate insights. Some of the first pushback I got was from salespeople who said they didn’t have time to send out emails asking for feedback. That’s why the solution needed to be 100% automatic.

Some of the challenges we faced included getting sales, service, and marketing people to understand that this is about making improvements and having an impact on the everyday business. They can use these insights to make smarter decisions based on what matters the most to customers. We needed to showcase why we were doing this to these internal.

Jim: What has been the most significant business outcome from the adoption of Qualtrics in SAP CRM?

Abdul: There are a couple of things. First, there were some soft outcomes, which I think a lot of companies tend to oversee but are still very important. One of them was cross-functional collaboration, which has been key at Grundfos. Knowing a customer’s journey is one thing, but the way we are organized is completely different. If we are not able to meet the customer’s expectation on delivery, we bring that pain point back to the company.

We need to be organized to address those customer pain points, and that requires cross-functional collaboration. It’s challenging because every function has its own KPI, but having that one customer KPI in the middle has created common ground that people can work across.

In terms of hard outcomes, we have addressed more than 2,000 experience gaps. That means that every time a customer has been dissatisfied with service delivery, a specific phone call, or sales meeting, there has been a Grundfos employee following up on that negative feedback within two days. If something goes wrong, we must turn that bad experience into a happy one. We’ve been able to turn these gaps into actual sales.

Additionally, we did a comparison between our top 25 happiest customers and our 25 unhappiest customers. Since implementing Qualtrics, we can see that happy customers show about three times the growth with us than the unhappy ones.

Jim: You mentioned that you integrated machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities in this project. Can you tell me how you used these innovations?

Abdul: When we work with feedback, we always ask one key question about how that specific interaction was. Then we want to allow the customer to elaborate with a comment. This is where magic happens. It’s in the comments where customers explain their specific experience. Qualtrics has its Text iQ functionality, which automatically translates those comments and uses AI to break those comments into different topics. We then push those topics to the necessary employees at Grundfos. That way, they can see how their specific function is being received by customers.

Jim: What advice would you give other professionals who are about to embark on a similar customer experience project?

Abdul: The first and most important piece of advice is to start small. You need to be careful not to overcomplicate your CX journey. I know when people hear our story, it sounds overwhelming. But keep in mind that we started with a very simple spreadsheet. Start small where you can have an impact without having to involve a lot of people.

Second, find solutions—like Qualtrics—that allow you to scale rapidly. Finally, focus on people. Let technology automatically collect feedback. Then invest your time in people, and engage with them.

Don’t miss your opportunity to hear about trends in the utilities industry at our virtual experience ASUG Best Practices: SAP for Industries in September 2020.