Much has happened around the innovation of product support during our move into new and exciting support services and technologies. However, despite the biggest transformation still ahead of us, we already see a usage gap between the support capabilities we offer and the customers using them. Frankly speaking, I need to grab your attention. Go figure. Are you someone who’s barely using support? I’ll tell you what I mean in a second.

Your Business Challenges Are Our Support Innovation Opportunities

I’ve been talking a lot with customers around the globe, listening as you tell me what runs well and about the challenges or pain points you see in support. I see those challenges as our opportunities to address and to further innovate and transform our support coverage. After all, support innovation means listening and learning from customers, and then translating their needs into future support services. You want us to continuously look for innovative ways to improve your support experience.

What may surprise you is that SAP already has solutions in place for many of the pain points you are feeling. This is an opportunity to remind you about what support innovations could mean for you.

One of my favorite examples is around an evergreen: “Support’s response time is too slow!”

We introduced real-time support a few years ago, which was essentially a choice for customers to immediately reach out to our experts in a live chat. Or—maybe a better option for some—customers could make an appointment with support to work on your problem (we call this “Schedule an Expert”).

We have customers who use these real-time channels often. And we also have many customers who don’t use them at all.

Big-Picture Perspective

But let’s look at the big picture. I believe that support innovation should be neither a one-time event nor a big bang. For us, it means continuous optimization and continuous transformation.

In support, this resulted in introducing AI and ML as part of our main business processes. While they already play a big role in our daily work, they are poised to play a much bigger one soon. AI and ML are key enablers for the type of future customer interaction we are designing. Predicting questions our customers may have or problems they may soon run into, and proactively addressing these, is the scope for our next-generation AI/ML-infused processes.

But our ambitions don’t stop there. With the desire to have a much bigger impact on the business value you are getting from your SAP solutions, our vision becomes so far reaching that “transformation” doesn’t feel like a big enough word to describe it. “Inflection point” seems like a more fitting term. Let me point out some of the major changes coming your way.

Smooth Cloud Implementations

Support will play a much bigger role to safeguard your implementation project. SAP partners lead the largest share of cloud implementations and SAP support is often called to help ensure a successful go-live. We decided to put all available knowledge into our SAP Cloud ALM platform and make it accessible to all our customers and the partners they engage for their projects. Through our SAP Cloud ALM solution and “Focused Build” feature for managing implementations, we give partners and customers a structure with best practices and tools to help them realize implementation consistency in every project—and at the quality they both should expect.

Bi-Directional Support from Within the Product

Support will move into the product and will become a bi-directional means of interaction between SAP and its customers. Built-In Support gives you access to SAP-collected knowledge, as well as the ability to launch an Expert Chat, raise a ticket, and more. Expect to receive proactive and personalized information that we consider to be critically important for you. (Think problem avoidance, having important information about upcoming new releases, etc.)

Quicker Answers to Your Support Questions

As mentioned at the beginning, the speed of responding to your questions and problems remains as much a priority as it’s ever been. Everyone wants to have their tickets answered as quickly as possible.

And we want the same! It’s ironic that we still get so many complaints of slow processing when we’ve offered real-time support for quite a few years now. These support options, such as Expert Chat and Schedule an Expert, are available at your fingertips to speed up your incidents—a time- and resource-saving opportunity for you. So, if you worry about ticket processing times, why open a ticket in the first place?

As I’ll detail in my next article, various real-time support options are available. You can directly and quickly clarify a problem with the same support expert who’d solve a manually created ticket incident—but in real time. Enjoy the convenience of asking your questions right away; avoid ticket ”ping-pong” and time delays.

And best of all, you can choose a time that fits your schedule. You have nothing to lose with real-time support, just lots to gain! Plus, your chat with the expert gets automatically logged in a ticket so you can refer to it at any time.

Consider the following customer feedback:

  • “We had a very positive experience using the live support channels as part of [the SAP] Next-Generation Support approach. With the Schedule an Expert service, we were able to directly contact an expert from SAP through a one-on-one session and receive technical product support. The expert knowledge and fast support we received were key to accelerating problem resolution, enhancing our operations, and enabling overall success of the project for our customer, Energie Südbayern.” [Energie Südbayern (Germany)]
  • “With proactive support, services, and tools from SAP Enterprise Support, we were able to ensure a successful conversion to SAP S/4HANA. During our project, we resolved 50% of critical issues using real-time interactive chat, making our journey even smoother.” [CEAT (India)]
  • Valvoline Cummins realized decreased response times by 20% for support incidents raised to SAP using the Expert Chat service.

Act Now and Watch for Upcoming Support Innovation

Have I caught your attention? All of this is included in your cloud subscription and on-premise SAP Enterprise Support coverage. It’s available for you to use right now. Our core products, plus SAP SuccessFactors and SAP Ariba are included.

Many exciting things are happening with SAP support and there is more to come. Make sure we stay connected so you’ll know how your support experience further improves. Learn more about SAP Cloud ALM and real-time support now.

This is the first of a two-part Guest Perspective series on the changing face of SAP customer support and services by Andreas Heckmann. Heckmann is Executive VP of Product Engineering and Head of Customer Solution Support and Innovation at SAP. Follow him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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