In July 2018, SAP was named to the Association of Support Professionals’ annual list of the Top Ten Best Support Websites. This honor speaks volumes to how Next-Generation Support, offered through the SAP Support Portal and SAP ONE Support Launchpad, is taking the enterprise support experience above and beyond industry standards.

Andreas Heckmann, global senior vice president, head of Support Delivery at SAP Digital Business Services.

In this exclusive interview, we sat down with Andreas Heckmann, global senior vice president and head of Support Delivery for SAP Digital Business Services, to discuss the innovations that earned SAP this honor and how momentum is being maintained.

Q: What does this award mean for the SAP Support organization and its services?

A: I would like to thank ASP for considering us for this prestigious award. Getting this cross-industry recognition is a great proof point for our continuous efforts toward providing an exceptional end-to-end support experience for our customers. It is an important milestone validating the success of our strategy, rewarding the recent SAP Support Portal redesign and the ongoing refinement of the SAP ONE Support Launchpad. This award is the culmination of efforts in influencing the customer experience and driving better alignment across SAP customer-facing touchpoints.

I am very proud of my entire team – it required a lot of thinking and hard work to reinvent the way we deliver support. Let’s have a look why we changed things in the first place.

As SAP customers continue their journey to become intelligent enterprises, many aspects of their businesses have evolved. Alongside their journey to the cloud for instance, corporate consumers now have expectations similar to their private consumer experience. They are expecting on-demand, personalized access to tech support in the same way they would be able to instantaneously call for a ride, or order their favorite article through an app. Next-Generation Support was designed with these specific needs in mind, and to meet the needs of younger, more digitally savvy employees spread across the globe.

The SAP Support Portal and SAP ONE Support Launchpad offer customers access to live support channels, SAP best practices, and proactive solution recommendations anytime, anywhere, and from any device. The award reaffirms that our support services are meeting the customer where they are, with what they need.

You mentioned that SAP Support is “meeting the customer where they are.” How is this being accomplished, and why is it a game changer?

As cloud adoption continues to grow, the pace of business is now faster than ever. One-dimensional support tickets can no longer keep up with the intelligent enterprise, which is why SAP is now starting to build support into the solution itself. Currently available to SAP S/4HANA Cloud customers, built-in support gives users access to SAP’s enterprise digital assistant, SAP CoPilot, allowing them to ask questions and receive solution-specific guidance instantly. Customers can file an incident report, send screenshots of their current solution environment, and access SAP Knowledge Base Article documents all within the same chat window.

In addition to built-in support, SAP customers have access to live support channels like Expert Chat through their personalized SAP ONE Support Launchpad. Instead of sending a traditional ticket which usually needs a few iterations between the customer and the support engineer to clarify all details, customers can now chat with SAP experts in real-time, and express the problem at hand in a direct conversation. Through this resource, two-thirds of problems are resolved in 30 minutes or less, which stands in contrast to the time it would take for a traditional support ticket to be addressed.

We also appreciate that our customers are working against busy schedules, and offer the ability to schedule a conversation with an SAP expert at the most convenient time for them. Through Schedule an Expert, which is also accessible via the SAP ONE Support Launchpad, customers still receive real-time access to a support specialist, but can do so on their own terms.

Customers have had an overwhelmingly positive response to the fast and effective support provided through these resources, mainly because they reduce the time-to-resolution without sacrificing quality. We have just passed the mark of 100,000 Expert Chats, our customers love it – I would like to invite all customers who haven’t used it yet to give it a try.

Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) are currently some of the biggest buzz words in enterprise tech. How have these features affected the way that support is delivered? How is SAP Support leveraging these features now, and what are your plans for future integration?

Let’s circle back to the concept of shopping apps – every time you order from a shop, the app takes into account your usual delivery address, goods ordered, and products viewed. Based on this information, machine learning and AI working on the back end recommend new articles to try based on your preferences, and auto-fill your delivery and payment information so that you don’t have to go through the motions of entering an address. The integration of machine learning and AI into enterprise support offers users the same personalized recommendations as they relate to their business.

At SAP, we’re applying these intelligent support features in many different ways. For example, through the intent-matching capabilities of SAP Leonardo Machine Learning, the built-in SAP CoPilot chat application is able to analyze support requests based on the user’s unique solution environment. This context and user-specific knowledge is then used to provide personalized recommendations, all without having to leave the solution.

Features like AI are also becoming further engrained in the day-to-day role of SAP engineers, empowering them to provide tailored support to customers quickly and efficiently. Eventually, support channels may utilize this intelligent technology to analyze each conversation for language, and based on context, make sure that solution and scenario-specific information is readily available to guide the support specialist through the issue resolution process. At a broader level, machine learning and AI are also able to pick up on the requests that SAP Support specialists are receiving most frequently, which helps to inform the information that SAP makes available in its extensive library of Knowledge Base Articles.

Based on customer feedback, what’s next for SAP Support?

SAP customers are recognizing the benefits of the cloud, and in an effort to make support even more convenient as they transition, we’re working to expand the integration of built-in support across SAP’s cloud solution portfolio in the near future. In addition to the built-in SAP CoPilot functionality, there are also plans in the works to bring resources like Expert Chat in-solution.

But we’re not stopping at accessibility. Given that SAP customers are spread across the globe, we’re also cognizant that support should be tailored in terms of language. After all, why should customers have to plug information into a translation website when we offer the technology to do it for them? Housed on the SAP Support Portal in English, knowledge base articles can now be translated to Japanese or Brazilian Portuguese at the click of a button through automatic translation. And this feature is expanding – we plan to make even more translation options available to meet the preferences of all SAP customers.

Tim Schlenker is head of Strategic Communication and Branding for Support Delivery at SAP SE.