Intelligent Enterprises Share Secrets to Success in the Me-2-B World

Renault wanted to make it easier for customers in Brazil to buy its vehicles. So the French automaker came up with a way for people to buy a car in four minutes on their smartphone — at any time of day or night. As a result, Renault sold four times the projected number of compact SUVs in the first half of the year in that market.

“We needed a new way to sell,” says Angelo Figaro, Latin America’s IT director at the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, “So we created an e-commerce platform for our compact SUV model, giving customers a variety of choices regarding channels, customization, financing, and delivery. We call our approach ‘Easy Life’ — basically, we do whatever it takes to make the customer’s life easier.”

Customers Rule

Alex Atzberger, president of SAP Customer Experience, believes this is the right approach. He recently took the stage with Figaro at SAP Forum Brazil, Latin America’s largest technology event, to talk about customer experience.

“This is an impressive example of an enterprise that has its finger on the pulse of today’s experience economy,” Atzberger says.

“We’re living in a ‘Me-2-B’ world, where customers decide how and when they want to interact,” he adds, pinpointing what that means in terms of the intelligent enterprise. “People tend to think intelligence is an automated workforce. But it’s really about efficiency and effectiveness.”

According to Atzberger, the point of automating sales processes is not to eliminate the sales force; it’s to create a shift toward effectiveness. In other words, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t send email campaigns. It means you should send the right campaign at the right moment. Of course, you can only recognize the right moment if you truly understand your customer, something Renault clearly does well. Renault recognized that Brazilians like to buy everything online, they prefer using their smartphones, and they shop based on price and availability.

“Customers want choice, but the experience varies in different parts of the globe. Brazilians are the epitome of a customer-centric culture,” says the executive whose favorite personal customer experience in Brazil is eating at churrascarias, which he refers to as the Spotify of steak. The Brazilian-style barbecue is the best example of personalization he can think of. Instead of sending people to the buffet, the waiters bring the meat on long skewers to the customer, serving each person the exact cut and amount of meat they want, as often as they want it.

People Want Services, Not Products

People like Figaro know that consumers want songs, not CDs; they want sleep, not mattresses. They know they need to give customers what they want.

“Our online platform was built on the SAP Commerce solution,” says Figaro. “Customers can configure their vehicle online, submit their used car as payment, get their credit approved and financed, and track production to know exactly when the vehicle will be delivered.”

People obviously like the ease of interaction. Since it was launched early this year, the platform has garnered almost 2 million views, mostly from smartphones and tablets, and more than 11,000 customers have bought a car online.

 Each Customer is Different

“It’s important to talk about the customer experience,” says Atzberger. “An intelligent enterprise connects all parts of the company, but the essence is the customer. Consumers are changing what and how they buy, and the impact can be substantiated by data.”

Eric Pell, CRM regional manager at Makro, the wholesale discounter chain, also joined Atzberger at the event, and substantiated the need to focus on the customer experience. The company implemented SAP Customer Experience solutions to create targeted campaigns, create loyalty programs, and to analyze customer buying behavior.

“We’re using statistical modeling to establish segmentation based on customer behavior, so we can run different campaigns,” Pell explained. “It’s not just about understanding behavior, but the nature of the customer’s business. Italian restaurants buy differently than Japanese ones. There are thousands of possible combinations of strategies, but now we have the tools to create personalized emails.”

How to Improve Customer Experience

Culture is really about behavior, and how people interact, how they solve problems, how they buy and sell varies greatly. Facial scans, a sore point in Europe, are not considered an invasion of privacy in China. Brazilians on the other hand, live in a world centered on people and food is an important element of their culture. A lot of business is done over lunch in churrascarias.

“Once we get used to a new way of doing things, we tend to forget how things used to be,” says Atzberger, who admits he recently got out of a cab without paying because he forgot he wasn’t in a pre-paid Uber vehicle. “Once the billing process is eliminated, you realize you can eliminate a lot of other transactions as well. If you know where you are traveling to, why not automate the whole process?”

Atzberger has some advice for companies that want to succeed in the experience economy: First, you need a single view of the customer — know their history and preferences and anticipate their needs. Second, provide a smooth experience for every customer by connecting sales and support. And lastly, deliver on your promise with a strong supply chain. Same day delivery, personalized products, and differentiated services are all possible when demand meets supply.

For Atzberger, there’s no doubt that delivering a great customer experience with SAP CX is essential for growth and essential for becoming an intelligent enterprise: “Just look at Renault and Makro.”

Follow me @magyarj.

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This story previously appeared on SAP BrandVoice on Forbes.