Will sophisticated algorithms and chatbots be the future of product support? How does this change the quality of support and the customer experience?

Jens Trotzky, head of Artificial Intelligence (AI) Technology for SAP Support, explains how AI and machine learning add value to product support and customer experience, as well as how this will help support engineers improving time to resolution and quality of answers to technical questions.

Q: What does automation in product support mean?

A: Looking at traditional processes in support, the goal has always been to address customers issues. Moving forward, the customer experience continues to be the driving force to create intelligent, automated, and simpler interactions for customers. Automation in product support therefore means to significantly shorten and accelerate the process for our customers to get to a solution, and increasingly to fill in the blanks that regularly arise from customer support interactions given that an interaction is often not the first one and therefore allows us to make use of previously exchanged information.

Q: How does it work and what roles do AI and machine learning play in this context?

A: Machine learning is the tool to unearth patterns in our customer support interaction, which allows us to identify shortcuts for customers and increasingly individualize the experience for them. In addition to that, we foster the approach to avoid looking at artificial intelligence standalone, but rather to take AI as a tool that creates value only when properly integrated into business processes.

Q: Why is this technology and functionality considered the future of support?

A: Technology enables us to make data-driven decisions; only things we can measure and back up with data will allow us to identify patterns. Given the ever-increasing demand for speed, we need to be able to classify any customer situation timely. With technology, we also enable our support organization to learn from the past to predict the future and transform the support experience into one where support can take preventative action before an issue becomes a business-impacting event.

Q: Where do chatbots come into play? Will they replace human support roles?

A: Chatbots can become an integral part of the interaction with customers, but will certainly not replace human support roles. Instead we utilize chatbots to redefine support levels. Classical first-touch support levels in the future can be handled by chatbots. This frees up more resources to address complex issues and develop preventive measures to work alongside machine learning agents to act as an early warning system to other customers. Chatbots also allow us to make relevant data available to customers by picking the best of the many sources within support.

Q: How will this affect the role of a support engineer to the benefit of the customer?

A: The way and content of human-to-human interaction will change and become much more sophisticated. Roles will likely move away from classical case workers toward roles that are even further specialized. These will allow for assessing specific types of problems in more detail, supported by data analytical capabilities, such as allowing large log files to be scanned for known issues and patterns in seconds. Specialized support engineers will thus be able to define more customized solutions that increasingly aim at reducing the customer effort as well.

Q: What is the value and key benefit of support automation for the quality and customer experience?

A: In 2018 SAP launched the first stepping stone in the journey to making incident solution matching available to all customers using SAP ONE Support Launchpad. It allows customers to create a ticket and receive recommendations while entering their technical questions into the query. This process has now been enhanced with support-side features, allowing a support engineer to find the expert for a specific ticket — thus speeding up collaboration for complex issues — and gain even deeper insight into SAP’s internal support knowledge. These are all aimed at accelerating the issue resolution for customers even further and by doing so improving the customer support experience.

Q: What automation services in AI-driven support solutions and services does SAP offer today?

A: Today, incident solution matching is available to all customers of SAP ONE Support Launchpad. Since the first go live, SAP has enhanced the service with two additional releases to help improve the accuracy of results even further. Internally, additional services are being piloted, such as to allow the prediction of the application area even better or to find the appropriate expert for a ticket based on its content. All of these are aimed at benefitting the customer.

Q: What’s next in service and support automation?

A: The next services planned link to a tighter integration of existing services. We are currently piloting automatic ways to recommend continuous quality checks service for enterprise support customers, further focusing what generates the most value for our customers. We also began an overhaul of the customer incident process in which many intelligent services will be integrated to allow newfound insight into the issue resolution process for the customer as well as accelerated processing of tickets itself.

Sophia Stolze is the communications lead for SAP Product Support.