Bringing B2C Principles to B2B Services and Support

Although the on-demand economy was born out of business-to-consumer (B2C) offerings, such as ride-sharing apps and movie streaming services, its principles are now firmly rooted in the expectations of business-to-business (B2B) customers.

This is especially important for support and services, which serve as a customer’s main touchpoint with a vendor not only when issues arise, but in pursuit of continuous success.

B2C disruptors like Amazon, Netflix, and Uber did not earn the brand loyalty of their customers by sticking to the traditional methods of commerce, streaming, and transportation; they pushed past the conventional boundaries of their industries, using data and technology to break the mold and meet the needs of modern consumers.

At SAP, we’re embracing this same mentality with Next-Generation Support. Through four essential automation principles, we’re innovating to bring B2C service to B2B support.

No Time for Down Time

As part of the evolution of consumer expectations, inconveniences and interruptions are no longer accepted as a necessary part of a product or solution experience. Recognizing this, SAP is leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to identify and address a problem at the first sign of risk – before it arises.

Through intelligent technologies, our support team is able pick up on potential issues based on changes in the system or user behavior and begin addressing the root cause before it interrupts activity. Additionally, improved self-service touchpoints with AI and natural language processing allow us to rapidly connect customers to the correct resolution while issues are being logged. With success top of mind, we’ve designed our services and capabilities to help customers achieve more with less time, money, and effort.

The Power of Choice

Another principle that is helping Next-Generation Support bring the on-demand economy to the B2B experience is offering customers a variety of ways to receive immediate help based on their preferences.

Whether it is a direct line to an expert through Expert Chat or Schedule an Expert, self-service options like SAP Knowledge Base Article documents, or our AI-driven incident solution matching, the customer has the authority of choice. By combining advanced automation and powerful SAP analytics capabilities with our support services, we can provide personalized and prescriptive solutions that fit each customer’s unique situation.

To help users better understand the root cause of issues and fully grasp how to get the most out of their solution, we are developing a guided customer help functionality based on the SAP Conversational AI service. This new feature will increase the accuracy of the solutions with which customers are connected, improve issue documentation, and allow customers to provide suggested log or trace files that will enable our support experts to quickly resolve customer concerns. This experience will be available regardless of whether the user chooses to use SAP’s regular incident creation service or real-time interaction services, such as Expert Chat or Schedule an Expert, available at all support levels via SAP Support Portal and SAP ONE Support Launchpad.

Support Where You Need It Most

As the name would suggest, the need for instant access is a driving force of the on-demand economy. As such, Next-Generation Support provides customers with support services that are built into the solutions that they interact with every day. A common frustration that we’ve heard from customers is the need to leave their digital work environment to visit another portal, make a phone call, or write an email when encountering a problem. SAP eliminates this hindrance with built-in support. Through SAP Conversational AI, receiving support is as easy as clicking on a digital assistant within an application to get the right information, or speak with an SAP expert in real time. These built-in support capabilities are already available for SAP customers using SAP S/4HANA Cloud and SAP Integrated Business Planning, as well as SAP Business ByDesign and SAP Sales Cloud solutions.

Looking Ahead

The expectations of both B2C and B2B customers have changed exponentially over the past five years, and this evolution isn’t stopping anytime soon. SAP customers will demand even faster, more precise services and support in 2020 and beyond, which is why a key part of Next-Generation Support includes investing in the future of support.

We are continuing to explore and experiment with emerging technologies such as AI, natural language processing, and machine learning in an effort to provide predictive support that addresses potential issues early on and accelerates incident resolution. Through these investments, innovations such as SAP Leonardo and machine learning models will continue to grow and become even further engrained in SAP Support offerings and solutions. This will enable an even more streamlined and personalized experience for support users as they navigate the SAP Support Portal.

The Customer Will Always Be Key

Although technology continues to enable Next-Generation Support’s ability to disrupt the services and support space, the customer will always be at the core of everything we do. As an industry, we cannot afford to be reactive to customer issues — by then, the damage is done, and the customer’s business has been interrupted.

In combining automation and analytics, our support organization can learn from the past to predict the future and transform the support experience into a proactive one,  where support prevents a minor issue from becoming a business-impacting event.

Mohammed Ajouz is senior vice president and global head of Product Support at SAP.