In an interview, Rohan Patel, head of Support for Intelligent Technologies at SAP, explains how the company’s live support channels offer a faster and more direct route to issue resolution, thus improving customer satisfaction within the Product Support organization.

Q: Why is SAP offering live support in Product Support and who can use it?

Rohan Patel discusses live support channels within Product Support at SAP.

A: The way consumers use products, services, and technology in today’s world has set new standards and expectations for the commercial world. Business users expect the same level of real-time interaction for their businesses whenever they seek help. That’s why Product Support has brought traditional “ticket management” to the next level and offers live support channels to meet these new demands.

I receive a lot of feedback from partners and customers who assume that live support channels are a chargeable service above the existing maintenance contract, but the answer is that it is not. Anyone with a valid maintenance contract can use SAP’s live support offerings at no additional cost if technical, product-related questions occur.

Which live support channels are offered?

We offer the following live support interaction methods with direct access to support experts: Expert Chat, Schedule an Expert, and Ask an Expert Peer. All live support channels significantly speed up time to technical issue resolution and can be used instead of traditional incidents. Schedule a Manager is the newest offering in our live support channels and aims to assist customers that have concerns about how their high-priority incident is progressing. For any questions not related to an SAP product, the Customer Interaction Center is the central point of contact.

How do they work?   

Expert Chat is a live chat function that connects customers to technical experts from SAP instantly. So, this service is best when immediate support is required. Compared to traditional tickets, it significantly reduces the effort and waiting time for customers to get answers to their technical questions.

Schedule an Expert lets customers book an individual 30-minute call with a technical expert from SAP, similar to booking a doctor’s appointment. Customers select from a defined list of calendar appointments at a time that suits them best. Talking directly to an SAP engineer helps avoid delays, improve efficiency, and reduce future incidents. Recently, we have introduced Schedule an Expert for open incidents as well.

Ask an Expert Peer is best suited for low- to medium-priority incidents. With Ask an Expert Peer, SAP is expanding the expert pool for real-time results. This channel is a great opportunity for users to collaborate through one-on-one interactions with a qualified and approved industry expert outside of SAP. Ask an Expert Peer is currently available for all SAP SuccessFactors solutions, with additional SAP product integrations currently planned.

Schedule a Manager gives customers the ability to bring the focus they need to a high-priority incident and help ensure the reported issue is being addressed in the correct way. The channel meets this need by allowing customers an easy way to request a 15-minute call with a Product Support manager from SAP in the related product area to help prevent or manage potential service exceptions. As a requirement to use this channel, the incident must qualify and meet several criteria.

All channels can be easily accessed by customers in SAP ONE Support Launchpad whenever a problem arises. Further information can be found on SAP Support Portal.

How are the channels impacting the customer support experience?

Customer feedback indicates they very much like our live support channels. In addition, customers are using the channels a lot. We are interacting with customers in several thousand chats every week. I think that this is for two main reasons: the ability to have quick and direct access to a technical engineer from SAP when they need to and the tremendously reduced waiting time for resolution. Many questions get solved within the first interaction.

For example, the average Expert Chat duration is about 30 minutes with two out of three questions answered directly in the chat. For Expert Chat in particular, there is one key reason: customers do not “lose” anything. The chats get automatically logged as incidents after each chat for documentation or in case further research is needed. The incident gets processed with pre-qualified information from the interaction in the chat.

In general, the customer base and the technology offered by SAP has become more diverse. SAP is trying to offer new methods of interaction to meet our customers’ diverse needs so they can interact with us in the way that suits them best – anytime, anywhere, and from any device. Live businesses need live support, and as more and more customers become intelligent enterprises, SAP is meeting them where they are in their journey. Customers expect a personalized support experience that grants them more access to technical experts throughout the life cycle of their solution.

Will real-time support be combined with AI technology?

The answer is absolutely, and SAP has several activities going on. For example, we have recently released a support assistant that guides customers within the incident management process through a conversational user interface – similar to a chatbot. The support assistant uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technology to match the customer question with potential solutions in real time –helping to get relevant answers faster. The expert area predictor functionality is another example. It is based on AI technology and automatically suggests the correct expert area for the customer within the booking process of a Schedule an Expert session. This saves customers time through autofill elements.

The time frame is to be decided, but we are looking into ways to further enhance Product Support with more predictive and preventive elements.

What will be next in real-time support?

We aim to further optimize the existing experience within our real-time channels. However, Product Support as an organization wants to continue evolving in order to meet customer needs. We are constantly working with customers and industry experts on what is next that can help us on the journey of providing the perfect customer support experience.

Looking to the future, I think a two-way channel interaction using AI and machine learning is a hot topic. Service and support processes will eventually become predictive, and support organizations could proactively reach out to customers to suggest the optimal interaction method.

Theresa Böhme is an integrated communications manager for Customer Solution Support & Innovation at SAP.