On April 1, 2024, SAP formed Customer Services & Delivery – a new Board area that will focus on maximizing innovation adoption and customer value in the cloud.

This is good news – not just for customers but also for the ecosystem. In recent months, SAP had already identified that when engineering teams deliver innovations, there is a corresponding need to provide customers with guidance on how they can swiftly adopt and consume innovation. Customer Services & Delivery was created to bring together the offerings that help customers tap the value of SAP’s integrated portfolio.

By virtue of its function, the Customer Support organization fits into this strategic setup quite naturally. To learn more about how Customer Support is owning and driving end-to-end customer support experiences powered by AI, I met with Stefan Steinle, executive vice president and head of Customer Support, SAP SE. 

Q: How would you describe the role of Customer Support in SAP’s success?

A: Customer support is a differentiating factor among companies that are equally positioned in functional richness, usability, quality, deployability, or configurability. While signing up a new customer is considered a huge win, being able to delight and retain the customer is equally important.

Support at SAP has been singularly impactful in advancing SAP’s customer success stories by proactively responding to customer needs and building long-term relationships. In addition to helping customers solve day-to-day problems, we are business partners who proactively work with customers toward achieving their business goals.

The Customer Support group encompasses much more than bug fixes. In addition to regular ticket resolutions, we use SAP Cloud ALM to help guide customers in application lifecycle management by enabling their transformation to the cloud and the operation of hybrid environments. We help customers help themselves through self-services and we proactively consult with our engineering teams to improve SAP products based on support-related feedback and learnings. Thanks to our support engineers, SAP has delivered over 1,000 improvements in the last 12 months. 

Q: How is SAP’s AI story shaping up when it comes to Customer Support? What is the AI strategy for Customer Support?

A: With our focus on value realization, the push to enhance support with AI has never been higher. To start with, we have invested in digitalizing mission-critical business processes with AI.

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There are three parts toward bringing these business processes into the fold of AI-powered offerings. With the help of SAP Signavio Process Transformation Suite, we can measure metrics around the customer’s business processes to gauge efficiency, bottlenecks, and opportunities for improvement. Alternatively, customers can use this as a blueprint to review these metrics themselves. The next layer delivers business transformational AI services. And finally, we have a platform that provides tools to support a closed-loop approach for AI innovation in services and support.

Coming to the AI strategy for Customer Support, we believe that any innovations in AI must be in lockstep with application integration, meaning AI developments can only bring business value when they are infused and integrated into the applications used in a business process or scenario.

Q: In the context of Customer Support, could you give some examples of how AI brings business value?

A: While the real-world applications are countless, we could broadly classify them into three groups.

We use AI to correct – this means we use AI for the support experience, for personalization, and for data-driven decisions. We use AI to connect – here you find the platform, tools, and applications along customer touchpoints. We use AI to catalyze – this covers self-service, issue resolutions, and predictive and preventative support.

Q: How does SAP realize this?

A: We do this by taking advantage of our AI development platform that can bring all the data of services and support into one place. This platform helps bring endless possibilities based on the unique needs of customers’ businesses. On our part, we ensure that we explore the power of AI across business contexts.

By building AI models, we have the power to transform business in the way we want. We can plug these models into support systems and portals to extract the full value of AI in support. By collecting data and events from support systems and portals, we can even train AI models that can deliver value later. By processing the context and history of the customer, we can provide highly personalized support experiences – at runtime.

I could go on, but at this point I would urge you to follow the Customer Support tracks at SAP Sapphire & ASUG Annual Conference Orlando on June 3–5, 2024, to learn about the technologies and strategies that are shaping the future of Customer Support and business transformation. Be sure to bookmark your favorite topics from this guide: Your Ultimate Guide for SAP Sapphire Orlando in 2024.

Renuka Abraham is part of Customer Support at SAP.

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