A 360-Degree View Brings New Drive to Customer Processes

June 4, 2008 by Martin Müller

Machinery and facilities manufacturers must fight every day for success in global markets. Efficient service and service parts management, a complete overview of all sales channels, and quick analysis and identification of sales opportunities secure market success in fierce competition.

New options for service and sales

SAP CRM helps manufacturers shine in this environment with new and high-performance functions. Spare parts management creates a clear view of inventory, whether the parts are in a company’s own warehouse or on the way to a customer. Service employees can reserve a spare part or trigger a movement or delivery with a simple click. With this approach, manufacturers not only improve their relationships with customers, but also deal with lower inventories, which in turn reduce their warehousing costs.

Spare parts are usually installed at customer sites by a manufacturer’s service technicians. A scheduler can now securely and comfortably control and coordinate the assignments of service technicians using a graphical planning board in SAP CRM. This approach determines capacity needs exactly and schedules the sequence in which service technicians handle their assignments. Assignment planning with the graphical planning board also considers the expert qualifications of service technicians. The information needed for these tasks is stored in SAP CRM or loaded from the SAP ERP Human Capital Management (SAP ERP HCM) solution. A bar chart clearly displays the temporal sequence of assignments.

A good connection with customers

SAP has also enhanced the pipeline and performance management areas of SAP CRM, providing numerous analytical and interactive functions for opportunity management. Sales directors and employees can now coordinate sales opportunities with sale objectives.

Interactive analyses help sales professionals identify and evaluate sales opportunities and then define the next steps in the sales process. That enables companies to plan and execute their sales and marketing actions securely.

Service employees can access resource planning though an interaction center. When they respond to a customer inquiry for service, they can suggest service dates immediately.

The interaction center enables seamless monitoring of all incoming and outgoing contact, whether it is by telephone, fax, text messages, Internet, or e-mail. It also permits central entry and near-real-time execution of customer-related business transactions. The interaction center ensures that service employees handle customer transactions in line with service-level agreements and company standards. Intent-driven interaction helps here; this function displays a warning during conversations with customers. For example, a warning message might state, “Initial reaction time in less than 12 hours, according to the service-level agreement.”

Users can also create individual objects, like equipment master data, directly in the interaction center of SAP CRM. That is helpful when a customer makes a service inquiry for a serial number that has not yet been entered into SAP CRM. Bidirectional exchange of equipment master data with the SAP ERP application is also an option.

Simplified work steps with Web services

The SAP NetWeaver technology platform serves as the technical foundation for SAP CRM. Predefined Web services simplify the management of business partners, leads, quotations, service orders, and service confirmations. They also simplify many steps involved in the work. For example, Web services can help produce PDF files, Microsoft Word files, or print forms. SAP CRM also features a wizard to model Web services that are tailored to a company’s requirements – without additional coding. Unlike earlier releases, the latest release of SAP CRM can be used without the SAP NetWeaver Portal component as the runtime environment. If a company already uses a portal solution, it can link it to SAP CRM without difficulty.

For Frank Hölscher, the manager of sales applications at Hottinger Baldwin Messtechnik GmbH (HBM), these innovations were the deciding factor for his decision to implement SAP CRM. “For example, the number of contact persons at our company had changed dramatically over time. We have about 170,000 contact persons today. We operate just as globally as our customers do. We just can’t do it without a comprehensive solution for customer relationship management,” says Hölscher. With the assistance of Sybit, a special expertise partner for SAP CRM, HBM moved to the latest release of SAP CRM.

Perfect interplay between the ERP back end and CRM software is the precondition for seamless processes – an advantage for companies like HBM that already work with SAP ERP. In any other situation, the sales and service staff would lack important information, because ERP data on the availability of spare parts or specifications of product configuration could not be called directly in the CRM software. HBM was also convinced by the deep integration of SAP CRM and SAP ERP and by the comprehensive quotation process with configuration. With SAP CRM, creation of quotations and the related pricing calculations are just as compressive as the connection between scheduling and order control in production. In the case of a sales order, the quotation is automatically converted into an order in SAP ERP without requiring any redundant data entry. The data is clearly displayed in a dedicated area of the SAP CRM user interface, which enables central and comprehensive control and acceleration of sales processes.

Customers expect high-performance products and first-class service from companies that build machines and facilities. With automatic assignment of a key account manager to each new customer, SAP CRM offers an additional function to support sales activities. “Just like in the legacy system, as much work as possible should be taken off the hands of users,” says Birgit Engler, SAP CRM project leader at Sybit. As an example, she uses the following scenario. A new customer contacts HBM. The sales employee responsible for the new customer is determined and assigned with the roles defined in the system – such as a postal code or industry. That employee then handles further dealings with the prospect.

HBM’s experience with SAP CRM has been overwhelmingly positive. Hölscher summarizes the net result, “The decision to adopt SAP CRM was correct. The high level of integration with SAP ERP has simplified and accelerated our sales process.”

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