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Author's profile photo Jim Spath

How much more active can global support be?

Today (meaning today when I started typing this, not today when you started reading it) I and a few other SAP Mentors had a rare opportunity to chat with folks from the SAP Active Global Support organization.  Karl Schmid and Luiz Felipe Lanz spoke about the processes around support, squeezing several dozen slides into about a 30 minute overview.  They then opened up for questions and answers, and in fact, were responding to chat comments along the way.

I posted the question:

What will replace “upgrade checks” when enhancement packs are universal?

This was in response to a slide showing the portfolio of “Proactive Remote Service Delivery”, similar to slide 13 (of 95 🙂 of the ASUG 2008 Annual Conference Influence Council session “Make Your Mark: Influence SAP with Your Feedback on Message Solving” 

That portfolio includes EarlyWatch, GoingLive, OSDB Migration, Upgrade weekend, and Solution Manager preparation services, so my question focused on what type of future proactive check will there be when enhancement package installations are more common than version upgrades, as has been the message from SAP for many months.  I was not clear on the answer, so I will try again:

What is the proactive support mechanism for enhancement package installation?

And the answer I’m looking for is NOT “enhancement packages do not change your system very much.”

What are the incentives for customers to increase their feedback rate?

My second question was on how to get more (and better) customer feedback.  My experience has been that people complain about support (around the coffee machine/water fountain) but don’t always follow through by documenting or reporting their complaints.  The answer I heard was fairly party line – “best interest of the customer, … we all benefit”.  What I was looking for was the iPod giveaway, or even a few iTunes gift cards, to get more responses.  Maybe that isn’t a very scientific way to conduct a poll.

We have a 24-hour call center and have not been consistent in routing message escalation through them.  Seems we re-invent this process during every crisis.

My third topic dealt with priority one, or system down/emergency escalation support calls. Unfortunately, I’ve been involved with more than one of these over the 11 years I’ve worked with SAP software. The point I was making was that my company, and presumably many others, has a 24-hour call center to deal with incidents, and that sometimes when we’re working a problem with SAP, the person on the front lines lists their cell or desk numbers for communication purposes.  Then, when SAP 24-hours support calls back 12 hours later, they’ve gone home for the weekend, aren’t checking their cell for messages, and we don’t find out until the next Monday.

What we should have as a customer, is a standard place to store our 24 hour support desk number, and a simple set of screens to complete for contacting primary and secondary people working a problem.  We should not need to do this in the midst of solving a production down situation, but should rely on well-documented business processes currently in place.

Mike Pokraka contributed other suggestions on the call:

  • Experienced users need a fast track to get to the right support person.  There should be a rating or validation system so we can skip the “what patch level are you on” questions when needed.
  • Reporting on issues that have been handed off several times is problematic now, as only one answer slot is available.  While the resolution might have been successful, we would like to praise those who helped, and report obstacles encountered along the way
  • A problem being routed within SAP, or worked on by SAP support, needs to have communication updates periodically
  • Mike said he’d like a way to report bugs outside the standard customer path, as he sometimes finds flaws while consulting but does not or can not file a bug at that time.

While I did not find Karl on a quick SDN search, I did find Luiz (link above) who has an interesting bio, and has written blogs on a variety of topics.

I thought about paraphrasing comments that Gretchen Lindquist sent me, then realized she says it better than I could:


Perhaps this is obvious to the more experienced folks, but for me, the key takeaway was that, in cases of multiple people working the ticket, if I get some good support and some less so, I should give them a poor PCC, because someone from AGS will call me for more details. It might be good to take notes in order to be prepared for that call. “The first responder in Ireland wasted X hours by asking me for information about steps we had already taken that was already in the ticket.”  If we are so concerned about being nice that we sugarcoat our feedback, we cannot expect that support will get better.


SAP Notes

  • 560499 Global Support Customer Interaction: Telephone/fax/e-mail
  • 736045 Complaints concerning SAP AG Service & Support

Prior blog

Is “Message Solving” a Soduku Puzzle or a Continual Improvement Survey?

There’s a link in the prior blog to the previous version of the slides we saw; one of the screen shots that follow is from the webcast, and one was extracted from the slide deck.

Explain the business process here:

Screen shot



Slide graphic


And that’s all folks…

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      Author's profile photo Bernhard Luecke
      Bernhard Luecke
      Hi Jim,
      very nice to read. I think it was a great idea to have a forum where Mentors and Support Manager can meet, discuss exchange ideas. I hope it will be repeated!

      Regarding the PCC Feedback, I´d encourage to use the Freetext for more specific comments e.g. on different processors, or stages of the processing.

      For us it is a very important input channel! I always take care to forward this specific feedback in the right way to the right recipients.

      Of course, I also like to read positive feedback, and for me as a Support Manager it is equally helpful, e.g. to confirm or contrast my own, internal judgement.

      Thanks again,

      Author's profile photo Richard Hirsch
      Richard Hirsch
      Did SAP support provide more details on the interaction between the content in the ecosystem (SDN/BPX, etc.) and support-created content. For example, I'd be curious to know how forum posts are used to supplement content created internally.


      Author's profile photo Jim Spath
      Jim Spath
      Blog Post Author
      Dick:  We spent a little time on the finer-grain details on the process map slides (seen as the differences between the 2 images in the blog), including how support ticket creation might auto-magically suggest appropriate notes or SDN forum, wiki or other help, for those who are search-challenged.  I want to explore this area with SAP, the Mentors, and interested parties.  As I mentioned on another conversation, documenting the current workflow as a process map in the SCN wiki might generate ideas.
      Author's profile photo Jim Spath
      Jim Spath
      Blog Post Author
      After this blog was published, I've corresponded with Luis to clarify the Positive Call Closure loop.  I asked about an issue from 2008, to see if anyone had filled in the survey.  It turns out not, which led me back to the 95 slides; on slide 30, the text reads (numbers added by me):

      (1) Questions appear at message confirmation by the customer.
      (2) All messages that are explicitly confirmed are included in the survey.

      I interpret these statements, along with Luis' feedback to mean: (A) Only messages that are confirmed by the customer have the chance for feedback--anything auto-closed is lost and (B) "Customer" in this case is not anyone in my company, it is only the person who opened the ticket, also known as "the reporter."  It seems to me there are potential quality improvements in both areas.


      Author's profile photo Luis Felipe Lanz
      Luis Felipe Lanz
      Hi Jim,

      Just adding few comments about messages and reporters

      SAP must keep in mind some Europan laws that don't allow "others" to visualize the information in your inbox, i guess US also have legislation regarding data privacy, but i'm just a geek 🙂

      However, you have an alternative that is in your hands since 2004, it's the support desk of your SAP Solution Manager, in that way,  ALL (only want to remark) the messages you sent to SAP are stored in your SM database, you can check it, and all the local organization will be able to make a consult on it anytime.

      Thereby it depend of the usage of your tools, if you, in general decide to use the Service Marketplace you will have some limitations, but if the Solution Manager is well implemented you will have a new universe of interaction with SAP Field Services and Support Organization.

      Kindest Regards,