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Author's profile photo Jens Bernotat

It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint: The Convergence of Customer Support and Customer Success

I recently purchased a new fitness tracker (in full disclosure, I might already own a few). As a lifelong runner, I have high expectations for how my tracker should perform, and how it should help me perform – and this purchase was no different.

Online reviews of my new tracker promised state-of-the-art features, however, there were two reoccurring complaint from consumers: it was not user friendly; and it didn’t leverage best practices from other runners for tailored advice. Despite descriptions of a lengthy and confusing setup process, I decided to invest. Shortly after taking my shiny new tracker out of its case, I was forced to make another investment – but this one came in the form of my time and patience. The fitness tracker’s reviews held true; I spent hours scrolling through support pages and online searches to try to get both the tracker, and myself, up and running. Not to speak about advice how to use it better.

The disparate and lengthy customer support process that I experienced with my new tracker has become an all too common occurrence. Call the vendor for support? Expect a wait. But in an age of instant, on-demand access to anything, that model will no longer hold. Companies must stop trying to maintain the value of their offerings through siloed, one-size-fits all support, e.g. call-centers, online help centers, etc.; and start asking how they can add value by making support a continuous experience, empowering customers along their path to success. Here are some actions that even fitness tracker providers can take to make sure customers experience the convergence of support and success:

No More General Questions

No two customers’ needs are the same, meaning that offering a laundry list of “frequently asked questions” is no longer sufficient. In order to enable customer success, solution providers should offer support channels in which their experts are available to address problems in real-time. Whether it be a live chat function, or offering personalized one-on-one sessions, transforming support into a communicative process allows for personalized answers. Not only does this cut down on the time it takes to find a solution, but customers also feel listened to and valued – strengthening your business’s relationship with its core stakeholder.

Less Is More

Sometimes support comes in the form of disparate webpages that must be pieced together to get to the root of the customer’s problem. End-to-end support from a single platform provides users with a one-stop-shop for all of their needs. By coupling real-time support with knowledge-based articles (KBAs) on a single platform, customers are directed to the materials that will best serve their needs through a quick search. Customers are empowered to extend learning beyond immediate needs, allowing them to plan for future enhancements as opposed to scrambling for immediate solutions.

Go for recommendations

Customers do not only want to understand how to solve problems – they also want to understand how to expand value out of using a product. There is no differentiation between Support and Success any more – they are both elements of one single customer experience. Creating advice for customers based on observed usage patterns, best practices and benchmarks with others who successfully used a product is key and also a critical element for retention.

SAP’s Vision of Support

At SAP, we provide support to over 355,000 customers in over 180 countries. With 8,000 plus experts and over 15,000 developers, we’re constantly thinking about how we can make our customers more successful.

We’ve introduced our Next-Generation Support approach which is always-on support, with live support channels, context-sensitive help in our software and self-service access to SAP’s knowledge base and user community. With Schedule an Expert and Expert Chat, we provide direct access to our top-level support experts when needed. We’re also adding proactive and predictive services to help customers get advice even before they need support.

Additionally, our SAP Learning Hub provides high-impact enablement offerings which help customers deploy, run and optimize SAP software and ultimately, help their organizations get ready for innovation and digital transformation.

And, our SAP Optimization and Innovation Pathfinder report helps detecting business and IT process improvement potential based on best practices and peer benchmarking.

Keep the Bigger Picture in Mind

Support should be present especially also when things are running smoothly. Business and IT landscapes will continue to advance, meaning a successful support program will be one that enables customers to build upon their knowledge base, keeping them prepared for the next step to create business outcomes. By making learning content and best practices readily available, future challenges can be addressed before they arise, maintaining a steady foot in digital transformation, and empowering customers on their journey to success.

Whether a business’s customer is a runner or an integrated solution adopter, communicative, personalized and real-time resources from a streamlined channel will be the connectors of support and success for customers. Take it from me and my (now returned) fitness tracker – simplifying the road to customer success will provide value far beyond the point of purchase.

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