Customer Familiarization Initiative
The author is currently a Support Engineer (SE) in Success Factors working in the Cloud Integration Support team. Additionally, he is working with a team that has taken on the task of improving both the customer and support engineers’ experience when dealing with a customer requirement. Personally, the author has developed multiple sites; on small scale for customers, as well as enterprise standard websites. During which time he would sit down with the customer and go over each detail of the requirements, on a one-to-one basis. In some way, this project is to try and take that real-life experience dealing with customers on that personal face-to-face level and trying to bring some of that into the cloud world. Making the experience a bit more personable for the user and becoming familiar with the customer, there needs, reoccurring issues, history and adding value to the experience overall. Furthermore, there is also a large team with a wealth of experience debating on a weekly basis about how the project should progress. So, really this article is a summary of everything the team is striving for out of the Customer Familiarization Initiative. Going forward the author would like to publish more articles related to improving customer experience and how cloud technologies may improve lives all over the world.
What is Customer Familiarization? Knowing the customer! A fairly simple concept really, but putting it into practice is another thing, it requires a shift in culture and mindset. The coffee shop analogy outlined below will help clarify why the Customer Familiarization Project was started and the issues it is trying to address. Additionally, we need to use the feedback that is given to us by our customers and act according or there may be negative consequences. Outlined in the article also are proactive steps that we recommend are taken to overcome some of the shortcomings reported by the customer; repetitive questioning, lack of insight into projects, and reoccurring issue, to name but a few. The project focuses on an initial subgroup of highly visible customers. Customer Familiarization is a strategic approach to understanding the customer’s needs and reacting to meets those needs. The project is Agile in nature can adapt and move with SE and customer feedback. Furthermore, the goal of the Customer Familiarization Project is to improve the overall perception the customer has of Success Factors, leading to greater confidence in support and Success Factor products in general.
We all have our favorite café, and when we enter the barista says “the usual”. They know what you want. Imagine if you were to go into the same café regularly and they were asking you the same questions repeatedly. The staff would appear incompetent and you would probably start looking for another café to get your favorite caffeine fix. Additionally, if the service in the café was slow or the staff was not overly friendly that could be problematic. This could lead to a negative perception of the establishment and a revaluation of your commitment to acquiring your favorite beverage in said establishment. Admittedly, solving an issue related to a complex cloud-based system may not be as straightforward as making an Americano, but the interactions hold true when the service is customer-facing. When a patriot of the establishment, raises concern regarding the service they are getting the service provider must act, or risk losing coffee lovers from all corners of the globe.
Companies globally use customer information to improve services and provide a better quality of customer experience. Netflix uses the data that they acquire from their customer database to develop a new series. They analyze customer trends and make decisions accordingly. Long gone are the day when a writer comes up with an idea and studios make large investments on the off chance the viewing public might like it. They have a competitive edge with the information they have the privilege of accessing. Interestingly, Netflix never releases negative stats about their shows, whether viewing figures are up or down, maybe, as not to impact or influence the customer’s perception of a show, and set a negative tone. If they are not constantly improving, being innovative, and meeting their customer’s need there are thousands of other websites that can provide the same service. Therefore, they are a good example of a company that is familiar with their customers’ needs. Using the data given to them by their customers and giving them what they want.
What do our customers want? One of the biggest pain points the customer pointed out was the coffee shop analogy. They feel like they are starting with a clean slate every time that they raised an incident and are getting frustrated with the repetitive questioning. What DC are you on? What is the support user access? And so forth. Additionally, apparently, we have no insight into past incidents, whether it is a recurring issue, what projects have they on the go, when the go-live date is. Therefore, we, have taken the customer’s feedback and taking steps to help improve the customer experience. The Customer Familiarization project was born out of this information received from the customer and the necessity to improve the experience. By enabling the SE to access this data in one central location they can handle incidents armed with the necessary information our customers deem relevant. Therefore, SE will be well informed and more confident when dealing with the incidents, and this, in turn, will lead to the customer having more confidence, in the SE and the product in general. Leading to greater customer satisfaction, result!
The initial challenges faced by the Customer Familiarization project were: Locating the relevant data, where to store it, where to retrieve it, where to update it. The cloud reporting tool, ICP, BCP, and workbooks managed by the CSMs were all identified as having relevant information. We created a template to store the necessary information. The templates were filled in and added to CSM workbooks. Then we created an SAP JAM group with the templates available for everyone to view. The data can retrieve, stored, and updated in one central location, to keep it relevant and up to date with customer information; go-live, projects, and re-occurring issues.
The focus of the Customer Familiarization Project is prioritized around 14 customers initially. These customers are MAX ATTENTION customers. Clients that generate billions of euros a year in revenue, and expect a very high level of professionalism when engaging in their business needs. The goal over time, initially, will be to see a positive upward trend in their support satisfaction statistics. Their satisfaction is paramount to our success. It will be the responsibility of every SE that engages with MAX ATTENTION customers to ensure they have reviewed the templates and familiarize themselves with the information therein, before engaging the incident. Further information about the SAP JAM group will follow.
The information in the template is not final and we encourage feedback regarding how it may be improved. Either via this blog or the SAP JAM itself. In the future, we would hope to have a stable data set that we can collate in one web page that is easily accessible. Additionally, we would also like to see MAX ATTENTION highlighted in BCP. Again, it is still a work in progress and feedback and suggestion are always well.
We have all had that coffee shop moment that has made us rethink our loyalty to a brand, so we need to take steps to ensure, initially, MAX ATTENTION customers never get that feeling, as they are vital to the business. We need to use the information and feedback we get from the customers to change how we do things and improve their, and our experience. This can be achieved by actively taking on board what they have said and making a plan and executing it, to ameliorate the situation. We have overcome some of the initial challenges locating information, where to store it, where to retrieve it, how to update it, so it stays relevant. The project is still a work in progress and the team has embraced an Agile approach to the project development; revisiting and improving with every iteration. In the long term, we would like to see changes in the tools we work with to reflect customer and SE needs. This will be central to the project going forward as all feedback from SE and customers will shape the outcome. Customer Familiarization will enable SE to work smarter, improve the overall customer’s support experience, and help achieve greater PCC scores.
We would hope that take home from this is that we need to take steps to familiarize ourselves with the customer before we engage with them. Take the time to familiarize ourselves with the customer, using the tools and processes the team has developed to enable us to communicate on a higher level, more confidently, and make the overall experience more personable for both the SE and customer.