“Next Generation.” What comes to your mind when you hear this word? An entirely new spin on an existing product? Or just a bunch of improvements packed in a new release?
When it comes to technology support, “next generation” can be tremendously more powerful than either of those traditional definitions. It is actually about evolving a set of services that customers demand during a time of industry disruption. Technology is getting more sophisticated with a great number of integration points along with deployment methods from software as a service (SaaS) to on-premise and everything in between. Everything is mission-critical and real-time, and a small problem upstream can have huge repercussions downstream.
As technologies change, so must our support and services to keep up with the shifts in industry needs and customer expectations – a journey that is responsive, dynamic, fluid, and, above all, never-ending. Customers are demanding more value for their investments, and our promise of delighting them anytime, anywhere, and from any channel is pushing us to constantly rethink how support is delivered.
The evolution in technology support
When a customer calls on support, it is usually due to an interruption in an IT system or a business operation. Every question, no matter how simple or complex, should be answered quickly, precisely, and successfully. Otherwise, business operations and revenue potential can become irreversibly damaged. It takes one bad experience out of 100 positive ones to impact the retention of a customer.
This heavy reliance on such a reactive experience is becoming too risky for customers. They want support services that anticipate emerging issues and solve them immediately. And let’s face it – the old model of “I’ll call you when I have something for you” is far away from that ideal standard.
Fortunately, many support providers have started to deliver a more proactive practice. For most of them, the answer is to create a support portal that provides an up-to-date knowledge base, which customers can leverage anytime, anywhere. Customers can submit specific questions, and the site can point them to a solution or resource that can solve their problem. However, the one event that customers do not want persists: the interaction is still triggered by a business interruption.
While some progress has been achieved, providers have a long way to go. The industry could predict problems before they happen if providers leveraged the massive amount of content their support organizations own. I stated in a previous blog, we are in an age where data is the new “oil,” and most support providers have built large reserves without a clear path for how to cash in this asset.
The next milestone in the future of support services
Considering the average enterprise provider processes around one million tickets a year, the amount of existing knowledge and valuable information can be tremendous. When each ticket is used to document customer details and solutions, the ability to give a truly superior experience becomes attainable. Each ticket is an opportunity for the support provider to make informed decisions in the future for their customers.
Take, for example, an executive who recently called me to ask a few questions about a new system configuration. My team quickly reviewed other customers that were using a similar deployment setup and product. This information gave us the insight necessary to alert the customer contact of a potential problem and recommend download patches and a white paper that would help their business fix the issue quickly.
This experience is exactly what customers call predictive support. The provider predicts the problem and provides the tools and expertise to address the interruption before the business is impacted. Imagine this experience repeated a million times a year!
More importantly, I believe providers can go even further by delivering a utopian support experience called preventive support. This model gives customers the full potential of their investment because their technology issues are identified and resolved before they are disrupted.
Preventive support is possible for cloud deployments because the provider owns the infrastructure. In preventive support, a large number of technical issues are identified and resolved on a continuous basis without the customer experiencing the interruption. To bring the same experience to the on-premise world, additional tools are required. For example, we offer a solution manager application that detects when problems are emerging, alerts the customer, and sends a solution long before the business system is affected.
SAPPHIRE NOW: The evolution continues at SAP
As I mentioned earlier, much progress has been made in the quest to deliver a better support experience, but this doesn’t mean that we are done evolving it. From driving fast, accurate support answers with artificial intelligence to incident solution matching, scheduled expert sessions, and on-demand chats, we are bringing in a new era of intelligent, Next-Generation Support.
At this year’s SAPPHIRE NOW, we are excited to show customers how we are advancing their investment in SAP solutions and innovating new ways to help their businesses reach their full potential as intelligent enterprises. All attendees can meet with our experts and experience hands-on demos to explore our latest portfolio of live channels and built-in services.