SAP Spotlight Interview: Ankur Godre
|The SAP Mentor Spotlight Interview Series highlights key strategic topics, such as emerging technologies, learning, and other topics, and provides insights from Mentors and SAP leaders on turning ideas into innovative approaches that impact people, process, and technology.|
Innovation enabled by technology continues to redefine our professional and personal lives. While we all agree that emerging intelligent technologies have created new opportunities for everyone, it is the balance with human ingenuity where true transformation takes place.
In an increasingly automated world, we need to evaluate, revamp, and adjust in order to add value in today’s world, and prepare for digital transformation in the years ahead.
Finding a balance between new business models and processes enabled by technology driven by the human experience is critical to an organization achieving its optimal potential and the best business outcomes.
For Ankur Godre, Customer Experience (CX) Practice Head & Principal Architect at Notion Edge and SAP Mentor, he sees first-hand the importance of balancing the human experience and technology in all interactions with customers. When we caught up with him, he shared a few compelling insights.
Stacey Fish (SF): From your days at The Lakshmi Narain College of Technology (LNCT) to today, you live by the professional motto, ‘Customer Relation & Value’ at the center of all engagements. What influenced you to go from Electronics & Communications Engineering to an enthusiastic and dedicated Customer Experience focus?
Ankur Godre (AG): Well, you learn and specialize in specific areas of study when in college, which obviously forms a good foundation for your professional life in the future. For me, beyond the specialization of engineering, the most important thing I learned was about people dynamics, people relationships and the experience you get and give from and to people. I strongly believe that humans listen to humans more than they listen to machines!
At the end of the day, people may forget a lot of things, but what remains with them is how one made them feel — that is called the ‘experience’. And that’s what differentiates a conventional conversation (more transactional in nature) from a conversation which lasts much longer in people’s memories…it is the true customer experience! And so, I live by that motto.
SF: How and why did you become an SAP Mentor? What has the experience been like for you?
AG: Wow, this one takes me back down memory lane. Let me answer the “HOW” first. Moving from the good old OnPremise world to Cloud was a big risk at that time, especially when there were unknowns and doubts in people’s minds about Cloud. However, I told myself that the worst case would be me realizing what not to get my hands dirty with.
Having the right knowledge and information was a big challenge in early 2012 on this SAP CX (Customer Experience) product, which led to many challenges in learning and ramping up my knowledge on this product. However, with collaboration with SAP and a lot of efforts, I was able to gain substantial insights and expertise on the related products and solutions.
Two things came to my mind – one, I did not want anyone who was interested in learning this product to struggle finding the knowledge and information; and two, I wanted to share the knowledge I gained with as many people as I could. With that intent, I started contributing to this new community of SAP CX solutions, focusing on Sales and Service Cloud, Integration with SAP ERP and development using the SAP SDK (software development kit). I was relentlessly answering as many questions as I could, publishing blogs, sharing experiences, and mentoring and guiding a lot of newbies and experienced professionals alike in this product of SAP.
While providing these contributions, I got an email from the SAP Mentor program management that I had been nominated to be an SAP Mentor (special thanks to Ginger Gatling) and was invited for the induction into the program at the SAP ASUG SAPPHIRE event. That was surreal, and when I looked back at the journey, this seemed to be a big reward for all my hard work.
At the time, I didn’t know that this would lead me to become an SAP Mentor, but by the time I became a Mentor, I got the answer for the “WHY.” So now you know the answer to my WHY as well.
I have relished every bit being part of this community. It has helped me increase my network and outreach as well. Being part of different programs and getting to influence the SAP strategy and products as a Mentor is something that I am very proud of! I am humbled and honored to be a part of this community, not to mention, being the voice of many of my customers!
SF: In a recent Oxford Economics study, How Small and Medium-Sized Businesses Can Prepare for the New Economy, it shares a range of considerations for improving customer experiences including “convenient delivery, data protection, competitive pricing, and personalized experiences. From your experience, what’s the best way to get started on this journey? What’s an example of a compelling event (or activity) that triggers interest to take the Customer Experience seriously?
AG: The consumer world altogether is different today. Customers of today are demanding, they have high buying power, they like their data to be protected while seamlessly shopping their favorite products. Customers of today do not like to be bombarded by irrelevant marketing emails.
Massive amounts of data generated by this new breed of customers is just an additional challenge on top of this.
With all these complexities and challenges, it is not an option for organizations to just focus on selling their product – they need to be a step ahead of their customers always.
A thorough understanding of customer journey, their buying emotion and behavior, their social media actions, all this combined with loads of historical data processing, data consent and privacy of customers while building trust with them are the keys to winning a customer of today.
All of this requires solutions, which can address all aspects of a customer journey in the most seamless, integrated way while delivering exceptional experience to customers, building trust, and keeping up with the competition. With all the modern CX technologies available out there, it’s also very important to keep the human experience and element alive in all interactions with customers. Relying solely on technology to win customers is a sure shot way to lose them. However, if the insights and intelligence of technology is combined with a deep human experience, then it can create some great winning customer stories for organizations.
SF: Looking at your blog, “How to lose your Customer in split-second!,” would you say that the pricing issue was a lack of having a SAP CPQ (Configure, Price and Quote), quality data, or an effective ecommerce solution with omnichannel pricing? While the large retail chain who triggered your observations may or may not care… how can other retailers overt inconsistent pricing?
AG: Well, I can’t deny that having a good CPQ solution would have helped the salesperson, who I referenced in the blog, to provide a transparent quote and pricing for my interest to purchase a tablet/laptop, which in turn would have provided me with a much better experience as a customer!
Gone are the days where salespeople would rely on pen and paper or excel/word-based pricing or quoting…Having a modern and sophisticated, yet simple to use tool like SAP CPQ can play a key role in not just helping salespeople do their jobs effectively, but also giving their customers a transparent and seamless experience.
Blending the art of sales with the right tools like SAP Sales Cloud and CPQ is great combination, as well as to have a motivated sales team and customers who love being raving fans of your products and/or services.
Retailers need to pay special attention to the customer experience aspects. Starting from what your customers want and what would make their experience better and working backwards to choose and implement the right technology to deliver the best customer experience.
SF: What emerging technologies are dramatically improving the customer experience such as integrating AI (artificial intelligence), chatbots, Internet of Things, Blockchain, Robotics, and automation? What is an interesting use case example where these intelligent technologies are making an impact, enabling innovation, and adding value?
AG: I think Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are playing a critical role in dramatically increasing the customer experience. With the massive amounts of data available, deriving intelligent insights into social, historical, and behavioral data of customers not only provides a better understanding of customer journey and their preferences, but also helps predict and forecast what the customer journey will look like in future as well as future demands.
This helps organizations tailor their offerings to the exact liking of their customers and deliver excellent experiences to their customers. Similarly, providing predictive maintenance and services is a game changer for customer/field service organizations. Knowing the problem before your customer tells you and fixing it before the breakdown happens is game changing and can highly enhance customer retention and experience.
SF: When you come in contact with students from India, UK, and around the globe, what tips do you like to share to encourage them to excel in high-tech, get a top-quality job, and make the most of their career journey?
AG: This is close to my heart, always happy to guide and mentor young professionals and resent graduates. I would like to tell all students and young professionals that it does not matter what technology you choose to make your career into, the most important thing is to have the right attitude towards everything you do in life. To get a top-quality job, you need to have a top-quality attitude, top-quality intent, willingness to learn, agility and openness.
‘You never know what will make you shine, and you will never know unless you give it a try’.
Sharing knowledge is a great way to build a great network, help people grow, which in turn helps you grow! Believe me, this is coming from someone who has lived this journey and still enjoys it! Good luck!