“Next generation.” What comes to your mind when you hear this phrase? An entirely new spin on an existing product? Or just a bunch of improvements packed into a new release?
When it comes to technology support, “next generation” can pack tremendously more power than either of those options. It is 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-premises 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 the 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 customer retention.
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 from that ideal standard.
Fortunately, many support providers have started to deliver a more proactive practice. For most, the answer is to create a support portal that provides an up-to-date knowledge base that 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 event customers want to avoid 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. As I wrote 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 that the average enterprise provider processes around 1 million tickets a year, there can be a tremendous amount of existing knowledge and valuable information. When each ticket is used to document customer details and solutions, the ability to deliver a truly superior experience becomes attainable. Each ticket is an opportunity for the support provider to make informed decisions for their future customers.
Take, for example, an executive who recently called me to ask a few questions about a new system configuration. My team quickly reviewed the records of our other customers that are using a similar deployment setup and product. This information gave us the insight necessary to alert the customer of a potential problem and recommend download patches and a white paper that would help the 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 ever experiencing an interruption. To bring the same experience to the on-premises world, additional tools are required. For example, a solution manager application can detect when problems are emerging, alert the customer, and send 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.