Social Collaboration: Connecting The Dots In The End-to-End Customer Journey

Carolyn Beal

To win over an ever-evolving marketplace, most companies are hedging their bets on the customer experience. Interaction after interaction, every moment has the potential to strengthen or weaken a customer’s resolve to patronize, advocate, and remain loyal to a specific brand. However, the spotlight on the customer experience tends to be fixed on transaction-driving touch points. While logical, this mindset misses the bigger picture: The customer’s end-to-end experience does not end with the transaction.

Connecting the right people and information at the right time can be quite challenging. All too often, organizations – and even individual teams – use a variety of social and communication tools to collaborate. Over time, information becomes siloed, distinct ways of working are adopted, and no one has a well-rounded picture of the customer. More troubling, any sense of consistency in sales and service interactions are absent.

What if your business stopped relegating sales as transaction-based interactions and service as post-sales support and united them as one team working for the same goal? According the July 2016 commissioned study, The Total Economic Impact of SAP Jam, conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of SAP, a collaborative team approach enabled by a single social collaboration platform could improve both sides of the customer-experience value chain.

Converging sales and service for an unparalleled customer experience

With a social collaboration platform, sales and service organizations can increase their effectiveness by tapping into people’s natural affinity for social technology. With capabilities such as information discovery, collaboration, peer resources, and expert finding, employees can adopt new and innovative ways to get answers and further the customer experience. Plus, they can engage in informal communities of practice to not only promote information sharing, but also rethink business processes and create a new paradigm for cross-functional communication.

However, according to Forrester Consulting’s report, the true value of social collaboration goes beyond fully understanding each customer account with unprecedented insight. Such a network can set up the enterprise to disrupt markets across industries and redefine what it means to be a digital business in three significant ways:

15% greater efficiency when identifying new sales opportunities

Every area that touches the buying journey can capture data about a customer at any point of time. Exchanged through e-mail discussions, information is sometimes conflicting, and the right insights cannot be recalled immediately in the moment of need.

Forrester Consulting’s composite analysis indicates that a social collaboration platform can make employees 15% more efficient. Instead of spending hours every week e-mailing, searching for information, and waiting for responses, sales reps and service agents can access the information they need up-sell, cross-sell, and refer customers to the proper account manager through free-text search, work group documentation, and real-time discussion.

9% faster closing of sales deals

Sales reps are typically focused on a set of customers assigned to them, hoping to reach their quarterly and annual numbers. They may pull sales-related data from a customer relationship management system and locate experts across the sales organization who can provide insight that can help close the deal. All in all, the approach is singular in nature and does not provide a 360-degree view of the customer’s or prospect’s situation in real time.

Once a social collaboration platform is introduced into the organization’s best practices, Forrester Consulting found sales reps can close deals 9% faster. For example, they can engage in video role-playing on their device of choice to learn how to best solve potential sales challenges. Plus, they can communicate with experts from all lines of business – even customer service – from one source. With one collaboration tool, sales reps know exactly what is happening with the account, such as progress and objections during contract negotiations, response to marketing campaigns, and emerging issues and future updates for the product or service of interest.

10% reduction in support call costs

For most companies, the volume of internal customer supports calls is significant and growing, sometimes numbering in the tens of thousands. And since each call can cost US$1–$2 to resolve, overall support costs can add up very quickly. What if your help-desk agents had direct access to a knowledge base of information and expertise that can help answer every question that comes their way?

While not every call can benefit from social collaboration, Forrester Consulting estimates that 34% of them can, leading to a reduction in support call costs as much as 10%. A social collaboration platform can provide internal support agents with access to experts from across their group, team, and business to resolve customer issues at the first moment of contact. They can collaborate on support issues or locate a specific piece of information required to close the support ticket, for instance. Furthermore, service groups can upload learning and development videos that can be accessed through mobile devices.

Building on your vision of the end-to-end customer experience

In the pre- and post-sale ends of the customer experience, two lines of business know two entirely different stories about the same customer. Sales reps may understand their goals and current organizational needs. Customer service agents may receive feedback about the brand’s reputation, operations, and offerings while hearing potential problems in the product or service. Nevertheless, no single organization has a view into the full story of the client.

By uniting these two distinct areas with a single social collaboration platform, all of this information can be centralized in an easy-to-search and interactive manner to streamline and connect business processes and communication. Not only will this approach hasten sales revenue, decision making, and insight, but more important, it elevates competitiveness by providing an experience that will keep customers coming back for more and advocating for your brand’s value.

Are you interested in learning more about social collaboration? Check out The Total Economic Impact™ Of SAP Jam, a July 2016 commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of SAP.




Carolyn Beal

About Carolyn Beal

Carolyn Beal is senior director of Solution Marketing for Social Software at SAP. Her specialties include product marketing, marketing communications, CRM, and demand generation.