Automated service processes bring companies advantages in many ways. The speed at which customer requests are handled increases, as does process efficiency. At the same time, companies reduce their costs and the workload on their service staff. Thanks to high service availability and smooth processes, they can meet customers’ growing expectations for 24/7 support. This increases customer satisfaction and offers companies the opportunity to position their service quality as a competitive advantage in the market.
How service managers and service employees benefit
The higher the level of automation in customer service, the better the service manager is informed at all times about all interactions with customers. The acceptance and processing of inquiries is optimized. By interlinking internal departments from the service desk and spare parts sales to field service technicians and marketing in the best possible way, companies can establish a consistent service business model and generate additional revenue.
In their daily work, service employees can rely on always being able to call up up-to-date, correct information in the system and thus deal with customer concerns quickly and thoroughly. At the same time, a high level of transparency in the service process helps to better understand customers and their needs and to take appropriate measures to reduce the churn rate, for example.
The benefits of digitization and automation in service are also demonstrated by concrete figures. A Forrester study on the SAP Service Cloud has determined a return on investment (ROI) of 363%. Further results: Companies achieved 50% higher revenues by upselling, reduced call center operating costs by 42% and increased efficiency in (field) service by 40%.
Requirements for service automation
A comprehensive, high-performance service requires the smooth interaction of the IT systems involved in the background. Without integrated processes, companies are not able to meet expectations for customer service. The service desk and the technicians who are in direct contact with the customers must work closely with the back office, which is responsible for creating service quotations and orders as well as for invoicing and inventory management. For example, to obtain reliable information on the processing time of an inquiry, the service employee must know exactly which spare parts are currently in stock and in what quantities.
Four options for automating service
Anyone using SAP ERP or SAP S/4HANA already has good prerequisites for automating customer service. Building on this digital basis, various approaches to a higher degree of automation can be found with the right components. For example, SAP’s comprehensive Customer Experience Suite offers suitable solutions for implementing seamless service processes and handling customer requests professionally and with short reaction times. The complete integration of the systems ensures that all parties involved always have access to up-to-date data and that the required information is available at the right place at all times.
1) Real-time customer service
What is your ideal customer service experience?
What could your competitor possibly do better?
Real-time support is an important feature for high service quality. In practice, however, manual processes and media disruptions often stand in the way of this goal, resulting in high costs and long resolution times. Real-time customer service means that the customer’s concerns are handled in a targeted manner and resolved at the first contact. In addition, it is always clear who is the right contact person for the respective inquiry.
For this to work, the service processes must be harmoniously interlinked. On the system side, the scenario of real-time service can be implemented, for example, with a combination of SAP ERP or SAP S/4HANA and the SAP Service Cloud with the modules Customer Service (C4C) and SAP Field Service Management. Furthermore, add-ons or portal solutions can be connected via the SAP Cloud Platform for additional functionalities.
- What self-services do you offer your customers?
- Can you offer easily consumable 24/7 support, as Uber does, for example?
Self-services actively involve customers in the service process. This reduces the workload of your own employees and customer frustration, which can arise when customers have to wait long periods of time when contacting the call center. Without self-services, companies have a greater effort to track the status of a ticket and to provide the customer with appropriate feedback. Multiple loops are often required to classify a request correctly.
If a company offers self-services, customers can open their service request via QR code scan or via the serial number of the device. Chatbots and artificial intelligence ensure that customers always have a contact person and that many problems can be solved without employee interaction. Technologically, SAP Conversational AI covers these requirements. With the help of SAP Knowledge Central by MindTouch, it is also possible to provide customers with access to a knowledge database with valuable information and FAQs so that they can independently resolve the problem.
3) Consistent user experience across all channels
- How do your customers interact with your company through the various channels?
- Do you offer a uniform, cross-channel view?
Non-connected customer channels complicate the service process on both sides. Customers may not be able to use their preferred channel to contact you, have to deal with different contact persons and transmit the same information multiple times. It is difficult for the company to maintain an overview of all customer inquiries with a multitude of inconsistent channels. It can easily happen that an inquiry is missed and the customer waits in vain for feedback.
With SAP Customer Engagement Center, companies manage all customer interactions through a single interface, enabling them to support a variety of channels – phone, chat, mail, web, etc. Identification is done via uniform IDs based on serial numbers or customer profiles. Customers qualify their request and the service has access to it – regardless of the channel and the department.
4) Efficient field service
Can you flexibly expand your service network?
Can you ensure the flow of information without significantly affecting fixed costs?
Limited in-house resources for field service and a lack of opportunities to flexibly expand the service network mean that customers may have to wait a long time for a technician to come to the site. In addition, companies often do not have the technical capabilities to provide field service with relevant information and receive feedback from the service technicians. Both would make on-site visits faster and more efficient.
The harmonious interaction of SAP ERP or SAP S/4HANA, SAP C4C, SAP Field Service Management and add-ons connected via SAP Cloud Platform also offers the appropriate functionalities for this requirement. If internal resources are not sufficient, the workforce can be quickly and easily expanded with external staff. This results in faster response and resolution times at effort-related costs. In addition, the allocation of service technicians can be automated, taking into account the required skills.