SAP Africa & Middle East – Emotionally Intelligent Enterprise
We’ve already talked with SAP about their Intelligent Enterprise ethos. Now we turn to learn about the importance of Customer Experience for businesses.
Jose Valles, the Vice President of SAP CX EMEA South, has a story to tell.
“Imagine you are a frequent flier. Due to your job, you have to travel a lot. That is hard, it takes a toll on you and separates you from your loved ones. But it also brings some good things: you get to visit places and accumulate rewards, especially from the airlines, which is often a real perk,” he says. “And every now and again, you get to use those rewards you racked up to take a trip, or perhaps buy something nice for a loved one or do an upgrade of your airline ticket. Sounds good, doesn’t it? So, one day, you decide to book a trip with your family to an exotic location. You do it online, go to the site of the airline and book the trip, which would cost, let’s say, 100,000 miles. Then, a few minutes later you receive an email and see that they are charging you 150,000 miles rather than 100,000. You raise a complaint, you escalate with calls to the call centre several times and finally, after 20 days the company responds back on the issue. Frustrating, I know, but 20 days later they at least acknowledge their mistake and they refund the miles – Painful as it may sound, this is not a hypothetical scenario, you do not have to imagine it, it has actually happened to me, personally.”
As stories go it’s a pretty familiar one, you probably have a similar one yourself, whether it’s with an airline, a train company, or an online retailer whose package never turned up. Whatever the details are, the central issue is down to two key problems.
“Now the engineer in me sees that the problem is the lack of consistency across the airline’s systems, the front-end and the back-end aren’t synchronized,” Valles says. “But the most important thing about this entire situation is the emotional impact it has. When I bought the tickets, it really felt great, I felt appreciated. But when the email came through from the company, I felt disappointment that turned into frustration, that later turned into outright anger as the days went by with no response to my queries. And the worst thing about the situation, especially for the affected airline, is that if you go now and check the data they have on me, it’ll probably have me listed as a happy customer, who purchased his tickets successfully and got a trouble ticket sorted; however the reality is far from that, I’m not happy at all. So, this company will face the same problem, again and again, not checking the right data, experience data and system data. They’ll keep solving the wrong problems. They will invest in more customer support people instead of solving the backend/frontend integration issue.”
That airline is not alone. According to SAP’s data, 80% of CEOs believe the experiences their business provides are good, while among the customers only 8% agree with them. That 72% difference is what Valles calls “the experience gap”. Identifying and closing that gap is what SAP’s “Customer Experience” approach is all about.
The “New Battlefield”
“We’re happy to help with, for instance, our customer experience solutions portfolio, but what brings us inspiration is applying the Customer Experience way of thinking,” Valles says.
SAP is an enterprise leader that operates across the world, thriving in understanding customer challenges and ways to solve those challenges. Over the last 47 years SAP has developed a deep understanding of 25 industries, and this know-how has even formed their basis for their customers to set their own practices, using SAP’s best practices as a blueprint. While their expertise is incredibly broad, Valles believes that Customer Experience is the new frontier for business.
“We strongly believe customer experience is ‘the new battlefield’, quoting our co-CEO Jen Morgan,” Valles tells us. “Customers are being disrupted by new ways of doing things. Product and price is being displaced by experience as key decision factors when customers choose brands. This transformation is leading towards something we call the experience economy.”
SAP has positioned itself to provide companies with that Customer Experience edge. Beyond its Customer Experience portfolio, in January 2019 SAP acquired Qualtrics, the undisputed leader in experience management.
“We have an obsession with customers and customer experience, and we understand the one key driver, the Net Promoter Score (NPS),” Valles says. “As every CEO can validate, NPS is the number one predictor of how well a business will perform. So, we help customers build those experiences through our Customer Experience solution portfolio and also understand what things are working and which things aren’t working and react to them leveraging Qualtrics. SAP proposition here is truly unique.”
The business case for investing in Experience is not hard to go with, with Valles pointing out the typical return of investment in experience management (Qualtrics) is 630%.
“That says a lot about the importance of experience. We help our customers understand the experience gap and react to it, in real-time,” Valles says. We’re working with emotions to create satisfying and memorable experiences. We’re bringing operational and experience data together to the board room, handing these tools to CEOs, to make more informed, more holistic and more strategic decisions than ever before.”
A Holistic Approach
SAP is currently the only customer experience company providing a holistic, across the board experience to achieve this.
“It’s not just about customer service, we’re talking sales, marketing, commerce, and also what happens behind the scenes with the ERP,” Valles says. “As we operate, we link not only the transactional data but the emotional data as well. The power we put in the hands of our customers’ CEOs is unbelievable and nobody else is doing that right now.”
This approach is all the more important as Valles is working across one of the most diverse regions in the world.
“The beauty of the region I work in is that being large, it is home to a wide variety of countries with totally different realities,” he says. “The adoption of technology is great. From retailers using our Commerce platform to Utilities leveraging our Field Services solution, the extension of our portfolio allows us to help a wide variety of customers. But what is a strong trend, is the interest of all customers to understand how experience management can change their business.” Fortunately, SAP has a strong methodology to help their customers in that economy.
“We run discovery sessions with board members and CEOs, where we help them imagine the art of what is possible in today’s technology-driven modern economy. Personally, I learn a lot whenever I attend these sessions,” Valles admits. “It helps you appreciate the strong grasp the experts of SAP have in these different industries. I remember the first session I joined with the company called SEFAM. They design and manufacture fashion, they have ten different brands of their own and work with three other brands including Emporio Armani and Ralph Lauren. I was in the first session we ran with their CEO and leadership team, it was really inspirational. And it’s been also a transformation across sales, marketing, and commerce goals for SEFAM. I’m 100% sure that this is going to give them an edge versus the competition, not just in Pakistan, but beyond their borders.”
Looking to the future, Valles can see SAP playing an important role in Africa and the Middle East’s pivot towards the “experience economy”.
“In Africa, we see SAP partnering when customers want to fly in the experience economy,” he says. “We have a strong team on the ground and across the region, we’re gaining momentum and respect in the space. We are definitely the go-to partner!”