Often people talk about customer engagement in the context of consumer products and services like mobile devices and fashionable clothing, or personalized offers and fast delivery. In the realm of business-to-business, getting closer to customers is a very different matter. Consider a company like SAP. Innovative software is just the tip of the iceberg. What’s most powerful for customers is getting access to a wide and deep network of business professionals ready, willing, and able to share their experiences.
SAP has set up number of programs specifically designed to help customers prosper from the collective wisdom of others. Recently, I had the pleasure of talking with Bridgette Chambers, CEO of ASUG (America’s SAP Users’ Group), and she talked about the important role her organization plays for SAP customers. The entire interview can be found on SAP.info, but here’s an excerpt from our conversation:
“A customer community helps people avoid costly project failures, and instead implement quickly to make SAP easier for less technical stakeholders so they can get the most out of their SAP investment.
We are a true customer network. We aggregate customer input about their priorities, and share it with SAP regularly. Then, we engage with SAP to help improve and innovate in a manner that keeps these priorities at the forefront of everything SAP does.”
ASUG is over 130,000 members strong from 3,500 companies in 17 industries. To my knowledge, actively fostering a worldwide independent user group on the scale that SAP has is unprecedented in this industry. Putting a price on that kind of collective wisdom is impossible. It’s just one of the many ways that SAP puts customers first. Another is keeping promises. The release of SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA is yet another proof point that SAP is on track with promised, non-disruptive innovations. Like all SAP solutions, this is the result of a customer co-innovation project. Customer advisory boards had an instrumental role in the development and packaging of the Business Suite on SAP HANA. That’s because business value is paramount to everything SAP does.
“Customer first” is not a slogan at SAP. It’s a fact of business life across the company. SAP Value Academy sessions provide customers with the tools needed to define, measure, and achieve greatest value from their SAP software with benchmarking against best practices by industry. Forums like this one, the SAP Community Network (SCN), offer a dynamic, open place for people to ask questions, share ideas, and test theories. Innovation is not an end itself, it’s on ongoing journey. All this and more is what you get every single day when you’re an SAP customer.