I was recently with a client who said “I don’t understand what’s happening - all the metrics we’re tracking are green but our customers still aren’t happy with the level of service”.
Unfortunately, this is something we hear a lot at Resulting.
Whether it’s providing a service to a client, or just the SAP programme’s service to the wider business, people will often get the feedback that their programme is underperforming despite the fact that their metrics are showing that they’re doing a good job.
So what can you do in this situation?
There can only ever be one version of the truth, so how do you go about reconciling these two different versions of the same story?
And what if the customer isn’t always right?
Your ERP metrics are right - so what do you do now?
You might be surprised to hear us say this but sometimes your metrics are right - everything is going fine.
But just because your metrics are right it doesn’t mean you’re out of the woods. You might be tracking the right metrics but you’ve done a bad job of managing customer expectations.
If you are providing a service to a customer you should have a contract that has outlined SLAs from the start. And, if your KPIs are all green then you should be working within those SLAs.
This doesn’t mean that you should be dismissive about problems just because you weren’t in breach of contract - a customer has the right to be annoyed about a disrupted service.
What it does mean though is that you have every right to gently remind the customer that you understand their concern but you have delivered within the parameters you both agreed upon.
If you are part of an SAP programme delivering a service to your business it can be a good idea to have outlined some “SLA style” promises of performance too.
By outlining the level of service you promise to the business from the outset, you are more able to manage their expectations when problems arise.
But that’s only half the battle.
What if a customer is angry about something that is completely beyond your control but they’re blaming you?
This kind of thing happens more than you think.
Your service could be interrupted for a wide variety of reasons from internet outages to power cuts to hardware failure - these things just happen sometimes and there’s nothing you can do.
But as far as the customer is concerned, their service was affected and you’ve messed up.
So what next?
Unfortunately as tough as it can be, sometimes you’ve just got to take things on the chin. We know it as individuals - when our internet goes down at home we don’t care however many excuses BT or Virgin have, we just want to know when we’ll be back online - and the same is true of your customers when your SAP programme is disrupted.
All you can really do is explain the situation, make your apologies, and ensure in advance that the terms of service you have agreed upon has you covered for situations that are beyond your control.
All that being said, it doesn’t mean you’re going to be right all the time.
You're tracking the wrong metrics! - Time to do better
So what about the times when you’re wrong?
Sometimes it can be easy to focus in on the wrong things.
SAP systems are huge data driven machines that cost millions of pounds to implement, so we want to use them as much as possible.
This can lead to an over reliance on hard data from your SAP system instead of tracking the things that really make a difference.
Yes, you’re tracking exactly how many thousand processes go through a day - but how does this help you understand if your ERP is delivering real business benefits?
When it comes to understanding how well you are delivering a service sometimes qualitative data - finding out what people think - can be more valuable than quantitative data.
Just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, good service is in the eye of the customer and business benefits are felt by the business.
While it is important that you do the big number-crunching KPI tracking to know that your SAP programme is working, you also need to find a way to track if the business or customers feel like they are getting the benefits they have been promised.
If they’re not then it’s all for nought.
SAP success is all about people
In the SAP Success Report our research discovered that the biggest factor behind the success of any SAP programme is adoption - whether the wider business embrace the programme and believe it is working.
What this shows is that as powerful as ERP software is, and however much more efficient it makes your business processes, what SAP success really comes down to is people. It’s the individuals that benefit from the system day to day.
While you do need to track data to know that your SAP programme is running correctly and efficiently, you also need to know that the beneficiaries of the programme are seeing those benefits - and this is something that raw data can’t always do.
With technological advances businesses are increasingly able to offer similar products and services for similar price points, with customer experience being the key differentiator that drives competitive advantage.
At the end of the day is doesn’t matter how technically good a system is if everyone who uses it hates it.
Interestingly SAP may be beginning to adopt this way of thinking themselves with their recent acquisition of Qualtrics - a software provider that focuses on measuring customer experience.
The addition of better CX tracking into the SAP product portfolio could become a valuable tool for all businesses running ERP.
If you need any help understanding what metrics you should be tracking from your SAP programme we’d be happy to help.
Contact us for a chat here.