As one of the world’s leading automation and digitisation specialists, KUKA offers companies of all sizes and industries a full range of products and services, which are divided into five internationally distributed business segments with more than 14,000 employees. With a manufacturer of this size, it is hardly surprising that globalisation and digitisation have increased the need for a standardised customer view. The challenges: To bring different areas of the Group under one roof from the customer’s perspective and reduce complexity. From the outset, a key element in managing these challenges was to integrate Marketing, Sales, and Service on one comprehensive platform. Salesforce was the perfect technology partner for this.

A key part of standardising systems and processes was the OneCRM initiative, which was to transform the Group’s aspiration of being a customer-centric, integrated organisation into a reality. There were around 25 different CRM systems worldwide to be standardised. Not only that, links had to be forged between Sales, Marketing, Service, and Product Development to facilitate internal collaboration. A key factor for successful market penetration, optimal customer service, and increasing customer value for KUKA is an understanding of the individual needs and expectations of its potential and existing customers. Holistic CRM is fundamental to an integrated relationship management approach


  • An integral part of the group-wide standardisation of processes and systems was the OneCRM project, which was to provide a standard, 360-degree view of all customer data worldwide for all customer functions
  •  25 CRM systems worldwide were replaced by Sales Cloud within 365 days
  • With Service Cloud, all service employees worldwide work directly in the one system; every service case and conversation takes place directly on the Object, giving Service and Sales real-time information about all ongoing processes with a specific customer
  • Field Service Lightning simplifies case management and dispatcher scheduling, and provides a mobile solution for field technicians
  • Community Cloud groups together the KUKA Group’s digital services on the one hand, while on the other hand forges connections between IT, Development, and Digital Services, as well as Sales and Customer service


“By the end of 2015, we had settled on our key criteria for a suitable CRM solution based on a long list of requirements. It was to be a cloud-based system to enable simplified collaboration as well as mobile use, good reporting and decision-making support,” said Thomas Preiss, Head of Digital Processes & Customer Management at KUKA. After just the initial evaluation, the Salesforce system emerged as one of the clear favorites. “What swung the decision in favor of Salesforce was that it offered a complete package based on our needs,” Preiss said. “These included an openness toward natively supported modules such as CPQ (Configure Price Quote) and other solutions, as well as usability for all affected user groups, whether internal or external, working remotely or at the office.”

KUKA not only chose the Sales Cloud as its sales solution, but also recognised the advantage of the Salesforce platform for the other customer-facing areas. As a result, it integrated Service Cloud with Field Service Lightning for customer service, and Community Cloud to establish a partner and customer community. KUKA has since introduced all three solutions — partly in parallel and partly successively — tightly integrating them into one single, central database.



The benefits soon became apparent, and my colleagues and I experienced first-hand how much fun it is to work with a system like Sales Cloud that is packed with so much functionality.”

Thomas Preiss | Head of Digital Processes & Customer Management


Sales Cloud replaced a total of around 25 different systems worldwide in sales. This flagship project marked the start of the journey into the Salesforce world. In addition to acquiring internal know-how from the outset, KUKA also received architecture, development, customisation, and deployment support from partner Bearing Point and from Salesforce itself. Process and requirements workshops were held with stakeholders from all KUKA Group companies in summer 2016 to kick off the first project sprint. The first national subsidiaries went live with the solution six months later. As Preiss explained, “We used a template approach, which allowed the entire group to follow on swiftly after the first roll-out, and for the old systems to be replaced step by step. The roll-out was completed for around 2,000 sales employees worldwide just 365 days after the first go-live.”

The roll-out was closely accompanied by a change management initiative. “The benefits soon became apparent, and my colleagues and I experienced first-hand how much fun it is to work with a system like Sales Cloud that is packed with so much functionality,” Preiss said. To keep users up to date with new features, the team creates short e-learning videos.

“As someone with an eye on the technical side of things, I am always pleasantly surprised at how smoothly Salesforce’s three major releases comes off every year,” said Manuel Koutecky, Head of Center of Excellence Sales & Service at KUKA. “You don’t experience that with many other providers, unfortunately.”


For the first time ever, sales companies can now work together seamlessly on projects across the board, thanks to the shared database containing details of every single customer and contact. The entire group benefits from end-to-end visibility across all business transactions. Colleagues use Chatter to communicate directly around objects. “Chatter has been well adopted,” Koutecky said. “Other areas, such as R&D and IT, also find it beneficial and engage in intensive group discussions on specific topics.”

Real-time information about opportunities and leads is available to all employees at the touch of a button on their monitor or smartphone screen. “For the first time ever, the Salesforce mobile app gives people access to any information they need on the go. The sales team, therefore, has an up-to-date picture right before a customer visit and can find out, for example, about any urgent service issues at short notice and be fully prepared for the discussion,” Koutecky said. “And after a meeting, new data can be recorded and visits can be logged using the dictation function on the go.”


In addition to Sales, the Service team was also involved in the decision to choose Salesforce in 2015. “We also attended the provider presentations for the OneCRM project because the Service team also wanted to collaborate more closely with other teams and to improve the customer experience,” said Christian Meisen, Head of Service Process Management at KUKA. “During these presentations, we saw the many possibilities offered by Service Cloud. We were particularly impressed by the fact that it runs on the same platform as Sales and enables us to use a shared database to get a 360-degree view of the customer. This enables us to provide our customers with a consistent service experience worldwide.”

KUKA has experienced rapid growth over the past 15 years. The emergence of isolated solutions was hard to avoid. Most of the individual KUKA subsidiaries were not integrated into SAP or any other applications. “We asked the national subsidiaries in a global meeting what they found must frustrating about their service solutions. The response from most was the inadequate dispatcher scheduling and lack of a mobile solution for field technicians. Service Cloud with Field Service Lightning offers both,” Meisen said. “Besides, our sales team had had such a positive experience and Salesforce had set the bar so high, that it gave us the confidence to decide on the right system.”


After the success of the pilot project in 2018, seven countries went live over the course of the next year, with another nine to follow by 2020. The three main areas are case management, dispatcher scheduling, and a gradual roll-out of the Field Service solution. There are Service Cloud interfaces with either SAP or Business One, depending on the ERP system. KUKA’s internal training tool, LMS (Learning Management System), and their local knowledge database, KUKA Xpert, have also already been integrated.

Because KUKA sells a number of different and technically complex products, not all countries have experts in every single area. Communicating with 2nd level support at the head office in Augsburg is therefore extremely important. In the past, this mainly took place via email, but is now managed directly within a case. Not only has this increased transparency, it has also considerably accelerated handovers. Commenting on the transformation, Simone Neubaur, Service Process Manager at KUKA, said, “Since the Service Cloud roll-out, the global teams have been able to work together efficiently. Many process steps only take place in Germany, so it is important to have a cross-country platform with which to communicate properly with the headquarters without losing track. Now, all the service teams work globally within a common structure, which also promotes a team mindset. A huge advantage of Service Cloud is that all communication now takes place directly within the customer’s data record. This allows full traceability of the history, even years later. We now have global transparency, so it doesn’t matter whether a colleague or customer is based in China, Germany, or Spain.”

The added value is also apparent across the various divisions. “Previously, we did not have a 360-degree view of the customer. Sales had only a vague idea of what was going on in service and vice versa,” Meisen said. Within this context, Service Cloud and Field Service Lightning enjoyed rapid acceptance. As Neubaur said, “Although change is not always easy, employees soon saw the benefits and added value. We have received a great deal of positive feedback on Service Cloud.” However, the biggest benefits are felt by the customer: With the Salesforce roll-out, customer satisfaction with Service has increased significantly and customer inquiries can be answered more quickly.


The third area addressed by KUKA with the Salesforce platform is also closely linked to Service. Community Cloud serves several purposes: connecting internal stakeholders, bringing together customer-facing digital products, and opening up new channels. “Customer feedback on the Community, through which customers can independently open service cases and see their status, has been very positive,” Neubaur said.

This is how KUKA is able to create an entirely new digital customer experience. “As a next step, we want to integrate a knowledge base to enable us to answer relatively straightforward customer questions there and then, depending on the circumstances. This would free up our highly qualified service technicians and engineers for more complex issues,” Meisen said. “Our long-term vision is for every robot to be connected to Service Cloud in the future, allowing them to independently open cases when discrepancies have been identified using predictive maintenance approaches, for example.”

“The first step was to use Community Cloud as an external identity provider,” said Dirk Engelbrecht, Digital Business Manager at KUKA. “We now have a wide range of digital services that make it easier for customers to work with KUKA and KUKA products. It was very important to us to have a single customer log-in to access all of KUKA’s digital products and services, including stand-alone digital products such as KUKA Connect, KUKA Compose, and KUKA Xpert.” However, being a springboard to services is not the sole extent of Community Cloud’s potential. “Our aim was a close integration between Sales, Service, and Portfolio Management, which would form the basis for a CRM engagement platform,” Engelbrecht said. “The overall goals were to create an end-to-end digital KUKA experience for the customer, and to use cross-team digital processes to improve internal efficiency.”


Community Cloud serves as a hub for KUKA’s digital world. A central component of this is the KUKA Marketplace, which is already used to provide comprehensive product information for KUKA spare parts, including inventory data, 24/7. Online ordering for customers is being rolled out on a country-by-country basis, starting with Germany and the United States. The ecommerce solution is already used globally internally. “Our colleagues are delighted to be able to find data and images in the user-friendly Community Cloud environment today and are no longer dependent on local solutions,” said Dirk Engelbrecht, Digital Business Manager at KUKA. “We are confident that our customers will soon be able to benefit from this, too, and that they will be eager to hear about the developments we have planned.” The Marketplace, which is connected via an add-on module by Salesforce partner Apttus, pulls in product data from the Salesforce platform via an API. In addition to spare parts, licenses for the KUKA Connect and KUKA Xpert digital products are also available from the Marketplace.


The single sign-on solution is stored using a qualified back-end process. A name and e-mail address are sufficient for registration while the responsible specialist department verifies the registration. “This is crucial for assigning user permissions,” said Tobias Thiel, Salesforce Lead Architect at KUKA. “In addition, Sales and Service receive information about which customers are registered and active in the digital environment, which brings added value.”

Once the smooth back-end process had been developed, planning turned to a continuous, agile implementation process. As Engelbrecht explained, “OneCRM set the first milestone by connecting Sales across the globe, so it was now up to us to further leverage Salesforce to improve internal process efficiency. We always had the aim of optimally serving existing customers while at the same time attracting new ones — there is a knock-on effect.” As such, depending on the customer segment, they had to identify which types of products and services generated the most added value for which target groups.


With the gradual expansion, KUKA’s internal knowledge about its customers is constantly growing — especially through the use of robots, which are distributed to end customers via external system integrators. By registering robots on my.KUKA, the asset database is continuously enhanced, which extends analysis and also service options toward predictive maintenance. There is also constant development in terms of license and user management, with a view to refining the user journeys, which are maintained along with marketing. Salesforce is the key technology player here, too, with its Marketing Cloud — the next major work package to be implemented by the KUKA Group.

A lot has been achieved over the course of 2019. The team is currently working on a dedicated channel for Product Management and for developers, to consolidate their currently decentralised information channels. Digital sales of the first robot families — including necessary configuration — is planned for the Marketplace by the end of the year. “This will be a unique proposition. This type of online robot configuration is not happening anywhere in our industry at the moment,” said Alexander Offergeld, Head of Sales Product Intelligence.


KUKA is an international automation group with approximately 14,200 employees and annual sales of around EUR 3.2 billion. As one of the world’s leading suppliers of intelligent automation solutions, KUKA offers customers everything from a single source: From robots to cells to fully automated systems along with integration into markets such as automotive, electronics, general industry, consumer goods, e-commerce/retail, and healthcare. The company is based in Augsburg. (Last updated: 12/31/2018)

For more information, visit: www.kuka.de


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