Customers appreciate that we have not scaled down support operations during COVID-19. There has actually been an improvement in SLAs and a drop in case resolution times.”

Sandeep Nayar | Director, Customer Support Operations

GEP tackles COVID-19 disruptions for customer global supply chains with Salesforce

GEP is a leading provider of procurement and supply chain software, strategy and managed services. GEP's solutions enable large enterprises to efficiently manage their global procurement, and complex, multi-step, multi-geography supply chains.

The company’s SaaS solution, GEP SMART™ is a unified source-to-pay platform that helps customers manage their end-to-end procurement process, from sourcing to payments. As a business-critical tool, it needs to be up and running 24/7.

GEP’s Customer Support Operations are led by Sandeep Nayar who manages a global, distributed team that works on Salesforce Service Cloud to support customers in 11 languages and ensure that GEP SMART™ is always available.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, each of GEP’s customers faced unique and diverse challenges. A cereal manufacturer, for instance, needed to ramp up its supply chain to meet increased demand. On the other hand, a technology firm saw procurement disruption as suppliers and suppliers’ suppliers were unable to source raw material.

Nayar’s team was able to help both customers through GEP SMART™, one to meet the sudden spike in demand, and the other to find new suppliers.

“We had to make sure that we could support customers and take things forward. There could be no disruption in our offerings or the way customers wanted to use our services,” says Nayar.

It was this single-minded focus on delighting customers by providing them with a consistent and reliable service experience that initially brought GEP to Salesforce.

A focus on building robust systems

GEP implemented Salesforce Service Cloud when the growing customer support team’s scalability was hindered by the existing CRM solution. The earlier solution was a basic one, which did not easily integrate with other systems. Inadequate reporting capabilities, difficulty of configuration, and limited automation capabilities all hampered the team’s efficiency.

Nayar looked for a solution that would provide the kind of robust, omni-channel support GEP SMART™ needed. It would need to be up 24/7, with little or no downtime. It had to offer quick, automated, and high-quality case resolution.

“We were expanding rapidly and wanted a scalable solution that could offer real-time data and analytics. Further, Salesforce is a market leader and we trusted the solution,” says Nayar on the team’s decision to implement Service Cloud.

GEP’s application support agents use the platform to log and resolve cases around daily operational issues. Customers are encouraged to self-serve on the Success Portal – a Customer Community with release notes, downtime announcements, Knowledge Base articles and FAQs. GEP is also using Digital Engagement and encouraging more real-time customer interactions through both live chats and chat bots.

Ownership and empathy help tackle customer pain points

When the pandemic hit, Nayar and his team were faced with three challenges.

They had to rapidly transition to work-from-home, adapting back-end technology as they went. They had to speedily solve customers’ COVID-19 related issues while keeping service levels intact.

And they had to handle first-of-their kind situations. For example, clients needed accelerated solution deployments to manage their COVID-19 supply chain disruptions and meet big swings in demand. And the GEP team oversaw these remotely – even the major implementations of GEP SMART™.

Not surprisingly, these challenges led to a rise in case volumes by 9%.

Service Cloud has helped the team provide customers a non-disruptive experience. Omni-channel service management across email, calls and website provides a single customer view that helps resolve cases quicker. This ensures always-on support for GEP SMART™. Also, customers can quickly self-serve for routine updates and queries, leaving agents free to attend to the more complex requests.

Even working from home to manage complex requests, GEP’s service team has delivered an improvement in SLAs by 5%, and case resolution time has dropped by 23%. The volume of cases resolved in less than four hours remained unchanged.

Nayar says agents are showing strong ownership to solve issues independently, driven by training and enablement. GEP’s ongoing focus on training helps agents stay up-to-date through regular webinars. They also have access to rich Knowledge Base articles and comprehensive documentation on Salesforce. All this has helped ramp up service quality during the crisis.

Most importantly, GEP has instilled in the agents a strong sense of customer empathy. “They are aware of customer pain. Customers are working remotely and dealing with an unprecedented crisis. Agents know that customers are really under pressure to deliver, and timely resolution of issues on our part will help them,” says Nayar.

With this customer-first attitude, customer satisfaction scores have actually seen a slight increase to around 96% during the Covid period.

“We have made sure the experience we provide customers is not disrupted. We have not scaled down our support operations. In fact, we have scaled up. And customers have been appreciative that our support has not been impacted at all,” says Nayar. “We have adapted to the new normal together.”

Helping customers build robust supply chains

Nayar says tackling the COVID-19 challenge has increased confidence levels across the team and the customer base. “There is a sense that we are ready to handle anything,” he says.

Post-COVID-19 improvements for the service function include a greater push towards automation. GEP wants more and more customers to self-serve via Customer Community and chat bots.

Challenges also pave the way for opportunity. In readiness for the economic crisis that may follow the pandemic, many customers are accelerating implementations and of GEP solutions. The GEP Customer Support Operations team is well-placed to deal with increases in service requests this could bring.

COVID-19 has also shown how exposed modern supply chains are to disruptions. Global companies are now working on long-term strategies to build greater resilience, flexibility and real-time transparency in their supply chains to minimise risk, control costs and see around corners going forward.

To help them meet this objective, “we will continue to listen closely to our customers and provide solutions that meet their needs, today and tomorrow,” says Nayar. “We plan to use Salesforce analytics and the solution’s AI capabilities to help provide even greater transparency with our customer support.

“In our industry, building optimised processes is a significant competitive advantage, and we offer both our customers and ourselves this advantage.”


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