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VOC Expert: Phil Morin of SAP

This post originally appeared as a podcast on Allegiance Radio.

Before the holidays I posted our Blog Talk Radio interview with VOC Expert, Cole Nussbaumer. As you know, every week or so we bring on experts in the VOC area. to have on our show. This week I’m sharing my interview with Phil Morin, the Vice President of Global Customer Experience at SAP. SAP is Headquartered in Walldorf Germany and is regarded as the market leader in enterprise application software. SAP supports over 183,000 customers worldwide and employs over 55,000 employees in locations throughout the world. Recently, SAP launched their VOC program “SAP Listens.”

sap logoJeff Olsen: Today it’s my pleasure to have as our guest, Phil Morin. Phil is the Vice President of Global Customer Experience at SAP, and we’d like to welcome him to our show.

Phil Moran: Thanks, Jeff.

JO: Phil, could you just give our audience a little background on yourself, your background on your career, kind of how you got started in VOC?

PM: Sure, thanks. It’s a bit of a strange journey. I actually went to Military College in Canada and graduated with a degree in Civil Engineering and spent a large part of my life and career in bricks and mortar – building things. Ten years after graduation, I moved my way into the bits and bytes world, as a customer and then joined SAP and started to serve customers in the SAP space.

JO: How long have you been involved in SAP’s VOC program?

PM: Actually, not long, two years. Early 2011, I was asked to take part in this little gig – as it turned out it’s been an interesting exercise, quite longer than expected, but pretty fun nonetheless.

JO: I’m just curious what the status of the VOC program at SAP was when you took over.

PM: I think we had the right intentions. We had started customer surveys, partner surveys, a few years ago, but I think they basically got a little worn out overtime. The questionnaires became a little long. I think the motivation for the surveys was a little, I think, probably not as well intended as it probably should be. I think it was more about collecting a score, checking off the box and saying, “Well, we’ve done that.” I think the observation was that we could probably do a little better job at listening and following up on the feedback that we were getting from our customers.

JO: As I’ve spoken to a lot of our guests this morning, one of the common themes I keep hearing is getting executive management sold on the VOC program and I wondered if you wouldn’t mind talking to us a little bit about the importance of locating the VOC program as high in the organization as possible. And if you could share some examples where this has helped SAP change its customer experience priority.

PM: Sure. My boss actually works for the CEO, one of the co-CEOs at SAP, and so, by default we were automatically at sort of the highest part of the organization, which was great. As you know getting mind-share in the business is pretty tough these days, there are a lot of competing objectives, but when you get the CEO’s talking about Voice of Customers, customer listening, then all of a sudden what interests my boss, fascinates everyone else.

I think the fact that we’re able to get speaking points by our co-CEO that’s really helped inspire other members of the company to really pay attention to this topic. Without getting that co-CEO sponsorship it would have been a little harder to get mindshare, to get attention, and people to focus on this topic on top of everything else that they have to deal with.

JO: Have you seen how this has affected frontline employees, sponsorships?

PM: I think there’s a tendency now to pay, I guess, pay attention a little bit more now, more than just lip service. I think knowing that this is on the radar of the two most senior people of the company, it’s really helped to solidify the messaging. Because there are so many, there are a lot of messages being sent out there, all well intended, but when you’re able to get on the management agenda of the co-CEOs and on this specific topic of customers success it’s really helped overcome some resistance.

JO: So, on your VOC program, you use NPS?

PM: We do, yes.

JO: In your opinion, how important is it having NPS as a component of the VOC program?

PM: Well, the first thing is, it’s dead simple, it’s so simple to explain. In the past we ended up developing or adopting some convoluted mechanisms of deriving a score based on survey results. The fact that NPS is not built by SAP, it is an industry recognized the methodology, a very simple to segment your respondents into a nice classification of promoters and passers and detractors and non-responders – it’s just helped simplify the conversation. The topic is complicated enough as it is and the last thing we knew is another fifty steps to calculate a score. This is really simple and it’s really helped have a conversation and when we talk about Net Promoter Score and how we segment the customer’s, basically everybody says, “Yeah, I get it. It makes sense.”

JO: Do you have take an active part in training your staff in NPS?

PM: Right, we’ve done some interesting communications and field enablement videos internally and we tried to portray the methodology as something fun, just to reinforce the notion that it’s pretty easy to understand. It’s an ongoing communication’s effort to really spread the word and make people aware of what Net Promoter Score is and what the Net Promoter System is.

JO: In your session this morning, you talked about implementing NPS as similar to pulling off a Band-Aid, would you mind commenting on that?

PM: Yes, sure, I remember growing up and like most kids we always came home after the day scratched and bruised and we got the Band-aid put on and not looking forward to the day when the Band-aid would have to come off. Usually it was either slow and excruciating removal of the Band-aid, or, “look at that honey” and then whack and it’s off. I think that was an interesting metaphor for the program. We could have had a long and prolonged and protracted debates on the merits of one methodology over another, when are we going to go live, when are we going to adopt it. I think by yanking off the Band-aid and not having as much debate as we could have had, I think it’s helped really push the program forward in a quicker fashion without getting really wrapped up around the axle on the merits or advantages of one methodology to another. You know, just take it, let’s move on and execute.

JO: Many of our listeners are new VOC practitioners, people that are just starting to get involved with implementing a new VOC program. I know your experience with SAP is fairly short as far as longevity … if you had a new VOC practitioner, what might you tell them are the two things you learned from your experience? What would you say new practitioners need to address?

PM: I think the first question is really having a serious and honest answer to the question, “Why we’re doing this? Why are we putting in this Voice of Customer program?” Is it just to keep up with the Jones’ or is it to really harvest the benefits that the Net Promoter Research has found, that there’s actual growth tied to high loyalty scores. I think you really have to define and be honest with yourself as to why you’re doing this.

The second one, I guess, is an unwavering focus on your end goal, keep that in your line of sight, don’t waver, don’t be distracted, and everything you do should be about achieving that goal that you’ve defined up front. And the rest I think will fall into place after.

JO: Earlier this morning I was talking to someone about embracing the corporate culture as well. I’m just curious if you’ve seen any of that at SAP, the whole VOC program becomes part of a larger corporate culture, rather than like you said, just checking it off.

PM: Right. I think when you start to humanize it – and someone mentioned at one of the sessions today, that behind these surveys is a person. As long as you humanize it and you say, “You know, behind this six there’s someone who, you know, someone who’s got kids going to college and a mortgage, pressures in his or her own job,” then you can sort of foster this notion of having a conversation. Pick up the phone and talk to this person. It’s all about having a conversation so that at the end of the day they feel, “Okay, I’ve been listened to,” next time the survey comes around I’ll think about it and realize that you’ve done something about it and you’ve listened to me. It is much more than just a score and we try to put a conversation around it.

JO: Excellent, Phil, thank you for your time. I appreciate it.

Once again we’ve had Phil Morin today from SAP. This conversation is available as a podcast up above and on Allegiance Radio. We invite you to tune in to every episode as we discuss advances in the VOC arena and talk with experts in the field. Remember to list us in your favorites to receive updates and invitations to upcoming shows on Blog Talk Radio.

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