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Digital transformation in sales


The implementation of modern IT solutions has improved the work of Śnieżka’s sales forces, thanks to which several thousand of its customers and business partners can rely on far better service. Read the interview to find out how it has been improved.

What were Śnieżka’s core objectives in digitizing sales and customer service?

The “Change IT” project in these areas was primarily aimed at increasing customer satisfaction while making contact with our company, increasing the comfort of their work when placing orders and after-purchase processes.

We strived for implementing such tools that would allow to provide customers with self-service online, without the need to log on several sites and to interact with Śnieżka’s employees. Self-service understood as access to information and the ability to handle all the most important matters in one place, at any time.

It was equally important to increase the efficiency of business processes and provide the employees of our Customer Service Centre with IT tools enabling them to boost their efficiency in their day-to-day work and relieve them of repetitive activities by automating some of the processes.

Have all the objectives been achieved? What are you particularly proud of?

Yes, we can confidently admit that the operation has been a success. Not only has the transformation increased the comfort of our customers’ work, but also automated some of the internal processes related to their service. We are particularly pleased with the solutions that have improved the operation of our company in the following areas: contact with customers, transaction data management, as well as optimization and automation of internal processes supporting customer service.

Equally important, we have put our knowledge in order. Currently, we have quick access to information on the needs of our business partners, the history of cooperation and, consequently, the ability to provide them with a great deal better support. And we highlight in the era of GDPR: everything must ensure the highest standards of data security.

What exactly does the concept of putting the knowledge in order mean?

It was one of the most important objectives of SAP implementation. Previously, our organization took advantage of many customer bases managed by various departments. In combination with numerous sales channels used by us domestically and abroad, it caused problems in reaching up-to-date and precise information on the specific needs of our customers. Thus, we were motivated to integrate the bases into one. We desired our employees to have easy access to them and to be able to serve our customers more effectively.

How complex was this implementation?

One must picture that we are talking about a group of several thousand B2B customers and individual customers, divided into many segments. They include large retail chains (DIY stores), independent stores, wholesalers with repair products and contractors.

In the first stage, we created a common IT architecture to correctly transfer all data. A simple example proves the scale of the difficulty of this migration: it was necessary to arrange customer addresses depending on the company registration data and delivery addresses. It is extremely important to avoid, for example, problems with the delivery of goods or addresses provided on invoices. Therefore, we had to delve further and decide what about contractors who run their own companies, but sometimes they buy our products as individual customers.

All these, sometimes very detailed, issues must have been addressed at the IT level as well as at the level of both SAP C4C and SAP S/4HANA. We wanted all the processes related to such a huge implementation to be standardized and scalable in the future.

As a result of the implementation, we have created a modern platform for communication with customers. This significantly improved relations with them, as well as the comfort of our employees' work.

Ewa Ciesielska Customer Service Director

What do you mean?

For example, let’s take a look at the Śnieżka Customer Service Centre. Thanks to the digital transformation, currently our employees immediately obtain information on the customer right after making a telephone call with the caller. They precisely know who is calling and what his contacts with the company have looked like so far. Importantly, the Śnieżka salesperson who, for example, desires to get hold of a given customer, possesses exactly the same knowledge about the customer. In the past Śnieżka’s systems did not provide such advanced and unified customer knowledge.

Does it facilitate the employees?

A lot, especially the newly hired ones. Formerly, a newly hired sales rep had to rely solely on the knowledge and support of more experienced colleagues who had information, for example, about customers from a given region.

Now the on-boarding process is way easier – they are able to easily find all vital information in the system, such as contracts with the customer, the history of purchases of the store they represent, possible complaints, etc. Owing to the new solutions, they are well prepared for the meeting.

The digitization process has changed not only processes, but also the role of our employees responsible for customer service. First of all, it relieved them of routine, repetitive activities by shifting their focus to creative operations

And what has the implementation changed in practice from the perspective of Śnieżka’s business partners and customers?

When designing new solutions we analysed the touch points between customers and Śnieżka at various stages of purchase and non-purchase decisions. We also conducted a customer journey survey, i.e. the customer path, during which we identified our customers’ needs and expectations. Consequently, we were capable of responding to their needs more effectively and eliminating the risk of error during the implementation of individual functionalities and systems.

Based on the research and analyses, we have prepared the B2B Customer Service Portal, where our customers can not only place an order and download product documentation together with the price list, but also have access to invoices and credit notes in PDF and XML formats, as well as they can lodge a complaint, report the return of pallets for collection. In addition, they can check the amount of the trade credit limit and the status of settlements, including information about upcoming due payments. Currently, the customers can obtain most of the information by logging in to the portal at any time convenient for them.

How did the new system affect the process of placing and fulfilling orders?

As far as placing orders is concerned, an interesting functionality is the option to impersonate a customer and place an order on their behalf – of course upon obtaining their consent. In this way, we provide remote assistance every time the customer encounters difficulties while placing an order electronically.

Whereas, the key functionality that has improved the fulfilment of orders is the systemic reservation of goods in customer orders loaded into the S/4HANA system. The previous system did not have this feature. In order to reserve the goods for the customer, a warehouseman had to physically release it, which was not always feasible. At the moment, there is no longer a risk of fulfilling an order for products out of stock. Possible order shortage is visible at the planning stage.

It is also worth pointing out the possibility of verification in the S/4HANA system of subsequent stages of order fulfilment using the “document flow” function. Owing to it, it is possible to check quickly whether an outbound delivery was created for the order, whether the transport was “attached”, when the order was issued, when an invoice was generated and whether credit notes were issued.

Has the order settlement and after-sales service process been improved?

Yes. The new system allowed to automate the invoicing process, which is now systematic, several times per day. It is no longer necessary for the customer to wait for their invoice as soon as the employees of the Customer Service Centre commence work. Documents are issued for them by the system. We also have the option of setting up collective or separate invoicing, separately for each order – all in accordance with the customer’s individual preferences.

We have also automated processes in the area of complaints. These reports are handled much more efficiently, and all knowledge in this respect is available on an on-going basis, among others for back office employees of commercial departments and the Customer Service Centre.

A great facilitation is also the implementation of the POS application, i.e. a dedicated tool for handling retail customers of Śnieżka Company Showrooms.

What are the most important advantages of this application?

It allows for faster checkout by reducing the further steps of the process to a minimum. We wanted the application to be as simple and intuitive as possible and also complete all the data automatically. Also, the system allows the store employees to print price labels. By using the POS application the employees can focus on customer service, not the system.

What about winning new customers?

A good example to describe this change is a process called “sales opportunity.” Prior to the implementation of SAP solutions, all stages of wining a new customer was conducted via e-mails. Employee inboxes were full of information on the status of negotiations or subsequent contract editions. This obviously made our work difficult and posed a risk that the case would get stuck somewhere.

Currently, the system provides us with a very clear path to process a given topic, with an explicit assignment of tasks to specific employees or deadlines. This, in turn, allows us to analyse processes in detail to draw conclusions what can be done better in the future.

“Perfect store” is another very advanced project that was implemented during the digital transformation?

Correct. As pioneers in Poland, we have launched an innovative feature which allows us to evaluate the brick-and-mortar store of our trading partner as regards the display of the range of products. Everything is carried out smoothly during the visit of Śnieżka’s representative.

All the sales reps need is a mobile device on which they determine, for example, the equipment of the store with our products or their placement on the shelves. Consequently, the system issues an assessment, which will be essential later to settle, inter alia, our partners in Śnieżka’s loyalty programs. This transparently spurs our partners to better present our brand, care for a better customer experience and, eventually, increase sales.

Another improvement is the process of servicing customers placing orders in B2C e-commerce, which is currently fully automated. Beginning from the automatic registration of customer data, through loading the order into the system, transferring it for fulfilment by automatic establishment of an outbound delivery, to the generation of invoices that are sent to the customer in an electronic version.

The interview was based on an interview with experts from Śnieżka Trade of Colours:

  • Ewa Ciesielska

    Customer Service Director

  • Joanna Mazur-Zwinka

    Insulation Systems Sales for Poland Director