Introduction to SAP C/4HANA aka Customer Experience Solution

More people have started to shop online in recent years as customers have been spoilt for choices like same-day delivery, click & collect, free shipping, and free returns. They can make purchases using mobile phones and receive customer support via social media channels. As a result, access to customer data is very important for businesses nowadays. The better the data, the easier for businesses to make crucial decisions and provide better customer support to their customers.

This need to compete in a dynamic, increasingly interconnected world has led to the explosive surge the CRM industry has witnessed over the past several years. There are a plethora of CRM products out there in the market today. Out of them, there are big five vendors that dominate the market share, and they are Salesforce, SAP, Oracle, Adobe and Microsoft.

If you would like to learn about SAP’s on-premise CRM application, please check out my blog “What is SAP CRM?

Now let’s chat about SAP’s (mostly) cloud-based, the latest set of CRM solution called SAP C/4HANA. SAP has started calling it Customer Experience Solutions recently.

What is C/4HANA? or SAP Customer Experience Solutions?

SAP C/4HANA, also known as Customer Experience Solutions, consists of various products for marketing, sales, and customer relationship management. In recent years, SAP acquired different companies that offered CRM products like Hybris, Gigya, Callidus Cloud, and Coresystems. It has also got its own CRM products like C4C (Cloud for Customer) and S/4HANA Public Marketing Cloud and they have all gone under all sorts of guises.

SAP believed it is time to form one integrated solution under one new name and that’s how C/4HANA was formed. Launched in 2018, C/4HANA is basically a new branding of existing solutions from SAP’s recently acquired enterprises.

SAP C/4HANA Solution Portfolio – Image source: SAP

C/4HANA consists of five different cloud applications. They are SAP Commerce Cloud, SAP Sales Cloud, SAP Service Cloud, SAP Marketing Cloud and SAP Customer Data Cloud. SAP claims their customer experience portfolio covers every step in the process of a customer journey, from the first contact a customer has with a company through to when they choose to buy from it and goes beyond that by providing great customer support with an intention to keep them as a customer for life.

Now let’s take a look at the different products included in the C/4HANA set of solutions.

What is SAP Commerce Cloud?

It is based on what was previously known as SAP Hybris Commerce. It is available as both cloud and on-premise model. It is an omnichannel, e-commerce solution that enables organisations to ease the buying process of their customers by offering the best possible functionalities – from search to sales.

SAP Commerce Cloud – Image source: OpenSAP

Below are some of the core capabilities of SAP Commerce Cloud:

  • Omnichannel commerce – SAP Commerce Cloud offers functionalities that have the ability to monitor and track customers throughout multiple touchpoints. Hence providing an omnichannel, responsive storefront that promotes consistency across all devices, tailored promotions and recommendations to increase customer engagement and sales.
  • Product content management – As you can imagine an e-commerce store may contain multiple products. Commerce cloud offers centralised product content management functionalities through which the users can bulk-edit, bulk-publish, bulk upload multiple products, categorise them based on diverse attributes, saving time and ensuring consistency.
  • Order management – Customers can order or return products through multiple channels and everything will be monitored and recorded accordingly. This process helps companies to get a single view of inventory, shipping and return that helps them provide a better customer experience.
  • Industry-specific features – SAP Commerce Cloud provides out-of-the-box, industry-specific add-ons designed to meet the requirements of certain industries. They are called accelerators which are basically a set of business processes specifically designed for companies that belong to a particular industry. Examples of accelerators are the financial service accelerator, the travel accelerator, the citizen engagement accelerator, the telco&media accelerator, etc.

SAP Commerce Cloud also provides website editing tools based on drag&drop functionalities. Users can easily change the look and feel of a website using these tools and don’t require extensive web development knowledge to redesign.

What is SAP Marketing Cloud?

Before the technological era, marketing was not targeted. A product or service was marketed widely to pretty much everyone instead of a specific set of the target audience. As technology has advanced, we have plenty of tools like SAP Marketing Cloud that can help companies perform targeted marketing.

SAP Marketing Cloud is based on what was previously called SAP Hybris Marketing. It is available as both an on-premise and cloud model.

Marketing Survey Result – Image source:

It provides a 360 view of the customer including their intention, motives, and needs. The SAP Marketing Cloud uses this data to constantly update an all-round profile for existing as well as potential customers. This includes data on the past buying behaviour of individual customers, forecasts of possible future buying behaviour as well as focused interests. The solution records how and where the customer moves, which websites and apps they are using, and whether they are more likely to contact a call centre or sales personnel.

Key features of SAP Marketing Cloud:

  • Dynamic customer profiling – Identify, capture, and enrich customer profiles across all sources in a single view to gain insights into customers’ real-time intents.
  • Marketing planning & performance – Collaborate across teams and provide transparency into marketing plans, budgets, and performance in real-time.
  • Audiences, Campaigns, and Journeys – Target and orchestrate cross-channel engagements accurately to deliver the personalised experiences customers expect.
  • Lead and Account-Based Marketing – Generate, nurture, and convert leads into revenue with close collaboration between sales and marketing.
  • Marketing Analytics – Understand marketing performance and the drivers to business success.

What is SAP Service Cloud?

Throughout this blog, we have been discussing the effects of technological advancements in e-commerce. Which have enabled the customers to use multiple channels to interact with the brands. Customer satisfaction is important more than ever. Statistics show that customers do not return to purchase with a store or business that does not provide a satisfactory level of customer support. However, keeping an eye on the numerous communication channels and versatile customer information is an ever-increasing challenge for service employees.

SAP Service Cloud Screen – Image source:

Service agents require a highly advanced digital service solution like SAP Service Cloud that can support them in a better way. SAP Service Cloud is made up of multiple SAP solutions like SAP Hybris Cloud for Service, SAP Customer Engagement Centre and Field Management Technology by Core Systems.

SAP Service Cloud is far more than a ticketing system or a call centre application. It provides effective knowledge management as all customer data is available for all departments on one single platform. Service employees work in a networked way and always use up-to-date data. This enables service analyses in real-time that are available on clear dashboards. They provide information on essential KPIs and employees in charge of service to get a comprehensive overview of their team’s performance.

Key features of SAP Service Cloud:

  • Omnichannel service – It provides an ability for service agents to manage all service inquiries in the same interface for a consistent experience.
  • Intelligent ticket Management – Service tickets can be created manually or automatically triggered by inbound email messages, chat or SMS. It also includes functionalities like automated ticket categorization and automated solution recommendation, based on Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning technologies.
  • Analytics & experience management – Service cloud consists of inbuilt analytics and experience management solution based on Qualtrics. Analytics functionalities offer to track service performance, real-time analytics on agent workload, ticket completion rate, SLA’s and other relevant metrics. Whereas using experience management, you can understand the root cause of customer satisfaction or dissatisfaction.
  • Learning & knowledge management – It offers learning tools that can be used to keep the service agents updated with personal learning and ad hoc training.
  • Integration – SAP Service Cloud can be seamlessly integrated with other SAP and non-SAP solutions like ERP, S/4HANA, Commerce Cloud, and Marketing cloud to understand multiple touchpoints and improve customer experience.

What is SAP Sales Cloud?

SAP Sales Cloud brings together what was SAP Hybris Cloud for Sales, SAP Subscription Billing, and CallidusCloud to help organizations connect and guide customers throughout their buying journey.

It offers a comprehensive and seamless user experience to help businesses fully engage with their customers in real-time. With the SAP Sales Cloud, businesses can quickly turn valuable insights into effective action. Moreover, the solution can help nurture their customer relationships to give them the best chance of converting their leads.

It has got some advanced features that you expect in a modern sales force automation solution. They are:

  • Account, Lead and Opportunity Management – It is easy to manage customer accounts using SAP Sales Cloud as it provides each sales representative with a 360 view of the customer and key contacts as well as gives a comprehensive view on engagement history, service history, and transaction history. It also offers functionalities like intelligent scoring & routing to ensure that the best lads are going to the best sales representatives.
  • Sales Order Management – As the Sales Cloud can integrate with SAP ERP and S/4HANA, the product pricing and inventory information can be accessed in real-time. The solution also has leading capabilities for product configuration, bundling, intelligent product, margin guidance, and compelling proposing generation.
  • Mobile Experience – SAP Sales Cloud offers a responsive user interface, that enables a consistent user experience across multiple devices like laptops, tablets, and mobile phones. Furthermore, the mobile application provides offline support so that the sales representative in the field can engage with customers even when there is no network signal available.
  • Predictive Analytics & Machine Learning – SAP Sales Cloud helps businesses to establish scoring for leads and opportunities based on various factors. They are automated using predictive analytics and machine learning technologies. It also provides embedded analytics and dashboards which helps sales managers to drill down and get as much information as possible regarding sales, opportunities and a customer.
  • Collaboration & Productivity – Collaboration with social media channels is possible using SAP Sales Cloud. The in-build features such as feeds, allow sales representatives to get news feeds about the accounts or leads that they are interested in. To make sales representatives’ lives easier, SAP Sales Cloud can integrate with productivity applications like MS Outlook, Google Gmail, and Lotus Notes (not sure who uses Lotus Notes in this day and age 🙂 )

What is SAP Customer Data Cloud?

SAP Customer Data Cloud is the platform that holds customer data that can be accessed by other C/4HANA solutions. This is based on a Customer Identity Management solution offered by Gigya which was acquired by SAP in 2017. It offers functionalities that gather data of both known and unknown visitors to a company’s website. This data is then used to gain insights about a particular customer on the kinds of products and services he/she is interested in, inquired about, or searched for. So that the company can ensure a proactive engagement with the customer and as well as deliver targeted advertisement and promotion campaigns. It also assists companies in ensuring GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation, privacy law passed by the European Union).

Let’s take a look at one of the use case example provided by an SAP C/4HANA expert, Andreas Schmitz.

“Let’s say a new customer has just registered on a B2C portal. That’s really easy on the new SAP Customer Data Cloud because if the customer has a social media profile, with just one click they are registered and a central customer profile is created. Every subsequent click on the website, every product the customer looks at, and every newsletter article they read are recorded in their personal history. This results in a dynamic customer profile to which data is added all the time, ultimately creating a “golden record.” In real-time, the Webshop learns which categories, styles, and colours the user has clicked most and personalizes the content for the SAP Commerce page, for instance, when the customers’ logs on the next time, or for marketing newsletters.

The process is very similar in the business-to-business segment. Using the same approach, a bathroom appliance manufacturer would learn the wholesaler’s preferences so that they could offer them the right products and information — everything from flyers to product launch announcements. The SAP Customer Experience portfolio also builds up a record of the wholesaler that can be used to offer the right price and identify up-selling opportunities.”

SAP Customer Data Cloud contains multiple sub-solutions like:

  • Customer Data Foundation
  • Customer Identity and Access Management
  • Partner Lifecycle Management
  • Consent and Preference Management

These solutions help companies to build trusted and valued relationships with their customers. Essentially turning unknown online website visitors into known, loyal customers.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Is C/4HANA one product?

No. SAP C/4HANA is an integrated suite of five different CRM offerings offered both in the Cloud and On-premise model. These are five separate but well-connected solutions under the SAP C/4HANA offering.

Do i have to use all the five solutions available in C/4HANA?

No. Depending on the requirement, customers can use any single solution as standalone or in any combination with other solutions.

What is the main difference between C/4HANA and SAP CRM?

SAP CRM is an on-premise only product that contains functions for sales, customer service, and a little bit of marketing. It concentrates on the call centre-oriented customer service functions which were launched about two decades ago. Whereas C/4HANA contains the latest CRM solutions that are built using advanced technologies like Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence. It can be deployed in the cloud and when deployed in combination, it can be highly integrated not just from a technical perspective but also from an end to end business process perspective.

Can i host C/4HANA solutions on-premise?

It depends on the solution being used.

  • SAP Sales Cloud, Service Cloud and Customer Data Cloud are available on public cloud only
  • SAP Commerce Cloud is available on private cloud and can also be deployed on-premise
  • SAP Marketing Cloud can be deployed as private cloud, public cloud and on-premise

Does C/4HANA require an S/4HANA system to operate?

No. It can be deployed as a standalone solution or can be integrated with SAP ECC as well.

How is C/4HANA different from S/4HANA for Customer Management?

SAP S/4HANA for Customer Management is an add-on to the SAP S/4HANA system as an on-premise solution for Sales, Service, and Interaction Center processes. This is intended for customers with limited CRM with low TCO as no middleware is required for this solution. It does not have marketing or commerce functionality. SAP C/4HANA is SAP’s full CRM cloud offering that integrates both front-end as well as back end functions to provide a 360-degree customer view.

What is the role of Qualtrics in C/4HANA?

Qualtrics is the experience management (XM) platform acquired by SAP. Experience management monitors each interaction of a customer with a company and processes that data to improve future interactions with the customer. SAP Qualtrics Experience Management combines experience data (X-data) and operational data(O-data) and uses AI and machine learning to help close experience gaps and drive improvement in customer experiences. An example in marketing/sales cloud – Survey responses received from customers for an email campaign executed in Sales or Marketing Cloud can be scored using Qualtrics NPS (Net Promoter Score) software to identify hot leads.

If you have made this far, thank you very much. Would appreciate if you can leave a comment and let me know your thoughts 🙂

P.S. Check out my course on Udemy – “Introduction to SAP – The Complete Package for Beginners