Friday Nov 30, 2012

Finding it Hard to Deliver Right Customer Experience: Think BPM!

Our relationship with our customers is not a just a single interaction and we should not treat it like one. A customer’s relationship with a vendor is like a journey which starts way before customer makes a purchase and lasts long after that. The journey may start with customer researching a product that may lead to the eventual purchase and may continue with support or service needs for the product. A typical customer journey can be represented as shown below:

As you may notice, customers tend to use multiple channels to interact with a company throughout their journey.  They also expect that they should get consistent experience, no matter what interaction channel they may choose. Customers do not like to repeat the information they have already provided and expect companies to remember their preferences, and offer them relevant products and services.

If the company fails to meet this expectation, customers not only will abandon the purchase and go to the competitor but may also influence others’ purchase decision. Gone are the days when word of mouth was the only medium, and the customer could influence “Six” others. This is the age of social media and customer’s good or bad experience, especially bad get highly amplified and may influence hundreds of others.

Challenges that face B2C companies today include:

Delivering consistent experience: The reason that delivering consistent experience is challenging is due to fragmented data, disjointed systems and siloed multichannel interactions. Customers tend to get different service quality if they use web vs. phone vs. store. They get different responses from different service agents or get inconsistent answers if they call sales vs. service group in the company. Such inconsistent experiences result in lower customer satisfaction or NPS (net promoter score) numbers.

Increasing Revenue: To stay competitive companies frequently introduce new products and services. Delay in launching such offerings has a significant impact on revenue realization. In addition to new product revenue, there are multiple opportunities to up-sell and cross-sell that impact bottom line. If companies are not able to identify such opportunities, bring a product to market quickly, or not offer the right product to the right customer at the right time, significant loss of revenue may occur.

Ensuring Compliance: Companies must be compliant to ever changing regulations, these could be about Know Your Customer (KYC), Export/Import regulations, or taxation policies. In addition to government agencies, companies also need to comply with the SLA that they have committed to their customers. Lapse in meeting any of these requirements may lead to serious fines, penalties and loss in business. Companies have to make sure that they are in compliance will all such regulations and SLA commitments, at any given time.

With the advent of social networks and mobile technology, companies not only need to focus on process efficiency but also on customer engagement. Improving engagement means delivering the customer experience as the customer is expecting and interacting with the customer at right time using right channel. Customers expect to be able to contact you via any channel of their choice (web, email, chat, mobile, social media), purchase via any viable channel (web, phone, store, mobile). Customers expect companies to understand their particular needs and remember their preferences on repeated visits. To deliver such an integrated, consistent, and contextual experience, power of BPM in must.

Your company may be organized in departments like Marketing, Sales, Service. You may hold prospect data in SFA, order information in ERP, customer issues in CRM. However, the experience delivered to the customer must not be constrained by your system legacy. BPM helps in designing the right experience for the right customer and integrates all the underlining channels, systems, applications to make sure right information will be delivered to the right knowledge worker or to the customer every single time.



Orchestrating information across all systems (MDM, CRM, ERP), departments (commerce, merchandising, marketing service) and channels (Email, phone, web, social)  is the key, and that’s what BPM delivers.

In addition to orchestrating systems and channels for consistency, BPM also provides an ability for analysis and decision management. By using data from historical transactions, social media and from other systems, users can determine the customer preferences, customer value, and churn propensity. This information, in the context, is then used while making a decision at a process step. Working with real-time decision management system can also suggest right up-sell or cross-sell offers, discounts or next-best-action steps for a particular customer.

Timely action on customer issues or request is also a key tenet of a good customer experience. BPM’s complex event processing capabilities help companies to take proactive actions before issues get escalated. BPM system can be designed to listen to a certain event patters then deduce from those customer situations (credit card stolen, baggage lost, change of address) and do a triage before situation goes out of control. If such a situation arises you can send alerts to right people or immediately invoke corrective actions.

Last but not least one of BPM’s key values is to drive continuous improvement. Learning about customers past experiences, interactions and social conversations, provide valuable insight. Such insight can be used to improve products, customer facing processes, and customer experience. You may take these insights as an input to design better more efficient and customer friendly sales, contact center or self-service processes.

If customer experience is important for your business, make sure you have incorporated BPM as a part of your strategy to design, orchestrate and improve your customer facing processes.

Wednesday Sep 26, 2012

Customer Experience and BPM – From Efficiency to Engagement

Over the last few years, focus of BPM has been mainly to improve the businesses efficiency. To create more efficient processes, to remove bottlenecks, to automate processes. That still holds true and why not? Isn’t BPM all about continuous improvement?

BPM facilitates and requires business and IT collaboration. But business also requires working with customer. Do we not want to get close to and collaborate with our customers? This is where Social BPM takes BPM a step further. It not only allows people within an organization to collaborate to design exceptional processes, not only lets them collaborate on resolving a case but also let them engage with the customers.

Engaging with customer means, first of all, connecting with them on their terms and turf. Take a new account opening process. Can a customer call you and initiate the process? Can a customer email you, or go to the website and initiate the process? Can they tweet you and initiate the process? Can they check the status of process via any channel they like? Can they take a picture of damaged package delivery and kick-off a returns process from their mobile device, with GIS data?

Yes, these are various aspects to consider during process design if the goal is better customer experience and engagement. Of course, we want to be efficient and agile, but the focus here needs to be the customer.

Now when the customer is tweeting about your products, posting on Facebook and Yelp about their experience with your company (and your process), you need to seek out that information. You need to gather and analyze the customer’s feedback on the social media and use that information to improve the processes and products. This is an excellent source of product and process ideation.

So BPM is no longer only about improving back-office process efficiency, it is moving into a new and exciting phase of improving frontline customer facing processes, customer experience and engagement.

Let me know how you think BPM can enhance customer experience.


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