Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Business process management and a lot more.

This post is somewhat more practical and longer then you are used to on this weblog. It starts with a description of business process management and it transforms into a post about customer process managment. As you know, business process management (BPM) is a method to identify, to model, to optimize and to manage the internal processes of an organization. It makes organizations more transparent and measurable in performance. Output elements are the key performance indicators (KPIs) such as average turnaround time, customer satisfaction and the number of complaints.

BPM connects various internal departments through workflow management, application integration and process redesign. It enables organizations to operate beyond existing departments and barriers. BPM supports organizations, for example, to be more customer-oriented, which enhances customer satisfaction. Which is great.

Customer satisfaction is an important aspect for organizations. It can lead to customer loyalty and thus it  influences business continuity. High scores in customer satisfaction metrics is the result of well managed coordination between internal business processes and external oriented customer interaction. At that point there are many opportunities for organizations.

External communication is challenging these days. People communicate via multiple channels with each other and their suppliers. They have the possibilities to make phone calls, text messaging, email, to send a letter, fax, fill in a web form or face to face at the counter and all the possibilities that social media provides. The number of channels which customers and organizations use, shall only increase. That is a fact. Customer interaction is therefore a very dynamic, ever-changing and important process.

Customers require high level communication and high-level organizations have sufficient resources and backend systems to meet these wishes. Though for many organizations, the challenge is not to communicate well. With a bit of training everybody knows how to do that. The real challenge is to incorporate customer interaction events. Which means when a customer calls (or sends an email or whatever) because he/she wants to discus something, that "something" must be defined in advance. There should be a process, a script and all relevant information should be made available to the customer service employee.

During the contact event a lot of information is exchanged. The customer tells about "something" (complaint, problem, question) and the CSR respond to this "something". To be able to respond correctly, all relevant customer data should be integrally presented to the CSR. This info comes from various back office systems, databases, ERP and CRM applications. That is challenge number one. The data is already there, but how do you get it to the point where it matters most? Challenge number two is how to get the customers' wishes into the various systems and how to get various employees from different departments to execute this "something".

In the end it's all about meeting customers' expectations. It is all about creating customer satisfaction and positive experiences. There is an interface which can be usefull for this purpose: write everything down, put it in an Excel, start up a workflow in Outlook and send an email to everybody involved. This will work out fine if you receive a few calls a day. Nevertheless most service organizations receive hundreds or thousands calls, emails or letters on a daily basis. Now that is a challenge?

Customer process management (CPM) is an approach that ensures effective communication between the front end of an organization and a correct processing in the back office. CPM makes sure that customer contact events and the subsequent internal workflow processes are executed correctly, fast and properly. CPM software distills all relevant customer data from all back office systems and integrally presents it to front end employees, like the CSR. Who is able to execute tasks correctly, effectively and is well able to generate positive customer experiences. Ain't that something?

CPM is a bit of a new playing field. CPM connects customer interaction events with workflow processes. Already means exist which makes sure multi-channel customer interactions are well managed. There are also approaches that makes sure that workflows are executed well and workloads are effectively managed. Also there are services out there which makes sure you can profit from cross and deep selling or establish great relationships with your customers. CPM is an approach which combines all that. And that is something!

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