The following is guest post by Julie Hunt, a software professional with a career spanning technical to process, sales and go-to-market strategies. Julie shares her thoughts on the her blog Highly Competitive. Julie runs her own consulting business and lives in San Marcos, Texas.
For those who work directly with business process management, it’s second nature to deconstruct corporate activities and initiatives into the supporting processes, and to assess the health and effectiveness of processes for accomplishing a given task. But many people in the enterprise only see the activities and initiatives and don’t really see the business processes that are essential to make things happen. Initiatives that have a lot of hype attached to them are even harder to envision as a symbiosis of processes, data, people, practices, and business goals – the Customer Experience is one such initiative.
Now don’t get me wrong: The Customer Experience is real and it belongs to The Customer. The role of the enterprise is to do everything it can to make possible the best experiences for most – if not all – customers, by how it interacts with the customer anywhere and everywhere. Customer interactions with most organizations are becoming more and more a multi-channel journey of multiple touch points. Enterprises now must provide a single experience across channels. And the enterprise must manage how well it fulfills the needs and desires of customers based on customer terms – including how well it delivers high quality products and services.
Business processes can become a dynamic, intelligent and highly integrated interface for enterprise interactions internally and externally. BPM can be instrumental for designing and maintaining effective and agile processes that are a sophisticated means to respond well to customer needs, while navigating many complex variables moving from customer to customer. Well-designed and customer-oriented processes make a big difference when integrating touch points for a ‘single view’ of customer interactions.
Purpose and relevance
Instead of functioning solely from a product, service or departmental perspective, most internal systems in companies should add an overarching focus on factors like customer experience and customer success. Processes play a key role in bringing these factors together to achieve the right purpose and relevance. Integration internal to the organization takes cross-functional / cross-department teams to envision and implement customer strategies, translated into business processes that holistically connect the enterprise.
Enterprises that allow separate solution and process silos for each customer channel to persist will greatly impede responsiveness to customers and will add to customer frustration by failing to provide one experience across channels. These enterprises probably did not start with a customer experience strategy and likely developed and/or acquired solutions specific only to individual channels without heeding the need for seamless integration of processes, strategies and vision.
An important aspect of BPM is continuous improvement, something that must happen for enterprises to respond to ever-changing markets and customer desires. To bring about customer-focused continuous change, enterprises need to articulate vision for strategies and initiatives from the customer perspective; and then tie process improvement to customer experience and success (with the company’s products and services). Working with customer data and analyses, enterprises may benefit from analyzing the ‘reverse engineering’ of outcomes expected by different customer segments, and then use insights to define how the enterprise should operate across process, organization, and technology domains to deliver optimal customer experiences and successful outcomes.
Keeping the focus on customer outcomes will help align people, processes, practices, and technology to the continuous changes needed to facilitate optimal customer experiences over time. Neither customer experience excellence nor well-integrated business processes should be after- thoughts for business execution.