Reading the recent Harvard Business Review article from Tom Davenport et al., it occurred to me that next best offer (NBO) is actually a subset of what my colleague Jim Kobielus calls “next best action” (NBA). And when you couple that predictive thinking with advances in process mining (see Wil van der Aalst’s post and the Process Mining Manifesto), it clearly becomes possible to optimize operations dynamically on the fly. First of all, the organization could mine the existing system (the transaction logs of traditional systems or a newly implemented BPM/CRM system) to identify what happens today. This then enables you to identify the outcomes that are most interesting (or those you want to achieve) and then optimize the NBA accordingly.
We take for granted a process definition where the next action is predetermined by the arc of the process definition. But if we can do NBO in 200 milliseconds, we can also do NBA in a similar time frame. Directed arcs in process models and the business rules that go with them start to become a little redundant. This sort of combination (mining and NBA) enables wide-open goal-oriented optimization for all sorts of processes, not just those related to marketing and cross-sell/upsell ideas.
We all know that the gap between a customer’s expectations and the service they receive is huge. Customers are increasingly knowledgeable about products and demand value-added, personalized service. Businesses struggle with understanding which initiatives will move the needle in a positive direction and are thus worth investing in. Here is the second tip in my 10-part blog series on how to master the service experience.
Step 2: Is your customer service aligned with your company brand?
Meeting the needs of your customers are important. However, it’s just as important to stay true to your brand and design a service experience that supports your value proposition. Customers need to know what your company represents — which is especially important in the message-cluttered social media world that we live in — and have this brand reinforced every time they interact with you during the sales process, and for every interaction after the initial sale.
These companies have aligned their service offering to help reinforce their brand with their customers:
Apple. Its products are high-style and priced at a premium. Apple’s customer service is very much in line with its brand. The firm delivers customer service on the customer’s terms — you can arrange a phone call with an Apple Expert who specializes in your exact question and can talk with them now or later at your convenience. They’ll even call you. You can email Apple or browse its extensive knowledge base.
Development leaders! Project leaders and business analysts! Application and solution architects! Want to move forward on your business technology (BT) journey and be viewed by your business stakeholders as a valuable team member? Take a tip from last week's Forums held in Boston. Embrace Business Process Management (BPM) And Customer Experience. Don't ignore them, embrace them. Why? They're essential to helping you achieve your business outcomes.
I know, I know. You read the above and now think "Gee Kyle, what's next? Going to enlighten me on some new BPM or customer experience management technology that's going to transform my very existence, my company's future?"
Nope. Let me explain....
Last week we hosted more than 250 of your application development and delivery and business process peers in Boston and focused on how to succeed in the new world of customer engagement. The most impactful discussions I heard were the side conversations we held with attendees, sometimes occurring over dinner and cocktails. We didn't discuss technology. We discussed the skills your peers were developing in two fundamental areas:
BPM - no, not the technology but the Lean and Six Sigma based methods, techniques, and tools organizations use to focus on business processes and not functions; to strive for continuous improvement; and to focus on customer value.
Customer experience - defined more eloquently by my peer Harley Manning, but I'll summarize as the methods, techniques, and tools used to understand how customers perceive their interactions with your company.
And I must say I am particularly keen to get into the thick of it this year. We’ve got some really interesting ones coming up; in relatively quick order, I have three different IQPC events (reflecting our growing partnership with IQPC):
Business Process Excellence in Financial Services Exchange in London on September 19 and 20. Here I will be delivering an opening keynote and chairing a panel between BPM heavyweights IBM (Phil Gilbert), EMC (Chris Preston), and Pega (Russell Keziere). That should be really interesting — we’ll have the heads of all things process-related from most of the big banks in Europe in the room. Looking through the delegate list, I can’t wait to meet them all — so much to learn from their experience and insights. Of course, I’ve got my own views, but nothing like testing them with those on the coal face of change.
Then in October I am chairing, keynoting, and running an active research session at the BPM Leaders Meeting in Amsterdam (October 20-21). Again, a really interesting lineup of speakers — a truly pan-European bunch, where we will focus on four major themes over the two days, culminating in a workshop format at the end where all the themed sessions/discussions feed into our active research session. My objective is to create a series of documents/blog posts/discussions that derive from the insights we’ll collectively build at the event.
“Mobile CRM” is a hot topic with my clients. The emergence of ubiquitous high-speed broadband connectivity, smartphones, and tablet devices with enormous computing power and longer battery life, along with increased employee adoption of touchscreen devices in every sphere of life, are all trends that serve to liberate IT from the desktop.
However, the state of mobile CRM solution support is fragmented. While there are platforms and solutions that cater to specific industries, no mobile CRM vendor currently offers out-of-the-box cross-industry functionality. The gap between the functionality available via desktop and mobile CRM applications is far from being bridged. And vendors sometimes adopt a single-device or single operating system (OS) strategy, limiting the range of devices and OSes available to companies.
To help define a path for navigating this complex landscape, I interviewed 25 CRM solution vendors, systems integrators, mobile solutions developers, and user compananies. My findings are summarized in a new report: Best Practices: The Right Way to Implement Mobile CRM.
A guiding principle for getting value out of “mobile” is to look for situations where you can integrate an mobile application into the normal execution of the day-to-day business processes of managers and frontline workers. Here are some additional tips:
Understand the opportunity to improve CRM and drive adoption. For example, will enabling workers to update the CRM system and tasks in real time throughout the day when they’re in the field — rather than doing it once they get back to their desks at the end of the day — make them more productive?
In the midst of all the buzz in the CRM space about “social” and “mobile” CRM spotlighted in my recent reports, I am observing another important trend. There is a convergence of customer relationship management (CRM) and business process management suite (BPMS) solutions to support better customer experiences and deeper customer engagement.
Our research shows that only 10% of companies deliver outstanding customer experiences. The laggards have a choice: They can either continue to whistle while passing the graveyard, or make a bold, sweeping stroke by focusing on deeper engagement with their customers. How? By taking a hard look at business processes that traverse organizational silos, bringing the back office closer to the front office while transforming strategic cross-functional processes.
Customer service managers in particular struggle to balance customer experience and cost: siloed communication channels, impersonal service, and an inability to enforce company processes or meet regulatory compliance negatively affect satisfaction and increase costs.
To resolve this dilemma, there is continued interest in traditional “record-centric” CRM solutions, but I also see more adoption of “process-centric” BPMS solutions. In fact, the characteristics of these two are converging in the latest releases from the respective vendors.
I've always heard great buzz about Austin's South By Southwest Conference (often simply referred to as SXSW). The conference brings together indie film, music, and tech to discuss and collaborate on building the future. The tech side of the conference — SXSW Interactive — is often where up-and-coming tech ventures break major news. In short, SXSW Interactive often serves as a petri dish for testing out new ideas and innovations.
Last week I attended SXSW to zoom in on emerging trends in social and consumer tech that would likely spill over into the business process — and social BPM — world over the next several years. Of the 15-20 keynotes and sessions I attended, three or four really resonated with the overall direction we see for social BPM and social business:
Ironically, while the CRM pundit hysteria about “social CRM” seems to be abating a little bit, many concrete use-cases are emerging that demonstrate the business value of the social web phenomenon. I just published a new report that defines the key characteristics of social CRM and provides examples of how Social Computing technologies expand the possibilities for delivering customer and company value through the key business processes of targeting, acquisition, retention, understanding, and collaboration. Forrester's annual Groundswell Awards provide over 130 examples of how organizations use Social Computing to engage and collaborate with customers in new ways.
Here are some highlights:
Customer targeting. Social media channels such as Twitter and YouTube and communities such as Facebook and Groupon offer new ways to communicate with customers through an Internet community context. And we now see the rising use of community-based market research techniques. For example, Godiva Chocolatier created a private, invitation-only community so Godiva could better understand its chocolate consumers. The community led Godiva to create an affordable product line, individually wrapped chocolates called Gems, and sell them in a new channel — grocery and drug stores. Gems was the biggest global launch ever for Godiva, ringing up $35 million in its first year.
For most of the past year or so, I have been working on a set of research docs in parallel to my inquiry and consulting work at Forrester. And the results are finally becoming available on the Forrester RoleView platform. With seven docs out in the past few weeks, this set should provide a comprehensive guide to Forrester clients setting up and running BPM programs.
As 2010 draws to a close, what are the key trends that customer management process professionals need to pay attention to as you finalize plans for next year?
Here are the top trends that I am tracking. My full report that spotlights our latest research will be published in January.
Trend 1: The Revenue Impact Of Poor Customer Experience Is Recognized
Our models estimate that the revenue impact from a 10 percentage point improvement in a company's performance, as measured by Forrester’s Customer Experience Index Score (CxPi), could be in excess of a billion dollars. Poor performers are particularly weak in being able to orchestrate multichannel interactions.
Trend 2: Business Process Management Extends To The Front Office
By extending business process management (BPM) to the front office functions, customer service organizations will improve the consistency of service delivered, elevate agent efficiency, personalize service, and meet compliance goals — at a cost that makes sense to the business.
Trend 3: The Business Value Of Social Customer Engagement Becomes More Evident
Winners of Forrester’s annual Groundswell Award spotlight how organizations are using Social Computing to innovate, such as: community-based marketing research techniques; engaging with customers through social media; energizing brand advocates; empowering communities to support customer self-service; and collaborating with customers during the product ideation and development process.