October 14th, 2010 by Lauren McKay

Earlier this month, Forrester published a report by analyst Kate Leggett about extending business process management (BPM) to the front office to improve customer service.

She outlines the following problems occurring in many service organizations:

  • Siloed communications which lead to fragmented and sub-par customer communications.
  • “One-size-fits-all” service.
  • Disconnected applications which lead to frustrated employees, “rework,” and wasted time and resources.
  • Non-compliance with established policies.

Applying BPM practices, Leggett writes, can increase efficiency and add a level of consistency to customer interactions. Business rules and process can help a service organization deliver not only consistent communications to their customers–but also personalized ones. It’s all about empowering the right agent with the right information about the customer at the right step in the business flow.

Leggett offers up the following steps for marrying BPM with CRM:

  • Audit the customer service ecosystem: Look at the organization’s various customer service channels and look for differences and places where processes could be standardized.
  • Create a knowledge program: Creating such a program can help an organization maintain feedback and give consistent knowledge to agents and customers.
  • Unify the agent desktop: Make life easy on the service rep so she doesn’t have to navigate through various sites, portals, and applications to retrieve answers for the customer.
  • Add a foundation of business rules and decision support: Best-in-class vendors have integrated customer service and interaction channels to provide common underlying workflows, business rules, and decision support, as well as seamless transition between contact interaction channels, Leggett notes.
  • Incorporate feedback loops. Measure the success of customer service interactions against cost and satisfaction goals, Leggett writes.

She names Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories, KANA Software, Pegasystems, and Sword Ciboodle as process-centric vendors yielding “impressive improvements in customer responsiveness and cost metrics” for their customers.

“This report is exactly in-line with the experiences of our clients – they had Service-Channel spaghetti, wasteful processes and work-leakage between front and back office,” says Paul White, CEO of Americas for Sword Ciboodle. “For some, new channels had brought short term customer satisfaction spikes that quickly receded and added more burden to the increasing cost of service for the VP of Operations.”

White adds one cautionary note from the Ciboodle experience: “Process disciplines need to marry up with the human element to service. Always consistent is not Always good, and the last thing the consumer needs is systemization of corporate ‘procedure’ at every turn.”

In speaking with Gartner Analyst Michael Maoz a few weeks back, he pointed out there’s tremendous potential to add process management to applications beyond IT. The challenge, he says, is convincing business management why they need to be process-centric in the first place.

“People higher up are stumped with the complexity of everything is a process – what does that mean?,” Maoz states. He suggests that organizations move beyond viewing BPM as a heavy-duty IT tool and view it as a way to deliver consistent and dynamic interactions with customers.

I’m having the same conversations internally with my company. By leveraging BPM to increase the efficiency of capturing data you can contribute more information to your CRM system with less effort.

The hardest part about having a CRM system is user adoption, however if you use a BPM workflow to propogate data to the CRM via an existing process, you can increase adoption without the users knowledge.

Comment by Jonathan Dack — — October 14, 2010 @ 4:07 pm

Things take time!

We at ISIS Papyrus proposed a consolidated ECM, CRM, BPM solution since 2001 and since 2005 we do full process and since 2009 we even do BPMN. Only since then analysts would even think about considering us as a BPM product. There is however no process without content and content (=communication) without process you don’t need. There is also no customer relationship without communication=process. Therefore the consolidation (NOT integration) of ECM, BPM and CRM to create a singular, holistic view of the customer is not as abstract as it is made to be!!!

The problem is however how BPMS work today. They do need substantial analysis, implementation IT support and governance to run. That is very negative for customer relationships. Therefore to support customers in a sensible way one has to provide not governance bureaucracy supported agility, but ADAPTIVE PROCESSES. ADAPTIVE means that the change can happen from within the process and not by its outer tools and functions. ACTORS can actually change and shape the process. They are EMPOWERED to create, modify, cancel, reset, reuse or delete task and activity items in a process.

What keeps the process in line? Simple, GOALS! What makes the process efficient? The actors and goal rules. What makes an adaptive process compliant? Boundary rules!

So all in all I do not understand why the combination of CRM and BPM produces such amazement. So how about adding ECM and E20 at the same time. ONE CONSILIDATED CUSTOMER SUPPORT ENVIRONMENT THAT EMPOWERS THE CUSTOMER AND EMPLOYEE. Wow, what a radical idea we had in 2001!!!


Comment by Max J. Pucher - Chief Architect ISIS Papyrus — — October 14, 2010 @ 7:13 pm

You’re touching on a little known method of proper business management that many successful companies have already adopted.

By combining CRM and BPM, you’re combining separate aspects of business management together to help make the business better, simpler, and more efficient as a whole. The reality is, this works with a variety of processes.

Many applications are catching on to this concept. WORKetc combines Project management, CRM, and billing together with other features to help make all of these aspects simpler for a business. Many tasks are made more efficient, some are automated entirely.

Comment by web based CRM — — October 18, 2010 @ 7:04 pm

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