Eight Telling Changes in Consumer Attitudes and Behaviors
Factors such as loyalty programs and the use of technology are influencing consumers' decision to stay with or leave their providers.
TIME declared "You" its Person of the Year in 2006. At the time, many observers called it a gimmicky choice, but five years down the road the magazine's shout-out to user-generated Internet content seems right on target. If anything, TIME underestimated the impact users would have on the Internet.
Similarly, the most important person at PegaWorld, the Pegasystems user conference under way in Orlando, is the Customer. Before Pegasystems founder and CEO Alan Trefler took the stage for his opening keynote, the crowd of 1,600 attendees viewed video footage of several Pegasystems clients, all of whom mentioned their desire to better serve the customer.
In a trend I wrote about a few months back, business process management is moving from back-office applications like transaction processing and billing to front-office applications like customer service. Trefler mentioned this theme a number of times, at one point noting that BPM and customer relationship management "share the same DNA."
Many organizations take a service-oriented approach to enterprise architecture to integrate their disparate systems. It's a linchpin of effective BPM. But SOA "is a long way from the customer," Trefler said. What's needed is a "customer-oriented architecture."
Pegasystems is moving in that direction with the latest update to its software, which incorporates analytics capabilities it gained with its 2010 acquisition of Chordiant Software. These capabilities give organizations the ability to predict the "next best action" for improving the customer experience, whether it's resolving a complaint or shooting customers a targeted marketing offer. (I'll have more on the latter point in an upcoming post on a presentation by Pegasystems client Vodafone.)
Pegasystems cleverly scheduled Lester Owens, JPMorgan Chase's managing director and global head of Treasury Service Operations, in the slot immediately following Trefler. Owens echoed one of Trefler's themes, the need to integrate both technology and processes. Organizations that can do this will enjoy enhanced access to information, quicker turnaround times and more consistent customer service, Owens said. Oh, and they'll boost productivity and save money, too.
Another theme mentioned by both men was the need to automate processes when possible. "At the end of the day it's about straight-through processing," Owens said. "The more you can do, the better off you are." Though automation can seem counterintuitive to the more personalized aspects of customer experience, Owen said automation reduces errors and speeds transactions. It also increases transparency and helps concentrate staff in areas where they are most needed.
Automation and standardization helped Chase introduce a follow-the-sun strategy in which transactions occur around the clock in several global centers instead of being confined to a traditional 8- or 10-hour work day. Since doing so, "quality, accuracy and productivity metrics have gone way up," Owen said. That model simply isn't possible without great technology, he said.
(Disclosure: Pegasystems covered the cost of my transportation to PegaWorld, as well as my accommodations. It's also generously providing all the candy bars and soda I can carry from the snack tables set up during breaks between sessions.)