BPM Is Key to Proactive CRM

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Seven Deadly Sins of Business Process Management (BPM)

Organizations must be aware of the possible downfalls of implementing a BPM campaign with inadequate focus on end-user adoption.

As useful as business process management has been in helping companies improve and streamline their internal processes, I think it holds even more promise as a way for them to perform the same kind of magic on their customer-facing processes. Lots of experts seem to feel the same way.


A few months ago, I shared some insights from Temkin Group managing partner and Customer Experience Matters blogger Bruce Temkin about a nascent technology he calls customer insight and action (CIA) platforms. While lots of vendors offer products that purport to help companies monitor and manage customer feedback generated via social channels like Twitter and Facebook, Temkin offered three key differences found in CIA: the ability to pull in information from multiple sources including CRM systems and contact center records to provide a more holistic view of customers, the ability to handle both structured and unstructured data, and a focus on generating operational action rather than simply compiling informational reports.


It's no coincidence that many BPM systems possess these capabilities.


Earlier this month, I enjoyed a chat with Stuart Chandler, vice president of the BPM Practice for Virtusa Corporation, an IT services company that provides consulting, technology and outsourcing services, who told me many of his company's clients are expanding their use of BPM and, in particular, are examining how it can help them improve their customer service efforts.


By automating and standardizing customer service processes as much as possible, Chandler told me, companies can add humans to the points in processes where they can yield the biggest benefit. He said:

... Do I have to have 50 people understand how to do a transaction that changes my plane ticket? Maybe I just need to institutionalize the more common piece, make it more customer-facing and then wrap some people around the more unstructured parts.

And companies can really wow customers with proactive service, again enabled by BPM, Chandler said. He noted that cruise lines often dispatch pursers to deal with customer complaints. Unfortunately, he said, the process often isn't much more sophisticated than the purser writing down the problem and contacting the staffers needed to solve it, by say, fixing a broken pipe in a customer's cabin. He said:

... But you know you are going to affect other people around that cabin who might be inconvenienced by the work needed to fix the pipe. So why don't you contact them in a proactive manner and let them know what is going on, maybe offer to comp them something? When you incorporate predictive analytics and adaptive case management into BPM, it gives you the opportunity to be proactive instead of just reactive.

And another example:

If you look at a reservations system and you see a spike in reservations for a particular flight, why wouldn't I want to see what is going on. You might find there is a big conference in the destination city, and you can offer those travelers something special related to the conference. You almost get into cross-selling. Or you can provide concierge-type service, by offering car service to good customers, for example.

Several weeks ago, in a piece for Enterprise Apps Today, Jennifer Schiff shared a list of 10 reasons companies should consider combining BPM and CRM. Many of them involve BPM's abilities to pull information from multiple data sources, to provide some data cleansing, and to generate customer-related rules and alerts. BPM's predictive qualities also get a shout-out. For instance, Marvin Lebold, a partner with Visual Data Group, said using BPM in conjunction with CRM can help companies "see the number of new leads generated or the progress of new products in the pipeline," which will help them better manage and predict their sales growth.