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Standardized and Automatic are not the same as Efficient and Consistent

Modern customers (aka Social Customer or 21st Century Customer) are demanding, multi-channel and empowered. Your customers, being modern, expect each experience to be positive, efficient and valuable. Finally, there is the desire that the brand experience will be consistent across the different points of interaction. That said, ‘consistent’ should not be confused with “the same” or “standardized” experience. When a customer logs onto a website via their mobile; a 2 inch by 4 inch form factor screen, there is no expectation that the experience will be the same as when this same customer logs on via their 27 inch iMac.

Expectations are funny though, because what the customer expects to accomplish ( their job to be done) is similar across channels, but again, not often the same. Every business needs to reconcile jobs to be done, customer experience and customer service. Put simply, there is an objective which your customer is seeking to achieve, information to be found or a purchase to be made. Applying business rules and considered processes in front of customer interactions can increase efficiency and add a level of required consistency to each interaction.  Specific to customer service, business ruless and process can help a service organization deliver not only consistent communications to their customers, but also personalized ones. The name of the game (if it is a game) is to empower the each agent with the right information, at the right time, in context. In this era, the “360 degree view” might be too much.

Worlds Colliding

In the context of this short article, Business Process Management (BPM) is to be taken at face value.  It is simply what it sounds like; how a business manages processes. Things like how an order happens or how a return happens. When those simple examples are given, you might think about policies and procedures, Visio workflow diagrams and rules engines.  Of course, from a back-office perspective these kinds of activities need to be reproducible and standardized.  But, this view also conjures up visions of command and control and rigidity. Automation might solve your problems, but it may or may not solve your customers problems. Add the modern customer to this discussion; the result is that command and control will not work, it just won’t.  Where is the balance (your balance) between flexibility and effectiveness?

In doing a bit of research, I like some of the thinking being done over at Forrester. In bringing the worlds together, Derek Miers begins to talk about business process as practices, not only a set of procedures. If you consider layers of an organization, the further back you go, the more rigid (procedural) the process needs to be. As you move closer towards the top, the customer side (communication channels), more flexibility is required as processes “are goal-centric and guided, rather than controlling”. Put this together with work that Kate Leggett is doing, with a strong focus on customer service and service experience:

“Companies need to queue, route, and work on every interaction over all communication channels in the same manner, following the company business processes that uphold its brand”.

Bringing it together

The future of exceptional experiences, both in customer service and more general brand interactions is about integrating the data, process and carefully considering and respecting your customer’s time as well as needs. Creating a more effective process is about the efficiency required by your customer, not your back-office team. Creating consistent experiences means that data and information access across and between channels meets the expectations of your customers and makes sense. From a customer service perspective, customer service needs to evolve

The parts of the organization that are positioned to support these customers need to be part of the development process (design and implementation) of the business process practice areas. Where possible policies and procedures need to evolve into practices and ‘doing the right thing’. Sharing a final thought: Traditionally, CRM has been data and record centric. More modern systems and practices are pushing towards process centric CRM. Actually, the right answer is the combination of data-centricity and process-centricity; it is called Customer Centricity.

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