Increasing Business Value From Customer-Centric Business Processes with @AlexPForrester

The last session of the day at Forrester Business Process Forum (and the last for me, since I’m headed home tonight) is Alexander Peters on increasing business value from customer-centric business processes. Looking at a case study from the energy trading and retail sector, he described how the speed of change requires new ways of thinking, and how processes need to become more responsive and cross-functional.

He believes that process discipline – e.g., Lean, Six Sigma, change management and governance/COE – is the critical differentiator, combined with business knowledge and smart technology such as BPM. His focus is definitely on change management, and sees a change approach based on the level of process maturity, beginning with a maturity assessment. Being at a higher process maturity level means that an enterprise has moved from being fragmented, reactive and tech-driven to a more holistic, business-driven approach to BPM. There’s quite a bit of variability in process maturity levels within organizations, with business architecture receiving the lowest maturity score.

It was a bit late in the day (after a somewhat late night) to be using a lot of my brain on governance, but the basic idea is that governance establishes the roles, responsibilities and interactions of the process stakeholders, and the COE provides support to the business operations and projects. Also, apparently, Lean Six Sigma tools are critical to drive improvements at key points of the maturity curve. I’m not sure that there was anything strikingly new in this message; I also had the sense that the “customer-centric” message was overlaid on existing research and presentations that really didn’t have that orientation in the first place, making the titles a bit incongruous in some instances.

Empowering The Customer Through Process Improvement And BPM

Nick Deacon of Nokia Siemens Networks (they do the mobile networks for 65M users, not the phones) gave a presentation on empowering the customer through process improvement and BPM. With the recent acquisition of Motorola networks, they have almost 80,000 employees in 150 countries, with over half of their employees in service areas. Telecom is pretty volatile these days, with telecom, IT and media eco-systems mixing to create a data traffic explosion. This means that the networks needs to be both efficient and resilient while delivering the desired customer experience, so that we can all watch YouTube on our smartphones.

It used to be that you could just make your customer work the way that you needed them to work within your predefined efficient processes; now, however, the customers need more control over the services that they consume. NSN looks as their customer interaction points – much like what we heard from Bill Band this morning on analyzing the customer journey – and focus on improving those interaction points that are the most critical to improving the customer perception.

They are a big SAP customer, but find that they use Appian BPM to fill the gaps that SAP just doesn’t do without major customization, and to bridge between different systems. They’ve implemented BPM in five major business areas with more than 22,000 users. By reusing some components but adapting to each particular business area, they’re able to roll out new systems in a matter of months. They are pushing into social capabilities to facilitate faster decision-making, and mobile platforms to better support remote users.

As Deacon said in his summary, BPM enables them to react quickly to meet business needs and to respond effectively to better serve their customers.

Delivering Exceptional Customer Service at Citigroup

Hosted by Global 360 (now Open Text), Tim Burns of Citigroup Fund Services discussed their customer-centric dynamic case management. As the fund services end of the business, performing transfer agency, trust accounting and fund accounting services, their customers are not end-consumers, but rather fund companies for whom they provide those services. That means that the customer experience equation is a bit different from most of the case studies that we’ve been hearing about so far today, but even more critical since losing a single customer is a huge event for a fund services firm such as this.

Although he’s fairly new to Citi, he’s been working in BPM (from the technology side) in financial services for a number of years, and has seen movement from the old way of doing business – paper-based, manual processes with a lot of disconnects – to the new way, which is flexible and adaptable for each customer through integration, provide skills-based work routing regardless of geographic location, and include audit and compliance.

They’ve implemented Global 360’s dynamic case management as part of varied portfolio of other operations systems, providing visibility into client transactions and enabling collaboration for their knowledge workers. In spite of the focus of the presentation on customer experience, Burns discussed the benefits as mostly around FTE reduction, the ability to handle more work without adding staff, and reduced disaster recovery costs: none of which are related to customer experience. Interestingly, when I first implemented a system very much like this almost 20 years ago at CI Mutual Funds, the focus was on improving their DALBAR rating for customer service (which we did, from #9 to #2 in a year); I’m sure that someone in Citi is looking at numbers like this, although Burns is more focused on implementation efficiencies.

Customer Experience And Business Processes with @waband

I left Progress Revolution behind and headed across town to Forrester’s Business Process Forum for the day, where we’re seeing a strong focus on improving customer experience instead of just improving business processes. In line with that, Bill Band, who covers CRM for Forrester, presented on how business process professionals can help deliver breakthrough customer experiences. As we saw earlier in the keynotes, we’ve moved from the age of manufacturing of 1900-1960, through the age of distribution of 1960-1990, the age of information of 1990-2010, and have entered the age of the customer. Consumers now have too many choices for you to expect them to stay with you if you provide a bad customer experience.

Forrester’s research shows that only 7% of customer experiences are rated as excellent, and Band encouraged us to put customer experience at the heart of any process transformation efforts. He has a bit of a strange view on business process professionals: I have the sense that he thinks we’re all Lean Six Sigma black belts who like to enforce rigid, structured processes. There’s a huge variability between good and bad customer experience, and that difference can result in huge differences in revenue opportunities. He pointed out that customer experience is what the customer perceives, not what you design for them, as they move through stages of discovering, buying, getting support and other steps along the customer journey. Furthermore, that customer journey may happen across multiple channels, for example, as the customer moves from a web order to telephone customer support.

Looking at processes in customer experience, we need to use Lean principles to eliminate waste from the customer viewpoint, not just the company viewpoint. We need to understand the full customer journey and all of the touchpoints that need to be managed, and ensure that the end-to-end customer processes are properly defined and orchestrated. This can lead to businesses reorganizing to eliminate business functional silos in favor of process-focused organizational models. This process-centricity that is starting to emerge in organizations puts more pressure on business process professionals, since we’re expected to be the change agents for customer experience while continuing to improve efficiencies.

Some of the lessons learned for improving your customer experience (CX) IQ:

  • Centralize customer experience governance
  • Create or enhance voice-of-the-customer programs
  • Tap into the voice of the employee
  • Implement customer centric-design processes
  • Measure customer experience consistently across the enterprise
  • Reward customer-centric behavior

It’s important to find and communicate your business case for customer obsession, and understand the customer journey. As process professionals, we have a big role to play in this.

There was a great Q&A – Bill has a great manner of providing thoughtful and informative answers on the fly, obviously based on a lot of practical experience.

Also, be sure to track the conference hashtag, #BPF11, since there’s lots of great activity going on over there.

RPM For Top and Bottom Line Improvement

Dr. Ketabchi, who was CEO of Savvion before the acquisition and is now a chief strategist at Progress, presented a breakout session on using RPM to enable enterprises to improve their top and bottom line. BPM isn’t just about cutting costs and improving quality any more (although those are still important, and expected), it’s also about increasing revenue by taking advantage of opportunities as they arise.

He gave another version of what I saw in Wilner’s presentation on the justification for BPM (explicit business processes leading to agility, visibility and better business understanding of processes) which really drives home that I’m not at a BPM vendor’s conference, I’m at an application development tool vendor’s conference where they are introducing this hot new technology called BPM. This is, of course, the stage that most of the business world is at with respect to BPM understanding; I’m just so used to being in the BPM echo chamber that I rarely hear these messages unless I’m delivering them to a client.

Dr. K pointed out that BPM isn’t enough to increase revenue, although it obviously pained him to say that; business event processing (BEP) and embedded real time analytics are also required. Revenue generating opportunities are always customer-facing and situational, based on time, location, occasion, connection, exceptions and/or actions. This requires understanding the customers’ situations, analyzing those situations, and delivering (or offering) services and products that they need immediately. Sensing and understanding the customers’ situations requires the processing and correlation of events from a variety of sources using BEP, extracting information from the context of those events, and triggering actions and events as a result. In part, it’s about recognizing patterns and exceptions.

He went on to discuss these functionalities in the context of the Progress RPM suite, and some customer examples of using RPM to take advantage of revenue generating opportunities as they arise, such as a mobile phone company pushing offers to their (opted-in) customers based on their location. No real new information here, but showing a realignment of the focus of RPM to be as much about improving the top line as well as the bottom line of business.

Dr. K will be speaking at the Forrester BPM event here in Boston on Thursday, along with Progress customer Reliance Capital.