The majority of speakers at this year’s BPI Forum returned to a consistent theme: transparency and rapid insights are essential requirements for modern organizations. In a rapidly changing business environment, where customers are newly empowered by technology of their own, a basic level of customer service is no longer enough. The only organizations that will thrive are those that can consistently deliver experiences that delight customers, over any journey, via any channel, all the time.
Many factors within an organization play a role in customer experience; some are external, beyond the control of individual employees or decision-makers. However, there are dozens (or even hundreds) of internal organizational processes that directly or indirectly impact the way customers experience your business — and each of these processes can be adapted to improve those experiences. Of course, this approach is not always straightforward! In this post I’ll take a quick look at a few of the common challenges, as well as how the right technology can help overcome them.
Organizational pain points
Shifting your focus to what customers (or suppliers, or employees) actually experience when interacting with your organization's processes has to move beyond the basics. An online feedback form and easy access to customer support aren't going to cut it these days! In practice, however, there are a range of challenges that may mean changing the way customers experience your business processes is easier said than done.
These challenges may include:
A lack of collaboration masking optimization opportunities, with decision-makers disconnected from employees interacting with customers ‘on the ground’.
Important decisions are made with low confidence because data is typically outdated and not harmonized.
Legacy IT slows down change because systems are scattered, and adjustments require major projects.
Reacting quickly to customer imperatives is difficult because getting real-time insights from siloed business units is painful or even impossible.
Efficient and effective process transformation overcomes these roadblocks by providing the tools to understand the way a business works, as well as the way it should work, while supporting the collaboration needed to bridge the gap. Process transformation is rarely a linear journey — there are stops and starts, ups and downs, even the occasional dead end.
At the recent BPI Forum, a wide range of SAP and Signavio customers shared their experiences from just about every stage of process transformation, including bringing order to chaos, using process mining to generate real insights, and moving from an IT-led approach to a strategic, business-oriented approach to transformation. But the one thing that united them all? The importance of prioritizing customer experiences.
Connecting “inside out” to “outside in”
Some organizations have worked hard to build a robust process framework, but still find persistent operational inefficiencies, low NPS rates and customers choosing competitors instead. In these cases, the issue may lie with too great a focus on internal changes, without considering the impact of those changes on the customer (or supplier, or employee) journey.
In the same way transformation doesn’t follow a neat path, a customer journey is rarely a gentle arc from a clear beginning to a fixed end point. It’s more like a collection of individual touchpoints, interacting in sometimes counterintuitive ways to create the overall customer experience.
(Check out our BPI Forum panel session with SAP, CanadaLife and BPM&O for a great example of different customers requiring different things from the same process — the story starts about 13min into the video.)
In order to achieve the ideal state of people centricity in a digital world (including for customers, employees and suppliers) organizations need to stitch these touchpoints together into a model that describes how individuals interact with that organization’s operational processes. In doing so, business leaders can go beyond superficial customer impressions, and uncover answers to questions like:
Is a customer or supplier without a complaint really satisfied and happy — or simply not complaining?
Do customers and suppliers really get what they search for? Is that actually what they need and want?
How quickly are our customers and suppliers satisfied? How does that compare to what they expect?
The right technology solutions can help reveal the root cause of bad experiences, and provide the clarity and rationale for decision-makers to pursue more targeted investment in enhancing the customer experience. Understanding these root causes also removes the potential disconnect between process improvements, and the impact of those improvements on the customer experience.
Understanding the customer journey means the links between operational processes and the customer experience become clear. Changing one necessarily changes the other; the secret is to ensure the inside-out perspective is combined with the outside-in, to deliver the transparency and rapid insights every modern business needs.