Organizations continue to be challenged to deliver positive customer experiences that are mutually beneficial and crafted from the customer perspective. Unfortunately many companies just tack on aspects of monitoring customer interactions to existing processes, instead of designing business processes integrated with a customer experience strategy. For many companies, the main focus is still on their own needs, their own problems to be solved by the business process. And frequently when organizations say they are customer-focused, they really mean they are trying to engineer upsells and cross-sells for their own benefit, without necessarily delivering real value to the customer.
For mutual benefit, the focus for all business processes has to shift to customers: to embrace what they want from companies, how they view companies and how they want to work with them. Agile business processes can connect all parts of the enterprise to the individual points and stages of the customer experience journey. Enterprise business processes also map directly to desired business outcomes – which now must align with customer desired outcomes.
Most internal systems in companies should incorporate factors like customerexperience and engagement, rather than functioning solely from a product, service or departmental perspective. Processes play a key role inbringing these factors together to achieve customer focus and relevance. Integration internal to the organization means cross-functional / cross-department teams to envision and implement customer strategies, translated into business processes that holistically connect the enterprise.
To harmonize a customer focus with business strategies and operations, there is serious work to be done:
- Aligning business process integration with the customer leads to creating consistent customer experiences across the enterprise and across communication channels.
- Integration of interaction data with operational data provides a more complete view of the customer in real time.
- Integration of channels leads to understanding of touch points in individual channels as well as cross-channel.
- Individual department and program goals across the enterprise must be also integrated and related to customer experience excellence.
Data, information and intelligence are the fuel for effective business processes that support and promote successful customer experiences and interactions. By considering business processes and business information in parallel to customer-focused strategies and initiatives, business outcomes are likely to improve. Data + process must reflect the customer perspective rather than the internal systems architecture. Data directly related to customer-focused processes is likely to get closer to providing the integrated multi-dimensional view of the customer that most companies seek.
A good many customer interactions or touch points are increasingly fleeting due to the proliferation of digital channels and their use by customers. The opportunity for organizations to meet customer desires and needs is becoming shorter-lived for each interaction, and increasingly difficult to capture, analyze and understand. To keep up, business processes must become a dynamic, intelligent and highly integrated interface for internal and external interactions.
This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I've been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.
About the author: Julie Hunt understands the overlap and convergence of many business processes and software solutions that once were thought of as "separate" – and how this impacts software Vendors and Buyers, as well as the strategies that enterprises implement for how technology supports the business and its customers. Julie shares her takes on the software industry via her blog Highly Competitiveand on Twitter: @juliebhunt For more information: Julie Hunt Consulting – Strategies for B2B Software Solutions: Working from the Customer Perspective