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We are in what Forrester calls, "The Age of the Customer." So for an enterprise to become customer-centric, does it require a major redesign of their business processes?
Thursday, April 03 2014, 09:56 AM
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  • Accepted Answer

    Thursday, April 03 2014, 10:18 AM - #Permalink
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    As long as I know, there always has been a focus on customers. The tricky part is to maintain quality when work gets transferred, delegated, outsourced or when individual work patterns change. Managing processes explicit creates clarity around the interactions and results for the customer. For those organizations it's easier to detect changes that impact the quality delivered to customers.
    • Patrick Lujan
      more than a month ago
      What Tom said. When has there ever not been a focus on customers? If there wasn't, hasn't been, I don't believe you'd find anyone saying that out loud beyond an analyst trying to (re-)create a an issue or "wave" that doesn't exit.
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  • Accepted Answer

    Thursday, April 03 2014, 10:20 AM - #Permalink
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    Yes. First of all process design must be tightly linked to the customer journey in order for it to become customer centric. Secondly case management is a customer experience technology and truly customer centric business processes must have case management capabilities built in.
    • Patrick Lujan
      more than a month ago
      Really? Since when is case management a "customer experience technology" and BPM is not. That statement and that "truly customer centric business processes *must* have case management capabilities built in" are opinion (not fact) both.

      It is interesting and amusing to me both that despite the BPM community itself's efforts to agree upon a definition of what constitutes BPM, the case management community - regardless of whether it's "adaptive,' "dynamic" or "advanced" - are unanimous in their statements that ACM can do it better and does everything that BPM does not.
    • Peter Whibley
      more than a month ago
      Apologies for making you angry Patrick. Case management is a customer experience technology as it simultaneously focuses on both the needs of the customer, for process adaptability and flexibility and the needs of the process participant for empowerment and decision making support. Customers are an unpredictable bunch and forcing them into rigid inflexible business processes is unlikely to be conducive to a great customer experience.
    • Patrick Lujan
      more than a month ago
      You didn't make me angry, your statements amused me as they're the usual case management Kool-Aid. This question and its respondents' answers are not truly about BPM, they are and should be about solving the client's, customer's problem, giving them a solution that does what they want and need, and that has always been the case. Or should be anyway.
    • Peter Whibley
      more than a month ago
      What if you aren't sure or can't predict what the customer's problem is? Do you just hope for the best?
    • Patrick Lujan
      more than a month ago
      Always been my understanding that one of the prime differentiating factors between BPM and workflow is "continuous process improvement." Looking at the metrics coming off the system, asking the customer, the user, using analytics to decide can it be done better and, if so, how to do that and continually refining, improving said same.

      And, again, for the record, there's nothing an ACM platform can do quicker, easier or better that I can't do with decisioning within the BPM engine, subject to the rules being managed by the user. As it should be. It Is their process(es) and they know it best, no?

      The structured versus unstructured debate, that horse has been flogged a thousand times or two too many now methinks.
    • Peter Whibley
      more than a month ago
      From a cuustomer experience perspective theres a big difference between continuous process improvement and real time or in flight process change.
    • Patrick Lujan
      more than a month ago
      That's called "Multiple Instances without a Priori Run-Time Knowledge." Or in day-to-day parlance, "ad hoc" workflow. That one's been around a while and accounted for too.
    • Peter Whibley
      more than a month ago
      I can play football however that doesn't mean I'm as good as Lionel Messi.
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  • Accepted Answer

    Thursday, April 03 2014, 10:51 AM - #Permalink
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    No. "Customer centric" is, should be a prerequisite for BPM or any other solution for that matter. Or at least it should be. To suggest otherwise for purposes of creating a "wave" is disingenuous at best, if not outright duplicitous.
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  • Accepted Answer

    Thursday, April 03 2014, 11:30 AM - #Permalink
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    No. Just amalgamate: 1) enterprise as a system of processes (http://improving-bpm-systems.blogspot.ch/2014/03/enterprise-as-system-of-processes.html) and 2) customer experience as a process (http://improving-bpm-systems.blogspot.ch/2013/06/practical-process-patterns-cxaap.html ) Thanks, AS
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  • Accepted Answer

    Thursday, April 03 2014, 11:33 AM - #Permalink
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    Redesign or not depends where the business stands on processes today. But I really do not get it that the process management community is so removed from reality. Everyone who in the slightest deals with customers learns that the one thing that customers hate is to be forced into a process that does not fit their special situation. Now the hitch is that the customer feels that his situation is ALWAYS special. And if it isn't he will make it so. Not because they are difficult on purpose but because they are HUMAN! They want to be accepted as special and not generalized. Can you imagine that you walk out of a store and say: 'I am really glad they did not make me feel special, but the classified me perfectly as being the same as 2 million other customers.' Even if they did ... you want to feel special, which is why we have sold Customer Communication Management that produces letters that read as if they were written by a person. And it goes wrong often enough because of the automated generalization. So the one thing that you need to do to be customer-centric and to improve the customer experience is to remove ALL RIGID PROCESSES from customer interaction. It does not matter if these are IT supported or not. The illlusion is that service staff forced into a process perform better than staff that cares about the outcome. Not so, unless we talk about serving burgers at the McDonalds counter. If you have staff that does not care about the outcome that is what you need to solve and not your processes. Yes, processes should be defined ... but through goals and outcomes and the staff must have the authority to fulfill them. That will ensure customer satisfaction. Even the most perfectly designed process flow NEVER will.
    • Patrick Lujan
      more than a month ago
      "But I really do not get it that the process management community is so removed from reality" Really? No, really?! Coming from the "workflow" world long before somebody came up with the "BPM" TLA and still in that world to this day IT for me, for pretty much everyone I've ever ran in to has been, regardless of methodology, technology or tools, at a high level has been - to the customer, the user - "what" do you need to do? Then designing a solution with said same technology and tools subject to the chosen project management, implementation, tool methodology.

      Love those wide-area net, carpet-bombing aspersions, keep 'em coming.
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  • Accepted Answer

    Thursday, April 03 2014, 11:46 AM - #Permalink
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    2 votes
    If an organization hasn't been customer-centric since it was formed then its been doing it wrong. Why we wait for analyst firms to define a new era for the penny to drop is beyond me. Processes don't need to be classed as "outside-in" or anything else book-worthy, if your business is in the business of taking care of the customer that keeps you in business then you have nothing to worry about. And don't ignore the employee either. They're as much an important part of being customer-centric as placing the customer in the middle of it all.
    • E Scott Menter
      more than a month ago
      Well, I think Forrester's point (which, for a refreshing change, I agree with) is not that companies have been neglecting their customers until now. Rather, customers simply have much more power than they have had in the past. They research you (and your competitors) before they ever talk to you. A single customer tweet can undo a multi-million dollar marketing campaign. Etc.
    • Patrick Lujan
      more than a month ago
      "Bingo" on the employee side part, yep.
    • Patrick Lujan
      more than a month ago
      A single corporate tweet maybe, might undo a multi-million dollar marketing campaign. A single customer tweet? Doubtful.
    • E Scott Menter
      more than a month ago
      Not doubtful at all. Twitter is like an echo chamber. Anybody with sufficient in-network popularity can do a lot of damage.

      But even if it's "a dozen customers"--we're still talking about a substantial amplifying effect. Think a dozen unhappy customers mattered to anybody before social networks?
    • Patrick Lujan
      more than a month ago
      Per Theo's original comment about businesses in the business of taking care of the customer, "yes."

      Social media's impact and influence is hyperbole wiithin its own echo chamber. I know plenty of large orgs who are largely oblivious or unaware of it and they're bottom lines are still somehow just fine.
    • E Scott Menter
      more than a month ago
      Yeah, and I have example of rumors floating around social media that have tanked stock prices.
    • Sharmistha Roy
      more than a month ago
      A deep and broad understanding of customer needs is key to achieving successful customer outcome. Any organization that hasn't already begun with that premise will be hard pressed to re-engineer the way they do business - it's really more about the level of customer centric approach a business is taking. Agree with Theo on this one!     
    • more than a month ago
      Agree with Scott. We're now flooded and organisations have to work doubly hard to be the signal within all the noise. The customer was not as savvy as they are now and companies have to incorporate their customer experience into marketing more than ever. And social media is king. If anyone thinks otherwise they're doing it wrong.I have encountered numerous new business owners making CEO salary's at the age of 23 all through viral marketing.
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  • Accepted Answer

    Ian Gotts
    Ian Gotts
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    Thursday, April 03 2014, 01:05 PM - #Permalink
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    If it is not really customer-centric, and it needs to change its culture, approach and operation... then yes. If it is already customer-centric, then its processes are probably in good shape. Having said that, it is clear when dealing with company after company as a customer, they are far from customer centric. That is because being customer-centric means it is not just front office processes, but back office processes are involved. A happy smiley face on a call centre does not make you customer centric. Here's a perspective. Customer processes are like Goretex. http://iangotts.wordpress.com/2010/11/25/your-customers-hate-it-your-staff-hate-it-but-you-make-them-do-it-anyway-bpm-customerservice/
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  • Accepted Answer

    Thursday, April 03 2014, 01:25 PM - #Permalink
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    2 votes
    Customer centric? What kind of hippie talk is that? Shareholder value is the only thing that counts. Making as much money as possible in short time. Shareholders should be pleased each quarter. For that we need a strict hierarchy and divide work in the smallest tasks as possible. Employees should be judged on following exact procedures in executing these tasks. And that must be their only task. Higher management should be responsible for setting the goals for these tasks, to keep costs as low as possible. Employees are a replaceable resource. Efficiency, efficiency! Everything can always be done cheaper! For that way you should try to automate everything. And that should be easy because the work is divided in taks every robot or java script could do. This should make employees affraid that they can loose their job, so they work harder! Don't believe those analyst who say you must become customer centric. In the end it are not customers, but shareholders who pay your second Porsche Cayenne and your house on Hawaii!
    • Patrick Lujan
      more than a month ago
      "Shareholder value??" That's crazy talk man.
    • more than a month ago
      emiel what happens if customers are no longer pleased with your product or service and jump ship?
    • Emiel Kelly
      more than a month ago
      Customers who jump ship don't deserve to add value to our shareholder's bank account, so we can miss them as toothache.

      For every customer 10 others. But of course we like to sell them stuff. As long as it is black.
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  • Accepted Answer

    Thursday, April 03 2014, 01:49 PM - #Permalink
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    1 votes
    The historical issue with old IT prescriptive and largely "processing" driven applications has been the poor support / interaction with users. So customer centric businesses use a range off line tools and to try and meet the needs of the customer. In today's environment if you do not have such "agility" you would not last long? This knowledge is with internal users which is not an ideal situation. But now that knowledge can be transferred to digital via a BPMPlatform that can mirror all support requirements including that vital Adaptive flexibility and of course orchestrating legacy data as required. The trade off is greater empowerment with real time measurement which will result in a culture of encouraging continuous improvement. Does this "require a major redesign of their business processes?" NO just listen to users what they actually do to look after customers and put directly into this new BPM Adaptive environment. Think of as wrapping a dynamic green field around the brown field of legacy? Maybe Forrester need to recognise that in "The Age of the Customer" that their end user customers want real research and independent informed views how technology actually works to deliver improved user/customer experiences….? .
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