Business process management has a central role in another business trend: the evolution from providing simple customer service to being a truly customer-centric organization. To achieve customer-centricity, an organization must consider the customer first in everything it does – planning, decision-making and strategic and tactical execution, among many others.
Enabling customer service
BPM has been an efficient enabler of customer service. It was critical to helping call centers and their representatives do their job admirably for many years and solidified the customer-business relationship.
Organizations started to recognize that what they were providing was more than service; it was a complete customer experience. It was a buying journey, from need through discovery and product research to the purchase decision and finally loyalty and retention. Business process design continued its enabling role, allowing enterprises to assist and guide customers before, during and after the buying process.
A new challenge
Today, organizations of all sizes and shapes face a new challenge. Both the consuming public and business customers have taken virtually total control of their respective marketplaces. They are demanding more personalized service based on their feedback loop into the system and not on what enterprises think they want.
The first step for most organizations (and it has been difficult for many) is to accept that B2C and B2B customers drive the buying journey and the customer-business relationship from an outside-in perspective. To profit from this new paradigm, enterprises must dissect and examine every step of the buying journey. They can then design and document their processes according to what they’ve learned.
With a thorough understanding and mapping of the customer’s buying journey, enterprises are better able to measure results. They also achieve the flexibility to change their processes at every stage of the buying journey, which continues to be dynamic and often elusive.
Moving from desktop to mobile
Within a short period of time, retail consumers have migrated their buying journey from the desktop to the mobile environment. Recent research has determined that almost 75 percent of consumers start the journey on a smartphone, but 90 percent still make the final purchase in a physical store.
The B2B customer is moving in that direction too. According to Google research, 42 percent of researchers use a mobile device during the B2B buying journey. Almost 60 percent are already somewhere on the path of their journey before they visit an organization’s website. In addition, almost half of all B2B buying researchers, as of 2014, were Millennials, young adults 18–34.
Innovate to engage
Enterprises have had to innovate to engage with and appeal to a quite different front-line B2B customer than those sitting in the C-suite. Business process design is proving it’s a powerful enabler once again. With advanced BPM tools and documentation, organizations are able to monitor multiple data sources from the customer journey. Not only can they map the journey more efficiently and effectively, but also have access to real-time information to remain tightly engaged in a continuous cycle of customer-centric processes.
Moving to decentralization
For organizations to become truly customer-centric, they must also move towards greater decentralization. Forward-thinking enterprises, such as Nike, have given some of that power to its customers. They have the freedom to customize the company’s shoe products, a customer-centric move, which has been very successful for Nike. It realizes that the ultimate source of input for what its products should be is the customer, not those in the R&D lab.
Customer-centric organizations are less secretive with their customers and suppliers, especially in the industrial environment. New products and complex projects are now a much more collaborative effort and BPM is essential to making the effort seamless, efficient and beneficial to all parties.
Achieving true customer-centricity will be a boon to all enterprises that embrace the concept for the next 30 years. It will enable them to bring their customers closer and keep the bonds strong and business process management will enable them to do it.