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Business Process Improvement Adapted for Customer Experience

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Business process improvement and customer experience design are both crucial areas of focus for the modern enterprise. Should companies be thinking about them as two sides of the same coin?That’s the argument in a new article from analyst Paul Hagen posted at CMS Wire. He writes:

The combination of [interdependent people, processes and technology] is something that Forrester calls the customer experience ecosystem. To fully understand how they deliver customer experiences today and make meaningful improvements going forward, customer experience professionals must map their company’s ecosystem and adopt best practices from the emerging field of service design.

Business Process and Customer Experience

© Flickr user dellphotos

To help put statement in context, every business—even those that thrive from a kitchen table—is engaged into two major activities. The first is the actual business process of creating the product or conducting the service. Someone has to mind the register, sweep the floor, deliver the flowers, balance the books and so on.

The second task of any business is servicing customers, or as we usually call it, customer service. Customers aren’t part of standard, repeatable business process, but rather they are outside of the company and are often unpredictable.

Hagen warns:

While business process improvements can lead to better experiences by eliminating defects (Six Sigma) or improving efficiency (Lean), these fixes don’t guarantee success. That’s because business process improvement initiatives can:

  • Neglect the emotional aspect of experiences
  • Narrowly focus within process silos
  • Fail to design for flexibility

All of these challenges are better addressed by customer experience teams (and customer service consultants), who work to emotional awareness, expand rapport-building techniques, and become champions of cross-functional teams.

That’s not to say that more customer service is the answer alone. Business improvement isn’t easy. It might seem better to increase customer choices, but this can actually make business less efficient and frustrate your audience.

Ultimately, the scope of the problem is enormous:

To change from a product-centric company to one focused on the outcomes delivered to customers requires nothing short of a full scale cultural transformation. And that’s no small task since true organizational transformation involves being prepared to change how value is delivered and how the firm is organized.

Most importantly, it also means working on the behavioral norms for everyone in the company: how you think and engage both employees and customers. Neither business process professionals nor customer experience professionals can do this alone.

Think big. Break down the walls between business process improvement and customer experience management. Help your organization to think about engagement in a new way.

Soon, we’ll wonder how anyone ever did anything else.

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