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Business process management (BPM) and CRM are not such disparate disciplines anymore. As the challenges around CRM have moved from technology to processes, business process management has taken a greater role in CRM. In the last decade, interest in CRM has grown exponentially. But we look at the ASCI [American Customer Satisfaction Index] scores and are we seeing a transformation.

BPM, according to Gartner, now holds the promise of improving the customer experience. The problem is many BPM vendors are still focused on operational efficiencies, rather than improving processes for growth. For example, a Gartner review of BPM vendors' customer case studies found that less than 5% focused on client retention or customer service.

"If you're shipping out the wrong product, how effective is a tight supply chain?" BPM and CRM investments have not bridged the divide.

For example, the process of signing up for DSL service. The customer calls into the contact center, which confirms the customer order, thereby touching the provisioning system; and the agent schedules an engineer and installation, which touches on the supply chain. Yet the contact center is likely measuring the average time an agent spends on a call, while provisioning is measuring how many days it took to respond and how quickly the DSL was installed.

what is the match between these metrics? They need to be looked horizontally, not vertically, within your organization, because that's how your customers experience within the organization.

A shifting CRM and BPM vendor landscape

CRM vendors like Amdocs, Oracle's Siebel product, SAP and eglue are all emerging with BPM attributes. BPM vendors distinguish themselves with two features, process execution engines and business event managers.

BPM could be broken into different groups. In one group are vendors with BPM in a model-driven architecture based on applications, like Oracle's Application Integration Architecture and Fusion and SAP's NetWeaver and Business ByDesign products.

These vendors have sold technology in the past based on functions. Within five years at a minimum they will be marketed to you by processes.

The vendor pitch will be based on a specific process like order to cash or lead to opportunity.

Additionally, there are vendors who approach BPM from a model-driven framework, like Portrait Software, Chordiant, Graham Technology (Ciboodle) and Pega Systems.

When we look at this landscape, it's very fragmented. If BPM players say I have CRM and CRM vendors say I have BPM, how do you decide? Across the board they all offer some CRM benefit. What's different? The underlying architecture."

Using BPM for CRM

Yet one of the greatest challenges for organizations is identifying the business processes that affect the customer experience. There can be seven steps for organizations that want to adjust their customer-facing business processes to make them more customer-centric.

  1. Audit the processes that affect customers.
  2. Identify the processes customers care about most.
  3. Prioritize the customer-selected processes by those that have the most impact on growth.
  4. Give each process an owner, cross-department if required. It doesn't have to be a vice president or a director, but someone responsible for the end-to-end process.
  5. Implement changes in the back office and front office that affect customers.
  6. Set up a service-level agreement for customer-selected key processes.
  7. Measure the success and refine the process changes for different customer segments.

If you start with the top 30% of customer-facing processes, it will save you 70% on CRM.

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