Branding… usability… look-and-feel… There are many tangible aspects that contribute to customer experience. However a critically-important factor is something that’s invisible to end-users, but makes itself known as soon as interactions go awry: Business processes.

The challenge of delivering a service in a multi-channel, multi-touchpoint world is a considerable one. Each part of a service needs to be crafted and orchestrated, and all with the customer in mind. But several layers deeper than the touchpoints a customer comes in contact with resides the business processes that make an enterprise tick. If they weren’t designed with customer experience in mind, they’re likely to forever hinder efforts to satisfy customers.

In this detailed, technology-focused post, Julie Hunt presents an argument for keeping customer experience issues at the forefront of any work on business processes.

Business processes must become a dynamic, intelligent and highly integrated interface for company interactions internally and externally. Most internal systems in companies should incorporate factors like customer experience and engagement, rather than functioning solely from a product, service or departmental perspective. Processes play a key role in bringing 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.

Hunt also touches on Business Process Management, and the role that technology-based solutions can have in delivering processes that are geared around the customer.

Starting with a discussion of business-customer symbiosis, Hunt moves on to discuss the value of data: “Data directly related to customer-focused processes is likely to get closer to providing the elusive customer ‘single view’ where an integrated process spans multiple interactions, touch points, transactions, and systems. The right data fueling processes is an important part of designing innovative business strategies that truly focus on the customer.

And she recognizes that the challenge is a significant one:

Enterprises continue to be challenged to deliver positive customer experiences that are mutually beneficial and crafted from the customer perspective. Instead of designing business processes integrated with a customer experience strategy, many companies just tack on aspects of monitoring customer interactions to existing processes. 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 enterprises 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.”

But four recommendations emerge from her discussion:

  1. Starting with Upper management: choose Customer as the strategic focus
  2. Enable and empower customer-focused people in every part of the enterprise
  3. Design processes that are flexible enough to change with dynamic markets and customer needs
  4. Draw on innovative information systems to fuel business processes and provide continuous customer insights for fostering customer experience excellence

Source: Symbiosis: Customer Experience and Business Process (Julie Hunt, a.k.a. @juliebhunt)