Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Optimizing business processes to optimize the customer experience – 2

Posted in business and convergent technologies, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on June 24, 2011

About two weeks ago, I posted a short note about the connection between business process optimization and the customer experience, focusing there on customer relations management (CRM) systems. I wrote about how failures in supporting CRM as a truly interactive conversation damage a business as it seeks to gain market share and maintain operational effectiveness (see Optimizing Business Processes to Optimize the Customer Experience – 1.) I said in that posting, that:

• If you want to optimize your business for long term market share and profitability look at all of your operational processes from the customer perspective.

I then proceeded to focus by way of example primarily on the customer relations area of operational processes, and the tools that are in principle offered to customers for their side of the conversation.

I viewed that posting as leaving a significant gap in the discussion as I wrote it, and my goal here in Part 2 is to address some of that gap, more fully outlining my thoughts on the larger, more inclusive statement I just repeated from Part 1, above. And I start here by making a second general statement.

• Effective business processes and chains of processes are first and foremost feedback-guided systems.

Consider the cycle of product design to production, to distribution and sales and back to design again, with next generation products (hopefully) more effectively meeting ongoing, evolving consumer needs and expectations. This cannot work in a vacuum and when faulty information goes into this cycle under the guise of marketplace insight, the entire cycle breaks down. Consider New Coke and how this was developed, manufactured as a replacement of a very successful product, marketed and sold on the basis of limited and faulty marketing research – and without taking real customer feedback into account until this had become an all but legendary marketing and sales disaster.

• Consumer and end user feedback are the essential input sources for keeping the design, production, distribution and sales cycle on track as a whole, with the right products made and distributed and sold where the customers will want them.
• Internal to the organization feedback in this serves to keep the parts of the cycle optimized and connected together, where marketplace feedback and real world consumer insight provide value for making sure that you are maintaining the right cycle as a whole.

And when customer feedback includes insight into problems and bottlenecks in their experience with your business and with your products, that offers invaluable insight into managing the steps of that cycle too – but only if you are really listening. And fully automated CRM systems cannot, as an only-available option, fully satisfy your feedback needs. They cannot do this alone because they cannot fully meet your customers’ needs – and certainly not now, not yet with the current state of automated CRM technology.

The basic principles I write of here impact on production-related cycles as discussed above, and on back office operations and everything else in your business. And even if the impact of a failure in feedback is indirect in many areas, ultimately it becomes profound.

I am sure I will be touching on this topic area again in future postings.

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