CRM = Customer Rejection Management #crm #crmfail #customerservice

Every major organization has some form of customer call center. You may have renamed yours “contact center.” They are manned by staff that are trained, tooled-up with technology and incentivized to support customers. The center is critical because it drives long term sales and protects repeat revenue. It may even be considered a “profit center.”

Customer Strategy

But your customers are calling you less, and only when they really have to. I would suggest that CRM stands for “customer rejection management” rather than customer relationship management; and this is by design. There are three strategies that companies are adopting that are driving customers away, giving you less insight into your customers and their needs, and, ultimately, alienating them.

These strategies are:

  • Outsourcing: lets a call center operator talk to your customers;
  • Self service: lets them find their own answers; and
  • Search/social networking: lets someone else help them.

All three strategies are driven by a cost-center/cost-reduction mindset.

But the one time you force your customers to contact you is when they don’t want to. This is called non-value demand. In other words, you are making your customers do something that has no real value for them.

Either you make them call a number and sit on hold after they have navigated through a labyrinthine list of menu options; or you make them go to an unintelligible website, register by entering a huge list of personal information, wait for a validation email, and then make them try to navigate your website – all with little or no guidance or step by step instructions. Sound familiar?

Here are some examples of non-value demand:

  • Report a fault or error in a product or service.
  • Fix a problem in a product or service.
  • Confirm or acknowledge a change of contract or other details.
  • Update personal details.

The opposite of non value demand is value-demand. This is something initiated by the customer that they want for their benefit. They may not want to talk to you but it is worth their time and effort. Some examples are:

  • Ask for an increase in credit limit.
  • Cancel a product or service.
  • Order a product or service.
  • Give feedback.

What makes both non-value demand and value-demand non-functional is that companies often compound it with poorly thought through, inadequately tested and inconsistently applied business processes. I am not just talking about the screens in the CRM application but the end-to-end process: the customer journey.

This makes the experience even worse for everybody. The customer is confused and frustrated. The call center operator is uncomfortable and frustrated; i.e., the customer leaves the call upset, no matter how good, positive or cheerful your call center person is.

Good process design

The explosive growth of social networking means that there is now a wide range of ways that a customer may get their question answered. They can call you, search your website, email you, search for the answer on a forum, post the question on a social networking site like LinkedIn or Facebook, or on a micro-blogging site like Twitter.

This is the perfect opportunity for you to take a look at front office processes, and take a customer-centric perspective. Put the customer at the heart of the situation and think about their journey.

The good news is that most of the back office processes can stay the same.

This is the opportunity to take a faster, more effective yet proven approach to process capture/discovery, CRM design, and the adoption of new working practices for your customer facing staff. This can be done through interactive, collaborative process mapping sessions, rapid CRM system prototyping or role-based guided process walk-throughs delivering links to systems, videos, on screen entry, documents and forms, in the context of an end-to-end process.

Gone are consultants interviewing staff and producing complex flowcharts that cover the entire wall of the project office. The end to six to 12 month CRM/IT-centric projects. Say goodbye to offsite CRM systems training courses.

Just theory? No = Success.

Is this approach just theory, you ask? No. It can be seen on every street in the UK in Carphone Warehouse stores, with an initiative they call ‘How2’. (Full disclosure: Carphone Warehouse is a TIBCO client.)

If you can’t make it out of the office, Carphone Warehouse has documented its project in videos from several perspectives including a retail store, back office, the project sponsor. The results speak for themselves. Just from the deployment to 815 stores the ROI was 1100% in year one, customer satisfaction (NPS) was up 25%, an additional revenue of £5M in the first year and they’ve saved £50,000 per year on telephone support calls to stores. In fact, the company has just won a Gartner BPM Excellence Award in the Leveraging BPM Technology category.

Just theory? No = FAIL.

I’ll contrast this with the non-value demand experience of another UK retailer … which shall go unnamed.

Last year I moved the family to the USA and before we left we rented out our house. We called the UK-based retailer, 30 days in advance to cancel our TV/phone/broadband service (value demand). The person at the call center was very helpful. A letter arrived in the post confirming the cancellation of the TV. The letter read:

Sorry to hear you decided to cancel your subscription. Your viewing will stop on dd/mm/yyyy. (The date was wrong: non-value demand contact required.) We are delighted that you want to continue your service etc., etc., etc. (Wrong again = non-value demand contact required.).”

So we make a non-value demand call. A very helpful and friendly call center representative said that we would be receiving separate letters from each department (telephone, broadband, TV) cancelling the services.  Each, presumably, saying the other services would continue, confusing us or prompting more non-value demand calls. We were advised to simply ignore these letters when they arrived, which we did.

About a week ago we were sent a letter prompting another non-value demand call. There is a credit on the account and they wanted me to call them to let them know if we would like a check and where to send it. Far better would have been to credit our bank account or attach a check to the letter.

Processs-led thinking leads to happy customers

The people who design operational processes should think about how it feels from a customer perspective. Then how the effective use of technology can enhance the experience for everyone. The social media revolution taking place is the perfect catalyst.

Ahhh!! I feel better now. Who should I call to tell?

CRM = Customer Rejection Management #crm #crmfail #customerservice

Gartner releases iBPMS Magic Quadrant; Confused? You should be. #bpms #bpm

Gartner has been keen to stress that the iBPMS is not a natural evolution of the BPMS Magic Quadrant. Over a year ago Gartner suggested in research reports that IBO (Intelligent Business Operations) was the way forward-thinking clients would run their businesses. And with that in mind, the iBPMS is the technology platform that supports IBO.

So the results of the MQ were eagerly awaited by the BPM software vendors like excited school kids around the noticeboard with exam results. But many of the vendors who read the report and were probably disappointed, confused and angry  – in that order.

But probably more importantly, where does it leave clients who have made strategic decisions based on the 2010 BPMS MQ? They have made purchasing decisions, choosing the Leaders in that MQ only to find some of them languishing at the bottom of the Niche quadrant.  A couple of new entrants in strong positions are a real surprise and there are a number of companies who have not appeared.

Sadly this MQ seems to have raised more questions than it answers.

But in Gartner’s defense, the MQ research and publish process is quite lengthy (opportunity for business reengineering?) and the development cycle for software applications is getting faster. In fact the report states: “Gartner analysts conducted 14 in-depth vendor reviews during January, February and March 2012 to produce this report.”  So, by the time the MQ is published, some 6 months later, some of the criticisms (or “Cautions”) in the report have already been addressed by the software vendors.

For the record, these are my observations, not those of my employer, TIBCO Software. Whilst no vendor is happy unless they are top, top, top right in the MQ, but TIBCO can take heart from the first paragraph of the summary of their Strengths

“Tibco has all the components to make a great iBPMS…. Individually, the above listed products deliver strong functionality; however, collectively, they are not yet fully integrated. ”

The integration of different applications is front and center of the product roadmap that was presented at the recent TIBCO User Conference – TUCON – last week in Las Vegas. And many of the product integrations were announced at TUCON.

The full report can be accessed here:  iBPMS2012MQ  courtesy of BPMRedux.

The importance of the ideas of IBO cannot be understated. The need for agilty and the reacting to events whilst at the same time maintaining regulatory compliance is the challenge for every organization. Those that master it will deliver “extreme value” as TIBCO’s founder and CEO, Vivek Ranadive describes it.

So we should look forward to the evolution of the iBPMS over the next year. In exam terms this report probably gets “C+ must improve research techniques to stay current”

Gartner releases iBPMS Magic Quadrant; Confused? You should be. #bpms #bpm

Fifty Shades of Finance


In a great letter to the Financial Times, the writer has captured the essence of compliance in the financial services industry.

Malcolm Crow claims that the book Fifty Shades of Grey is not about compliance issues relating to the financial services industry.

He is clearly wrong: I have it on good authority that the book deals with bondage, domination and humiliation.

It also contains the quote “Oh, f**k the paperwork”.

Other than compliance what else could it be about.”

A can’t wait for the sequel featuring Bob Diamond, Fifty Shades of Contempt.

Fifty Shades of Finance

We’ve been bent over and bankered at a cost of £46,774 per person

The current Barclays scandal has gathered momentum and has now gone way beyond “it had insufficient business controls” as the recent Guardian article today, Barclays Libor scandal: how can we change banking culture? spells out in graphic detail. The UK population has been well and truly bankered.

To sum up the excellent article

According to the IMF, the British stuck £1.2 trillion behind the finance sector. Read that again: well over a trillion pounds in bailouts, and loans and state guarantees on bankers’ trading.

In just a few months, and with barely any public debate, every household subbed £46,774 to the City. A sliver of that money eventually went unused; as for the remaining hundreds of billions, we have no idea just how much we’ll get back – or when.

There is talk of how to change the culture of banking. As usual there is lots of rhetoric and bold statements made by the executives. But this is an operational issue and boils down to metrics and processes.

People are driven by metrics. They act as they are measured. Bankers with expensive lifestyles to maintain are driven by money – metrics. But they need clear guidelines to ensure that hit their metrics without cheating – transparent processes and business controls. This needs to be through the entire organisation – top down.

Nothing else changes culture. Not MP’s getting passionate in the House of Commons. Not threats of prison for the senior people. Not the resignation of the Chairman.

Putting in place the framework of processes and metrics throughout an organisation is very achievable as countless Nimbus clients can demonstrate. In a couple of minutes you can see how BAE Systems transformed its Shares Services operation in this video.

Now Barclays are undertaking and independent audit – but this will highlight the problems. Far better if that work is a process-driven where the outcome is a operational  process model with related metrics. Something that will change the culture. Not a report for the Barclays spin doctors.

And the good news is it will take less time that any “formal investigation” and cost less that £46,774 per person

We’ve been bent over and bankered at a cost of £46,774 per person

Why Quality Management never got sexy and made it big

Nimbus Control started off 15 years ago as a Quality Management tool used by Quality Managers but we quickly realised that we were only selling one copy of our software to each company, which the Quality Manager used. That was not a great business model if world domination was the aim!  There are still some companies who were competitors way back then who still have this business model. They make a living, but sadly little more.

So we changed our software approach and addressed the fundamental problem that Dilbert has highlighted. Often the Quality Manual is something created simply to get the ISO9000 certificate on the wall.  It is a liability. A drain on resources. A white elephant.

Our vision was, and still is, that you can map and document your end to end business processes which will help you on your journey to operational excellence, and ISO9000 is a by product. I talked about this in more detail in a recent blog called Process Governance is Competitive Advantage.

So if you are a Quality Manager, don’t try and be cool and sexy. Focus instead on becoming an asset to the business, not a liability.

Why Quality Management never got sexy and made it big

TIBCO acquired Nimbus; 10 weeks on it gets emotional

TIBCO acquired Nimbus at the end of August and there was the inevitable post-M&A activity. Now for those cynics who have been through this before, they will tell you that M&A stands for Murder and Attrition.

So what has it really been like? That’s what every one asks me.

Firstly TIBCO acquired a company with a stable product, strong revenues, fiercely loyal customers, and a clear vision for growth. So it was not a distressed technology purchase that could be neatly slotted into a product portfolio. TIBCO recognized that Nimbus’ value proposition could take TIBCO to the business audience in clients. Remember, TIBCO had been insanely successful with the IT audience and had grown revenue to over $800m. But they have ambitions to provide the software that enable businesses to achieve operational excellence. That means addressing both business and IT audiences.

Secondly, the core of the Nimbus executive team have elected to stay and drive Nimbus as a standalone business unit within TIBCO. We are all excited about the potential that TIBCO gives Nimbus, in effect supercharging growth. How? By raising Nimbus’ credibility, by enabling engagement with the IT organization, and by opening up access to TIBCO’s existing client base.

So there has been some integration of back office functions which has resulted in a few, but inevitable, job losses. It has been sad to see colleagues leave who have been with Nimbus for 5-10 years, but TIBCO has been very generous and the people leave with very marketable skills and fond memories.

The most critical business development activity has been the programme of educating TIBCOs existing field force of account managers and professional services teams. Which is where it has got emotional. We had great concerns that few of them would “get it” as they are very good at addressing IT departmental needs, but have been very pleasantly surprised. Not only do they understand the proposition but are happy to work with us to open up new opportunities in their clients. Inevitably there will be squabbling over account control, but a sensible commission plan (i.e. money) sorts that out.

So what has the reaction been? In a word – emotional. Here’s the reaction from one of the TIBCO ‘s top Solution Consultants having watched Nimbus Control in action at a client:

” I fell in love, don’t tell my wife, I have been working with Claes for a week now capturing a business process requirements at a new customer. Everyone in the company, no matter what the solution can capture detailed information on pain points, opportunities, risks and value for every step in a business process, then when done, you get a spreadsheet that you can sort on the captured data like in risk (high, Medium, Low), Opportunity (high, Medium, Low). This can be used to decide what the best opportunity is for a phased implementation. Nimbus is also ideal for providing technical implementation teams requirements.”
Another comment from one of the senior TIBCO team;

“Nimbus approach is exclusively at business level and much more superior. I recommend everyone at TIBCO sales should sit through a Nimbus discovery session at a customer site. I wish I had done a recording of discovery session at Nimbus. It was a beautiful thing to watch.”

Maybe Nimbus is the Apple of process management software, when terms like “fell in love” and “beautiful to watch” are associated with it? Certainly our clients are passionate about what it does for them. And therefore the critical part of TIBCO’s acquisition strategy for Nimbus is giving us the space to continue to do what we do. Which is exactly what they are doing.

That means the investment in R&D will continue, the exemplary support for customer will continue, and the Nimbus brand will continue.

Which is why we are so excited to be part of the TIBCO family.  Now I am getting all emotional.

TIBCO acquired Nimbus; 10 weeks on it gets emotional

Process Governance is Competitive Advantage #bpm #governance #compliance

For some industries governance is not optional such as Food and Pharma who are regulated by the FDA, or banking who are regulated by the FSA.  Arguably every US company is highly regulated due to SarBox, but the penalties for non-compliance are less painful so it is taken less seriously.  The FDA imposes punitive fines and even charities are not immune – the American Red Cross was fined $16million and in 2010 the FDA collected over $3 billion in fines.

So governance is seen as an unavoidable cost to be kept as low as possible. Lowest cost compliance.  For any company spending $millions on governance, shouldn’t they be asking “Can I get more value out of the money we are spending on governance”?

For everyone governance is a good discipline. No, it is more than that. It is Competitive Advantage when implemented elegantly and in a way that doesn’t inhibit process improvement and agility. And it is underlined by a comment from a VP at Nestle – a highly regulated, complex organisation which takes governance seriously:

Nimbus is a game changer for Nestle Sales Division, no other manufacturer is using this tool”

What are the implications for implementing process-driven governance?

  • Governance covers the entire change cycle (suggested change, review, sign-off, implementation, audit trail, acknowledgement)
  • It covers ALL process assets; end to end flows, training materials, policies documents, SOP, video, forms, automated applications, not just the automated process flows
  • MSOffice (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Visio) do not have rich enough governance and when teamed with Sharepoint become an expensive time-suck to administer, so are not fit for purpose
  • SocialBPM needs to be integrated into the governance cycle not be seen as a shortcut around process

An extreme example is UTi Pharma, a medical distribution company. UTi Pharma doesn’t make medicine but its systems, technology, a global and local web of pharma grade warehouse facilities, fleet of vehicles make sure that patients always get the original quality medicine they need, when and where they need it.  They work with all the major pharma giants and have over 150 audits per year. Yet with a process-driven approach they can still be innovative and drive process improvement. Last year they logged 495 change requests.

So it is possible to square the circle? Yes. You can combine collaborative change with effective governance, if process is at its heart.

Process Governance is Competitive Advantage #bpm #governance #compliance